On Genres and Fandoms

A while back there was a significant flare up across the Internet surrounding sexism in science fiction. Specifically around the SFWA and their publication. Smarter people than I have covered this, therefore I don’t have to. Seriously, if you are really interested Jim C Hines did a listing linking to most of the blogs on it that I had seen.

For my part, I was concerned with how this affected fandom and convention communities. If I am going to be part of these communities, I wanted to be sure I went into it eyes open. I came across this concern when reading a blog from author Ann Aguirre on sexism in scifi. In which she describes problems she had at science fiction conventions as a female author. One of the more powerful statements was how a respected author had referred to her as “girlie” and demand coffee from her. That scene happened before the beginning of a panel they were on together.

The question is are we in the science fiction equivalent of Mad Men, or are we in 2013? And what does that mean to be in 2013?

Honestly I don’t know. I can’t explain how it is I have friends still to this day that are homophobic and preach hate and inequality. But I do. I still have people in my life that swear the Tea Party ideal is correct and we should all follow it. Those same people that try and convince me the significant drop in my public employee paycheck is “paying [my] fair share.” Even though I have given up years of any raise for those “cherry benefits.”

What I do know, and said so much in the comments on Ann’s blog, was that if she was a panelist at Odyssey Con I would get her coffee before a panel. I even upped it to include a cupcake. One that I made from scratch. Doesn’t matter that this coming year would be my first year as con chair. In fact, I think that makes it matter even more. Though, if the same situation came up at WisCon, I offered the same thing. (Though a cupcake at that con would be more difficult to produce.)

In the comments section of her blog I also went on to extend that offer to Larissa Ione. You see Ann lives in another country, limiting the possibility of me having to deliver on my promise. Larissa Ione lives in the same state as me. My offer stands to get her coffee before a panel should she wish it. (I will add the caveat that for WisCon I have to be attending or speaking on the panel in question. Odyssey Con grants me more mobility and communication.)

Now here is the kicker. If you are a female professional on one of our panels at Odyssey Con and want coffee, I will produce it for you. If I am not in or on your panel, someone there will be able to reach me. If you wish I will give you my contact information so you can text me with a coffee request. My hope is that the science fiction communities and fandoms that I am associated with will be welcoming to all. And in light of these recent events, I will personally work to make sure they are to the best of my ability.

Along similar lines, in the event our committee arranges a guest that goes against these principles in a very public fashion (as we have seen with several authors even before this latest mess), I won’t be bringing them coffee. Just sayin’…


A Thought Born From YouTube: OddCon Edition

2013logoYes, this past weekend was Odyssey Con. It was also the first year I had any hand in the organization of it. 2013 also marked the first year I sat in on panels. Not a strange thing for Odyssey Con, as fan-run panels are common, but a big thing for me. I have never sat in on a panel before. In fact, other than my time as a trainer at my last job (over 13 years ago) I tend not to do much in the way of public speaking. Add this to the collection of conferences I have attended sitting in the audience listening to my favorite authors speak, and you’ll get the idea as to why this was off-putting.

I had told people, “Come to my panel and watch me choke at public speaking!” And while everyone laughed, I didn’t feel it was that far from the truth. I was convincing myself that I really could manage it. Not 100%, but there is that voice writers get now and again that will whisper “you suck at this” in our ears as we’re writing. And by whisper, I mean shout rather loudly. And by in our ears, I of course mean over a bull horn.

This came up as I watched a video from MeekaKitty, a YouTuber/young lady who was responding to a video with the topic On Being Ugly. The point of the original video was it was okay to just be okay. It was about being comfortable with your lack of physical beauty. In general. MeekaKitty on the other hand looked into the lack of empathy in the comments. In short, it is not up to us to make the person in the original video “all better.” But our discomfort with the situation and feelings lead us to say, “you’re not ugly” as opposed to just listening to their feelings. To an extent I understand that.

Partially when I claim I would choke while public speaking, it is because I very well could. It had been decades since I have done anything close to comedy, acting, singing or even the radio show I had back in college. The most public speaking I do is when I run our bi-weekly Dungeons and Dragons game at my place. Shouting at the Internet in my reviews or into Twitter doesn’t count.

Furthermore, I am a gamer geek. And not the “pew-pew” kind that a lot of the more mainstream gamers are these days. I’m a full on Dungeons and Dragons gaming geek. (You never go full on gamer geek.) And while not all the stereotypes are true, there is a bit of social awkwardness in many of us. More than once I have been at a conference and my wife will tell me to go say hello to someone, or introduce myself only to get the reply “maybe later.”

Partially this stems from doing escort duty at gaming conventions in the past. I was always of the mind you don’t interrupt or bother the people that are there for promotion. You stand invisible. (Let’s not even get into the psychological implications of that.) The rest has to do with being just enough off the norm, I like to get a “read of the room” before I out myself.

Realistically, posting to Twitter that I am trying to convince my wife to come home early and go to the Wayland concert with me is one thing. (The band did say she HAD to come home early to make the show. She also decided I could handle it on my own – weeknight and all.) Going up to the merch table after the show and asking them to sign the EP for Welcome to My Head because I gave the one I picked up at the Dane County Fair to Kevin Hearne this past weekend is a complete other can of worms.

Seriously, I have seen this band in concert twice. I am using one of their songs for the dybbuk story’s playlist. On twitter I have communicated with them directly (assuming it is a band member who is doing the social networking). Still walking up and saying “hey” just isn’t in my usual wheelhouse. Had it clicked during the pre-NYE event that it was Dean from the band we were in the elevator with, I still might not have introduced myself. Also, what band wouldn’t want to know that I gave a signed copy of their EP to a New York Times bestselling author?

At the same time, I think it is perfectly fine to retreat once in a while. Life is balance, and sometimes I need to have some peace. Not to mention my freakish hearing (side effect of letting a doctor play with my spinal cord) makes talking in a bar or party type setting difficult. Waiting for some quiet to introduce myself, once I am comfortable, is just fine.

We all have our quirks. Some we can change, some we accept.

Public speaking is really not a problem for me as I don’t get stage fright. I don’t really care if I make a fool of myself in front of people. Meeting an author at the airport and playing Morgan Freeman to their Jessica Tandy, much less so. Which is why it meant so much to me that I do it. It helped that the author was one I have read and is a member of the League of Reluctant Adults. I figured if I could meet Mark Henry, Jaye Wells and Diana Rowland and make it out alive, Kevin Hearne was a safe bet.

In short, accepting your quirks and working past them is not the same as feeling sorry for yourself. For some people it is accepting you’re not attractive in the eyes of the world at large. That doesn’t mean you hide in a cave with a bag over your head. For others it means knowing you’ll never be skinny, but always striving for healthy. And for those like me, it means knowing you’re not overly social 100% of the time, but knowing you can bury the doubt and work forward no matter what. Ironically also an awesome skill to have when writing.

You see, I knew I’d bring this full circle back to the topic of writing.

And I’ll leave you all with the song I am heading out to get the EP of later tonight. My protagonist’s theme song for book 2 of my Honkytonk Monster Hunter series.

What I’m Reading, or The Reason I Have Been Silent Lately

According to the stats section of WordPress, not many of you have been checking out the 52 Weeks page. Towards the bottom of the page will explain somewhat why I have been vacant lately. Though it is a bit more involved than that. I have several new projects that add onto that particular one.

52 Weeks started out as a way for me to justify a book a week for a year. I aimed for 50 novels, giving myself a two week vacation. Realistically though, vacation would be a time when I would catch up on reading – unless we planned something that keep me moving too much to sit and read. You get the idea though.

In checking out the 52 Weeks page you’ll see that I am averaging just under two novels a week. Partially that is due to an overflowing TBR Mountain (seriously, I had to add shelves into Casa de Zombie), but also due to a couple of reading and reviewing projects. If you pop over to Beyond Her Book with Barbara Vey you’ll see my name pop up in the blurbs from her readers from time to time. The irony there is that my helping her with the reading she doesn’t have time for is having a similar affect on me, which lead to the project that affords me the motivation to read the books I from my usual pool of authors (for the most part).

wlpI have started all stealth-like as a blogger on Wicked Lil Pixie reviewing books. These are a different pool of books and are full reviews as opposed to blurbs. I think part of my stealth entry into it is that the page listing on the site for the reviewers is entitled “The Ladies.” I am holding firm to not taking a photo in drag to post to the page with my bio. No matter what my wife says. And even if she tricks me into it, I am not shaving off my beard!

Additionally I am working programming for Odyssey Con this year with Paul. I’ll even be on some panels this time. Not to mention we have a couple of my pool of go-to authors as guests this year. Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, and Alex Bledsoe, author of the Eddie Lacrosse series, Memphis Vampires, the Tufa books and more.

And finally there is the work for Festa Italia this year. I am organizing the Food Vendors this time around. That sounds a lot more time consuming than it is. With my father being the chair, I know this one will run smoothly. Not to mention my timeline and duties are solidly laid out.

Any Madison area folks (even Milwaukee area ones) should take a look at the pair of events listed above. Both should be pretty exciting events. And who can resist Italian food, music and games?

Looking at all of that, you might wonder when I have time for writing. So do I. Seriously last week was filled with 15 hour days. Without writing. This week is a little easier, but I am still looking at 1-2 days like that every week through June. I am shuffling things around as much as I can so that I can have Under the Hood up and available before Romantic Times as well as have a pair of polished manuscripts ready to go as soon as I hit Kansas City.

Eat. Sleep. Day Job. Review. Write.

That is pretty much what my life looks like until the end of the summer. Just about in time for NaNoWriMo. Though I may do a rewrite for Camp NaNoWriMo next month. Not sure.

Insanity, thy name be Zombie Joe. 😉

Things Gets Messy at Casa de Zombie

Well not literally. Okay, so yeah… literally. But that’s not the point. My life is collecting up a rather harsh amount of virtual clutter right now. I am getting more done each week than I ever did last year, but there is more piling up. I am working on a better form of organization to keep everything together. Or, as the cats on the interwebs machines say, “Time management. I haz it.”

Or at least I will.

An expanded explanation of the news in my corner of the world will help explain the virtual clutter I have been categorizing. It begins with Beyond Her Book with Barbara Vey. While in New Orleans for Authors After Dark, I ran into Barbara. Which is to say, while walking back to the hotel from a trip to Cafe du Monde I told my wife, “I think that was Barbara Vey walking the other way with some of the authors from the con.” I noted this one Twitter, and she answered me back that she made a last minute trip down there and we should meet up for coffee or such. Since then I have taken on the task of being one of her readers. I read books and audiobooks and give her a blurb for her Publishers Weekly blog. This gives her someone to read the stuff that is outside of the genres her normal readers take on, and really aren’t you all interested in what a guy thinks about paranormal romance novels?

As a side note, while this particular gig is awesome, it had brought me to a new realization. (Listen up here Audible and other audiobook publishers.) Sending reviewers CDs is nice, don’t get me wrong. But honestly it is difficult to load those onto my iPod in such a way to make it easy for me to go from my condo, to my truck to my office while seamlessly listening to the piece. You’d think there would be a way to provide us with a download code that we could plug into audible and add the book to our library that way. Plus, you know, less shipping costs. Realistically I do know that programming that into their system will cost money, but it will save money each and every year after that. Just a suggestion.

Also I have taken on submitting full reviews to Wicked Lil Pixie. I’m not listed on the web site, but aside from the fact that I was just offered a chance to do reviews, their list of reviewers is literally “The Ladies.” No way I fit into that listing. Not even if I shaved my beard off. That said, there will be one or two a month going up live there soon. Which is to say that I have a couple of books heading my way, otherwise known as even more books than are already sitting on my blurb pile. Though I have to say, I do like getting a bit more into the review of the book. And maybe opening up a little snark here and there.

On the upside of things, I am well on my way to hitting 100 books this year. Over January I was at 7 or 8 by the end of the month. The downside of it is to meet that I spent less time writing. Which is where I am falling into line with honing my time management skills down to a razors edge.

I have Under the Hood, my charity novel, that I need to finish with the editing so that I can work on formatting it for ePub and print. I also have to sit down with my wife and her friend that pledged to do the cover art. This is where I have dropped off the map the most.

Additionally I have taken on a critique partner. (Don’t worry, I am going through the piece you sent me.) So I am putting aside time to read that. Which includes making comments and suggestions as well.

And finally there are the festivals/conventions. This doesn’t even cover the ones I am simply attending. Though I am bringing cupcakes to Romantic Times since we’re driving to that one. And catering cupcakes to a cookout in the area while I’m there. But that is an entirely different story. This one involves Festa Italia in Madison. As part of the Italian Workman’s Club, I am working on the committee planning the event. Specifically the food tables/vendors. Oh, and marketing (though that is with a number of other guys).

But wait! There’s more!

Odyssey Con 2013. April 12-14 this year. Our guests of honor (literary) are now set and confirmed. Alex Bledsoe (a local author) and Kevin Hearne are confirmed for this con. Both are in my short list of favorites. In addition to attending, I am helping the programming guy with panels as he moved “up north” this past year. To that end, I am organizing some local focused events and media for the convention. Hopefully it will work out as awesome as it is sounding in my head, but we’ll see.

wingedmonkeyNow between cooking, cleaning (though honestly my wife does more of the cleaning than I do), baking and making sure my dog gets his medication twice a day… that is a whole lot of work. And that is before you consider the full time job. I guess what I’m saying is I need to organize my clutter in my condo so I can virtually reduce my clutter to maximize my time management. And hope the whole deal doesn’t turn me into a social media version of the flying monkeys from Oz. Though, to be honest, that last part was simply to attract the people looking for bits on monkeys. And so I can justify the graphic because… y’know… monkeys. 🙂