Gaslight Gathering, a Steampunk Convention in San Diego, CA

Last weekend I attended the Gaslight Gathering convention at the Handlery Hotel on hotel circle in San Diego, California.

It was the first time for me at a Steampunk convention. I have been to many science fiction conventions including several World Science Fiction Conventions. So this was a different experience for me.

Someone mentioned that the attendance was small. I disagree. This was the first time they held this convention. I was not tripping over people, but I felt that the attendance was right for the space available. I don’t know how the vendors did, but one vendor came up to his friend that I was talking to and told him that he had sold sold enough to cover expenses in one sale. I bought enough brass items from another vendor to make him happy.

I had a mission in attending the convention. I know it sounds mercenary of me, but my goal, or purpose if goal sounds to dogmatic, was to find a process or a place to find Beta Readers for Steampunk writing.

I succeeded. After talking, (more like badgering) a bunch of authors I had one author patiently explain in detail, with links, what to do. I am not a social media type or user. I have a Facebook page, if you can find it, that I look at every ow and then (at least once a month, maybe).

I’m an engineer, that’s an introvert with a degree. Engineer’s have a spirit of self reliance, independence, self-sufficiency (think go away and I’ll fix it). I have been accused of not playing well with others and breaking thing to see how they work.

One author on a panel accused me of looking like an writer. Boy, did I have her fooled. I write, I write a lot. But you don’t put on a 1900s style shirt and un-become an engineer. It’s Dilbert to the bone, just like ugly (beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone).

I liked the convention. I got some important things done. I made friends. I accomplished a goal. I should have been writing (I did some in the hotel room) so you can’t win them all.

If your a writer consider going to a steampunk convention. The panels on writing are not well attended. That makes access to the panel members (they’re authors, they’re experienced) much easier. Makes for one on one communication. That’s what writing is all about, communication. Most attendees are into period clothing, there were sewing classes at the convention. This convention had a knitting class, I think.

The convention had a magic show put on by a chemist. Warning what comes next is gross. One part of his act he drives a nail into his nostril, with a claw hammer. You can’t help but watch. He does wear safety glasses while driving the nail into his face. Then he picked a pretty girl from the audience to pull the nail out. He girl he picked was nick named Squeak. As she was standing next to him holding the claw hammer and he was going through his spiel she squeaked like a mouse and the squeak went ultrasonic. She did not want to pull the nail out. But the crowd started chanting, she had lots of friends in the crowd. She did pull the nail out (with lots of squeaking) and looked thoroughly disgusted doing it.

So, look into attending a Steampunk convention it you’re a writer.

Oh, and one of these days I will fix the link at the top of the web page so you can look at the rest of the graphic novel.

Stay strong, write on.             Professor Hyram Voltage.


Readers Can’t Read Your (the Author’s) Mind

Yesterday, I was at the writer’s meeting. And yes there is no rest for the wicked and writers. Does that mean that wicked writers are insomniacs?

During the review of a fellow writer’s weekly output, I found that her protagonist did not act right (in character) at the end of manuscript.  The writer said that she hadn’t told anyone that the protagonist was a fighter.

I had to put a sock in it to keep from yelling. What I told her was she needed to go back to the beginning of the story and show that the protagonist is a fighter, knows how to fight, or show how they learn or learned how to fight. If nothing else you have to tell the reader that the protagonist is a fighter.

What I was trying to say was, the reader can not read your mind. It’s your story. It’s your world. But the reader will not get it if it’s not on the page. It may be clear and logical in your mind, but the reader will not understand if it’s not written down. You, the writer, have the right to ignore everything anyone says about your writing. It’s your world, your words, but you have to communicate to the readers. You have to communicate the basic feelings, beliefs, knowledge, and passions of your characters. Those things have to be on the page. Shown is the best way to build a character in the mind of your reader, but telling will do in a pinch.

Don’t go for a surprise or twist ending where the hero suddenly knows how to do the right thing out of thin air. Show that the hero could have gotten the knowledge somewhere in his daily life or along the story’s journey. Even if it is as crazy as a real life example of my grandfather who read dictionaries when bored and there’s nothing else to read, so he knew the answer to stupid riddle in the newspaper that had everyone stumped.

Stay strong, write on.        Professor Hyram Voltage.

Reading your novel, script, work out loud

Last night I attended our local screenwriters group’s meeting. At the meetings we table read  five to six pages of scripts that a member brings in. A table read is where different members play the part of characters as the script is read out loud.

Reading one script (there were three scripts we read last night)  it was obvious that the writer had not read the script out loud. If he had he would have caught a couple of errors and the script would have read much smoother.

Granted it is hard to read your own writing out loud. You got to find someplace where you can do it and no one will hear you.

It feels silly and embarrassing to do. Indescribably embarrassing to have someone finds you doing it.

I do it. I’m wrapping up a book and getting it ready to send it to an editor. I’ve read the book out loud twice. Then a friend asked me to help set up the equipment for a podcast. I hadn’t done anything like that in years. So I dug out the microphones, cables, miscellaneous stuff and set it up. I did a test recording to insure everything works. I had the draft of my book next to the computer so I read a couple of pages from my book. Or I tried to read a couple of pages of my book. I would read a sentence and have to stop to finish marking up the sentence with corrections to make it read better, sound better, smoother.

I was reading pages from the back of the book. I had read those pages out loud and fixed them twice before. Now I need to read the book again out loud, this time reading into a microphone. I’m in the middle of writing another book. I don’t have time for this. Still, one thing you learn, if your going to be good is; don’t fix it in post.

Post means post production, it comes from the screen writing world, but applies to photography, writing, and life in general. Don’t depend on the editor to fix it. Don’t depend on technology to fix it. Don’t depend on your writing group to fix it. Don’t wait until later to fix it. Do it right the first time.

You’re going to have enough fixing to do anyway.

So hang a do not disturb sigh on the bedroom door. Take your manuscript and a folding chair into the closet. Close the closet door and read the manuscript out loud into a microphone while recording it on your computer. The microphone and recording will add the little bit that will bring out errors you would gloss over if you just read it out loud and not record it.

Stay strong, write on.            Professor Hyram Voltage