THE FAERIE RING Kickstarter Now Live!

I’m happy to announce that I’m a contributing writer for a new RPG book using the Pathfinder system: THE FAERIE RING from Zombie Sky Press.  The book — actually, BOOKS, a players guide AND a campaign guide — are being funded through Kickstarter. There’s lots of pledge options with awesome bonuses. The book itself is full of frightening faerie lords, awe-inspiring lands, mischievous sprites, and malevolent monsters. Head over and take a look!

Dragon(Age)Con

I’ve lived in Atlanta for…oh, good grief, 20 years now, and I finally attended my first DragonCon this past Labor Day weekend. It was also the first con I’ve ever attended EVER. Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I scored a Saturday pass (the rest of my weekend was booked with family coming in from out of town) and I made my husband and two sons tag along for the parade.

The Crowds

My first impressions on arriving: HOLY CRAP IT’S CROWDED.

Just getting out of the MARTA station was a study in claustrophobia-induced panic. Halfway through waiting for the escalator out to the street, my husband comments blithely: “Hey you remember that disaster movie where the tunnel collapses and –”  (he didn’t get to finish because I smacked him).

If there's a fire we're all dead.

If there’s a fire we’re all dead.

Once we were out of the station, it wasn’t much better. We ended up watching the parade from a parking deck simply so my children could see. But, I expected that. I’d been warned about the crowds, especially on Saturday when everyone does what I did: Show up for the parade, stay for the day.

The Panels

I was basically on my own for the day, besides friends who I could try to maybe meet up with but who’d been at the con since Thursday and were likely not going to wake up until at least 3 pm. I decided to do things at my own pace, and go to the panels I wanted to go to rather than try to find friends amongst the crowds.

The panels I managed to attend were:

Storytelling in Video Games (moderated by Felicia Day)

The Dragon Age Q&A

Challenges for Women in Video Games

You might notice a trend, there. I’ve recently turned my attention to the idea of writing for video games (mostly thanks to the Dragon Age series and their amazing stories/characters/etc), so I wanted to take in all I could. This first one netted me the bonus of getting to see Felicia Day, the goddess herself, in person (although from afar). The DA Q&A was fangirl fun, and I was incredibly impressed with the question posed to the panelists. The Women in Video Games panel had some really good discussions and insights. After the last one, I had the pleasure of getting to talk to some of the BioWare employees about the games (like commiserating with Jess Hara Campbell about romancing Alistair in front of our husbands) and about breaking into video game writing (the wonderful Karin Weekes was almost late to her next panel because she was talking to us). Overall I’m really glad I took the time to go to the things I wanted to go to rather than sacrificing that for social time.

I also got to see some really awesome Dragon Age cosplay! If you recognize any of these wonderful people, please let me know so I can add their names.

DCon Briala

Briala (Dragon Age: Inquisition)

DCon Group

L to R: Hawke (DA2), Fenris (DA2), Sera (DAI), Merrill (DA2), Cassandra (DAI)

DCon Isabela

Isabela (Dragon Age 2)

DCon Morrigan

Morrigan (Dragon Age: Origins)

The Rest

After the Women in Video Games panel, I was pretty much done with panels for the day. The crowds started thinning out around that time, presumably between dinner and families with kids heading home. I finally met up with some friends, and spent the next few hours simply wandering and people watching. It took all damn day, but I finally found an Alistair!

DCon Alistair

Alistair Theirin (Dragon Age: Origins)

Sadly, I found no Cullens. I have a goal for next year!

The Verdict

DragonCon was amazing. I will be doing everything in my power to attend again next year, though for longer than just a day (I missed all the late-night shenanigans since I had to be on MARTA before it stopped running at 1 am). I’d love to see the con when it’s a little less crowded, and maybe get the chance to hit up the vendor rooms and the art displays.

Did you make it to DragonCon this year? Share your experience with me! What should I be sure to do next year?

What I Learned Doing #SFFpit

Yesterday was #SFFpit on Twitter. For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, there are pitch contests on Twitter several times a year (though I hate the word contest here because the only person you’re really competing against is yourself). If an agent reads your pitch and likes it, they star it, which is an open invitation to query them. If another author sees your pitch and likes it, they can retweet it to show support (without getting your hopes up by starring it).

Pitch Madness (or #PitMad) is probably the most popular, open to all authors of all types of books, but there are several others that focus more on genre.

#SFFpit is for the SciFi/Fantasy authors. And since I was in Ireland when #PitMad happened just a few weeks ago, I jumped on the chance to do #SFFpit this time around. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was cautiously hopeful, though not overly optimistic about the whole thing, simply because I have a tendency to set myself up to be disappointed (a classic flaw of a daydreamer/optimist).

Even still, a few things took me by surprise.

1. I got several stars from small/independent presses.

I will freely admit, I did not expect this. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with those, since I want to publish at a big house (see: daydreamer/optimist), but it was nice to get the positive feedback from others in the industry and know that they’re there. It also helped teach me caution and temperance — just because someone starred my pitch, that does not require me to send them more. Slow down. Do your research. Be careful of sending to a press *before* you have an agent, as this can complicate things. Remember, a star is not a binding contract.

2. I got several stars from spam bots.

Ugh, you guys. Nothing is more frustrating than tweeting out that first pitch, getting a notification that OMG THERE’S A STAR ON THAT AND IT’S FROM…a technology company? And there’s another one from a Furniture Restoration company. Oh…I used the terms “high-tech” and “antique store owner.”  That’s…great. That’s just great.

3. Disappointment doesn’t mean you give up.

So those spam bots I was talking about? They hit me pretty hard at first, especially since I was so psyched up about the whole thing. But then I learned to laugh at them as they kept coming, puzzling out exactly what phrase I used to ping on their search engine. Also, I saw a stat that said only about 10-15% of the authors doing #SFFpit get stars from agents. Disappointment is just part of this industry, and you have to roll with it. It won’t last forever. Persevere.

4. Patience is a Virtue. 

I know. I know. The publishing industry is as slow as frozen molasses, and I should already have patience. I’m working on it, okay? When I went to bed, I didn’t have a single star from an actual agent. But when I woke up this morning?

Sometimes the wait is worth it.

5. I got immediate feedback.

OMG the feedback. THE FEEDBACK, YOU GUYS. Since I had about eight different pitches prepped (I think I ended up tweeting only five of them) I could tell almost instantly which pitches were resonating with the audience and which ones fell flat. One of my pitches got absolutely zero retweets and no stars, even though I tweeted it several times. My top pitch got twenty retweets and five stars (and some of them weren’t spam bots!).

To me, the feedback alone was worth the experience. In an industry sparse on the feedback, it was invaluable.

#SFFpit

                 My most popular pitch. 

At the end of the day, it was a fun ride, and I will certainly be doing it again the next time it rolls around (though hopefully I won’t need to! /daydreamer/optimist). If you want to join us, keep an eye on twitter or dankoboldt.com/sffpit to find out when the next go-round is. I think it’s in December, but keep an eye out.

And keep writing!

Why an All-Girl Superhero Team Pisses Me Off

In case you haven’t been paying attention, people are upset that Marvel seems to be dropping the ball on the merchandising when it comes to their female characters. Just to name a few, Gamora gets left off shirts, Black Widow is missing from merchandise, and Gogo and Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6 are erased because eww, girls.

Super Hero Girls

DC Super Hero Girls

So you would think WB and DC’s announcement of an all-girls superhero show (and the associated merchandise) would come as a relief. And for some, that’s exactly what it was.

When I saw the announcement, though, I frowned. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way. Something about this really, really annoyed me.

So I spent a few days mulling it over. It simmered at the back of my brain while I went about my last week of classes. And I think — I *think* — I finally pinned down what bothered me about this.

It’s for girls. It’s *just* for girls. It even says so, right there in the release.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all about a team of ass-kicking females being awesome. But, at the same time, I feel like this is just a way to dismiss girls while making them feel like they’re getting exactly what they want. It’s kind of brilliant, actually. But my problem is this:

Why can girls only shine when there are no boys around?

Why are women only allowed to deal with their problems and grow when they’re with other women?

Why can’t we have a team of boys *and* girls, where there’s an equal amount of girls on the team instead of the (at best) 3:1 ratio we’ve been getting? Why can’t there be *more* girls on the team? Or maybe the team leader is a girl? Or maybe — just maybe — there are both boys and girls, they all go through problems, they help each other through them, and that help isn’t limited to members of the same sex. And everyone gets the same amount of screen time, and everyone is on all the shirts, and everyone gets an action figure.

Because making an all-girl show just tells us that girls are only allowed to grow and deal with their problems on their own time, and that the boys don’t care. And it tells the boys that they don’t *have* to care, because it’s not for them. It’s “just for girls.”

And that’s just not a message I can get behind.

The Waiting Game

We’re more than halfway through January already. That feels sort of insane, as if 2015 is flying by before I can even settle into it.

Then I realize I’m only on my third week of the semester, and I feel like it’s going to be a reeeeally long year. It’s all relative, I guess. Timey-wimey, even.  Ugh, my kingdom for a TARDIS.

Doctor Time

I know, Doctor. I know.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m also waiting to hear back from agents. That’s one thing they never tell you when you’re writing a novel. Everyone’s worried about how to get the novel finished, or how to write a query letter, but no one tells you exactly how much waiting is involved.

Or maybe they do (let’s be honest they probably do) and I just never really got it. Maybe it’s one of those things you can’t truly understand until you experience it, like sex or childbirth or the crushing defeat of student loan debt (or maybe that’s my impending graduation speaking).

Well, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day I’m still sitting here.

Waiting.

Still waiting.

Always waiting.

Wherein I Write a Blog Post to Avoid Doing Actual Work

Hi Lovelies!

This week is the last week of classes, which means I have all sorts of papers and projects to be working on. Which, of course, means I’m procrastinating by writing a terribly long-overdue blog post. Congrats, gentle readers! You win!

Well. NaNoWriMo has come and gone, and I have failed spectacularly. I’ve never won, though I’ve gone on to complete novels that I’ve started during NaNo, but this year I can barely even say I started it.

I think I capped out around 6k words.

NaNoWriMo Sadface

Even the logo is disappointed in me. 

I think there’s a lot of reasons for that, and a lot of excuses for it, too. I think I’ve got a solid base for a short story, though, which is what I think it was meant to be from the start. We’ll see where it ends up, eventually.

I’m sort of in this strange in-between land of waiting on agents to get back to me (though, I haven’t heard “no” yet, which is always good!) With my first novel, Broken, they were all pretty quick to reject me (and that’s okay) so it was easy to shelve it for a while and move on to the next project. With this one, I want to edit but I’m worried about editing before I hear back from some of my more promising leads. I want to work on another project, but I’m worried about funneling my creative energy into something before I hear back about this one and know where I should be focusing my creative energies.
Which is just silly, I know. I think, maybe, I’m worried that if I “move on” to another project, I’ll feel like I’m admitting defeat with this one? Which is also silly, but there ya go.
Hopefully, in two weeks when the semester is over, I can regroup and refocus. Until then, I’m going to try not to stress out about it.
Since I know where my creative energies should be going right now: My papers and projects for school.
Oh, fine. I’m going. /stomps off

PREP ALL THE THINGS

Hello, darlings! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m sorry. Please forgive me?

So, in case you haven’t heard, I did not win the Simon451 novel writing contest. Which…yeah, that’s kind of a bummer. But, at the same time, it was a total honor to even be in the top ten, and I’m sure I’ll find the right place for LYSISTRATA. I just need to keep looking.

Speaking of looking, I’m going to the Atlanta Writers Conference this weekend!  We just had one in May, and it was a blast, but I’m trying to ride this momentum as much as I can. I was sort of last-minute with registration, so by the time I decided to go, all the manuscript critique and pitch slots were taken.  I hope the editors and agents know that just means I’ll be stalking them at the mixer.

Did you hear that, editors and agents? You’ve been warned.

Though, to be fair my version of stalking is less “lion-in-the-grass” and more “awkwardly standing on the outskirts of a conversation and clutching my froofy blue drink like a life-line.”

Froofy

See? Froofy. 

On top of prepping for the conference, I’ve also recently decided I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.  So I’ve been frantically putting together character sketches and outlining the super-basics of my plot. I still need to decide on an antagonist, but you know.  Details.

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? How about this year? Can I add you as a Writing Buddy? You can add me back — but only if you don’t make fun of my terribad MS Paint book-cover mock-up.

Well, you can make fun of it a little. It is pretty bad.