Off to WFC I go

A friend stopped me at a local business/social function a few days ago and asked me how “Dreams of Ivory and Gold” was doing. He had read the book so we talked for a few minutes about the story and some mutual favorite authors before he moved on. Before he walked away, however, he leaned in close and said, “I don’t know how you find time to do it all with your schedule.”

As he left, I considered what he had said and, yes, my schedule leaves a lot to be desired. I still work between 60-65 hours per week. I have four kids, all still in school, so that means clubs and meetings and horse shows and karate lessons/tournaments and weight room workouts and…. you get the idea.

That often does not leave a lot of time for my writing. But since my last post a month ago, a lot of has been happening despite the time constraints. Since October 4:

1) I have had three short stories accepted into anthologies/magazines for print.
2) I finished editing my latest novel.
3) I attended a question-and-answer at a book club in Columbus. One of the month’s selections for the club had been Dreams and the members asked me to come in and talk about the book and the process of writing.
4) I plotted out and researched the sequel to Dreams. In fact, as the plotting came together, it became obvious the overriding story arc needed to finish in a third book so the series will now be a trilogy.
5) Despite most of my writing needing to be accomplished sometime between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. (before getting up and starting the new day again), I now have a good start on the second book and plan on having a first draft done in the first couple of weeks in December.

WFC2My friend would probably only shake his head harder if he knew I was going to be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington D.C. later this week. But as I was reminded at ConText in Columbus a few weeks ago, attending these conventions are a necessary part of being a published (or trying to publish) author.

These conventions offer a multitude of discussion panels on a wide variety of writing and industry topics. You could walk into one room and find a best selling author talking about their process when they plot or world build. The next room may offer a view of where a certain genre is headed or what agents/publishers are currently searching for to sign.

But for me, the biggest opportunities at the conventions are the chances to meet people in person that I have “known” for years and to network with industry professionals. For instance, I found my current publisher through a writing group buddy that first read my work several years ago but all of our interaction has been digitally. He and I will meet in person for the first time this week.

I know other authors, editors, illustrators, and public relations people who I have exchanged ideas with or worked with for months, if not years. Many of them will be in Washington D.C. this week as well. There will also be people who I have only a passing acquaintance but who I want to get to know better because of their work.

Invariably, there will be at least one conversation that sticks out and remains in my memory forever from these conventions. At ConText in September, that conversation happened on Saturday night.

It had been a long day. I had been in panels or in the dealer room with the AKP crew all day. I had screwed around and missed lunch in the con suite and supper was pushed back so we could continue to talk to people. By the time we finally got out, it was later than normal so we just ended up eating at a nearby bar/grille. By the time we finished, the clock was pushing midnight on a long, long day.

But then we started talking about writing and the topic ended up on whether to plot novels or to just write in a free manner, going where the story takes you. That talk with a handful of other writers and a couple of publishing industry people turned out to be one of the best writing discussions I have ever had. My publisher definitively called it the best convention talk she had ever been a part of.

And that is why I am making time this week to go to the World Fantasy Convention. Hopefully I will shake the hands of some friends (new and old) and get into a late night discussion that will stay with me for years.

I will try to check in from the convention, either here or on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Hopefully I will have some good news about my future projects.