Windycon 38

I got back from Windycon 38 last night.  Windycon is a moderate sized science fiction convention in the Chicago area and is one of my “regular” conventions.

When I go to a convention I have three basic purposes.  First is being there as a science fiction fan:  buy stuff, listen to filk, appreciate the costuming, attend panels discussing favorite books and series, that sort of thing.  From this perspective Windycon was a rousing success.

The other two purposes are from my perspective as a professional writer:  meet other professionals in the field with an eye to doing business.  It could be getting to know other authors who might remember you and recommend you to an anthology editor (it was that kind of personal contact that got me a chance at the Heroes in Hell series) or it might be a simple “here’s the editor you need to send your story to” or it could be a “send the story to my attention and I’ll take a look” from an editor or agent. (I can dream can’t I.) The final purpose is to get your name in front of fans with the idea of selling books and stories.  Since I now have stories in anthologies (Lawyers in Hell currently and Sword & Sorceress XXVI and Adventurers in Hell forthcoming) this is a part of getting “word of mouth” started to help sell these books.

From a professional perspective my visit to Windycon was, shall we say, less than successful.  I had one programming item, a reading, but without other programming items to introduce me to congoers and my decided lack of fame in science fiction there wasn’t anything to draw people to that reading.  Result being that nobody showed up.  Well, one person did–the individual whose job it was to go around and count how many people were attending various panels and other programming items.  He hung around and we ended up adjourning to the con suite to chat.

Oh, well, you can’t win them all.

Stanza is back

And my e-reader of choice, Stanza, is back with an upgrade that allows it to run in iOS 5.

According to some sources Amazon has said that this is the “last update ever” for Stanza so I may still need to search for a replacement but for the time being, my primary e-reader both for personal reading and doing editing passes on my own writing.

For the time being, I’m happy.  Of course, I’d deleted Stanza, and my library, from my iPod when it looked like Stanza was gone for good so now, after reinstalling, I’ve got to import my library back into it.

Fortunately that’s easy in Stanza.

Happiness.

"Realism" in fiction

A lot of folk say that fiction should be “realistic” that it shouldn’t all be happy-happy-joy-joy.  The implication is that to be “real” fiction must be be miserable stories about miserable people living miserable lives.

I disagree. While miserable people living miserable lives can be part of the real world (all too often, IMO) that’s not _all_ the real world.  I’m part of the real world and I like to think I’m not a “miserable person” and I’m certainly not living a miserable life.  It’s not a perfect life, far from it, but there’s a great deal of room between “everything is always perfect” and “everything is miserable”.

As Ouida, pseudonym of Maria Loise Rame. From “Romance and Realism” in “Frescoes and other stories” (1883) wrote: “But the Vatican Hermes is as ‘real’ as the Japanese netzke, and the dome of St. Peter’s is as real as the gasometer of East London; and I presume the fact can hardly be disputed if I even assert that the passion flower is as real as the potato!”

“Realistic” does not have to mean “depressing.”

Need a new e-reader

I just updated the OS on my iPod Touch (what I use as my primary e-reader as well as for other things).  Unfortunately the OS upgrade broke the e-reader app.

I had been using Stanza a free e-reader that worked great for my needs.  Now, it crashes whenever I try to open it.  As I understand it, Stanza is no longer supported so unless some further upgrade of the Apple OS revives it, I’m out of luck with continuing to use Stanza.

That means I need a new e-reader app.  The things I liked about Stanza:

– The ease with which I could scroll through my rather large library to find a particular book.
– The easy navigation through the e-books.
– The “two tap” (center of the screen to open the controls then the yin-yang symbol) switching between “day” mode (black text on a white background) and “night” mode (white text on a black background).
– Convenient note-taking/annotation
– Oh, and it was free. 😉

One of the things I used the e-reader for is proofreading/editing stories.  Once I finished a story I’d convert it to epub and put it on my iPod.  A lot of errors and problems that I missed when writing on the computer jumped out at me when I read them on the iPod.  I could use the annotation feature to write notes about changes/fixes and then refer to them when I worked on the master story file on the computer.

Another use to which I put it is keeping a fairly large library of reference information:  things like historical and mythological writings (the Norse eddas and sagas, Apollodorus’ writings, the Baghavad Gita, the Book of Arda Viraf, many other things).  This allows me to do background research for stories and worlds conveniently wherever I happen to be.

So now I need a new e-reader to replace the one that’s broken.

Decisions, decisions

Readers might recall the short “God of Thunder” I finished a while back. I got the responses from beta readers, decided that those who haven’t responded, aren’t going to, made final edits, and am now putting it out into that cold, cold marketplace. I still have a decision to make yet, though. Tor.com seems to be just about the best paying market for short SF&F out there but it’s got a really long response time. If I send “God of Thunder” to them it can be a year or more before I hear back (most likely, in all reality, with a rejection). Other markets respond a lot more quickly and the likelihood isn’t too bad (given my recent track record) that one of them will buy it.

So the question is whether it’s worth trying tor.com and waiting a year or more for a reply and before I can try someone else, or if I’d be better off sending it to shorter turnaround markets where I’m reasonably likely to sell it, get some money, and another credit on my list (building name recognition and “cred”) before tor.com would even respond.

Deal not with this publisher

Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Fantasy author Doranna Durgan reports that they have not made her book “Dun Lady’s Jess” available through “regular trade channels” for some time and have refused to revert the rights to the book to her as the contract calls for.

Reversion is one of the more important rights an author retains. It means that if the current publisher of a work cannot, or will not, sell the book the author can recover the rights and find someone who can and will (including, nowadays, the ability to self-publish). By refusing to revert the publisher is denying the author the ability to make money they otherwise would have.

Bad publisher. No cookie.