Sara and I had a great time at ConQuest last weekend. Sara bought me the Shadows over Innsmouth anthology for my birthday, which is full of stories based on Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” I picked up a Miskatonic University School of Library Science shirt, and we got a bunch of good stuff from the charity auction benefiting AboutSF. I also had good conversations about books and writing with local horror writers Sean Demory and Brett Williams. Make sure to check their stuff out, or catch them at Crypticon this year. Sara and I saw this as potentially being our last ConQuest solely as fans. Sara’s editing career has officially launched and with my last English class out of the way, I am able to re-focus on writing. Next year may be more about career-building. I’ve had fun analyzing other people’s works. I’ve learned a lot from it, but it is time to see if all the studying pays off in creative dividends. If nothing else, I’ll have a lot to talk about with other book nerds at parties.
I defended my Story in a Bag Championship, taking home the award for best horror story in the professional division. Once again, I was unopposed. Sara actually competed against people and won the amateur division, although with two short story sales, right on the edge of joining the professional ranks. In Story in a Bag, you write a five page short story in one hour using plot devices that you draw out of a bag. I enjoy it as a writing exercise. So much of my writing style is based upon my first line. Story in a Bag takes control of the first line away from me, which forces me in new directions. This year’s story, “Hail to the Bus Driver,” is pretty solid. I’ll be rewriting it, probably for next Monday’s Confabulator Cafe posting. I’ve had good experiences with the stories I’ve produced during Story in a Bag. Last year’s turned out well and was posted at The Confabulator Cafe. The prior year’s was disqualified, the story took me too deep to finish in an hour, but it created a character whom I plan to use in an occult noir detective novel.
I’ve also decided that I need to write more poetry. I had the inkling to write a poem last week and produced something like a cross between Dr. Seuss and Neil Gaiman. I’ve got a large number of short stories at this point, and have been thinking about collecting them at some point. Some poetry could help break up the pace. I’ve always enjoyed how Gaiman intersperses poetry throughout his collections.
ConQuest is the beginning of the writing fiscal year for me. The con recharges my creative batteries and kicks off summer when I have more time to write. It should be a good year, the year of the re-write. I’ve got a lot of stuff that I’ve written over the last couple of years that I didn’t get a chance to edit, including a novel and a novella. I can’t wait to get back to the grind and see what happens by next year’s ConQuest. The number of horror panels has increased each year at ConQuest. Next year, I’ll be throwing my hat in to the ring as a panelist. I am thinking about pitching a panel about short horror fiction, or how social contexts affect the horror genre. Sara would like to do something about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It has come up several times in panels, but we haven’t seen any panels specifically about it.
Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be fun. Next year, Brandon Sanderson, George R. R. Martin, Nene Thomas, Selina Rosen, and Mark Oshiro are the guests of honor. You don’t want to miss Selina Rosen as toastmistress. You can register here if you are interested.