Sunday, November 21, 2010


I attended the second annual SteamCon (steam punk conference) in Seattle this weekend, my first Steam Punk event.  Everyone was so nice, and super excited about all of the events.  The event ran smoothly (no easy feat, so thank you people who ran it).  Here is an article about it here.

The theme this year was the Weird Weird West, highlighting American Steam Punk.  While I didn't dress up, many people did.  I saw gunslingers, women in corsets and leather, ray guns, what I think was a very elaborate picture taking device, boots, spurs, hats, monocles, goggles, and even a few men in utilikilts and a girl in blue and black fur boots and tail.

People came from everywhere.  I met a nice girl from Chicago, who flew in specifically for SteamCon, with a plan to stay two extra days to sight-see our lovely (cold) Seattle.

Events included music, dancing, speakers all days, art exhibits, and a "mercantile."  I spent a good deal of time in the mercantile.  You can learn a lot about Steam Punk just by talking to the people who run these booths.  There were everything from weapons to books, from clothes to jewelry (I bought only one bracelet; lucky I didn't bring a lot of money with me).  I talked to the book guys for a while, learned a lot more about Steam Punk and other SciFi books, and came away with a pretty list.  Look forward to more Steam Punk Wednesday Reads in your future.

Of the events I attended (all were amazing), my favorite was the panel titled "How to Become a Writer" with Caitlin Kittredge, Jay Lake, and Michelle Black.  Following is a bullet point list of topics and advice, because otherwise I could write a good ten pages on what they covered in 50 minutes.
  • On average, it takes a writer 11 years to get published from the time they start trying to get published, to when they get published.
  • Get a mentor who has been recently published--"recent" as in one to two years before, because publishing changes a lot.  
  • Join online critique groups and writers workshops
  • On word length--depends on the genre, but CK just sold a 150,000 word novel.  (My note: don't do this unless your publisher gives you permission, meaning you have been successfully published beforehand)
  • "Don't worry about market before you write (especially your first novel), write the novel YOU want to write."  AKA, don't follow the trends.
  • Revision tip, use [square brackets] to edit, revise, or add your own comments.  You can search for them later since you never use them otherwise (and you won't accidentally leave something in).
  • JL does not read in his genre while he is writing a novel, he reads other genres.  BUT he confessed he can write a novel in 6-8 weeks, lets it sit before revising it another few weeks, and during that time he returns to reading his genre.  (My note: If you are also unable to read in your genre while writing, do not neglect your genre, you must be aware of who is writing what, the trends, and your comparables.)
  • Take every opportunity to talk to the "pros" and get advice.
  • Even as published authors, all the panelists say they use critique groups or partners.  "You cannot judge your own work."
A few references they suggested:
  • acknowledgments page in your comparables
  • Jane Friedman's There are No Rules
  • Colleen Lindsay
Just goes to show you, no matter where you are, you can always find something interesting.

Next year's SteamCon's theme is "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."  October 14-16th. Mark your calendars.

Happy reading, writing, and Steam Punking!


Andrew Rosenberg said...

Hey I finally found your blog. Pretty good advice in there.
How's your NaNo going? I finished, prob will blog about it tomorrow.

Bethany C Morrow said...

LOVE steampunk - so want to go to a con!