Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

October 21, 2013

TMoRP Day 5 – GenreCon 2013

Last weekend I went to Brisbane for GenreCon, a convention for writers of genre fiction held at the Queensland State Library. As opposed to the speculative fiction focus of Canberra’s Conflux convention, GenreCon aims a bit wider to include the larger, more popular branches of not-literary writing: romance, thriller, crime and mystery stories.

Ostensibly I was there to build up my writing networks, learn a few writing tricks and gab with other enthusiasts about the state of the industry. But while I did all of those things, the real reason I went was that one of the international Guests of Honour was the inestimable Chuck Wendig, on whom I have a not-especially-well-disguised writercrush.

So if you will permit me a moment of unmitigated fannish glee, I may have swooned slightly on the inside when I got the chance to say hi at the opening reception, because he recognised my name. Or my Twitter handle, at least, which is just as good. As it happens, that sparked a fun chat about how Twitter opens doors between fans and the writers they love, who they might otherwise feel are out of their class (as it were). Chuck admitted feeling exactly the same way about people like John Scalzi and Joe Hill, but he had his own visitation from the Squee Fairy when when Margaret Attwood started tweet-chatting with him. Yeah, I can grok that.

Before I reluctantly set Chuck aside to talk about the rest of the con, let me just add that he was an amazing addition to the con. As a panellist he was funny, insightful and generous with his advice. And I gather from his post-con tweets that he is now uncontrollably addicted to Tim Tams, so he will undoubtedly be looking for opportunities to come back to Australia. Con organisers, take note.

Okay, as for GenreCon itself, it was amazing. There were so many enthusiastic, sharp and gregarious people around that I barely slowed down all weekend. I caught up with several good friends and made a whole bunch of new ones. In particular I want to give a huge thanks to Chris Andrews and Jodi Cleghorn, who introduced me to a small army of friendly people and made my weekend complete. And to my good buddy Evan, who put me up for the weekend. I take it as a sign of the success of GenreCon that he succumbed to writery peer pressure and joined Twitter this morning. (Heh. Sucker.)

GenreCon was amazing. The thing I look for (and indeed need) from a convention is a sense of belonging to a community, and GenreCon had that by the warm, giving bucketload, from the happy crowd of cheeky romance writers who went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome to the charming and hilarious group of horror writers that took me for drinks on Saturday night (White Rabbit Ales at the Archive in West End – highly recommended).

My heartfelt congratulations for a job well done to GenreCon organisers Meg Vann and Peter Ball (well, they were the “faces” of the con, but of course there was an invisible cadre of ninjas slipping about making everything happen. Many of them get a shoutout at that link to Peter’s blog). The next GenreCon proper will be in Melbourne in 2015. I can’t recommend it highly enough for its fun, inviting atmosphere and good cheer.

For the next one, which I will attend if at all possible, I resolve only the following:

1) I will book for all events. This year I passed on the dinner because I figured I wouldn’t enjoy socialising. I understand now that this is, to put it mildly, crazypants thinking. By all accounts the banquet (themed “Kiminos and Cutlasses”) was a glittering affair, and the keynote addresses were hilarious. And dammit, I enjoyed socialising all the rest of the time, so why did I think I would feel shy? Dunno. Won’t make that mistake again.

2) I will stay until the end of the con. I had to catch an afternoon flight home on Sunday, which meant that I had to leave the con shortly before lunch. I missed the final three sessions. I was sad. (Especially since I could read all the tweets joyfulling arising from the sessions I was missing. Damn you, social media.)

3) I will make the time to chat with (among others) Patrick O’Duffy, with whom I was only able to share the most fleeting of encounters. And by not joining the impromptu karaoke outing, I missed out on seeing him to his now-infamous rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Dammit.

Edit: Fixed a name’s spelling because I am dumb.

February 7, 2013

Short stories made long, junkets and kindy life.

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , , , — lexifab @ 4:25 pm

Crit group

I took my short story about British and Russian spies in the Great Game [1] to the CSFG critiquing group last night. Now this was a story that I thought was 90% of the way there, so I had been in two minds as to whether to wait for the monthly crits to resume after the summer break, or just start submitting it for publication.

I’m glad I waited. They were brutal.

In a good way, mind you – everything they said was spot-on (except where various people completely disagreed, but even that was illuminating). My protagonist doesn’t really do anything but shout. The stakes are undefined. Two of the three characters are more or less complete cyphers and their motivations are interesting but murky. Some of the most interesting stuff happens in the flashbacks.

That was the crux of it. Too much of the important stuff in the story happens in flashback or, worse, exposition. It’s a classic example of “show don’t tell”. I need to go back and play out some of those scenes. I need to establish who the characters are so that the story of their final confrontation makes sense.

Unfortunately that means I have to make it about four or five times as long as it currently is. Which on the one hand is great, because I’ve been wondering if I was even capable of writing a long (say 10,000+ words) short story and this is an opportunity to find out. On the other hand, it sucks, because I’ve been procrastinating on my novel throughout January and my enthusiasm for this project is NOT GOING TO HELP.

The solution – or at least the thing I am going to try to see if it will work – will be to write both at once. That is, write one for a while, then when I get bored or stuck switch out to the other.  They’re dissimilar in terms of tone, characters and voice, so it’s unlikely that one will bleed across to infect the other. And I think – though I might be drastically wrong on this – that I should be able to carry the energy and enthusiasm for each across to the other. If not, well maybe I’ll just get fed up and just pick one to finish. A win either way, I hope.

Congoing

I might have mentioned that I’ll be attending Conflux 9 here in Canberra over the Anzac Day weekend. I’d better be, obviously, because I think they’ll want me to be at the book  launch and I’ve also just signed up to be on a couple of panels.

But looking beyond that to October, I’m also heading off to Brisbane for the 2nd annual GenreCon. It’s a meeting of the minds of writers, agents, publishers and fans from across the spectrum of literary ghettoes – romance, crime, thrillers, historicals and of course speculative. By all accounts last year’s event was a huge success [2].

This year, one of the guests of honour is Chuck Wendig. Yeah. I’ve kinda got a big writer-crush on Der Wendigo these days, as you know, so if they’ve convinced him to leave his compound in the backwoods of Pennsyltucky and get on a plane to Australia, the least I can do is take a leisurely flight north to listen to him talk and buy him a beer. Or worship at his feet, whatever he prefers.

Anybody else thinking about making the jaunt?

School age

Totally unrelated to anything writery, Number One Son (aka the Joey) started “big school” this week, which in the ACT means Kindy/Kinder. He looks pretty smart in his big sun hat and school uniform, lemme tell you.

It’s a bit of a relief too. He was beginning to become…let’s say “restless”…about having to serve time in childcare with babies and toddlers while he waited for the school year to start. Now he’s back together with pretty much all of his pre-school friends, in whose company he will probably spend most of the next seven years. I’m sort of excited to see how they all turn out.

It’s scary to be the parent of a school-ager. But it’s kind of great too.

 

[1] Yes, of course there’s a speculative element. Though one of the very valid criticisms was that it showed up so late in the story that it derailed the narrative.

[2] In no small part, I understand, because everyone went away with great ideas about community-building and networking after seeing how well-coordinated and supportive the Romance Writers of Australia are.

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