3 Tips to Approaching People

At the end of the “How Do You Do It?” Creating Around a Day Job, Day Al-Mohamed  (I think), gave us 3 brilliant pointers for connecting with authors at a book-centric fan convention.[a] As conversation ice-breakers, just go up to them and say one of the following:

1 – I’m interested in writing.[b]

2 – What are you reading?

3 – What are you writing?

That’s it! Most people are there because they love books and want to share. Take no/I’m busy for an answer[d], be courteous, but be open to them.

a – Especially useful for approaching the people you fangirl/boy over.
b – Okay, this one’s more for aspiring authors like me, but hey! If you create stuff, that’s a thing to talk about.[c]
c- Not every author will be up for just chatting- they might be tired, busy, or extroverted out, but a lot of them love to talk about what they do and help people.
d-  and conscious of needing to clear a room.

Top Tips from 15 Writing Panels

Most of the panels I attended at Balticon were focused on developing myself as a writer. Some of the panels were craft focused, but many were talking about all the things OTHER than writing that writers need to learn. So, here’s my list of the panels on writing as a craft and my favorite quote/tip/message from each. It was hard to pick a favorite, but I did it for you![1]

  1. Flipping the Script: Does Gender Change the Story

    • My gender experience matters more than my actual gender. – K.M. Szpara
  2. Tales From The Slush Pile

    • “Deathbear and the Snuggle of Doom”- a title cringed at by Joshua Bilmes
    • Read and follow the submission guidelines!- everyone
    • Don’t sell on a gimmick, write a good STORY and feel free to add the gimmick.
  3. Buy My S#*%

    • The presenter was unable to make it so we ended up having a group discussion!
  4. The Craft of Writing with Connie Willis [2]

    • Meet expectations, but with a twist: you can do anything as long as you set it up.
    • “I have never read a story without a plot that would not be improved by having one.”
  5. Writers Workshop — And Here’s the Pitch 

    • Include setting, main character(s), and goal. Get in and get out because you’ve got 1 elevator floor to get them to ask for more.
    • P.S. For everyone in this workshop with me, HERE’S the Thin Mint rant.
  6. Writing: It’s My Job AND What I Do For Fun!

    • Most writers know this isn’t competitive and go out of their way to help people. – Jean Marie Ward (everyone else agreed)
    • Learned that Book Doctors will rewrite your book for you, editors suggest fixes. Follow their suggestions in ways that make sense for your story.
  7. Finding a Foot To Stand On (writing believable SF)

    • “Never underestimate the power of gobbledegook.”
    • “I lie a lot.”
    • Heinlein did a ‘how man discovered the effect’ that felt like an explanation, but wasn’t. Clever work around to satisfy the reader!
  8. Vetting the Editors [3]

    • The Cardinal Sin of Editors: Remaking your story how THEY would have written it.
  9. Finding Your Niche

    • 90% of social media is resharing. Create original content and share that.
    • “[Success] depends on how much you’re willing to give up to make it happen.” – Day Al-Mohamed
    • “You want to make people care about your world.” – Ethan Siegel
  10. Finding Balance

    • “I went into marketing because it’s really another type of fiction.” – Gail Martin
  11. The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers [4]

    • “Delusions of grandeur.” – Mike McPhail
    • Stupid Author Tricks list by David Wood
      • To sum up: Don’t advertise your work in comment, don’t spam people, and avoid flame wars.
  12. Speak Your Words: Bring Your Written Work To Audible Life

    • Younger is typically higher pitch, older is lower pitch. – Izolda Trakhtenberg
    • Never use a falsetto or mansetto for the opposite gender.
    • Use a different tone for the narrator if they also speak dialog
    • (Plus, she had us make clouds!)
  13. “How Do You Do It?” Creating Around a Day Job [5]

    • If you’re burnt out, read and consume media, you need to feed your creative side.
    • To help change gears, have a different space/machine/music/etc than work.
    • What works for you WILL change, it’s okay to switch it up. Be kind to yourself.
    • You’ve got give something up in order to write. – Mike Luoma
  14. Consequences

  15. How to Give and Get Critiques [4]

    • “Be there to help them write their story, not the story you would have written.” – Scott Edelman
    • One “Zero-sum” person in a writing group can ruin it. – Connie Willis

1- Most of the quotes are paraphrased/hastily scribbled down and may not be exact.
2- 8am Saturday morning and this was still packed–and worth it.
3- Needs another post- They went into PRICES and SPECIFICS!
4- Many useful links that will be shared in a later post.
5- Needs another post- about approaching creatives.


Balticon 50 : Overview!

I just got back from 4 days of Balticon – A Science-Fiction and Fantasy themed convention, with the emphasis on books and the science behind it. That doesn’t mean that tv, comics, movies, anime, dancing, etc weren’t covered, though.

This year was the 50th anniversary and they had a fundraiser to bring back as many previous guests of honor as possible, plus George R R Martin. There were so many guests!

Despite some scheduling snaffus (apparently, at some point there were 3+ schedules floating around), the Guests and other panelists were great.

Last year? 19 panels attended.

This year?

21 panels attended

I may be insane.

I’ll be posting about them this week, but for starters, here’s the list.


  1. Flipping the Script: Does Gender Change the Story (sadly, a fire alarm cut in about 15 minutes in, so I ended up hitting dinner) [1]
  2. Tales From The Slush Pile [1]
  3. Buy My S#*% (the panelist couldn’t make it, so we turned it into a 30 min room discussion.) [1]
  4. Created Religions in SFF [2]


  1. The Craft of Writing with Connie Willis [1]
  2. Writers Workshop — And Here’s the Pitch [1]
  3. Politics, Law, and Policy in SFF [2]
  4. Writing: It’s My Job AND What I Do For Fun! [1]
  5. Finding a Foot To Stand On [1/2]
  6. Vetting the Editors [1]
  7. Peter S Beagle Concert [3]
  8. Finding Your Niche [1]


  1. Finding Balance [1]
  2. The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers [1]
  3. Speak Your Words: Bring Your Written Work To Audible Life [1ish]
  4. Balticon Short Film Festival [3]
  5. “How Do You Do It?” Creating Around a Day Job [1]
  6. Loveable Rogues in Media Fiction [2]
  7. Mythic Science Fiction [2]
  8. The Eye of Argon! [3]


  1. Consequences [1]
  2. How to Give and Get Critiques [1]



1 – Writing as a craft panels.
2 – Discussions about books/etc
3 – Media/Just for fun


Remodeling and Packing!

I’ve been a busy worker bee since last I posted! (Worker ant? I didn’t really fly or sting anything.)

I moved a pivotal scene closer to where my Main Character actually responds to it–making her more proactive than reactive. It involved cutting 3 scenes and filtering some portions of them back in later, with edits to prevent referencing events that hadn’t happened yet. Basically, it was a limb replacement surgery!

No one else has read it yet, but I assure you, it went flawlessly!

Well, mostly. I lost my USB key, so I bought a new one and I think it’s time to do another RED INK edit.

I’m on draft 4, well really, 5.

To help you understand how long each stage has taken me, I made this handy-dandy Timeline!(1)




The rough draft was my 3rd attempt at writing this for National Novel Writing Month and I ‘won'(2). Then, I had to finish the book. 10 months later…

I did my 1st RED INK print out and 1st editing pass. Then, I sent that draft to my beta-readers.

Using their feedback, I did another editing pass, before sharing it with a new beta reader last Balticon.

Following their feedback, I worked (slowly) on my 3rd draft.

Finally, I started editing/revising my 3rd draft with a ‘quick read through’ and realized there were some plot things I wanted to change…


Which brings us to today. This is still gonna count as draft 4, I’m just making sure all the revisions didn’t leave me with plot holes.

Another MAJOR development this week? PACKING FOR BALTICON50!


I’m coming back! the schedule FINALLY went up today– with less than 2 days until showtime. Last year, I decided on Wednesday to attend. This year, I couldn’t begin planning until Wednesday. Apparently, that’s when I’m supposed to get my Balticon act together!(3)

My first pass through the schedule had me looking into 87 interesting panels, with many overlapping. After a few rounds, I’ve lowered my count to 5 MUST ATTENDS out of 20 panels that look good (plus the open dances/parties…) Last year, I made it to 19 panels, so 23 hours of paneling. Let’s see what this year brings!

(Jo Walton is back- I loved her character building workshop. And Denise Clemons is running her fun Building a Meal for an Imagined World panel again!)

Hope to see you all!


1 – In Paint, because that’s what I have.
2- Wrote 50,000 words in my story, in the 30 days of November for NaNoWriMo.
3- Does this make me the official scape-goat??