My Daily Dragon Interview in Two Words: “Just Write!”

So at Dragon Con I had a reading this year. Yeah, looks like this is the last year I get to bring all my books – too many, to heavy! I read the two flash fiction pieces in Jagged Fragments, “If Looks Could Kill” and “The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms”, as well as reading the first chapter of Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, a bit of my and Jim Davies’ essay on the psychology of Star Trek’s artificial intelligences, and even a bit of my very first published story, “Sibling Rivalry“. I also gave the presentation I was supposed to give at the SAM Talks before I realized I was double booked; that was “Risk Getting Worse”.

But that wasn’t recorded, so, oh dang, you’ll have to either go to my Amazon page to get my books, or wait until we get “Risk Getting Worse” recorded. But my interview with Nancy Northcott for the Daily Dragon, “Robots, Computers, and Magic“, however, IS online, so I can share it with you all. Even more so, I want to share what I think is the most important part of my interview:

DD: Do you have any one bit of advice for aspiring writers?

AF: Write. Just write. Don’t worry about perfection, or getting published, or even about pleasing anyone else: just write. Write to the end of what you start, and only then worry about what to do with it. In fact, don’t even worry about finishing everything—don’t be afraid to try anything. Artists know they need to fill a sketchbook before sitting down to create a masterwork, but writers sometimes get trapped trying to polish their first inspiration into a final product.

Don’t get trapped on the first hill! Whip out your notebook and write. Write morning pages. Write diary at the end of the day. Write a thousand starts to stories, and if one takes flight, run with it with all the abandon you have in you. Accept all writing, especially your own. Just write. Write.

That’s it. To read more, check out the interview here, or see all my Daily Dragon mentions at Dragon Con here, or check out my interviewer Nancy Northcott’s site here. Onward!

-the Centaur

 

 

Con Crud!

So, I had all sorts of plans to post on my upcoming panels and the ambience of Dragon Con, but I overslept. Not by, like, an hour, or two hours, but more like eight hours. Sure, I got up and killed my alarms, a few times, but what really happened as I kept trying to get up and kept crashing out was that I realized I had caught a case of con crud.

Science fiction conventions gather an enormous amount of people, and hence, their diseases, and hence: con crud, that mysterious illness that hits you a day or two after you get to a con. I know a lot of people who have been knocked out by it, but it’s hit me hard only two or three times.

This time, I ended up sleeping on and off for twelve hours out of sixteen. Fortunately I didn’t get the cough or sniffles, though I felt them starting. But I rested up, and got up when I felt rested, and even though I missed hitting the dealer’s room today, I had a lot of fun at my two panels.

So what I’m saying is, be good to yourself. It’s easy, when you’re at a con on a mission, to get caught up on all the things you could do. Well, do the things you should do, take care of yourself, and relax: cons will roll around again, and you want to be healthy enough to survive them.

Up tomorrow, 10AM: You’ve sold your first book, now what? A bunch of people much more experienced than me tell you what to do when you’re facing book two. Oh, and I’ll be there. At 2:30PM, I’ll be talking about synopses that will sell – or not sell – your book. And at 10PM, I’ll be talking about fun ways to kill your character. Oh, hell, here’s the whole list:

  • You’ve Sold the First Book, Now What?
    Saturday 10am, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    What happens next? Publishing professionals offer information about the industry–what they’re going to do, and what you need to do for yourself.
  • Writing a Synopsis That Will Sell Your Book – MODERATOR
    Saturday 2:30pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    Writing a great synopsis may be harder than writing a book. These outliners and pantsers will offer suggestions to make the process easier.
  • 101 Fascinating Ways to Kill off a Character
    Saturday 10pm, Embassy CD – Hyatt
    Description: Our favorite writers recount some of the more interesting ways they’ve eliminated characters–or tried to.

Also, THIRTY DAYS LATER is still on sale for $0.99! Onward!

-the Centaur

Appearing at Dragon Con, Just a Little Bit

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I will be at Dragon Con this year, moderating a panel on Victorian Technology at Monday at 11:30am:

Technology of the Victorian era and how to exploit it in your stories or imagination!
We’ll discuss what technology the Victorians actually used and how it changed their world. We’ll also highlight inventions that should have changed the world but didn’t!

Monday at 11:30a in Augusta III

Anthony Francis (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward, Stephanie Osborn, Shay Mohn, Stephen Chapman

As usual, I will probably appear at the Writer’s Track, though those appearances are always fluid.

For the rest of the time, since I have no publications to announce at Dragon Con – my comics work being announced at Comic-Con and APE, and the work to do that is more than enough effort to consume all available time – I plan on enjoying the con, hanging out with friends, meeting up with the Dragon Writers, and remembering Ann Crispin.

More news as it happens, if it happens.

-Anthony

The DOORWAY opens at last…

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At long last, DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME is released! (Well, tomorrow morning, anyway):

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In our busy world of meetings and microwaves, car radios and cellphones, people always wish they could get an extra hour in the day. But what if they could? Doorways to Extra Time is an anthology that explores ways to get extra time (be it an hour, a day, or a decade) and the impact it would have–whether upon a single life, a family or an entire world.

I’m very proud of this anthology and all the great stories and authors: the proactive Erica Cameron, the across-the-pond Martin Feekins, lil ol me, pastcracker L.M. Graham, timekeeper R.E. Gofstein, catwizard Melina Gunnett, the learned Walter H. Hunt, my friend Betsy Miller, Susan “In the nick of time” Mittmann, timemaster Brenda Moguez, mysterian Jenny Moore, demonkeeper Ira Nayman, time twister Errick A. Nunnally, the estimable Jody Lynn Nye, the not-photoshopped Kate Saturday, my other good friend Gayle Schultz, Rich “The Closer” Storrs, gameplayer Keshia Swaim, not-for-sale Aimee Weinstein, and my coeditor and friend Trisha J. Wooldridge … whew!

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Trisha, my coeditor, commissioned the above awesome piece of stained glass from Renee Goodwin at Stained Glass Creations and Beyond … isn’t it beautiful? We’ll be raffling it off at the DOORWAYS release party, Sunday, September 1 at 1pm at Ray’s in the City in Atlanta … just up the road from the Hyatt, one of the main hotels of Dragon Con!

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After Dragon Con, we’re having a panel reading by our Bay Area authors at Books Inc in Mountain View:

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I’m sure there will be more events, giveaways, and so forth in the coming weeks and months. Like or share our Facebook and Google+ pages for more information, or just go to Amazon and get a copy.

Phew. 2 years of work, and 2 minutes to the cafe closes. So … enjoy!

-the Centaur

Um … it’s not out yet, gang

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I appreciate the reviews … but the book’s not out yet. Only the editors, copyeditors, closer, formatter and publisher have seen it yet, and I’m pretty sure that none of them jumped the gun. 😉 Hang on a bit… DOORWAYS will be out at the end of August from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, and will have its premiere during Dragon Con.

Unless, of course … you have your own doorway to extra time. In that case … review away.

-the Centaur

DOORWAYS in Galleys

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DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME is coming down to the wire. My coeditor, the typesetter and I are working weekends, but we’re really close now – still, it looks like it will be coming out the 27th, not the 13th. I’m not sure what this does for our plans to do a premiere at Dragon*Con; we’ll have to see, as it was cutting it fine regardless even with the old date.

Editing an anthology is a LOT more work than I thought it would be, but it’s still very rewarding.

Almost done! Then back to LIQUID FIRE.

-the Centaur

A Dragon Passes

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Gary Kim Hayes, a wonderful fixture of the writing track at Dragon*Con, passed away recently at the age of 61. I didn’t know him well, but thanks to my friend Nancy Knight, I was on a few panels with him at Dragon*Con and of course got to see him in many more panels. Most notably, he moderated the fun and popular “How to Write a Story in an Hour” panels.

We talked a few times. I was just starting to get to know him. I was looking forward to seeing him at the next Dragon*Con.

And now he’s gone.

He’ll be missed.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Gary Hayes, edited slightly from his bio picture to symbolize his passing.

Dragon*Con Reservation FU

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And I don’t mean “fu” as in “kung fu”.

Once again, Dragon*Con’s main hotels have sold out almost a year in advance. The very nice hotel I was in this year, just up the street from The Big Five – the Marriott Marquis, the Hyatt Regency, the Hilton, the Sheraton, and the Westin – sold out before I’d checked out. Three of the Big 5 were sold out by the time I checked that afternoon. The Hilton has rooms at north of $300 a night.

Only the Marriott had rooms, which went on sale at 9:00AM EST today. Sold out by 9:45.

I didn’t log on at 9:45, of course. I logged on at 9:00 AM sharp (necessitating getting up at 5AM PST). Dragon*Con’s site was overwhelmed, but eventually I got on and got the login information at the very late time of 9:01AM EST. The login information didn’t work, for the simple reason that it was wrong.

Sometime around 9:20ish this morning (don’t remember the exact time), the overloaded Dragon*Con site (overloaded no doubt by people like me refreshing it looking for the correct Marriott Marquis login information) eventually refreshed and posted the correct login information. (The old data had dropped a digit at the end of the URL). I logged in, after several tries, around 9:21AM (really, pretty quickly), found a hotel room rapidly despite the sluggishness of the interface, and clicked Book.

Nothing.

The site was so overloaded that it wasn’t responding to every click event (or, worse, the page got corrupted on download, so the Javascript for the button was broken; it isn’t quite clear). I’ve been around the block, of course, so I had a different browser (Firefox rather than Chrome) and managed to log in there as well, and also found rooms – but the doubles were already sold.

This was around 9:30AM. Shit shit shit!

I continued this reservation. In the background, my original billing had finally timed out, but I kept going on the new one, which seemed to be working. It went all the way to booking, with weird requests for more and more information that kept slowing me down, but still, around 9:39AM EST, I had a correct credit card and was hitting send.

I captured a screenshot of what happened next and pasted it in the head of the article.

That’s not a Photoshop, by the way – the “Some of the nights you have selected are no longer available” screen really did say FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU(*). I hit “back” on my previous reservation and, magically, the session wasn’t expired. It permitted me to continue to book THAT reservation too, right up to the credit card as before. Same result – rooms no longer available.

And all were sold out when I started over.

I could tell you about my struggles with Expedia, but really, they were minor. I went to Expedia, put in the dates of my reservation, selected Downtown Atlanta, saw the hotels on a map, and picked one. The only problem was that clicking on a hotel closed the map and hitting back took you all the way back to the search screen, but I found a hotel, pretty close, pretty cheap.

Just before I hit “book it” I got a funny feeling and checked the hotel on Yelp. Yelp warned me off – in no uncertain terms – and I started my search again. This time I found an even closer hotel, slightly more expensive, near the Aquarium, with glowing reviews in Yelp and Expedia. Then, I found out I wasn’t logged in to Expedia and had to start over. But then, when I did…

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So maybe there IS reservation fu to be had here. For one of these crazy cons:

  • Check your con long in advance.
  • Find out when they book up.
  • Check their web site early.
  • Don’t take the web site’s word for it on the URL or login information if you’re having trouble – look at it carefully, try it in several browsers, and check back to the web site if you have problems.
  • Try more than one browser if you’ve got the right information but are still having trouble.
  • Never, never, never give up – but change tactics if you’ve confirmed the failure.
  • Try calling them on the phone (I was doing this in parallel with all of the above).
  • Try using Expedia or your favorite reservation site – but use a map, or you’ll get screwed.
  • Double confirm your choice with Yelp.
  • Make sure your credit card is handy and you’re logged in to the site.
  • Make sure your rapid rewards or rewards plus or whatever information is on hand.
  • Never, never, never give up.

So … I guess I’ll be seeing you all next Dragon*Con!

-the Centaur

(*) Or maybe I just imagined that, and then Photoshopped the screencap to match my imagination. Who knows?

Dragon Con, Dragon Con, Jiggety Jig

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Well, it’s back again to Dragon*Con, my home away from home in the magical city of Atlanta.

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Like Comic-Con, the show at Dragon*Con begins even before you get inside.

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Unlike Comic-Con, however, the architecture of Dragon*Con is not awesomely mega, but mega awesome.

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From the floor to the ceiling, the hotels of Dragon*Con, especially the Marriott, are awe-inspiring.

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It’s simply hard to take them in all at once.

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In the midafternoon, things are just getting started…

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… but don’t worry, things will fill up soon enough.

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I’ll be at the Bell Bridge Books author spotlight on Sunday, hawking STRANDED, the anthology of which I have not yet seen a copy, but whose cover looks like this.

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What’s even more awesome is the con officially hasn’t started yet … and the costumes are amazing.

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Amazing.

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Amazing!

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I mean, AMAZING.

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A-MAZ-ING!

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Seriously … you know.

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So, on this first night of Dragon*Con, I’ve had a great meal…

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Powered up with caffeine…

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And filled out this, my traditional first post of Dragon*Con!

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-the Centaur