There are conventions out there for just about anyone, and they’re a wonderful place for people to share their excitement and learn about their favorite thing. I have friends who love Emerald City Comicon, Norwescon, Sakura Con, and PAX. I even know some coworkers and friends who go to the more...um...niche cons. Speaking of which, my husband and I inadvertently walked into the Rainfurrest convention. The amount of time people spent on their costumes was amazing. We walked into the hotel as the social hour ramped up and discovered the term “scritching” for the first time. I may have gaped a bit at a bird with an articulating beak.
I digress. But it was quite distracting!
Geek Girl Con and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) conference are two of my favorite cons, and this year I couldn't use my new day job as an excuse to skip. All too often I forget how important conventions can be in keeping motivated. This time I had the honor of presenting two workshops with my friend and co-ex-Booktrope author, Tiffany Pitts. Not only do I enjoy her writing (she features a nanobot enhanced cat that is hilarious in her Thanatos Rising series), but she is also an excellent co-panelist and roommate. She’s the unicorn squirrel of convention friends. We competed with pitch blocks and hangovers, so we had a small crowd. However, that led to some truly interesting conversations. My favorite parts of the presentation were when we went completely off script and helped brainstorm the ideal position on a space sled to avoid making oneself a larger target and the likelihood of data-linked companies being hacked.
I had my own convention “a-ha” moments as a writer. While I'm wading through the middle of a book, I tend to forget that the simple things are the most important. I was reminded that a single question is often the inception of a story (and the basis of a logline, which comes in really handy when you’re trying to explain or pitch your book). “What would push a woman to take revenge on their stalker?” was the question that kicked off a series of additional questions that formed the scaffolding of All the Pretty Bones. This reminder helped me understand the underlying motivation of my science fiction project. It’s funny how something that seems so small can have a prolific impact.
My friend, Eliana West, gave a wonderful closed-door workshop on writing diversity. She created an environment where people felt comfortable asking questions they’d normally never feel comfortable bringing up. Eliana shared many of her own experiences to illustrate a perspective, and I watched a few key moments when people sat back in their chairs in realization. It’s a really cool thing to watch when it’s happening as a collective. I was so excited to hear she has been invited back next year to give a master class.
Cherry Adair had me in stitches throughout her workshop on backstory and I’ve put into play her tip on picking and birthdate and using Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs to choose characteristics. If your character doesn’t fit the sun sign, make up a backstory for why they’ve broken away from the mold. I may lose a little of my enthusiasm after choosing one particular sign for my current project’s main character. She has a doozy of a backstory, so I’m optimistic it will work out for the best.
I owe people the slides on our technology and science workshops, but I’m afraid I’ll need to beg off for a week or two. In addition to some great motivation and new connections, I also walked away from PNWA with pneumonia. My doctor and I caught it early and the initial X-rays look good, but it’s taking time to improve. I’ve been fortunate that lupus doesn’t impact me for the most part, but every once in a while I get walloped with a big reminder. It’s so easy to take breathing for granted until you feel as though you’re being forced to breathe under water. Annie has been a wonderful nap assistant, which is saying something when I’m sleeping sixteen hours a day.
It’s going to take a while for me to get back to normal, but I know I’m feeling better because I’ve been writing a little. In the meantime, I’ve also been listening to It on Audiobook and reading Cherry Adair’s Stormchaser. On the non-fiction side, I recently finished Forensics by Val McDermid and Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter.
Do you have any book recommendations?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.