The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘illogicon

When I originally signed up for Samantha Bryant’s ‘Finish Your Novel’ workshop, I thought I would either be working on a parallel novel set in my Reenu-You universe or the urban fantasy novel I’m co-writing with my sister. The workshop meets for five Saturdays for three hours. Samantha’s a great instructor and I’ve taken her classes before through CCCC’s Creative Writing Program. She is most well-known for her superhero menopausal series, which I adore. See my interview with her about Going through The Change, her first book in the series.

I loved when Samantha asked us to place ourselves as writers on the spectrum of Explorers (i.e. Discovery writers) and Architects (i.e. Plotters) in how we begin projects.

Everything changed last weekend when I attended Illogicon, the local sci-fi convention that I’ve been attending since 2015. I had scheduled a meeting with a publisher that I was hoping to get to know better.

Although I can’t release all the details yet, suffice it to say I pitched this publisher a horror novel idea that’s been rolling around in my psyche for a few years. They loved it. So much so, they are offering me a contract. I will have a soft deadline of turning in the novel by October and a hard deadline of January 2020.

I literally have only about six pages of notes on my horror novel idea. Getting published is often a mysterious processes defined by things both in and out of one’s control. As I have often said, there is no one route to publication. And, although I still have to write the book (no small feat!), the way this opportunity has unfolded has been marked by a wonderful feeling of synchronicity. I also believe that all the other pathways of the writing life that I have been contributing to (e.g. blogging and using social media, building relationships with other writers, and submitting work) has contributed to this moment of serendipity.

I’m still both gleeful and stunned at the ease of how everything unfolded. When I met with the publisher, I didn’t have the slightest intent on pitching this novel idea, but during the conversation it felt right. I had studied the company’s catalog and surmised that they might want to continue to develop their horror line.

After the conversation finished, I immediately thought—OK, WELL THIS CHANGES ALL MY WRITING PLANS FOR 2019! and, I NEED SOME SUPPORT IN GETTING THIS NOVEL WRITTEN! and, CLEARLY THIS STORY WANTS TO BE BORN!!! and, YIKES! AND, OMG, I’VE NEVER WRITTEN A HORROR NOVEL!!!!!

I took a deep breath and told myself that I would figure it out, as all writers do.

This brings me back to the Finish Your Novel workshop. We met yesterday and I think it’s going to provide a helpful model for accountability. Samantha will discuss key issues about novel structure and all the participants will have at least one opportunity to receive feedback on their work. My goal is to develop a detailed outline for our Feb meeting.

There is nothing like getting a new notebook when starting a project. My writing teacher got me hooked on these colorful and inexpensive composition books.

I can’t wait to share more details. I’ll do that once the contract has been signed, etc. I can tell you that my story will be set in North Carolina, in the present. I will be updating you right here about the joys, triumphs and struggles of writing this novel.

One question for the fiction writers:

What’s your favorite book on plotting and novel structure? I’d love to know!

One question for the horror lovers among us:

I haven’t read that many classic European and early American horror writers like Lovecraft, etc. What are some classics that I should read?

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Holy moley, this weekend I am appearing on a number of panels at the local science fiction convention known as IllogiCon!

This year marks my 4th year attending. IllogiCon has connected me with local writers, and writers’ groups and allowed me to meet editors and publishers that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Attending IllogiCon also keeps me current on emerging trends in speculative fiction and media. I always look forward to meeting up with writers and creative folk that I only see here.

I’ve moderated panels, appeared as a guest on panels and this year I will give a reading from my novella, Reenu-You. I pushed myself to sign up for more panels and on a diverse array of topics than I have in the past. I’ll also participate in the con’s “office hours”—a new feature where writers hang out, meet and greet and maybe even sell a few books. For visitors, I’ll have chocolate on hand!

Here’s my schedule of panels, etc.:

#Hustle: Author Newsletters and More –6pm Friday

Anthologies: How they Pick ‘Em and How to Get In – 10 am Saturday

Reading!-11 am Saturday

“Office hours”-4:30-5:30

Afrofuturist Fiction and Trends –11am Sunday

Mothers and Daughters-12pm Sunday

What Should We Be Reading?-2pm Sunday

If you’re local and love science fiction media check out the schedule for this wonderful con.

And, wish me luck with my reading and office hours!

illogicon

Although I primarily like to write speculative fiction (generally known as ‘sci-fi’), it’s been years since I’ve attended a science fiction convention. Probably around twenty years. Science fiction conventions or ‘cons’ are gatherings that take place across the country. They feature writers, editors, illustrators, gamers and lots of people who love reading science fiction and fantasy. There are typically panels about writing, panels about the genre itself, costume competitions, author readings, and lots of people really into sci-fi. The work of any con is done by volunteers, by devoted (and organized) people who love the field. Con organizers are amazing people.

A few months ago, a local writer suggested that I check out an upcoming local con. This happened to be ‘illogiCon iv’, a local con happening about forty minutes from where I live. As an upcoming writer, cons are a great place to meet fans, other writers, and soak in the field from a variety of perspectives. My writer friend even suggested that I email the organizers and see if they needed a moderator. I decided to do just that and so a few weeks ago I got to attend Illogicon! I moderated two panels: ‘Social Scientists’ Science Fiction’ and ‘Why Does it Take an Editor a Year to Read a Book?’

I loved illogiCon! I attended great, thought-provoking panels, discovered new authors, networked and utterly enjoyed myself. My only regret is that I didn’t stay at the hotel instead of commuting. Next year I won’t make that mistake. At most cons, the panels and performances run until 11pm. And, then there are the room parties!

I was happy to see that there was an explicit no harassment policy (as this has been an issue historically at many cons) and also that a wide variety of people across age, race and ability attended.

illogiCon offered a wide variety of panels. Everything from ‘How to Create a Podcast’ to ‘Diversity and Representation in Genre Fiction’ to ‘Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History’ to ‘You’ve Finished Your First Draft. Now What?’ And, I’m very sorry that I missed the performance by the ‘League of Extraordinary Belly Dancers’.

I’m splitting this post up into two parts because there’s so much I want to share with you.

What follows below is a brief summary of some of the points made at two of the panels I attended. I have generally taken some liberties by paraphrasing panelists’ comments.

All Roads Lead to… (a discussion of publishing across the spectrum—self-publishing, small/medium publishers and large publishers)

Lynn McNamee, Clay Gilbert (absent due to illness) Michael G. Williams

This was a lively panel. Lynn is the owner of Red Adept Publishing, a small publishing house and Michael is primarily self-published.

Some takeaways-

-Everyone should self-publish something because you learn so much about the business of being an author
-If you self-publish make sure to use a professional editor, cover designer
-A small publisher is looking to find novel ways for you to enter a reader’s ‘eco-system’
-Google+ is turning out to be a good community for self-published authors
-Smaller publishing houses often work very hard to support an author and should not be dismissed as an option
-Working to get an agent is a good thing as they can enable you to concentrate on writing while they concentrate on rights and other issues

Building Your Brand: Promoting Your Book or Project on Social Media (Whether you are published by the Big 5, marketing your book online is still largely up to you.)

Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Lynn McNamee, Susan Griffith, Chris Kennedy, Clay Griffith

This was a fantastic panel with established authors who shareed how they manage social media and marketing.

-When you engage with fans, be 100% present
-Building a brand is different than building your personality
-When thinking about your brand, consider: What is that you want you and your stories to be known for?
-Relationships (in person with booksellers, fans, etc.) are just as important as selling books
-Some authors pay to ‘boost a post’ on Facebook once a month
-Engage readers on a personal level; keep it warm
-Make sure the cover represents your book and genre; remember that 53% of purchase decisions for books are based on a cover (if you are self-published, make sure you have a good cover!)

 

Stay tuned for part 2!

 


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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