Tag Archives: #writinglife

Conbust Schedule!

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Three months into the year, and it’s a FOURTH convention schedule I’m posting! Woohoo!

(At some point my personal blog posts will be more than convention schedules; I promise! I have thoughts on a variety of things and some health updates, too…)

Anyway, I know it sounds redundant, but this is another beloved convention of mine! Conbust!

Conbust is a student-run feminist SF/F convention held at Smith College every spring.  I found out about Conbust through Broad Universe, not realizing that such a gem was basically in my back yard. (I grew up in Springfield, about 15-20 minutes from Northampton.)

I have a pretty ambitious schedule this year at Conbust, so if you’re looking to follow me to all my panels (and they are pretty awesome panels, so you might want to), make sure you are loaded up on your favorite coffee or energy product! I’m scheduled in the very first panel slot, the very last—with eight panels in between!

Also, I’ll be traveling to and from the convention with my friend and editing colleague, Suzanne Lahna, who has their first novella out.  They’ll be on a bunch of excellent panels, too. Find out more on their blog!

Since Conbust is on a college campus, I won’t be hosting a party here, and we don’t have either a Broad Universe or New England Horror Writers table here, so it’s all panels and catching up with some of the great people I only get to see at this convention. I’m excited!

Oh—quick note, these aren’t the official convention descriptions. They’re mine—and subject to change depending on the audience / panelists.  I’m also not listing the panelists here because there were some last minute changes that I don’t know got finalized… but just check the guest list!  I’m on panels with almost all of these spectacular people!

Without further ado, here’s where I’ll be:

Friday, March 23; 5:00 PM; Room 101 – Fandom and Criticism

Can you criticize what you love? Should you? Why is it important?

 

Friday, March 23; 6:00 PM; Room 201 – Hero, Protagonist

Discussing writing the protagonist hero, or analyzing them.

 

Saturday, March 24; 9:00 AM; Room TBA – Believable Fight Scenes

This was my favorite panel of last year’s Conbust. Actual reenactment fighters play out writer battle scenes! Of course, now I need to figure out which gods’ awful fight scene of mine needs the most work / will provide the most entertainment to the audience…

 

Saturday, March 24; 10:00 AM; Room 101 – Suspension of Disbelief

What throws a reader out of a story? How can writers avoid these pitfalls? What’s the term “Flying Snowman” (coined by John Scalzi) and what does it mean to writers and readers?

 

Saturday, March 24; 11:00 AM; Room 109 – Freelancing: More Ways to Make Money Writing

This panel will discuss the ways people can make a living working with words. No, it’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. See if this career works for you or if you want to stick to the day job.

 

Saturday, March 24; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Everything but the Writing

Note above panel on making money while writing? That’s Making Money Writing 101.  This is Making Money Writing 102 and talks about the business decisions you’ll have to make if you decide you want to make money while writing.

 

Saturday, March 24; 4:00 PM; Room 109 – Children’s Fairy Tales

Fairy tales is my jam. So is writing for kids. This is a thing that far predates my efforts, though, so I love studying and talking about it. Come discover all the nerdy, geeky goodness children’s fairy tales have to offer!

 

Saturday, March 24; 5:00 PM; Room 109 – Fairies

Rather apropos that this is in the same room immediately following Children’s Fairy Tales. Except the fey are NOT just for children. In fact, they can be kind of predatory on children—or humans in general. And they go waaaay beyond “fairy tales.”

 

Sunday, March 25; 9:00 AM; Room 106 – Female Protagonists / Female Villains

Because, yes, we still really need to talk about women characters, how they’re included in stories, and how authentic they are.

 

Sunday, March 25; 1:00 PM; Room 102 – A Monster Manual Beyond Dragons

There’s already a panel about how awesome dragons are, but other fantastical creatures need and deserve our love, too! Find out about other magical beasts and their proper care and feeding.

 

Sunday, March 25; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Tarot and Writing

Two great tastes that taste great together! I love giving this workshop at convention. Come learn a little about the Tarot and how you can use it in your life and writing.

 

There it is! It is SUPER crazy, and I am SUPER excited because it’s my last convention until probably July. I am so excited to return, and SUPER excited to catch up with a lot of amazing people.

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Coffee Shop Office Hours; #WriterWednesday, #coffee, #amwriting, #wheretowrite, #writinglife, #NaNoWriMo, #WW

Coffee and chocolate drinksToday, I had a coupon for an oil change at one particular place, but as they were being difficult to schedule, I spent $5 more to hit the Monroe I normally go to. I was perfectly fine with that, as it’s closer to my local Starbucks.

Mind you, hands down, I prefer and go out of my way to patronize local coffee shops and small businesses. (Hello, Sturbridge Coffee Roasters!) That said, there is a lot of good to be said about Starbucks – particularly my local one, which has excellent customer service and baristas who know my name.

But, back to my oil change and why that inspired my #WriterWednesday post…

I have yet to get an oil change anywhere that is done in the 15-20 minutes they promise. That’s why I prefer the one by Starbucks; I pack my computer and I know I can get work done in a fairly comfortable setting with readily available caffeine and at least semi-healthy snacks – depending on my resistance level to not-in-the-least-bit-healthy for you snacks. (Salted caramel fudge block and s’mores squares, I’m looking at you!)

When I’ve interviewed writers for my non-fiction articles, or when I get interviewed as a writer, there is almost always a question about rituals and what one does to “get in the zone” to write. I laugh at that. My requirements: somewhere to sit semi-comfortably and either a functioning machine with a word-processing program or just plain paper with pen or pencil.

And that’s all you should need, too.

Life is hectic. Writing time needs to be fought for and protected fiercely. That’s why writers should get into the habit of writing anywhere, anytime. Always have pen and paper, and whenever possible, bring a netbook, tablet, or something like that (because it’s way easier to transfer work via email or thumbdrive than actual transcription, IMHO).

Now, when it comes to coffee shops in particular, if you haven’t ever explored that old cliché of a writer in a coffeehouse, you’re missing out.

(There’s also the cliché of writers in bars; I have tried it with varying success. But that will be another post.)

The coffee-shop-as-office is becoming a ubiquitous trend. I see people with their laptops all the time – and not just writers. There’s a unique vibe to the indie and Starbucks-esque coffee shops that I haven’t found elsewhere. These havens work as both a place to be alone in a crowd or part of a community – sometimes both in the same visit.

When someone’s looking at their computer intently, usually, they don’t get bothered. (Usually: YMMV). But if you’re stuck and looking around, sometimes you’ll meet eyes with someone and strike up a short conversation. Or, someone you know might be eating, relaxing, reading,.. or staring into space rather than their computer screen (especially if you frequent this spot a lot). Sometimes just that brief conversation will reinvigorate you about your topic; sometimes that person might have useful information for you.

Today, for example, I was pushing through email when two local police officers walked in and were chatting at the table next to me. My current short WIP includes some things that police officers would be uniquely qualified to advise me on.  I kept smiling and trying to catch their eye during lulls in conversation, and finally, one of them addressed me.

With a shy smile, I started, “This is really weird, but I’m a writer and I’m working on a piece that I want to get right in how the police might handle a situation…”

“What do you write?”

“Science fiction, fantasy…”

“My favorites! What do you need…?”

I asked about a particular plot point, got useful information, and we bid each other good days. It was great!

In my coffee shop office hours, I’ve met pastors, teachers, lawyers, other police officers, mechanics, and all sorts of folk from whom I’ve had the pleasure of learning. I’ve ended up getting speaking and book signing gigs based on our conversations. At the very least, my writing time has included delicious beverages and food.

Most importantly, having “office hours,” even if they’re at someplace public, in and of itself, can be a tool to help productivity. A change of environment, the white noise of conversation, the general “coffee shop” style music can push your brain out of a stuck mode. Or, if you are set on having rituals and practices to help you write, setting aside a place and limited time might be just enough to get you started.

Have you tried coffee shop office hours? How did it work for you?

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