Sunday I was at the Baltimore Book Fest. Schedule-wise, that was the only day I managed, but it was fun-filled and awesome so there you go. And not just because I got to hang out with and stalk and support quite a few fellow writer chapter mates. (Although that wasn't a bad thing, certainly.)
We started in the SFWA tent with a great discussion of good vs. evil and the use of spirituality in fiction with Tom Doyle and Kate Milford and moderated by Catherine Asaro. There were some great discussions of how to balance the use of cultures that may be less familiar to you and/or your primary audience. Also a lot of talk about how building evil's reasons and justification is just as important as good's (assuming your protagonist is up against evil, although I imagine it still applies if that is not the case.)
Then there was a discussion of idea generation (in other words where do writers find them) with Don Sakers, Sara Beth Durst, Jack McDevitt and Alethea Kontis. Alethea said she has a guy, she just leaves money under the pillow. But, more seriously, it always fascinates me to listen to the things that got people started down a story path.
Then we hopped to the Maryland Romance Writers tent where Debra Anastasia, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Christi Barth, Stephanie Draven and Patricia Eimer spoke about humor in books. There was some great discussion about how humor can be use to both break up bleaker moments and also stretch out pacing and information. Also, quite a few of the authors said many times the funny sidekick can help the writer carry through the series, not just the reader, although it also helps to have someone for them to riff off of or play against.
We took a food break, although we ate adjacent to MRW tent, so got to hear some of the readings (in particular the lovely Robin Covington's, rumor has it she kept a straight face despite some friends in the audience trying to distract her. I swear I was not that friend. You know, this time.)
Sharon Buchbinder, Kate Dolan, Eliza Knight and Rebecca York gave some good tips on being a healthy writer. Not shockingly that included moving more (they had some good tips on how to do that, including laundry lunges). Also, Rebecca York talked about something I hadn't properly considered. She had moved herself and her husband (since she does the food making) to a low fat diet way back when, only to discover that for her husband, that increased his bad cholesterol, and he really did better on a low carb diet. I had heard about the reverse, but certainly it makes sense that this would be true to. (So, in other words, not every diet or food lifestyle works for everyone.)
Kate stuck around with Catherine Asaro, Natalie Damshroder, Stephanie Draven, Laura Kaye and Alethea Kontis to talk about making old stories new again. Alethea read one of my favorite short stories of hers, with dramatic voices. The other readings were all really interesting too. And the panelist had good things to say about making your own spin on things and either going to the source material, in the cases of those riffing off other stories, or inventing your own, for those braving new and different paranormal worlds.
And Stephanie and Laura hung around with Sharon Buchbinder, Loni Lynne and Laura Welling to discuss their favorite monsters. There seemed to be some disagreement about vampires are cool vs. vampires are over. There were readings, and, as the rain began to pound, sirens went by and trucks began to pack up for the festival's end, the readings got some added sound effects.
Fortunately the rain broke as the panel wrapped up and we were all able to make it back to the cars without getting drenched.