Laura’s Big Guide to Conference Networking, or, How To Meet People in Mutually Beneficial Ways Without Feeling Like a Salesman or Wanting to Chew Your Eyes Out

I see a lot of writers stressing about talking with other writers at events. The stereotype, of course, is that writers are writers because they would rather sit in a dark room by themselves than interact with other people. And yes, it’s true, I spend a lot of time with my imaginary friends.

But writers are not only capable of socializing like normal functional humans, it’s essential that they do. Publishing is too big to go alone; you’re going to need to take along some colleagues, for everything from critique partners to comparable marketing to moral support.

I’ve been attending 2-5 conferences a year (except in 2020) for writing and my day job for the last couple of decades. I’ve done a lot of conferences. Here are some things to keep in mind and to try!

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It’s Giftmas Time Again! 2022

Giftmas 2022 with greenery and candle background

If you’ve been around with me before, you know Giftmas is an annual charity fundraiser, and if you’re in a big hurry today, no worries — here’s the link to do good. If you’ve got some time, you can read my musings on light in darkness, too. Thanks!


Solstice. Festivals of Lights. The Christ Mass. Holiday lights. Winterlights.

Even with so many traditions among our eight billion global citizens, light in the darkness is a universal thread in mid-winter observances. There’s a reason we drape LEDs over anything that holds still (and some things that don’t) and spread glitter and sequins to reflect every photon from every facet. In the dark of winter, we celebrate the light.

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Want a holiday card?

I did a lot of advance planning before I went to Japan for November — but I forgot to set up my card collection form! So now we have to move fast.

If you’d like a physical Christmas card from me, please enter your mailing address in this form by November 28.

Worried about sharing a physical address? I understand, and here’s exactly how it will be used: Only I will see the collected addresses, and a few minutes after the labels are confirmed to print correctly, the file is deleted. Your address is not used for anything else besides this year’s card list (which is why I have a new request form each year).

Let me know if you would like one!

I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo, but for a good reason

So, I’m not doing National Novel Writing Month this year, but I have an excuse.

This is the first time in…I dunno, a lot of years that I have not even started NaNo. This was a bit of a tough choice, because I like having a streak, but this was a year I knew I would not have the time to dedicate to word count. Not because there’s Thanksgiving or normal stuff, but for a Legit Reason.

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Edinburgh Fringe!

So I went on a trip. Almost an impulse trip, really; my sister Alena and our friend Mark were going to Fringe and asked if I wanted to come.

Edinburgh is home to the original Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a theater arts event that has been running annually for three-quarters of a century. All those Fringe theater events around the world are spinoffs of this OG. It is the largest arts event in the world, and possibly the third largest ticket event in the world (after the Olympics and the World Cup). In the words of the festival itself, it features “theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.”

Also street food!

This year there were over 2200 official ticketed events (and more unofficial). The Fringe program is literally larger than the phone books of some places I’ve lived (back when phone books were a thing). The entire city becomes a city of theaters, with over 300 official venues comprised of existing theatrical facilities, rented rooms, churches, pubs, classrooms and lecture halls, temporary structures, and converted spaces. There are also unofficial venues, which can be even a gap left in a crowd or a nook between food trucks. An acrobatics performance broke out during our lunch one day.

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Software Wars, or Why Updates Aren’t So Simple

 So, I thought updating my ebook and paperback files would be relatively simple.

Ha!

It started with a good plan. I would update an older series I hadn’t done much with, actually collect them as most people didn’t even know about all of them, and give them fresh covers for today’s market. No major overhauls, no big deal.

Ha!

Covers

The cover updates were actually quite fun. I knew I wanted to keep the primary art, so there wasn’t too much to do. And I made a cool little series logo to number the stories.

(“I made” in this case means “I put together and modified some pieces of clip art” but just go with it, I’m proud of it.)

Anyway, the cover updates went well, so hurray.

Rōmaji

The text update I wanted to make was the romanization of the Japanese in the stories. Without getting too technical, there are several systems for converting Japanese into Latin characters, so that for example the two syllables おう might be rendered oo, ou, ō, or oh. American readers tend to interpret these different renderings in different ways, so a reader not already familiar with Japanese might imagine a very different pronunciation.

I had originally used an older Hepburn system, writing warlord as daimyou, but the Revised Hepburn system has become the dominant system, rendering the same word daimyō. I’m personally not as keen on this because it’s sometimes harder to reverse engineer to the original Japanese word (ō can equally represent おう or おお) but I recognize that it’s good to give readers what they expect.

So I sat down to update the Japanese to (mostly) Revised Hepburn. I thought this would be a straightforward process. I’m going to greatly shorten the telling and just say that while I did not do any find/replace for vowels or vowel combos, only for a complete word like onmyouji to onmyōji, somehow Word got overexcited and made some additional changes anyway.

Suddenly my characters were in dangerōs trōble.

But not all /ou/ combos were updated, resulting in sentences like “you will have a rōgh time,” and I just could not find any sort of system for the extra changes. And while I could have gone back and started over, that would mean manual changes for every Japanese word anyway, so I went ahead and did manual checks for the whole manuscript.

Printing

So revision took a lot longer than it was supposed to, but at last it was done. On to the printing! This is easy stuff!

Well, no. Because the PDF software I’ve used for years saw the new vowels with macrons and promptly panicked.

While MS Word was handling the new characters just fine, DoPDF could not render them without doing ridiculous kerning and making all kinds of layout issues. The result was illegible.

I checked the DoPDF support forums but could not find a thread for a similar issue. I tried to register to start a new thread, and was instantly perma-banned. At registration. For “spamming.”

How could I spam before I even completed registering an account?

I found a support email address and wrote for help, but that was two days ago. So.

I then exported the paperback PDFs directly from Word, which KDP accepts but which Ingram dislikes. So paperbacks at Amazon have been updated, but paperbacks everywhere else have not, until I can get new PDF software.

New Books

But finally the ebooks everywhere are fully updated and the Amazon paperbacks are fully updated. Paperbacks at other retailers will be updated as soon as I have new PDF software (suggestions welcome).

Patreon supporters will get the fancy collected boxed set ebook this month—all supporters, regardless of tier, because that’s how we’re getting back into the swing here.

I’d really appreciate your reviews on these poor stories I’ve definitely neglected for years. And I’d really, really appreciate any tips if you should find any remaining typo from where MS Word brōght the enthusiasm.

My plan is to make these into audiobooks too, but first I need to recover from these simple updates!

I’m Giving Birthday Presents Like a Hobbit ?

I’m having a crHappy Birthday, so I’m fixing it by giving books away.

Your to-do list today:

  1. Get a free story as a birthday present for you
  2. Vote for Kin & Kind, please and thank you

Happy Birthday…?

So here’s the very short version: Today is my birthday, and I was supposed to be traveling through Italy this week, visiting archaeological sites and gathering research vibes.

Instead, I am spending my birthday as day 9 in isolation in a single room with a positive COVID test.

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2020 Part Deux, Vacation Edition

My husband and I (along with family and friend) are on a cruise. It’s been much fun, and our daily update included the fact that we had no known cases of COVID-19 on board in either passengers or crew. That made sense, as we were all vaccinated and everyone tested negative to board. Yay!

Then Jon had a runny nose for a day and a half. Just a runny nose, nothing bad. But he did a COVID test and turned up positive. The cruise ship machine kicked into gear — he was the first known positive — and they escorted him out among disposable scrubs, masks, shields, and a guy following him with a Ghostbusters backpack that misted disinfectant everywhere he walked.

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Fantasy For Footholds: A Fundraiser

There’s a lot going on right now, things are bleak, and while escaping into a fantasy world looks very attractive, it can also feel very weak and selfish. How can I hide in the safety of a world I control while hospitals and evacuation routes are bombed, while “patriots” attack Americans for their names or ethnicities, while parents bring their children to a refugee station and then leave them behind as they return to fight? Who am I to sit comfortably at my desk while all that happens?

I’m a worldbuilder, that’s who I am. And it’s time we build a better world.

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