GenCon 2019!

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Back from GenCon!

It was good! Though next time, I think I’ll find a hotel rather than a truck-stop motel. The motel was good for a motel, but, erm, seemed designed for one-night stop-overs rather than four consecutive nights. Next time, hotel. With breakfast. Breakfast would be lovely.

ANYWAY! Volunteered at the Writer’s Symposium, which was exhausting but in a good way. Kept me busy and I was still able to go to pretty much all the panels and presentations that I’d wanted (and ended up going to a couple unexpected ones, and missing a few that I realized weren’t quite what I thought they were when I registered). Oh! And got all the books I’d brought for signing signed by some of my favorite authors, which was awesome.


  • This very clever revision/editing trick I’m going to use from now on for multi-viewpoint novels. Break the novel down into the individual character arcs and read those sections chronologically. It had been suggested as a way to maintain character voice, but I know the current book has a problem with redundancy and repeating character goals when I’m shifting to a viewpoint that I’ve been out of for awhile. This might help me weed through that.
  • I have been doing my query letters wrong. Kind of. See, I’ve been so damn focused on the concern of making my last book look marketable. Finding comps. Making it less threatening. But then, during a panel that, oddly, had little to do with querying, both an author and an agent pointed out that the thing agents and editors want is the opposite. Yeah, making sure your book isn’t totally out there is good, but more important is highlighting why it’s different. Thus, I’m doing another query revision before I send out my next batch, though this is going to take some work. Switching my focus from similarity to difference has, so far, been difficult, but I’m trying to be a little looser/free-er with my comps and let more of me, the writer, into my exceedingly business-like query. Seriously, looking at it, I realize I sound so, so terrified with my extreme professionalism—no, I’m not going to be unprofessional now, but it’s okay, I realize, to pitch the book the same way I pitch the book in person, i.e. with a bit of humor.
  • That said, more and more, I’m thinking I might need to re-title “In Blood.” As is, it works, but at the same time, it’s not really… *makes hand gestures* …y’know. It doesn’t stand out.
  • What to do when that horrible question comes up, when you tell people you’re a writer, and they say, “Oh? Anything I might’ve heard of?” The ANSWER: pull a copy of your book out of you bag and leave them to read the back cover copy while you keep doing whatever it was you were doing before they interrupted. That is genius.
  • Authors can be accused of a sort of distributor favoritism. If they post on their site a link to purchase their book but from only one distributor, though their book is available from multiple, the other distributors can call foul. The advice had been to just remove everything and leave if up to your publisher to put links to distributors on their page, but I figure I’m pretty small potatoes at this point—and everything I have published so far are short stories—so I’ve instead updated my publications list to include links to anywhere and everywhere you could possibly purchase my work. The distributors (when there are multiple) are now listed alphabetically, not in any order of preference. In future, though, I plan to follow the advice of no links whatsoever, but that’s not for awhile yet.
  • Confirmation of a level-up moment. I’d gone to one of the read & critique workshops, where you read three minutes of your work and a panel of authors/editors/agents give feedback. While I was listening to everyone read, editor-brain was critting and doing its thing (’cause it seems I can’t frickin’ turn it off when in a critique circle), and then the panel gave their feedback and probably about two out of three times, they critiqued the same thing I would’ve critiqued. They also caught a whole lot else I didn’t, but it was good to realize that I leveled up.
  • One (super important) reason why that whole book length and word count thing is so popular as a reason why your book is rejected. It’s actually not that much of a concern—if someone loves your long book, so long as it’s not 600,000 words, it’s workable—BUT it’s quantifiable. If someone is looking for a way to say “no” because it’s not their taste, they can cite the word count as a reason and it can’t be argued with. And suddenly I’m like, OH. So…it’s not a personal failing? I haven’t failed as a writer?
  • Some valuable reminders about how to write a fight scene.
  • Those bookmarks were far more popular than I thought they’d be. Instead of a handful, next time, I need to bring, like, 100, maybe more. They were all gone overnight. We’ll see if there’s an uptick in website traffic…

If I think of more, I’ll add to this post.

The tower of signed books!
And free books!

ICFA 40 (cont.)


I’ve arrived! Well, two days ago, but this is one of the few times I haven’t been attending papers and panels and events, and had the chance to do a dress rehearsal of my paper. While in the hammock. Under the lovely Florida sun (this is only partially facetious; I managed to buy a pair of sunglasses so my antagonistic relationship with sunlight is a little less than usual).

So far, it’s been a blast and extraordinarily educational. I’m less than a neophyte academic, so I have much to learn (but I’m learning! I think…).

Anyway, have pictures of palm trees! And green! Which is so very, very not what Chicago looks like right now. (Also, my phone camera is old and terrible, and I’m not much of a photographer, so the quality is so-so)


I’ll be heading out to ICFA 40 in Orlando next Wednesday to present my paper, “Story Promise: The Implicit Contract Between Writer and Reader” (’tis on Saturday, at 10:30am). This’ll be both my first ICFA and my first public presentation of a paper. I’ve done readings before, though they’ve tended toward small-scale, maybe-twenty-at-most crowds primarily made up of friends or friends of friends. The closest I’ve ever come to an academic paper presentation were the few I attended at WisCon about five years ago.

No idea what to expect, and it’s got me both terrified and thrilled. I’ve also never been to Orlando–or Florida, for that matter. I’m looking forward to the rather sudden change in weather. In Chicago today, it’s a high of 15°F, though it feels like 2°. In Orlando it’s 61°, and today is the coolest day this week.


In other news, my new bookmarks came in! Since none of my bios in the anthologies have my website, I figured I needed something to point people here, but business cards (I feel) are the first things to end up in the trash after a convention. Bookmarks, however, serve dual purposes: they do promo while simultaneously being something useful. Since I’m only published in anthologies right now, I don’t have a snazzy book cover to throw on there, so the dragon in my header image found another home. Bookmarks bought through, which offers rather affordable printing options.