ConDFW Report–Partial

More on this later, but I thought I’d hit some highlights.

Friday, while it rained and poured outdoors, I got to the convention hotel and attended the first writers’ panel. I wanted to meet . The panel was mostly the writers talking about their book tours and various changes in technology that have occurred in the past few years, but it was interesting. Autographing was scheduled next, so I sneaked over to the dealers’ room and found a copy of _Wren to the Rescue_ (unusual find!). But by the time I got back to the autographing, she had sneaked away for a moment. I didn’t have anything else to get signed, so back to the dealers’ room with me, where I bought a neat necklace and a couple more books and a picture of a tree with a monster in it. While I was looking at the tree drawings with a little boy who happened by (“I see the monster in this tree!” “Where?” “Oh, there it is!”), I sensed a motion to the right, and lo, there she was . . . Sartorias! But she wouldn’t have any way to know who I was, so I approached and asked to see her badge. *grin* Then I revealed my secret identity, and so we officially met!

I headed out and ran into a couple more people I had known way back when I used to go to a number of local conventions. I needed to get home and feed hubby and take care of other household stuff, so I ended that convention day early. It insisted on raining and raining more.

By nightfall, it was a Texas gully-washer. Around midnight it became an electrical storm with thunder and lighting. My Pomeranian is terrified of thunder because he got traumatized several years ago, when he was a tiny pup, during an awful hailstorm when the power went out and the hailstones were up to an inch in diameter . . . we were all huddled in the breakfast nook listening to the baseballs pummeling the house and suddenly one shattered the big window next to the table. We rushed to cover the hole before we took on too much water. But the puppy was traumatized by everyone shrieking and being upset in the darkness, and from then on he has been scared of thunder and anything that sounds like it. So although I went to bed around eleven last night, the dog kept crawling up on my head and clawing at me to get me to wake up (he thinks I need to stand sentry), and whining, and so forth. I got up about every hour to try to get him to go tinkle on the front porch (he wouldn’t stay out there–doesn’t like to get wet!) or coax him to eat a doggie biscuit, but it was hopeless. I didn’t get to sleep until the thunder ended around six-thirty in the morning. So I slept through the first panel I had intended to attend. But I did make it over there a little after noon . . . more later.

The con should’ve had a writers’ workshop option. That would be fun. There’s another con held closer to downtown (as opposed to across the street from me, just about) that’ll happen in the fall, FenCon, and that one does have a workshop. This year the workshop leader will be Lawrence Watt-Evans. I hear he is great at that!

There are always writers’ conventions in general, where they talk about all aspects of writing, but those aren’t in Dallas. And I just am not much of a traveler. Maybe if we got an RV. Yeah, that’s the ticket! An RV.

Blame Canada!

I can’t believe that the Prez and all haven’t come up with the ultimate excuse as to why they didn’t know (ha) until just now about that deal of handing over control of seven of our ports to the UAE. Imagine the conversation:
ADVISER: We have a big problem, big guy.
PREZ: What should I do? I want this to go through for some crazy reason, but we need someone to blame. How about the Democrats?
ADVISER: That one’s not going to wash.
PREZ: I know! Blame Canada!


Shades of South Park.

What do toilets look like 100 years from now?

Everyone was SO wonderful and clever about answering my earlier question about my character who lands 100 years in the future that I thought I’d come here to ask about this. (GRIN)

I don’t think that my main character should accept the fact that she’s in the future quite so quickly. It convinces her when she goes into the restroom. The mechanism for her to use when she has to, um, void her bladder . . . that’s going to be different in a hundred years. Or is it? Should it be? Perhaps I should just say, “The equipment was basically the same as it had been since the days of Thomas Crapper,” or whatever. (I think the Thomas Crapper as inventor of the water closet is a myth. Have to look that up when I get this posted.)

What do you think? I appreciate all suggestions!

Craft: what drives a character?

What does your main character want? Is it to do something? Or to be something? Or to have something?

She wants to live in a McMansion. She wants to have big boobs. She wants to be a TV anchorwoman. She wants to take a cruise.

Is this what she really wants, or just what she thinks she wants? Thinks she SHOULD want? What is the underlying dream?

From my books: Camille is searching for home. What is home? Is it a physical location, a group of people, a place inside yourself? Miranda is searching for love. But she thinks she has found her Great Love, and it requires sacrifice. What is the price–and is it too high? Daphne . . . well, Daphne is a pathetic little thing. Like me.

You can look at an actual person if you want to practice on someone more complex than most characters. You probably know yourself and your “circle” best.

To do some rudimentary self-analysis: I’m pretty sure that the reason I have wanted to publish a novel with New York is not *simply* because I want to be read and because I believe others would enjoy reading the tales as I have enjoyed reading others’ work (payback). I even think it’s not just because of the chance that some of my work will reach people I never could have reached (posterity) or for the chance to be able to say, “I actually didn’t waste my ENTIRE life, for here is this book.” I know that it is at least in part tied in to my need to be worthy, to count for something. It is tied to my self-image. I believed rather strongly for around thirty years that it was my destiny to be a novelist. I no longer know what I believe about that, nor what it would actually accomplish, if anything, if I do publish one or more novels.

For years, I thought that I *should* want a career in engineering/business. My family wanted me to have one because they thought it was a way to security, a long-term stable job, a stable income. They didn’t care that my talents lay elsewhere and that when I entered college and did all math and engineering (with a few electives for relief), I plummeted from being the top student in the class (in high school) to being a rather mediocre, struggling student who was just *there* and who had to make herself do the assignments. It didn’t help that I had never rebelled and had just been a little wonk for so many years in school, and that I was suddenly seen as attractive by a lot of the guys (I had a few devoted admirers and boyfriend types in high school and junior high, but not that many). I wasted a lot of time building a social life, time I should have spent trying to learn more and internalize more about the subject that was ostensibly my “major” and therefore my main interest in life. I did end up getting the degrees and getting good jobs on the strength of my credentials, but I never felt competent at the jobs and always felt I was going into the coal mines. In contrast, my husband and most of my co-workers had this attitude: “Wow! I get to play with all these computers and write code and fool with all this stuff I could never afford that’s in the lab, and THEY PAY ME FOR IT!” This led to an erosion of “self” and self-esteem or what-have-you.

No matter. I kept writing, and I felt that it was my “true calling” and what I “really” did. That made me feel less of a sense of pointlessness about wasting my days testing software that would be phased out and replaced within a year or two and then forgotten. But my friends and co-workers eventually figured out that if I was any good, I’d have some success, and soon I had to *never* mention writing or books or stories in front of them accidentally, or I’d hear, “Yeah, the great novelist. She’s a good writer. I know that because she says she is!” And other things that I probably deserved, because I shouldn’t have been anything but a totally dedicated programmer who had no illusions. That’s how the game is played.

In recent months, I have come to admit that perhaps I’m not really that good at the stuff I thought I was fairly good at. And that even if you ARE good at it, it doesn’t make any difference. This is fairly depressing, but the truth is the truth.

Would I have been successful in another endeavor? Was I good at other hobbies, I wondered? Well, I don’t practice consistently enough and hard enough to be really good at the piano, though I can play pretty much whatever pop music and so forth by ear, and I am probably late intermediate so far as classical music (reading music, etc.) However, I don’t have that Magic Thing that the geniuses do, the thing that makes them able to express all this emotion *every time* and have control over the technique as well. I’m always working on interpretation. I never feel I have a definitive performance of any piece. So you can’t say I’m a piano great, although it does provide a super outlet just for me. So how about other stuff? Amateur radio . . . sure, I can send code 6wpm. Big whoop, because who can even receive code nowadays? And the computer does it better, and voice communications are easier than they were in the olden days of Morse code and telegraphy. Math . . . I fool around with math problems or puzzles sometimes just for myself. I’ve tutored middle school math now and then, but I’m not suited to run a classroom–I am not that kind of teacher. I can’t cook and really see it as slave labor; my mother spent her life scrubbing pots and cleaning up after people, and although she can cook anything, nobody can eat it, so what’s the point of that? I’m certainly not a great housekeeper. Can’t think of anything else I can do at all.

So what do I really want?

I think I’m like Daphne. I want to be worthy.

This may not be possible. The next step is to try to get rid of that command from my lifescript. My lifescript contains the directive “Be Perfect,” and that directive always comes with the subtext, “Be a failure.” Kind of a challenge.

Pathetic character. Nobody’d want to read a book about such a loser. So when you develop your characters, don’t use me as a pattern.

What is your character’s lifescript? What is it that drives him or her? Okay, but what REALLY drives him or her, underneath that? It may surprise you.

Moose and squirrel must dye . . . their hair

I’ve revised the opening of _Lasernight_ a bit more. Click on “read more” if you’d like to take a look. As usual, comments solicited and all but begged for.

My older version did have the romance and it did have the technology, but originally, my heroine was native to that world. This is going to take a bit more work than I had hoped, but it’ll be better, because the readers get to learn about the future along with her. How many jumps-into-the-future books are out there that aren’t hard SF, as opposed to the pulled-into-the-past books? Maybe I have a chance. (This line doesn’t want hard SF. It is supposed to be a time travel romance crossed with chick lit, from what I can tell.)

(The reason you have to click on “read more” is that I’ve never been able to make the feature of having another phrase in the lj cut command work for me. So around here, we just live with “read more.” It works.)
Continue reading “Moose and squirrel must dye . . . their hair”