Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Con Report: ConGregate, Winston Salem, Saturday (Day 2, part 2)

...Continued from Part 1

Coming out of the “Epic Fantasy” panel, David B. Coe offered time for an interview for BullSpec magazine (I’ll add the link when the interview goes live). We sat down for over an hour and talked about his Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series written under the “open secret” pseudonym D.B. Jackson, and a new urban fantasy series with Baen Books called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson – the first book, Spell Blind, will come out in January. We also chatted about, raising teen daughters, and much more. I’ve known David for *mumblemumble* years, so I was positively gleeful when Sam Montgomery-Blinn asked me if I’d “be interested” to interview David. Oh, twist my rubber arm…

Returning to the convention, I missed the beginning my next planned panel, “Urban Fantasy: Future of the Genre,” with moderator Faith Hunter, and guests Larry Correia, Marcia Colette, Nicole Kurtz, and Sharon Stogner. By the time I came in, they were *slightly* off topic, talking about more of the business of writing, with Larry Correia offering strong warnings to be careful and read your contracts! He also encouraged the writers in the crowd to simply do you best as a writer.

This was followed by a good discussion of genre blending across speculative fiction (or all fiction), or sub-genre blending within urban fantasy. Faith said her Jane Yellowrock series started as straight-up urban fantasy, and Laurell K. Hamilton has called it “blaster porn” (due to Jane’s love of weaponry to fight vamps and other Big Bads). There’s also a slowly developing romance element, and alternative future/world building.

Larry says all rules will be broken. “If you like it, and readers love it, do that. If readers hate it, take it out.”

World building has to make sense—within its own rules. Magic has rules – it’s not just “anything goes”. If you drop an exception, it better have a believable context, or your reader won’t “buy” it—they’ll disconnect.

Larry describes the Monster Hunter series as X-Files meets Expendibles.

Faith describes her Rogue Mage series as X-Men meets Left Behind, without God.

These kinds of “mashups” give a prospective reader something to identify and connect with.


After the Urban Fantasy panel, it was time for my personal highlight, the Magical Words Writing Workshop. We had submitted the 1st 2500 words of our manuscript in April, and I have refrained from making any edits since then. I was looking forward to some valuable insight from David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, and Misty Massey to help me “punch up” my opening sequence. Well, I certainly got a lot of valuable feedback. I don’t have a crystal clear picture of how to “fix” the beginning, but I do have a lot of ideas about what I need to include that isn’t currently there. And some insight into questions I had about when to introduce certain points in the context of the story.

There were 7 writers in the workshop—not bad for a first-time turnout at a first-time con. We each received about 30 minutes of focused attention from the panel, over the two separate sessions (Saturday and Sunday). As much as I appreciated the panel’s comments on my own work, I also really enjoyed hearing their recommendations on the other writers’ works as well. Many times, in this kind of situation, I gain valuable insights into the craft of writing, because I’m not personally vested, and I’m not trying to immediately apply it to words on the page.

When I came out of the workshop, I was talking with a friend in the hall, when Sharon Stogner, of the I Smell Sheep blog, passed by. She stopped and offered to sit down with me to brainstorm building my blog brand, value, and audience. We both agreed we had time right then, and Sharon was so generous to talk with me for about an hour. I came away with a host of ideas, some of which I am already implementing, and others I am working into a long-term plan for the blog. I am so grateful for her time and generous spirit!

David B. Coe was celebrating the book launch of his third Thieftaker Chronicle, A Plunder of Souls, written as D.B. Jackson. The ConGregate folks put together a lovely small reception with cheese and fruit and a delicious cake! It was standing room only as David read from the new book and raffled prizes including hardcover and paperbacks of the series, t-shirts of the Boston Thieftakers Guild, and more.

And with that, it was time for dinner with friends, and another night of delightful conversation in the bar with John Hartness, Misty Massy, Emily Leveritt, and many other friends.

One last day of ConGregate panels, to be shared tomorrow!

Continued on Day 3...

Time writing
~1 hour

July word count

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