Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Which We Hit A Conference!

Well, not actually "hit", but you know what I mean.

So Hannah and I hit up 4th Street Fantasy Conversation conference Friday Saturday and Sunday. We'd gone last year and wanted a repeat of the experience.

4th street isn't exactly a writing conference (though there's definitely a lot of writing discussion). You're not going to find any agents or editors (unless they're a panelist or just a participant), or have pitch sessions or chances to have your work read by industry professionals (unless you become friends with them or something).

4th street is set up as one giant conversation. There's a group of panelists, mostly authors, usually a fantasy fan, and sometimes an agent or editor, and they discuss, with the audience, the panel topic.

It's fun and I always seem to learn a lot.

Here's a run down of the conference (and like I said Monday, I have quite a few blog posts planned from discussions, so there will me more details on specific topics in future posts)

Friday morning and afternoon was reserved for the Writer's Seminar. This was an additional $35 (I think) and was one long panel devoted to a topic related to writing. For this year it was Writing Support Networks.

Elise Matthesen was the moderator and we spent hours talking to Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Bear and Patricia C. Wrede about their paths to becoming authors and the support networks they used along the way.

This, for me, was the best part of the whole conference.


Topic: Magic, Monsters, Metaphors
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Caroline Stevermer

What was discussed: This was pretty much a big discussion about monstrous people and forces that could control them. Jekyll and Hyde was mentioned quite a bit as was Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who, both who were good examples of men who, without their companions, could be quite monstrous.

Topic: Birth Control and Families in Fantasy
Panelists: Lois McMaster Bujold, Pamela Den, Sherwood Smith

What we discussed: I was really excited about this panel, but it kind of let me down. I think it was due to weak moderation and so the topic kept delving into real world discussions about women's issues.


It's a Secret to Everyone
Panelists: Anne Gwin, Will Shetterly, Patricia C. Wrede

What we discussed: This delved a bit into whether or not you as the writer are keeping secrets from the reader, or keeping secrets from the characters. Also discussion of surprise vs tension (A surprise is when people are playing poker and the table explodes. Tension is when we see a person plant a bomb under the table)

Topic: Feast and Famine
Panelists: Alec Austin, Elizabeth Bear, Jon Singer

What we discussed: mmmmm, food. This panel was deliberately scheduled right before lunch. Which was good because there was less talk about eating horses and dogs, and more talk about how stupid it is when adventurers cook stew out on the trail.

Topic: Middle Book Blues
Panelists: Steven Brust, Marissa Lingen, Scott Lynch, Sherwood Smith

What we discussed: Talks about how people can take as long as they want to write that first book, but once that's published, there's a lot more constraints when writing the second one

Topic: Scenes of Conflict
Panelists: Lois McMaster Bujold, Pamela Dean, Caroline Stevermer, Patricia C. Wrede

What we discussed: Another panel I was excited for and then a bit let down by. Discussion about how violence doesn't always = conflict and how emotion can equal conflict

Topic: Class and Colonialism in Fantasy
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Will Shetterly, Ginger Weil, Skyler White

What we discussed: This panel created a lot of arguments and got off topic pretty quickly. There was a lot of discussion regarding how people imagined the middle class throughout different ages of human history and how they're frequently inaccurate


Novelty, Complexity and Mass Appeal
Panelists: Emma Bull, Scott Lynch, Michael Merriam and Sherwood Smith

What we discussed: A lot of talk about different levels of writing within the genre. That often a newbie to the genre sees something in the work as groundbreaking, but experienced readers of the genre find it derivative. But that everyone starts somewhere and there's nothing wrong with writing books as breakout genre novels for those who are inexperienced

Topic: Getting beyond a successful character
Panelists: Steven Brust, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ginger Weil

What we discussed: Both Brust an Bujold are authors of long running series with the same character. Brust said he would never tire of writing this character and Bujold says she struggles with leaving people wanting more before you've given them too much and ruine the whole series for them

Topic: Pestilence, Plague and Public Health
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Anne Gwin, Stella K Evans

What we discussed: A great panel talking about the lack of public health concerns in genre fiction. I learned a crap load about cholera and was relieved to realize I often have characters with missing teeth and illnesses in my fantasy novels.

So that was the conference in a nutshell. I'll be going on at length in later posts about specific discussions and the awesome brunch Hannah and I had on Sunday (IT WAS SUPER AWESOME!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

In Which I Decided Not To Be Lazy

I originally planned just to throw up a nice easy post for today since I had the conference all weekend, but now I've changed my mind. The conference spawned at least 3 blog posts ideas, not to mention a post about the actual conference (tentatively scheduled for Wednesday) so I figured I could at least talk about something.

On Friday, Hannah and I had lunch with Elise Matthesen (who is like the most awesome person EVAH! I'm serial. We thought this last year too. She's one of those people that as soon as you hear her talk you want to be her friend/stalk her/be her).

We were discussing how novel writing and short story writing are two different skills and that not every writer possesses them.

She said it angers her when novel writers say "I need to write some short stories to try and break in" and then short story writers state "I need to write novels because there's no money in short stories" (which is when Elizabeth Bear pointed out that there's no money in publishing anywhere).

Anyway, to illustrate the original post, Elise had Patricia C. Wrede tell an amusing anecdote.

Pat announced that she had sold every single novel she has every written (which is CRAZY!) but when asked how many of her short stories she'd sold it was only about 50%.

She was a perfect example of someone who could write novels, but couldn't translate that skill over to short stories.

This isn't the case for everyone. I can write both. Elise just wanted people to stop worrying about trying to "break in" or to write something you weren't suited for just because someone else tells you to. You have to do what's right for you.

So how about you? Can you do only one or the other? Or are you one (like me) who can do both?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fun

Partying partying Yeah!

Yvie's back, to provide you some chuckles while you're finishing up your work week. Mom wanted me to tell you that since she will be at 4th Street Fantasy Conversation conference with Hannah today and the whole weekend, she will have limited interwebs time. Also limited time with me, which is almost devastating. Good thing I've got Anne and Patrick to bite instead.

Orange snake has been officially forgotten. I'm now onto torn up gray toy that used to be a...bunny? Anyway, he's my new best toy pal. Mommy even lets me sleep with him.

Onto the fun!

Funny Pictures - Cat Says Run
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Funny Pictures - Happy Kitten Fall From Heaven
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

funny pictures - Mmmm  Tastes like me.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

funny pictures - NEVER GO TO BED ANGRY
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

funny pictures - I'm HERE for you. Tell me your problems. But please. Only the ones that are good gossip.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which I Heart QueryTracker Pt. 2

All right (Alright? GAH! I hate that word! I never know which one to use!), here I am with part 2 about why I'm obsessed with I love QueryTracker.

The Forum.

I've given plenty of writing forums a try before. I used to be a member of The Next Big Writer (quite a few years ago) and that extensive forum. I also gave AbsoluteWrite a try (I'm still a member there, in case I need to lurk for some info)

A quick off topic segue - does it ever freak anyone else out, when reading like a 40 page long post in AW that was started in, oh let's say, 2002, when you see now successfully published authors bemoaning their lack of luck? Cuz it does me, and not necessarily in a bad way but more like in a "Once, they were just like me" sort of way.
Anyway, segue officially OVER!

Most of those other forums I just couldn't bring myself to frequent. In the case of AW, it was absolutely (hah!) too massive for me to a) ever find anything b) get to know people. Also I find that AW frequently has a lot of negativity. People fight all the time there and while sometimes that leads me to being like this:

Most often I try to keep negativity out of my life. Cuz it just brings me down, dude.

So anyway, I was a bit skeptical when I first signed up for the QT forum, sure it would just be like all the other forums I'd tried out.

But it's not!

First off, it's on the smaller side, so it's completely manageable.
Second, the navigation is easy peasey, and it has handy dandy easy to find options to let you find any responses to your posts and all new content. Not that other forums don't have these perks, but in QT it's right at the top, to make navigation super quick.

Also, the attitude of the people on the QT forum is friendly, helpful, upbeat and rarely negative.
I've already made quite a few friends (hi guys!) who now visit my blog, and had a few discussions about exchanging work.

So if you're looking for a laid-back place to chat (or get your query, first 5 pages or synopsis critiqued) give it a try. I'm there at least a few times each day.

What about you? Do you hang out on any writing forums?

Monday, June 20, 2011

In Which I Heart QueryTracker Pt. 1

I know I've mentioned in passing that I'm using QueryTracker to track my queries, but I don't think I've actually explained how much I Lurve it.

How much, you ask? A lot, is my answer.

For reals, besides checking my GMail a ridiculous amount a day (better yet, I just leave it open since GMail automatically refreshes when you get a new email) QT is my number two place on the interwebs I hang out since I started querying. I muck around there at least 5 times a day, running reports and checking comments on agents I've queried.

Since you all know my love of spreadsheets, one of the best thing QT offers if you're a premium member (and I am) is the Data Launcher.

Let's say you sent a query to an agent and you want to know how quickly they're responding to queries, or if they've responded to queries after yours (so you can decide to close it out if they're a non-responder)
You just launch the Data Explorer and it provides all that info for you!

click on the image to make it larger

In the above example, I sent a query on 6/5, but you can see her response time is anywhere from 3 days to 25 days. Also, because the other queries are rejected and not closed for no response, it looks like she actually responds to all her queries, so for this agent, I'm better off waiting for an email, and I shouldn't worry about it until at least a month has passed.

Since I like to read into everything, the data launcher helps to keep me occupied.

Wednesday, I'm going to talk about another thing I love about QT - the forum.

What about you? Are you a QT member? Have you played around with the reports?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Fun

Hiya Ape-friends! Are you ready for the weekend? Who the heck isn't?

The other day Anne brought us all home some new toys. George got a giant orange snake, Tula got a duck and I got a squirrel Frisbee (cuz I love Frisbees). But then George stole my Frisbee and ripped the squirrely head off. So I took his snake.

Best decision ever. I love orange snake SO MUCH! I even slept with it the other night, and any time George even looks at my new snake, I tell him to BACK OFF!

But then Tula and I were playing tug with it and Tula won (cuz she's like 40 lbs bigger than me) and she ripped out orange snake's squeakers. Sniff.
I miss you orange snake.

Onto the fun!

Funny Pictures - Elephant on a Trampoline Gifs

funny pictures - I'm not actually PLOTTING anything... I just enjoy the way your face pales with trepidation.

funny pictures - d-d-d-dat's all fokes!

funny pictures - Okai, admittedly that wuz a bad idea... ...but I *still* landed on mai feets!

funny pictures - How come                   nobody       ever wants to rub my belly?

Funny Pictures - Cats in Hats Gifs

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In Which I Offer A Reminder

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo 2010?
Were you a Winner?

If so, don't forget to collect your free proof copy from CreateSpace!
Deadline is June 30th (and it takes a least 48 hours for it to be reviewed before printing)

I got my free copy yesterday and it's quite pretty.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In Which I Procrastinate

Things I did on Sunday to procrastinate from adding to my WIP:

1. planted new plants in a planter
2. re-potted my new cactus and another plant
3. weed-whacked the entire yard
4. laundry
5. grocery shopping.
6. did the dishes. Twice.
7. folded my clothes
8. baked a batch of cheddar bacon muffins for breakfast for the next three weeks
9. wrote this blogpost
10. read some online comics
11. watched parts of Troy and The Patriot on TV
12. mucked about on FB, Query Tracker and Query Tracker Forum
13. finally just got down to it.

How about you? What do you like to do to procrastinate from writing?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Fun

Yvie's back, ape friends! To get you ready and set to GO into the weekend!

Ugh, it's been so hot recently it's been absolutely ridiculous. I mean, 103 degrees? Really? Forget the roads buckling, how am I supposed to work on my doggie sunbathing if I can only stand to be outside for less than 5 minutes?
Shape up, Summer!

Onto the fun!

Funny Pictures - Creepy Llama Gifs

Funny Pictures - Cute Kittens

funny pictures - sumwun at da tail faktory nawt doin dere job . . . just sayin

Funny Pictures - Hipster Kitty's Guide to Life

Gazellez Runnin Free, Tastee Safari Hoominz...

Funny Picutres - WTF Owl Gifs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Which I Participate In BuNoWriMo

In case you've noticed, I have a giant BuNoWriMo badge down on my right hand sidebar somewhere (it's pretty big and hard to miss)

What's BuNoWriMo? you may ask if you're not in the know. BuNoWriMo is a NoWriMo (novel writing month) put together by a group of friends called the Burrow. The goal is much the same as NaNo, pump out 50K in the month of June.

I signed up because it coincided perfectly with my need to start a new WIP to keep me distracted from querying and all the waiting.

We're already on day 8 and I'm on task, the new WIP is at 12K words, and I'm excited because I can tell it's already going to be longer than Glimpse (Which is a bit on the short side at 56K) which means I'll hopefully have a lot of room to prune if I need to.

What about you? Are you participating in BuNoWriMo? Or working on a new WIP?

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's All Fun And Games Blogfest!

Hells to the yeah I signed up for this blogfest! (hosted by the ever awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh)

I mean, it's a blogfest where you pick your favorite 3 games. Do you know how many board games we play in my house??

Let me give you some idea.

Here is our game closet (that's right. A whole room for games):

And here are the games we haven't put away in the game closet yet:

I'd say, on average, we probably buy a new board game every 3-4 months or so. Our newest addition was Dominant Species, which was fun but would be even more fun if we had more than 3 people to play with (hint hint, MOM...)

Anyway, as you can imagine, it was hard to pick 3 favs. Part of me wanted to choose Monopoly, cuz we play that a lot (also, I typically win) but, meh. Also, I know the rules say ANY games, but there is absolutely NO WAY I could include card games, and domino games and video games all in one pile. There's literally no possibility I could choose out of such a huge list. So instead, here are my top choices of BOARD GAMES in no particular order:


For obvious reasons, risk is a lot of fun. I mean, who doesn't like making secret alliances with your siblings, only to brutally betray them later (before they betray you of course)?

capturing south america is a key strategy


Agricola is a perfect example of our favorite type of games, one with a lot of little pieces (and also, preferably with enough little plastic bags for easy storage). In Agricola, one has a certain number of turns to be successful at a life of farming. Whether that means raising a large family (as long as you can feed them) or a large herd of cattle or sheep, or by planting a massive hoard of crops, it's up to you as long as you don't starve or forget to pay your taxes.

aww, a cute little fenced in pasture with a barn. No sheep, though. Must have been eaten...


Carcassone is awesome, because you create the board as you play, which means every game is different. You flip over a tile, which contains a picture of either a road, a city piece or a field (or any combination of the above) and decide if you want to claim any of them. Build an empire-spanning road, a massive city or be content to farm, but just remember the bigger your roads/fields/cities, the more points, but only if you can complete them, so try and keep your greed in check.

I claim this city in the name of the allmighty Sarah!

I also chose 2 honorable mentions.


Is an honorable mention because it remains, to this day, a board game we have never won without cheating. To be fair, the game thrives on players who can balance meeting their own needs while serving the greater good of the whole team. And remember what I said about betrayal and junk up at RISK? Yeah... that comes into play here, which is why we can't ever get that damn One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom before Sauron destroys our asses.
It's full of tension and fun.

ohh, Merry. Chances are you gonna die...


Do you like Cthulu? Of course you like Cthulu, who the hell don't?
Arkhum Horror is like a combination of Agricola (lots of little pieces) and LOTR (lots of tension and trying to balance your own safety vs saving everyone else too). This game actually requires a hefty amount of setup, but if you can get past that, then you're off, trying to solve the mystery of the old ones while simultaneously trying to keep your sanity and prevent yourself from being lost in space and time or devoured. If you can do all that, then maybe you'll be able to survive when you face off against a randomly selected Elder God.
Full of terror, and depending on the Elder God you have to fight, sometimes damn unwinable, but still a lot of fun.

oh shit. I've just gone insane. Damn.

So there you have it! It's good times for all.

What are some of your favorite board games?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Fun

Hi pals! Yvie's back, to start your weekend off with some blog and interwebz fun!

First, a story for you, filled with danger, daring, snacks, and spiders. Look away, small children. Look away.

Mom was in the bathroom, so I barged in like I usually do. In case you didn't know this, I just recently learned how to open doors. In case you also didn't know this, I don't like it when people shut me out of the bathroom. I mean, what are they doing in there that's so damn private?
So I went in the bathroom, and then on my way out I saw this big black dot on the wall.
So I did what any self respecting dog would do. I ate it.
Mom told me to spit it out right away, and I did, because I'm actually a pretty good listener when I want to be.
Turns out it was a spider, and Mom says I'm not allowed to eat those. She spewed off a lot of reasons, but the only one I can really remember is that spiders in the house eat bugs in the house so we want to keep them around.
I wasn't sure about that and eyed that arachnid suspiciously. I was pleased to see two of his back legs weren't working very well, courtesy of moi.
But, it turns out, spiders are pretty resilient. Mom saw him again a few days later in the bathroom, legs working fine.
All I know is, if I see that spider again (and Mom's not around) he's goin' in mah belly!

Onto the fun!

funny pictures - Prof. McGonagal changes into something  more comfortable to read the morning paper.

Funny Pictures - Kitten Wants to Marry Food

funny pictures - ARE YOU IN A GOOD MOOD

funny pictures - and in other news is time to rub kitteh's tummy


Thursday, June 2, 2011

In Which I Pop In

Hey all -

Mel Chelsey from Writings, Musings and Other Such Nonsense is looking for Beta readers.

If you'd like to help out, check her out HERE


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Which I Make A Deal

So, after much thought and discussion regarding my Deal With The Universe, I've finally made up my mind on what I will do.

So here is the Official Deal:

If I get the thing that rhymes with Boffer of Bepresentation I will:
Pierce my ears

And not normal piercing. I already have a set of holes in my lobes. No, I'm going to get an Industrial Bar piercing.

Or, I may be able to be talked into something like this:

It will depend on the conversation I have with the piercer at my tattoo studio.

So. There is my official Deal With The Universe. Witnessed by all of you.

On the plus side, my mom has also decided to make a Deal on my behalf.

Her official deal is:

If I (Sarah) get the above mentioned thing that rhymes with Boffer of Bepresentation, while I (Sarah) am getting my piercing, she will get a tattoo.

That's right, two Deals With The Universe.

So cross your fingers for me, and help the universe along.

So how about you? Made any deals (or got any piercings) lately?
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