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The Write Life: August 2019

Yep, you guessed it: it’s the annual post about DragonCon.

As always, DragonCon is a magical place in which time doesn’t flow correctly. It is both so long and way too short, wherein on Friday you’re thinking about how much time you have to do everything and on Monday you’re begging for one more day of con. (Even when I’m ready to go home on Monday, I’m still half-slumped in my chair, ready to go to the next panel.) On the way home I was basically two hours out of synch and was very confused when the sun set at what felt like 6pm.

This confusion of time fits perfectly with the fact that my theme this year was clearly time travel since I was on three different panels dealing with time travel.

Let’s move on to some highlights:

  • I was on two separate panels in which time travel was the main topic. With the Alternate & Historical Fiction Track we discussed time travel in general, hitting favorite time travel stories in TV, movies, and books (and not-so favorite stories as well). Since this was an open-ended discussion, it meant I still got to talk about Stargate: SG-1 which is always a plus.
  • Over on the Military Sci-Fi Media track, in the panel “How Do YOU Time Travel?” we focused more on the mechanics and science of time travel since I was on a panel with two PhD astrophysicists!

    Let’s pause on that for a moment. Here was the panelist line up for that panel:

    PhD astrophysicist
    PhD astrophysicist
    me, MFA Fiction

    Both astrophysicists were fantastic about explaining complicated real and theoretical physics in succinct and understandable ways, which kept the conversation from getting bogged down. I was able to interject on story-related motivations for time travel and got to explain why I prefer the Many Worlds theory of the multiverse as it relates to story consequences and angst.

  • American Sci-Fi & Fantasy Media invited me to a fan panel about The Umbrella Academy, in which, yeah, I also got to talk about time travel. I wound up being the only panelist who was introduced to the comic before the series and provided a lot of insight about the source material. (Many thanks to those in the audience who assisted with remembering single panels that contained relevant details!) The discussion was one of the best fan panels I attended all weekend, and I appreciate how much enthusiasm everyone brought to talk about this family of misfits.

  • I spent Saturday night camped out in the Alternate & Historical Fiction Track learning about the history of séances and phony psychics, pirates, and women in history. I have a long list of books to add to the TBR pile and a renewed itch to work on Gay Airship Pirates. Nothing is more inspirational than listening to how other authors worked through the same problems that are plaguing me.
  • On a personal note, I had completely forgotten that David Blue (Eli Wallace from Stargate Universe) was from FL and attended the University of Central Florida. This resulted in both of us dredging our memories to try to figure out how he recognized my face. No definitive conclusions, but our selfie game is A+.

Many thanks to Lisa for being a photographer while I was on panels.

 

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Not the Post You’re Looking For

I’m off to DragonCon this week, and while preparing for that adventure is certainly an added distraction this month, it’s not the reason I’m phoning in this blog post. Life has gotten unexpectedly complicated and busy. But that’s one of the most consistent aspects of life, isn’t it? Just when you feel like you have everything under control, something comes along to disrupt the flow.

Many of the things currently disrupting my life are good things (including prepping for my favorite convention of the year and my friend moving back to town), but some of them come with additional emotional complications or stress. Right now I’m reminded to pay additional attention to my work-life balance, to make sure that I’m taking care of myself and my needs, and to cut back on responsibilities where I can. Which is why you’re reading this blog post instead of one of the ones I’ve been working on.

Here’s the take away from this short post: when you’re busy or when life is being unexpectedly complicated, it’s okay to cut back on your responsibilities where you can. This might not be the blog post that you’re looking for, but it’s a reminder I’m happy to share.

What I Love About DragonCon

A while ago when I was soliciting ideas for blog posts, a friend suggested writing about why I love DragonCon. I attempted to write this post three times before giving up and deciding to write it after this year’s convention (I’d be more inspired then, right?). Well, it’s after this year’s convention and I’m still struggling to write this post because it’s difficult to articulate exactly what I love about DragonCon.

  • Waking up to a room filled with my sleeping friends.
  • Lunchtime conversations drifting from “What If Harry Potter was Sorted into a Different House?” to a discussion that AUs and What Ifs are only interesting because the original canon (or history) exists as a divergent point.
  • Giving and receiving book recommendations from friends and strangers, and talking about one of the best books I read this year (Defy the Stars) with the author (Claudia Gray) and then telling her about the book I’m currently querying and the one I’m currently writing.
  • A phalanx of handmaidens marching in the DragonCon parade, followed up by a T-Rex handmaiden.
  • The hideously beautiful Marriott carpet being immortalized in buttons, shirts, lanyards, and various cosplay including a Marriott Carpet Spider-Man.
  • Writing in the bathroom in the wee hours every morning to not bother my roommates but still meet my daily writing goals.
  • Being tapped to run the mic at a guest Q&A and having someone lined up recognize me because I’ve worked with the Military Sci-Fi Media track on and off for eleven years.
  • Chatting with a dieselpunk podcaster about the genre and examining if there is a difference between dieselpunk and decopunk. (We didn’t come up with a definitive answer, but I have a lot to consider.)
  • Talking to Cherie Priest for about fifteen minutes about Cassadaga, a spiritualist camp about an hour from home that was the subject of her book Brimstone.
  • Sitting on a roof with my DragonCon family, sharing stories, singing, and mostly laughing as we held a wake for our friend who passed away two weeks before this year’s DragonCon.

As chaotic and huge as DragonCon is, as much as it can be about the costumes or the vendor hall or the celebrity guests, DragonCon is about found families. This was my fifteenth DragonCon and, as time goes on, it just gets harder to explain why I love it. I first fell in love with DragonCon for being a fun place to talk about fandom and engage in things to geek out over, but the romance has lasted because DragonCon has become a family reunion. I still have one-off experiences that delight me, but the reason I attend year after year is to see people I love and to be embraced by a community. I’m sure there are people who can see DragonCon as just another convention, but I have a piece of the Marriott carpet framed on my wall. While the reasons might be difficult to articulate, I love DragonCon and I’m already looking forward to 2018.

You can hear more about my DragonCon 2017 experience in this week’s episode of Cinescopers.