Daily Archives: July 4, 2009

FiestaCon Day #2 (part 2)

Panel #4 on Friday was on cross-genre detectives. I was looking forward to this panel as well. Most of what I write is, at heart, mysteries. There are so many sub-genres to the mystery genre, that crossing into another is not that hard. In many ways, mystery is a specific type of story that can be divorced from the setting. Much of what the panel went over was how to create a good serial detective: foreshadowing and threads in earlier books, a good occasionally-reoccurring villain, and of course an interesting main character that isn’t all-competent.

The last panel we attended on Friday was Writers Beware with Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden, based on the Writer Beware website. Not much that I haven’t heard before, but I did get to thinking about search engines. It used to be the case that if you googled “literary agent,” the top result was a scam agency. How’s it going now? I wondered, and how well does Bing do?

The top four results are the same between the Google and Bing: 2 directories, a Wikipedia entry, and Writer Beware. The rest of Google’s first page is mainly specific agencies, all of them good. Bing’s first page fairs well, though there are quite a few more links to directory sites. Unfortunately, the first “related search” on Bing is New York Literary Agents and the top link off of *that* page is The New York Literary Agency which is described on the Preditors & Editors site as “strongly not recommended. Also a Top Twenty worst according to Writer Beware.” Not so good.  It always pays to do your research, and to remember, as a writer, the only time you should be signing a check is when you’re signing the back of it.

FiestaCon Day #2 (part 1)

AKA: Oh-god-there’s-still-two-days-left.

We’ve been taking public transportation back and forth. It’s been working well, even when shuttle driver decides not to stop. The driver seems to have forgotten it’s flag service outside of ASU campus and school zones.

First panel yesterday was on building a new religion for your SF/fantasy world. It was one of the panels I was excited to see, but it didn’t deliver. The panelists were wrapped up in the trappings of religion instead of starting closer to the bottom. Postulated:  the notion that religion embodies what is significant in a society, and (a mention)  that type of religion is often influenced by environment. That latter is something Eric and I have already crewed over, and I think the former is only half correct.

Second panel: How are small presses surviving? The short answer is: they are and are probably in a better situation now than ever. Electronic formats are taking off, as is print-on-demand. This lowers the “price of entry” as it were and makes the small presses (and niche presses) more viable. The trick will be in developing icons of quality; probably done through the reputation of imprints. The discussion, while often tangential, did point out the following from TIME: Amazon.com, Digital Publishing and Jeff Bezos.

Exhausted from the moderator of panel #2, Eric and I had a two hour break and went to lunch at Phoenicia Cafe. Not realizing that it was a holiday weekend (starting on Friday), we tried to get into a computer lab on campus. No go. In the meantime, I got sunburned.

Panel three: Collaborative writing. The entirety of my professional writing career has been as a collaborator with Eric. Lucinda at the Window is the first novel I finished and the one with the least input from Eric, but I would have never written it without him. Since then, his input has only increased. This is not a bad thing, but for a long time I thought it was. Wasn’t a writer the solitary creature with the rich inner life that spills out on paper? Was I somehow deficient because I needed a collaborator? (Cognitively, I realize that it’s extremely difficult for one person to be good at the two main aspects of writing: the overview (plot) and the details.) So, sheep that I am, its nice to hear of authors that collaborate and believe that it might be the superior way of doing things. The panel included Eric Flint and Dani and Etyan Kollin, which would be worth sitting in on even if I weren’t a collaborative writer myself. Interesting note: on the heels of the last panel, Mr. Flint mentioned that ebook sales are not great. Also, since mass market paperback distribution has fallen out, publishers are sometimes more willing to go hardback for a new author than they have been in the past. While it might not sell as well, the profit margin is higher.