Back from the U.K.

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I’m a bit head-sniffly and doped up on all things Quil at the moment, but wanted to pop in and mention that I just got back from a two-week trip to the U.K. This trip had a lot of work-related elements to it; in addition to WorldCon in Brighton, I had a meeting in London that went really well. (More on that later.) It was our first jaunt over the pond and we both loved every minute of it. One thing in particular that I enjoyed was the sense of time. Hard to get that in the States since this country isn’t very old. That, combined with a lot of fairly recent (and hugely upsetting/sensitive) events comparatively-speaking, like the treatment of Native Americans, the Civil War, etc. Well, it was incredibly mind-blowing to have dinner at a friend’s house that was older than my state and drinks at a pub that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. I’ve always felt between worlds given my family background, but this trip reinforced that some in a different way.

One of the best sightseeing parts of our trip was the Tower of London for me. I met a raven named “Bran,” after the Celtic goddess Branwen, saw the crown jewels, and Roman ruins. I have pictures, but sadly the Firefly RPG and the rest of my writing takes precedence right now. We previewed the cover and launched a Firefly RPG corebook pre-order while I was overseas. I’ll write up a proper post about that when my head clears.

The worst part? DEFUNCT CURLING IRON OH MY STARS. I had Very Bad HairTM the whole trip. The double-decker buses are righteously scary. How do they stay upright? And massive chains of the same stores over and over again. (Reminded me of the ‘burbs in Chicago.) But other than that, truly no complaints. London is a fantastic city. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

P.S. Shame on the news for misinterpreting the beauty and light found in so many other countries.

Less Fear.

More Love.

P.P.S. Internet rage is overrated. Angry? Get offline…

    Mood: Head swirling. Look at all the pretty colors…
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I can has all the coffee.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Snoring
    In My Ears: Electronical buzzings
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Research materials for work
    Movie Last Viewed: THOR: A DARK WORLD
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Friends in Low Places
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels.

My CONvergence Schedule

CONvergence British Invasion

I will be attending CONvergence as a guest this year.

Here is my schedule, though you should note that the later the panels get… The more unfiltered I shall be… In part, I think this is a mad conspiracy to access my pure decorum-less state. The later it gets coupled with a serious caffeine addiction. Oh, that’s my Kryptonite. Sure, I start out all nice and well-mannered, but Midnight beckons and my fangs pop out all by their lonesome. It’s quite terrifying, actually. Sharp, pointy teeth.

On that note, I suppose I should say: “Come if you dare?”

Friday, July 5

Science Fiction as a Hopeful Future vs. a Cautionary Tale

Gaming in the ‘Verse

Signing – Joseph Scrimshaw/Monica Valentinelli

Writing a Book in Someone Else’s Universe

Saturday, July 6

Reading – Monica Valentinelli

Vampire Literature From Dracula to Edward Cullen

People Power! Cons And The “S” Word for Social

You're An Idiot, Starscream

Conventions really suck for anyone who’s either got a smaller readership or is going for the first time. They should be a great place to meet people, but I’ve seen a lot of “deer in headlights” folks wandering around with nobody to talk to. No, I’m not talking about that creep in the corner, either, and as much as I would love to say crowds are all filled with happy, shiny people — I’m a realist. You get a group of 1,000 people together, and it’s simply pure math. There will be that “one.” Just going to happen. But I don’t want to talk about “the one.” I’d much rather look at the 999 other folks!

I feel the “push to market oneself” is often a mistake. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to always network, network, network and push, push, push — especially if it’s early in your career. Even then, it really depends upon how others perceive you that makes a difference. Just because you show up at a con doesn’t make it automagical that you’ll get readers or fans of whatever it is you want to do.

I’ve given up on cons for the most part unless I can go and be a human being. It’s just not worth spending the time and energy going because I’m more productive writing my ass off instead. That’s not to say that I don’t go, but I have to pick and choose which cons I do go to.

When I’m having fun, being myself, then I can collect stories. See what folks are up to. Meet unusual people. I don’t worry about impressing people because that doesn’t matter to me. (It only becomes an issue whenever everybody says: “But, that was so-and-so… Why wouldn’t you bow and scrape?” I’m so far removed from whatever I’m “supposed” to be doing, because I’m focused on what I “am” doing.) As a writer, I’m more inclined to focus on the experience. If that changes? Where I have to worry about throngs of fans and whatnot? Well, then the experience is different. Then it turns into a scheduled performance due to “work” and that’s another thing entirely. Most cons are work for me, anyway, which means there’s a separation of Monica-me and Monica-workme.

Still, I feel that there’s ways to make conventions better, to highlight the best of what this community can do. Activities like:

  • Attend readings for writers you’ve never heard of.
  • If you see somebody who looks lost, ask them if they’re okay.
  • Bring games along and keep a slot open at your table.
  • Make it a goal to meet one new person.
  • Share a fan squee.

The thing is, the fans of today are the George R.R. Martins and Ursula Le Guins of tomorrow. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: You don’t know where someone will end up and people have long memories — especially in this industry. Plus, how boring is it to only go to see your existing favorites. There are so many awesome wondering experiences waiting to be had in fandom. Why wouldn’t you want to try something new?

Does that mean you should be a pushover? Gosh, no. I can be pretty acidic at times when my blood sugar is low or I haven’t slept enough (this accounts for a lot of my crabbiness at cons), but also if I’m tired of getting hit on or pissed on from above. (The “I’m better and more powerful than you.” superiority complex is part of what’s called “punching down” and it’s an abhorrent practice, in my opinion, but it does happen.)

But, I don’t go out of my way to be a bitch. I’ve been told often enough, even outside of cons: “You have such an unusual personality.” Translation: it’s a fight for me sometimes to meet new people and not feel like I’m starring in my own circus. You mean, I have my issues? Yeah, just like everybody else on the planet. (Unless you’re a megalomaniac!)

Still, for all these reasons and more… This is why I hate hearing about people who have bad experiences at cons, because for a community that’s so incredibly awesome, we only hear about the bad things. We’ve all got our shit to deal with, but there’s a lot of positivity that can come out of connecting with like-minded people and meeting new folks to expand our view of the world.

That’s where my interest lies. I’m much more interested in the connections we make. For me, those last a lot longer than the negativity, and I hope that’s true of most people. :-)

    Mood: I have curry on the brain.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Enough to keep me up all night.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Some steps and a fuck ton of laundry.
    In My Ears: Digging In The Dirt Peter Gabriel
    Game Last Played: Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed
    Book Last Read: Hellboy: the Fire Wolves by Tim Lebbon
    Movie Last Viewed: Pan’s Labyrinth
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures…
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology and for gaming, a fun Scion: Extras (Supplemental Yet Can Be Somewhat Useful On Occasion Scions)


WisCon Day 2: More Eating and Drinking

Shiva Final Fantasy X Avatar

Oh, this con was about the food, wasn’t it? Well, I totally slept in as a post-college graduate who no longer stays up until 2 a.m. would do. Hauled my lazy bum out of bed, got down to the show, and ran into Lynne Thomas and Kelly Lagor. The majority of the folks I’ve met through Apex Publications (or have known before who’ve worked with my friend Jason Sizemore) are amazing people, and I was not disappointed to make a new friend. Kelly and I had sushi (SURPRISE!) and drinks before I ambled (shambled?) back to the show.

I played a zombie game (as the zombie…) Last Night On Earth with a few new faces. I am pleased to say the zombies successfully ate the brains of the heroes, but not happy to mention my allergy medicine kicked in about halfway through and the fog ensued.

Then, I went up to the parties to mingle a bit before heading home. These old bones were creaking mightily, but I’m glad I forced myself to be social. Met Wesley Chu, ran into folks like Chesya Burke <--- WOULD SOMEONE BUY THIS WOMAN'S NOVEL, PLEASE?, Michael Damian Thomas, Jim Frenkel, and Brad Beaulieu.

After two hours of chit-chatter and rampant speculation about nothing in particular, I turned into a pumpkin. So, if I missed you, I’m sorry.

This was primarily a social convention for me and I recognize that folks are there to make contacts and do business. Sometimes I have a one-track mind that way. Either I have something I need to do or I don’t. I have a lot of friends who aren’t writers to keep me grounded, but I’m hoping to change that just because I feel effing awkward at these things wandering around like a damn ghost. :-p I do feel the parties and meet-and-greets are the best part of this convention because it makes the show smaller and more intimate. I’m glad I got to go just for that alone and I’ll see about panels next year. Really, my status quo is to make friends. That’s more comfortable for me than BUY MY BOOKS ZOMG YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW AND WHAT’S IN IT FOR MEEEEEEEE.

I’m not entirely sure what 2014 holds, but for now… I have books to write and read. Games to create and play. And a future to unfold.

Over and out.

    Mood: Wait… It’s lunchtime, already? When did that happen?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I had one. It was not enough.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Reached the step count!
    In My Ears: More birds. There’s this sun thing, too. Eesh.
    Game Last Played: Last Night On Earth
    Book Last Read: The Shadowmarch Series by Tad Williams (Re-Read)
    Movie Last Viewed: Mission Impossible
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures…
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology and for gaming, a fun Scion: Extras (Supplemental Yet Can Be Somewhat Useful On Occasion Scions)


WisCon Day 1: The Drinking, Eating Edition

Fire She-Ra Avatar

Worked on Firefly for most of yesterday, so didn’t get down to WisCon until later. As I mentioned before, this is primarily a meet-and-greet weekend for me and the chance to catch up with old friends. I’ve got some panels I want to go to, but I won’t be diving into loads of details here. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to go to a con and simply enjoy myself. No speaking on panels. No moderation. No meetings. Nada. Strange feeling!

To all those who complimented me on my “fantastic hat” thank you. Grabbed dinner and drinks with my friend Alex Bledsoe and author Melissa Olson. We talked shop some and I found out Alex is going on his first book tour. A mighty congratulations to him! Mostly though, it was shop and I feel bad about that because I went straight from work to try and unwind. And failed miserably though I had some odd concoction with Jameson in it.

But, that happens. I have the coolest day job in the world, working and writing for a Firefly game published by Margaret Weis Productions, in a continuation of cool jobs like being Marketing Director for Steve Jackson Games. I have nothing to complain about other than the fact that I wish the dust bunnies in my house would magically disappear and there’d be more hours in the day to create.

To some, probably, it seems I’m behind on fiction since I’ve been talking about Violet War and obsessing about the world for some time. But, like I told you earlier, I’m a turtle. I had to start working on this, for myself and my readers, when it made sense for me to do so. Now that I can worry less about income coming in the door, I can devote a portion of my passion (and it is abundant) to The Queen of Crows universe… Among other stories…

Anyhoo, the subject of writing advice came up and I said: There’s only one piece of writing advice I have. Stop reading it and write. This, my friends, is courtesy of the Talk Is Cheap administration. Which is why, circling back to the point above, I’ve stopped talking about what’s in development until it’s done. Day job aside, because there’s a business plan/licensing in place there, though I have a business plan for Violet War that’ll survive even if my situation changes, I’d rather not talk about what you can’t read. :-)

Getting to hang out was fun and I got to see friends and local writers LaShawn Wanak, Bill Bodden, and Patrick Tomlinson. Bill, Patrick, and Alex read from their stories for the Sidekicks anthology. There was laughter. There were tears. There were sidekicks.

I also lost my badge, but it was found later. In true, Monica fashion. In my pocket…

Then it was back to BarConTM where Matt McElroy and I had drinks with Christopher Shy, too. The waitstaff was absolutely the best I have ever encountered and though I tried like hell to say: “No, you don’t have to wait on me hand and foot, I’m not a diva,” they weren’t listening. Mentioning Chris here, because really, anyone who’s announced a Guest of Honor for San Diego Comic Con deserves a mighty congrats. :-)

I’m running late today and missed the interstitial meet-and-greet I wanted to attend, but bringing along Rory’s Story Cubes for (hopefully) some impromptu storytelling fun tonight. After this weekend, it’s back to the slave mines of Kessel for me.

Or, in other words, I have wandered far from the path of first, second, and third drafts into revisions and proofreading land. The words are starting to blur together… Well, not really, ’cause I’ll be damned if any product of mine goes out half-ass.

Anyway, off to shower and be social. Shocking, I know! But, I’m going to get all full up on crowds and crowds of people now… So I can chill out before CONvergence and the mighty to-do list I’ll have waiting for me on Tuesday. :-)

I don’t know what I’d do without one. ;)

    Mood: Give me coffee or give me death.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: There was a lot to offset other adult-based beverages.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Moderate number of steps.
    In My Ears: Birds chirping. I wish they’d shut the hell up.
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy IX
    Book Last Read: The Shadowmarch Series by Tad Williams (Re-Read)
    Movie Last Viewed: Mission Impossible
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures…
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology and for gaming, a fun Scion: Extras (Supplemental Yet Can Be Somewhat Useful On Occasion Scions)


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