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Miscon 31 – The Ascension, Part One

Last year, I felt I was given permission to write what I wanted. I didn’t have to be the next Virginia Woolf or Jane Austen. Fantasy was fabulous. Science fiction was valuable. So, I went home and wrote Ferals & Blights. I entered the Writers of the Future contest and won a Silver Honorable Mention. I was nervous before this year’s convention. What growth and development were lurking to stretch me to new limits?

I made business cards this year with my current pitch on the back. Maybe there’d be an agent, and I’d have an elevator pitch moment! I bought dresses that helped me stand out and shine. Dress for the job you want, yes? As my long-time readers know, my role model is Catherynne Valente. She wears lovely things at readings. I want to do a reading. I want to be a panelist. I want my book published!

The joy I found at Miscon31 ended up coming from smiles. I smiled and offered a thought, and it opened a door. I smiled and paid attention, and it opened another door. Before I knew it, I was sitting with authors talking about the interminable wait experienced when you’ve sent off queries and fulls. We chatted about what we were reading, how writing pieces for themed anthologies is marvelous fun but leaves you with orphans, and what flowers were currently blooming on the trails of Montana because that was knowledge needed for someone’s next work.

The growth this year for me was social. I’m a profound introvert. I have a chronic illness that snatches at my words and saps my energy. I’m terrified of losing friends because I’ve lost so many in the last ten years. I had to stretch my social muscles until they ached, and it was immensely worth it.

We had drinks with Claire Eddy from Tor Books. (Can you hear me shrieking with excitement?) Before you ask…I did not pitch her my book. I also didn’t ask for a picture. Why? Because I didn’t want to. I wanted to hear her story about New Yorkers and subways and her love of San Francisco. Dan wanted to make her laugh. It was about the people, not the pitch.

We tried to rise to the level of Aaron Douglas’s vast humor. He’s a storyteller of caliber. Who knew? I always just thought he was this dour man from Battlestar Galactica. It was all an act, ‘cause you know…acting!

The sharp and lovely Andrea Howe from Blue Falcon Editing gave out advice and wisdom. Oh, writers! Please, please hire an editor. It’s worth it more than you know because the big publishing houses are catching at the coattails of self-pubbed works. They are watching you and your sales. When you hit numbers they like, they will be contacting you. Tor’s version of this is called Pronoun, and I guarantee the money you invest in an editor will give a return!

Krista Wallace and her wonderful husband Matt made us laugh and feel welcome. Krista read to us with her honey voice at panel after panel, and she was patient and kind and warm with all the questions and courage of the audience.

David Farland shook my hand and told me to keep submitting to Writers of the Future. “You’re right on the cusp!” I came away noodle-kneed and beaming.

Randy Henderson signed the next two books in his Finn Fancy series for Dan. Later, he helped me with my pitch. Took my business card from my shaking hand and kindly worked on the words with me. (See my next post for some really great advice he gave on bridge problems. Also, he should teach writing classes. He’s smart, and I always learn something from him.)

We invited Erik Scott Fischl and his wife to have lunch with us when he comes to Helena for research for his next novel. Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show was just the beginning, folks! There’s more coming.

We heard Sanan Kolva read from her novel, Chosen of the Spears. When it was announced that it was her debut, the room applauded. It was such a loving feeling. The community and inclusion is powerful and beautiful, and I’m always rejuvenated by it.

I instantly fell in love with Tex Thompson during the Improv. Not only is she beautiful, but she is freaking hilarious. And quick! I’m always a sucker for gorgeous quick-draw wit. Plus, our outfits matched. It’s meant to be, is what I’m saying. Just hearing her talk made me want to buy every one of her books. Better than making me laugh, she then went on to make me feel real.

Writers live with the fear of not being real. You know exactly what I’m talking about, and to me the most gracious thing one writer can do for another is to acknowledge their authenticity.

My goal is to make it far enough that I can do that for someone else who’s starting out. I want to be able to spread my wings so far they offer shelter, just like everyone did for me this weekend.

Thank you all.

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