CONduit Report

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

June 3, 2010 -- 12:16 a.m.

Well, it's Weds. somewhere, right? I got caught up in some expected yardwork today when the sprinkler system went down, so this post's a little late. But here it is...

Ah, CONduit. The Salt Lake City Con where you can attend a writing panel on How to Get published, stay for a belly-dancing performance and learn the basics of detecting paranormal activity...all in a single night. This year's theme was space pirates. There's such an ecletic mix of gamers, artists, anime fans and writers, if you go to CONduit and don't come home with at least one new's probably your deoderant.

Of course not everyone's friends are as cool as the Dread Pirate Roberts. But hey, you can't all be as awesome as me. Relax. Don't strain yourself. We wouldn't want to be setting the bar too high now, would we?

Anyway, I had a lot of fun. I even introduced myself to some new authors who's advice I have been listening to for a couple years now, and found out that Larry Corriea and John Brown are every bit as nice as they seem to be. And Provo Library doesn't carry a copy of Larry Correia's book, FOR SHAME! Some regular faces were absent (I missed Howard Taylor's jokes) and some of the local authors didn't stay long, but I still went home with a belly-full of advice and a bucket-full of motivation. I chucked out about 40 pages of text on Skin Farm yesterday (and by chucked out, I mean typed out. How much is decent enough to merit staying in the book, we'll see). Brad Torguson recognized my face from previous conventions and came to talk to me and introduce himself without prompting. I also managed to avoid all Lost spoilers, miracle of miracles. I'm still a season behind, grumble.

My question of the con was: How do you deal with form rejection? And boy, these authors had experienced a lot of it. I didn't quite ask every author there, but the ones I missed I'm sure would have had the same advice. Keep your chin up. Work hard. Throw stuff at the wall. Something's bound to stick eventually.

In some ways, there were a lot of depressing moments at the con, because some of the authors haven't had much upward career movement since last year. Barbara Hambly, our guest speaker, has had a whole ton of success over the years--our library has a shelf almost dedicated to her exclusive use. But after she'd "made it", quit her day job, worked full time as an author for decades, she ended up getting chucked out by her publishers (and this time, I do mean thrown out) and forced to find a job at the time in her life when many people start contemplating retirement. can make it, and still not be safe from the terrors of the 9-to-5.

The funny thing is, the community college she's teaching at wouldn't let her teach creative writing, because she didn't have a masters in English. Ha!

Anyway, a lot of advice we got was the kind of thing you've heard, don't send your query letter on perfumed paper, or dark paper...(part of me groans at people's ignorance)...but there was some new stuff too, like that sometimes the "no submissions" policy at publishers is just a shield and if you send a manuscript to someone anyway, you might get a bite with comments. Not something I'll try unless I have a few Writer's of the Future awards under my belt, but interesting nonetheless.

Barbara Hambly--who is a really interesting woman, she talked about her ghost sightings and her student's reactions to her numorous tattoos--advised me to start with character when writing a historical novel and then work outward, since I'm finding the whole historical setting bigger than I can chew. She also told me her WoW server (not mine, alas) and that she plays on Thursdays.

Another thing: One of the distinctions between M.G. and Y.A. involves spheres of influence. In a M.G. book, the biggest influence on a main character tends to be family. Often kids saving their parents or having to make due without their parents or fighting their foster parents or wishing they had parents, etc. In Y.A., that influence has shifted over to friends. It's less about family and more about that cute boy with the locker three feet left of the girl's bathroom. Friends in trouble that need rescuing instead of parents. Anyway, I'd never thought of it that way before.

I also learned there's a new subgenre called "New Adult" which is for college-aged folks. Not quite adult, not quite young adult. I'm not sure how you'd go about marketing such a thing and whether its a viable sub-genre since college kids are pretty much adults, but it'll be interesting to see if it develops. I can see how there are some unique "college" issues that would make for great reading. I haven't seen a shelf for it in bookstores, but it's been awhile since I went walkabout in a Barnes and Noble.

James Daschner also told me not to worry that I've missed the bandwagon with post-apocalyptic. They're still hot, which is good because I hope to get queries out on Skin Farm by Christmas.

Anyway, I went to readings, a Wheel of Time panel, and other events, and saw pirates and armed knights carrying signs "WILL FIGHT DRAGONS FOR FOOD." James Daschner gave me a copy of the first few chapters of the sequel to Maze Runner (signed) which made me squeal a little. I squealed a lot when Brandon Sanderson told me the first Wheel of Time signing for Towers of Midnight will be at BYU again this year. I'm picking out my sleeping bag already, you losers. That #1 signed copy is MINE!!!

But more importantly, I came home with so many story ideas, I'm not sure what to do with them all. I'm beginning to wonder if I might not actually be a secret Y.A. author in disguise. I think of myself as gritty, but Y.A.'s gotten pretty gritty of late, and most of the characters that spring into my mind are young, if not high school aged. Probably because I am trapped into a perpetual state of immaturity. There would be some advantages--Y.A. authors are less penalized for genre-romping, so I could write historical fantasy and dystopian science fiction under the same pen-name--as well as a wider audience and bigger paychecks. Sounds good to me.

Next year's COnduit will be superhero themed. The guest is Tamora Pierce. They've already got the website up for next year. I've never read anything by her, but I like some of her book titles. I find myself scratching my head and wondering where to start. Usually I study an author's career in chronilogical order but reading 26 books by the same author is a little dauting.

UP FRIDAY: Double book review! The Lies of Locke Lamora and Paper Mage.


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