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JordanCon! Free Stories! Tribes! (ALL THE THINGS)

Book news, Conferences, Craft of Writing
JordanCon

Happy December!

Just a quick update about a couple things.

First, it’s official! I’m a Featured Guest at JordanCon! I’m really excited. You can find me at the very bottom of the list right here! (They’re alphabetizing by first name. If they’d sorted by last name, I’d be just before Faith Hunter! lol)

JordanCon runs from 26 April 2019 to 28 April 2019 right here in lovely Atlanta! That’s a great time of year too, because it’s not too hot and not too cold (usually… you can never really be sure here 😉 ).

I’ll be selling print copies of Jivaja at my author table and my plan is to release the sequel around 15 April, so I should (hopefully) have copies of that as well! Super exciting!

I’ll have some other awesome convention news for you in a couple weeks too, so stay tuned.

Free short story!

I’m in the second-to-last round of edits for the new Soul Cavern short story (tentatively titled Blue-Edged Soul) that is a companion to Jivaja. I plan to have it ready for release mid-January. It will be up on Amazon as a .99 read, but folks who’ve read Jivaja already can sign up right here to get their free copy when it’s released!

Sign up so you know when it’s ready 🙂

Are you a writer?

Ready for 2019?

Right now, over in The Writing Tribe, I’m doing a series of videos about planning for 2019. The Writing Tribe is a small group of authors who are dedicated to improving (or creating) their professional writing career. We have a lot of newer writers and quite a few successful veterans.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about doing this for real, drop in and join us! (Please make sure you answer the questions when you request to join. Otherwise, your application will be rejected.)

Stay tuned for more Quick Edits and Tool Time Tuesdays in 2019! I’m planning to do more updates so you really know what I’m working on.

Okay, that’s it for now!

Wishing you a lovely holiday season,

 

 

JordanCon image courtesy of JordanCon.org

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

 

Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

Conferences

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic, the collaborative blog that I write for which is all about speculative fiction of every sort. Go check it out! 🙂

Welcome to Part 2 of Con Season on a Budget. This post is about being a great volunteer so your favorite con will welcome you back, year after year. If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention. I also wrote about surviving your first convention in Conventions 101!

Okay, so you’ve done all the legwork and gotten a sweet volunteer position at the convention you’ve been wanting to go to for ages! Now what? You definitely want them to like you enough to allow you to continue to volunteer. Even if, in the future, you decide to go as a paying attendee, it’s never a bad thing to have convention directors like you!

So let’s talk a bit about how to be a great volunteer.

Before your shift

You should get your volunteer schedule in advance of the convention itself, which is great, because then you know when you’ll be working. Within your schedule should also be information on where your volunteer shift will be. You may also get the name of the person you report to, though not always. You should know your department head’s name, at the least.

I always try to do a little legwork before my shift, especially if it’s a new place to me. It’s a great idea to scope out the event space, in general, so that you know where you’re going. This is especially important at larger conventions, where things are more spread out and perhaps a little more difficult to find.

Dress appropriately. If you’re doing load in or load out (which is helping to set the convention up or breaking things down), you don’t want to wear a costume to your shift. Or, really, nice clothes at all. Because you’ll likely be hauling stuff around and getting all sweaty. (I guess you could cosplay as Rocky or something!) Conversely, if you’re working the Hospitality Suite or Guest Relations, you’re the face of the convention for a lot of people. So don’t show up in raggedy clothes without having showered. (Ewww.)

Before you head out for your shift, think about what you’ll be doing and how long your shift is. You might want to bring a snack if you’ll be working for more than a couple hours or if your shift will require a lot of physical energy. Definitely bring a water bottle. Most conventions have stations in the hall with either water pitchers or water coolers, so you can refill. But it’s always good to have your own container for your drink.

Working your shift

This should be common sense, but arrive on time. Five or ten minutes early is even better. Give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go. Remember that you’ll likely be moving through larger convention crowds than you did when you were scouting out the location. So factor the extra people into your travel time for when you head over.

When you’re given instructions on what your responsibilities are, pay attention. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. You won’t look stupid if you ask questions. You’ll look like you care about your job, which is very important to those who are in charge.

Once you know what your job is, do it well. This isn’t the time for you to hang out and goof around at the convention. You’re working, not playing. Your department is relying on your to do the tasks you’ve been assigned. If you don’t do them, or don’t do them correctly, that means someone else who was assigned a different task that also needs to be accomplished will have to come around and do the things you were supposed to. That is a surefire way not to be welcomed back at all.

Don’t forget to be friendly! Be friendly with the other volunteers on your shift — after all, these are people you want to work with in the future. If you’re in a forward-facing role that interacts directly with guests or attendees, be friendly and professional. Again, you are representing the convention itself for these people.

And on the topic of guests — people who are on panels or giving classes — you might be in contact with celebrities. It can be a little overwhelming and you might be tempted to fangirl/boy all over your favorite author/actor/artist. Don’t do it. You’re working with them in a professional capacity, so act professional. You absolutely can let them know that you love their work. I think you should! But leave it at that, then do your job. In my experience, these folks really appreciate you treating them as people rather than stars, and they will remember you for that, particularly if they’re a regular guest at that convention.

Don’t be that guy.

Also, if you are in a position, such as security, where you have some power over attendees, be very aware of how you exert that power. Don’t be a douche. I was recently at a convention where one of the security people seemed to have it in for a friend I was there with. Every time he saw her, he told her that she was doing something wrong. And it wasn’t even the correction that was the problem. It was the attitude he had of condescension while doing the correcting. He was power-tripping. In a conversation later with higher ups at the convention (I was a guest), I mentioned it and they conveyed that there had been other issues along those lines and that he likely would not be asked to work security again. Attitude matters.

After the convention

Whew! You made it! Great job!

There are no real requirements for after the convention. But I do have some suggestions.

Keep in touch with people you worked with. You’ll likely have made some friends on your shift(s), so don’t let the opportunity to have convention friends slip. Exchange emails or phone numbers and reach out a few days after the convention. It never hurts to keep in contact, especially if you want to work in that department again.

You should also take some time to ask yourself a few questions. Did you enjoy the work? Did you like the people you worked with? Were there other perks that are beneficial to you? And, most importantly, are you interested in working in this department again?

Volunteering can be hard, but it should also be fun. And the overall feel for your shift should be a positive one. If it isn’t, then you might consider volunteering for a different department. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad volunteer or that you were in a bad department. It likely just means that department isn’t a fit for your particular personality. It may take shifts in a couple departments to figure out which you like best. That’s completely okay!

What do you think? Ready to go out and snag a volunteer shift?

Do you already volunteer at conventions? Any additional tips for newbies?

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention

Conferences, Travel

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. This particular post was published on March 9, 2017. You can find the original here!


Con season is in full swing! Looking to connect with your spec fic tribe? Conventions are the way to go!

If you’ve never been to a con before, they are amazing fun but can be daunting. Check out my Conventions 101, or How Not to Get Killed by Cons post for some info on how to prep for and “survive” conventions if you’ve never been. But right now, we’re going to talk about how to get a volunteering gig at your favorite convention. This is Part One of a two-part series. In Part Two we’ll talk about how to actually work the convention as a volunteer.

Most conventions offer compensation for volunteering in the form of free or discounted admission. And most cons always need volunteers! So it’s not too difficult to score a position, though it may not be in the department you want initially. There’s seniority among convention volunteers in most cases too. Let’s get into how to actually do it.

1. Research what you might want to do at the convention

Most conventions have a ton of areas where they need volunteers, ranging from registration workers, to volunteers for specific tracks, to security folks and a bunch of areas in between. Before you reach out to throw yourself into the volunteering fray, figure out what areas you’d enjoy working in or which could utilize your strengths. For instance, if you like meeting people, working a registration table or an information desk might be something you’d enjoy. If you’re strong and don’t mind breaking a sweat, you’d want to look into load in/load out positions (the advantage of which is all your volunteer hours are before and after the con, so you get to enjoy every minute of the actual convention to yourself!).

The Con Suite can be a great place to volunteer. You meet people without having to figure out a topic to talk about. “Would you like some noms?”

You can often find information about the volunteer areas on a convention’s website. Look for a page that lists what tracks the convention has — writing track, gaming track, etc. Most tracks need volunteers of some sort.

Beyond the tracks themselves, there are infrastructure departments as well. Common departments include:

  • Registration
  • Guest Relations
  • Security
  • Information
  • Hospitality
  • Vendor Room

All of these departments need people to help them. So explore what department volunteer opportunities might be available at the convention you want to attend, then write down two or three departments you’d like to help out on. In some cases you might need additional qualifications or training (such as for Security or for Guest Relations), which the con will often provide. Most conventions will place you in the department or track you request if there’s a spot available.

2. Make contact

The “how” depends entirely on the convention, but most cons post pretty clearly how to apply for a volunteer position. Some larger cons will have staff meetings (or volunteer meetings) some time before the convention that prospective volunteers can attend to meet department heads/track directors. This would be where the heads can announce what’s open in their department.

Dragon Con does this. They have three staff meetings in the Spring and Summer where the
track directors explain what their track does and announce how many volunteer spots they have open. Then interested people approach the director after the meeting to discuss the opportunities.

Some conventions have a central volunteer coordinator whose responsibility is to gather the info for all volunteers and assign them to various departments. This can be helpful because the volunteers have a single point of contact and there is a certain uniformity to the initial volunteering sign up.

Conventions will often announce a call for volunteers on social media, their website, and/or their mailing list, so it’s beneficial to make sure you’re following them on some channel. They might have an online form to fill or simply an e-mail address to reach out through to offer your services.

Other conventions don’t announce volunteer opportunities, but put a note on their website to e-mail the department heads/track directors for information. Generally speaking, all conventions will have some sort of information on how to volunteer posted on their website or Facebook page.

3. The ask

Like anything else, first impressions are important. You certainly don’t need to dress up if you’re meeting in person, but do remember that how you present yourself will have at least some bearing on your success.

In person: If you’re meeting the director or other volunteer-coordinating person, introduce yourself and let them know you’re interested in volunteering. If you don’t know whether they have positions, ask now. Definitely show your enthusiasm, but don’t go overboard. No one wants to work with a fanatic. 😉 If you have specific skills that would be useful, mention them once you’ve got confirmation that there are positions open. If they seem agreeable, ask what the next step would be. Often there’s a registration process. Get their e-mail address and follow up right after the meeting.

Sometimes asking for things like this is daunting. We go through an entire litany of questions ranging from “Will they like me?” all the way to “What makes me think I’ll have anything to offer them that they would want?” We can’t always stop those gross thoughts from surfacing, but you can decide how to handle them. My take is that I say to those voices, “Okay, thanks for your input. I’m doing this thing anyway. If I fall on my face, you can laugh at me then.”

Remember, if you did Step 1 above, you identified a place where you can be useful and where you do have skills that will benefit the convention. So just keep that top of mind when you’re doing the ask, whether in person or not. You have the skills necessary to fill the position you’re requesting.

Via e-mail: If you’ve met them already and ironed out preliminary details, make sure that you introduce yourself in your e-mail and remind them of where you spoke and briefly of the conversation you had. Then let them know you’re following up for the next steps in the process. If you didn’t get a firm “yes” at the meeting, then simply let them know you’re still very interested and you’re looking forward to hearing back from them. Also, address them by name, so make sure you’ve noted their name when you met them!

If this is a cold e-mail, say from looking up the director or volunteer coordinator online, then introduce yourself and tell them that you’re interested in volunteering for their track. Ask them if they have any positions available and what you’d need to do to work with them. If you’re e-mailing a volunteer coordinator rather than a specific director, then mention what departments you’d be interested in volunteering for. Limit it to your top three, in preferential order. For example:

Dear Ms. Volunteer Coordinator,

My name is Venessa Giunta and I’d love to help out with AwesomeCon this year! I’m especially interested in working with the Writers Track since that’s what I do, but I’d also be a good fit for Registration or Hospitality if there are no positions available with the Writers Track. Would you let me know what I need to do to get on your volunteer team?

Much thanks!
Venessa

If you’re unsure what volunteer opportunities there are, that’s okay too. Just ask what’s available.

And that’s how it’s done! Stay tuned for Part Two of the volunteering series next month! We’ll be talking about how to be a great volunteer so you’re welcomed back again and again.

Do you volunteer at conventions? How did you get started?

Do you plan to volunteer at any conventions this year? Which one(s)?

Let me know down below!

 

As mentioned, this post was first published on Speculative Chic. There’s an entire category of Convention posts from several contributors. Also, if you’d like to read a lot of great content about everything under the speculative fiction umbrella (from books to games to anime to television and movies to lots more), check us out!

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Ready for Dragon Con? Surviving A Convention (and More!)

Conferences

Dragon Con is coming up this weekend in Atlanta. It’s a huge science fiction/fantasy/horror fan convention; they’re estimating 82,000 people in attendance this year. That’s a lot of people.

All the things you’d expect to happen with that many people in a two mile square area happen: traffic is crazy; restaurant wait times are off the chain; and don’t forget something in your room, because it’ll take you an hour to get up there and back again. And some things you might not think to expect: don’t bother with your cell phone, as the towers are so jammed, you can’t hold a phone call; texts too. They’ll go through, but on their own time, so if you’re trying to plan something for NOW, smoke signals might be better.

I have a monthly column over at Speculative Chic. Over the last year, I’ve written a number of posts on convention life. I thought it’d be a good idea to curate them all into a list in one post. So here it is!

Conventions 101: What Are They and How Do You Survive Them?

Here’s your intro to conventions. If you don’t have any idea what to expect; if you’re not sure whether they’re right for you; if you have no idea how to even find one or choose one, then this is the post for you!

In deciding what convention to attend, take into consideration your purpose in going. Are you looking to land an agent? Hobnob with actors? Reinvigorate your writing? Your why will help you to decide which conventions you want to invest your time and money in.


 

I wrote two posts especially for those of us who are not independently wealthy, about doing con season on a budget. It’s all about volunteering.

Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention

In this post, I give some pretty detailed steps about how to go about figuring out what you want to do for a convention and how to land the volunteer spot, including how to interact in a face to face meeting with a track director and the wording if you’re contacting them via e-mail instead.

Before you reach out to throw yourself into the volunteering fray, figure out what areas you’d enjoy working in or which could utilize your strengths.

Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

And we keep going with the volunteering theme. In this one, I talk about what to do and what not to do, so that the conventions you work with will want you to come back year after year. Since conventions usually offer free or discounted admission to volunteers, this can save you some nice cash that you can instead spend in the vendor rooms!

And on the topic of guests — people who are on panels or giving classes — you might be in contact with celebrities. It can be a little overwhelming and you might be tempted to fangirl/boy all over your favorite author/actor/artist. Don’t do it.


 

There are a lot of “C” words associated with conventions. I didn’t really notice it until I did this series 😉

Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

If you haven’t done many cons, you may not have heard these terms. But it’s good to be familiar with them so you can guard against things that need to be guarded against and deal with things that need to be dealt with.

You don’t want to be in the middle of getting dressed, then realize you left your pants at home (I say this from experience!).

Convention Life: The Other “Con” — Consent

Consent has come to the forefront of conversations about fan conventions in recent years and I’m really glad that it has. Consent is something we don’t talk about enough in our culture anyway, and conventions are places where having someone’s consent to do anything — from taking a photo to touching them — is of the greatest importance.

Anyone has the ability to violate consent. It happens much more to women by men than vice versa, but it can happen both ways. The only hope in combating this is to make us all more aware.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to police our own actions.

 

So there you go! Lots of stuff about attending conventions, working conventions, and surviving conventions!

Any additional suggestions about conventions? Please let me know in the comments!

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Dragon Con. Unless attributed otherwise, all other images are CC0 licensed.

EPICon!

Conferences, Publishing, Teaching, Writing

EPICon starts tonight with a mixer and booze! For those of you who don’t know, EPICon is the official conference of the Electronically Published Internet Coalition (EPIC). Every year, EPIC takes nominations and members vote on the best eBooks of the year over multiple categories. The EPIC eBook Awards banquet is Saturday night and I am excited to share that one  of my authors at Loose Id, Jessica Freely, has been nominated for her eBook Rust Belt! This was the first book I worked on with Jessica and it’s still one of my favorites! If you haven’t read it, check at out at the Rust Belt Loose Id page!

I am also teaching two classes, one on Friday called Pulling More than Punches: Writing Great Action Scenes. I think the title needs to be redone though. Though it’s a very snappy title, really we don’t want to pull punches. We want to punch the reader in the head with the action. So maybe I’ll be changing this title to something like: Not Pulling Punches. Or something. I suck at titles. Except this one, which is my other class:

Manuscript Corsetry: Tighten Up That Story! Yep, it’s a revision class. I hit on lots of things to watch out for in your ms, but also different methods of approaching revisions. I think it will be a fun class!

I think I’m also taking pitches for Loose Id, but I’m still a little hazy on those details. So that’s my agenda for this weekend. I’ll be tweeting periodically (which reminds me that I need to put my Twitter feed back on my blog).

Anyone else out here in rainy Williamsburg, VA?

SCWW Writers’ Conference!

Conferences, Publishing, Writing

I just returned from the SCWW 2009 Writers' Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. The full conference is somewhat pricey, but well worth it, especially if you're just starting out or in the middle stages, as far as classes. There were several agents and editors in attendence for those with finished works to pitch.

Keynote speaker was thriller writer Steve Berry. He was very entertaining and personable, as well as inspirational for all of us who are still slogging away, trying to get published. I was also able to attend a class he taught on suspense, which I found interesting. He shared his approach to writing and his style in creating suspense within a ms. If you get an opportunity to see him speak, I'd recommend it!

Two agents are interested in seeing partials of my manuscript so that's fantastic! I got to hang out with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe again, which is always awesomeness personified.I met her last June at a conference and totally got to schmooze with her. I was excited to see she was coming to the SCWW con. She was very busy all weekend, unfortunately, and we didn't get to goof off together as much as at the other, but it was great seeing her again.

I was also able to meet and speak with Holly Root, of the Waxman Agency, and Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Both of these agents are personable and fun to speak with, as well as being very passionate about what they do. The conference had what they called "slushfests." These were group sessions where folks would bring in a 2-page transparency which was either a synopsis or the first two pages of their novels. So I was part of the SF/Fantasy slushfest and offered the first two pages of my novel. Unfortunately, somehow the decision was made to only do the first page of them. A few of the issues they had with the first page would have been addressed had the second page been read. However, there were a couple things they identified that will really help strengthen that scene, so I'm very grateful! Afterwards, I went up to each and asked if they'd be interested in seeing a partial. Both said yes (yay!) and Holly even asked for a few more pages than she normally requests (she made a point of this). As I said, they're both pretty damn cool! (And not just because they asked for my pages! 😉 )

There were a number of other agents there, but those are the ones I actually interacted with.

I also want to toss a shout-out to Echelon Press. I hung out a lot with one of their editors and an author and man, are they great people! 

I took not one, but two classes on synopsis writing! So expect a WIL post soon!

Okay, so bear with me as I get my footing on the blogging again!