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Month: October 2009

World Fantasy Convention, Day 1

World Fantasy Convention, Day 1

Those following me on Twitter may have noticed a sharp spike in The Hyper last night (and a steep decline in typing accuracy, unless I was actually Twittering from the future, attending wfc3009.) This morning I am trying to sort out how best to explain why.

I’ll begin at the beginning.

I left home much later than I anticipated, discovered that all of my music had mysteriously disappeared from my iPhone, and thus had a pretty long four hours in the car. I arrived at the Fairmont without incident, got checked in (which was unfortunately With Incident – I did not know about the $100 Incidentals charge and had not budgeted for it,) put my luggage away and went in search of registration.

The badge is a lovely thing with a reading angel Poppet on it, the swag bag has enough books and magazines in it to keep me in reading material for months, and the hotel was absolutely teeming with writers of speculative fiction, none of whom I knew.

So I sat down in the bar and turned to the Power of the Internet. Within a few minutes I had found another solo con-goer through Twitter; we met up and then added ourselves to the table of another Twittering couple. More people showed up and next thing I know I’m being given a guided tour through a gorgeous recently-revamped periodical by the Assistant Editor and chatting with a World Fantasy Award nominee.

That sounds fan-ish, I know, but this wasn’t a star-struck feeling. I’m here in the capacity of Unsuccessful Writer, not Fan, and I’m pretty comfortable with that.

I think what it was is that I have never had the experience of sitting down with a dozen really smart people who are all talking about things I care deeply about. The writing field is not one I get to talk about in any real depth with my friends, brilliant and wonderful as they all are. It’s just not their thing, so the future of SFWA and the cover art selection of Realms of Fantasy is not going to be engrossing conversation for them. Here those are exactly the kinds of things that are being talked about, by people much wiser than I. To be a part of that conversation, in whatever limited way I was able, felt wonderful.

I had told our original group of four that it was my birthday, and my new friend bought me a drink and made a point of re-announcing my birthday to everyone who joined the group as the night wore on. It was very sweet of her.

I woke up this morning to another rejection in my inbox – not an unusual occurrence, I know, but today it felt a little bit more significant.

It is nearly time for more convening. More news as it happens.

In which our author identifies what’s most broken

In which our author identifies what’s most broken

Today’s updates…


I can’t keep up with Tony. The guy just keeps putting out great podcasts. Go check out StarShipSofa: Aural Delights #104.


Thanks to John of for a great link to Writing Excuses and their episode on not making an ass of yourself at conventions. I took the wardrobe advice seriously and fortified my nearly all jeans-and-t-shirts collection to include some stuff that a grown-up might wear. Additional advice on what not to say and when not to say it is very useful (though again I am terrified of sliming the authors and it will likely be a miracle if I manage to engage any in conversation.)

I’ve become aware of a couple of other non-pros going. Anyone up for an Amateurs Tweetup during the con?


Criminy, we’re less than two weeks away. I’ve been thinking about everything except my November novel. I’m happy to see people I know joining up, and equally happy to see other people I know draw the line and say this isn’t for them this year.

Google Wave:

Dude – I got an invitation to Google Wave. I logged in, noted that I have a few contacts but nobody I really chat with (except one member of my writers group.) I’m kind of stumped on what to do with it. If you have Google Wave and want to add me please do: christie.yant [at] googlewave [dot] com.


Progress on “They Are Living Still” proceeds apace. Other stories are getting kicked around in my head a lot, and during that process I think I’ve identified my biggest fricking problem right now. It’s not the writing, not right now – which is not to say that it doesn’t need years more practice and improvement. I think it’s marginally competent, but pedestrian. Needs a lot of work – I need to work on metaphor and simile (still,) I need to tighten and increase my use of active verbs, and work on a variety of other things, but none of those are my biggest problem.

My biggest problem (I think) is a very weak grasp of story. That may be why I like TALS as much as I do – it is a real story, where people want things, and make decisions, and there are consequences. The right people (I think) are empowered, and the problems are interesting (to me, at least. Again, my fellow writers will shortly bleed all over it and I’ll think differently.)

But that’s unusual for me. It’s hard. I have a lot of ideas, images, and scenes in my head, but I have a very hard time shaping them into stories.

Fortunately, there are resources. Like this one, and this one, and this one over here. And many more.

I’m very excited about this realization, because now I can try to fix it.

World Fantasy Con: hopes and fears

World Fantasy Con: hopes and fears

Two weeks ’til I leave for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, California.

This is weird on a number of levels:

– I have never been to a genre con before
– I am going alone
– It is a pro con, not a fan con, and I am not a pro (“yet,” she adds in a fit of optimism)
– It is being held in an extremely swank hotel, and I am of the kind whose coordination varies inversely proportionate to how acceptable is it to knock things over

I’ve been to writer’s conferences, and I’ve been to a gaming convention. I am guessing this might fall somewhere in between, but I really don’t know. I was told in no uncertain terms by a writer who shall remain nameless that World Fantasy “is not about fun, and it’s not about information.” Which is unfortunate, because I was really hoping to a) have fun, and b) learn a lot.

I think I should take that writer’s words with a grain of salt. I just can’t imagine a bunch of fantasy writers being dour and grim for four days, and not wanting to share. That’s one of the things I love about the spec fic community – their willingness to share their experience and wisdom with anyone who wants it. There are exceptions, of course, but they seem to be few.

It is very hard to guess what exactly I will learn. Certainly I’ll be able to put some faces to names, which by itself is cool. Beyond that I just have to wait for the program to be finalized.

My intention is to shake a lot of hands, listen, smile, and above all, not glom or slime the talent.

Has anyone been to WFC before? Any advice on what a n00b should expect?

Done and yet to do

Done and yet to do

NaNoWriMo is coming up fast.

So far I have:

– Registered
– Donated
– Bought the t-shirt
– Posted in my regional forum and age group forum
– Decided to begin a tradition of leaving carrots out for the Plot Bunnies on NaNoEve. I will photograph and blog that one. My sister is going to actually set out a box-and-stick type bunny trap, because she wants to keep the plot bunnies all month.
– Put a down payment on what I alternately think of as ‘Epic Sofa’ and ‘Noveling Couch’

What I haven’t done:

– Anything related to actual writing preparation.


At least I know what I’m writing.

A loooong time ago I posted about a story that I started writing on my phone. Eventually that got a little unwieldy and I moved it over to the pc and put it in my Active folder, where I keep all of the stories I’m currently poking at. I spent a lot of Mind Time on it – the part of writing that is really just staring into space making things up- and made some notes. Eventually I decided the scope was too large to continue the way I was and I started working on a treatment, or an expanded outline. It turns out that it’s not a good short story, but it might be a pretty good novel.

It’s been a couple of months since I looked at that treatment, though, and it isn’t done. I could – and should – work on that over the next couple of weeks. My thinking there is that I am less likely to get stuck if I have a complete treatment to work off of. I’ve used the notecarding technique in years past, but I lost a lot of the details of the vision that way. This is essentially the same thing, except that it’s a more complete brain dump.

Then there are the non-writing portions of NaNoPrep, such as the Shopping List.

This year’s list includes:

– Strawberry Pocky (permitted 1 every 250 words)
– Jasmine tea (fuel)
– fire logs (for fire-side noveling)
– celebratory bottle of viognier (for crossing the finish line)
– a large dog (to be adopted first week of November if possible.)

My sweet Sugardog passed around this time last time year. She had been my noveling companion every year, from the first one when she and I sat in my little 6×12 office with my space heater. I wrote and she snored, waking up occasionally for pets and scritches.

Life is just better with a dog around.

In other news, both my oldest daughter and one of my little sisters will be participating this year. I fully expect my sister to kick my literary ass. She’s been busy doing research for a week now. Family noveling FTW!

So that’s what I’ve done and need to do. How are you getting ready for November?

Comments are fixed!

Comments are fixed!

Sorry about that. Wasn’t even broken, really. It was a setting that I don’t recall ever checking. Comment away! Unless you’re a hater or a spammer, in which case, get a better hobby.



If you’ve been trying to comment on the blog and can’t, I apologize. Matt very kindly brought the comment feature’s broke-assedness to my attention last week and I have yet to fix it. I’m not sure when it broke – it never occurred to me that anyone might have been a) reading and b) trying to comment! It is at the top of my list of things to do this weekend.

So sorry,

The Management



So much going on!


StarShipSofa is cranking out episode after episode of high quality speculative fiction for you to listen to on your commute. Most recent is Episode #103, which you should go download at once.

You can also purchase the Sofa’s very first Anthology in digital or dead tree formats. Go give them some love, (which here means “money.”)

I listened to the latest episode of the Sofanauts podcast, and it sounds like my first narration for StarShipSofa is going to be coming up pretty soon. I am incredibly nervous about that – I had no understanding of how to record, my mic was way down, it was my first time trying to use Audacity, and hell, my first time trying to narrate anything. I’m not sure I can even listen to it when it does come out. The other narrators on the show are so good, it’s a very high watermark. But I’m still just very pleased to be a part of it.

Matthew Sanborn Smith, a frequent contributor to the Sofa, recently started his own podcast showcasing his flash fiction. Each episode is just a few minutes long, and a lot of fun. Go check it out at Beware the Hairy Mango.

November Noveling:

So NaNoWriMo is just around the corner – I’m going to give it another shot this year. The forums are already teeming with excited novelists. This is what I love most about the event, the sense of community and the sheer enthusiasm for writing that I have frankly lacked for much of the past two years.

I have spent most of 2009 working on short stories and taking it all very, very seriously. November will provide me with an opportunity to work on something longer and also to lighten the hell up, because during NaNoWriMo I’ve found that (for me at least) taking it seriously is a sure path to failure.


I’m back in Forward Motion at night, which is always full of smart, funny, encouraging writers; I’ve also joined a much smaller writers group, where I have started off with a thud by submitting that 2-hour story for critique. The results were not unexpected: it sucks. The next one, I hope, will suck a lot less. I’m still editing “And If They Have Not Died, They Are Living Still,” and I am feeling like the first four pages (out of 16 total) are pretty solid. Of course that will change when my writers group gets their red ink all over it.

World Fantasy Con:

Holy crap is that coming up fast. I can’t wait to see the actual program, which is still being finalized. Turns out I’m going to know (kind of) at least one other non-pro attending. We shall soak up teh wizdums and revel in the reflected glow of the Published.

Rejections Tally:

3 in the past week. That leaves four stories out in the wild.


I need to write better stories.