Report on Keycon 29

I had a great time this year at Keycon. I had my awesome aviator goggles, and blue/purple bangs and I made the most of it. Apparently goggles and dyed bangs are enough to convince people at the con that my jeans and a t-shirt constitute a costume. People asked me what character I was dressed up to be, so I told them I was an airship pirate.

This year might have been a little ad-hoc, but I realize that was because multiple con organizers, including one of the con chairs, had to step down for various reasons beyond their control. Those stepping in did their best to pull it together last minute.

It was great to see the hospitality floor full this year. Lots of suites serving food and drink – alcoholic and non-alcoholic, with the suites done up beautifully. With more of the suites open late in the evening, there was less crowding in the hallways, especially during the dead dog on Sunday night.

Programming was also improved, IMHO, this year, there was less trying to figure out which of two or three panels I wanted to attend – they seemed to have been more careful to schedule writing related panels so that they didn’t compete with one another, and I got to attend everything I wanted to.

The guests of honour of course were interesting, especially Jonathan Mayberry. He could just keep talking and he had so many interesting things to ramble on about, that when he asked if anyone had any questions, people just wanted him to keep going on whatever he wanted to talk about.

Author Idol was disappointingly poorly attended – there were about seven people in a massive room, and two submissions, mine and a friend’s. I suspect that was largely due to the lack of notice – I only heard about it a few days before the con, and had to scramble to get a synopsis ready and critiqued. On the other hand, the editor and author on the judging panel both very much liked the synopsis and thought it was well put together. The editor, Ellen Smith of Champagne Books said she would likely request the manuscript based on it.

So it was pretty cool that Ellen Smith was also in on my panel on how to write a query letter and synopsis. That was fairly well attended, fifteen people or so, lots of questions and conversation. I was nervous, but not as bad as I might have been – it was lovely to have Ellen there with me.

Outside of official Keycon activities, I also got to hang out with Chadwick Ginther, who has an Urban Fantasy coming out in September, and get to know him a bit better, along with a bunch of other fellow authors over supper at Moxies on Saturday night, including Erika Holt, Marie Bilodeau, Sherry Peters, Eileen Bell, Gerald Brandt, and Robert J. Sawyer. Great conversation made it easier to overcome my Aspergers Syndrome tendency to be the quiet one in a group. In fact, I did a lot of fighting the Aspergers Syndrome over the weekend, reminding myself that hiding away in a corner and not saying hi to new acquaintances when I see them is not how Lindsay makes friends. I still expect rejection, in the back of my mind, and it’s hard to overcome years of assuming that people don’t like me and trying to protect myself from being hurt by not trying. And it was worth every bit of fighting it.

So, overall, I had an awesome weekend, and I very much look forward to next year, when I expect things will be much better prepared. I know the people running it next year, and they have done a great job in the past. Thanks to all to Con staff who put things together this year, and I’ll see you all again in 2013!

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Keycon 29 Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the beginning of Keycon 29, for which I’ve booked off time from work to make sure I can go. I really needed a vacation anyway, so I have a week after.

As usual, they have guests of honour.

I have new costume stuff for this year. I have a real, steel boned corset, and a pair of aviator goggles from the Abney Park market that came with dog tags with the AP jolly roger on them (skull with spiked hair, goggles, and a propeller and cutlass instead of bones, hee! My best friend thinks it’s ridiculous.)

I’m doing a panel, on Saturday at 1pm, apparently with Ellen Smith, on writing query letters and synopses, and I’m excited about doing a panel for the first time. No idea what the turnout will be – I hope it’s more than one or two people, but if it’s more than ten, then I’ll be glad to have a co-panelist with me, so I don’t get eaten.

There’s also the readoff, but I don’t think I have anything to read for it that really fits with their theme of Survival. Not that I likely have anything short enough for the five minutes you’re allowed to read. Just not really a flash fiction author.

And Author Idol is back! The first year they did that was really cool, and had a great turnout. It had a panel of four authors and editors as judges who would raise their hands (Robert J. Sawyer opted for armpit farts) at the point where they would stop reading a submission, and when three of four hands were up, the reader would stop and go on to the next piece. It was just the first page of your novel or story, that year, and my submission did decently well – the editor running the show didn’t like it and made them stop, despite there being only two hands up, and Robert J. Sawyer even argued with her, adamantly refusing to armpit fart my story.

That opening needs work, I’ll concede that, and I’ll go back and revise it, possibly when I’m finished with The Eyelet Dove, but for now, this year they’re doing opening pages or one page synopses. So when I found out, I scrambled to whip together a synopsis for Dove to throw at them, and I’m excited to see what they think. I don’t know if the rules will be the same. It’s also tempting to give them my first page, since the opening of the story has gone over so well with readers in general, but the synopsis is probably what I need feedback on more, and on top of that, well, I’m doing a panel on queries and synopses, so I should darn well do the synopsis option. If they’ll allow both, then I’ll give them both.

As usual, there will be the social, and the fancy dinner. I’m tempted to go to the fancy dinner – we weren’t going to, but apparently the entertainment is the sequel to the steampunk play they put on two years ago, by Kiss the Giraffe productions, which was fun. There’s usually tickets available for the dinner still available at the con, so we might pick them up at the con.

And the Dead Dog, where we drink all the alcohol left over from the hospitality suites. Giant room party taking up the entire fifteenth floor. Be there.

But I’m off today, too, so really, today is my Friday. I think I pretty much have all my costume stuff ready. I might make lists, so I don’t forget things. I still want to buy a pair of steampunk earrings from that guy who calls himself Thorgrid, or Thorgrid Jewellery. Hopefully he’ll be there again – he has the last three years, I think. Has nice stuff.

In other news, my chapter 2 of The Eyelet Dove was well received by my new critiquing group last night. They had some great feedback on where there’s details and description missing – always my weak point, but as far as story and character, I’m getting pretty much the reaction I want. Just some cosmetic touching up to do on that chapter.

As far as the revision, I’m on the touching up description/dialogue/flow part, and it’s going faster because I fixed a lot of this stuff in earlier stages as I came to it. The biggest trouble at this point is running out of space on the page to make corrections, and wanting to just type it up so that I can see the flow clearer. I think in later revisions, I may do the type-in earlier, though that may depend on how bad a wreck the story is to begin with. This one’s bad, and yet, it’s interesting to realize how the state of a first draft doesn’t really reflect the quality of the final draft once it’s done, only how much work it is to get it to final draft. This one’s just a very complex story, and to try and get everything straight, and things revealed in the right order, it’s been a challenge.

I hope to be done the final draft, or at least as good a draft as I can get on my own without beta readers helping tighten and clarify, in the next few weeks. I’d like to be on the typing out stage by the end of my vacation. Will try at least. Wish me luck, I want to start sending this to agents.

Keycon 29, Query Letter and Synopsis Panel

Keycon is my home con, here in Winnipeg, and I’ve gone every year since I learned of it’s existence. They’re always encouraging people to do panels, so this year, I’m jumping in to do one.

With only minor publications to my credit, I haven’t felt qualified to do a panel on anything that mattered to me, in the past, but over the last few years, I had the opportunity to participate in a proposal package focus group as I prepared to submit a novel I’d managed to get to final draft. I learned a lot from that focus group, and came out with a query letter and synopsis that got me a request for the manuscript from a managing editor at one of the Big Seven, and another from one of the six or so agents I sent it to – one of the top agents in the industry.

I haven’t got representation thus far – I’ve decided to go back and revise the novel since, but that’s not what a query and synopsis is for. It doesn’t sell the novel, it gets you the request for the manuscript, and my query letter and synopsis did that with a very good ratio. And so I finally feel like I have proven I know something legitimately enough to teach it.

My panel is tentatively scheduled for 1-2pm on the Saturday of Keycon 29, May 19th, 2012, at the Radisson hotel. I’ll have pens and paper for anyone who doesn’t have them, and there will be exercises. It will be most useful to anyone with a finished novel, ready to submit, but anyone is welcome, of course, at any stage in the writing process. I’m very excited about it, it’s the first time I’ll be running a panel – and on that note, I shall go and finish my notes for it!