I've been thinking a lot about how I'm going to manage this post, given all the stuff I haven't talked about because of the A to Z Challenge (the link takes you back to A, if you've missed all that). I could do like five blog posts about everything, but given the fact I've been posting every day (not, because I suck, but still) for the month of April I think I'm going to sort of condense things down into one.
Which means this incredibly long post is going to do a couple of things. We're going to talk about April, and all the shows, and all that jazz. And then we're going to talk about RavenCon specifically. Before we talk about April you might want to belt up a little, it may be kind of depressing (or you could scroll down past the picture and just jump back into the RavenCon fun).
So April is always a rough month, in the Words and Wanderings house, at least any more. I sort of expect that? Dad's birthday was in April, and Mom's birthday is in April, and you wouldn't think birthdays were depressing but when one is for a dead person and the other is for a person with dementia...yeah. Not to mention we did All The Shows this April, and I had to take my placement tests to go back to college (which is both terrifying and exciting), and there is...difficulty with Mom's medicaid application, and all of that doesn't even get into it being SOL time for the proto-human, and the husband having work stuff, and the fact I stupidly agreed to write a novella in bits, in public, without editing time.
The weather's been not helpful, too.
So I spent most of April trying to figure out what I was going to say about all of this, once the blog challenge was over. I didn't get far. Sure, April is hard. April is always hard. Two years ago today I was sitting around my house waiting for my sister to call and tell me what the doctor said, since Dad was in the hospital and getting less and less coherent all the time. We're like two weeks from the anniversary of his death. That should be the hard part, right? Except I don't think grief works like that. My parents birthdays are so close together, they've always been tied in my head. We bounce straight from Mom's birthday to Dad's and maybe didn't always do cards and presents, but I always called. When I could I visited. Sometimes they came and visited me.
Maybe being extra busy this month made that better? But actually I think it just pushed it down the line. We're gonna talk about RavenCon here in a minute, from a writing/publishing/business perspective and all that, but this bit doesn't fit any of that. I was on a paranormal panel this year, with some really interesting people who do visual effects, and write, and ghost hunt, that I maybe showed up to expecting it to be about the paranormal in film/books/tv and wound up mostly talking about the actual paranormal. Which felt...strange, but sometimes you just roll with it, and my ability to pull crap out of my nether-regions when required is clearly still working.
So late in the panel this couple came in and sat in the back, and when it was time for one last question the gentleman raised his hand. "Hi. We lost our son a couple of years ago and for ages we heard footsteps, and noises. And then we got rid of some of this things, things we really shouldn't have been keeping but they felt sentimental, and then it stopped. Do you think that was a real paranormal thing?"
And just for added gut-punch, they were probably younger than I am and I suspect the son they lost was still in diapers. Everyone on the panel was really sympathetic, and basically all said 'if you felt like it was real I'm not going to tell you it wasn't.'
But I had a different take, and I'm going to explain it to you here (probably better than I did then because I'm often better at the written word than I am the spoken). Our minds run in channels, in processing lines. We are--even when we're not--creatures of habit. When someone who used to be part of your habit is gone, your brain still wants to run those same lines. We lost a cat a couple of years ago and for months I'd still feel like I saw her sitting on the couch out of the corner of my eye. Just because the being who started the pattern isn't there anymore doesn't meant the pattern just stops. Our brain wants to complete the picture, because it's used to that being the picture. Doubly so with people who are supposed to be our everyday pattern of life.
So no matter how busy I get, there's a nagging alarm in the back of my head that says I haven't called Dad for his birthday, and when I have a quiet moment that hurts. Maybe not as much as it did last year, but hopefully more than it will next year.
Now that I've been thoroughly depressing, have a strange picture taken by my kid. And scroll down to the bottom of it for the next bit...
When Kate and I decided to apply as guests for RavenCon, and get a booth for the publishing house, it was our only show in April. By the time we got to April we'd filled in the other weekends with a local library con, and a crafts/vendor fair, and right in the middle of all of that, and regular life, was RavenCon. My first Con as a guest, and not just an attendee or vendor (and to be fair, I might have done like one as an attendee).
To say my anxiety level about this was high might be understating things. I stopped drinking caffeine the day we drove down to the show because I felt like I was going to start having heart palpitations. Kate and Ashley arguably got the bigger panel (a talk about Editing with Chuck Wendig and Tee Morris, both of whom I adore), and we were all doing a few panels on our own. Added to the general nerves of 'crap I've never done this before' and the ones that usually come with any kind of public speaking, there wasn't a lot of guidance about what we could expect from the panels we were going to be on. Like the editing one is pretty self explanatory, but the paranormal one I did required a fair amount of thinking on your feet.
Of course we all did great, and it was a great con in pretty much all respects. The vendor show wasn't as robust as probably anyone would have liked it to be (I always try to talk to other vendors and see how this year stacks up against last year). But the people were wonderful, and I met some amazing new authors, and got to be on panels with people I'd love to do things with again. I'm toying with reaching out to some of them and seeing if they'll answer some interview questions for me to post on here, or on the GFP blog.
I got to say "hi" to Chuck Wendig, and shake his hand. He was super nice, and I always find him interesting. I'm sure it was at least as wearing being on constantly for three days for him as it was for me (fewer people actually probably care how nice to them I am). I asked Mr. Wendig to sign a book for my son, and when the proto-human is like sixteen and he can actually read it that'll be great (though he super liked that he got a real signed book).
I was on a panel with Sandra Baldari on Saturday night, called Why Adults Read YA that went well, we seemed to enjoy ourselves, and Sunday morning we talked in the vendor show for a while, and she said she was doing a panel on Steampunk, which sounded interesting so I said if I was free from the table I'd go. Sunday was a little slow, so Ashley and I went to watch the Steampunk panel, and when I walked in I was greeted with "Jules can be on the panel!" They had two no-shows, so I took a panelist seat, and proceeded to accidentally remind myself that I actual pay attention to this publishing thing? and know things about genres I don't write or particularly read?
So that was my RavenCon. Three days of people. Not a few hundred thousand like AwesomeCon, but still lots of people. Lots of being charming and warm and I maybe once hid in the corner with my sandwich (and still wound up having a conversation about the con with a random hotel guest). Was it terrifying? Absolutely. Was it worth it?
Look, if what you're doing doesn't scare you, doesn't push you to do better, you're probably not doing it right. Like everything about being an author that's not just the writing is scary, sometimes to the point you have to stop caffeine so your heart doesn't flutter. The only way I've found to make it less scary is to just belt up and do it.
Also, sometimes the scary things are were you meet the coolest people. And to that end, here's a list.
John Walker | Sandra Baldari | Hawkings Austin | Doc Coleman | Crymsyn Heart | Laurel Wanrow | Tee Morris