kittylady: (Default)
Oh, sunday. That was a busy day. It started by rushing to get there early (again) to make sure that after all of my begging and pleading to my new friends that my name would be on the sign-up sheets for the Writer's Seminar and the Thieves' Guild Masterclass. I saw it to be a true thing, and stopped worrying.

Here is where I take a moment to note to everybody just how amazing the Igors at the Consuite were: there was icy water at all hours, nibbles that wouldn't poison you, caffeine in differing flavors, and cool people, all the time. If it wasn't for the fact that I was busy doing the con stuff, I would've spent most of my time there, just watching everybody being all nerdy together.

Which would probably explain why I missed out on the Publishing PTerry panel, but it was a small price to pay. Was able to get some chatting and cheap jokes in with my adopted couple, then I got to go and wait in yet another line before the workshop opened. I chatted with more cool and nerdy people, and there was some bemused chatter about how a convention full of literate folk with pretensions to storytelling would have limited seating for such a popular event.

Fortunately, the limited seating turned out not to matter. A few people snuck in the back, nobody checked for credentials, and some folks even handed around some notes for the latecomers. Listening to Diane Duane was completely fun, and the only annoying part was Peter Morwood interrupting her all the time, but he barely managed to make up for it by being genuinely entertaining.

There was an hour break, and then the only bad part to my day happened: my shoe broke. My brand new four-inch spike heels for the Adora Belle costume. And the Costumer's Dungeon had no superglue. Thank goodness I was foresighted enough to bring a spare dress with flat shoes. Amusing side note: when I was able to present the broken shoe for inspection, one of the ladies had a look of absolute horror on her face as she exclaimed, "Oh, honey, you should never wear those, they'll ruin your knees!" I wanted to pinch her cheek and tell her she was so cute in the worst possible way. At least I refrained from pointing out that I have a pair of seven-inch platforms that are standard.

But anyway, the second half of the seminar was just as entertaining as the first, plus anecdotes about working in the film industry. I think I would rather cuddle live scorpions before I'd willingly try that.

Afterwards I was able to meet up with the nice couple, get superglue and use their room to repair the damn shoe and let it cure for a couple of hours. I think, if I'm remembering correctly, that was one of the two times that I got to ride in the elevator with Sir Terry, which is about all I can claim I did, since he was surrounded by about five other people.

That little adventure took up enough time that I missed The Science of Discworld panel and my scowly face was enough that my new friends decided to get an early start on the drinking. I had roughly the same resistance as my sinuses to pollen in the springtime. We met up with the cool lady from the day before, slightly terrorized the nice bartender at the pub and had lots of fun.

Then came the nerdy thing that I'd been looking forward to all week: the Thieves' Guild Masterclass. As a member, I'm not allowed to divulge Guild secrets, but I can say that nearly all politicians count as unlicensed thieves and can be punished accordingly. *glee*

Then there was just enough time to change back into the fixed costume for the Gala Banquet, which turned out to be worth every penny I spent to get in. First off, in order to get in, you had to get a spiffy little card to show to the large men at the door. Then came the dance of The Finding of the Seats, in which our group of three accosted a table of respectable folk who happened to be the only ones with that many seats available.

The entertainment was, well, entertaining, but the best part of the whole dinner was watching Sir Terry watching the belly dancers. There were some beautiful costumes, of which I managed to get a few pictures, and the lady next to me actually knew a few books that I haven't read yet. I found out that I like saffron rice and that grilled eggplant smells like used socks.

Then I spent an hour running around and getting yet more pictures, most of which came out poorly. By the end of that I was pretty much dead on my feet and nearly fell asleep in the car. But so worth it.
kittylady: (Default)
-Remember to actually check the page with the publisher's submission guidelines. They have all of the standard formatting stuff, which you really want to pay attention to, plus they list the stuff that they're actually looking for.

-DO NOT send your only copy of your manuscript. If you're stupid enough to do this, make sure to include a SASE that's actually big enough to return the thing in.

-Put your name, the name of your manuscript, and the page number on the top of each page. This is for everybody's convenience, and if someone drops it, everybody will be happy that you did that simple thing.

-Proper formatting cannot be stressed enough. If the submission guidelines suggest more than one size font, go for the bigger one. Many, many editors bring their work home with them, and it helps them immensely to be able to see what they're working on.

-When printing out your manuscript, use a fresh ink cartridge.

-Editors are actually a pretty small group of people, and they talk to each other. For no other reason than this, do not lose your temper with them. Besides, you want them to give you money, and that's always worth a bare minimum of civility.

-If you are a new author who hasn't been published yet, FINISH THE DAMN MANUSCRIPT BEFORE YOU SEND IT OUT. No, really, it looks a whole lot better.

-Do not send illustrations with your manuscript.

-Do not write your manuscript in crayon.

-When writing fiction of any sort, but especially science fiction, your readers are going to know a whole lot more about certain subjects than you. It is up to you to learn enough to bluff convincingly. If you don't, you will look stupid, which readers will always remember.

-Do not put any part of the writing you want to get paid for online in any way without your publisher's permission. Odds are quite good that they won't give it until you've actually collected a following.

-Try to make your manuscript as perfect as possible before sending it off. Even if the writing is as solid a thing as you've ever done, go over it a few times to check for glaring spelling and grammatical errors, any nitpicky continuity bits that need to be fixed, and just about anything else that would make the editor's job easier.

-Between the time that you finish your manuscript and before you send it off, try to hide it for a month and not think about it. Then go over it again.

-Remember that just because some people really do talk that way, you still shouldn't use profanity for dialog. Emphasis, yes, because people do like to use their sentence enhancers when stressed, but few people enjoy reading a steady stream of vulgarity.

-DO NOT TAKE ANY WRITING THAT YOU DO SERIOUSLY. You're not creating life; you're creating a product for sale tailored to your publisher's particular tastes. They're not going to like it exactly the way that you like it. And since you want them to give you money, you'd better learn to make it the way they want you to. After you can't claim the noob title any more, you might be able to stand your ground on a few things that you'd like to stay, but still bear in mind that the editor has way more experience in knowing what sells than you do.

-Try to make yourself laugh with your writing as much as possible. Even (or especially) if no one else gets the jokes.

-You don't need to suffer for art. Really, you don't. In fact, it still counts as art even if you hacked it out in two months instead of sweating over it for years. More importantly, if you can actually hack out something profitable in three months or less, keep doing it. Insert your own Dan Brown joke here.

-The only person who is allowed to be mean to the editors is your agent. They are paid to be your bastard and will fight for you accordingly. You, on the other hand, must still be civil and polite to the people with the money.

-When looking for an agent, bear in mind that anyone who wants money up front is a scum-sucking pile of offal and should be treated as such. Agents make their money off of you, and if you have any talent they can recognize they will be happy to take fifteen percent of your earnings. Since they take a percentage, they will fight extra hard for you to get a bigger check.
kittylady: (Default)
Had to wake up early on Saturday, which was an unfortunately continuing trend, but well worth it. Especially as the first thing I did was save seats for my adopted couple at the Fireside Chat with the Cunning Artificer. Bernard Pearson is an eloquent storyteller, and if you ever get the opportunity to do so, buy him good beer and just listen. I won't repeat any of what I heard, or at least I won't do so here, but I do hope one day to have lived a life that was half so entertaining.

Then I rushed over to get a spot for the Publishers, Agents and Editors panel. There was useful advice there, especially on how to find an agent and why having one is much better than not having one. For newbs, try reading the acknowledgments of the books you like, or least the books that you would like to write, and see which names are mentioned more than once. Then check their website. Also, the next big trend in Young Adult fiction is possibly going to be heavily influenced by a Futuristic Dystopian style, so anyone with talent in that direction had better get cracking.*

After the panel technically ended I managed to sneak some advice from Anne Hoppe, who was completely amazing and I wish I'd gotten the opportunity to buy her a drink. She let me corner her while she was signing posters and ask annoying questions on how to get into the proof-reading/editor market, which is a much tighter market than I would've guessed, but not quite as cutthroat as writing. No, I'm not sharing. Go annoy your own captive editor when you get the chance.

I took so much time that I had to get a chair in the back for the Real Roundworld History panel. Again, I wish they'd had a working sound system in place. Many cool and nerdy things were discussed, mostly strange things mentioned in the Discworld books and what relation they had in our reality. Learning about how the Seamstress' Guild got their name gave me a fit of the giggles.

Then came the giant room full of people for the Talking with Terry: Guest of Honor Interview and Discussion, and I would probably have enjoyed it far more if a)the sound system had been more functional with less high-pitched feedback and more actual working, and b) the guy in the row in front of me had not kept moving his head to be exactly in the way of my view. But it was still enjoyable, even if all the pictures I got were crap.

On my way out, I had a moment of pure, geeky bliss. The lady who'd volunteered me to make centerpieces found me and handed me a lovely purple and ruffly Seamstress' Guild ribbon, which I proudly wore thereafter.

After that I had a bit of spare time which was happily spent in the smoking area talking to new people, taking more pictures and getting so distracted by the stories the guy in the Greebo costume was telling that I completely lost track of time and missed the first half of the Diane Duane reading. *scowl* The only reason I noticed was that the couple who adopted me texted me and wanted to meet up for a drink before the Maskerade. Having already missed the first half of the reading, I decided to go and nurse my regret a bit. Then I got so distracted by the other people with us that I completely forgot to have any regret. And I was able to spend a few hours being a bitchy liberal feminist with someone else who was in the same mindset, and I even helped with a few artistic tarot deck suggestions, only to find out later that the publishing company already owns the rights to it and is sitting on it, hoping the movies will make the series popular enough to launch the idea as more than a collector's item.

Anyway, we went back for the Maskerade and I realized that I had a mild case of agoraphobia at the thought of being in a room with what looked like 500+ people. So I stayed outside, smoked, took more pictures, and managed to lure [livejournal.com profile] scarybaldguy out of hiding long enough to get dinner with me and the awesome couple at the overpriced hotel bar. There was a brief moment of horror when the stadium a few blocks away let off huge fireworks just as the planes were descending, but I later had this explained as a side effect of having stupid people with too much money in charge of the game's more showy effects.

More stuff will be covered later; it's been a long week back in the real world.

*Just remember to send a thank-you check here.
kittylady: (Default)
Now I know why nerds spend all of their time and money on conventions.

On Thursday, a day in which only minor evening stuff had been planned for the early folks, I was dropped off at the hotel at about elevenish so that I could do all of the early stuff and the very kind [livejournal.com profile] scarybaldguy could go to work. As it turned out, I was there a bit too early, but I had planned for that and brought a copy of Witches Abroad with me.

Was out in one of the few shaded spots in the smoking area when a couple came up to me and asked if I was there for the con. I happily showed off my book, we chatted about nerdy stuff, then about not-so nerdy stuff. I found out that she was Air Force and he was extremely Irish, and once you could get past the accent he had the best stories. He also found out that we enjoy the same brand of whiskey, and from that point out the only time I paid for a drink was when my reflexes let me get my wallet out first.

The people with the registration packets showed up at about threeish, we got our bags and I was able to make the both of them jealous with my button of Death. *squee for Death button* We worked out our event schedules and drank more, then tried doing some of the con stuff.

There were only a few people in costume that day, notably the excellent Rincewind and what appeared to be Ridcully in his hunting gear.

That night was the Pub Quiz, which was way more fun that I would've thought, considering how much booze I'd had on an empty stomach. We met bunches of awesome people at the table, completely flubbed a few of the questions (who wrote the Happy Birthday song? Really?) and got a perfect score on the picture quiz thanks to the really cool lady who'd introduced herself as "The Quintessential Nanny Ogg". If you're curious, you find find the questions yourself by poking around on the links here.

I got a few more pictures, more alcohol and more stories, and then I left feeling like I'd met family. Well, not quite, more like family you wish you had instead of what you got stuck with.

Friday was when the fun really started. It started early with the program "Twoflower's Guide to Conventions", for which there was not enough seating and I would have loved a sound system. Considering just how many of the con goers were total beginners, including myself, I shouldn't have been surprised. But I learned about something called the 5-2-1 rule, which is that for each full day of conventioning, you should try to get five hours of sleep, two full meals and one shower. These are minimums, not guidelines. The whole thing made me slightly regret not taking the chance to do any volunteer work, but only slightly, and it went away before the next event.

Immediately thereafter was the Opening Ceremony, which was quite intense. Sir Terry was walked out under a giant inflatable turtle with a flying wedge of snarly Seamstresses as a body guard. Esther Friesner *eeeomgshessocool* hosted bit of it and kept us laughing. The laughter was needed, especially as Sir Terry talked about refusing to succumb to his illness, saying, "When it comes to that, I will be going out and taking the alzheimer's with me." Yeah, I sniffled a little. But then there were more laughs and good photos taken, unfortunately all by other people, and we went off a bit merrier.

I met up with my new friends and we went to the Dealer's Room. For those who have no previous experience with such things, I have to say that it's a lot like Disneyland in that to have as much fun as you deserve you need to bring lots and lots of money. I spent more on stuff for other people that first day, which I've been told is not uncommon. But something to also remember is that more stuff gets brought out each day, and they will run out of good stuff early, so budget accordingly.

Then I had to rush to get in line for the autographing session that I had. After about twenty minutes of standing around and talking to other nerds, the Igors came out and handed out numbered tickets, which was very nice because it meant that I could sit down. I chatted with more very nice people and missed out on a photo opportunity for a plastic bag with a label of "Nobby's Nuts". Yes, I'm still kicking myself about that. But I did manage to snag some of the flower petals that were strewn in Sir Terry's path for the earlier event, which have since been distributed to deserving people.

Also, he remembered me! Yes, I wore the same hat and corset, and he was so busy remembering me that he signed my copy of Nation twice. Why yes, I do love being me.

I took a few moments to get pics of the Guild Banners that were hanging in the room, then met up again with the awesome couple. We were volunteered, with minimal resistance on my part, to help make centerpieces for the Seamstress' Guild party later that evening. Despite small nuisances like not having enough scissors, it went rather quickly and my new friends then took the time to introduce me to a really cool little pub called Rula Bula that was a quick walk from the hotel. The lamb stew is excellent, and I wish the heat had left me with enough appetite to do it justice.

We went back for the party, saw some truly stunning costumes, and then had our picture taken professionally, a service which was provided at Sir Terry's own expense to add to the convention goers' experience. I must say that it succeeded. Unfortunately, I encountered the one truly clueless person there, who felt it necessary to ask if I was supposed to be a witch. Yes, while I was in costume. *eyeroll* And here I thought that literate people were a tad more observant.

There was more stories from cool people, I met [livejournal.com profile] marence for the first time, and I hope to all kind deities that I grow to be even half as awesome as she is. There were more pictures, more drinks, and I really didn't want to go, but the heat does make showering essential.

The lady who'd volunteered me made the remark, "Conventions are like sex without the orgasm to tell you to stop." Had to share it.
kittylady: (Default)
Too tired to blog, so I give you poorly-taken pictures!

ETA: That was a whole bunch. I think I'm done now.
kittylady: (Default)
There's this myth that northerners have about something called "dry heat"; supposedly it's less oppressive than the normal heat that Ohio gets. I certainly saw no sign of this phenomenon. In fact, I learned that heat in that quantity will kill any hint of appetite and had no desire to consume anything but water* for the first two days.

A second myth we like to bandy about is that the one about the desert getting cold at night. This did not happen either.

I also learned that heat like that will turn sunblock rancid. Rancid sunblock is strongly reminiscent of used catbox. I spent way too much of my first full day trying to figure out if the cats had marked my clothes or my purse as a good-bye present.

A nice lady I'd met on the second day gave me some useful advice about Arizona from the point of view of a former northerner who'd had time to learn:

- If you see someone driving with the window down, they automatically have the right of way. This is because they have no air-conditioning and their brain will be sizzling.

- If you see a penny, leave it alone.

- Avoid all things chrome.

I followed this advice to the best of my ability and suffered no ill effects from it.

Weirdly, people in Arizona actually wear jeans. I wonder if this is mostly a summer trend, because the air conditioning in every single place I went to was set to "arctic". If you try to do the normal Northern thing and dress for the weather, you will end up shivering in every building and might as well hang a bright red sign on your forehead that reads "TOURIST".

Also, there are an assload of cops. I thought Ohio was known for way too much on the civilian protection, but that was just crazy. Yeah, I know, Maricopa County and all that, but dear gods it was worse than downtown Kent on May Day.

Beyond the huge amounts of hot, my only real annoyance with the area was seeing the patches of yard where people had tried to grow grass. Why the hell would you want to have grass in the desert? Sure, there's the corpse of a blown out tire every five hundred or so feet, but if you can look past the melted rubber the area is quite lovely is a simplistic kind of way. So many shades of brown and red... and then the little squares of green, where you can only see the wasted water and the masochism of someone who would want to go out and mow the stuff down just scrapes across the eye.

Anyway, I have lots of pettings that still need to be handed out and pictures to organize. And sleep to catch up on. Right now the best part of being home is becoming reacquainted with my blankets, which are a totally useless decorative accessory in the desert.

*and whiskey, but close enough
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