Monthly Archives: May 2013

Balticon Round-Up

Sunday morning at Balticon, PJ Schnyder and I were eating waffles.

“I love cons,” she said. “But doesn’t this make you want to run home, and just…”

“Write all the words, ever?”

“Exactly!”

“Yes!”

I do love cons. They are great for recharging batteries, recapturing your fire and inspiration. The more cons I attend, the harder I find it to distill the experience. I could talk about midnight pulled pork and ogling steampunk goods. I could talk about feeling the bass thump along my sternum while watching Ditched by Kate and the way I was literally trembling before moderating my first panel. I could talk about the old friends, new friends, and first-time-in-real-life friends (including but not limited to: Tim Dodge, Scott Sigler, PG+Chooch+Viv, Lauren “Scribe” Harris, Veronica Giguere , Myke Cole, Mur Lafferty, Heather Welliver, Chris Lester, Nobilis, Nutty Nuchtchas, PC Haring…) I could talk about the hugs and the laughter and the incredibly cool discussions…

Or I could talk about where I am, post-Balticon.

P.C. Haring and K.T. Bryski: we're nemeses, I promise!

P.C. Haring and K.T. Bryski: we’re nemeses, I promise!

Strix is roughly halfway done. In a stunning occurrence of déjà vu, I’m hoping/planning to get it back to my editor before I leave for Virginia. This has been the most frustrating, challenging, stubborn thing I have ever written, but it will be worth it. I did attend a very interesting panel on “Female-Centric Faith Systems,” and a lot of things applied to Serafine and the world of Strix/Hapax. It’s encouraging to see that I’m on the right track, at least thematically.

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because I got to see some old friends, meet some friends in person for the first time, and make lots of new friends. On the last day of the con, Christiana Ellis shared her metaphor of cons as “friend farms” (by this point, “creative projects” had become “squirrels” and “energy” was “spoons” – Doc Coleman, you are awesome). Basically, the first time you go to a con and don’t know anybody, you plant the seeds of friendship. Then you water it, and wait, and by the next con, it’s blossomed into a full-grown friendship, and you then plant more seeds. I like this image—and it definitely seemed to hold true.

Which brings me to my next, long-distance goal. I know what kind of writer I want to be when I grow up. I want to be the author that pulls in the newbie and helps them find their feet. I want to be the author who encourages, and helps, and makes them feel worth the time. As a young, newbie writer, I have been so lucky. So many authors have taken me under their wings, helped me out, and mentored me. Trust me, it’s made all the difference. And while there’s only so much I can do to pay it forward right now (n00b), I’m going to try now, as much as I can.

So that was my Balticon: a wonderful weekend, professionally, personally, and creatively. 🙂

Balticon Buzz and Schedule

Conventions always slip my mind. I book the hotel room, the plane tickets, and listen to the pre-con buzz, but it never dawns on me that I’m actually going until…oh, the night before. Then, it’s a mad scramble to pack and organize books, and it still feels unreal until the moment I pick up my badge.

That’s how Balticon feels right now.

I have my schedule. Apparently, my past self was very crafty and booked my flight and hotel a while ago. I even have plans to meet up with a few people.

It still doesn’t feel like I’m actually going.

I didn't believe I was going to Dragon*Con until two days in.

I didn’t believe I was going to Dragon*Con until two days in.

Nor has it really sunk in that I’m going as a guest. I’ve termed this feeling “Cinderella Syndrome.” Every so often, I look at my Facebook wall and think, “Oh, wow. How has this become normal?” Answering that would be another post in itself…and may or may not crop up on a few panels next weekend.

Speaking of panels, here are the ones I have confirmed:

Friday

4:00 pm – Meeting Other Podcasters

5:00 pm – Professionalism and the Emergent Writer

Saturday

2:00 pm – Writing Real Children

Sunday

11:00 am – Autograph Session (and reunion with Tim Dodge! Woot!)

12:00 pm – Professionalism and the Young Writer

1:00 pm – Reading

8:00 pm –From Page to Pod

Monday

10:00 am – Introvert’s Guide to Social Media

So…basically, I don’t intend to sleep this weekend. At all. If you’re around the con, come say hi! I like people. 🙂

Writing may also be a bit iffy. I’m just over 1/3 of the way through the Massive Strix Rewrite. If I keep to this 2000 words/day pace, I should be finished in just under a month (hopefully I can cannibalize more words from the original draft near the end, but I’m not holding my breath).

We’ll see. The dayjob, while awesome, is also very physically tiring…but I’m incredibly anxious/eager/excited to get this thing out to Gabrielle and my cast.

In our historic kitchen, I am Daisy.

Next week: The Balticon Round-Up!

Butterflies and Hurricanes: The Importance of Throwaway Lines

WARNING: HERE THERE BE HAPAX SPOILERS

Writing prequels, I’m finding, brings unique challenges. Like sequels, they are to an extent dependent on the book(s) written previously. However, there’s a small-but-important difference.

For a sequel, Hapax would be a jumping-off point. For Strix, it’s an end point. Anything and everything I write in Strix has to plausibly lead to the events in Hapax. And since Hapax is published and out, I’m utterly bound by what I already wrote.

Mostly, that’s fine. The vague, overall eschatological arc was kind-of-sort-of in place when I wrote Hapax, and since I was relatively sure I would be writing a prequel during the proofing stage, I did get to go over sections referencing Strix’s time period with a fine-tooth comb. I was very aware that once it got to print, that part of the narrative would be set in stone.

It’s those darn throwaway lines and details that get me.

At one point, I was merrily filling in the gaps of Aelist liturgy, imagining how pre-flood Aelism differed from post-flood. I was mostly reusing material from Hapax. And then I stumbled across Serafine’s line:

Where there was no time, before there was any place, the first Word of Ael sounded. And all the vastness of eternity shuddered.”

First line of the Tablet (the Aelist religious text). No big deal, right?

Except then she continues speaking: “I’ve never heard the Hapax described like that.”

A complete throwaway line. Honestly, I don’t remember why I chose to have her say that. But it has several important implications:

  • If people were describing the Hapax that way before the flood, Serafine would have known about it.
  • The fact that she did not tells us that people were NOT using that language to describe it at that time.
  • Therefore, this version of the Tablet post-dates the flood.
  • So, what changed in the interim, when, and why?

I ended up finding a reason that pleases me, and (hopefully) adds more to the story than, “The Tablet just always started that way.”

There are many other examples. There’s a brief reference to Islanders at one point; Gaelin assumes Serafine is one of them, mostly based on her name. I never developed the Islanders beyond surface allusions to their emphasis on kin groups and beer drinking—since they were a red herring, it wasn’t necessary.

Except now, in the rewrites, I need to explore the history more fully. Who are these people, that they would still be willing to name their children after the Beast? Who were they to Serafine? Suddenly, three facts become the basis for a whole culture.

It’s often the little details that provide the key to the greater story. Like the proverbial butterfly causing hurricanes halfway around the world, word choices can affect things far more than you would ever imagine.

It’s a lot of fun, making sure that the threads between prequel and sequel align. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of detail work that I love. But it goes to show: you can’t take anything for granted.