Monday, April 21, 2014

Awesome Con is Awesome

I went to Awesome Con Sunday and enjoyed it muchly despite having managed to ding up my foot so I was walking in slow mo.  (And major props to my fellow con companions who were very patient with my speed.)
I stopped in at social media for authors and others heard some good stuff about Facebook, and Twitter, and then sadly had to sneak out so I could get in line to stalk, um, see Sean Astin.  (Achievement unlocked.  High five ten year-old me!)  He talked about running and his podcast and then, in response to a question that was apparently part of a bet, jumped on the table and narrated the bit from "Rudy".  (Good stuff.) 
Then it was time for Cary Elwes.  He spoke of movies and "Psych" and even that one episode of "Leverage".  He has a book coming out this fall about filming "The Princess Bride" and the other such things. 
We took a panel break to wander very specifically over to the DCPL booth because their twitter feed had been amazing throughout the con.  (Seriously local peeps, if you don't have a library card, get one. And MoCo, And Arl, and....)  Then finished out the day with the YA panel.  It was a great panel and not just because I knew some of the panel members.  (And well, we'll just hope people stop asking YA authors about new adult since new adult is still being defined and asking people who don't write or really read it to define it just...no.)  There were discussions of boundaries and boundary pushing, marketing (particularly as far as how having a multi-genre story sometimes means you have a cover that make your book look very this and not that) and writing in other age categories (ie adult). 
So, looking forward to doing this again May 2015. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this early study about believing the things you are consuming are heathy and how that changes your body's consumption of it fascinating.  I shall continue to assert that chocolate is a vegetable. 
2. I love this corpus libris tumblr where people take photos with the covers of books.
3. I utterly failed to properly document the NoVa Teen BookFest, so I will cheat and send you to my fellow book club member's recounting here.


Monday, April 14, 2014

In Defense of Commencement Speeches, Some of Them

I happen to love commencement speeches.  Okay, I happen to really love some - like this one from Jon Stewart.  But yes, I barely remember the one from my high school (it was a replacement speaker and yeah, not that exciting).  I do not recall the speech at either of my sibling's high school graduations.  I remember being at a friend's where the speaker - a politician no less - gave a speech that I swear seemed about to end no less than three times.  But I also remember some lovely ones from other public figures. 
My college one I have no recollection.  My brother's I remember not being terribly boring (but I was knitting in the large gymnasium, which might have helped). My sister's I do remember because the speaker handed out puzzle pieces and suggested we all re-gather in ten years and put the puzzle together.  (I do not think that gathering happened, but for all I know there's a partially assembled puzzle awaiting my piece somewhere in Chicago.)
So, in general I agree with the advice here, that people will more likely remember if you went on too long. But I think there are some that have demonstrated some humor, some humility, and some useful information.  One, I can never find with my google-fu talked about how often in life the pattern and plan is visible only looking back, which I find reassuring even to this day. 
So, there can be snippets of wisdom, amusement, or even just - hmm.  But brief is probably a great idea too. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Interesting Things

1. While I have been known to lug my laptop or alphasmart to a cafe and hang out for a few hours amongst the bustle of others with good drinks and snacks, I have also tried to find a seat amongst a tiny local shop and been blocked out by laptop huddlers, so I found this cafe's decision to go no laptop interesting.  I assume knitting is still cool, though. 
2. This clearly lacks causation, but this survey found that companies with women board members did better financially. 
3. This is mostly SFW, there is a drawing at the end that is not, however, the amusement engendered by reading about an intrepid couple testing out and rating the food related sex tips from a women's magazine might draw attention, so you might want to wait until you are somewhere that explaining what you are reading will be less problematic. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

The 30th WRW Retreat

I spent this weekend at the 30th Annual Washington Romance Writers (WRW) retreat, and it was amazing.  Much of it is a happy blur of brain epiphanies, great speeches, wonderful conversations, and time with old and new friends.  But I will attempt to do it some justice. 
Liliana Hart gave a great kickoff speech which involved a spring break story about some high surf and a lost bikini top, ending with the idea that we are all stuck on our own rocks, worried that no one will come help us. 
I also got the chance to sit at dinner with the lovely Tara Janzen and tell her how much I loved the Steele Street series. I mentioned to her my love for NaNoWriMo since fast drafting suits my writing process and the discussion on our end of the table about how fast drafters vs. careful crafters is not necessarily linked to the panster vs. plotter part of you.  Pantsers can still be working without a net plot-wise as they carefully polish each sentence, and careful plotters, might hit the keyboard and not come up for air until the first draft is done. 
The agent/editor free for all was interesting to me mostly because I found people more willing to say, yeah things are changing, this will continue to be so.  One editor mentioned she predicts (and I agree) that someone is going to figure out something around curated content.  Discoverability on the net is such a challenge, this makes sense to me.  I think people are trying various things, it's mostly a question of what sticks. 
Kathy Gilles Seidel gave a workshop on how to think about the moments and themes for your story's central couple that had us all thinking hard.  Lunchtime had awards for the Marlene contest and volunteers.  Tara Janzen gave a workshop on keeping your pacing fast.  I also took a brain break and hung out with some fellow crafters.  We talked about the relationship between yarn crafts and writing. 
We did American Author, where editors and an agent gave their first impressions of the first 250 words of several pieces.  It was fascinating partly because when you hear so many together you start to see the traps we fall into in starts and the potential issues with that.  At dinner, Robin Perini talked about her journey to being published and to just never give up. 
There was Romance Jeopardy, which as always was terribly unfair, even though my team managed to do quite well.  Our team member even managed to be one of the people who recognized the clue about her own books.  The costumes (on others, I ended up opting for packing efficiency, yes, that its my story) were wonderful.  And then we might have closed down the bar and hung out to a wee hour in the lobby. 
This did impact my commitment to morning yoga (sorry, shall work on that) but I did get to a great workshop on writer's tools and then hopped over to listen to the rest of the Romance sociologists talk on their study of the romance community, in particular how the community and it's members approach the stigma and how that impacts some of ways the community works internally. 
And then the wonderful Cathy Maxwell spoke, introduced as is often the case at the retreat by the equally wonderful Tim who said he's introduced Cathy enough, this time we would take a moment to appreciate the wonderful members of WRW.  As part of that, he told the story of his first WRW where in a workshop he asked a question to an agent on the panel who said she would never represent a manuscript written by a man.  (Which is problematic and let's hope that agent has since learned more about some of the wonderful men writing romance.) Tim felt understandable dejected but as the workshop concluded every other person in the room came to tell him not to listen to that agent.  And that was how he knew he had found a writer tribe. 
And Cathy worried that she couldn't follow that, but as always she spoke beautifully about how these retreats and conferences remind us to stay open and that's how we write the books that people read in the hospital, or share with their sick or grieving relative. 
The reason I've turned into such a conference junkie is that these things fill me up - with ideas, with fun, with friends new and old, and schmoopy though it is with love.