On September a Social Media Sabbatical

Yuna Final Fantasy X-2

As summer winds down(1) I find myself in a familiar place. For the past few years I normally take a month off from Twitter and Facebook, and even though I haven’t Reached My LimitTM with all that’s going on, especially given this charged election, I’m about to do the same thing again for the month of September. I did have a few weeks in August where I touched base very briefly, but I need the headspace to not only write but to use my downtime to do some art-related projects I have not had the bandwidth to do.

I understand that sometimes it’s challenging to interact with someone like me, if only because I am so focused on making art I sometimes forget the human container and those around me. But, this space(2) that I have right now, this space to create freely may not exist six months from now, and I recognize that I have to make the most of my time now. One of the best ways to do that for me, is to limit social media for a few weeks to discharge the flotsam and jetsam and make those bits more manageable.

This Fall also requires me to focus very strongly because I have a mixture of smaller projects, big ‘uns, and spec work that I’ve taken on just in case certain balls I’ve thrown into the air never manage to fall back down(3). More than that, however, is the fact that I desperately need to focus on creating in the physical space rather than the mental one. I have over 100 e-mails of story ideas, for example, that I’ve sent to myself while on the road. I’ve successfully managed my consumption(4), such as it is, and have narrowed down a lot of distractions to create. I can tell, however, I run the risk of falling in love with worldbuilding all over again and I definitely need to nip that in the proverbial bud. Worldbuilding is fantastic, but it’s also an easy way to procrastinate because that bit of the creative process is far easier than putting fingers to keyboard. Always has been, always will be.

For September, this means my presence will be focused on work-related announcements and/or blogging if the mood strikes me than being social. I will be answering e-mail and remain in contact with friends and family, of course. This is more of a “turn down the volume on noise” than anything else.

(1) Hopefully, as I am adverse to humidity and hot weather.

(2) Space meaning that complex algorithm balancing the variables of time, money, physical and emotional health, relationships in order to Do The WorkTM.

(3) I’ve learned to anticipate rejection as part of the business cycle.

(4) I limit how many hours I watch television, focus on non-verbal music, and read, primarily, for work just as three examples. Silly mobile games tend to be a source of brain break, but even then I like smaller art projects to help reorder and refocus, like origami or jewelry making.



Geek*Kon and Processing Your Emotions Like a Pro Panel Recap

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Sitting in my office inhaling Pocky and relying a little too heavily on the Diet Mountain Dew this fine day, if only because this year’s Geek*Kon was a whirlwind of color and panels and friends. I continue to be in awe of the love, energy, and effort of anime fans and the work they put into their costumes, and use this weekend as a reminder that the future of reading is incredibly diverse. Plus, I want to give a shout out to the Lolita girls who put a lot of time and energy into their fashionable dresses to walk around the show. Also: Enrica Jang (Red Stylo Media) and Jennifer M. Smith are both awesome women in comics. Be sure to check out their work!

This weekend I was on several panels and presentations and noticed a lot of up-and-coming or inexperienced writers in the audience. Most of my advice about writing translates to this: I cannot give you any advice that will help you fix a manuscript I haven’t read, have the confidence to keep writing all the way through to The End, the best way to learn how to write and to keep internalizing processes is to Do The WorkTM, and lastly…if you’re having trouble balancing worldbuilding and story remember why you’re creating settings. If you’re writing a novel, then your story trumps the world you’ve built separately every time. Sometimes, there’s wonderful aspects of a world that make sense technically but might not translate well into fiction–and that’s totally okay! In the end, there’s no magical bit of advice I can give anyone other than to Do The WorkTM and be loyal to it. You’d be surprised how smart other people really and truly are; if you don’t Do The WorkTM others will figure that out, too.

Emotions and Professionalism

I also proposed a new panel this year about the connection between emotions and being a professional. Briana Lawrence joined me to talk about her experiences and offer nuggets of wisdom. I Tweeted a bunch during the panel, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts that came out of the panel because I feel they might be helpful for you.

Briana told the crowd that, “The first problem is that creatives are not taken seriously as having a real job. Cons are work.”

This, here, is where a lot of problems come into play because there’s an emotional journey artists take especially if they do not have a supportive environment either through close friends or immediate family. What artists do, regardless of which type of art we make, is not treated as work. When our efforts are not thought of that way, the work is then devalued and our time is taken for granted. Plus, many artists never get past this step to realize that a) yes, they are an artist and b) you can build a career even though that bit is hard, complicated, and draining at times due to the struggles we have with the financial component.

I mentioned, for example, that when I make friends or go to Bar Con I do not want to talk about work or think/worry about social commerce and “who” I’m talking to. I think about work enough as it is, and “picking my brain” is something that I will do on my terms. When I’m in my off-time, I value the ability to just hang out and be. I do not make friends based on whether or not they can help me or do things for me on a free basis, and that’s partly how I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. But, as I’ve said many times before, knowing people is not a replacement for Doing The WorkTM, either. While there are systemic issues that exist, especially when it comes to marketing/visibility, that’s all I have control over. Often, it’s never just “the one” person asking for advice, either. This is partly why I go to conventions in the first place; cons are a way of giving back, and many of them are on my own dime. Worse, however, is challenging the perception that artists are stuck up, arrogant, or bitchy for not “giving back” on someone else’s terms when what we do is not considered work. That’s partly why I said that: “When you are an artist, you don’t get paid for finding inspiration. But that matters, so have a life.” We don’t get paid for research or inspiration or downtime, but that’s part of the cycle of creativity, too.

Briana reinforced this by saying: “I used to call myself the Dream Crusher. No one wants to hear that there’s no easy path to the spotlight. You need to Do The WorkTM.”

We did spend some time talking about conventions, and we shared some tips for handling (most) situations. They are:

    1.) Know someone at con to be there if there’s a problem. e.g. Safety net. This also extends to knowing where/when to report a problem if it occurs ahead of time.
    2.) Pick an outfit/style you just wear at cons as a visual cue/mental reminder that you are working and presenting.
    3.) Give yourself permission to feel. It’s okay if you have to back outing a conversation/panel if it’s too much for you. This is especially important if you get bad news!
    4.) Plan downtime to rest/recharge and give yourself some personal time. (I use Google Calendar to plot out my free time.)
    5.) Buy something small for yourself as a reward to build new and positive memories from another author, artist, or while in the dealer room.

Then, the conversation flipped to dealing with online harassment and interactions. I mentioned that I manage the small things emotionally on a daily basis, because if I go broad I will get depressed from all the things I can’t change. I also advise to establish boundaries both online and off, to ensure your emotional health is maintained. It’s okay to say “No.” However, there were several nuggets of wisdom and observation from Briana due to her experiences online that I want to capture here:

  • There’s a perception that if you don’t comment you don’t care, or that awful behavior that doesn’t get outrage is okay. (e.g. blackface)
  • You do not need to tag people to be “the black voice” and fight your battles for you.
  • Remember that folks get tired of having the same conversations over and over again. Blackface was not okay in 2013, and it’s not okay now.
  • Consistent comments hurt. You do not need to engage to prove you can handle trolls or how strong you are.

So there you have it! Brand new panel, and I think that went pretty well. Thanks to Briana and her words of wisdom; she definitely added a lot to a touchy and sensitive topic.



My Geek*Kon Schedule

Geek Kon 2016

I’m headed to Geek*Kon tomorrow, and am on quite a few panels. This year’s line up includes a stellar list of guests for 2016, which you can find here along with their bios. I’m pretty sure this is my last convention for the year, and I’m excited to see some friends before I get a touch anti-social to write and focus more on my blog here. Hope to see you at the show!

Friday, August 26
6:00pm – 7:00pm Shattering Female Stereotypes in Comics (Geneva Room)

Saturday, August 27
10:00am – 11:00am Are Agents Still Necessary? (Salon F)
5:00pm – 6:00pm Worldbuilding: Types and Techniques (Salon G)

Sunday, August 28
12:00pm – 1:00pm Processing Your Emotions Like a Pro (Mendota Room)
2:00pm – 3:00pm The Feedback Loop (Salon F & G)

My World Con 2016 Schedule

Here are the panels and events I’ll be participating in at the show.

Launch Pad

Thursday, August 18 15:00 – 16:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Launch Pad is an annual event whereby a group of invited writers, editors, and creatives learn about modern science, specifically astronomy, so that they can in turn use it in their work and inspire others. Members who have attended Launch Pad discuss how it has affected their writing and ideas.

Changing the Medium

Friday, August 19 14:00 – 15:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

A look at what is involved when adapting a property from its original medium to another. How does a movie become a game or a book turn into a television show? What artistic licenses must be taken and how do you remain true to the spirit of the original?

The Golden Age of Firefly

Friday, August 19 18:00 – 19:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Although there hasn’t been a new episode in 13 years or a movie in 11, Firefly fandom is going strong with comics and a myriad games ranging from Fluxx to Tall Card to Firefly: The Boardgame and more. Is this fandom even more stubborn than Mal Reynolds and the Browncoats?

The Build-A-World Game Show

Friday, August 19 21:00 – 22:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

The Build-a-World Game Show is a live action worldbuilding game designed and run by Monica Valentinelli. Two teams of panelists compete to build a fantastic world in under an hour for fun and prizes. The Build-a-World Game Show incorporates audience participation, takes place in three rounds, and results in a fan-voted winner!

Developing a Tabletop Roleplaying Game

Saturday, August 20 13:00 – 14:00, 3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)

Monica Valentinelli discusses how RPG games are developed, examining some of the processes and differences in making a roleplaying game. Come along and find out about the process, from pre-production to playtesting!

Game World, Fictional World: RPGs and Authorship

Saturday, August 20 14:00 – 15:00, 2504B (Kansas City Convention Center)

In Roleplaying Games, things don’t always go to plan. What happens when our games become fiction? Authors who love RPGs, have used them as a basis for their work, or have had their work made into RPGs discuss how roleplaying can help the creative process…or make it go horribly, horribly wrong.

RPG: Firefly

Sunday, August 21 11:00 – 14:00, Gaming (Kansas City Convention Center)

Come and learn how to play the story-centric Firefly RPG with developer/lead writer Monica Valentinelli. Players will play as the main cast; materials will be provided. Please sign up for this event in advance at the Games area or online on the MAC2 Warhorn page.

[New Release] Tales of the Dark Eras Anthology

Tales of the Dark Eras

Today, I am pleased to announce that Tales of the Dark Eras, a collection of alternate history stories inspired by Dark Eras, is now available. I wrote a Hunter: The Vigil story set in the early 1690s called “Suffering of the Unchosen”, about a distraught father who has accused the local hunters of killing his wife and child near Salem Village. Motivated by his grief and anger, the local farmer intersects with the Knights of Saint George to bring his family’s murderers to justice…or so it seems.

Walk through the ages…

As a companion to Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras this anthology reveals secrets of the mystics, whispers rumors of the dead, and shines a light into the darkest corners of the world.

Tales of the Dark Eras includes historical stories based within the shadowed past of Vampire: The Requiem, Mage: The Awakening, Werewolf: The Forsaken, Changeling: The Lost, and other Chronicles of Darkness settings.

In the Chronicles of Darkness…

Explore the shadows with tales by Howard Ingham, Malcolm Sheppard, Pete Woodworth, Renee Ritchie, Jess Hartley, Monica Valentinelli, Danielle Harper, Matthew McFarland, Mike Tomasek, Eric Zawadski, Meghan Fitzgerald, and Dennis Detwiller.

Tales of the Dark Eras is now available in print and digital!

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