I'm home from ArmadilloCon, but not for long. Late Thursday, as I was wrapping up that day's work, I got an e-mail asking if I was available to speak at a conference in New York a week from then -- and they'd pay my airfare and hotel. Hmm, let me think .. Yeah, I'm a little tired of travel right now, and it's been a long time since I spent an entire week at home, but it was hard to pass up the opportunity to speak at a Writers Digest conference in New York (and get to attend the conference) without having to pay the airfare/hotel. It'll be a whirlwind trip, though, flying up Thursday morning (with just enough time to meet with my editor that afternoon), the conference on Friday, and then leaving soon after I speak to fly home. It's too short a trip to even use my new "weekender" tote bag. I've got a knit dress that rolls up into a small package that will fit nicely in my businesslike tote bag. Since there is a time crunch and my flights leave early in the morning and return late at night, I'm going to splurge and park at the airport -- not at the terminal since I'm flying on two different airlines and that would actually be more of a hassle, but at the express parking where the van picks you up at your car and takes you straight to your terminal.
I may, however, try something new for getting back to the airport in New York. Since it will be late on a Friday in the summer, a cab can be really slow because it has to use roads at the same time as everyone else. But there is a way to catch the subway to Queens and then take a special bus from there to the airport, and it looks like it cuts the travel time in half. I may actually try that on the way into the city because it looks like it's faster than being on the roads and the train from Queens goes straight to my publisher's office (well, actually I'd want to take the express, then change at Herald Square to the local that goes straight there). Car is not a fast way to travel in Manhattan.
My other splurge is going to be a new black purse. My standard black purse is more of a handbag, not great for hands-free operation. Then I have a huge messenger bag that gets heavy and that's starting to look its age or a small clutch-sized bag I usually stick into my tote bag to get past that "personal item" limit, but that only holds my wallet and phone. So I need to find a nice medium-sized shoulder bag that will hold my wallet, phone, sunglasses and reading glasses.
I'm going to try to have lunch with my editor on Thursday, if my flight's on time and things work out. Then I may do some research/sightseeing. I'll have had a very early morning and will have to get up early for the conference the next day, so I doubt I'll be doing any nightlife or trying to hit a show. I have a feeling I'll be out cold by about ten.
As for ArmadilloCon, I had a really good weekend. I feel like all my panels were well-attended, and I heard a lot of stuff that got my creative juices flowing. I also got to revisit some familiar places from my college days and see a few college friends. I don't know if it's a sign of age or maturity or what, but I found that I could revisit that stuff and acknowledge the good times I had at that point in my life without having a strong urge to go back there and relive it all.
But before the next trip, I need to get the copyedits shipped off, I have to review some e-book files and cover copy, and I probably need to do laundry.
My itchy feet/urge to move was not helped by a letter I got in the mail today from a Realtor who has a client who wants a house in my complex, and there are none currently on the market that suit his needs, but mine is one that fits what he wants (the letter also went to other people with my floor plan). Unfortunately, I've got at least a month of heavy work on repairs, decluttering and cleaning before my house would be remotely ready to show, and I'd really like to see how the new books do before I commit to a new house so I'll have a better sense of what I can afford, so I'm afraid this client is going to be disappointed. But it is a good sign that I may be able to sell when I'm ready. That may be a benefit of living in Little India. There are a lot of young professionals coming over to work in the tech industry or at the medical center, and I've got a condo on the bus line with easy access to the medical center and the tech employers in this area, and there aren't a lot of places like mine in this neighborhood, where you can usually either rent an apartment or buy a large house.
But first I need to finish dealing with copyedits on this book. I'm done with the part that needs to go to the publisher, so if I had to, I could send it off today. I just need to enter the edits into my file so I'll have my own copy and can compare the galleys to my file. Then I need to revise a book. And start that decluttering project. Well, resume it. I started and then stalled.
I'm off tomorrow for ArmadilloCon in Austin. I won't be too terribly busy, with just a reading on Friday, a panel on Saturday and two panels on Sunday, so I can attend a few things. Mostly, I'll get to hang out with friends and see some of my friends from college.
One place I won't be is at the Romance Writers of America conference being held in San Antonio the same weekend. I'm letting my membership in that organization go. It was a great help to me when I was starting out because that's where I learned about the publishing business. The conferences were so exciting because that was the rare time when writing seemed glamorous. I'll admit to feeling a bit of a pang when I see the pictures and reports on Facebook. But that organization doesn't really fit me anymore. What I write isn't considered "romance" by the organization, so I technically don't qualify for full membership, and they've dropped the "strong romantic elements" category from their awards. I've also come to realize that I don't even really like romance novels. I love having love stories in other things, but I don't like the structure and form of the romance genre. There's a lot I'll miss about the group, but I've been pulling away for a long time, and no one seems to have noticed. I dropped out of my local chapter a few years ago and haven't been to a conference since 2007.
Instead, I'm trying to get more involved in SFWA. I might have offered/been recruited to work on publicity for next year's Nebula Awards weekend, and I should probably go to that anyway because it's that organization's equivalent of the RWA national conference, only smaller and more focused on published authors. That's where I can get my business info, and then I can focus on getting publicity at other conventions.
It does feel like the end of an era, since I joined RWA in 1991. But the organization and I have grown away from each other and it's time to enter a new phase.
I made it about halfway through the copyedits yesterday. I'm doing my own editing pass, re-checking the things the copyeditor changed, taking my last chance to make any other changes and fixing a few things the editor asked about. I may finish this round today, but the more serious tweaking comes in this part of the book. Some of the things I was worried about fixing just needed a line of dialogue or two added, but I think I have a scene that will require more serious reworking. Then I'll just need to go through the manuscript and insert the changes into my file.
My travel with a tote bag was so successful that I bought a new bag at Target yesterday (it was on clearance). My bag is good, but the form factor doesn't quite work. It's vertical rather than horizontal, and while you can put the straps over your shoulder, they're designed more to be carried by hand, and when the bag is full, getting the straps on the shoulder is a challenge. The new bag is about the same size and shape as my rollaboard suitcase, so it's a little bigger than my existing tote, and it has a detachable shoulder strap in addition to handles. Now to complete my traveling light ability, I just need to get a tablet so I don't always need to carry my computer. My other size/weight item is my travel-sized hotpot, since most hotel coffeemakers make water that smells and tastes like weak coffee, and that's not good for making tea. The hotel on this trip had the kind that uses pod packet type things in a slide-in holder, and the holder was separate from the coffeemaker in the basket containing the coffee pods instead of in the coffeemaker, so it looked like they actually remove the only part that touches coffee and clean it thoroughly between guests. On the last morning, when I'd already packed, I was able to make decent tea, so I wouldn't have needed my hotpot on this trip, but that's not the sort of thing you can plan for. My hotpot is about the size of a lunchbox thermos and isn't too heavy, so it's not too big a hassle to bring.
Since this weekend is a road trip, I can bring a real suitcase and full-size toiletries. Luxury! Though I probably will fit everything I need into a carry on-sized suitcase because that's how I roll. I just need to figure out what to wear. I generally dress up for conventions, mostly because I like wearing nice things and leave the house so seldom that I have to take advantage of every opportunity to wear something other than sweatpants. But while I have one new dress I haven't worn yet that I've got an outfit planned for, I'm drawing a blank on what to wear the other days because I'm kind of in a "I hate all my clothes" phase (and I might have put on just enough weight that not everything fits quite right, so I have to start being good after this trip).
And after this trip I can stop talking about travel strategy and get back to talking about books, writing, geeky stuff, etc.
Today is a milestone anniversary, as it was ten years ago today that I sold Enchanted, Inc. to Ballantine Books.
I went into the day with a good chance that the book would sell that day because a publisher had expressed interest and it was going to auction, but after the auction announcement, most of the publishers who hadn't already rejected it started sending in their rejections. Oddly enough, the publisher that triggered the auction ended up not actually bidding, and Ballantine swooped in from out of the blue to buy it.
That means that the Infamous Red Stilettos are also ten years old, since I went out and bought them that day to celebrate. Yikes. They haven't come out to play for a long time. Maybe I should bring them to ArmadilloCon this weekend, even if I don't wear them for long.
To give you a sense of the process of going from idea to book sale, here's a timeline:
January 2002: I got the first glimmer of the idea for the book.
July 2003: I'd figured out more about the book, but hadn't really fleshed it out. I mentioned the concept to an editor at a party, and she immediately handed me her card and said she wanted it (she ended up rejecting it).
September 2003: I started researching the book and made a research trip to New York.
October 2003: I started writing the book and sent a proposal to that initial editor.
December 2003: I finished the first draft, thought I might just have something, and started researching agents.
January 2004: I queried an agent I thought might be a good fit and she asked for a proposal.
March 2004: The agent asked for the whole manuscript and offered representation (we're still together).
April 2004: I did some revisions on the book.
May 2004: The book was submitted to publishers.
July 2004: The book sold.
September 2004: I got copyedits on the book.
October 2004: I started writing the sequel.
November 2004: I saw the cover.
Late May 2005: The book was published.
That's actually a pretty short timeline, compared to my next couple of books (one: idea in 2009, wrote in 2010-2011, sold in 2013, published in 2015; the other: idea in 2009, wrote in 2009-2010, revised in 2011-2012 and again in 2013, published in 2014).
I am now home from my adventures and tempted to embark on my second nap of the day, but I may just sit and read and then go to bed early. I was up at 3:15 Eastern, which is 2:15 my time, to catch the 4 a.m. airport shuttle for a 6:20 flight. I would have been home by nine, but the choke point in the journey is the fact that the bus from the train station to my neighborhood runs only once an hour, and my train came in about five minutes too late, so I spent most of the hour sitting at the station and reading. The bus was really full, so maybe ridership will spur them to increase the number of trips. As it was, I was home about 9:45, in time to eat some breakfast and then take a nap. I was going to force myself to work today, and then I decided that I'd planned it as a travel day, and if a more favorable flight had been available, I'd have spent most of the day in transit. As it is, I just have more time to rest between the travel and going back to "normal." And I'm enough of a zombie that I don't think trying to edit would be a great idea.
I had a good convention, on the whole. I managed to do some fun stuff in addition to my "obligation" stuff. One of those things was attending a demonstration on Western European sword fighting that turned out to involve audience participation. With live steel that had a very sharp blade. The guy running the demo figured out that I was a former fencer and let me do some minor sparring. I'd never handled a broadsword before, and this was a left-handed sword, which was different, but it was a very cool feeling.
I also went to a filk singalong, where I finally got to hear some of the songs I hear talked about a lot. Since I don't play an instrument I can accompany myself with, don't know any of the songs and still have a bit of stage fright, a filk circle is kind of scary, but they did a session where they just had everyone sing along, campfire style, and that was fun. Business-wise, I got some good networking done and may have come up with a solution to the problem book cover.
I broke my streak of eating along a river at the end of a convention because the riverside restaurant was really pricey and wasn't actually on the river. It was across the street from the river. Instead, I decided to see at least a little bit of Detroit and took the People Mover to Greektown and had some Greek food.
Now this week I need to get back into copyedits, and then I leave town on Friday for ArmadilloCon.
I'm gearing myself up (and trying to get my hair to dry) before my second day of Detcon. Yesterday I had a reading, and there were even people I don't know in the room! Then there was the children's session, which I ended up winging because the kids were tired and cranky and not really up to organized activities. I put on music and everyone just danced around. I also learned a new version of musical chairs that I may want to use with my choir kids in the fall. Today, I'm a bit sore and creaky from an hour of dancing, but it was probably good for me, considering the way I've been eating. Today I will make it my mission to find a salad or some kind of vegetable.
Today I've got a panel and my first kaffeeklatsch session at a con this big. I've only done one before at a smaller local con. I know some friends are coming, so I won't feel entirely like the nerdy kid in the cafeteria whom no one wants to sit with. I seem to have lots of opportunities to gain new readers here because I don't seem to be too well-known here. It's an entirely new world to conquer!
I actually made it almost to midnight at parties last night, then managed to sleep late, thanks to figuring out how to completely close my curtains. My windows face almost directly east, so I really get the morning sun, and yesterday I didn't have the curtains set right.
There's a mass autographing tonight that's supposedly a rather loose thing -- not necessarily sit behind a table, but move around and snag the authors you want to find. I don't necessarily function well in that kind of environment, so we'll see how that goes.
Otherwise, there are sessions I want to attend where I hope to learn things.
Greetings from Detroit!
Despite starting with a minor glitch, I had a fairly smooth travel day. The glitch involved the city bus I catch right behind my house to go to the train station where I catch the train to the airport (well, for now the very final stretch is on another bus, but the train will go all the way starting in a few weeks. I may plan a trip just so I can do that). I was heading out to the bus stop about ten minutes early to allow myself time to get there and be sure to be there when the bus arrived, but when I rounded the corner from the driveway, I saw that the bus was already sitting at the left-turn signal -- and my stop is right after the left turn. After sprinting across the street and to the bus stop, I noticed that the bus hadn't moved in spite of the light being green. And then it didn't move on the next light cycle. For a moment, I wondered if this was just where the bus was waiting out being ahead of schedule, but it still didn't move, and then I noticed that it was actually partway into the intersection, so it must have been stalled. I was starting to think about a plan B because the bus only runs once an hour when another bus showed up, the passengers on the stalled bus were loaded onto it, and it continued the run. It turned out that the stalled bus was actually from the previous run, and that weird grinding sound I was hearing inside my house that made me think my neighbors were using power tools early in the morning was that bus. The one that showed up was the one I was planning to catch, running about five minutes late, but I still caught the same train. After that, everything went smoothly. I somehow got designated as pre-checked by the airline, so I got the security line where you don't have to take off your shoes or take your computer or liquids out of your bag.
Traveling with a tote bag instead of a wheeled suitcase was so much easier. There was all that running to the bus stop, getting on and off buses and trains, and it's easier to navigate around the airport. There may be something I wish I'd had (like a pair of sneakers -- if I'd known I'd get the easy security line, I'd have worn them and packed my smaller, lighter shoes, and then going on walks would be more pleasant), but I'm definitely a fan of minimalist travel. I need to get a tablet to cut out the computer weight, though I'm really liking having my computer with me.
It'll come in handy, too, because the person who was running the children's session I'm doing got stranded by car trouble, so I'm pulling a plan together, and having my computer means I have my iTunes library (which I guess I'd have on a tablet, if I bothered to move everything over, but I don't know if I'll have speakers, and the laptop's probably louder than a tablet) so I can find a few songs for "music and movement." As I assured her when she e-mailed about it, I do this once a week during the school year, so I've got a lot of material in my head. Google even came through and got me the lyrics to some of the funny "repeat after me" songs that I couldn't quite remember all of.
Otherwise, I have my reading this afternoon, and I have been notified that there will be fresh baked goods present, in case anyone who's reading this and in the area needs an incentive.
My big challenge for the weekend may be finding food. The convention hotel is in the same building/complex as the GM headquarters (there are even cars in the lobby -- it's like a showroom), and it's kind of a mini-mall with a food court. But it looks like the food court shuts down for dinner and on weekends. I'm in the hotel across the street, connected by a skybridge, and there's a Chinese restaurant in this complex that's open at night, so I was able to get dinner. We may be limited to the hotel restaurants on the weekend, but my hotel's restaurant isn't open on Sundays. The one restaurant I'm sure will be open Sunday night is a fancy Italian place overlooking the river, so I may follow my end-of-convention tradition of waterfront dining and allow myself a little splurge.
Now I'd better make sure the files I might need for my reading are easy to access on the laptop because I don't want to be one of those authors who spends most of the reading slot going "Now, I know it's on here somewhere."
I actually have my act moderately together. I'm packed except for the things I need to use between now and the morning, and it did all fit into two tote bags. One bag has the clothes, etc., and the other has stuff like the computer, phone, purse, knitting, a book, etc. If I get absolutely desperate, I think both will fit under the seat, but because the clothes bag isn't at all rigid, it can get jammed into overhead bins in spaces where rollaboard suitcases won't fit, which was my reason for doing this. Also, when you don't have the frame and wheels, the bag is a lot lighter to lift. Next time I go to New York, I'll try to pack this way because getting up and down stairs and through turnstiles is so much easier without wheeled luggage, as long as the luggage is reasonably lightweight. If I can do this for a six-day trip, I should be able to manage easily for a couple of nights.
So now I just have to do some final laundry (sheets and towels) and tidy the house so I don't cringe upon reentering the house. And then I may even try to get some writing work done or otherwise relax instead of running around the house like a madwoman. That was yesterday's fun, all those "where did I put that thing I last saw last year at Worldcon?" moments.
When I get done with the summer conventions, I have some ideas for blog content. Would there be any interest in a kind of "DVD commentary" on my books, like me going chapter-by-chapter to discuss where various elements came from or what I was thinking (if I can remember it) and answering questions?
What about doing a rewatch discussion of a TV series? Jenny Crusie has been analyzing Leverage from a writing perspective, and I've found that interesting. Would someone like to see me do that for something else?
My current somewhat regular features are the Book Reports of things I've read and the how-to writing discussions. I do the writing discussion every other Wednesday (though I'm skipping this week because I'll be traveling), and I usually do the Book Reports on Tuesdays, if I have something to discuss.
Blogging seems to be less of a thing now, so I'm trying to keep it somewhat fresh and interesting. I may eventually delve into Twitter, but I wouldn't count on ever seeing me on tumblr because I just don't get it.
I was up freakishly early this morning -- to the point I was at my desk at about 7:30. On the up side, that allowed me to look out my office window and see when the city bus really does come by (the published schedule is confusing because it seems to be based on the time the bus is supposed to pass certain points rather than the times the bus is at particular stops). So now I know when I need to leave the house Wednesday morning to catch the bus to the airport. I figure it'll also help me get accustomed to the time zone I'll be in for much of the week.
Now I'm down to the wire in travel preparation, but now it's just those last-minute things, like the final loads of laundry and starting to actually put stuff in bags.
I joked last week when I put my sweatshirts in the Space Bags that people could thank me if there was a freak cold front. Well, there's a polar vortex hitting this week. I don't think it'll quite be sweatshirt weather here, but there's a chance of highs only in the upper 70s for a couple of days. In Texas. In July. It'll be much cooler where I'm going, and it's all coming to an end and going back to normal about the time I get home, for an even bigger shock to my system.
I actually spent most of yesterday's first 100-degree day of the year outdoors, since I was at a pool party. Being in the swimming pool most of that time made it a lot more bearable. I guess that means it really is summer. Until Wednesday.
In addition to the packing, cleaning, etc. today, I hope to take another look at the end of the book to fix a few spots. Then when I get back from Detroit I can deal with the heavy part of the steampunk copyedits and maybe get one book to my agent and the other back to my editor and then have all my major projects temporarily off my plate. Then I'll need to start researching and brainstorming the next thing I need to write, which will probably be a sequel to the steampunk book. I want to take some time off in August for organizing/cleaning and maybe a mini break, but I want to get enough work done to have some actual free time in the fall for travel and/or just relaxing and enjoying the season.
But first I have to get through the next couple of weeks and figure out what to do with the rest of my morning, since I'm done with my usual morning routine before 10. My bed's even made, complete with pillow shams.
I have discovered that the key to productivity in some areas is procrastination in others. I've taken care of most of my pre-travel to-do items while mulling over some book things I need to work on. Now I need to get back to the book work, though I did load up on cleaning supplies at Target this morning, so I'll be ready for the post-travel, post-book(s) cleaning frenzy that may be coming (unless it wears off once I no longer have something else I'm procrastinating on).
It's a good thing I was checking the convention schedule, as I've apparently been added to some items I wasn't aware of. I'd offered to help with children's programming, and they're having me help with a music and movement session. I'll load some of my children's choir favorites onto my phone and bring my ballet slippers. Then there's an additional panel that, oddly enough, I'd written down as something I planned to attend. So now I have two panels, a reading, a Kaffeeklatsch and a children's session. And I've realized that the convention is taking place in a riverside complex, so I can continue my tradition of having a riverside dinner at the end of the convention.
Meanwhile, my house is relatively tidy (downstairs -- upstairs is a lost cause). The grout in the bathroom is currently being bleached (I had an obsessive moment). I've obtained everything I need for my trip, including some frozen food I can have when I return so I don't have to deal with anything that first day. Tomorrow, I'm making blueberry waffles or pancakes (haven't decided which) to freeze for a late breakfast when I get home, since my flight arrives at 8 a.m. I don't really have much else to do but write and practice a reading selection for the convention.
That means I may make it through a relatively social weekend, with events on both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is supposedly a barbecue and pool party, but I don't know how many people are actually going to swim or if it'll just be the kids. If I'm going to be wearing a swimsuit in daylight in front of people, everyone better have sunglasses because the glare off my skin will be blinding.