Day: May 7, 2010

Stuff to do in the month of May

Today I will see Iron Man 2. It will be full of shiny explosions and not much to think about. This is good because my brain is ready for something not particularly thinky.

Balticon booth preparation: I need to ship merchandise to Balticon so that Howard has things to sell. At the end of the month I’ll have to help Howard pack so that he can go.

Balticon Art Show preparation: They’ve given Howard eight panels in the art show. This was at first a dismayingly large number. We could wallpaper a room with all the strips he has done, but that doesn’t look eye-catching in an art show. Fortunately I’ve communicated with the art show director and found a solution. We’ll be putting together the panels as something akin to a museum exhibit. There will be pictures of Howard’s workspaces, explanations of his process. We’ll also discuss the process I go through to ship out books and how the books layout is done. A whole panel will be devoted to the XDM project. Hopefully it will be educational and interesting. But I’ve got lots of work to do to get it ready and I have to mail it all to Baltimore by the end of next week.

The Quest for the Tavern: This is an XDM adventure module. Tracy has already finished a draft of the text. I’ve got to do preliminary layout so that Howard can see where the pictures need to go. Then I have to put in the pictures. There also needs to be lots of copy editing and probable text revisions. The whole process needs to be complete by the end of May so that the thing can go to print.

RMS pre-orders: We’ll be opening pre-orders toward the end of this month. Before we can do that, I need to line up t-shirt reprints and magnet re-prints, and poster re-prints. We want all of these things available in the store so that people can buy lots of stuff and combine shipping. But it means hours of prep time getting the store ready to go.

Conduit: I’m listed on the website. I expect to be doing presentations and panels. I’ll need to prepare and to schedule myself so that I can be where I need to be.

Family stuff: The end of school brings a multitude of closing activities. There are a school carnival, field day, dances, birthday parties, mother’s day programs, and end of school homework projects.

Writing: Hah. I want there to be writing. I’m just not sure where I can possibly fit it in.

The odds and ends of Penguicon thoughts

A last few thoughts which sprang from my experiences at Penguicon.


It was fascinating to me how many of my conversations at Penguicon turned to parenting. At first I was a little concerned. Parenting is huge in my life and a topic about which I feel truly competent to speak at length. I worried that I was somehow unconsciously shifting all conversations in that direction. But then I realized that parenting is huge in many lives. This was confirmed by David Kletcha, who kindly reassured me that writers talk about parenting all the time.


I truly enjoy people watching at conventions, because people have given themselves permission to wear things they love just because they love it. I’ll watch the couple wander by with big stuffed bees on their backs and I wonder what those stuffed bees mean to them. If I’m not completely burned out on socializing, I’ll sometimes ask. In every case the person lights up, happy to tell her story. People want to be seen. They want to matter and to be special. Among the fascinating choices in personal dress, I love most to see the ensembles which are aesthetically perfect. I want to say beautiful, but that is not the right word. Sometimes the clothes are meant to challenge. But I am always impressed when the person and the clothes form a harmonious whole. For example, I saw many corseted figures during the convention. Most of them looked somewhat uncomfortable. But there was one woman who passed my booth and she walked like the corset was not even there. She was graceful and proportionate. It was a beauty to behold. Upon inquiry, I learned that she is almost never without her corset. The practice showed beautifully.


A girl came by the booth with a hugely wide-eyed expression. She spotted the Schlock Mercenary merchandise and gasped “Oh he’s here?” As I watched she almost melted into a puddle of squee. She apologized to me saying. “I’m sorry this is my first convention.” I could tell she was shell shocked by having so many cool things gathered together in a way she had not previously believed possible. The squee was not so much for Howard as for all of it. I saw her several more times, and she appeared to have settled in to the convention. I’m glad. I hope she had a great time.


During the convention I had several good conversations with Jim Hines. He and I have met before and so I was glad to see him in person as well as on the internet. On the last day, when everyone is trying to catch everyone they want to fare well, Jim came up to the booth. We spoke for a moment and then it was time to part. There was the slightest pause and in typical Jim Hines “Let’s drag this thing we’re not saying into the middle of the room where we can look at it” fashion, he said “Do we hug?”
Yes we do. And we did.
I thought about that afterward. There are stages of friendship and acquaintance. Sometimes there are moments when the boundaries are still being defined. You feel close to the other person, but you don’t want to impose a level of intimacy that they may not be ready for. Then there is this careful dance which sometimes goes wrong. Hesitance to impose can be received as a hesitance to grow closer. Then two people, who really want to connect, both end up feeling a little rejected. When I find myself in this careful dance, I need to take a page from Jim’s book. His direct question opened him up to overt rejection, but it also made things clear. And then there was a hug.


One of the hazards of a convention is the repetition of stories. I’ll launch into a story and realize that I’ve related it twice before at this event, but I can’t remember whether it was to this group of people. Howard named this feeling Parastorynoia. Which is a pretty good word for it.


I was describing to Sal and Caryn the process off pushing myself to the edge of my limits and just beyond.
“When I do that, I discover how strong I am, and I’m less afraid forever.” I paused a moment “And sometimes I push far beyond what I thought my limits were.”
Sal responded, “When you do that, you get new limits.”
I looked at him and knew without a doubt that this he is a person who has gotten new limits repeatedly throughout his life. Extensive military training is designed to do that.
I haven’t been in the military, but it still feels like my life is a long stream of challenges after which I am stronger and less afraid. In some ways I’ve become a challenge junkie. I take on more than I should far too often. The risk is real. It is possible to break rather than become stronger. I have no intention of stopping, but seeing what I’m doing is good.


And on that note, I think I’m done sorting my Penguicon thoughts. Time to move on to the next things.