FanX18

FanX18 was this weekend, and I attended all three days. There was a zombie panel that I wanted to attend but unfortunately I was quite worn out. I’ll go ahead and collect the book titles I want to read after these panels at the end of the post.
I also apologize for the multiple twitter threads. My phone was malfunctioning for the whole con (touch disease).
The panels I attended were as follows:

So, this isn’t my first FanX, but I went two or three years ago and I hadn’t actually gone all three days because there were so many people and I was generically overwhelmed.

I won’t belabor the points of each one as that’s what the twitter one was for.

My take away from the Books panel was that apparently people consider having different fantasy races, such as elves and orcs, fulfills the diversity requirement. This is not diversity and was a little on the insulting side, I thought.

I will say that I was deeply disappointed with the Avatar panel. One of the panelists literally introduced herself as someone who enjoys hating on things so I don’t feel bad calling her a hater. I just have to ask….why would we have someone who was so frank about her negativity be on a panel titled “Why We Love Avatar”?

Also, Korra and Aang I believe are fundamentally misunderstood. There was definitely a different vibe towards Aang than what I’ve encountered online but what they said about Korra matched a lot of the misogynist online discourse I’ve seen. The hater literally said she wouldn’t want to kill Korra but rather watch her struggle. I imagined the brutality of the fight in season 3 and wondered how much joy or satisfaction that particular panelist felt seeing that and it honestly made me feel ill to my stomach.

They condemned her so much for being so confident in her abilities and said she had an ego. Maybe she did in the beginning–but so did Aang and they didn’t say a thing about that. Aang was always showing off–not just in childhood but probably in adulthood as well.

That panel did not sit well with me at all, and it’s one of the reasons I avoided panels about fandoms and pretty much just stuck with the writing ones.

Lucy Lawless did her war cry and it was freaking awesome.

One of the things I really took away from Makers of Stories was the idea to make a pitch first and then write the novel. I will need to do more research and do it for the novels I’m currently in progress for, as well as for Eat Your Green even though the first draft of that is already written.

The other take away was that I don’t think setting daily word counts or write x hour of the day work for me. Particularly the latter because I do tend to work overtime and that can turn into a scheduling nightmare for me. However, now that I’m playing with Scrivener, I realized that writing a scene a day is a very, very achievable goal. So, that’s what I’m going to start doing now.

The other panel that deeply disappointed me was the LGBT panel. I felt like there was not an established direction. One of the panelists rubbed me the wrong way right away when she mentioned she didn’t want it to get political, and then said how she came close to blows with another panelist at a previous con when it came to whether or not Asexuality fell under the LGBTQ umbrella.

For those who don’t know, there is a LOT of discourse regarding this particular opinion, and I have friends whom I respect on both sides of this. As an asexual person myself, I no longer engage with this discourse because I ultimately find it extremely unpleasant, and I think that there are just too many real life variables that can affect how someone is systematically affected by being ace. So what turned me off this particular panelist is because she really just seemed to trivialize it and it just seemed extremely inappropriate to bring it up as no one else was allowed to have a voice (I mean…she did dominate almost the entire panel in a most unpleasant, bordering rude way so).

The other part that bothered me was the respectability politics. I completely agree that fandom sending death threats to creators, sending Sterek cookies, etc. is completely inappropriate and wrong. However, this particular panelist literally just said just ask for more representation in a way that rang eerily of Oliver Twist lifting his empty bowl of porridge and asking, ever so politely, “Please sir may I have some more.”

I don’t think I need to get into the systemic metaphor but I just couldn’t believe it honestly because there is a time and a place for anger. I think some of the other panelists didn’t feel the same way but they did not have a lot of time to share their own opinions, and she literally told another panelist to wrap it up because of the time even though there was still a few minutes before the end.

The most useful panel for me was Publishing Your Work. I got a lot of ideas for getting myself out there, along with a renewed desire to go to the Writer’s League. I need to start making time for this part of the writing process, and developing that part of myself. I also need to start thinking specifically about my audience.

Book Title Recommendation List:

  • Wool – I missed author so not sure which book he was referring to
  • Pack Dynamics – I missed the author so not sure which book he was referring to
  • Save the Cat (yeah I know I’m late to the party)
  • Write Your Novel From The Middle
  • Not Your Sidekick
  • A book by Elmore Leonard because apparently he’s a master at dialogue

My plan of action for my own work:

  • Read the books I bought (Not Your Sidekick and Unleashed)
  • Write more scenes — and write more prolifically esp with fanfic
  • Start going to the writer’s league
  • Attend the lesbian meetups I joined several years ago but never went to…if anything, I at least know lesbians are my audience so time to start making connections in that community.
  • Start visiting local bookstores and getting to know the employees
  • Start visiting the library and making friends with the librarians
  • See if I can get my business cards posted at the coffee shop the league meets up and some other local coffee places.
  • Start researching newsletters? Apparently that’s a thing I should have as a new author.

We’ll see what happens. Baby steps first.

 

 

Story of My First Sale

So when I was writing, “You, An Accidental Astronaut,” it was in a different format because I was writing it for another literary magazine.

When I heard about Mothership Zeta, I already knew that the format I was trying to push this story into wasn’t going to work. And that’s when I realized that I wanted to submit it to Mothership Zeta, and that when Mothership Zeta would reject it I would go ahead and try to submit it to the place I originally had in mind.

Then I promptly forgot about the deadline. I was fighting and struggling with the story, had fallen out of love with it, even, and I had only gone over it once or twice when I remembered the deadline after it was almost passed.

I never even had someone else look it over because I was too busy self-rejecting myself and the story. But I sent it out anyways and to my shock, I survived the first and second rounds of rejection until I received the email they wanted to accept it and have me sign a contract and everything.

It was funny, because the news came on the Worst Day of Work. I was already on the edge of a breakdown in the breakroom when I was on my lunch break. As people at work can testify, I never took my breaks, usually opting to eat at my desk as I worked on the emails that came in–but today if I did that I would have broken down in tears in front of everyone and We Can’t Have That. So I was checking my email, completely zoned out, and I was almost about to autoarchive the email on my phone. I had to re-read the email twice over, and by the time I had processed what it said, I was, as they say, over the moon.

The first thing I did when I went back to the office was announce the news and everybody was happy for me and I was happy for me and work still sucked but it didn’t suck as much because I had published my first story–a story I hadn’t even technically tried to get publish. A story that I had only sent out once and it had been accepted the first go around. A story that I had lost faith in.

That story was accepted.

In many ways I feel like I cheated somehow. I’ve only submitted about five stories for publication in my entire life. Two of those stories I submitted to Weird Tales when I was a teenager and got form rejections. Two of those stories I submitted only once and then self-pubbed them here.

And then this.

I feel like I didn’t earn my first sale, but I’m also trying not to think like that because I did earn it because I wrote it and I sent it out and everything. I just got lucky.

Anyway, that’s how I got my first sale.

While this post was percolating, I also read Sunil Patel’s Anatomy of a Sale Parts One and Two which I highly recommend reading. In the articles, Patel mentions several sites to make submit/rejection experience more engaging and interactive, which I am definitely excited to give a try (referring specifically to The Grinder and the Sink or Submit game).

About the Dog and the Bone

I recently came across this post quoting Karen Sandler

“Fiction is not the real world. In the real world, not everything means something. Much of what happens is just mundane, boring stuff that nobody cares about.

In fiction, the reader expects that every detail of a scene will connect to the story. If you spend more than a few words describing your main character, Ray Santiago, watching a brown and white spotted dog with one blue eye trot down the street with a bone in its mouth, that dog better bite Ray before the end. Or that bone the dog is carrying better be human.”

Karen Sandler is the author of nineteen novels for adults, as well as Tankborn, Awakening, and Rebellion, a YA science fiction trilogy. She is a founding team member of We Need Diverse Books.

My first thought was wondering how it would be like to be so prolific as to publish nineteen books. My second thought was emphatic disagreement with the above. My third thought was wondering if there is anything as condescending as reiterating that fiction is not the real world.

I’m not published so my disagreement is essentially worthless, but I cannot help but disagree and disagree strongly.

I suppose there are two parts to my disagreement that can be summed up as follows:

  • as a reader, I don’t expect that every detail of a scene connects to the story
  • why does the dog have to bite Ray and why is it a human bone

Read More »

Listening Booth: Welcome to Night Vale A Story About You

I think listening to Welcome to Night Vale’s “A Story About You” fundamentally changed the way I viewed the consumption and production of art–or perhaps it helped me to articulate something that I was beginning to learn but was yet incapable of fully expressing. I definitely attribute listening to this episode as my primary influence in writing so much of my short fiction in the second person but that is neither here nor there.

I love this episode because it is one of the most beautiful pieces of meta fiction that I’ve ever seen. Almost every single long running series I feel has its meta episode, but I think Night Vale’s is the one I like the best.

Hearing Cecil state that “this is a story about you” is inherently an act of validation. Many times I feel that people who are marginalized by oppressive mainstream narratives are told that the only appropriate response is simply “Write your own.” Such a statement is fundamentally wrong because it ignores how important it is to see yourself in a story, to see that you too can be part of overarching narratives that traditionally only belong to a few, and which serve to perpetuate and sustain oppressive systems of power. Such a statement presumes that it is possible to cloister one’s self behind a wall and become untouched by listening to the damaging stories surrounding you.

All this is false, of course. Even if it were possible to become completely untouched by the narratives that surround our very existence–why should someone isolate themselves simply so that other people can continue telling their damaging, harmful, and oppressive narratives? It would be better if people told stories that did not harm people at all.

Such a statement is also dismissive of the the fact that even when people do tell their stories, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be accepted or welcomed by editors, by publishers, or other establishments of authority. Such a statement does not address how establishments use their authority to keep people out. Such a statement does not take action against these establishments of authority. Such a statement does not provide platforms and space and tools for people to utilize to tell their own stories so that their words can reach people who do need to hear about themselves on the radio.

This is a story about you, said the man on the radio, and you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio. […] But there was a time, one day, one single day, in which it was only one story, a story about you.  And you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio. [x]

Everybody should be pleased to hear about themselves on the radio or on the television or in that book or in that song–not hurt.