August! Already!

Over the last few months, maybe even years, I’ve been saying I’d get back into blogging more regularly.  There was a time where I was really good at doing this and for some reason or the other, I’ve let it slip away.  I’ve intentionally kept my life busy and the result is that sometimes there isn’t the time.  And sometime there isn’t the desire either.  I blame depression for that.

Factor Four Magazine is a passion of mine and I’ve put my creative time into that.  Two issues are under our belt now and I’m really feeling positive that I have good systems in place to handle it.  I am still the only one on the magazine staff, so I do it all.  Social Media posts, readings, editing, layout, advertisement, subscription management, and more.  But you know what, despite all that I’m thinking of putting together another publishing project: An anthology for 2019 release.  No details yet.  But I figured you all could have the early “scoop” since you still come by and read my blog.

The moral here is that time goes by a lot faster than it used to.  Publishing has become my focus when I am not at my day job or being with my family, and some of my writing has slipped by the wayside.  I’ve not abandoned it by any means. I still have four short stories looking for a home.  Plus I still have so many novel ideas to get out.  The final book (maybe) of The Serenity Saga, a new novel, and possibly a sequel to Volition Agent (I was asked about a prequel too). I just don’t think it will be in 2018.  I mean, fuck it is August already!

Speaking of August, it will be a busy one for me.  2018 has been the year of Conventions, both in my day job and writing.  I don’t think I will have traveled so much in one year.  I went to Norwescon this year, that was amazing and I hope they will invite me to be a panelist in 2019. Also, later this year is OryCon.  I haven’t heard if they’ll invite me as a Panelist, so ask about me! But August brings two more writing conventions that I am excited to attend.

SpoCon – Spokane, WA – August 10 to 12

I am really excited about this one because I will be a panelist, and moderator, on several panels.  You can see my whole schedule below, or you can click here.  I’d really like to see you if you’re there, so please come say hello.  I’d like to do a signing, but I’ve not committed to that yet, but both issues of the magazine, as well as my books will be on sale there. Space is still available, and you can register at the website.

 

Title: Should Kids Self-Publish?

Date/Time: Friday August 10th @ 4PM:

Official Description: What should young writers, artists and musicians (and their parents) be aware of before they distribute their work to the public?

Other Panelist(s): Kaye Thornbrugh

My thoughts: I am excited about discussing this.  My regular followers know of my son’s children’s book, Daddy is Tired.  But as a Self-Pub author, I am also planning to provide insight on that avenue of publishing.

 

Title: Flash Fiction: the Genre

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 11am

Official Description: How do you define flash fiction — strictly by word count, or is there more to it? Our panelists reveal the ins and outs of this relatively new literary form.

Other Panelist(s): Voss Foster, S. Evan Townsend, Dawn Vogel, Stoney Compton, Dean Wells

My thoughts: Oh, boy.  I love flash fiction.  I love writing it, and I love reading it.  Of course, you know I took that passion into publishing it.  I’d debate the concept of “new literary form”, but certainly under recognized for the true art form that it is.  As moderator, I plan to focus on not just what is flash fiction, but why is it unique compared to other short fiction.  We will also touch on common pitfalls and how to address them.

 

Title: The Iron Writer Competition

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 1pm

Official Description: The pen is mightier than the sword! Our contestants will take on the challenge of improvisational writing through several rounds of battle, each with a secret writing prompt. Watch writers test their story skills under time and pressure, for a chance at the title of Iron Writer!

Other Panelist(s): Remina Goude, Frances Pauli
My Thoughts: I am hosting another Iron Writer competition.  So far I have two contestants who will battle it out with a secret writing prompt.  We will have three rounds to determine the winner of Iron Writer!  I’d love to have four writers compete, but we have two already.  Not too late to join in.
Title: What Editors Want
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 3PM
Official Description: From the first submission to an ongoing partnership, how can writers stay on good terms with their editors? What are some of the biggest turn-offs for an editor?

My Thoughts: We have a good group of panelist for this.  One of the challenges of what we editors want is that we are all different people.  As moderator, I am thinking I will let the conversation dictate the direction we take on this broad topic.
Title: Short Fiction in SF
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @5PM
Official Description: SF is one of the last remaining genres where authors can sell short fiction. Although stories might not get the attention novels do, it it is a demanding form on its own. Our panelists discuss why short fiction is worth writing — and reading!

My Thoughts: Does short fiction not get the attention it deserves? I think Flash doesn’t, but the overall short fiction market seems strong enough to me.  I think we will be discussing why SF still loves short fiction, among other things.
Title: The Writing Habit
Date/Time: Sunday August 12th @ 12pm
Official Description: Authors share strategies to keep their work going, even when the pipes burst or your favorite show comes on TV.

My Thoughts: Dr. Glass is one of the Guests of Honor at SpoCon so I am excited to be on a panel he is moderating.  I just mentioned that I am struggling with the writing habit.  So I hope to offer a unique insight into my struggle and how I am working to overcome it.
Title: Impact of Social Media
Date/Time: Sunday August 12 at 1PM
Official Description: Sharing reviews, building buzz, linking and blogging… What impact does social media have on books and other creative projects? How can you make social media work for you?

Other Panelist(s): Grivante
My Thoughts: Social media can feel like a minefield sometimes. It can also feel like a lost cause when it comes to promotion.  But you can make it work for you as well.

WorldCon 76 – San Jose, CA – August 16 to 20

I had wanted desperately to be a panelist at WorldCon, but I got to that party a little late.  Though, I haven’t has very good communication from the folks there to know why.  I won’t get into the controversy here. I will say that to redo programming of a WoldCon this late in the game is not easy and I appreciate that effort for sure.

But, I am very excited to attend.  I haven’t attended at WorldCon since my first one in San Antonio.  San Jose is well know place for me.  I am originally from the Bay Area, and I visited San Jose very regularly when I lived there.  Of course you all know my fan status of the San Jose Sharks.  You also likely know that I am big fan of John Picacio, the Art Guest of Honor.  He also created the Mexicanx Initiative.  I, along with so many others, donated a membership to this cause. In total 50 memberships were sponsored so that we can ensure that the “World” part of WorldCon is represented.

All things aside, I am excited to attend WorldCon again.  I likely won’t get to Dublin next year, but I hope to attend the year after that as well.

 

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Welcome 2018

I started off this blog with the idea that I’d do a post on how to improve your odds of getting accepted to Factor Four Magazine.  But then I got to thinking, that’s no way to start of 2018.  Instead I thought I’d get a short post going about things to expect in 2018.  The positives this year is going to bring.  And hopefully not curse myself along way.

First off is the elephant in the room.  Today I finished selecting the stories for Issue 1 of Factor Four Magazine.  I read nearly 600 stories to get to the point of accepting just 16.  There was a lot of good fiction in that reading queue.  I must admit I was overwhelmed by the task at first.  It took only 6 weeks to hit 600 submissions and the speed only seems to be picking up.  To top that off, I really had trouble getting down to just a few stories to select.  Even the short list was hard to whittle down to these final 16.  Once contracts are signed, the Factor Four Magazine Twitter account will be announcing the authors selected.  April 2018 is the release of Issue 1.  The next task in contracts, and cover art selection.

I have two short fiction stories of my own coming out this year.  I haven’t got a date yet on either.  The first will be released in Mind Candy Vol. 1, this was my first pro-rate sale.  The other will be read on The Centropic Oracle.  I can’t wait to hear a story of mine read aloud.  I have a couple other short fiction pieces that I haven’t sold yet.  I’ll be looking for a home for those this year also.

The urge to write is strong, the time to write is not there.  Work has be crazy. But I am also the only reader for Factor Four Magazine.  All that being said, I am making a goal to get Book 3 of The Serenity Saga out this year.  I am also still toying around with another Volition Agent novel and possible sequel to Broken Trust.  I have a fourth novel idea that will likely work on a stand alone basis.  But the first priority is to continue Christina Serenity’s story.

2018 is the year of conventions for me.  I am looking to speak at a few again.  My longtime followers know that I loved speaking at DetCon1. I’ve applied to speak at SpoCon and plan to apply at OryCon.  I may even apply to talk at VCon in Vancouver.  I plan to attend WorldCon in San Jose and Norwescon in Seattle as well, but I was too late to apply to talk at either of those.  I’ve created an “appearances” page on my website.  If you are going to any of these conventions, I’d love to say hello.  I’d also like to say how great it is to have so many Science Fiction Conventions locally.

Many of you may know that I really love the Washington State Parks system.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to many of the state parks in 2017.  This year I hope to spend some weekends out exploring nature again.  The exercise is great, but the calm and peacefulness of nature is a great clearing of the mind.

I’d also like to take a vacation of some type again this year.  I took my family to Disneyland last year, it was the first time for my kids.  My wife and I hadn’t been since 2004.  I love that place.  I didn’t want to leave. I don’t think I’ll get to Disneyland in 2018, but I’d like to take the kids on another memorable vacation.  Life is worth more to me than just working.  That’s why I made it a point to start publishing again, and I also want to make it a priority to enjoy the time with my family while the kids are young.

The last one is that I’ve made it a point to get back to being financially stable.  It did pretty well until the end of the year.  So this year I am making more of a point of creating a savings account.  It seems counterproductive to launch a magazine and plan a lot of trips.  But I have a financial road-map that I’ve made and it seems to be working out well.

So that is my plan for 2018.  We shall see how it all plays out.  But it sounds like I have a busy year ahead of me.

DetCon1 is Coming Fast!

If you follow me on on Facebook and Twitter, you no doubt have heard me mention DetCon1.  You may have even gathered that I am pretty excited about this.  And, it is just over two weeks away!

What is DetCon1?

The simple answer is the DetCon1 is the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).  But for those, like I used to be, who are not sure what that means, let me clarify.  WorldCon, to me, is the grand daddy of all Science Fiction conventions.  Well, when WorldCon is going to be outside North America (this year it is in London), there is also a NASFiC.

This year, DetCon1 is being held in Detroit at the Marriott Renaissance Center from July 17-20th.  If you have not thought about going, it is not too late. I strongly encourage any author, publisher, or fan of Science Fiction to attend.

Why should I go?

Last year I finally made it to my first convention. I went to Lone Star Con 3, last year’s WorldCon. I figured I’d go big or go home.  And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I walked away with a wealth of knowledge for my writing, my business, and my reading list.  It was an entire weekend of fun and it cost me almost nothing.  A small membership fee (way less than $100), hotel and a flight.  But the things I learned made it all worth it.

Anyway, I made up my mind that I was going to go to every WorldCon I could attend.  There are two reasons this is a good idea.  First, it makes me get away once a year.  Second, WorldCon always moves around.  Thus making it a great way to see new places.  I really loved San Antonio, and I would never have thought to go there if it wasn’t for the WorldCon.

Well, as I mentioned above, this year it is in London.  And my move to Washington made it just financially impossible to go.  But even if you are going to London this year, you should also go to Detroit.  The conventions are at different times, just so those that can attend both have that ability.

But here is why you should go:

Panels: DetCon1 will have four days full of panels.  What are panels? A group, typically 2-6 people, discuss a assigned topic for about an hour.  The topics at DetCon1 are very vast. They range from Literary to Scientific, Music and Art, and on and on.  You get to hear experts, novices, publishers, artists, doctors, and other qualified individuals discuss these topics and offer their advice.  Sometimes, if time permits, you even get to ask a few questions. And many panelists are willing to talk to you after the panel, if their schedule permits.

I went to so many panels at WorldCon. And one thing I knew I wanted to do was to speak on a panel. Why? Well, like this blog, I like to help people, and I do that with my ideas and thoughts.  Panels are a great way for me to share those.  And, I applied to be a panelist at DetCon1 and they said yes! (more on that soon).

Workshops:  Where panels are more of a one way communication, a lot like a lecture, workshops are more of a two way street.  You work with others to develop a certain skill or item.  There are a number of these and they vary in type and style.  While you learn a ton of stuff from panels, you practice a lot in Workshops.  These are often intense periods since time is limited. But I love the fast learning method.

Film Festival:  I wish I had known about these earlier when I was at Lone Star Con, because I missed some good ones. Film Festivals show short films made by talented folks. The one I attended showed ten different short films in about an hour and half.  They were amazing!  This is a great way to take a break from the hustle of the convention and see some excellent media art.

Art Show: I could have gone broke at the Lone Star Con art show. And Detroit has some awesome artists.  The Artist guest of honor is one of my favorites, John Picacio.  My hope is to get a chance to meet him and maybe (finances permitting) pick up something of his.  But even if you can only look, I can assure you you will fall in love with the art at the convention.

Kids Programs: This year I am going alone. But last year I went with my whole family and the Kids programming was a life saver for my young kids.  DetCon1’s programming appears to be the same way.  Kids can only take so much adult stuff before they go nuts. Kids programming is built just for them and includes a number of crafts.

Dealers: Merchants of as much variety as you can imagine come to the convention to show and sell their stuff.  Of course you won’t leave without a book or two, but there are also shirts, comics, patches, jewelry, and other great things to buy. I don’t know what dealers will be at DetCon1, but my wallet is already opening.

Also, I discovered some great writers by browsing the Dealer room. The books are excellent and I wound up grabbing a few new names because that was the point. To experience something new.

So much more: Exhibits, Parties, Masquerade, Gaming, and so much more.  DetCon1 is certain to have some great exhibits to check out.   I missed the Masquerade at Lone Star, so I hope to attend this one (but I have a busy schedule already).  I also missed out on a lot of parties last time. I didn’t find out about them until late Saturday. So I hope that I can attend a lot more this time.

So you see, there are more than enough reasons to to go to DetCon1.  You can register online for the full four days for just $75 for adults, $25 for kids (4 and under are free!).  So if you can get to Detroit, you see the value is there.  Not sure if you want to register online, you can do so at the door too.  They also have one day memberships that vary in price based on the day.  So please, go check it out!

I almost forgot the biggest reason you all should go!

I’ll be there. I applied to be a participant this year, and was so honored when the programming staff selected me as one of their participants.  I am even more honored by how many panels they have have assigned me to.  So it would be great if a few of my fans, and fans of Plasma Frequency could come out and see me.

Please note, the below list of panels is not final. Although the programming staff say it is “done” (their quotes, not mine), these things are always subject to change.  You’ll want to check the program when you check in.

Of course when I am not on a panel I will be attending them, and also I will be around looking at all there is to see.

So here is where they have me scheduled (*again subject to change so check the final program).

THURSDAY (17th)

The Very First Thing: Story Titles

Description: How do writers choose story titles? What makes a good title? Who gets to decide what the title will be? And which comes first, the story or the title?

My thoughts: I am lousy at titles, and I have had to adapt to that failing. So I hope to get a chance to discuss how I break down my title block and finally put a title on my stories.

Time: 7pm in the Nicolet A Room*

FRIDAY (18th)

Iron Author Detroit – Late Night Edition

Description: Watch four authors compete for the title of Iron Author Detroit! Witness their efforts at turning the Mystery Ingredient Word into an SF/F short story in five minutes or less. Judge the resulting tales through the magic of the Audience Applause-O-Meter. Who will reign supreme?

My thoughts: I am the Moderator or Emcee for this one. I am excited about this one too. I love short fiction, which is why I publish them. So, getting to see four authors write a story in five minutes or less… oh man this is going to be great.

Time: 10pm in the Nicolet B Room*

SATURDAY (19th)

What am I Looking For?

Description:  Agents and editors talk about the sorts of projects that interest them individually and answer general publishing questions.

My Thoughts:  I am so honored and so excited for this panel. Obviously I will be representing Plasma Frequency on this panel. But,as of right now the other panelists are Diana Pho of Tor books, Kate Baker and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, and Sam Morgan who is an Agent.  Now, Clarkesworld has always been a publication I have admired and has been what I aspired for by opening Plasma Frequency.  So to sit on a panel with Neil Clarke and Kate Baker. Man, I really hope they are there and that aspect doesn’t change. However, I am also excited to represent the semi-pro market on this panel. This is a good one to attend if you’ve wanted to know what it is we are publishing and why.

Time: 1pm in the Mackinac East room*

+/- a Shirt: Starting a Business

Description: How to lose your shirt (or maybe get rich) in starting a business.

My Thoughts: This one wasn’t on my initial itinerary, but I am glad they added me. Plasma Spyglass, my company, is my second business. So I am excited to talk about what I learned from my first failure, and what I know from Plasma Spyglass to be successful.

Time: 3:00pm in the Ambassador Salon 1*

Reading: Flores/Haynes/O’Riordan

Description: Richard Flores IV, Michael Haynes, and Daniel O’Riordan read from their work.

My Thoughts: Of all the items on my list, this one I am the most nervous about.  I don’t know which novel I will read from, but I am leaning towards my most recent one, Broken Trust.  Readings are a great way to hear a book in the author’s voice. That was how I discovered the Split Worlds Series by Emma Newman.

Time: 6pm in the Joliet A room*

SUNDAY (20th)

Hobbies as Research

Description: The best way to write about something is by attempting to do it. But the problem with doing this is that it can be easy to let the research take over the story. How do we balance the story with the fun factoids and tidbits we learn while doing things we plan to incorporate into our novels? How does doing it ourselves lend authenticity and credibility to the story?

My Thoughts:  This is a subject about balance. Obviously research is a big part of writing. But knowing what parts to share and what to leave out is a difficult thing.  This will be a great knowledge builder for new and experienced writers.

Time: 11:00am in the Mackinac East room*

*Remember these are the times and rooms as they are scheduled today. DetCon1 can change these, so please check your programs. And please come see me.

 

Project Announcements

As always, I have several projects going on in my life.  There are some things that I can’t wait to share with you, so I am going to give you a few updates on some projects.  I’ll ask for a little bit of your on input on some of these.  So please feel free to leave a few comments with your thoughts.  I’d love the feedback.

Dissolution of Peace Second Edition

Dissolution of Peace CoverAs most of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, I have hired another editor to do over the manuscript of Dissolution of Peace and fix the mistakes that were missed by me despite my first editor’s best efforts.  I am a difficult person to be an editor for because I simply don’t get it.  There are many grammar and spelling rules that I simply don’t understand.  And even when they are explained to me a thousand times, I just don’t get it.  So even though my first editor was amazing, I still missed a lot of stuff.

I hired a new editor for Volition Agent, and I have since hired her to look over Dissolution of Peace again.  The main reason I felt compelled to get this done right away is that I got a big explosion of reviews. And, while all the reviews seem to love the story, a lot pointed out distracting grammar mistakes.  And, I listed to my readers and feel that fixing those will be a simple thing to do.  My new editor Tiffany Carrera is a great match for my books.  She is patient with me and my lack of knowledge, she deals with me constantly asking “how much longer”, and she has a passion for assisting writers with getting their work to be as perfect as possible.  Tiffany is also a prior member of the military, which is handy since I write a lot of stories with a Military and/or Police element to them.

At last update from Tiffany, she was a little over halfway through it.  My hope was to get it out by the one year anniversary of the book, but that doesn’t look likely.  Maybe by my birthday in November (feel free to send gifts) I will have it out.  I am going to ask Amazon to notify all of those who bought the kindle edition, so that they can download the updated version.  Hopefully that won’t be a problem.  But that will be up to Amazon.  Of course I will update on Twitter, Facebook, and here.

The Next Novel

I am really excited about my next novel.  I recently asked my social media followers to give their ideas on a few titles for the next book.  I am terrible with titles and I always will be.  I originally billed this as being a Post Apocalyptic/ Dystopian novel.  But I think I will cross off the Dystopian part.  In fact, it has more to do with rebuilding than any dystopia.  There are two titles out of the list that I really like.  Broken Trust and The Council’s Mistake.  I am leaning more towards Broken Trust because it plays on several levels of the story and in several different story lines.  Though the story is also propelled by several of the Council’s mistakes, the title doesn’t work for me is some way.  I would like to know what you think of the titles, let me know.

I have also put together a blurb for the book.  Tell me what you think:

Liam Fisher never wanted to be a leader.  But after finding the survivors, protecting them, and founding the city-state of Lagoon Hills; the people demanded he be their leader.  Instead, Liam agreed to sit on a Council with four other leaders, each of them with a specialty.

Together with Talya Brooks, the person who saved his life after the collapse, Liam runs the militia of Lagoon Hills.  And though it was tough early on, the people of the city now live in relative comfort and safety.

But Liam is fighting his own personal demons: The loss of his wife and unborn son. Rachel, his long lost love has suddenly arrived in the city. And a neighboring city-state is threatening war.

The people of Lagoon Hills are counting on Liam for their safety.  Can he keep himself together and be the leader everyone wants him to be? Or will the people closest to him be the greatest threat of all?

I feel like it captures a lot of the essence of this book.

So what is the next step for this book?  Well I am currently about 25% of the way through the second draft.  I don’t waste time of creating a second draft.  I mentioned before that I don’t find much use for a “cooling off period” and so I tend to dive right in.

Once completed with the second draft I will be asking for beta readers.  If you are interested please let me know.  Beta readers are a very important part of the writing process.  All too ofter I have trouble finding Beta readers, and even more trouble getting them to respond in a timely manner.  I am hoping to have it ready for Beta reading by the middle to end of the month.  All of November I will be working on NaNoWriMo, but I would like to work on Beta edits for this book in December.  I hope to get it to Tiffany in January and maybe see a release by March.  Maybe…  Anyway, if you want to Beta Read, please let me know, just make sure a November reading works for you.

Also I am looking for cover art.  Either premade or custom made.  So feel free to leave your artist suggestions too.

NaNoWriMo

I am going to make a first time honest effort to do NaNoWriMo this November.  I already know what I am going to write and I am already working on the plot points in my head.  I will be writing the sequel to Dissolution of Peace and I am excited to get this project started.  I’ve talked before about why NaNoWriMo is so tough for me.  But I really want to do it this year, so here is hoping I am up for the challenge.  I know I am excited about it.  I may actually have a title for the sequel too.  But, I am not sure what to call this series.  I need to give it a series name for the sake of my own sanity.  I have been tossing around ideas for some time now.  If you have some ideas, please let me know.  You can probably expect some other NaNo updates as November comes along.

Author Features

I’ve had a few successful author feature posts over the last two months.  I am really enjoying doing these.  You should sign up if you’d like me to assist you in promoting your works.  I have dates in November and December open for all of the feature types.  You can find out more about those by going to the Author Feature page (under contact me).

Plasma Frequency Anthology

Kindle Cover

After so much work, the Plasma Frequency Anthology has been released and is available on Amazon for your Kindle or in Paperback.  The cover art is amazing and was done by Laura Givens, who has done number of art works for our magazine.  Please consider checking it out.  The money raised from selling the anthology goes right back to the magazine.

On the topic of the magazine, Issue 8 released earlier this month.  We made some major changes to Plasma Frequency after all the knowledge I picked up at WorldCon.  We revamped the website, we revamped the magazine, and we changed how we distribute the magazine.  Working with Amazon and Weightless Books should prove to be a good thing for our publication.

We are also looking for good people to help us with our magazine.  Namely in the marketing and social media and in the need for additional readers.  If you are interested, you can find out more on our website.

WorldCon 2014

I had such a blast at WorldCon this year that I really wanted to go to London.  But, the deck has been stacked against me.  The final straw was when I found out that LonCon 3 will take place right at the same time by kids start school.  And 2014 will be my youngest first day of school ever.  Somethings are more important than conventions, and family is one of those.  So I won’t be going to London, unless something changes, but it is unlikely.

I will however be going to the NaSFIC in Detroit this year.  I am excited about going to this and have already upgraded to an attending membership.  I’ve also already submitted my participant ideas and suggestions.  The odds of me being chosen to speak on any panels is probably slim, but I wanted to try.  As many of my regular blog followers know, I have no problem sharing my opinion and giving tips and tricks that I learned along the way.

I wonder what other conventions would some of you suggest I attend?  I am knew the convention scene and only really know of WorldCon/NaSFIC.  I don’t really know of many others.  What others are great for writers like myself?  What about conventions that would be good for my to attend as an Editor for a magazine?  Let me know what you suggest.  I think I could get used to attending a few convention a year.

Other Events

What other events can you think of?  When Dissolution of Peace is ready for the second edition, I plan to contact a few local book stores for a book signing.  We have a small shop in downtown here.  I think there are some other small town bookstores around.  I don’t know how much interest a Barnes and Noble would have in me.  Any suggestions on that?  What other places might be a good spot for a book signing?  As I release more books, (maybe I will even have four out by the time I go to Detroit) I hope to attend more signings and events.  So I would love to hear your suggestions.

Narrowing Down my Ambitions

I wrote a post a little bit ago about getting focused on what I want.  And besides being so busy with all the stuff above, I have tried to limit all the other distractions.  There are people in my family who don’t seem to understand that I am working to a goal and therefore may spend a lot of time in my office.  And I think next week I will write a blog on the difficulties of choosing a “hobby” as a career. That should be an interesting post.  See you next week.

LoneStarCon 3: WorldCon from a First Timer’s Point of View

LoneStarCon 3, or the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), was held from August 29th to September 2nd, 2013.  Those who know me, know I have been trying to get to a WorldCon for three years.  After missing Reno and Chicago, I was finally able to go to San Antonio, Texas for this year’s WorldCon.  I was excited and nervous.  I have not been to any type of convention before, but I was ready to lose my con-ginity and experience a Con for all it was worth.

Location

First let me talk about the facilities.  WorldCon was held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in downtown San Antonio.  There were also many events, including the masquerade and the Hugo Awards held at the Marriott Rivercenter hotel.  The Rivercenter Hotel was also the hotel my family stayed at.

IMG_0533The convention center was very big.  There were certainly enough rooms to host tons of activities going on at one time.  There were three floors of activities going on at any one time, with the main Exhibit Hall being located on the ground level.  The exhibit hall has very well laid out with the art show as you entered.  There were several exhibits, the dealers room, as well as the different Con bidders tables.  They also had the ballroom in use.  The panel and reading room were always quickly turned over by the staff of the convention center getting everything ready for the next event is a short amount of time.

IMG_0522The Rivercenter Hotel was beautiful place to stay.  The rooms were comfortable and clean.  The staff was very helpful.  The one time I had a problem in my room the staff was very quick to reach a resolve and took care of me to make the remaining time I stayed there comfortable.  The only complaint I had was that I was not allowed to use the luggage carts.  When I was ready to check out, I attempted to get a luggage cart from the lobby and I was stopped by one of the employees.  They told me that an employee had to use the luggage carts and that I had to call them when I was ready.  Of course, after several days at a convention I was fairly broke, and I really didn’t want to tip a bellman.  I know this sounds cheap of me, but I was simply out of money.  In any case, that is really a minor issue from such an phenomenal hotel.

The hotel Grand Salon and conference rooms played host to many nighttime activities at the site.  There rooms were a pretty good size and the facilities were always ready and set up for the next activity.

IMG_0244All the facilities were located within walking distance on the magnificent River Walk.  I never had to set foot on any busy downtown streets.  The river walk led to everything I needed to go to, including shops and dining.  It made for beautiful scenery to start and end my days at the convention.  However, once the weekend really started, the river walk became a congested mess.  to make matters worse they had set up these tacky displays that took up the walkway.  Then people stopped to look at these booths and the whole thing became a mess.  I was really surprised no one was knocked into the river.  Now keep in mind none of this is anything that the LoneStarCon 3 could control as the Riverwalk is a completely separate entity from anything involved in LoneStarCon 3.

Overall the facilities for LoneStarCon 3 were excellent.

Programming

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Next, let me talk about the events and exhibits.

IMG_0579The exhibit hall was a huge facility.  They had a mock up of the Starship Enterprise bridge.  It had been put in the program that there would be times we could take pictures in the Captain’s chair.  I really looked forward to that.  However the display never had a schedule listed, and every time I was in there (which is a lot of time) there was never anyone staffing that display.

They also had Doctor Who display with Daleks and the TARDIS.  My kids loved that display and they always wanted to check it out.  Taking pictures was hard, since it was a closed off display.

The other display my kids loved was the LEGO display which had a large display of the different displays.  They even changed it up regularly so you found a lot of funny things that moved or changed through out. They also made a giant LEGO rocket during the convention

The art display was stunning. No photography was allowed so I wasn’t able to take pictures.  But I could have easily spent several thousand dollars there.  I did buy one piece that is currently being shipped to my house. I walked through the art display more times then I care to admit.  It was really amazing.

TIMG_0186hey also had a great display of Hugo awards and other items from the WorldCons in the past.

Each day was supposed to have a theme in the Exhibit Hall, but every day nothing really changed.  It was the same displays each day.  That or the changes were so subtle I never noticed.  Overall, the Exhibits were repetitive in nature and it might have been nice to see some more exhibits in there, there was certainly space for it.  I would say the Exhibits were good though.  I did enjoy most of them.

The dealers room was also housed in the Exhibit Hall, which I didn’t really like.  But the dealers were a selection of various different types of products.  I did purchase from the Angry Robot booth, Amy Adams’ booth, Pegasus Publishing, Epic Buttons, and Wire Rim books.  That was really just a fraction of what was there, and what I might have liked to buy given I had a bit more money.

I would say the dealer selection was great and the quality of the products was great.

IMG_0862Off to the side, where in my opinion they should have put the dealers, was the Con voting and booths.  Each year WorldCon members get to vote for the next Cons, in this case 2015.  I voted for Spokane, for the main reason that I can drive there easily.  Spokane won and I was excited to hear that.  We also voted for the NASFiC, which is held when WorldCon will be over seas.  WorldCon in 2014 will be held in London.  So I voted we have the NASFiC in Phoenix (again because I can drive).  However, Detroit won.  I also bough a supporting membership for Loncon 3 (London), in the small dream that I might be able to go next year.

The press booth was also in this area.  I stopped by there on my first day. I had registered as Press for Plasma Frequency because I am going to cover the Hugo Awards for our next issue.  The lady was not rude but she was very harsh with me, saying that I wasn’t allowed in the press booth because it wasn’t open for the public.  But when she same my membership, I guess she recognized my name from her list.  She was very apologetic.  Unfortunately, I had another harsh run in with someone when I got to the press area.  Clearly the press staff was under a bit of stress since they seemed to be so edgy.  None of it was big deal, but as a first timer and a first time press person is made me feel a bit unwelcome.

IMG_0664There were a lot of panels to attend.  I really wish I could get to them all, but I had trouble even getting to all the ones I wanted to go to.  The two social media panels were outstanding.  I learned a lot and I will be significantly changing the way I handle my social media pages.

The Self Promotion, Military SF, and writing combat were some of my favorites as well.  Though I wished the writing combat one talked a bit more about writing styles to use when writing combat rather than making sure you know what you are writing about.

The only panel I walked out of was Writing outside Genre.  It just wasn’t covering the topic in my opinion.  It seemed to be more about the panelists.  My other critique would be that the first time WorldCon panel, the panel for first time World Con attendees to learn about the program, wasn’t held until Saturday.  By then I had already spent two full days on at the convetion, and had missed out on a lot of things that I could have been taking advantage of.  Things like the parties and the Con Suite which I knew nothing about.  I could have saved a ton of money on drinks had I know I could stop by the con suite for water.

Overall though the panels were a wealth of information for me as a writer, and me as a short story publisher.  They had panels on both the craft of writing and the business of writing.  The program was diverse and I really wish I could have go to more, but the kids needed time with dad too.

Which leads me to the kids programing.  My wife did a lot more of that with them then I did.  The first day I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed the activities and planning that went into each activity.  But on Monday when I went in the I so furious with how unorganized the Lego Doctor Who stuff was.  My kids were by far the most excited for that event and it quickly turned into a mess.  It just was ever lead, and the kids took over.  My boys managed to get a Dalek built but couldn’t build a TARDIS because by that time the younger kids had been pushed out by the olders.

IMG_0876The childcare facility, Kiddiecorp, was a nice.  There were not a lot of children there and my kids had a blast while I enjoyed a date night with my wife.  As a member, the kids each got six free hours, though I think we only used three.  I am always a bit nervous about leaving my kids with any babysitter, but the Kiddiecorp staff was great.

I only managed to attend one Film viewing.  Though I watched Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope staring Brett Stimely and directed by Eric Tozzi.  I have a love for Ray Bradbury and Kaleidoscope is one of those stories that is difficult to imagine in a film.  But this film absolutely nails it.  It is fifteen minutes of genius and I really liked it.  From the fragments of other films that I saw, there was a ton of talent in these films.  The next time that I go, I will need to see more of the films.

I also had a chance to attend only one reading.  And it came out of surprise really.  I had attended a social media panel that had only two panelists.  One was a last minute addition, Emma Newman.  I absolutely loved what she had to say in that panel that I did two things the next day. I bought two of her books, and I went to her reading.  Emma did such a great job in the reading that I wished I had attended more readings too.

Until Next Time

When it came time for me to leave on Monday, I nearly broke down in tears.  I don’t mean that as some type of joke.  I literally was misty eyed. There was such a mixture of emotions from that trip.  I had so much fun, I learned so much, and yet I feel like I missed so much.  I was so happy to have a vacation with my family, something I have not had in ten years.  I was sad because I doubt I will get to London to do it again next year.  I was disappointed it was over.  I had wanted to quit my job and dedicate my life to science fiction. But that job is the only way I can afford to come out to conventions, publish my books, and keep Plasma Frequency going.  I was worried it might be ten more years before I can afford another vacation. I also have a horrible memory.  I don’t remember a lot about anything long term.  The thought of forgetting this family trip was the most frightening of all.  My memory issues scare me more every year, and no one seems to take  it serious. But I digress.  The convention was such a great time, both as a person in the industry and as a family vacation.  I can only hope that I can somehow continue to attend WorldCons for many many more years.

P.S. You may have noticed I made no mention of the Masquerade Ball or the Hugo Awards.  I plan to cover the Hugo Awards in depth in Plasma Frequency.  And, unfortunately, I missed the Masquerade Ball.

 

WorldCon Upcoming and Other News

Last week I didn’t do my normal blog post, the one from the Monday before was very emotionally draining and I needed a break.  I wasn’t surprised that post got little attention, even from my friends, but there is still something about laying it all out there that drains you.  The good news is I am feeling much better.  I wrote more on my work in progress, got a very good review on Dissolution of Peace (see below) and have been working hard to get ready for WorldCon.

WorldCon!

For those that don’t know about WorldCon, it is the World Science Fiction Convention.  It is held annually and also is the host for the Hugo Awards.  I’ve been trying to go to one for three years now.  When I first learned about WorldCon, I tried to go to Renovation, but at the last minute I had to cancel.  That was a shame because it was only about a four hour drive from my house.  Chicago was just not going to happen, the cost was too much.  But finally this year I get to go.  Lone Star Con 3, in San Antonio looks like a ton of fun.  But I made several mistakes that I will have to plan for next year (though I don’t think I will get to London, I hope to get to the North American Science Fiction Convention (takes place when WorldCon is not in North America).

First, I had no idea about the panels.  That is to say, I knew that there were discussion panels to see.  What I didn’t know was that I could ask to be on them.  Second, I delayed to long to get back to them about a signing.  Third, I couldn’t get a Dealer’s Table for Plasma Frequency.  But, I think this actually works out better.  I get to experience the convention, learn all there is to learn about it, and hopefully next year I will know better where I can help out.

I am beyond excited.  I’ve got some business cards to hand out for the magazine, and I have some postcards to hand out during the event.  The postcards are for my book and they are announcing a way to get both my books free.  I’ll explain that more soon.

Whether you are a fan of my books, fan of Plasma Frequency, or a writer/artist looking to talk to me in person about getting your work in Plasma Frequency; I hope you will seek me out.  I’d love to meet with writers, artists, and other professionals in the industry.  If you see me there, please feel free to say Hello!  If I have  a moment I would be happy to talk to you.  Also, I understand that you can leave a message for me on the Voodoo message board.

While I was not able to get involved in any of the panels as a panelist.  I fully plan to attend a lot of convention activities.  Below is a list of some of the activities I plan to attend.  Of course, I may have to cancel some of these depending on what else I discover.  But maybe I will see some of you at these. (Sorry if I butchered any of the panel names, I wrote them from my memory).

Thursday:

4pm Self Promotion

5pm Opening Ceremonies

9pm Best Practices for Booksellers

Friday:

4pm The Romance of Military SF

5pm How Magazines are Changing in a Digital World

8pm How to build a Book Campain

Saturday:

11am How to Write a Short Story

12pm Planning a Starship

2pm LSC3 Film Festival

4pm The shift for Print to Electronic

5pm Writing Combat

Sunday:

10am Mars and/or Bust

11am Should SF consider the Furture

1pm Crowdfunding

2pm Real Animals in a Fantasy World

5pm Extend your book into Social Media

8pm Hugo Awards

Monday:

10am Writing outside Genre

12pm Armed Society is a Polite Society

3pm Closing Ceremonies

The rest of the time I will be either moving around the convention to see the exhibits or out sightseeing in San Antonio.  I plan to spend some time at the Riverwalk, the Tower of the Americas and the Alamo. When I get back, I plan to write a blog post all about my experiences there.  I’ll also be on my Twitter and Facebook with updates of where I am and what I am seeing.  I also will have an article in Issue 8 of Plasma Frequency all about the trip.

Get My Books Free!

Design by Mister Signs
Design by Mister Signs
Design by Mister Signs
Design by Mister Signs

In honor of my first WorldCon and because I can’t think of a better way to get the attention of a ton of Science Fiction readers, I have made Dissolution of Peace and Volition Agent free for Kindle from August 29th to September 2nd.  Five full days to celebrate my books and WorldCon.  I would really like to see my book make some “Top Seller” lists on Amazon.  My readers did wonders with Dissolution of Peace on its first free day.  So please spread the word that these books are going to be free on Amazon.  The more people who know the better!  Thank you!

New Dissolution of Peace Review!

Bookworm Babblings reviewed Dissolution of Peace today!  They were very excited about this book and said some excellent things.  It really brightened my mood.  Please go give it a read, and leave a comment if you’d like.

 

Hope to see some of you at WorldCon!  See you next week for my post about the trip!