NorWesCon 35: Not A Virgin This Year

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Tomorrow the doors open on NorWesCon 35 and I’m excited but feel completely unprepared.  Last year I was a virgin to such a con. I was overwhelmed and overstimulated quickly. I got the high points of the conference, but plan to attend with a much more discerning eye and mind this year. So why the anxiety over preparation? I don’t have to travel — I can drive there and leave there each night and sleep in my own bed (albeit, last year I said I’d book a room; alas, it wasn’t in the cards for me this year). Also, it’s not like I’m on a panel, although I scored a professional panelist’s guest pass for the weekend, which is the only way I’m able to afford going. I plan to have my Creative Word Lab business cards; bookmarks (if the lot is printed by noon tomorrow as promised) for Martius Catalyst; and more bookmarks pimping SnoValley Writes!;, as well as, my brain in sponge mode to learn as much as possible.

Once again, I think my favorite part is going to be the Philip K. Dick awards.  For those that know me, it’s an award for which I’d be honored to have my work — one day — nominated.  PKD is one, if not maybe, my most favorite author. He and Vonnegut duke it out in my brain constantly. Vonnegut, obviously the more intellectual, but PKD pulls out some laser gun or little pill and the fight descends into more chaos, typically of the insane-making variety. Kind of like this blog post.  But back to NorWesCon and the PKD awards — I’ve read most of the books nominated (and should finish the last two before Friday evening). So, the awards ceremony this year should be interesting. Honestly, I’m having a hard time picking a favorite myself. I don’t envy whatever panel is choosing.  Last year the folks I was rooting for didn’t get acknowledged; but, it’s like they say, “It’s an honor to be nominated.”

Another favorite part is all the readings. The first I plan to attend is Thursday afternoon:  Jay Lake. I’ve been following Jay’s blogs and stories for a few years now. I was too shy to say hi to him last year; so I’m hoping the fan girl in me shuts the hell up and I’m able to say hello this year and wish him good health. I also want to see Cat Rambo read and Lisa Mantchev.  Cat is the consummate professional and each time I’ve been in on a panel of hers ore even just reading her blog and G+ posts, I learn something. As far as Lisa is concerned, I still want to know how she balances being a mother of domestic goddesses and such a prolific author.

I found last year I moved in and out of the reading rooms a lot. I’m a writer, a bibliophile, a story lover. Why wouldn’t I love the readings. And dammit, I know if I was the one reading, I’d want every chair filled. So, it’s the least I can do to support authors I like.

Another enjoyable part is all the costumes! The cosplay can be so intriguing and is as much a part of the con experience as anything else.  My cosplay will likely exist of notable “conversation” tees and hoodies and jewlery. I have no steampunky bodices or leather straps that turn into pistols; no fairy wings; no crazy colored hair. I look like what any person might imagine an introverted writer who lives in the Cascade foothills might look like. I may on Saturday evening don my “Inkster” persona. I don’t know, though, because I will have left Twin Peaks early in the a.m. and don’t plan to carry much with me. I’m more of a voyeur, in that regard, than participant. Regardless it will be entertaining to just watch.

I’ll likely be live tweeting from the con, so check out my twitter feed for my observations from the con.  If you’re going, let me know, too.

If you’ve been to this conference or others like it (maybe last weekend’s comiccon or the simultaneous Sakura-Con), what is your favorite part about it? How do you overcome your shyness? How do you keep your fangirl in check? And most importantly, how do you get the most out of it?



It’s great to be on Goodreads: Let’s talk about books and authors and awards and….

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I just added the link on my Crop Dusting the Web page for my Goodreads profile.  I resisted getting involved in another online community/presence; however, Goodreads is just what this bibliophile’s soul needed. I have struggled with wondering if I should include a separate section of my website here that highlighted my love of books, reviews, even author interviews. I may eventually do that down the road, but for now, Goodreads is fulfilling that inclination.

Today I just posted my review of Jonathan Evison’s WEST OF HERE, which I feel is starting to legitimize my presence on Goodreads. There are so many books I’ve read that deserve the same treatment and eventually I will update my Goodreads library to reflect the breadth of my actual library.

Currently, I’m reading the last of the Phillip K. Dick nominees in preparation for the award ceremony on April 6 at NorWesCon 35.  For those that know me well, Mr. Dick is one of my favorite authors. Ever. I dream one day of being on this nominee list and maybe even earning the award.

In the meantime, leave me a note here if you’re planning on going to NorWesCon 35. Also, won’t you come friend me over on Goodreads? Recommend some books you think I ought to read in my goal to secure this award. If you’re a writer, tell me what literary award you’d like bestowed upon your work one day?


Screenwriting to push myself

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I’m going to be throwing my proverbial hat into the craziness in throughout the month of April called Script Frenzy, brought to you from the same folks that bring you National Novel Writing Month. I’ve had some great success in pushing myself during NaNoWriMo, so I thought I’d give Script Frenzy a try.

I waffled for a bit on whether or not to do it. With information like this and this, or even this out in the greater world wide web, it makes you think no matter what it’s a fool’s dance. But, I also read this little list by one of my favorite bloggers and writers, Chuck Wendig. I especially like his point in his post 10 Things You Should Know About Writing Screenplays

A novel is a finished product. A film is a finished product. A screenplay is just a blueprint. It’s just a template. You’re creating the possibility of a film, not the final product. Let that free you.”

Those words did free me to say, “Yes!” With an embarrassing 18 unpublished manuscripts completed I know without a doubt I can finish a novel, but just to write 100 pages of blueprint. Damn, I know I can do that. In the process, I know I’ll learn something and perhaps gain a new writing skill.

So the idea for this project came to me in a dream – like many of my ideas do. I did a little research yesterday for it – getting some scene imagery and faces in my head for the actual writing process; I wrote a small premise sheet and figured out it is that its genre is a complete smashup and I’m okay with that:  Psychological Military Fantasy Horror Thriller. Yeah. I know, right?

Today, I did a bit of formatting and meta docs into Scrivener (oh man how I love that program!) and realized this little story is shaping up to be Apocalypse Now meets Nightmare on Elm Street.

Another plus? I have to kill a bunch of folks in this story. Everyone who’s been pissing me off in recent history will be cannon fodder in this script.

Yeah, I’m going to have fun.

Truly, friends, writing is way cheaper than therapy.


How many of you out there are going to do Script Frenzy?

Sticking together like beggars or thieves: Writers Worth

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Writing or talking about yourself can be a challenge, especially when you spend so much of your creative time within the walls of stories about other people — especially imaginary ones.  I had the opportunity to do an interview with Lyn Midnight’s blog WRITERS WORTH.  Lyn understands that readers and writers alike enjoy getting to know the person behind the words, the storyteller themselves. She also understands that Papa Hemingway’s advice that “Writers must stick together like beggars or thieves.”  Whether you’re a neophyte, emerging, or veteran writer, you understand that having great support is paramount to the success you achieve.  Throughout our writing career we must not only do what we can to support our own work, but that of others as well. Lyn got that right with her blog. She’s done a fabulous job of reaching out to a diverse group of writers, editors and indie authors to get us all acquainted and cheering one another on as our writing lives take shape.

We hall have our shingles out; Writers Worth gives us another place to hang it.

I’d love it if you go to the site and read about the silly things we talked about in her interview of yours truly, as well as check out some other word artists. All the interviews allow for a back and forth kind of discussion.  Send some love with a little comment or question.  I’m not exactly begging, but I’m drunk on sunshine at the moment — the first day of sunshine in my little Twin Peaks town in nearly 15 days and I’m about inebriated with the Vitamin D overdose, so begging wouldn’t be a stretch at this point.  I suppose it would be a better than me having to steal your identity and posting charming and interesting comments as you.  I’d really rather have the real you do that. I’m sure Hemingway did not mean for us to truly be beggars and thieves. He just wanted us to stick together.

Thanks again to Lyn and kudos to all of those that will find some new success thanks to the handiwork of community support endeavors like WRITERS WORTH.


My first high-profile reading: A lesson in vulnerability

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Poor Edom the Treasure Keeper, he didn’t get nearly the energy he should have at the University Bookstore – my first high-profile reading of my work. But, I learned something in the process.

It has been more than a week since I did my first public reading. There were things that I liked about it and things I’m less than pleased with regarding my performance. To my credit, I don’t think I was hanging with the fail whale, but I know I’m capable of more. I don’t know what it was but when I got up there, I just kind of froze. I walked up there and just started reading. I didn’t greet my audience; I just dove into the story. The whole mini speech I had practiced to prepare the listeners for what I was about to read didn’t happen. This evil voice in my head was squeaking and saying my story was crap…blah blah blah. Will anyone like it? Will I stumble over my words? Will my mouth get dry? What if I sneeze? (yes, how ridiculous is that?) What if people get up and leave? All these what-if scenarios closed my thought processes and I ended up being robotic. Not what I had planned at all. Oh, the silliness it was, as I reflect now.

Eric Andrews-Katz kicks off the reading from AT SECOND GLANCE. Yours truly can be seen in the brown hat at the end left front row beginning to doubt my ability. (Vincent Kovar Photo)

I’ve had plenty of experience with public speaking. Hell, I used to butter my bread as a spokesperson for one of the largest employers in the United States. But, it’s different when it’s your art. You feel vulnerable. Raw. Open to attack. The defender inside of me came out – but that warrior woman wasn’t needed at that moment. No, I needed to give a piece of myself, but I resisted and my performance suffered. I was pushing away the feeling of being vulnerable.

That word – vulnerable – reminds me of my friend Kymberlee. Since I’ve known her she’s been on a mission to not avoid times that make her vulnerable and she has plenty of evidence to suggest that allowing yourself to be vulnerable brings more joy, grace and creativity to your life.

At the reading on Feb. 19, I was resisting that vulnerability, at least initially. Then I was afforded a gracious opportunity to read a selection from one of the other writers featured in the AT SECOND GLANCE anthology.  I got to read from Pirate Games by Evan J. Peterson. I introduced the piece with a joke and a smile and all that doubt slithered off my shoulders and onto the floor where it died. I easily slinked into the voice of the piece and was animated. It felt freeing that it wasn’t mine and it showed – clearly. I was showing off someone else’s work. It felt easy and right and joyous. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and push my limits and it felt good. Just like Kymberlee tells me (us) all the time.

Next time I will do that with my own work, because what I realized a week out from this event is that people were mostly there because they cared about the project, my work or even just me. My sister-in-law even came up from Eugene, Ore. to see it – leaving an event with friends early, as well, to be there. On this side of the experience I know without hesitation, that for a first public reading, it was a smashing success. I look forward to opening up – being more vulnerable – at my next public reading and thereby receiving back the joy I give with my storytelling. Because, after all, it is all about sharing our stories, yes?

Right now, I’m scheduled to read my piece “Endless Trains of the Faithless” featured in the third volume of Views, Voices & Verses at Word Jazz at Boxley’s in North Bend on April 10th. I hope, again, to have many friendly faces in the audience. See you then.