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dragon con

Dragon Con 2019

Dragon Con
4th Doctor, Dragon Con

Me, as the 4th Doctor Who, confronting my arch-nemesis! – Dragon*Con 2015

As always at Dragon Con, you will find me in the dungeo — err… basement of the Hyatt Regency, in the Writers Track room. It is on Embassy Level, all the way at the back of the hallway.

We’ll have lots of programming for all you wordslingers! And we’ll have our third year of mentor sessions. You can sign up on Friday morning and afternoon to sit for a 15-minute session with a published author, professional editor, or agent. You can pitch your work, ask for advice, or just talk about the business or an author’s work. Whatever you’d like.

I’m thinking about dressing up as the 4th Doctor for this year’s Dragon Con, since there will be a bajillion 13th Doctors! 🙂

State of the Book: Surgery, Writing, and Cons, oh my!

Book news, Conferences, Life Stuff, State of the Book, Writing

Whew! It’s been a minute.

I thought I’d take a moment and update folks on what’s going on with me.

Surgery Stuff

In February, I had rotator cuff surgery. I’d love to say that I got hurt doing something exciting or sexy, but no. It was a couch potato injury. The MRI showed a tear (there ended up being 2 tears, they discovered when they were in there), which can really only be fixed with surgery. So in I went.

I don’t recommend tearing your rotator cuff. The recovery time is forever. It is now late May and I’m still in physical therapy. I’ve gotten about 70% of my range of motion back, but we’re still working on it, and we’re just now beginning strength therapy. Do not recommend.

While I’d planned to get some writing done while recuperating, I didn’t factor in the idea that I would be on narcotics daily for two and a half months. My therapist keeps telling me to let myself off the hook for not writing that entire time, but I admit that I’m having trouble not beating myself up. It feels like a bunch of wasted time.

Which brings us to…

Writing Stuff

Yep. Blank page.

The end result is that Book Two of the Soul Cavern series — titled Visci — is still in the works. My current plan is to publish in early August (in time for Dragon Con!), with Book Three coming either at the end of the year or in early 2020.

I’m disappointed that I’m not likely to make my goal of publishing 5 books this year, but having lost almost an entire quarter to health stuff means I have to pivot and adjust my goals to reality. So I’m going to see about 3 books published this year (one, Blue Edged Soul, was released early this year and I’m hoping to count Book Three as the third book published, as I’d really like to get it done by the end of the year).

On a good note, I’ve got the cover for Visci and will be doing a reveal in a few weeks!

Convention Stuff

If you’re in or around Charlotte, NC, next weekend – May 31 through June 2, I’m a guest at ConCarolinas!

Photo: ConCarolinas

Here’s my current schedule:

Friday

3pm – How to Speak “Editor”
Most of us are years past our high school English classes. What does it mean when your editor complains about copulas? Or past-perfect tenses? What does she mean about the commas? This panel of editors will explain some of the most common editorial suggestions and help you learn the best way to handle them.

7pm – Designing a Government (moderating)
The way a land is governed colors the behavior of its citizens. Even if your character isn’t involved in government, it’s still an important aspect of world building. This panel discusses the best governing system for your story, and how to blend it into your narrative.

Saturday

10am – The Ups and Downs of Traditional and Indie Publishing (moderating)
The publishing world has seen some exciting changes in the last fifteen years, and things aren’t stopping yet. Our panel will talk about the pros and cons to both aspects of publishing.

11am – Con Survival
Tips and tricks for surviving a convention, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth.

12pm – Writing the Fight
The best stories include conflict of all kinds. Our writers talk about writing physical fights, from fisticuffs to fencing, and offer their opinions on some of the most famous fight scenes in SF/F.

1pm – Choosing an Editor
Acquiring editors, developmental editors, copyeditors… what kind of editor do you need? And how do you find one? Join the panelists to learn more about the kinds of editors, what to expect when working with an editor, and how to choose an editor that you can work with—and how to work in a situation when you don’t get to choose your own editor.

Sunday

12pm – An Hour with… Venessa Giunta & Quincy J. Allen

2pm – Book Signing with Venessa Giunta

So that’s my stuff! You can check out all the great programming here!

I hope to see you out at ConCarolinas next weekend!

Convention Life: The Other “Con” — Consent

Conferences

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, about consent — a super important topic in con life — was published on August 10, 2017. You can find the original here!


Maybe you’ve heard the term “Cosplay is not Consent.” It’s a movement within the fan convention community to educate people on how to act — or rather, how not to act. And it all revolves around Consent.

Why talk about consent?

Conventions can be a lot like parties, and at parties people want to have fun. But generally, folks are thinking of their own fun and not necessarily the fun of others. So talking about consent is important both within and outside of conventions so that we can also be aware of other people’s comfort and wellbeing at the con.

It’s also important to talk about consent because having ownership over one’s body is a fundamental right of being human. Setting boundaries on how other people treat us is a healthy way of living life. And consent is a big part of boundary setting.

 

What is Consent?

Photo: CARE – Campus Assault ResponsE – http://campusassaultresponse.org/

Consent is simply agreement. It can be nuanced in different ways, but when you drill right down to its basic definition, it is agreement.

Consent means that all involved parties agree to what is happening, whether it’s something physical, like touching or taking a photo, or verbal, such as being catcalled, being talked about, or objectified.

What does consent mean at a convention?

It means that no matter how someone is dressed, no matter how much (or how little) skin is showing, there is no touching without asking. It is not an invitation for other people. It does not mean that the person — usually a woman — is a party favor for your use.

This isn’t just about touching, though. It’s about everything from touching to speaking. It’s about being aware of how the words we say affect the person we’re speaking to or about. It’s about treating people with dignity.

Cosplay is Not Consent is the movement that has come out of the flood of complaints of harassment and, in some cases, assault, that has happened at conventions across the country, from the biggest to the smallest. Check out Geeks for Consent for some great links to news stories about this topic.

Is it all in the gender?

Fan conventions are often male-dominated, so it makes sense that the higher number of consent violations are done by men. It can be difficult to explain to men why being touched without permission or being objectified by verbal comments is unwelcome.

Often, when we, as women, say, “How would you feel if…?” the response tends to be, “Oh, I would love it if a woman just walked up to me and grabbed my ass!”

What these men often don’t have perspective of is that women receive this sort of treatment all the time. Catcalls, inappropriate comments about their bodies, and even unwelcome touches from men. And it is all with no choice in who is doing these things. It can be any man, at any place, at any time.

If men think this is something they might enjoy, I believe they’re envisioning a woman they’re attracted to doing it at a time and place they would like it to be done. And that is not the experience of women who receive this sort of attention from men, both at conventions and outside conventions. These behaviors are done by men, regardless of whether the woman is attracted to them, is in the mood for such attention, or wants any attention at all. In other words, without her consent.

So men who think they would like this often don’t understand that they probably wouldn’t, if their reality matched the reality of women’s experiences.

But men are not the only people violating consent at conventions. Women do it too. Not nearly to the numbers as men, but they can be just as offensive as men. I once watched a woman literally grab a guy’s codpiece for a photo, to the man’s absolute surprise. I couldn’t tell whether he was offended or not, but it was still non-consensual and a sexual assault by its very nature.

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.

How To Avoid Being ‘That Dude’ (or ‘That Chick’)

Do

  • give compliments or ask questions focusing more on the costume than the body in it — “Did you paint your leggings yourself? Those are really cool!”
  • give generalized compliments –“Your costume is amazing!” or “You look just like Gal Godot! That’s incredible.” etc.Keep Calm and Get Consent
  • pay attention to body language and environment — If they’re waiting in line for the bathroom, be very brief in your interaction, if it’s necessary at all; if they look like they’re on a mission to get somewhere, let them go; pay attention to whether your attention is welcome.
  • be respectful of someone’s time and space — don’t monopolize.
  • ASK — Everyone appreciates someone who takes a moment to ask their consent to take a photo or touch a part of their costume or body; this can’t be stressed enough.
  • Be respectful of the answer to your question — Always remember that they’re allowed to say no. Don’t already be doing the thing as you ask for their consent. Wait for their answer.
  • Say thank you when they’ve agreed to something you’ve requested, because they’re doing something nice for you.

Don’t

  • catcall, unless it’s appropriate — It might be appropriate at a costume contest, or some other situation where an audience is expected to make noise.
  • comment specifically about someone’s body — Consider “You’ve got great boobs!” vs “You look great!” The first is a big no; the second is a big yes.
  • assume anything — And this means anything.

Accidents Happen

So what do you do when you’ve offended someone by accident, or realize you’ve done something inappropriate?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

~~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It doesn’t have to be about you having made a mistake. It is absolutely about how you handle the mistake you made.

Always, the first thing to do is apologize. And be sincere. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can do. Sometimes the person you offended doesn’t want to hear it and will walk away. Let them go. They’ve made their decision, and you trying to force your apology on them is just another version of the mistake you made in the first place.

But if they do listen, you can then ask what you can do to fix the situation, what will make the other person okay? There may be nothing you can do other than go away. And that’s okay. But maybe you took a photo without asking, and they tell you that you can make it better by deleting the photo. Then delete the photo. Act with integrity.

The final thing you can do has nothing to do with the person you offended. The final thing you can do is remember your mistake. Remember it and do your best not to do it again in the future. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure. And, again, you can never go wrong by asking.

Conventions can be a great time! They’re big and fun and exciting. We’re among our nerdy tribe and our fellow fangirls and -boys. Convention producers create them for folks to have a great time. But we have to make sure our good time doesn’t make someone else’s experience a bad time. We’re all in this together!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are mine or CC0 licensed.

Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

Conferences

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 May 11, 2017. You can find the original here!


Convention Life

I’ve talked a lot about Conventions this past year and I’ve got one more set of important topics to touch on. You might hear some of these terms from seasoned con-goers:

  • Con Prep
  • Con Crud
  • Con Drop

The last two, especially, are things you’ll hear regular con-goers talk about. Prep is just really what happens before a convention and can vary, depending on the type of con you’re going to and the level of immersion (ie — cosplay) you’re looking for.

Con Prep

My staging area is significantly larger than this 🙂

When people think about prepping for an event, they often just think about packing. Maybe travel logistics. Certainly those are important things (we’ll touch on packing in a bit), but if you’re going to be doing fan, comic, or book/writing conventions regularly, there are some other things you’ll want to think about, as well.

When going to a new convention, you’re going to want to hop on Google Maps and check out the area around the con for restaurants. If you have the budget to eat out during the convention and there are suitable restaurants around the hotel, this will affect what you pack.

If there are no restaurants, you’ll want to try to bring a cooler with food to the convention, if possible, and/or a lot of good snacks that can live in bags for several hours. You may still want to bring these things, to some degree, even if there are restaurants. The ratio of eating in to eating out, just like at home, will depend a lot on your personal budget for the convention.

Speaking of money, note that most conventions have vendor rooms. These are magical places which will be hawking your favorite books, games, DVDs, comics, and even autographs from authors or stars that turn you into a huge fangirl/boy. Unless money sprouts from your ears, think about how much you’re willing to spend in the vendor room. Set a convention budget for yourself so that you will have money for your rent next month. 🙂

When you’re packing, you’ll want to make sure to remember some key items for the convention that you might not consider when you’re packing to go visit your folks, say. Things to think about bringing:

  • day bag: could be a fanny pack, a wrist bag, a messenger bag, a purse, whatever — I tend to
  • prefer something small and light
  • hand sanitizer (more on this later)
  • pain meds: for headaches, body aches, etc.
  • personal meds
  • water bottle: most cons will have water stations with cups; it’s often more efficient and environmentally friendly to have your own bottle
  • snacks: particularly the sort that you can carry around in a bag
  • ear plugs: especially if you’re sharing a room with others, but it’s a good idea in general too, since hotel room walls can be thin and people in hotels tend to play their tv on max volume (why do people do this?)
  • immune system stuff (we’ll talk about this in a minute too)
  • books or other memorabilia you might want to have signed by convention guests
  • if you’re cosplaying, a small sewing kit (or whatever would be most effective if you have a wardrobe issue — hot glue gun, duct tape…)
Convention Life - Dragon Con

Forgot my pants. Luckily, hubby wasn’t far away!

If this is a convention that encourages cosplay and you’re going to be dressing up as your favorite Marvel character (or Game of Thrones or Doctor Who or whatever 🙂 ), make sure you’ve made a list of all your costume pieces and checked them off as you put them in your convention suitcase. 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!). It’s a real disappointment if you’ve put all this time and energy into creating an amazing costume, but then can’t wear it at the actual convention because you don’t have all the pieces.

I mentioned immunity system stuff above. About two weeks before the convention, start taking something for your immune system. Some folks swear by Airborne; others love Vitamin C and Zinc. I use standardized Elderberry, myself. You want to bolster your immune system because conventions can be a lot like school in regards to germs. You’ve got a lot of people from all over in a somewhat confined place. Someone in that giant group will be sick, getting sick, or just getting over being sick. And those germs are gonna get passed around.

Another thing that will help your immune system pre-convention is to make sure you get enough sleep, enough food, and enough water in the weeks prior. This will set your body up for the crazy stressors of being at a convention for 3-4 days — an event that can feature bad eating, half your usual sleep, and a ton of fun.

Con Crud

So what happens if your immune system doesn’t prevail over all the germs at the convention? Well, then you’ll likely end up with a case of Con Crud. It’s a mystery illness that usually shows up a week to two weeks after attending a convention.

Con crud – It’s not *usually* this bad 🙂

Keep taking your immune-boosting stuff throughout the con itself and for a week or two after. Even if you end up getting Con Crud, symptoms will likely be lessened if your immune system is stronger.

Con Crud can be anything, really. It might be the flu, the common cold, an infection of some other sort. Seriously, just about anything.

During the convention, you can use hand sanitizer and other things to help with the germs. A lot of people swear by them. Personally, I don’t use hand sanitizer, but it’s mostly because I’m terrible at remembering to use it! I pack it, then forget to put it in my convention bag. Or I put it in my bag and forget to take it out of my bag to use it. It’s just a lost cause for me. But I also believe that being exposed to some germs is good for the immune system because they cause it to work, rather than not work. So instead of hand sanitizer, I just wash my hands whenever I’m near a sink and let my body do the rest.

Whether you use hand sanitizer or not is entirely a personal call, just like what you decide to take to bolster the immune system itself (if you take anything at all!). It’s all down to personal risk management. No one else can make that decision for you. Try different things and see what works for you.

Con Drop

Okay, so you’ve come home from an amazing convention. You’ve unpacked and you’re back to work or school. Things are going along great! You’re telling fun stories about stuff you did  at the convention to all your friends and talking them into going with you next year! And then, three days after you’ve come home, you’re super emotional, you’ve got all the feels, and you just cried during a Kleenex commercial. Wtf?

Convention Life - Con DropThis is Con Drop. First, understand that it’s completely normal. Most people have some form of Con Drop, even if it’s mild, such as just being unmotivated to do anything productive.

Con Drop is a physiological reaction that often has emotional or psychological symptoms. Essentially, it’s the endorphins and other happy chemicals your body has been spewing out at the convention for the last 3-5 days drying up. It’s the crash after the high.

Con Drop generally happens two to four days after the end of the convention. Some folks get it as early as 24 hours later, but I think most people get it right around the 3 day mark.

So how do you get rid of Con Drop? The bad thing is that you don’t. The good thing is that it usually only lasts 24-36 hours. So you won’t feel this crappy forever. Know that there’s an end.

The best way I’ve found to mitigate Con Drop is to simply be kind to myself. If you find yourself dropping, do things that you like, that bring you comfort. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Go biking. Whatever brings you joy and comfort in the world, do those things for a while. And, again, know that this isn’t going to last forever. It’ll be over soon.


Hopefully you’ve gotten some good stuff out of this convention series! And hopefully you won’t let the idea of Con Crud or Con Drop keep you from heading out to a convention and enjoying the hell out of it!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

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 🙂

Announcement: Free Fiction Friday featuring Soul Cavern!

Book news, Free Fiction Friday, Writing

One thing I’m noticing about this entire Indie Publishing thing is that stuff takes longer than I anticipated. Part of that is me — I’m inherently lazy 😉 Part of that is just the process and learning how long things take.

Anyway, I mentioned in this post that I was planning on starting a Free Fiction Friday segment in April. Well, here it is July and that stuff hasn’t happened yet. It’s mainly because the pen name stuff has taken a lot longer than I was planning and I still haven’t gotten the second book out yet. So I’m putting that on hold for a month or two so I can do things here. Because you guys have been waiting FOREVER! 🙂

Free Fiction Friday, featuring Soul Cavern!

My new feature, Free Fiction Friday, will begin on August 3. Many authors do this and often post short stories. I thought I might try something a little different. I will be posting an entire book. (That gives you a reason to come back each week!)

What’s Soul Cavern about?

Soul Cavern is a vampire story without vampires. At least, in the traditional sense. The Visci, a species that subsists on human blood, are not undead. They’re not human. And they never were.

Close kin to humans, the Visci pass within our society easily, and over millennia, have wedged their way into positions of power. Long-lived, they are also very difficult to kill. However, they have an evolutionary flaw. While they do not die easily, they also do not reproduce easily.

But they can mate with humans — and have, giving rise to a population of human-Visci hybrids, called half-bloods by those of pure Visci lineage. For centuries, they lived and worked together, these half-bloods and pure bloods. But tensions have risen and civil war is looming.

We will discover the Visci alongside Mecca Trenow, a seemingly normal Atlanta college student, who is heir to a family Gift which allows her to manipulate human energy. She hates her gift and has refused to learn anything beyond how to control it so she does no harm. That is, until a rogue pure blood attacks her and she reacts instinctively, draining his life — the life he’s stolen from another — out of him in moments.

When word gets back to the Visci of someone who can kill one of their kind with just a touch, the race is on to acquire Mecca as a weapon in the upcoming war. As she learns about this shadowy underground group, she also discovers her father’s dark past and the secret he has kept from her all of her life. Reeling from this discovery and unable to trust the one person she has always counted on, Mecca is isolated from everything she once knew, all the while being hunted by dangerous creatures bent on using her Gift for their own bloody purposes.

How It Works

Interested?

On August 3, I will post the opening scene from Soul Cavern. To get us ramped up and into the story full-swing, I’ll post another scene (possibly two) each day throughout that weekend. But once Monday rolls around, we’ll be on our regular schedule of one or two scenes (depending on length) each and every Friday, until the book is done!

As we go, I will create a Table of Contents so that you can easily catch up if you fall behind.

What About a Real Book?

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

Everyone wants to be a real boy!

The plan is to have both an ebook edition and a print edition of Soul Cavern available for sale by the end of August. I really want to have it ready for Dragon Con!

I’d like to offer a book for sale for those who prefer not to wait for the entire story to be posted (some of us are impatient!). And also for those who are interested in supporting the author (me!).

Supporting Authors

Speaking of supporting authors, you know the best way to support your favorite authors, aside from purchasing their books, is to leave reviews on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, right? Even if you choose not to purchase a copy of Soul Cavern when they’re available and just continue to read for free on the site, leaving a review on Amazon especially would be really appreciated.

It’s a great way to give back to the authors who share their stories with you!

Back to work!

All right, now I’ve got a bunch of work to do, so I’m gonna get back to it! Remember to check in on August 3rd for the first installment of Soul Cavern!

In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below telling me what you think about Soul Cavern and/or Free Fiction Friday!

 

 

 

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 🙂

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.