I’m back from CONduit, and had a blast. I’m really starting to enjoy local conventions (even though I’ve only been the three, and all have been local). I’ve gotten to know some of the other local writers a lot better, and they really are a great and talented bunch. The number of excellent published authors, and high quality aspiring-to-be-published writers here in Utah is remarkable.
My first panel was on Saturday. It consisted of me, John Brown http://johndbrown.com/, Dave Wolverton http://www.davidfarland.net/, and James Dashner http://jamesdashner.blogspot.com/. John Brown was recently picked up by Tor, and will be doing a series called Servant of a Dark God. We spoke for quite some time afterward, and I’ll be picking up a copy when it ships in October. It sounds absolutely awesome. Dave Wolverton/Farland has written something like 50 books and has numerous bestsellers in both sci-fi and fantasy. James Dashner writes YA fiction and has done extremely well.
If you were in the audience for that panel, I apologize for being a little dimwitted. I was only running on a few hours of sleep. The LDS church is dedicating a new temple in my neighborhood, and since they have a whole bunch of reception tents outside it for the open house, they needed volunteer night security. So Friday night, I was up until 3 AM wandering around the parking lot in a spiffy orange vest. My kids then thought it would be just awesome to wake me up at 6 AM to see if they could play Xbox.
The most interesting thing during that panel was when James mentioned how he had been able to quit his day job as an accountant a couple of years ago after his books had some success. I looked over and said “I’m an accountant.” High five. Then it turned out that John was also an accountant, and Dave had done that at one point too. So this panel of professional writers was made up of current and former finance people. You know what they say about ‘creative’ accountants.
The next panel was about what author’s liked to read and some of our favorite books. It consisted of Jessica Day George http://www.jessicadaygeorge.com/, Howard Tayler http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/, Paul Genesse http://www.paulgenesse.com/default2.asp, and was moderated by L. E. Modesitt http://www.lemodesittjr.com/.
It was a lot of fun. Writers tend to be extremely well read people, until we become writers, then we read about a quarter of what we used too, because now all of our reading time is taken up with writing our own stuff. Luckily for me I had read stuff from everyone on the panel except for Jessica, who I had just met, so I didn’t look like a complete ignoramus. When asked what my favorite book was, I had to say that it was Dan Simmon’s Hyperion & Fall of Hyperion. I don’t know why, but that book (it was supposed to have been one book) has had more staying power than any other work of fiction I’ve ever read. I still read it about once a year.
An interesting thing for me about favorite books, the stuff that I like to read is pretty much nothing at all like how I like to write. I love to read hard sci-fi and epic sword and sorcery fantasy, but I’ve got no current interest in trying to write it. The writer that I’ve been compared to most is Jim Butcher, and I had never read anything of his, until after people started comparing us. (I count myself as a Dresden Files fan now though). I’ve also been compared to “early Anita Blake without all the sex and angst”. So I checked that out, and I would have to say that we both have monsters, but I don’t have any porn. Bummer.
My last panel was a Q&A for aspiring writers, with many of the same previously linked folks, and Eric James Stone http://www.ericjamesstone.com/blog/home/ (absolutely brilliant short stories), and Julie Wright http://www.juliewright.com/. This was a great one, as everybody who wants to be a writer has basically the same questions at some point.
I was able to tell my odd-ball story about how I was published. I’m the one that didn’t exactly do it by the book, but still made it pay off. I cautioned everyone that could do it the normal way, to do it that way, because I wouldn’t recommend my method to anyone who wasn’t A. bug-nuts crazy and B. possessing ox-like perseverance. I also discovered from the other writers, that I’ve got an internet presence (and # of daily hits) that most writers would absolutely love to have.
Other than the panels, I was able to speak with tons of very cool people. I like the Cons, because they’re about the only time that I’m not the geekiest person in the room. When I’m amongst my gun-brethren, I’m the nerdy writer one, but when I’m amongst other writers, I’m that gun guy. I also gave my e-mail to any writer who might need technical advice, because I can’t stand reading about a character deactivating the safety of their double barreled Smith & Wesson revolver.
Here is a picture of me at the Con with local writers Pat Tracy and Paul Genesse. (I picked up a copy of Paul’s latest book at the Con and am looking forward to getting to it)
I’m the ruggedly handsome bald one.
I spent way too much money on books this weekend. I picked up a copy of Dan Wells’ I am not a Serial Killer http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?page_id=2 . The premise was just too good to pass up. A kid who works at his family’s mortuary is obsessed with death and serial killers, and begins to suspect that it is a monster that is removing the local’s body parts.
I was able to listen in to a few other panels. The Writing Excuses Podcast http://www.writingexcuses.com/ was great, and they had on recent BYU graduate, Aprilynne Pike, who is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. That is with her debut novel called Wings. She wrote a book about fairies and managed to crack into that Stephanie Meyers Twilight teen-girl market to make serious major bank. That is dang impressive.
I spoke with Brandon Sanderson after his podcast. He has finished Monster Hunter International, and despite it being nowhere near his normal genre, he really liked it. To have somebody who’s written a giant pile of bestsellers, and who is near the top of the game, actually like your book is a good little ego-booster.
Things are really going well right now. Conduit was great, the book is pre-selling extremely well, and I even love my day job. I can’t ask for more.