Monday, October 6, 2014

Can you carry all these bags at once? - aka Convolution 2014

I’ve been to Convolution since its first year.  I’ve chosen to return each year since, but this is the first year I’ve come away and felt relaxed with a genuine sense of happiness at the end. I had fun this year!   Even though the Masquerade didn’t go as planned for me, due to miscommunication somewhere along the way, I still had a great time overall.  I’ll be doing a separate blog about my costume later.  I'm really happy for my friends who participated, and they've all done their posts about it, just start clicking through the links to see many of the costumes

My sister Jenny and I arrived on Friday afternoon.  We checked into the hotel then hauled our stuff up to the room in one trip.  A challenge like that should never be passed up.  Multiple trips? No thanks!  Two suitcases, two backpacks, a cooler, a garment bag, five tote bags and a small dragon.   We were very proud.   Think of us next time you bring in groceries from your car.  We are your role models
We picked up badges and met up with Sheryl R. Hayes and Sally Rose Robinson.  Sheryl gave me a crochet baby Groot for my birthday that I was sworn to secrecy about.  His twin was going in the charity auction so I couldn't even brag on twitter.
While I was on my own I ran into SetsuUzume, and her fiancé Zach. Setsu is one of the most fun people I know.  I always seem to run into her when going from one place to another. We usually end up saying hello in passing, this year we finally spent time at a party Saturday night.  A conversation with Setsu often ends in a direction you don’t expect, which is half the fun.
I spent some time with some great folks at lunch on Friday; Arley Sorg, Erin Metcalf, Effie Seiberg, and Brian Buhl. 

Friday afternoon I went to a panel with Tanya Huff, Tyler King and Steven Mix and Carrie Sessarego.  It was in the most far away room on the highest floor of the hotel.  After the panel, Tanya, Carrie, Sheryl and I all walked the more scenic rout back to the elevator. There was a big window at a balcony so we played point out the local landmarks for the Canadian.
I went to the Writer’s Workshop on Saturday afternoon, organized by Wanda Kurchu.  No migraine this year, which makes the whole thing so much easier.  The wonderful Lillian Csernica, Jon DelArroz, M. Christian  with Sheryl R Hayes and Brian Buhl all gave their critiques for part of my second novel.  Some of what they said was expected, things I knew would be weak this first draft.  Some I thought I'd cleaned up, some of it was not at all expected and we'll see what I do with it.  So it’s back to the mines for me.  Some of the unexpected is a good thing it means I’m looking at quite a few things in new ways which is why I took it in the first place.  It’s a book that I’m not done writing yet so that means that a lot of things are easy to move around. 
I was scheduled to be on three panels, and I moderated two of them.   The Kink: 50 Shades of Grey panel wasn’t what I expected but was interesting.  Entering the Professional World panel which I moderated was just what it needed to be, though maybe not what I expected.  Ultimately, I think many panels aren't what you expect.  They but become something really cool and fascinating through the course of conversation.  It's the melding of the personalities on the panel that makes them work.
My Monday morning panel, Bend it like Bechdel - was my favorite panel of the convention.  Fellow panelists were Juliette Wade, Lance Moore, Michael Rhodes. We had a really involved group attending. When I proposed the panel the idea was to find something other than the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests because I was dissatisfied with them.  I thought if I brought the idea to a group of panelists and a room full of people with opinions on the subject we would either come up with a better Test, or decide no test was ever going to work.  A lofty goal, so I may have been reaching too high.  I read a lot of articles on both sides of Bechdel, and Mako Mori, and also looked around for any other types of “tests” out there that were a gauge of representation of women.  I found Gina Davis’s which is a really amazing.  Ultimately I don’t think we reached a consensus.  We all want women to be human, not props.  Even then though, it isn’t a rule or a test to tick off on a list to say your movie or show is complete. 
Who else did I see at Convolution? There were so many really awesome people there that made this a great experience.  I chatted with Kyle Aisteach at meet the Guests. I never had time to go to any of his panels, which is a shame.  I had lunch with Jennifer Carson, Denise Tanaka and Carolyn Hill. Brian Buhl and Sheryl R. Hayes were there too.  Melissa Snark popped into the Bend it like Bechdel panel and helped bring it to life. I know there were other people.
Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything.
Things I learned this year include the following; you can avoid spending too much money in the dealer’s room if you are a guest and have a friend who is also a guest.  Then you are then always in a panel that you are either on or obligated by friendship to attend.  I only purchased dice this year.  My bank account is in shock.  You can get in and out of the Swiftwater café quickly if you tell them exactly when you have to be at your next event when you are seated.  If you forget your sister’s favorite snacks while packing, you are a horrible person.  But she’ll still come to your Kink panel because she loves you. In fact, she'll come to all of them and even buy you a Funko Pop Groot because it's your birthday and you're too busy to go in the dealers room.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So much to do! - Convolution Schedule

Hello there blog world, I’m going to be at Convolution this Friday and it’s going to be amazing! I was invited to be there as a guest this year.  Below is a list of the panels I’ll be on, all of which I think are going to be interesting and hopefully fun.
I’m very excited about the guests this year especially TanyaHuff.  I’ve loved her mostly going back to the Blood Books.  I really hope that in all my running around, I get to meet up with her and ask her to sign one my copy of one her books.

Discussion will include portrayals of kink and BDSM in film, literature and tv, how it can be done well and how it can go horribly, horribly wrong- sometimes with hysterical results. 18 and over ONLY

Saturday 6:00pm – 8:00pm Stepping Into the Professional World

A panel on professional behavior, communication and style. Topics include how and when to reply to emails, with colleagues to maintain a balanced professional relationship. Geared for fan based situations to help clarify the sometimes blurry line between fandom and business.

Saturday 8:00pm – whenever it’s over… Masquerade andhalftime show!

Yes, the costume competition comes to Convolution for the first year.  It’s going to be very exciting.  I will be brining my Daenerys Stormborn costume with Drogon companion.  I have another costume in progress that I had hoped to bring to Convolution but is simply not ready yet. When it is, I’m I think will be pretty amazing. I should be able to share it by May.

Sunday 10:00am – 12:00 Bend it Like Bechdel.

Let’s find an alternative to the Bechdel test. The new Mako Mori test isn't quite right either. We know when we've found a movie or story that we feel is a better representation of women, yet it won’t pass those tests. So, what does it need? What do we want from a story?  Alternatively, what are we willing to accept?  

My good friend Sheryl R. Hayes will also be on panels at Convolution, her schedule can be found here.  But when you have to choose

I’m also participating in the writer’s workshop again this year. I’m certain it will be a much more pleasant experience than last year since my migraines are much better controlled now than they were a year ago.   Fun anecdote from last year’s workshop, while I was sitting there “enjoying” the dissection of my writing, I was in the middle of one of the worst migraines I’d had in months. …with any luck I haven’t just jinxed myself by writing that.  Knock on wood. Twice.

Also, Convolution happens to fall on the weekend of my 40th birthday.  Technically my birthday is on Monday the 29th, but whatever it’s close enough.  I’m taking Monday off from my day job anyway so it counts because I say so.

If you see me, feel free to say hi!  I should even have some ribbons at some point.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dovie - All the cool kids are doing it.

Missed my usual blogging date on Wednesday because I was frantically trying to finish all my reading for voting on the Hugos before this evening. Well, I did it. I finished everything I meant to read. My voting is done. No, I'm not telling you what I voted on, so there.

My life has been a pile of insanity lately, with a house full of extra people. My aunt and uncle were visiting for the past week caused much disruption. They're wonderful people and it's nice when they visit, but they do throw off any sense of schedule we have for things like writing, or anything else we usually do around our home.

I've started some small amount of research on how I'm going to construct my Thor costume. Basically this has involved talking with a few of my costume friends. Also had a very long dissertation on the historical Viking helmets with my father. He was an anthropologist in his long lost youth. What? Use all your resources. So, now the question is, paper mache, leather, or plastic? I'm not sure any of these are appealing to me. I may skip ahead in this plan to the sewing adventure. Seems easier. When did I get to that part of my life? I used to fear sewing. Maybe I'll abandon this whole plan.

Just checked my little list of things I keep to blog about. Apparently I thought it would be really fun to talk about portmanteaus. I made a note of this on a Thursday. I'm not sure what that means.

Anyway, let me say this about portmanteaus; my sister and I make them up all the time. They are like code words or special, or not so special little phrases that we just throw at each other to make each other laugh. Or not laugh. Whatever, the are, they just really make me happy.

Officially though, a portmanteau is a noun. Defined as a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog.) At least that's according to They also mention a large suitcase. This may mean I need a vacation. Maybe that's why I like portmanteaus so much! I need a vacation that requires a large suitcase.

Why did I bring this up? MY LIST of things I should blog about. I said I should blog about portmanteaus.

The saddest thing of course is that now that I want to just bandy some around like a fool, I can't think of a single one. There are the obvious ones that everybody uses... OH! Sheeple. Labradoodle. And so on... However, my sister and I would say something silly like I need to do this and this at the same time and it would be a this combo. Such as I forgot to have lunch, but it's time for dinner. We can have some linner! Brilliant. Even better, when we're excited and we want to go to a movie and grab some dinner this is a combined event. It could be Minner, or even better a Dovie. Yeah, you know you want to go for a Dovie. All the cool kids are doing it.

(yes, I did link to Guardians of the Galaxy, go see it)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thor - Inspiration all over the place

Today Marvel put out the announcement that as of October there will be a new THOR replacing the one we've known for the past fifty two years. This included some amazing images to what this new Thor will look like. A bad ass woman in armor. Sure, she's got a little bit of chest molding going on but it's not overt and the outfit is most definitely not revealing nor is it particularly problematic.  It's basically a female version of male Thor clothing. 

I read this article during my lunch break.  I was so happy I wanted to cry.  I was inspired.  I realized that this was the kind of thing that meant that if people will get excited about Thor who happens to be a woman.  Then the story I've been writing really might have a place out there.  I've been putting off working on revisions and instead working on a second book and other projects. Well, I'm excited.

This evening after I'd changed my wallpaper on my phone to this image I started looking at the outfit she was wearing.  Out of nowhere I found myself thinking what material would work best to make a helm like that.  How many months is it to Convolution?  Two and a half?  The new comic wont even be out yet.  I wasn't planning a huge new costume this soon.   I must be nuts.

Speaking of Convolution, they said I'd be there and that I'm doing something.  Whatever will it be?  Mysteries!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cookie Stories

I baked a batch of cookies tonight.  They are for a Fourth of July gathering this weekend, but also to take to my day job tomorrow. These cookies are pretty labor intensive.  You don’t just toss a bunch of ingredients into a mixing bowl and then throw the dough on the sheet for ten minutes and you’re done. 
Nope, there are stages and steps. First you have to combine the sugar and butter to make it all nice and fluffy before you add the egg and vanilla.  Then you combine dry ingredients, mix those up and then stir them into your fluffy stuff. Yes, I said fluffy stuff.  Baking is serious business ok?  Stay with me.  Now you add the milk chocolate chips.  They must be milk chocolate, never ever semi-sweet. Because that would be a gross waste of a good cookie.  
Now you let this whole batch of dough sit in the fridge for several hours, or ideally overnight.  Then… wait what?  Not ready to bake yet? For the sake of all that is good and sugary please tell me we can have a cookie now? NO.  Now, we roll the cold dough into little balls.  Once you have a few hundred little balls you put them back into the fridge for an hour to re-chill. 
Now, you can start dusting each ball of dough in powdered sugar and then put it on the baking sheet.
You know what?  You still don’t know how to make those cookies do you?  However, you probably know why I don’t bake them very often.  They are a pain in the ass. Though well worth the effort.  I freely admit, everyone loves these cookies.
Why am I even mentioning this? The process of writing a story is a lot like baking these cookies.  There is the recipe, which is like when you get your idea and start outlining, or writing down notes. Then you get to your first draft, you’ve made your fluffy bit with the butter and sugar, maybe added the egg and vanilla too.   Then you start revisions, edits, critiques, that is when you’re sticking the dough in the fridge and rolling into little balls and covering it in powdered sugar.  Then finally somewhere along the line you realize it’s really done and you get to take the story out of the oven and eat it.
It could be that this is an awesome analogy, and the very best idea I’ve EVER had.  Or, alternatively I shouldn’t bake at two am.  It's what came into my head after I finished baking tonight.  I'm going to bed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How long did this take?

This is the blog where I get a little personal. 
I started the novel that I’ve been working on as a Nanowrimo back in 2011.  I made my 50K goal on Thanksgiving Day just before I was supposed to start stuffing the turkey.  I was pretty damn proud of myself and happy with making the goal, but the story was far from over.  Not even close.  But the Turkey turned out really amazing that year.  I cooked with some serious passion that year.  
 I kept working on the story through the rest of the month and put in another 6K words and it still wasn’t done.  When I got to December I wasn’t able to keep up with writing because of life being life during the holiday season and I set the story aside for several months. 

When I finally got back to work it was well into 2012 and I only got another 10K into it, so there I was at roughly 65K.  I’m was  thinking this thing is never going to be done.  I love the story, the characters, the world I’ve made.  I know exactly how it ends.   But getting there was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.  Far more twists and turns that I ever expected there to be, as historical research changed the path a few times.  When October of 2012 approached I realized I should be preparing to write something new, but I wasn’t ready.  I also knew this book had another 50K worth of words to be written at least.  Well, it’s technically “cheating” to the Nanowrimo purists but this was what I needed to work on.  So I kept going with this story.  Kept up with word counts and everything except for when I had the flu.  Then back to business with my writing, right up until my cat kept vomiting up his food constantly.  Turned out he wasn’t a fat cat, he was all liver.  It was a mass of liver compressing his stomach.  We tried for surgery, but they found it was much worse than they thought.   He died before we could even bring him home.  That was right after Thanksgiving.  Didn’t finish the Nano, and didn’t write again for about three months.  
When I finally got back into the swing of things, I knew I needed better discipline and a schedule.  I set up a real office in my garage where I wasn’t going to be interrupted when I did sit down to write.  Or I’d have to leave the house.  The local Panera Bread is my other office.  Can’t deal with Starbucks, too crowded and there are no earbuds good enough to block out that many people drinking coffee and being hip.   
About a month ago I realized my story had a sequel.  Well, technically I tossed the idea out vaguely to a friend and to my dad six months ago and they didn’t hate it.  But a month ago I realized it definitely had to happen and I was at the turning point in the story where I needed to work specific characters in that would appear in the next book.   So, if I was going to do it, this was the time.  Well, that led me to restructuring the end and changing the beginning.  All of this made the whole thing stronger.  At least, I hope it does.  

This brings us to the end of September 2013 and just a few days before my birthday when I finished the book.   So, that’s two years to finish just one draft.   Just how it worked out for me.   I’m not sure how the pro’s who maintain a day job keep up the writing discipline.  It’s really hard.  But I do also take care of my 90 year old grandmother in addition to the day job. 
It's possible no one is interested in any of this, but here it is anyway.   Next time I'll write about something fun, like the never ending research spiral that is the internet.

Still raising  money for Night of Writing Dangerously.  Please consider donating, it's a good charity.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter G

I have at least six characters in my novel with names that start with the letter G.  Now, in the grand scheme of things I suppose this shouldn’t be a problem but most of these are the main characters.  The perspective characters romantic interest was named with a G.  Her mother AND step mother were named with a G.   The step mothers twin was named with a G though I admit that actually makes sense since twins are often named with like letters.  At that point I still didn’t realize I had a problem.  Nope, because then I even named the romantic interests MOTHER with a G name.  Yes, you read that correctly. 
Let’s count them shall we? 

Ok, that’s actually five, but I think there’s another character somewhere in the middle of the book that I can’t recall at the moment.  I finally realized I had a problem when I was updaing character profiles in the writing software I use and then arranged them alphabetically.  Half the characters in the story were in the G section.  What gives self?   What’s with the love of G?
Part of the problem is that when you write a story set in a specific historical place and time you feel obligated to use names that fit in that place and time.   So I would spend time looking for names that were appropriate for ancient Trace, and Ancient Gaul, Celts, or Teutonic peoples.   This also leads you to baby name sites, and then on to a never ending Wikipedia loop of wondering if this is the right name. 
Then there’s just picking a random name for a character because you need a name RIGHT NOW.  The first half of the novel I’ve just finished the first draft on, I started as a NanoWriMo year before last.  When I got to the point of naming this romantic interest, I was in a book store.  I picked a random book up off a shelf next to me and flipped open the book to a page and picked a name.  Luckily it was a book on history and was actually a name that sort of fit. 
The name was Gron.   It is a terrible name.   Horrible.  Don’t worry; I’m going to change it.  It became a running joke between myself and a couple of friends.  One friend even jokingly started calling my book “Gron's Woman.”  Though that is nothing even close to what the story is about.  But the name is so bad, and so cliché it was hard not to joke about it.  Another friend borrowed it for a time for another story, but dropped it in favor of something better.  After awhile I started to like the name.  Then hate it again. 
Eventually I realized I had to change it even if I did like it because of my G problem.   It needed to be something appropriate to the place and time, so I asked a friend from Iceland for a good name, and he gave me one.  When in doubt, ask people for good suggestions.  People are better than the internet.
Ultimately I will change about half of the G names for others.   I will also learn to not give people such a hard time about finding names for characters on the fly.  I used to be part of this gaming group, and half the fun was asking the GM the name for characters she’d never once thought of naming.  The poor characters would end up with names like Mr. Paper or something along those lines.  Well, now it’s no so funny is it? 

Today’s blog has been brought to  you today by the Letters G, B and the Number 5.
PS - Still raising money for this.  You know you want to help out.