Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Conventions and the Indie Writer

Normally I would be posting my WisCon schedule this time of May, but for multiple reasons, I'm not attending this year. (I could theoretically get a one-day pass for Sunday at the door, but there's only one panel that afternoon I'd want to attend, and I'd miss the Guest of Honor speeches anyway.) I'll miss seeing my friends and visiting the Farmer's Market Saturday morning, but I admit it is nice saving money on the hotel and not juggling convention plans along with a birthday party for my son.

When I first started attending WisCon twenty years ago, I wanted to break into professional publishing. I was super excited about meeting not just authors, but agents and editors. I participated in writing workshops and learned "money flows to the author." I participated in panels and Broad Universe readings to get my name out there. How useful are these activities to an indie author? Well, I feel improving my writing craft is a lifelong journey, but these days I work on it mostly by reading books on writing and working on different projects. It's always nice meeting other authors, and I may want to hire another editor at some point for developmental or copy editing, but I'm no longer interested in acquiring an agent (or letting one acquire me). I've never sold enough books at WisCon to justify the expenses, and there are local comic cons and literary festivals I can participate in for little or no cost.

WisCon's emphasis on intersectional feminism makes it unique, and I love the excuse to return to my favorite city in the springtime. Hopefully next year I'll be able to attend. (At least there won't be any Star Wars movies opening Memorial Day weekend.) In the meantime, I have a comic con at my local library to prepare for in September.

Do you go to conventions? If so, do you find them helpful for writers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Kindle Organization

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed my announcement last week that I appear to have run out of storage on my primary Kindle. Of course, all of my books and samples are stored in the cloud, so I can download them and delete them at will. The problem is that when I first started my Kindle library, I was able to sort my items into collections by genre and read/unread status. I probably have thousands of items now, which makes it impractical to keep my collection sorted. (I discovered recently that you can put items into collections through the Amazon website, which is easier to use than the Kindle. However, since you still have to assign items to collections individually, and the status isn't immediately apparent, it's tedious work.) So I keep unread items on my Kindle and delete them as I read them. However, I still add items to my library faster than even I can read them, so at some point, I may have to delete unread items from the Kindle, which means I'll forget about them.

Any recommendations on how to better organize my collection? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Future of Humanity (and a Group Giveaway)

Michio Kako interviewed both scientists and science fiction authors for his recent book The Future of Humanity. If you want to think about the long-term future of the human race, this is a book worth reading. Kako lays out in an orderly fashion how we can establish a settlement on the moon; then gradually work our way to Mars and moons in the outer solar system; and leave the solar system, the Milky Way, and possibly even our universe. Of course, there is the slight problem of overcoming the current obstacles we face first. Besides colonizing space, Kako also suggests that we may overcome death (I wonder if I'll live long enough to see that) and will adapt ourselves to new planets while still retaining our basic humanity. I guess it's up to the science fiction writers to fill in more details about that.

Speaking of speculative fiction, I'm part of another group giveaway on Instafreebie. You can check it out at this link. The giveaway runs through the end of the month and includes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I hope you find some interesting new books there!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Bookshelf Maintenance

Recently, as I bought an eBook version of The Years of Rice and Salt to replace my paperback, I realized how little bookshelf maintenance I have to do these days. When I was younger, I lived in apartments with limited space for shelves. I also bought a lot more paperbacks than I do these days. Every so often, I'd have to organize my bookshelves. Each genre had a separate section, which was further organized by author surname and (if necessary) series. I preferred to get paperbacks because they took up the least space, but occasionally I'd find a random niche for hardcovers. Books didn't get shelved until they were read, so I'd usually have several books to place in the right locations, which would then bump other books to a different spot. Unfortunately, I'd also have to purge older books to make room for new ones.

These days, I seldom have to add books to my shelves, since it takes me much longer to make progress on my to-read stack. Instead, I tend to get rid of paperbacks once I have the eBook. While I still enjoy looking at my shelves and remembering what I've read, I'm not as attached to the physical books as I used to be. I have more space for things, but I want to declutter.

Do you keep paper books after you've read them? If so, do you have a special way of organizing your bookshelves? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Thanos' Motives and Actions (Infinity War Spoilers)

 I'm very much a newcomer to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), so I've only seen two of the previous movies (the first Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther) and a highlight video before watching Infinity War on Sunday. While I have enough background to follow the story, I'm sure there are a lot of nuances I missed. In particular, since this movie focused on Thanos, I feel like I need to learn more about his motivations to understand some of the actions he took (or didn't take).

For starters, it seemed to me that once Thanos obtained the Reality Stone, he could have eliminated his opponents anytime he liked. If he could turn their weapons into bubble guns, there are definitely plenty of other ways he could have made his path to the rest of the stones much smoother. Maybe I don't know enough about the stones' power to understand what, if any, limits they have. It does seem to me that their power increases exponentially as you acquire more of them.

Another question I have about Thanos' actions was inspired by a discussion I saw on someone else's Facebook feed. If Thanos wants to kill off half of the universe's population so everyone else has enough resources, why not double the amount of resources instead? Or why not set a cap on the sentient population of the universe to be below the total carrying capacity? There are plenty of other, more compassionate ways you can solve this problem without causing such a massive amount of genocide--though then you wouldn't have a cinematic-worthy conflict. I think I heard a line in the movie about a similar mass murder on Titan, so perhaps Thanos is just repeating something from his personal experience.

For me, part of the reason I'm obsessed with analyzing Thanos is because he's such a powerful antagonist. As a writer, it's important for me to develop the villain's motivations and actions as much as the hero's. The line between hero and villain can be very narrow at times. Just as the hero gets funneled down a particular pathway during the course of a story, the same must happen to a villain. Sometimes the only difference between a hero and a villain is what the character learns over the course of a story and how that influences her final choice.

If you saw the movie, what did you think about it? Did you feel Thanos made a good villain? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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