Monday, June 27, 2016

DCC Recap & Beyond the Trope Podcast Interview

Last weekend was Denver Comic Con, held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Several months ago, I was invited to be faculty at DCC for their Literary Track, which was a fantastic opportunity. So after seeing how my husband felt about me possibly being up there on Father's Day (his response: "You're have a chance to be a speaker at Comic Con? You should definitely do that!"), I wrote back that I'd be delighted to take part.

We were encouraged, but not required, to propose panels we might find interesting. I proposed four; three ended up being picked up. I was on two of them, with the third occurring the day before I arrived. I also got to take part in an additional panel I hadn't proposed, but had expressed interest in, and did a two hour signing in Author Alley. That was the first thing I did. Finding my booth in the exhibition room was pure insanity. It took me awhile, but I finally found it by seeing my name on the board!

These were my first customers:

My awesome husband not only encouraged me to go, despite it being Father's Day weekend, but he came up with me on Saturday to support me. Usually, he's at home while I'm running around doing writery things, and it's a world he hasn't really been able to be a part of, but for DCC he sat with me for those two hours behind the signing booth, carried my giant bag full of those books and other items, took photos in my first panel, made sure I ate, and walked with me two blocks to the hotel while I checked in. We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on 16th St. before he headed home. He then came back up Sunday with the kids so we could go out for dinner in Denver.

My only panel on Saturday was "Monsters, Not Just for Horror Anymore." On this panel were DeAnna Knippling, Jade Goodnough, and Stephen Graham Jones. We discussed types of monsters, the genres they appear in other than horror, the difference in monsters between genres, and a ton more.

Later on, after my husband had gone home, I walked to a Hyatt by the convention center to meet friends at the bar. Instead of staying at the main floor bar, we went to one on the 37th floor, I believe it was. The view of the mountains was absolutely amazing, and we've vowed to go back. Plus, their desserts were yummy. I was so exhausted from the day that I got zero work done in the hotel room that night, despite having brought all kinds of projects with me, instead staring off into space while watching a show on natural disasters. I fell asleep to the sound of bongos and revelry down on the 16th Street Mall.

Sunday morning I had a panel on "Twisted Fairy Tales in Media," where we discussed the recent retellings of fairy tales, how fairy tales have changed through the decades, and what fairy tales we'd love to see retellings of. On this panel were Dana Simpson, DeAnna Knippling, Colleen Oakes, and Lisa Price Manifold.

My sister came to pick me up after this panel so we could run to lunch at a Native American restaurant in Denver to, as she put it, break the bread of our people. Tocabe was a cool place, though not what I expected. It was Chipotle-style, where you choose the type of meal (I chose Indian taco), your meat (chicken, beef, ground or shredded bison), and your toppings (green chilies, yummmmm). Some iced tea and fry bread nuggets, and I was dusting powdered sugar off my black shirt on the way back to my final panel.

My last panel was "Why We Write Short Stories," with the great Ed Bryant, Frank (F.P.) Dorchak, Josh Viola, and Ian Brazee-Cannon. This panel discussed the ins and outs of short stories, the draw, how they can benefit you, and what to do with them.

DCC attendees had great questions. Not in any of the panels did we lack for thoughtful questions to keep the conversation going. I met some authors who were new to me, got a new dress and a t-shirt, and enjoyed talking about writing. It was sometimes an overwhelming experience (my initial invitation said over 100,000 people were expected--DCC sold out Saturday tickets), but I found a nice, peaceful out-of-the-way place to go when I needed to be out of the steady stream of people. Plus, it was fun to see all the creative costumes. My favorites were gender swapped ones or familiar costumes made fresh with an unusual detail. For instance, there was a medieval Batman and a male slave Leia.

I also got to say hi to the Beyond the Trope folks, who put on a podcast about all things speculative fiction and geekery. Shortly after Comic Con, they posted my podcast interview with them about writing horror. You can check it out on Stitcher and iTunes (episode 106). We talked horror, short stories, urban fantasy, wendigo, and graphic novels. If you like this podcast, you can find a bunch more, plus blog posts, at the Beyond the Trope website. They're also looking for folks to interview, so contact them (info on that page) if you're interested. They can do it via Skype, so you don't have to be local.

Sadly, Cary Elwes, Ralph Macchio, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan did not magically turn up in my panels as I'd hoped they would, nor did I actually get to see them at all, but it was still a phenomenal weekend, and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it. I'll be doing a post on some set up/sales tax info I learned in order to do this event, so stay tuned. In the meantime, let's move on to links.

Bear in mind that I'm merely passing these along, not endorsing any of these. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Flash  Bang Mysteries is accepting all kinds of mysteries and suspense. Flash fiction between 500 and 750 words. Pays $10. Deadline July 31.

Strigidae Publishing is accepting submissions to Ceto's Brine, an anthology of ocean themed horror. No more mermaids, but everything else is fair game. 5000 t 12,000 words. Pays $30. Deadline July 31.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for college student stories and parent to parent stories. Must be written in first person. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline July 31.

Roane Publishing is seeking romance for the anthology Love Under the Harvest Moon. Fall/harvest themed romance. 7000 to 15,000 words. Pay not specified. Deadline July 31.

VQR is looking for literary short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. 2000 to 8000 words for short fiction; other word counts vary. Pays $200 to $1000. Deadline July 31.

Fun Dead Publications is looking for chilling Christmas tales. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $10. Deadline July 31.


Map Literary is holding the Rachel Wetzsteon Chapbook Award. 7000-12,000 words. Fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, and prose poetry. Winner gets $250 and 25 copies of the published chapbook. Deadline July 30.

The I Must Be Off travel writing competition is in its fourth year. Travel articles, anecdotes, and reflections. Up to 1200 words. Cash prizes, plus publication. Deadline July 31.

Spirit's Tincture is holding a flash fiction contest for their inaugural issue. 500 to 1000 words. $100 grand prize. Deadline July 31.

Ever been to a Comic Con? What did you think? What's your fandom? What did you do for Father's Day? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Horror List Book Review: Shadowland

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing Shadowland, by Peter Straub.

I had trouble getting into this one, possibly because it was very removed from my own personal experiences. It's a coming of age story that begins in a boys' prep school with a bunch of privileged kids. There are some odd occurrences, but it's all minor at this point. There's a terrible bully named Skeleton, who becomes increasingly psychotic and dangerous. Even his own father has no idea what to do about him. 

And that's all I really have to say about the first 2/3 of the book.

It got interesting shortly after a fire in the school. Two of the boys, Tom and Del, leave town to go to Del's uncle's home to learn about magic. The uncle is obviously damaged. Del is afraid of him, but wants to be like him. Things get strange, with a mysterious young woman and a troupe of freaky men added to the mix. The uncle isn't just performing illusions -- he possesses real magic. He's twisted, and in need of an apprentice to hand it all over to, but his way of testing this is to torment the two boys. It soon becomes apparent that he sees more than he should, and that he has controlled things leading up to the boys' arrival.

Peter Straub wraps in a magical fantasy with the horrors of a disturbed set of adults. Things get confusing, because the characters are confused, embroiled in one man's insanity. The pacing is slow in the beginning, and a surprising amount of time is dedicated to the mundane. There were also details that got overlooked or left behind. The boys are there to learn magic, but all we see is some showing off on the uncle's part, with no learning occurring. Yet, one of the boys must stand up to him later in the story to overcome him, and just magically knows...magic.

Not my favorite, but Straub's writing power can't be debated. Maybe this would be more appealing to a male, or maybe it fell flat for other reasons.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
10. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
11. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
12. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
13. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
14. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
15. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
16. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
17. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
18. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
19. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
20. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
21. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
22. World War Z (Max Brooks)
23. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
24. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
25. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
26. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
27. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
28. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
29. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)

The next book I'll be reading is Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you enjoy Peter Straub's writing? What's your favorite coming of age story?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Factions of Writing

Before we jump into today's post, if you're going to be at Denver Comic Con, please look up my schedule on my Appearances tab and come say hi this weekend. I'll be talking monsters, fairy tales, and short stories, as well as signing books.


When I became a mom, I discovered there were factions. Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. Breast feeding moms vs. formula. Disposable diapering moms vs. cloth. Vaxers vs. non-vaxers. I'd just thought when you were a mom you were part of the Mom Club, and that you minded your own business, and all was well.

I was mistaken.

This was my first big introduction to the fact that cliques form in high school because humans need to feel like a part of a group in order to figure out their own identities, and that this continues long into adulthood. It may take a different form than the infamous high school clique, but it's really all the same thing. Feeling like a part of a group apparently means you have to feel like you are somehow better than another group. We see this in religion and politics all the time, but it certainly doesn't stop there.

When I became part of the writing world, I found it there, too. I'd been writing for a long time, but I was not part of the Writing World before. I once again found myself embroiled in factions. Indie vs. traditional publishing. Genre vs. genre. Oxford comma vs. skipping the Oxford comma. Short stories vs. flash fiction vs. novels vs. poems. I discovered some groups look down on other groups. Horror is often seen as less than the rest of speculative fiction, and there are those that say the writers of horror must be terrible people, lacking in empathy and remorse. Romance writers are treated as if they're unintelligent or lack writing ability. Poets and other types of authors glare at each other over a wide divide.

Writers of certain genres are often stereotyped in these ways, and it isn't limited to romance and horror. Is it true you can sometimes tell what a person writes before they tell you? Yes, this does happen. And it's not a bad thing, but when it reaches the next level, it takes a dark turn.

Why do we do this? Looking at the reason for the formation of cliques, people need to feel accepted. I don't think anyone sets out to be part of a clique. They identify with a group of people, gravitate toward that group, and subconsciously work to prove they deserve to be there. Sadly, this can take the form of putting down other groups. Then you get your factions. It happens in prison. It happens in the business world. It's everywhere.

Of course genre writers are going to be pulled toward each other. If you write romance, you're going to enjoy talking to other romance writers, because you can compare notes, bat around ideas, relish the intricacies you're intimately familiar with. Mystery writers can discuss the best places and ways to hide bodies and plant clues. Historical writers can point out the best places for research. There is support, comfort, and safety in being around like minded people. Moving toward those you identify with doesn't make you a bad person.

But putting down other people to raise your status does.

I see this way too often. College educated folks putting down those who did not go to college. Moms putting down other moms. Traditional and Indie published authors at each others' throats. Genre vs. genre vs. literary vs. poet.

It's seemed amplified to me lately, and I don't know if that's because tensions are so high in the States with such a contentious presidential election going on or if it's symptomatic of a growing sense of helplessness, but I wish everyone could remember that, no matter your faction, we're all people. No one's better than anyone else. No method of doing something is better than any other. If we all did everything the same way and liked the same things, life would be incredibly dull.

Instead of putting someone else down, talk to them and find out why they enjoy the things they do, why they do things a certain way. Understand a different viewpoint. Settle your empathy in place and learn about other people. All it can do is enrich your own experience.

To be clear, I'm not just talking about writers here. Humans are given empathy for a reason. We're given the ability to use logic and reasoning, and we should use it. You can maintain your status and your own individual personality without ripping someone else apart to do it. That, at least, should be where adults grow out of their high school ignorance without losing the person they created and got to know during that time.

Edited to add a note: This post was written before the shooting this weekend. There was also an issue of a racist comment one author left on another author's Facebook yesterday, which has blown up. While I did not write this post about homophobia and racism, it certainly applies. I wish we could spend less time splitting ourselves into groups, and more time working together and caring about each other.

Now for links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a market or contest.

Accepting Submissions:

Outlook Springs is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry "tinged with the strange." Pays between $10 and $25, depending upon submission type. Deadline July 15.

Helios Quarterly Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Current theme "Miscommunication." Pay varies by type of submission. Deadline June 30.

Bad Apple Zine is seeking YA fiction with a taste of the fantastical. They want at least one story per issue written by someone between ages 16 and 21. Pays £15.


Winter Tangerine Review is holding the Winter Tangerine Awards. Only those who have not published a collection or novel may enter. $250 cash prize, plus publication. No entry fee. Deadline July 1.

FutureScapes Writing Contest asks you to envision a certain world and write about it. Up to 8000 words. Cash prizes, $2000 for first; publication. No entry fee. Deadline July 15.

What factions have you noticed as an adult? What cliques did you discover hovering around that you hadn't been aware of before? Have you inadvertently found yourself as part of a clique? What did you do about it? Are any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Cat Fight Silhouette, by OCAL,
*Cartoon Ninjas, by Kelly,
*Closed Fist, by OCAL,
*Boxing Bears, by OCAL,
*Fighting Cat Bandaged, by Ruth,

Monday, June 6, 2016

Writer's Conference Basics, Part IV - Faculty

The previous posts in this series are as follows:

Part I, Conference Basics
Part II, Attendees

Part III, Staff and Volunteers

I'm ending this series with faculty information. For authors, serving as faculty helps to get both your name and your books in front of an audience. If you are faculty at a writer's conference, you'll be presenting to other writers. If it's at a convention, you'll likely have a mix of writers and readers.

How to become faculty: There are probably lots of ways I don't know about, but this post will cover the ones I do know. Each event is different in how they handle seeking speakers. I'm going to split this into three main categories:

Invitation - This one you really have no control over, but it's by far the easiest way! You may receive an invitation from an event to come speak for them. Maybe they were given your name as a recommendation from other speakers, or they've read your book, seen your website, or heard you speak elsewhere. The people who choose faculty often try to attend other events to scope out speakers they have there.

When you get an invitation, they may ask you to speak on specific topics or they will ask what you are comfortable speaking about. Another option, which I've found with conventions, is that you will be involved in a multi-tier process, wherein you are first asked to propose/suggest panels, and then sent a second email with the panels they will be going with, asking you which ones you'd like to be part of. They then assign everyone to the panels and notify you which ones you'll be on.

Proposal - This is the most likely avenue for becoming a speaker. Go to the event website and look for information on how to be a speaker. For Pikes Peak Writers, we have a Proposal Portal. You propose each workshop individually, so you're not just proposing that you be a speaker. Go into this with specific workshops in mind. I will address below what information you need to have for workshop proposals. Other events/organizations may just ask for an email with your information, and they will follow up later for more information.

Who You Know - If you know someone involved with a conference or convention, you can ask them how to become faculty if you haven't been able to find it elsewhere. Sometimes you need an in to be a part of the faculty if it's something where they typically send invites instead of fielding proposals. Do understand that you can't rely on them to get you in, and don't expect your friends to break rules for you. That's a good way to break a friendship.

Questions to ask: When you are contacted to be faculty, either because you made a proposal or they've randomly invited you, there are questions you might want to ask. The most obvious ones, of course, are time, date, and location. If there is travel involved, find out if they pay for your travel and/or lodging. If there is an entry fee, ask whether you get free admittance or if you have to pay to attend.

Will you be able to sell your books there? Do they order them, have you consign, or ask you to handle payments yourself? If they haven't already told you, ask if they have topics they'd prefer for you to speak on. What is the estimated attendance and class size? Is food included, or will you be having to purchase your own food? If you have health issues, now is the time to let them know that to ensure they will make be able to make you comfortable.

What A/V do they have available? How do handouts work? How long should workshops be? Will you have duties beyond presenting your workshops, such as being a table host, giving critiques, etc.? What sort of audience should you expect (as in, should it be proper for kids, are these all mystery writers or writers from all genres, etc.)? Which of the workshops you pitched do they want you to do? And leading into the next question, what do they need from you, and when?

They will actually volunteer a lot of this information with the invitation or later on in the process. Ask what you need to know when you need to know it. Some of these things you won't need to know until later, some you need to know earlier for your convenience. So determine on your own what you need to know and when.

What Workshop Info They Need: It's a good idea to have your workshop ready in advance, or at least have a good idea of what you're doing if you're proposing. Some information you may be asked for in advance is:

Short blurb
Workshop description
A/V needs
Whether you have handouts
Panel or workshop
If there are other speakers involved (often including their names and email addresses)
Your email
Long bio
Short bio
Most recent publication
Your location (so they know if they'll be paying travel)
Length of your workshop
What attendees need to bring
Any extra important notes

Preparation: So what happens now? You've been confirmed as faculty, asked your various questions, set out the guidelines for your workshops. Now you need to prep a few things:

Travel - If the event folks are handling your travel, you don't have to do anything here until they contact you for information. Same goes for if they're handling your hotel. But if they are not handling these things, you need to secure your hotel room as soon as possible. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, hotel rooms can sell out, and then you're stuck trying to find a hotel room nearby. Two, the discounted group rate events usually have ends before the event. I just made this mistake with Denver Comic Con. If you're not sure what days they need you, ask. And if they're not sure yet, make reservations for the full event, starting the day before it begins, and cancel any unnecessary room nights once you know you don't need them.

This isn't as doable with airline tickets, so you'll either have to wait until you know when you're needed for certain, or you can plan to attend the entire event and get those tickets early and cheap. It's easier if you're driving. Perhaps you can find someone to carpool with if you know who the other faculty members are.

Also of note: Find out what parking will be like. You don't want to get stuck driving around a big city looking for a parking structure because it turns out the location of your event has no parking.

If they're arranging your travel, they should ask you for any stipulations/requirements you might have, and communicate your travel information once it's completed. Things they may ask you are whether you have a preferred airport or airline (though they will likely have a go-to airline or will be seeking the least expensive option), if there's a time that works best or doesn't work, and if there's anything else they need to know. If they're flying you in, they typically arrange to have a volunteer or van pick you up at the airport and drop you off at the end of the event. This is also a detail they should tell you. If they don't, ask. The volunteer picking you up should have information on what you do next and where you go.

Workshop - Once your workshop has been accepted, you need to begin work on it. You will probably be asked for handouts in advance unless they expect you to print them and bring them on your own. Get those ready so you're prepared when they ask you for them.

If you don't have any of the information I listed under information they'd need, get on that. Prepare your PowerPoint or other visual aid if you have one. Run through your workshop. Run through it a few more times. The number of people who run out of time or finish their workshop too early is surprising. If you aren't given a time limit for the workshop, ask. They are usually around forty-five minutes to an hour at a conference or convention, but you want to be sure.

Details - Read the emails you're sent. This may seem obvious, but I can tell you from experience that people frequently just scan these, completely missing important information and questions that are being asked. Conference planners don't ask questions just for fun. There's a reason they're asking. Respond to the questions they ask you. Someone is on the other end of that email waiting on a bunch of people to respond in a timely manner. And there are people waiting on those people waiting on those people waiting on those people. In other words, a chain of  folks with jobs they need to complete are waiting on these bits of information in order to do said jobs.

Consider what marketing materials you need to bring. At a writer's conference, you shouldn't need banners and signs. But business cards, bookmarks, and other small things you can hand out with your information on them are good ideas. If it's a convention, you're more likely to have a table you can decorate however you'd like, including a banner, sign, standee, etc. Ask if you're unsure.

If there's a formal event or costume event, you'll want to get what you need for those in advance. Remember that formal clothing is easier to find in stores around homecoming and prom, and mostly absent at other times. Given, you can find these items online any time of the year, but if you're someone who needs to try them on, you want to shop in the fall or spring.

For larger conventions, a lot of the information you need as a faculty member might be on the website, which means they won't email it to you. Look around and see what you can find on your own if there's something you need to know.

Speaking Notes: People like visual aids, and they like to see the folks speaking. Unless you're up on a stage, consider standing for your presentation, so they aren't just staring at the backs of other attendees' heads. By far, the folks with the best feedback on surveys at the end of conference are those who were actively engaged with their audiences, the ones who stood and didn't just read off of a prepared lecture.

A PowerPoint presentation is a good idea if you know A/V will be available. However, don't put all your information on the slides and just read from them. Treat it more like an outline and a place to put longer bits of information, such as quotes, website links, and other references you think they might want to write down. Images and even comic relief are a good bet, too. If you want to use a visual aid, be prepared to bring and use your own laptop for it. Most events will not provide a laptop, only the projector and screen.

Audience involvement is also a good idea if it's possible. Hands-on activities keep the audience engaged and let them try what you're teaching.

If you have a bunch of resources you want to share, consider doing a handout with those. I've also seen people hand around a clipboard and offer to send people resources. Or pass around a clipboard to be added to a newsletter, promising the resources, as well.

Try referring to books other than your own in your workshops. A complaint we saw a lot this year was that people talked about their own books too much. People feel like they're being sold to when you do that.

Please note that I'm in no way saying you must have all these things. Sometimes you won't have a choice on whether you sit or stand. A/V might not be available. You might not be able to speak without having it all outlined. I get it. I'm just throwing out things people have complained about on surveys. The number of people who complain on this is minimal. If you're giving good information, that's what matters.

Onsite: Make sure you arrive early. If you are first scheduled to speak at 11:00, show up about an hour ahead of that. This gives you time to deal with any inconveniences or issues you may have. It also gives you time to check in and get settled.

You will likely need to sign in somewhere. Usually there is a registration desk you can ask at, though faculty may be directed elsewhere. The people at the registration desk will know where you need to go. Or they can find a person who does. If you were picked up at the airport, your driver will direct you.

Consult your schedule right away, though you should have been sent one in advance. If the organizers are doing their job, they should be sending a schedule with any important times, including your workshops, meals, mixers, and other related items. But check your schedule onsite when you get it in order to be sure nothing has changed.

Look through your materials. Be sure you find any badge or meal tickets. Look for a map so you know where you're going. Scope out the rooms you'll have workshops/appearances in so you can be on time. Try to get into the room you're presenting in about ten minutes before your presentation (unless there's another workshop in there). This will allow you to get set up and be ready to go on time, and to work through any A/V issues.

End your workshop on time. It's disappointing to the audience when you finish too early. On the flipside, you're ripping off the next speaker if you go over and force them and their audience to wait outside the room. You're also making your audience late for their next workshop.

Find out who your point of contact will be. Who do you ask questions of? Who do you talk to if there's an issue?

Try to be friendly and hang out with folks. Now is a great time to get to know other speakers, as well as the attendees and staff. Meet other authors. Hobnob. You don't want to be seen as that stuck up author who wouldn't talk to anyone, even if you know it's because you're a mega-introvert, not a snob.

Find some downtime when you can. If there's a green room, visit it. At a writer's conference, there will usually be snacks and drinks in the green room, and it will hopefully be a safe zone, so it's just other faculty and select staff. At a convention, I don't believe this is true, but I'm not sure. I do know that there tends to be a Con Room everyone has access to. So I'm not sure whether faculty have a safe, quiet zone at those, other than their hotel room. But if that's the case, try to hide in your hotel room here or there. You can do that and still be out there interacting with people at other times. Your sanity is important, too. You might even have some writing time!

Final Thoughts: Despite the fact many of us are introverts, it behooves us to get out there and be active at conferences and conventions, as well as outside them. You can look for other places to present workshops and education. Pikes Peak Writers has monthly programming, for example, as do most big writer's groups. Do a little research, attend programming near you, and try to become involved in those communities. The more involved you are, the more likely you are to be asked to be faculty.

As faculty, don't be afraid to ask questions. Too often we stay quiet and hope the right information will come to us, which can cause a lot of anxiety. Don't make demands, but do ask those questions.

What attendees want faculty to know: We want to be able to see you, and we want to know you're not just phoning it in. Please try to speak on topics you have an interest in unless you're assigned a topic. Stand up if you're not on a stage (if you can). Look at us, not at a piece of paper. We're here to learn from you in the hopes that we can reach the place you're currently in. We're not here to judge you. Often, we look up to you.

Remember that we may not know all the technical terms you're accustomed to; don't dumb it down, but do think to ask if people know what you're talking about or just define it for us quickly without asking. Don't get impatient if we ask a question that seems obvious to you. Please bear with us--we're learning, and we're quite possibly new.

We're your fans, the people reading your books. When we're not yet, hopefully we will be once we've heard you speak and have met you. If you're rude, we'll remember forever, and we definitely won't buy your books.

What staff want faculty to know: We're working hard, just like you, and we're volunteers. We have a job, and while we will try to do anything you need, bear in mind that there may be somewhere we need to be, too. We frequently miss meals, mixers, queries, critiques, and other things because we have to work through them. And we do this knowing we will get no credit for our work.

We are here to support you, but also to support the attendees. And there's a good chance we look up to just as much as they do. We don't mind you asking questions, and we want to help, or else we wouldn't be here.  Our jobs depend upon you doing what you have agreed to do, so please fulfill your obligations. We are probably incredibly excited to be working with you, and we've been looking forward to it for months.

Anything I missed? What would you say to faculty? If you've been faculty, what tips would you give? And what would you say to staff and attendees? Have you had a different experience than the information I've laid out?

This was super long, so no links today.

May you find your Muse.

*Teacher, by OCAL,
*Invitation, by OCAL,
*Question Callout, by OCAL,
*Projector Screen, by OCAL,
*Aircraft, by OCAL,
*Mail, by OCAL,
*Romanov Dark Lady, by OCAL,
*Video Projector, by OCAL,
*Library Book Cart, by OCAL,
*Reference Desk, by OCAL,
*Alarm Clock, by OCAL,
*Coffee Machine, by OCAL,
*Man With a Microphone, by OCAL,

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG - Fickle Beast

It's June, and time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh!

The co-hosts for this month are Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner! Be sure to stop by and thank them for hosting.

IWSG is the first Wednesday of each month, and encourages us to share our fears, insecurities, and inspirations. Anyone is welcome to join. Simply go here to add your name to the list.

Had I posted this two weeks ago, I would have been in a more negative head space. It hit me that I gave up too much in terms of my personal aspirations in writing in order to fulfill two volunteer positions for a writer's group I'm part of. I stopped writing for several months because of it. While I was still submitting, though at a slower rate than usual, during that time, it has finally caught up to me that I didn't do what I should have been doing. Things are a bit slow right now, and I had a period of panic where I thought I had perhaps shot myself in the foot.

I do believe that I shot myself in the foot, and that I will now be playing catch up for awhile. Because I paused my forward progression, I am in a gap of time where I haven't placed stories at the rate I previously was. Who knows how long it will take me to get back to where I had worked so hard to get before.

However, I'm writing again. I've finished two short stories and gotten partway through two others in the last two weeks. I'm about to jump back into novel edits (finally). And I'm making notes on a new novel. This progress has helped me get past my dip into panic. Mostly, anyway. I still regret that I put myself in this position, but knowing that I'm taking it back is helping. Publishing is a slow process anyway, I didn't permanently harm anything, so it comes down to patience and determination to get it back.

If you've come around before, you know I post submission rates for the previous month with my IWSG post to keep myself accountable. I also usually post publication links on Wednesdays, but have decided to post only once per week over summer, except in special circumstances, such as IWSG. You can find the publication links I typically post on my Monday post from this week.

My stats:

In May, I submitted 7 stories, had 0 acceptances, got 3 rejections (1 personal, with valuable feedback), rewrote the endings on 2 stories that I've resubmitted, had 2 pieces published, and finished 2 new short stories, as mentioned above. I currently have 10 pieces on submission. The longest has been out for 205 days. Yeesh.

This is an improvement just over last month, so I'm feeling good about it. I'd like to get up to 20 stories in action at any given time, so that's my next goal. I'd also like to write in a different genre than usual. I've got several ideas floating around in my head, so we'll see which one takes the lead.

What are you feeling insecure about? Has anything helped to settle any of your insecurities lately? Any regrets you're facing in the writing world? Have you submitted or queried this month? How is your writing going?

May you find your Muse.