Con Nooga 2015

This past weekend I attended what I consider my very first convention. If you wanted to me REALLY technical, Con Nooga wasn’t my first: I attended Wizard World Chicago back in 2003, but that was a comic con before comic cons got taken over by television and film. Then in 2006, I attended less than 12 hours of Context in Columbus, Ohio: I wanted to meet Gary Braunbeck and take his workshop, and I also got to meet Catherynne M. Valente and get an autographed copy of Labyrinth.

But in terms of attending a full con and going to panels? Con Nooga was my first. And it was a good, safe con to have as my first: not overwhelming, but more than enough to teach me what I need to do and/or pack for my next convention. I’m already eyeing DragonCon in Atlanta this year. Cherie Priest! Carrie Vaughn! YAY!

So what did I learn? How was Con Nooga? Did I get to meet the magical Seanan McGuire? Talk to the legendary Timothy Zahn? Read on to find out!

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Haunt Me Senseless, Haunt Me Sane

So it’s that time of year when I really, really need to figure out how to allocate my vacation days. There’s a few writing weekends I’ve got on the ballot, and my husband and I usually do SOME kind of big trip together. Last year was Minnesota, and previous years have been Atlanta. This year, we don’t have any plans.


A couple writer friends of mine talked about doing the ghost tour at Missouri State Penitentiary. There used to be overnight tours, which is what we were discussing, but even with what’s available now, I have to admit to a singular thrill at the idea of visiting such an old prison, learning about its history, and learning about its ghosts. I’m starting to recognize the need in myself to have eccentric vacations, so that I can command a conversation by saying stuff like, “Oh, I went to prison voluntarily,” so I can get the weird looks, the double-takes, and then I’ll double-down on the weirdness by saying, “Oh, and it’s haunted.

I’m not saying I believe, mind you. I’m not saying I don’t believe either.

I’m saying this is a very, very tempting vacation.


Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 883 words
Total word count: 5,900 words
I surprised myself by my word count last night. It was Info-Dump-R-Us, but the momentum rolled longer than I expected. But it did impress upon me the need to sit down and lay out my characters, my magic system and world-building to date. If only to keep it straight in my own mind. This story is a weird one, because I’ve been wanting to write an urban fantasy for years now, and my brain’s been testing ideas, running them through, coming up with new ones and mixing and matching and everything’s this synthesized mess in my head. In previous discovery drafts, I had such vague broad strokes that it made sense to discover it as I wrote. Or I knew my world so well that all I was discovering was my characters’ stories. This, not so much. I think I need to discover things outside of the drafting process, if only to ground things a bit, which will allow room for other discoveries.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Hoping to get more reading done over the weekend. It’s been a tough week for reading-time.

Next up: FRIDAY!!! YAY FOR FRIDAY!!!! Does anything else really need to be said?

Stay-Cation Ideas

So. The end of the year is nigh, and I’ve got a few vacation days left to schedule. We’ve already taken our trip for the year (Atlanta to see the Braves play against the Phillies in the last series of the regular season; also, the zoo!), so any remaining vacation days will likely just be days OFF, unless we decide to do a day trip somewhere. And of late, I’ve been feeling like my free time is taken up with chores and obligations. Laundry is endless, and now that I’ve established a walking routine, that takes a good chunk out of my free time too. I’m THISCLOSE to finishing my Hellblazer read and I’m getting ready to dig into House of Leaves in earnest, both items that belong on the “Stuff My Husband Makes Me Read.”

In short, I find myself lacking the time and liberty to do stuff for me. Stuff that’s not necessarily productive, but refreshing and enjoyable all the same. So while I may not be able to do the following on my remaining vacation days, I’m going to keep them in the back of my mind for future days off. I really wish I’d had this list in 2010, because not only was I recovering from gallbladder surgery, but I had a ton of vacation to use up before the end of the year (it was the last year I had more vacation time than my husband, who’d just changed jobs).

Anyway, if I had a week off to myself with no other obligations, here are some things I’d try to do:

1) Turn Mount TBR into a Slush Pile

For those of you not familiar with industry jargon, a slush pile is what magazines and editors get: unsolicited manuscripts from writers hoping to get published. Slush readers review your cover letter, read your sample, and either pass your work up the line for the higher-ups to read or send you a rejection.

What I’d like to do is take my TBR pile (books I’ve bought because I thought they were interesting) and turn it into a slush pile. First, I’d divide the TBR into two piles: stuff I know I’m gonna read because it’s a sequel of something I love or its by an author I love will go in one pile to go straight back to the shelf, and the second pile will be the stuff up for slush. Then I’d take that slush pile and read the first thirty pages. Or the first chapter. Or just enough to give me an idea whether or not I’m still interested in reading the book and whether or not the writing and all that entails holds my interest. If so, yay! I’ll put the book back into Mount TBR for later consumption. If not, boo! Book goes into the rejection pile to be placed on Paperback Swap or go to a used book store at a later date.

And I’m pretty sure I’d need a full week to do this. To date, I have 267 books in the TBR pile, not including the 37 books in my Star Wars TBR pile, and that doesn’t include all the books I didn’t add to Mount TBR because they’re collector’s items or classics or nonfiction I want to have but just not read right now. And the TBR pile is hungry, and it is always growing.

BTW: TBR = To-Be-Read

2) Disney Movie Marathon!

Let’s be real: I’m a Disney fangirl. Not of all things Disney, just mostly the Princess stuff. And Oliver and Company. And The Lion King. And, well, okay, I just love Disney animated features. When Disney first started re-leasing their animated movies on DVD in the Platinum Editions (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, I started collecting DVD sets. Sure, I was in college, and no, I didn’t have kids, but I was going to have those DVDs!

What would I watch? Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast, Oliver & Company, The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and The Lion King. Then I’d find a way to get my hands on Aladdin, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Lady & The Tramp, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats, Pocahontas, and Mulan. THEN, if I still had time, I’d just hit the Pixar collection hard, and people would probably never see or hear from me again.

Is it any wonder I’m such a fan of Once Upon a Time?

3) Favorite Movie Marathon!

Sometimes, I just want to curl up on the sofa and watch a favorite movie. It rejuvenates me, invigorates me, inspires me. Reminds me why I want to be a writer. OR sometimes those favorite movies that are just plain fun that I enjoy the hell out of. But, we’ve got so many NEW things on Netflix and Hulu and iTunes to watch that it’s hard to justify a re-watch, and even if my husband and I agree to watch something we’ve already seen, it’s rare that we’re in the mood to re-watch the same thing.

So what would I pop in? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended editions. Top that with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: The Extended Edition. Then I’d slap Star Wars in there, ALL SIX MOVIES, but in machete order (maybe). After those genre-defining classics, I’d pull out Moulin Rouge, Shakespeare in Love, The Princess Bride, Fight Club, The Fountain, Big Fish, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, Love Actually, Jurassic Park, King Arthur, The Last Samurai, The Last Unicorn, Newsies, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Spaceballs, The Sound of Music, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Truman Show, Titanic, The Three Musketeers (Disney version), Casino Royale (Daniel Craig version), 500 Days of Summer, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Matrix, Moon, The Orphanage, Star Trek (yes, the Abrams version), Stargate, V for Vendetta and Wall*E.

And this is just the stuff I’ve got a hard copy of. I’m probably blanking on some movies that I loved but don’t own (for the most part, we’ve stopped buying things on DVD/BluRay). Also, I’m sure this list calls into question my tastes, but at least there’s some variety to the list, right? And there are some classics here that if you don’t like, well, you might be an alien. 😉

Pretty sure this plan would take, like, a month to get through. 🙂

4) One-Season Wonder Marathon!

Then there’s television. There are shows that I absolutely love but were canceled way too soon. My husband really isn’t interesting in re-watching any of these because they didn’t end “properly,” but I say screw that: the shows were captivating in their own way, and I want to remember why I loved them so. So via Netflix or Hulu or whatever method I could get my hands on, I’d marathon Defying Gravity, Awake, Pushing Daisies, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Better Off Ted. And let’s just throw in Deadwood for good measure.

Again, that’s just the stuff I can remember.

So there are my stay-cation plans, should the stars ever align for me to take advantage of at least one of them. Which one do you like best, or at the very least, which one do you see yourself doing? What are YOUR stay-cation ideas?