Saturday, November 15, 2014

World Fantasy Convention wrap-up

So World Fantasy was a lot of fun. It really is my favorite convention. Big enough that I get to see folks I never would otherwise, yet small enough it's not overwhelming.  It's got a mellow, relaxed feel that I just love (as I am in sore need of relaxation these days!).  This year the venue was excellent, too.  The hotel was easy to navigate and had a nice central bar & lounge area with tons of comfy couches - essential for World Fantasy, where the experience is often far more about the socializing than the programming. 

Not that the programming isn't cool too!  I won't do a total rehash of everything I enjoyed, but here are a few highlights:

1) Pre-convention crowdfunding workshop with Ron Garner of Silence in the Library: I'm so glad I went to this.  Ron shared a wealth of tips and advice about kickstarter that I found very helpful.  Talking with him afterward also sparked some ideas for my Labyrinth of Flame kickstarter that I'm pretty excited about (can't share them yet, but I really hope they work out!).  Robin Sullivan and Brad Beaulieu were also extremely generous in sharing their kickstarter experience and advice with me, for which I can't thank them enough.  Publishing is such a crazy business and yet it is full of really wonderful people. 

2) Kaffeeklatsch with Michael Whelan (aka 15 lucky people sitting around a table chatting with Michael Whelan): this was a huge highlight for me because Michael Whelan has been one of my favorite SFF artists since I was a kid.  I used to buy books solely because of his covers.  One of the first gifts my husband ever got me was an art book of his, and we have prints from several of his covers (The Stone of Farewell, The Snow Queen, The Summer Queen) on our walls.  I thought I wasn't going to get into the kaffeeklatsch - the signup was only for 15 people, and I didn't make it to registration in time, so was on the wait list.  I showed up anyway, in case a spot opened up last minute.  None did, but then the organizer asked Michael if it was okay for those few of us who'd come from the wait list to join in, and he said "Sure, the more the merrier."  Hooray!  It was a wonderful hour; he had tons of interesting stories from his career to share in response to questions, and overall it was just really neat to get a view into the man behind the art I've loved for so long.

3) The mass autographing on Friday night. This is where every author at the con (and there are MANY of them) sits down in one big room and signs books for anyone who comes by.  I never expect to sign many books (though I'm always delighted when somebody asks me), but I always end up having some really great conversations, and this year was no exception.  Evie Manieri and Doug Hulick and I shared a table, and it was lovely chatting with them and the folks that stopped by.

Me, Evie Manieri, and Doug Hulick, ready to autograph

4) My reading! My awesome brother brought many donuts, and my critique group and roommate and various friends and even a few people I didn't know showed up despite the early hour (THANK YOU all!), so I'm totally calling it a win.  I read the first scene from Ch 2 of Labyrinth of Flame, and gave away a signed set of Whitefire Crossing and Tainted City.     

Reading from The Labyrinth of Flame
5) Other people's readings! Attending readings is one of my favorite parts of World Fantasy. I'm a sucker for getting sneak peeks of what people are working on.  This year I got to hear the first part of Carol Berg's Valen story for Ragnarok's Blackguards anthology (we hadn't seen it in critique group so I was very eager!) - she of course stopped at a point that left us all dying for the rest.  Brenda Carre read an excellent short story that I hope sees publication very soon.  Patricia McKillip (a long-time favorite author of mine) read from a forthcoming novel she said she just turned in to her editor - don't know when it'll be out, but I'll be snapping it up the moment it releases. 

Patricia McKillip reading from her forthcoming novel, which is a contemporary take on Grail mythology, set (it would seem) in the Pacific northwest
Doug Hulick read from his upcoming 3rd novel of the Kin, Brad Beaulieu read from his upcoming Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Evie Manieri read from her debut Blood's Pride, Shaun Duke read a short story that was accompanied by an interpretative dance from Michael Underwood (sadly not in person), Heidi Ruby Miller had a fun reading where she had friends act out the character voices, Leah Petersen read from an SF tale with some cool near-future biotech...oh, I had so much fun.

6) Hanging out with friends - I'm not even going to attempt to list off all the people whose company I enjoyed, because they were both awesome and legion.  The parties were good too - had some great conversations at Ragnarok's party, and Laurey (L.F.) Patten's launch party for her new novel The Talent Sinistral (a great book, by the way).  A special shout-out to my wonderful roommate Karen Bovenmyer, because WFC just wouldn't be the same without her, and my fractionally-Hugo-nominated brother, Matt Hilliard, whom I don't get to spend enough time with.  Oh, and Megan O'Keefe and Joey Hewitt, who introduced me to a whole host of fascinating folks from Codex.

The only downside to all the fun is that after my lovely little 5 day vacation, I am SLAMMED with day job work.  But I am soldiering on in my revision of The Labyrinth of Flame as best I can, pushing ever closer toward the finish.  I'll reappear here in December to post the second chapter. 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Read the first chapter of The Labyrinth of Flame

Happy November, everyone!  Good luck to those of you doing NaNoWriMo.  On Nov 1, 2007 I sat down to write the very first line of the first draft of The Whitefire  Crossing.  Now here I am, seven years and many, many words later, closing in on the end of Dev and Kiran's story.  (Seven years.  Good God.  Doesn't feel that long at all!  You might think I'd be bored with my characters by now, but nope.  Think I have even more fun writing them these days than I did in book 1.)

In celebration of my writing anniversary - and excitement over nearing the homestretch of my revision! - I'm offering up a first look at The Labyrinth of Flame.  The first chapter is up on my website: hope you enjoy.

The 2nd and 3rd chapters will follow in Dec & Jan.  Hey, and if you're going to World Fantasy, you won't even have to wait for Dec for Ch 2.  I'll likely share the first scene of Ch 2 at my reading, which is at 10am on Sun the 9th.

And now, back to picking out which books I'll get to read while traveling to WFC (yay for airports and reading time!)...