Sunday, April 29, 2012

Now What?

I had a reminder pop up the other day that the deadline for a particular writing contest was quickly approaching. This was shortly after Tommee requested a (4th) story for e-publication, so I was pretty sure what I had available and ready to go. Namely … not much.
I’ve been fighting a bad case of depression since last fall, and even though writing is really close to the top of my ‘things I like to do’ list, I haven’t had enough energy or focus to devote to it.
I did find a story to submit to that contest. I also decided to get myself back to writing. But writing what?
Most of the stories I’ve finished have been in the Atlan Universe. I have several more started or at least planned. But I don’t want people thinking that’s the only universe I write about, so should I do something else for a time?
I have a few other stories started/planned/written also. Most of the ones I call ‘written’ don’t exactly thrill me, but I’m not sure how to make them better, so they just sit there, for now.
Most of my stories in various universes involve the adventures of the same pair or group of characters. Perhaps that’s what I find daunting; keeping the characters consistent from story to story. I haven’t had to do that with Atlans; each short story has its own set of characters.
Well, whatever my problem has been, it’s time to get back to writing. Okay, characters, which one of you wants to tell me your story first?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chicon's Coming!

Chicon 7 is this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in Chicago over the Labor Day Weekend. While it’s not the biggest sf convention, it is good sized; this year, they are expecting about 5,000 people.
I’ve attended several World Science Fiction Conventions over the years, but this year will be a little different for me. This is the first year I am working the convention as staff.
I’ve worked as staff at various regional conventions, and those always have a lot of meetings where people discuss possible plans, decisions are made and staff members get to know each other. I’ve known for quite a while that staff for World Cons includes a fairly stable cadre of people from around the US, possibly from around the world. Locals fill in a lot of the remaining staff positions, and new guys – like me – are given a chance with whatever holes remain. But how, I wondered, did they ever get together to have a meeting?
Thankfully, they have modern conveniences. I have received countless emails (meaning, I haven’t bothered to count them). I have studied shared documents on the internet, once I had access to them. I have participated in departmental meetings by skype.
This weekend, I went to Chicago for an ‘all-hands’ meeting. This meeting started Friday afternoon, and continued into Sunday. There were, at a guess, 50 people in attendance, and this was only a portion of the staff. For instance, the department to which I belong has at least a dozen members, but only 3 of us were there. They don’t have as many meetings, but when they do have one, they try to cram as much into it as they possibly can.
I had fun, listened a lot, and learned so much, it’ll take me a couple days to sort through it all. I have a lot more confidence in my ability to handle the one little piece of the convention that is mine to plan.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trudy's Latest Adventure

On Saturday, April 24, 2012, I gave my first public reading from one of my e-stories. Since I’ve been a shy introverted wallflower all my life, this aspect of being a writer was not something I thought about in the early days. If you wrote a great book, somebody published it, and you got to spend your days writing more books. Selling your books was up to somebody else.

If it ever was like that, it isn’t any more. For years I’ve heard that the marketing of a book was landing more and more on the shoulders of the writer. As I looked around at science fiction conventions, listened to well-established authors in the genre, and studied the panel subjects that authors spoke on, I realized that even well-established authors were involved in marketing their books to the public.

I tried to imagine what it would be like, when it was time for me to do a public reading, and I could feel the panic start to choke my voice chords.

That wouldn’t get many books sold.

Obviously, I had to find a way to overcome my panic. Strangely, I’m a bit of a ham, if I have a part in a play. Remembering that told me that I could ‘act’ in front of a group. Maybe all I needed was … confidence?

So I joined Toastmasters, and I attended weekly meetings for about 3 years. Each time it was my turn to compose and give a speech, I wondered if other authors joined Toastmasters and learned to give speeches in order to prepare for their future marketing endeavors. But as I progressed through my assignments, I could tell that I had made a good choice; I went from a trembling blob of panic to a confident speaker. And I enjoyed those meetings so well, that I would probably still be there if my temp job had not made it impossible to attend.

But that wasn’t all I did to prepare. At last year’s World Science Fiction Convention, I attended a panel on “How to Give a Reading.” The person giving that panel had good advice, including such things as, Look at your audience from time to time; project so that the back row can hear you; and read slowly so that your words don’t slur together. Although similar to advice given in Toastmasters, it was good to get it from another source also.

Now, if I could just figure out the bookkeeping aspect of being an author!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Toss of a Coin

MoonPhaze Publishing has e-published 3 of my Atlan stories, and we’re looking to start Project 4. We were going to give one of the other authors a shot, but it turned out they didn’t feel they had anything ready. So Tommee turned back to me and asked, “Well? Have you got any more Atlans ready?”

And I do. Of course I do. I have 2 Atlan stories polished and ready. I also have other, not-Atlan stories polished and ready. So … did we really want to go with another Atlan story, or try something new?

We discussed that a lot. We wiffled, we waffled, we hemmed and hahhed. And finally, because of our longer-term publishing plans, we decided to make Project 4 another Atlan story.

As I said, I had 2 ready. Which one should go next? How should we choose? I liked both of them (otherwise they wouldn’t be ‘ready’). Tommee liked both of them. There wasn’t a lot of difference in their word count, not that that matters in e-publishing.

We’ve wrestled with this question for what seems like only slightly less than forever. We are about to toss a coin. The problem is that both stories naturally identify with ‘tails’. So, how do we decide which one gets stuck with ‘heads’?

PS - If you are planning to be at Constellation in Lincoln NE next weekend, I'm scheduled to do a reading on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pot of Gold

I’m so excited!

Last night, I got a call from this publisher who’s read my e-stories on smashwords, and heard I had a fantasy novel set in the same universe. He wanted to see my full manuscript right away, but I got the definite impression that it was a moot point, that he really wanted to print it. From what questions he asked, it sounded like he was hopeful the story could be made into a trilogy, at least.

Luckily, my fantasy is written to stand on its own, if it must, but I did leave a few loose loops of yarn that could lead to further adventures. Book 2 is already semi-potted, but Book 3 is nebulous so far.

Anyway, my head fairly swam as he postulated the best places to send me for readings and signings. Sounds like I could be on the road quite a bit this summer, and I worry my writing might suffer for it. Or maybe I’ll have more time to write, as I sit in one lonely motel room after another, in first one unknown city and then another.

I call them lonely motel rooms, but being alone seldom bothers me. In fact, when I go to conventions and start feeling uncomfortable in the crowd of like-minded people, I retreat to my room and write, to recharge my batteries. Still, I’ll miss my family.

It’s a mixed blessing for an introvert, as I suspect many writers are. Writing is a pretty solitary endeavor, but to be a successful author, you must also market, and marketing puts you out in the middle of people. Still, you prepare for that, and steel yourself to do what must be done. A mixture of excitement and dread.

And then I woke up.

It was all a dream.

And I know that’s a terrible way to end it, but … April Fool’s Day.