Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Penguicon is always a great time

Last year I'd heard mention of this mysterious con in one of my NaNoWriMo groups. A place with low cost, multiple tracks, and a friendly environment for everyone. And free beer.

Is it wrong that that's the detail that sold me? Come on, it's a variety of really good Michigan Craft beer.

We had such a good time last year that we headed off to Penguicon again this past weekend. This year we gathered another friend for our room. I invited some author friends too. And again, I meet a bunch of great people and reconnected with those I'd met last year. It's three days of non-stop stuff to do. I'm still catching up on sleep. All that peopling saps a lot of energy.

One of the many fun things about Penguicon is gathering ribbons for your badge. My ribbons were getting so long that I was stepping on them, at which point, it's a generally accepted practice to either start rolling them up, wear them as a scarf or start placing them sideways. I did all of those at various points. Bathroom trips are particularly precious otherwise.

Ribbons are supplied both by the con and attendees and most everyone gets into it. Elevator rides turn into ribbon swapping festivities. Panelists lure attendees up to talk to them afterwards with ribbons. You can earn ribbons from the con staff by doing things throughout the con. Many of the attendee ones are inside jokes you'll never be in on, yet they're still funny in their own way. I was a big fan of "Safety Third!?". I handed out ribbons that said "I'd rather be reading", which at a con full of introverts, was quite true for most.

There are so many different things to do throughout the day! There are panels and activities going from 9am to midnight and beyond. Everything from programming, gaming, crafts, writing, anime, to a wide array of adult-oriented programming, such as the Saturday night Burlesque show.

One thing my tongue is still recovering from is the abundance of flavors of Liquid Nitrogen Alcohol Ice Cream. Oh man, the flavors! I believe this one is Mudslide. We tried Watermelon Pucker sorbet, Peach Cider with ginger sorbet, Chocolate mint, Spicy Chocolate, Rumchatta icecream as a root beer float and so many more. That last one was amazing, by the way. They're all sooooo cold, yet so good.  

The con does a wonderful job of offering an abundance of lit panels and support for the participating authors. They provide a staffed bookstore where we can stock our books so we can go have fun all weekend rather than sitting at a table to sell them ourselves. Did I mention they do this fee free? They do. The con staff is awesome. They also had an afternoon writer's reception for us with the best cookies ever. Freshly made. The chocolate in my chocolate chocolate chunk cookie was still melty. Yum!

The Westin Hotel is great. The rooms are quiet and the curtains actually make it dark. The beds are perfect and there are plenty of pillows. The hotel staff is super friendly and most of them get into the con by wearing fun tshirts or even getting in on the cosplay.

I presented three panels this year. One of which I didn't get a photo of, but they were all a lot of fun and well attended. We had some good discussions, and from the comments I received afterwards, offered helpful information to aspiring writers. Mission accomplished.

We also got to do readings.

As a word of warning, I highly recommend not going out to most of the room parties the night before or enjoying two nights of tongue numbing Liquid Nitrogen ice cream before doing a reading. Words are hard when you can't keep your eyes open and your tongue feels like it's twice it's size. The year before, I did my reading on Friday night and I think that was a far better plan than Sunday morning.

However, we made it through and had some laughs over my tongue tripping. People bought books later, so my performance must not have been too detrimental.

Will I be going back next year? Hell yes. If you're at all near the Southfield, MI area next year in May, I recommend you check it out too. Penguicon just might be your new favorite weekend getaway.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


If you're not familiar with 

May. Already. While that's awesome because it's nice to finally see green outside and flowers blooming, it also feels like I'm missing several months from the year and I'm not sure where they went. Maybe they got lost in one of the many snowstorms or the heavy winds blew them away. 

I've been busy promoting Trust at lots of events. As you see, my schedule is pretty full this year. I've already marked a few events to try and some to drop from those I did this year. Keeping a hard copy calendar for this sort of thing has been a sanity saver. Usually all my organization on that front is on my phone calendar, but it's been super helpful to have something I can scribble notes on, plaster sticky notes to and get a good overall view of events I've applied for and those I've been accepted to.

Did you manage to be productive with writing over the winter? I seemed to be on a relative roll until the end of February. It's been about two months since I've reliably used my morning writing time for actual writing. While I have managed to get a couple short stories written and submitted, its mostly been promoting my new book, catching up on sleep (because I wasn't sleeping well for a while there), gathering notes for a few panels I'm speaking on next month, and organizing a couple author events I'm hosting. So productive in general, but not how I prefer to use that time.

This month's questions is: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When I first started writing more seriously, as in trying to learn and get better rather than just spewing out words for fun, I explored fan fiction. This was a great place to get my feet wet with trying different types of storytelling and focusing on different things while romping about in an already established world.

I've always been an action and dialogue first kind of writer. It's adding the feels and details that I have to layer in later that I'm always working on. When I threw this particular short story together, I decided to use a mute character from the cast, which meant I couldn't rely on my old standby of dialogue to carry the story. I had to drop into emotion and body language right on the first draft. It worked. I made people cry.

From that story onward, I've tried to remember and employ the tidbits I learned about getting readers emotionally invested. And to use that power wisely - rather than killing characters left and right for the fun it.