Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Defcon 18, Writer's Group, and Publishing

Three topics that have nothing to do with one another!

Two weekends ago, I attended Defcon with Roland. Last year, I live-blogged the event, but that was a different year, a different blog. :) This year, I learned interesting things about facial recognition software, cyberwarfare, psychosonics, and how to flirt. The first three I learned via talks, and the latter I learned via practice at parties.

As Defcons go, this one was very uneventful. There were only two things of note: GSM cellphone conversations can now be hacked. In other words, even though your conversation is encrypted, someone can set up a listening station and hear your call. For about $1500. I expected to hear of someone getting arrested for this, but oddly, no. Secondly there was a knife fight at a party next door to the party we were attending. Yes, there was an arrest in that case.

No killer bees, no ATM fraud, no amazing pranks for everyone to buzz about. Even the Wall of Sheep was pretty weak, since they encrypted the Defcon network this year.

I wonder if it was just an off-year, or if Defcon really is going mainstream.

Last Saturday I attended my new writer's group for the second time. I ended up liking this this group. My expectations were really high, but they've met them. I've loved the stories I've critiqued so far.

The only thing I worry about is that I'm not sure anyone is a grammar Nazi. My old group had a great grammar Nazi. Sure, she'd strongly disapprove of stylistic creativity; i.e. if the story flowed better to break grammar, she would still make a big deal out my precious sentence fragment. But she served a very useful function: She knew all about grammar, and nothing missed her careful eye.

In the new group, I worry that I am the grammar Nazi. This scares me for two reasons: One, I don't actually know everything there is to know about the elements of style. And two, if I'm the grammar Nazi, who will catch my mistakes?

Maybe next time I'll have something to submit, and then I'll know for sure. I should work in a few intentional, glaring mistakes, just to see if anyone catches them.

Yesterday I worked really hard on the final steps of publishing my novella, Make Willing the Prey. It took much longer than I had planned to do the final revisions, think of a title, write the new epilogue, finish the cover art, format the text, reformat the text, write the description, and do the final tweaks. I was almost two weeks past my unrealistic self-imposed deadline, so yesterday this thing was getting published OR ELSE!

So at something like 6:30pm I finally clicked Save and Continue at Amazon. Now I'm just waiting for their final review. I'll make a formal announcement when it's finally ready.

I am a bit worried about the cover image. Even though I uploaded a file of the right dimensions, the sample thumbnail looked distorted. I'm really hoping it was just a low-quality preview and that the actual cover art will look fantastic. Otherwise I will have to keep tweaking it and will likely hold off on the official announcement until it's perfect. Amazon's 24-48 hour lead-time on any changes is really frustrating in this regard.

I'm going to take the rest of this week to focus on marketing and posting it to Smashwords and other markets. (Unrealistic expectations again? lol).

Then I'm going to start cooking on the next project. I only have vague ideas right now. Since I haven't written any fiction from scratch in ??? years, I will spend some time this week on writing exercises to get the juices flowing. I can work from an outline, but I need my characters and settings to exist first so I know what actions they might take. I'd like to talk more about this, but this post has wandered enough already. :)

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