Where There’s Vampires…

I haven’t considered putting werewolves into my November Epic, but at the World Fantasy Convention I joked that after I finish The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy I should follow with Vampires and Werewolves Get It On (and Oh, Yeah, There’s Zombies Too). Although this book has already been written many times (as has Quest), it’s never been written as honestly.

Secret insider information I’ve received indicates that there is another movie in the reputedly-wreched Twilight series (excuse me, saga) coming out. In it, vampires and werewolves get it on. No word on Zombies. (“Get it on” can mean different things in different contexts; while usually it has sexual connotations, it can also mean to come into conflict. That’s what makes the title so perfect. When they’re not getting it on, they’re getting it on.)

Quest was a title I’d been hoping to drop casually in a conversation with a publisher, get them all excited, and have them give me lots of money. While I did talk to a couple of publishers, I never got to that level of conversation. In one case that was my fault; they were celebrating the launch of a book with a reading, and the four authors weren’t very good. I didn’t stick around. Someone was eventually going to ask my opinion.

So, I still have my day job. I have completely failed to balance work and life; failing so badly that I’m also not getting enough work done.

For NaNoWriMo I’m way, way behind on word count, but thanks to you guys my vampire society is a complex one filled with internal conflict. It creates the perfect setting for someone to do to the vampires what they do to humanity — hunt them for food.

Maybe in one of the blockbuster sequels I can toss in Lycanthropes. And, oh, yeah, Zombies, too. And ninjas.

No pirates, though. That would be crass commercialism.

News Flash from the Convention Floor

Just a quickie as I sit waiting for my evening plans to materialize — I’m in the lounge of the Fairmont Hotel in beautiful downtown San Jose, having spent the day hanging out with a bunch of writers, publishers, and fans of fantasy fiction. I attended sessions, listened to reading, and


… and that’s as far as I got yesterday. It’s tomorrow now, relativistically speaking, and I’m sitting in the lounge of the hotel, a little bit jazzed, a little bit fatigued, caffeine wearing off and in need of replacement. It’s late afternoon of day two, and there is still a lot of the day left to go. The most important part of the day, some might argue, the part after all the talks and readings and seminars. The schmoozing. Tonight is the night to seek out liquored-up agents and publishers.

Today started smoothly, an easy bus-ride from home to the hotel where the convention is. On the way I had time to read, a rare luxury these days. The morning started with a reading by Kij Johnson, a friend and colleague as well as a rising star in the biz. Hanging out and chit-chatting ensued, which led to lunch with writers both aspiring and established. Good times.

This afternoon I went to a couple of seminars, and I also learned that Tim Powers walks quickly and washes his hands after using the rest room. There’s something that doesn’t show up in his biographies, I bet. He was signing books for a while this afternoon, but the vendors only had his newer stuff, which just doesn’t have the same magic in my regard. Alas, talk of me having one of John’s battered old volumes (one of the ones he loaned me to introduce me to Powers), had failed.

One of the seminars was a panel of writers discussing the concept of reading for fun, and revealing their secret pleasures. The panel ranged from an old-school writer who loves the pulps he grew up reading to a charismatic Australian cracking wise to a Serbian writer who takes his reading deadly seriously: there is a limited amount of life, and and almost infinite number of books. Choose with care. (Yesterday I heard Živković read one of his short stories, and enjoyed it a great deal.)

A few minutes ago I spoke briefly with Gordon van Gelder, Editor/Publisher of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the magazine that shall go down in history as being the first to pay me for my writing. He didn’t recognize me, of course, but he remembered my name and knew I had been in Prague. I’ll talk to him again later at the party his magazine is throwing. The encounter left me disproportionately nerve-wracked. Or maybe it’s all the iced tea I had at lunch. whatever the cause, I’ve got the jitters now, and I’m reminding myself of two things: 1) breathe in and 2) breathe out. There’s a long night ahead fraught with peril and free alcohol, and I need to perform well.

Now would be a good time to come up with that elevator pitch for my novel.

Maybe not so Unprepared After All

It appears many of the materials I wanted to have prepared for this weekend aren’t necessary after all. These publisher and agent types don’t want to be encumbered with paper, so I just need to leave a strong impression and a name. Then it’s up to me to follow up later.

Man I can’t tell you what a huge relief that is. Now all I have to do is hook some movers and shakers, then come home and get the stuff ready for them – simultaneously with NaNoWriMo and my job. What could be simpler?

On the subject of NaNoWroMo, my story this year will have one of the best opening chapters of any book ever written by anyone. If I can get it right. I am fired up and ready to go!

Woefully Unprepared

At the start of September I had a plan: 1) Spend September finishing a draft of Dark War that my brother could critique and maybe even hand to people. 2) Spend October working on The Monster Within and get it ready for some serious flogging at the World Fantasy Convention. Simple enough.

Dark War started running long (other projects pushed in, I got stuck a couple of times) but I wasn’t too worried. October is a long month. Then, as regular readers are aware, I got a job. For the most part a job is a good thing, what with paychecks coming in, keeping up with technology, and getting to apply my programming skills to make the world a little bit better. It comes at a price, however, and when you jump in on a project that is running behind and people aren’t even sure how behind it is, you can run into a pretty major life suck.

And so it was that I finally took most of today off to prepare for the WFC (after a work meeting that had the benefit of getting me up early this morning). Monster is untouched, which really sucks because the first chapter could have a lot more impact, and my goal in the next few days is to get people to read that chapter. I have no current synopsis, no other sales materials prepared.

This morning I went to the WFC Web site to check out the program, and see what time things were starting tomorrow. The answer: the festivities start tonight. I’m not going to make it. I don’t think I’ll be missing anything critical, except a chance to rub elbows with people who might give me money for my work. Tomorrow I’ll hit the ground running.


Extra World Fantasy Convention Tickets?

A friend of a friend is looking for a ticket for this year’s World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. Apparently they’re sold out. Anyone out there have a spare?

World Fantasy Convention!

Well, it’s official; I’ve paid my money and everything. I’m going to this year’s World Fantasy convention, and I’m not at all sure how to prepare. It’s the sort of event I should have been attending for years now, and being able to do stuff like this is a fortunate side-effect of living in North America.

On that subject, aren’t these things supposed to have wacky names that end in ‘con’?

So what is this convention? As far as I can tell, it’s an event where boatloads of writers and publishers and agents and other industry folk gather for three days of… stuff. Elbow-rubbing. Looking for deals. Writers trying to get published, publishers trying to find writers that don’t suck. Panel discussions and whatnot. A few key people who are paid to come and encourage the masses. Others who have come simply for the love of the genre.

If all that sounds pretty vague, it’s because I’ve never been part of one of these things before. It’s an important part of my chosen profession, however, and contacts I make at this thing could turn my career. Or not. Or maybe I’ll make an impression with someone that pays off years from now. You never know.

I do know it pays to be prepared. To have things to hand to publishers and agents that they will love, things that at a glance will tell them that they are just dying to read my novel. “Stop the presses!” they will shout into mobile phones, “we have to rearrange the 2010 catalog!”

Another opportunity I have is to impress people in person in ways that anonymous submissions never can. I can talk to important people and leave them thinking “That guy’s an intelligent, articulate guy with a refreshing vision of the fantasy novel.” This will simultaneously be the easiest and most difficult thing for me to do. Once I get into a conversation with the right people, I’m sure I’ll do well. (I’ve been lying awake at night devising my elevator pitch.) The thing is, I’m really, really bad at getting into those conversations in the first place. I’ve been to other industry conventions and utterly bombed at networking (even at the conference about networks).

So, anyone out there have any suggestions? Both for specifics that I should take with me and for the more general hob-bobbing? Any help will be greatly appreciated!