Monday, April 28, 2014

Expectations, Schmexpectations

Try saying that title three times quickly....  *grin*

Current (and temporary) employment situation aside, I tend to rule the portions of my destiny that I care to manage.  In other words, I tend to get what I want/need out of life. 

It's just that it usually comes to me the opposite of the way I expect to get it.

I learned that fact early on.  The West Point Glee Club, of which I was a proud member, tended to take long trips over Spring Break to exotic locations, where we would party and enjoy life.  And, um, sing a little, of course.  One such incident, we split the trip.  The first several days, we went to Bismarck, ND, a stop I steeled myself to survive, somehow, until the second half in Orlando, FL.  It didn't start well; the military cargo plane we took to North Dakota stopped in Fargo to refuel, and as it touched down we saw the snow flying past us sideways.  The plane came to a stop, and we were sad to see that the snow was still flying past us sideways. 

I had a blast, though, and I believe I'm okay in saying most of the others felt the same way.  Our second day in Bismarck it warmed right up and gave us absolutely beautiful weather the rest of the trip.  The people were wonderful; we were treated like visiting royalty by the state officials who welcomed us.  I almost didn't want to leave when it was time.


Hey, we were going to Orlando.  Disney World, specifically, where we were going to sing in the beautiful Florida weather.  Unfortunately, the beautiful weather turned out to be a myth.  As soon as we landed the skies opened up into this cold, wet drizzle.  That, plus the fact that the West Point Glee Club just isn't all that big a deal in the Magical Kingdom, made the second half of the trip what we'd expected the first to be.

Funny how that happens, right?

My trip to RavenCon followed a similar pattern.  I blogged a few days ago (click here for the post) about the upcoming trip and the panels and what I kind of expected.  Trust me, I'll grace most of them with their own blog posts in upcoming days.  That said, I have two overall observations: 1) wow, what an incredible time; and 2) the panel I least expected to enjoy turned out to be the most enjoyable.

Yeah, I know, I know.  I vividly remember writing that I was "not sure this doesn't belong in the 'what the heck was I thinking?' category" when I described the upcoming Princess Culture panel.  It was great, though.  We sat there for an hour and had a very engaging discussion of--well, I'll cover that in the blog post about it.

Soon!  Very soon!  I'm not going to leave you hanging!

In the meantime, have a wonderful week, and mark your calendars for next spring.  RavenCon just gets bigger and better every year.


Monday, April 21, 2014

RavenCon is Coming, Part Deux

A couple of days ago I posted a hallelujah, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition keyboard commentary about how much I was looking forward to RavenCon this year.

Still can't wait.  I just made hotel reservations for the trip along the way, and so now we have somewhere to sleep from Thursday evening to the next Tuesday evening as we make our way from Memphis, TN, to Richmond, VA, and back again.

There is, however, one thing to note.  I was wrong about the number of sessions I was in.  I know, I know--I was the one who asked for them, so what am I doing forgetting, right?  But I did forget, until a good friend (who I'm looking forward to seeing once again in Richmond!) pointed out to me that yes, I'm on the schedule for Friday evening as well.  So here, and in a little bit fuller format than the previous message, are all of the days/times/rooms where I'll be part of a panel pretending to be an expert on the associated topics.

6:00 pm Friday in Bon Air: Online Reviews: The Good and The Bad
(to me, this should be titled "...and The Ugly."  Not so much because it needs a tie in to Clint Eastwood, but because it's pretty much the truth.  I've written reviews, and I've received reviews, and though I cherish knowing what my readers have to say about my writing, sometimes the review doesn't give me much in the way of useful--well, anything.  Can't wait for this panel, mostly because I can't wait to interact with the other--really interesting!--guys on it.)

Synopsis: Panelists discuss online reviews: Reviewers stealing other peoples' reviews and calling them their own (this is a thing!), pro and cons, brave new world where everyone’s opinions count, and how to write a good review.

10:00 am Saturday in Anna is Creating Believable Magic Systems.
(this is going to be a fun panel.  I love seeing how other authors do their magic systems, from the general "swish and flick" method to the very specific "each color has its powers" type of thing.  If you're looking at the programming schedule you'll see that this is a tough time slot to compete in, but I'm thinking it'll be well-attended regardless.)

Synopsis:  What makes a good magic system in fantasy? How much detail is too much detail?

8:00 pm Saturday in Anna is Princess Culture Pros/Cons.
(not sure this doesn't belong in the "what the heck was I thinking?" category, as I'm the only guy on the panel with a couple of gals with some serious street cred.  Still, it's an interesting topic to me, both in terms of the current state of fiction and with my own writing.  Unfortunately the timing is up against the second half of the masquerade, the charity auction, and one of Allen Wold's writer workshops, so I'm predicting that we guests might just end up chatting with each other.)

Synopsis: It seems like everywhere you look, everyone is a princess, regardless of age. What does this obsession with the ideal "princess" mean for girls coming of age and grown women? Our panelists will discuss the implications of the princess culture, its causes, and if and how it can be changed.

Noon on Sunday in Anna is Fanfic
(this one is interesting because I've written a little bit of it, plus I've studied the tale of Shades of Grey.  I'm on a panel with a couple of authors who're also published outside of the fanfic realm, so everybody's take on this should be very interesting)

Synopsis:  Fanfic has become more and more public - to the point one newspaper called it the “fantasy football of the literary world” Come listen to our panelists talk about the long history and the continued popularity of this favorite fan activity.

1:00 pm on Sunday in Room E is Xenolinguistics.
(this.  This one you've got to be at.  I can't wait.  You know as well as I do somebody's going to bring up the Babelfish as a ridiculous device, at which point someone else--likely me--will counter that it's far more interesting in its ridiculousness than 'translator microbes'--aka the blow job that lets Crichton understand everybody else.  Still, xenolinguistics is a recent passion of mine, as you've likely read right here on this blog, and I'm going to be seated beside some folks with some serious credentials, including a Ph.D. in it.)

Synopsis:  Panelists discuss how alien languages are used in SF, some simple tips for would-be writers to make their aliens sound...alien, general complaints about the use of "universal translators,” and more

So, knowing all that, I can't wait even more than I couldn't wait before--or, um, something.  Whatever.  I'm just plain ole' super-excited; are you?


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ravencon is Coming

Ravencon 2014 is coming, and soon, soon, soon!  That means, for me, that in just about a month less than a week we're gonna take the pilgrimage to Richmond, VA, to participate in this incredible conference.

(yes, I wrote this several weeks ago, but I've been a little out of the loop due to some personal struggles going on)

For those who haven't been there, it's a fantasy & sci fi weekend of bundled awesomeness.  During the weekend there's a dealer's room where you can buy all sorts of cute stuff and good books and other stuff, and a gaming room where you can enjoy just about any tabletop experience you desire, and then there are panel discussions on various topics going on all over the place.

I love the con, not just for what happens there, but for all the great staff and guests who will gather there.  The con staff are great people who I can't wait to see again.

That said, I love it this year even more because they've invited me to be the Fan Guest of Honor.  That means I will be on some of the panels--yay! What panels will I be on? Awfully glad you asked.  The schedule is out, and it's available on the web site at

Here is just the part I'm in:
10:00 am Saturday in Anna is Creating Believable Magic Systems.
8:00 pm Saturday in Anna is Princess Culture Pros/Cons.
Noon on Sunday in Anna is Fanfic
1:00 pm on Sunday in Room E is Xenolinguistics.

Which is the one I'm most excited about?  Can't tell you, because I've had my expectations blown away every time I've been to one of these things.  Still, I'm looking forward to all the discussions.

Can't wait.  Absolutely cannot wait.  I want Ravencon to happen tomorrow.


Monday, April 7, 2014

The Southern Influence

First--sorry that I've been neglecting y'all for the past few weeks.  I've been trying to get my hands around this great big marketing thing, in addition to plugging away at Book 2 of Elf Queen of Kiirajanna.

I know, I know.  No excuse.  I'll do better.

Meanwhile, today I'm featured over at JLB Creatives.  Go check it out!