Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Which I Conference

So I mentioned on Monday that I was out all weekend (and Friday evening).
And the reason was:

Palindrome and I went to a writing conference!!

4th Street Fantasy to be exact.

It was our first writing conference and Hannah located it by doing an interwebs search for local writing conferences. She's just so clever.

It was quite a bit of fun. And we got 4th St Fantasy pens that were also flash drives! AWESOME!

The Program and thoughts (in red) are as follows:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

8:00 PM – Three Shouts On a Hill
Last year we added a pre-conference opportunity to laugh and play. It was so successful that we decided to continue it and establish a tradition! Tonight we share in presenting the world premiere of Jo Walton's play version of the Irish legend of the Sons of Tuirean: Three Shouts On a Hill.

Jo Walton, Author, on the right

Hannah and I did not attend Thursday. We have day jobs and junk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM What should I be reading (that I'm not)?

An open discussion of what's exciting out there: not limited to fantasy or genre at all! We want to know what's getting us jazzed in the world of books and web stuff.
Tom Whitmore, with much audience help

Tom Whitmore, Conference Organizer and retired reviewer

Again, the day jobs prevented us from hitting this one. Too bad because I bet it was a lot of fun. However they made a list and posted it online.

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM How do you know when a story's going wrong?

An editor, a writer, a reviewer and a reader talk about how to tell when a story is going wrong, and what to do about it, from their perspectives.
Steven Brust, Karen G. Anderson, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Pamela Dean

Steven Brust, author, and his awesome editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Hannah pulled some strings at the day job and was able to leave work early. So we got zazzed up and hit this panel as our first foray into the conference. Both Steven Brust and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (editor for Tor books) were fantastic panelists. Funny and enlightening. Mostly the conclusion was, things can go wrong in the beginning, middle and end, but the middle and end mistakes are usually brought about by poor revision. Also this panel served to add to my confidence that the majority of work in the slush is terrible so we're already at an advantage.

8:00 PM – Getting to know you gatherings

Join Steven in the Smokers Den for Philosophy and Fun, Peggy in Courtyard Ballroom A for Singing and Silliness, Tom in Courtyard Ballroom B for Musings and Meanderings, or Janet in the ConSuite for Munching and Mischief... or stroll among them all. Other amusements will undoubtedly ensue.

Since we weren't planning on attending anything on Friday, we skipped this because we'd have to be up early for Saturday. Next year, I would definitely stick around to get to know everyone better

Saturday, June 26, 2010

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Mixing genres

We've had a raft of different ways of mashing up genres over recent years. Fantasy with rivets, dragons with novels of manners, future-setting fantasy — what's coming next, and why does this sort of synthesis work well (when it does)?
Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

We started off with a delicious breakfast. Twin came with and I brought my camera to take photos but for some reason it stopped working (though it's miraculously OK now...).
Elizabeth Bear told a fun story about how her first novel she submitted was All the Windwracked Stars which has MCs that are: A Valkyrie, Fenrir and a two headed mechanical horse. The response from her editor was that it was a good book, but not suitable as a "first novel". It was eventually published as her fourth book (and both Hannah and I picked it up from the dealer's room)

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Beyond promotion: Reputation management

Why is it wrong to put a stack of your books in front of you at a panel? What is effective at a convention in terms of promotion, and why? How do you get a reputation, and what do you do once you have one?
Steven Brust, Ctein, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

This was my least favorite panel. They pulled someone from the audience who was actively engaged in self promotion to sit on the panel as well. But all the authors more or less said, why would anyone want to self promote themselves when that's what the publisher was for. Which wasn't very helpful for everyone in the audience who didn't have publishers. Or who were published at small prints and couldn't even get bookstores to understand that they weren't self pubbed. Still, it was an entertaining panel. It just made me think that I should try real hard to be published with Tor books (BTW, they still accept un-agented submissions. Crazy awesome, right?)

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM How does the medium affect the story?

There are many ways to tell stories. Why choose graphic novel over song? What are the advantages of keeping it short or making it long? Why has epic poetry pretty much died?
Adam Stemple, Elise Matthesen, Elizabeth Bear

Elise Mathessen, writer, jewlery maker

This was an interesting panel. It ended up mostly focusing on using music or jewelry as a medium. Elise Matthesen was one of the most interesting people at the whole conference. She also had a jewelry booth set up for shopping where Hannah bought a set of earrings based on Jo Walton's discussion of her face shape. Hannah also bought an old Renfest costume of Elise's that she was selling for $80 which is ridiculously cheap. (I wanted one of her necklaces, but it was $425 and there's no way I could ever justify that). While the panel was going on Elise made us vote on what kind of jewlery we wanted to her to make. Eldirtch Horror won out, and then Pirate (even though Steampunk was CLEARLY the better choice...). When the panel was done she had created two necklaces.

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Fantasy vs. Progress

Sarah Monette had a blog post which began a discussion on the nature of progress in fantasy, and how conservative fantasy tends to be. Of course we had to continue it.
Sarah Monette, Marissa Lingen, Adam Stemple, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Elise Mathessen, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear (aka Bear), authors

This panel discussed why, in fantasy, we rarely reach, or go beyond, the industrialized age, and why we think that is so. Topics included Tolkien and his supposed dislike of technology that somehow allows him to have bicycles and umbrellas in The Shire which are not simple bits of technology

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Submit, or die!

What keeps you from submitting and what keeps your submissions from being seen by the right people? Includes stories about the story an author won't submit.
Tom Whitmore, Elise Matthesen, Skyler White

For some reason, I can't remember what was discussed in this panel... WTF

Update: I now recall, with help from Hannah, that the discussion more or less centered around the fact that sooner or later, it becomes more painful to not submit, than to submit

7:30 PM – 8:30 PM Second thoughts: The morning after

The aftermath of Food, Fashion, and Fornication. Happily ever after? I don't think so. Unruly, lively discussion of what happens next.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Jon Singer, Elise Matthesen, Karen G. Anderson

We skipped this one and went home so we'd have more energy to tackle Sunday

Sunday, June 27, 2010

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Point of view: How not to suck

Who's telling this story, anyway? Why should I care? Does it make a difference?
Jo Walton, Sarah Monette, Steven Brust

This was a fun in depth discussion about POV and authors that use it well and those that don't. A lot of focus was spent on the unreliable narrator

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM The new cliches

When does something change from a fad to a cliche? What's jumped the shark recently (besides "jumping the shark")?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tom Whitmore

Discussion ranged from anti-cliche's that become cliches to trends. General consensus was that if you begin a story by examining a cliche, it was probably OK, but if a cliche was the punchline of your story (ie - aliens come to earth in the past and create Adam and Eve) then you're in trouble

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM But that's a different panel...
Everything you wanted to discuss that got tabled until now.

We voted on two topics to discuss. And though both Hannah and I voted for "Why the horror genre collapsed" the winners were "How to make your problems fun" and "When to stop revising"

For "Problems" there was discussion about how every writer is given a "freebie" which is a writing skill that just comes naturally. For me, it's dialogue. Then to take that skill and use it to help the areas you suck at. Bear stated she hates setting, so she uses her freebie, which is fun, to try and make setting fun to work on.

For Revisions it all depended on what kind of writer you were. Do you know the ending? Then you probably need less revisions. If not, you'll need to go back and work it in. All the authors said they had had a book that they either had to, or came close to, starting completely over on. Also they pointed out that every writer, on every book, will always reach the point where they feel like they're the worst writer in the world.

So that was it! It was super fun and I'll definitely hit it next year.


Palindrome said...

Dude, your post is so much more awesome than mine is going to be. Oh wells. You rehashing it all made me realize just how much fun I had! Oh so much fun. And you forgot to mention the foodstuffs! Mmmm, foodstuffs.

Piedmont Writer said...

Well I'm glad you guys had fun. It sounds like you learned a lot. Thanks for sharing. And btw, I love that last necklace with the ship. I bet that cost a pretty penny.

Jaydee Morgan said...

That does sound like a good time and a lot to be learned. I'm going to have to keep my eye out for such things happening in my area :)

Christine Danek said...

Looks like you had a great time and got to attend some interesting classes.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

Sounds like so much fun! I've been enjoying your blog and I have an award for you over at mine Have a great day! Leah

Falen said...

Palindrome - well it was already a pretty long post and i figured you'd for sure talk about the foodstuff

Piedmont - the necklaces that were just big stones with fillagree actually weren't too bad. Under $100. But the necklaces that were just long stirngs of crustals and stones (like the one i wanted) were the expensive ones. Sigh
But yes, the pirate necklace would be perfect for you

Jaydee - you should! I would have never learned about this if it weren't for hannah poking around

Christine - we did. it was a lot of fun

Summer said...

Awesomesauce!!! There's a conference in November down here that I'm debating attending with Nicole Ducleior.

Those necklaces were beautiful!! A steampunk one would obviously have been way cooler than the pirate, though it was quite lovely.

Glad you guys had fun!

Janel said...

Looks like you had a busy, fun weekend! I love the idea of matching jewelry to a book. Now that's something I can do!

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

What a great conference, and they look like some very interestin' folks from your photos. Thanks so much for sharing. And hello that ship necklace pendant is amazing! Now I know why you had such a busy weekend, but an awesome one :)
Thanks for the entry in my contest yikes it's my first big one, and bring it you know I'll beta when I can ;) I fear no hole! Okay maybe a little *digs*

Teebore said...

I'm sorry I missed it; I'm totes going with you guys next year. I particularly would have enjoyed the panel about cliches; that's an area in which I have an unhealthy interest.

they still accept un-agented submissions. Crazy awesome, right?

Except when they can't even bother to send you a rejection letter! >shaking fist<

Anne said...

umm... WHY didn't you get me that ship necklace?

Also the Eldrich horror one was great- you know someone would have to wear that anytime we played Arkham Horror

You should've taken a pic of the necklace you wanted (and i KNOW you have a camera on your phone, so suck it up)

Falen said...

Leah - thanks! I'll check it out

Summer - DO IT! Also yeah, gears would have been awesome

Janel - i know, right? it was a cool idea

Erica - i'm not going to lie. There were many an ultra nerd there

Teebore - that was one of the best panels.

Anne - you know i don't ever think of that. also the necklace was gone on Sunday so i think someone bought it (sadface)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Damn, that's a lot of good stuff!

DL Hammons said...

That's great! A conference critique. There really should be more of those.

Thanks for the info!!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm with DL - we need MORE conference reviews!! This was awesome to read. Thanks!

Southpaw said...

Ooooo, that makes me what to run out and find a conference. That's sounded cool.

Anonymous said...

I've never read a conference critique like this before. Awesome.

Falen said...

Alex - it was a lot of fun

DL - yeah there should! It would make it a lot easier for people to decide if they want to spend the money or travel

Zoe - we should try and start a conference critique movement

Southpaw - it was really fun and laid back, which was great

Medeia - yeah i typically only see people talking about what is awesome instead of the whole picture

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

It sounds like you had a great time. I've gotta look into stuff like this in my area. Naomi and I would have a blast with it :)

Cruella Collett said...

That sounds like a wonderfully well spent weekend! Perhaps I should check out if there are any writing conferences anywhere near Oslo..? (But then that would require me to come out of my closet as a writer, not only online, but in real life too... Scary!)

Anyway, just wanted to let you know there is an award for you at my blog :)

Teresa Nielsen Hayden said...

Reading this makes me so sorry that I won't be at Fourth Street this year.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

Teresa - aww, we wish you could've come this year too!

Edward Oleander said...

Teresa it was so full of awesome... missed you bad! Please come next year!!!

Corwin said...

Howdy. I'd like to use/incorporate the photo of Theresa and Steven from this post into a cover image for Steven's Facebook Fan page. Would you have any objections or caveats?

Thanks so much for a wonderful post and fine set of images!


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