24 April 2015

The Adventure Of No Toilet Paper: or how tech changes everything

I'm on my way to Penguicon, and stopped for a quick snack at a McDonald's somewhere between Toledo and Detroit. And to use the facilities.

I'm finishing up, and notice, far too late, there's no toilet paper.

Multiple possible courses of action go through my head, all of them crappy. (Not sorry.). I had my phone, but how would I know what number to call?  I don't even know what town this is.

Then I remember.  This is the future.

I get my phone. Pull up Maps, which quickly shows me at McD's.  Tap once more, and it offers store details, including a phone number. A quick call later, and one of the staff helps me out of my sticky situation. (Okay, sorry for that one.)

Not that long ago, I would have (at best) maybe gotten a 411 operator to connect me. Now...it all came out all right. (Not sorry!)

It really took this mundane thing to make me truly realize exactly how much our phones have transformed everything in our lives.

And as authors, it's going to be fun trying to keep up.

Sharing Instead Of Promoting: It's Sometimes Okay For Authors To Put Their Books On The Table

Recently I saw – again – a dismissive comment about authors who “obsessively pile their books in front of them at panels”. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this particular complaint.  It is often paired with the one of authors who obsessively use examples from their own work when discussing the topic at hand.

Both are always in the context of condemning authors who are overeager to sell their works.

And both comments make me cringe.

Because I do put books in front of me on the table.  And I do use examples from my own work.

This might be the difference, though:  I’m not doing either explicitly to sell my work.

I put books up because I’ve just barely begun to hit the point where people have heard of a book I’ve published (let alone anything I’ve written).  My experience is what differentiates me from the people in the audience – that’s why I’m on the panel, after all – and those books serve as a sort of bona fides.

Likewise, I use my own work when it’s the best suited example.  When fielding a question about the process of writing, I almost have to use an example from my own work.  But again, it’s not because I’m wanting to sell books… it’s because it best serves the goal of the panel.

But – and I think this is perhaps most important – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an author on a panel letting people know their books are for sale at the dealer’s room, or at a particular table.  A quick mention to let people know at the top and bottom of the panel, and that’s all.

Especially in speculative fiction circles, it’s rare to get any kind of a speaking fee.  We’re usually only getting a comped badge to the convention – and not always that. 

Those panelists are there offering up knowledge and expertise.  In return, giving a few seconds for an author to simply say “My books are available at X” is no big deal.

There are plenty of bad examples - such as this guy I talked about back in 2013 -  so I'm not going to harp on them here, other than to point this out:

There's a difference between sharing what you've done and promoting what you've done.  That difference is the key.


22 April 2015

Oh, Right! I'll Be At Penguicon this weekend!

I'll be at Penguicon this coming weekend, along with a lot of other awesome folks.  I've wanted to go for a while, so I'm thrilled!  When you read the description, it makes sense:

Penguicon is a three-day event where we all learn from each other (as well as from our Guests of Honor) about hacking, building sci-fi universes, soldering, painting miniatures, gaming, coding, music, incredible costumes, and more.

Our two pillars are Science Fiction and Open Source, but we cover as many diverse nerdy interests as possible. We have a consuite with free soda, coffee, munchies and other real food, which makes it easier on your budget. You can find all kinds of original artwork and non-commodity crafts in our enormous Maker Market.
Yeah.  ::swoon::

I'm on a number of panels:

1000 Saturday: How To Do Dystopia
1300 Saturday: How To Make the Fantastic Believeable
1700 Saturday: Rejection - Dealing with the Dark Side of the Creative Arts
1900 Saturday: You Can't Kill the Undead
1100 Sunday: Marketing Online Content
1300 Sunday: Reading

If you'd like to meet up, twitter's always good to get a hold of me and arrange something.