Con Etiquette: Approaching Authors (Subtitle: I remember no one)

I get asked this a lot, and I’m very glad that this year someone has written a great blog post about interacting with authors, including at cons. So I send you there, to Delilah S Dawson’s post about How To Approach Writers in the Wild.

I wanted to underscore one part she mentioned:

[At a convention] Start off the conversation by telling them your Twitter name and mentioning a conversation you had; our memories are full of lies and plots, but we want to know we know you.

This. God, this. It is horrible to say, but attending lots of cons and being generally forgetful causes me to need a memory jolt when I see someone. If they just say hi or want to shake my hand or hug me, and I can’t see their name tag (or if I know them by their online name or Twitter handle and not their full name) I feel horribly awkward and spend all my time talking to them going through the “oh shit where do I know you from???” panic in my head while I’m smiling and nodding.

And I promise- it’s NOT YOU. In my life I have done the very classy moves of:

  1. …not recognizing my neighbor at the coffee house.
  2. …greeted an old boss at a pool hall because I remembered I knew her, but not from where, and also, oops, forgot we parted on bad terms.
  3. …didn’t recognize a guy I went to Russia (then USSR) with – we were  a small group of 17 year olds traveling for three weeks. Saw him at a party a year later and didn’t recognize him at all.

I am NOT GOOD at this.

If you approach this scatterbrained author at a con, and I look confused, please be kind and introduce yourself and remember- scatterbrained author, not you.

Hugo Eligibility Post

It’s nomination time for the 2015 Hugo Awards, given out this August at Sasquan, the World Science Fiction convention in Spokane, WA, and I thought I would make a list of the things I’m eligible for. Cause if I don’t tell you, you might not know.

Nominations close on March 10, 2015.

If you were a voting member of the 2014, 2015, or 2016 Worldcons you’re eligible to nominate (You have to get your 2015 membership before Jan 31 this year.)

And hey, if you don’t plan on going, you can still support the con, vote in the Hugos, and get lots of awesome ebooks for a supporting membership of $40. All the information regarding getting a membership and nominating for the Hugos can be found here. 

  • Best Fancast
    I Should Be Writing — I’ve been doing this show for 9.5 years. I’m fairly sure it’s the longest running writing show in podcasting. I’ve featured authors such as NK Jemisin, Lev Grossman, Lauren Beukes, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, China Mieville, Seanan McGuire, and lots more. It a love letter to SF from the struggling writer’s POV.
  • Best Short Story
    I had three* stories out last year:

    *I very much hope I remembered them all. I’m bad about keeping track…

  • Best Novel
    Ghost Train to New Orleans from Orbit Books — Zoe Norris writes travel guides for the undead. And she’s good at it too — her new-found ability to talk to cities seems to help. After the success of The Shambling Guide to New York City, Zoe and her team are sent to New Orleans to write the sequel. Listen to the book for FREE via podcast.

My productivity obsession: HabitRPG

A while back I grumbled to the Patreon supporters that all the apps and online tricks and lifehacks did nothing for me productivity-wise. You mention it, I’ve probably done it and from the looks of my desk, completely failed at it. But then Nicole, an old friend from Viable Paradise, pinged me to say that she had been playing with HabitRPG and had found it incredibly helpful.

Tried it. LOVED IT.

You are an adventurer, dealing with three things: habits (things you want to work on, like “don’t drink soft drinks” or “stop swearing”), dailies (things you must do daily, like “make the bed” and “write 1000 words”), and ToDos (write a book, get car inspected.) When you do your good things in any of the three categories, you get experience points, gold, and sometimes loot drops. When you do a bad habit, or miss a daily chore, then you take damage.

It gets interesting when you form a party and go on a quest, which gives out better loot at the end, but the real motivator is the fact that when you don’t do your daily items, the monster attacks everyone on your team. Before, you thought you’d be OK taking the damage of not doing the dishes, but now everyone suffers.

Gold buys you equipment. Loot drops include eggs (all pets come from eggs, even tigers and cacti), hatching potions (which you pour over an egg, giving a type to your animal, like zombie dragon, or golden bear), and food (which you feed to pets to make them grow into mounts.) When you drop to zero HP, you die, taking all your gold, one level, and one random item. It sucks.

When you boil it down, it is another todo list, and no matter how many funny images you put on it, and how many cute pets and mighty mounts I get, doing the laundry is still doing the laundry. But knowing that when I’m done, i can get the possibility of pretending that laundry basket was a mighty sword and maybe get a new pet or some food to turn a pet into a mount, makes it a bit more rewarding.

The community is amazing, though. There are people using HabitRPG to deal with a lot more than I struggle with, like obsessive habits and even self-harm. The “Tavern” (the side-wide group chat) is heavily moderated to keep abuse at bey, with the mindset that we all are here to better ourselves and don’t need to, well, shit on others’ attempts. They’re also super-helpful to newbies (the wiki is also quite detailed). I don’t post there often, but I died recently right before the expensive winter items came out, and went to whine that I was a down-on-her-luck penniless healer.* Two strangers sent me gems immediately. (You have to buy gems with real moneys, or with gold if you subscribe to the site with real moneys.)

If there’s a downside, it’s hard finding people you know on the site unless you have their user ID, an incredibly complex set of numbers (for example, my UID is 2a157564-237e-412e-8a49-ec18f330b088). Then again, you can find people through guilds of like-minded folks. I’ve set up an I Should Be Writing guild, it’s small but at least it helps me find people.

HabitRPG has a mobile (Android and iOS as far as I know, maybe more) app where you can log your stuff, but the site changes much more often than the app updates, which is a bit frustrating.

But overall, it’s shown to be very motivating for me, and when I made Beastmaster a few days ago – where I hatched all 90 pets – I admit it was a thrill. If you’re having trouble with motivation, I recommend HabitRPG. It’s free, but you get no ads and gems to spend if you subscribe, and this site is well worth my moneys.


I’m on the left with my zombie panda mount and my seahorse pet, the rest of the party is to the right. Other pets include skeleton lion, base cactus, base tiger, desert fox. And 2 shade dragon mounts.

* At level 10 you can choose your class. It’s hard to see from my huge zombie panda mount, but I’m carrying the rod and shield of a healer. Healers, well, heal people and buff constitution so people won’t take so much damage from missed tasks. Rogues get better loot drops. Mages get more XP and keep their streaks alive even if they miss a day. Warriors hit things really hard.

Brief note re: audio files, this site, etc

I am currently feeling the lack of laptop for the first time. I knew it would come. But the fact is, I’m about to head out on a research/vacation trip. Like in 10 min. And I have audio recorded for you, but not edited and uploaded. 2 episodes of Ghost Train, ISBW, Ditch Diggers, it’s all there. Just on my hard drive. Which now lives on my desktop. And since I can’t take it with me, it will stay on my hard drive till I can edit and upload.

I’ll be home Thursday and hopefully can get some stuff uploaded then, provided I’m not wrecked from the red-eye.

The good news is my trip coincides with a self-pub project I have going this year, involving a travel guide.

Merry Christmas! And Kindle Deal!

Hope you guys have had fun watching our advent calendar. We’ve had a blast doing it, but honestly are looking forward to hot chocolate and no video editing for a bit.

In other news, I have it on good authority that Amazon has The Shambling Guide to New York City as a Kindle Daily Deal today, so if you have a shiny new tablet under your tree and are wondering what to put on it, you can get Book 1 of The Shambling Guides for $2.99!*

But whatever you do, I hope you are having a safe and happy December, and will have a happy new year. Talk to you soon!

(affiliate link)

Advent Calendar Day 24

It’s ALMOST CHRISTMAS! It’s our final sponsor message, complete with special guests Daniel and Megan!

See more great #advent2014 at Grant’s Advent Calendar!
Music: “Batman Smells (A Rebuttal)” by John Anealio
Subscribe with this feed:
See on Youtube


Advent Calendar Day 23

We revisit some of our old haunts and learn totally incomprehensible truths about Billy. GASP.

See more great #advent2014 at Grant’s Advent Calendar!
Music: “Batman Smells (A Rebuttal)” by John Anealio
Graphic by John Goldsmith
Subscribe with this feed:


Advent Calendar Day 22

It’s time for a small break for cartoon drawing! Music: A Millennium Falcon for Christmas” by the always awesome John Anealio! Get his Season’s Geekings EP here for pay-what-you-want!

See more great #advent2014 at Grant’s Advent Calendar!

Music: “Batman Smells (A Rebuttal)” by John Anealio
Subscribe with this feed:
Youtube Link