Update: Archon, mostly

So, as I mentioned Friday, the early part of last week was Just one thing after another. I kept firmly telling myself, “Yes, but Morgan’s fine, so this other thing is just a minor annoyance.” And I really believed that, but even so, I’m telling you. I stomped home in a real temper Tuesday afternoon, glowered at the laptop, and read The Egypt Game by Zelpha Keatley Snyder instead. I should post comments about that pretty soon, but I will say now that I enjoyed it.

The rest of the week was better. It could hardly have continued to present so many minor annoyances. Essentially no writing progress, however, because Archon took up pretty much the entire weekend.

Tiring weekend! The Friday panel on religion in SFF kind of slid toward the movie/tv show branch of media, which was fine, but of course I personally would have preferred to emphasize books since I know more about those. But it was good. Quite a few people came, considering it was rather early on Friday and Archon is a small convention.

I sure realized all over again that Archon is ground zero for fabulous costuming. I didn’t attend the masquerade (alas!) but tons of the hall costumes were super impressive.

All my Saturday panels were craft-oriented. I got a sudden request to take someone’s place on her 3:00 panel, so I had panels at eleven, two, three, four, and five, and that was tiring, but I can’t say I really minded because I do like panels. Especially craft panels. Let me see … writing series, writing what you know, worldbuilding, rewrite-revise-edit, avoiding the Mary Sue. The Worldbuilding one got added at the last minute. Fine topic, I always like that topic, though at some point you have to quit worrying about worldbuilding and just write the novel.

Then on Sunday, the panel on genetically engineered pets.

Comments, let me see … okay, most panels were pretty well attended given that the convention itself was very small. I think there were fewer attendees than I’ve seen in prior years. Huge costumer presence, as I said, which was a great pleasure for the rest of us, or at least for me. I didn’t take any pictures, but I did pause to gaze in admiration at quite a few people. One of my favorites was a simple outfit involving a black dress and iridescent black feathers, combined with a simple headpiece of pheasant feathers and red hair that exactly matched the color of the pheasant feathers. It was just nicely put together.

Other comments:

So, I hadn’t realized Glenn Stewart was going to be the author guest of honor! What can I say, I’ve been busy and didn’t pay any attention. So I got to the convention, picked up my registration materials, found a table, and sat down to see what all was going on besides my panels. Then somebody asked if they could share my table, I said sure without paying much attention, and it turned out to be Glenn Stewart and his wife or partner. They were very nice and we had a good conversation; then I sat in on part of Glenn’s first panel; then we were both on a different panel — it was the Write What You Know panel — and then we had another good conversation at the tag end of the convention. I said I’d read first book of the Dakotan Confederacy and liked it, and he asked — of course — how did that work as the starting point, because it’s associated with a longer series. I would have asked exactly the same thing. I said it was a perfectly good entry, and how interesting to see that the large empire that’s plunged into chaos is definitely the bad guy in the story, and that was the springboard for the conversation.

So I picked up second book of the Dakotan Confederacy this morning because now I’m thinking about that again. I don’t particularly aspire to get to the point in my writing career that Glenn has achieved — did you know he employs people to do stuff? It sounds like more trouble than I would really want to go to. Though I’d be happy to hire people to do specific things for me. In fact, I do; I’m not the person who keeps this website in decent shape. Maybe that’s not too different.

Let me see. Oh, my personal favorite craft-related panel was the one on rewrite-revise-edit. What can I say; I like topics like that, and wow, I’ve certainly done plenty of all those things. Let me see …

Okay, I cut the last 200 pages or so of the Death’s Lady trilogy twice and rewrote that section from scratch before I finally nailed it. That’s before broader revision. Oh, I remember that I cut chapter 5 of The Floating Islands twice and rewrote that from scratch before settling on the final version. And oh yes, I got 100 pages into the back half of Invictus a bunch of times and kept deleting that and starting over. That’s rewriting: cutting something and writing that section from scratch. The other panelist said some authors do that from the top: rewrite the whole thing. Wow. I’m glad I’ve never felt compelled to do that.

Revision can be imo “heavy” or “ordinary” or “light.” Heavy revision is things like cutting one protagonist and replacing him with a different character, revising the plot to fit this huge change. Ordinary is things like tweaking events so that two countries are actually embroiled in a war rather on the verge of going to war. Light includes things like combining two minor characters. (If they’re major characters, that’s ordinary revision rather than light revision.

Editing includes allllllll the rest of the tweaking, from cutting 30,000 words at the sentence level to fixing continuity errors to the endless, endless rounds of proofing, which expand to take up all the time available. I mean: I’m still proofing Invictus Part II. Because I can, so I guess I feel I ought to. Actually, I just caught a moment when one character is in two different places at the same time, so aargh, and I’m glad I’m proofing it one more time.

Anyway, that’s the kind of panel I like best, I suppose, and we (the panelists) wound up saying emphatically to one attendee, “Get those books out of your closet and put them out there immediately.” So that was also an important component of the panel: When do you stop? Because you have to stop eventually and put your book(s) out there.

The genetically modified pets panel was very fun for the panelists and I hope for the attendees. It was a well-attended panel. We really slid heavily into real-world things, with occasional nods to fiction. I did mention the cat/tribble/purring blanket from the Vorkosigan series, and thank you whoever mentioned it, because it turned out to be a perfect fit for this panel, as people kept mentioning tribbles at odd moments.

So, good convention, though tiring, I’m glad I’ve got nothing much in the way this week … except that Haydee’s older brother is coming to stay with us for two weeks! That will be great fun for Haydee. I’m going to be pleased to see that boy myself. He’s Tiny Boy Four. I’ll probably always think of him that way even though he caught up to the bigger boys in that litter long ago.

Oh, yes, also, the newsletter went out! I hope you enjoy the story included there!

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3 thoughts on “Update: Archon, mostly”

  1. Phooeey, that sounds like a very busy weekend indeed, even if you were having fun too!

    I just received the newsletter and really enjoyed the Just So Story :)

  2. You’re welcome re: Vorkosigan purring blanket, I’m glad you got to use it.

    “avoiding the Mary Sue” is particularly on my mind right now, I finally got to reading the Solar Clipper books and I really liked Quarter Share but Half Share and Full Share irritated me because Ishmael is such a Mary Sue. All the ladies want him, he’s the best at picking trades, people say “damn you’re good” to him every other page, he’s a better environmental and computer engineer than everyone who’s specialized in it, and he has the worldly wisdom of a grandfather. I’m having trouble suspending disbelief and I’m not sure if I will continue with the series, especially since it seems like (from reviews) the next book contains a rape-y ship of some sort.

    I hope this week is more relaxed for you!

  3. Kriti, this here:

    he has the worldly wisdom of a grandfather.

    is the biggest problem I had with Ishmael Wang, starting in the first book. He’s a loner when he applies for the job aboard that ship and boom! instantly he is shown to have great social skills and relationship insight, and I don’t buy it. However, I really liked it anyway.

    The review is correct that there’s plenty of sexual coercion in the next book. The basic plot: The protagonist becomes an officer on a ship that’s highly toxic and solves all the problems, defeating the bad guys and creating a vastly better situation on the ship for everyone else. This is a plot I like, but the ship is a terrible place for the first part of the story.

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