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."
- acknowledgments page in your comparables
- Jane Friedman's There are No Rules
- Colleen Lindsay
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!