I’ve been catching up on season 3 of Agents of Shield. Gotta love Netflix. It’s been a while since I’ve watched this particular show. Season 2 was a bit of a rocky one for me. Skye’s family drama was way to drawn our for my taste. I’m enjoying season more, though I’m only a third of the way through.
It occurred to me watching it that the dialog, while not always smoothly delivered (I enjoy the show, but the acting isn’t stellar), I feel like it’s well paced most of the time. It makes me want to write since it reminds me of how dialog feels on paper. I can practically see the dialog tags and beats as the show progresses.
I’m not suggesting the show is brilliantly written, but is competently written, particularly the dialog, at least when it isn’t being used to force plot. It’s a happy reminder of how dangerous forcing things can be to the integrity of the work. It’s also a reminder that there is a balance to maintain between the art of the words and the needs of the story.
Maybe it’s just good for me to be thinking about this kind of thing at random again. It’s been a while.
Time to sit in front of a keyboard for a while.
Hello friends, readers, fans, and people who accidentally wound up here looking for something else. I’m at LibertyCon this weekend so I thought I should blog about it. (This is where I don’t mention that I don’t blog enough.) Rather than focus on this one con, though, I thought I’d discuss cons in general.
I don’t go to a while lot of science fiction cons. I don’t travel far to attend them. It’s not that I don’t want to, goodness knows I do, but there are only so many things I get out of a con. Here’s my top five reasons I go to my local cons.
5) Selling books. Ooh, do I like selling books! And going to a con usually affords me the opportunity to do that…two or the times over the weekend. I think my peak is five. I’m not a known author, I only have one product to push, and short story collections aren’t exactly the top seller these days. So the book sales aren’t exactly passing my way, but they feel good. Notice that this takes the bottom slot (top of the page, bottom ranking, for those directionally strict) because it’s more a perk than a reason. In fact, I didn’t even bring books with me this time, so sales are tough to pul off.
4) Networking.I’m a terrible networker. Terrible. Mostly because I’m ever so slightly socially awkward. (Never thought you’d find a socially awkward person at a science fiction convention, did you?) I pretty much need to be planted next to someone to accomplish anything. Cons often plant me in the right place when I need to be there. I’ve gotten at least one story sold this way and made some very good friends the same way.
3) Feeling knowledgeable. I’ve been doing this worrying thing for a while now. I’m pretty decent at it. The things I’m not decent at, I know about and know I need to improve (most notable: keyboard time). But it’s easy to forget that I know stuff when I’m not using the stuff I know. It’s good to be on a panel and be able to talk about writing or space travel or zombies or comedy and contribute to a discussion, and have people react to what I day as if it had value (whether they actually think it does or not, I appreciate the illusion). It also feels good to listen to other people on panels and think “yup, I knew that” or “they should mention this” or even “what are they talking about?” I admit, that’s more the reason I attend panels these days than any hope of picking up something new. That doesn’t mean I don’t learn new stuff, it just means I don’t expect it. That knowledgeable feeling is what I like. (Maybe too much honesty there?)
2) My people. Being in a small southern town made finding my people (geeks and nerds) a daunting challenge. I’m finding it no easier now that I’m in a big southern city. I know they’re out there, but how so I find them? Go to where they congregate, of course. This isn’t even about making friends, it’s about feeling comfortable in my skin in a large group (see socially awkward above). The conversations I overhear make sense to me as worth discussing. Even if a debate over whether zombies or vampires are more terrifying isn’t any more productive than whether soccer is better than, football or Trump is better than a mannequin wearing a badger, at least I get desire to explore the z/v contest. One con I went to had a room full (very full) of people singing along with a showing of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. If that’s not finding muy people, what is?
1) Inspiration. It can be hard to write when so many things in life are demanding your attention. Kid, girlfriend, selling a house, buying a house, day job, dog…that’s just a few of the top of my recent list. Sometimes it takes a fire under my butt to get my fingers burning across a keyboard. People at cons have that kind of fire. Sometimes it’s “wow, I want to have a book launch party like that guy”, or its “I want to talk about a project with passion like she does”, but just as often it’s “if this idiot can get a book out, why can’t I?” I’m not proud of that last one, but inspired is inspired. I’m still at LibertyCon and I just pumped out 2000 words on my middle grade novel that has been nothing but stalling for the past month. If it weren’t for the refueling I get from a con, I’m not sure there would be a writer in me anymore.
Well, the Escape Pod contest was fun, but my story got trounced in the final round. Technically I don’t think it should have made the final round (edged out by a vote at the end), but they let 3 stories through each semi-final group instead of the 2 from the original rules. I’m in full support of the stories that won, so no hard feelings. I’m just glad to see that story garner as much support as it did in the earlier rounds.
I recently attended my very first SCA event. For those unfamiliar, it’s kind of like a Renaissance Fair(e) but covers a full weekend. It’s a little more about the dressing up and experiencing than I think most Faires are, but I’ve honestly not been to one of those, so I can’t say. I enjoyed it. It turns out I look great in a tunic and arguably even better in a kilt. I will definitely be going to more. I consider it research for future fantasy stories, and I’m pretty sure I can get my taxes to reflect that.
After eight long months, I finally sold my house. Now I only have to pay for one place to live (plus a storage unit for my stuff to live in). Maybe that will allow my stress levels to come down and help me get some writing done. Maybe.
Speaking of writing, my next project will have me dipping my toe into middle-grade fiction. I’ve written on that level before (Brother Goo, Faerie Belches, Ten Seconds), but I’m tackling this at the novel length. My daughter inspired me with her sudden interest in my stories, and I want to do something targeted at her. Plus we’ve been reading the Fablehaven books together, which are very good; I’d be honored to have my work shelved next to books like that. More on that as I tackle it more fully.
I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I thought it might be worth mentioning that Escape Pod, the preeminent audio podcast for short form Science Fiction, is in the midst of its annual (soon to be more often?) flash fiction contest. And by midst I mean getting close to the end. Voting is in the second round, closing in the early a.m. hours of March 26th. There is one final round after that. Top three stories get purchased and published with the audio treatment.
There are things I can tell you about this contest and things I cannot. For instance, I can tell you that I submitted a story to the contest. However, since the contest is anonymous, I can’t tell you which story is mine. Since the bylines have been released on all stories that didn’t make the first round cut, I can probably tell you that my story made it to the second round of voting. But I still can’t tell you which story is mine. Nor can I say which of the four groups it’s in.
Voting is for forum members only (to keep the contenders classified as “unpublished”). Forum membership is free, so if you’re interested in voting and reading some pretty good flash, go check it out. Complete rules and voting schedule are here.
Good luck to all that are still in it. There are some great little (500 words or less) stories in this contest. It’s an honor just to be still in it.
No, this is not a retrospective post on what the last few months have been like (though they’ve been nuts). This post is me saying something I haven’t been able to say in quite a while: I have a new story out! The good people at Flash Fiction Online saw it fit to publish my flash piece “Rewind“. It follows in the footsteps of my previous stories like “Excuse Me” and “Ten Seconds” in exploring time travel in very small doses. When you have five minutes to spare, go check it out!
It’s November now, and I’m happy to say that I might be in a place where I could possibly do some regular writing. Not NaNoWriMo amounts of writing, mind you, but a thousand words a week kind of writing. The new job and the perpetually on-hiatus move not withstanding, this is something I need to get back to. I promised some friends I’d have a draft of something to share at a con in January, so I have that motivation on my side.
So I guess I should go make the most of this keyboard time and make a story happen. Bye for now.
So It Goes. It’s what Vonnegut said about death in Slaughterhouse Five. I’m not writing about a death — I hope — but it was at least a long coma.
If you peek at the date of my last post, you’ll see it was a little over a year ago. Yes, a year. I wish I could say that I’ve been too busy writing to blog. Not so. I’ve been busy being busy. Life gets in the way…can’t find time to write…writer’s block…the same old tired excuses. Bottom line, I really haven’t been a writer for the past couple years. So it goes.
But the writer in me isn’t dead. He’s been in hibernation, sulking in the back corner of my psyche waiting for me to stop sulking in the front corner of my psyche. It’s been a rough couple years for me, no doubt. It’s been tough to focus on anything at all, let along writing. So it goes.
I find myself at the precipice of a lot of change. I have a new job in a new city which means a new house which means unloading the old house (hey, wanna buy a house?) and uprooting my child which means altering the custody schedule. Good thing I have all this time during summer break to get things taken care of. Right, time. Why doesn’t there seem to be any? So it goes.
As every writer knows, time isn’t something you find, it’s something you make. I was horrified when I realized that I hadn’t made any time for anything writing related short of conventions (another topic for another post). So today I changed that. I started small, with a few little flash fiction submissions (one reprint and two unpublished gems I had lying around). I had to really scratch my head just to recall how to write a cover letter. Three little stories in the wind for a few weeks/months. And suddenly the ekg attached to this comatose writer made a little blip. So it goes. Or so it comes?
Yes, I need to return to actually writing to really resurrect myself as a writer. That’s coming. Directly. But much like a coma patient with atrophied musculature, I can’t just leap out of bed and start typing a marathon. I have to make sure I remember how to walk, then jog, then maybe some running. Even just sitting up on the bed feels good. Time to see what the floor feels like under my feet.
Let’s see how this goes.
One of my favorite cons of the year is right around the corner. Chattanooga’s LibertyCon is this coming weekend. Historically, LC is a great con for writers (which usually means a great con for readers, too) with a great little con suite (did someone say beer?) and a welcoming atmosphere. This year they have me booked pretty tight. I think that’s a good thing. We’ll see. If you’re looking, here’s where and when you’ll find me.
- 3pm – The Flutter-by Effect: Time Travel in Literature – We talk paradoxes and explore what other compelling elements time travel has to offer. I’m moderating this one! [Gallery A]
- 5pm – Opening Ceremonies – Meet the guests and professionals. I guess that includes me. [Centennial Theater]
- 7pm – Autograph Session – Come on by; I’ll sign anything! I prefer to sign my book, of course. I’ll happily sell you one. [Dealers’ Room]
- 10pm – Messiest Ways to Kill a Zombie – This one is always a lot of fun. There’s a rason it’s this late, folks; leave the kiddies at home if they have sensitive ears. In other words, kiddies should probably leave the grown-ups at home. [Centennial Theater]
- 11am – Urban Fantasies – I’m sure this will be “What are they? What’s new? What’s next?” and all that. So if you’re interested in urban fantasy, come on by. [Gallery A]
- 1pm – What’s New in Horror and Dark Fantasy? (Roundtable) – Should be self-explanatory. Lots of people on this one. [Centennial Theater]
- 8pm – Reading: Scott W. Baker (a.k.a. me) & Mark Wandrey – I’m not sure what I’ll read. I guess I should probably pick something I wrote… [American Room Train Car]
- 10am – Meet the Locals (Roundtable) – I reckon there are a bunch of us Tennessee-livin’ authors at the con. With John Ringo moderating us, there’s no telling where the discussion will go. [Centennial Theater]
- 1pm – Autograph Session – Last chance to come chat and get my autograph. You can sell it on ebay for…okay, you probably can’t sell it on ebay. Yet. [Dealers’ Room]