Getting Ready for ApolloCon, Houston TX 2014

It’s the day before ApolloCon and I’m getting ready for a very busy few days! I’m very excited to meet the Guest of Honor David Gerrold.

Here is my schedule of events, in case any of you are free to come by:

Medical Concepts in Science Fiction Our panel of medical professionals will discuss how to make your story’s references to medicine and public health more realistic, whether you’re writing modern day, ancient history, epic fantasy, or far-future science fiction. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Fri  6 PM Tucson
How Science Fiction Changed my Life How did science fiction change your life? Did it help you find your career, or open up your circle of friends?  What about your personal trajectory seems to have been most influenced by your love of the genre? Professionals in several different fields speak up. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Fri  8 PM Seattle I
bad boys vs good guys Are bad boys and villains really more interesting and fun to write? Are good guys boring? Is it possible for a character to be too good to be believed? Too bad to be redeemed? Our panelists will take on this eternal debate. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat   10 AM Seattle II
The Craft of Writing Sit down with some writers and critiquers to discuss what makes good prose. How do you choose the words to tell your story? What are some tricks and tips for expressing emotions or translating action to the page? How does language influence the story you are telling, and how can we manipulate language to give us the outcome we desire? Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Sat  1 PM Seattle II
In Conversation with David Gerrold Author Guest of Honor David Gerrold discusses whatever comes to his mind or our moderator’s, in this hour highlighting his life and work. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat  2 PM Seattle I
Liar’s Panel Which ones are lying? Which ones are telling the truth? In the spirit of “two truths and a lie,” or “tall tales,” we challenge our Guests of Honor to come up with the most entertaining whoppers they can, and the audience to vote on who they think is most truthful!  We may never know for sure. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno (M) Sat  5 PM Seattle II
The New Star Wars Are you excited about the new upcoming Star Wars movie? How about the seemingly endless novels or the cartoons? Panelists try their hand at predicting new developments and speculate about stories to come as Disney expands the Star Wars film franchise. Dr. Dominick D’Aunno Sun   11 AM Seattle I

Novel Writing Workshop day 1-Arriving

Sunday, June 1st, was the official start to the Science Fiction and Novel Writing Workshop here at Kansas University in Lawrence.

Basically all of the students trickled in during the afternoon and we met over Chinese takeout and learned what we signed up for. I was very pleased that the legendary James Gunn stopped by to share some food and history about science fiction over the many decades he has been involved with it. Amazing man.

He gave us a few helpful tips on writing. The one that stuck out the most was that a character isn’t a character until they interact with another character in the story. Through interaction, characters are defined.

There were many other tidbits that were ingested along with the fortune cookies.

Kij Johnson then rounded up her 8 novelists and spoke for a few hours about how the workshop is structured. It’s not a critique group in the usual sense. Basically, the outline/synopsis for your novel will be taken apart and the group will offer suggestions on how to improve it from the ground up.

I’m fascinated and look forward to the experience.

Kij also shared some concerns she has with writing and one of the major issues she sees out there in the world is that characters have no AGENCY.

Characters seem to react to events. Action is not AGENCY. Reaction is not AGENCY.

Characters need to engage and DO things. Make decisions. Make mistakes.

This gave me a lot of things to think about in my current works in progress.

She also encouraged us to enrich our worlds through bits of description that hint to things.  It was a very interesting and productive evening. I had trouble going to sleep because I was so revved up.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.

The Start of Something New…. and a little scary

It’s June 1st.

A big day for me. It’s a big day, well, for a few reasons.

I arrived in Lawrence Kansas to attend the Novel Writing Workshop at KU. ( ). The talented Kij Johnson is our instructor.

I found the Residence Hall and checked into my dorm room. Dorm rooms really haven’t changed much from when I was in college. These beds seem to be quite a bit higher off the ground though. I wonder if they have more injured students from falling out of bed, drunk….

The place is actually very nice. The campus is beautiful and the town is a verdant treasure. I was the first one here this morning and I hauled all of my stuff up to the second floor, unpacked, and wandered around the building. Most of the other students have not yet arrived. I did me two others, Barbara and Elizabeth…. I hope I remember their names… I’m not good with names.

I planned on writing. I had time, a beautiful afternoon and a wrap around porch! What a great setting. But something told me that June 1st is about more than just writing. I set this day to make other changes as well.

I would reward myself with the opportunity to write, only if I did something physical. I figure 60 minutes a day is reasonable. I could break this up into two, 30 minute sessions, or dive right in and take on the whole 60 minutes.

Since I really don’t have any idea what our day to day schedule will be like and I’m not sure when the others will be settled in, I decided to change into my jogging clothes and explore this town.

I encourage all of you writers out there to do something physical each day. EACH DAY. This could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rock climbing… anything that moves your muscles and pumps your blood.

Since it has been quite a while since I jogged daily, I didn’t want to cause myself a heart attack. It would spoil the whole workshop experience. I walked a brisk pace for 3 miles, then jogged for a quarter mile, walked a quarter mile, then jogged a quarter mile. It took me 61 minutes. I didn’t curl up and start thinking, plotting and writing. I went out and got some exercise. I feel very good about that.

NOW I can sit down and think and plot and write…. That’s my reward. Writing is a reward for me, when I do other things that I’ve been putting off. 

Writing was something I did, everyday, no matter what. I put off important things like scheduling and payroll and book keeping, just so I could write. I managed to get all of those work-related items completed on time, but it was rushed. I don’t like being rushed. Mistakes happen when you are rushed.

Making mistakes in my line of work can be lethal. I try to avoid that whenever possible.

That’s what June 1st is for me. Getting fit and using writing as a reward.  Start slow. Make small changes.

I have a goal of finishing two novels by November. By finished I mean edited and then professionally edited. I don’t have that much time considering one novel still needs about 10,000 words and the other about 60,000.

The novel I’m working on here in the Lawrence Workshop isn’t one of those two. This is a brand new novel.

I’ll have to finish something soon. I don’t want three uncompleted novels running around unsupervised. Two, I think I can manage, not three.

But my point of this event, this workshop, is to use it as a defining moment in my creative life. I’ll look back on this time and say to my self “This is when I finally felt like I was a writer.”

You don’t have to go to a workshop for two whole weeks to accomplish that. But it’s something I thought about during the 11 and a half hour drive here. I NEEDED something, a sign or event, to help mark my way on my creative road.

Pick anything. Make it special to you in some fashion. Use it to create that spark that allows you to make a change in your life.

Reward yourself with writing. Make your body healthy. This improves your mind. As writers, your mind is your only creative muscle. Treat it well.

I’m going to commit to 60 minutes of some physical activity a day. It might not be all at one time, but it WILL total 60 minutes. Only then, will I reward myself with writing.

Try it out and let me know how you feel after a month.