Two weeks ago, I went to ICON for four days of fun and a lot of panels. Here are my thoughts and a few observations.

Writing Workshop

Probably the biggest thing was going to be me starting to do a writing workship in the same model that Mickey Zucker Reichert used to run for a lot of previous years. She had moved but I had gotten so much feedback that I figured I could continue, at least in spirit.

No one signed up.

I tried to make a few announcements, a number of people said they wanted to come, but I must have made it too difficult to join or it was just at a time that didn't work for anyone else.

I'm going to try next year though. One of my plans is to create a landing page for the program. Also, I talked to some others and they are going to direct writers more suited toward my critique style for the next year.

I also needed to work with communication a little better. I suspect I didn't get enough word out that I was running the program.

Typewriter Press

Because of guilt at not publishing a book, I didn't get a table for Typewriter Press this year. I felt guilty because it had been three years since I had published a book and two years since anything fantasy or sci-fi had been published.

Next year I'm planning though, but it looks like I'm going to have 2-4 new books to sell.

Thursday

On Thursday was the author signing at Barnes and Noble. This was a smaller group this year, only six tables or so with less than a dozen authors. As usually, it looked like everyone was having fun and I saw that there were some sales.

I sold one book, but they didn't ask for it to be signed. I hoped they enjoyed it.

Then I got a chance to go to dinner after the signing. This was the first time I actually did it and I had a lot of fun.

But that is when things started to go wrong. Our original plans were to get a babysitter for the boys so my spouse and I could enjoy the weekend. However, she got sick and our alternatives were enjoying a Girl's Weekend Off, so backups 1-3 were effectively unavailable.

Because I had panels scheduled, it meant that SMWM had to stay at home with the children and I was alone. This put a palor over the entire weekend and required me to cancel my events for the next weekend too.

Friday

Because of a lack of baby sitter, I ended up staying at home on Friday.

Saturday

Cassie Leigh Reading

I love listening to Cassie read and this was one of the first events I could show up for. She's a joy, both as a pin-up, her style, and her romance. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you listen to her.

I do publish her books.

Author Meet and Greet

The Author Meet and Greet is just where the authors all gather in the large room, set up shop, and just talk to anyone who comes by.

I was with Shannon Ryan and we talked shop between guests. I also published his book and he's my editor for my books. It does sounds like we have some good things coming for both of us.

I actually sold a book there… which was surprising because I had neither the cash or my Square reader, but I lucked out.

D. Moonfire Reading

When it comes to reading, I'm always afraid that no one is going to show up. I was lucky, unlike most of the authors it appears,, and friends show up.

I read the first two chapters of May I Lead This Dance as Shannon's insistence and got to show off my world-building website, Fedran. Little would I know that the relatively massive cross-linking and details of that website would carry me nicely through the weekend.

Overall, I felt pretty good coming out of this.

World-Building 101

Fedran came up in this panel. One of the panelist had much of the same approach as me, coming from physical sciences and building up from there.

I talked about my difficulties in creating "same" cultures (ones that spoke, acted, or operated the same). This has always been a problem for me, not only because I'm worried about stumbling into something insulting because of my colonizer blind spots (I'm white and male-presenting, I have all the racism).

I also have trouble writing straight males who are bigots and racists. So we talked about that complexity and how to get around it.

Writing Workshop

So, coming into the convention, I knew no one had signed up. Yet I still wandered into an empty room and sat down. Why? Because life has some of the most interesting occurrences when you just give it a chance.

Cassie joined me and we talked about life and everything going on. She knows about my feelings of failure (she effectively called it "impostor syndrome" but I can't see that) and I like talking.

Then someone else came in, just to see what was going on. So, through random discussions, we started talking about wars: Cassie's character set in WW2, my writing a world war for Fedran, and this new person's experiences.

Then someone else showed up and we all talked about writing and creating and having a grand time.

Erotic Reading

As Second-Hand Dresses has helpfully pointed out, I like my romance on the spicy side. Last year, I was talking about it and I got asked to join the erotic reading.

I found a "choice" selection of a dino porn novel and read the first chapter.

We also heard Fifty Slaves of Grey about alien abductions and an abridged version of Oppressed In The Butt By My Inclusive Holiday Coffee Cups which was amazingly fun to hear.

Apparently my reading was "terrible" but two other people said they had to buy it, so I guess I picked a good one for a fun time.

Unlike the GenCon adult panel, this wasn't creepy at all. There was laughter and fun and a couple rounds of "Cards Against Trek".

Sunday

Erin Casey Reading

I meandered in to hear Erin Casey read some of her novel. We also got into talking about writing techniques and it was fun.

The Value of Romance in SF/F

This was a panel that I wasn't included on however Cassie's other panelist wasn't able to make it for various reasons. Cassie knows that I'm a life-long romance reader plus I seem to be writing a lot of it on my own (Fedran, of course), so I hopped on.

I had a ball.

I love romance in sci-fi and fantasy and this was a place to talk about some of my favorite tropes, the differences between romance-with-fantasy and fantasy-with-romance and how readers sometimes are looking for one but not the other.

Cassie gave me major props, which made my day.

Writing Outside Personal Demographics

This was my last panel and it was a more difficult one. While I'm comfortable writing about different sexualities, different cultures was harder and an area I'm not entirely comfortable with. I leaned heavily on what I learned from Writing the Other which I recommended more than once (and to all my readers).

Most, it came down to:

  • Read tons by different demographics.
  • Realize there is no such thing as a mono-culture.
  • Sensitivity readers are not permission.
  • Be respectful as you can.
  • You'll make mistakes.

I hope I gave some good advice. Sadly, those are the same ones that make me worry about my own writing, but I can only hope that I do the right thing.

Book Bums

Usually the week after ICON is the Book Bums down in West Liberty. I've been going to this lovely one-day event but I couldn't. With SMWM having to watch the boys all weekend, plus not being able to spend time with them, I feel that doing it two weeks in a row would have been excessive.

I canceled, which is a bummer. I hope to make it next year.

Conclusion

This wasn't my best year. I had fun and I talked a lot about romance and world-building which are two very fun topics. I got to meet with friends, chatted for hours, and had as much fun as I could with SMWM at home with the boys.

Next year will be a much better year.

I hope to see everyone then.

2019-11-12