Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: costuming

StarFest 2016

My Starfest 2016 Schedule!

So see the clicky linky above? Click it! You know you want to! CLICK IT! I’m so excited about this. For the first time ever, I’m attending a Con not just as a fan (although you can be sure I checked the schedule for things I want to go see), but as a panelist.

Starfest is an established sci-fi convention here in Denver. It’s one of the first conventions I went to. I always have a lot of fun. It’s not huge, not like Dragon Con, or Denver Comic Con, but I like going to a smaller convention. I like being able to take the time to talk to people. Starfest is where I met one of my favorite writers, who also happens to be local. (Mario Acevedo, in case you were wondering.) We talked about steampunk, both the costuming aspect, as well as whether or not to write it. It was fantastic, and a wonderful way to put one’s toe into the world of conventions.

It’s also family friendly. As my kids get older, we’ve started to introduce them to cons. One loves it, one is rather ‘meh’ about it. I’m good with that. A fifty percent ratio isn’t bad. I appreciate it when the cons do things to include and involve the kids. It’s good business, too. All us older nerdy folk are going to keep getting old. Start ’em young, and you build an attendee for life.

The ‘nerd culture’ has been in the spotlight over the past couple of years. I’ve seen some of my favorite cons explode from an attendance standpoint, as more people come to see what all the fuss is about. A lot of them keep on coming.

Why?

Because cons rock. Seriously. They do. I love to costume, and I love love love talking costume with other people who love to costume. #1 thing I’ve learned? Costume for comfort. Do your housecleaning in your costume. If you can’t get your work done, mod your costume. I am not joking. Nothing sucks worse than planning to be out, on your feet, probably sweating, for ten hours, with a costume that is not comfy, not movable/breathable, or one that you’re constantly futzing with. LOL, I’ve learned this the hard way.

If there is a movie, TV show, pop culture thing, book-anything that has a fandom – you can find a con where your fellow fans will be. Trust me on this one. I have a friend who loves Korean pop. He goes to panels about that exact topic at one of the cons I attend. I didn’t even know it was a thing, but it is.

I’m a fan of so many things-Harry Potter, LOTR, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Supernatural, All Things Joss Whedon With Special Love To Firefly/Serenity, steampunk crossover for ANYTHING-you get the point. I have costumes that fit into all but two of the above listed fandoms. Cons are a great place to dress up, show off the thing you geek out over, meet like-minded folk, meet authors, learn new craft skills (I went to a panel, and then every panel thereafter from a presenter at Anomaly Con who gave up so much knowledge on steampunk costuming that I use to this day…she was brilliant) and have fun.

So if you’re looking for something to do, come by. It’s an easygoing convention. There’s plenty to do – in addition to the fan traks at Starfest, they also have Horrorfest, and ComicFest. My little guy wants to go to Horrorfest so bad. He’s already a HUGE horror fan. (As in, his Halloween costume last year was Jeff the Killer. I was sure a visit from CPS was heading my way.) But he’s only 9, so we’re easing into the horror.

Plus, I’m working this weekend. Come see me.

Post Con – The Mondayest Tuesday

today-is-the-mondayest-tuesday-ever--1c84b

So it’s the dreaded post Con. Blech. It’s always a let down. I love Dragon Con. I get to see friends I don’t see most of the year, and go to panels that are talks by actors I love, or meet authors I fangirl over, or craft panels that discuss various aspects of writing and the business therein. Such was the case this year. I hate to see it end. Plus, my costumes were kick-ass. More on that later.

My husband and kids are the sweetest. My husband said, It’s good to have you back, and both kids wanted to snuggle a little extra last night because they missed me. The feels, ya’ll.

On to business. One thing I noticed is that there is a divide still regarding self-publishing, and that makes me…verklempt. Self-publishing is a good thing for ALL. If you publish traditionally, you have options, and the freedom to look to other avenues if your publisher is not doing right by you. I know it’s not that easy, but it’s an option, and ten years ago, it wasn’t. Options are good things, regardless of whether or not you take them.

As an indie author, I was unhappy and annoyed to see the large swath of opinions re: self-publishing dependent upon the programming track I went to. I attended a panel on marketing via the Electronic Frontiers Forum, and it was excellent. Even though there were folks were working within the traditional system, they were happy for options. In the Writers’ Track, it didn’t seem to be the case. There was what seemed to me to be a more negative mindset about the indie publishing industry. I have, in the past, asked for more self-publishing focused panels, and I suppose this technically met the bill – but it sure didn’t stick to the premise of helping people understand their options.

Let me lay it out for you. The gatekeepers have shifted. It used to be if you wished to call yourself an author, you had to find someone to let you in. Now, you can walk yourself through the gate, and get to the garden on your own.

Do you need to be as professional as possible? Yes, indeed. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. If you are not seriously skilled at graphic design, hire a cover artist. Check the contracts with all these folks, and READ THEM. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to. One of discussions I saw that all participants felt passionately about was regarding cover art. Do you own the art, or do you merely license it? What rights does the artist, the creator, have in regards to further use of your cover? It’s something to consider. It’s taking IP and who owns what to a deeper level.

The thing about doing it yourself is that you do it ALL yourself. But to me, that’s the best thing about it. You do it all YOURSELF. See the difference there? I’m a closet control freak. I like to be in charge. Yes, I admit it. Of my work – I definitely want to be in charge. I want to make the calls for me. Will I screw up? Probably. We all do as we are learning.

The best part of Cons for me are meeting people like you. After one of the craft panels I went to, I was talking to one of the presenters, and they suggested we repair to the bar to continue the conversation. It was an amazing hour, talking craft, word count, genre, business, marketing, price – I am so very thankful that this person took the time from their schedule to help along someone who has lots of questions. That meeting alone left me with a professional high that hasn’t worn off yet.

We’re a solitary lot. We sit in front of our screens, and let the creativity flow from our head to the same screens. That’s awesome for your readers, but you need to get out from behind the screen, and talk to other people like you. Go hang out in a place where there are TONS of people who are just as nerdy and passionate as you are about stuff.

And for me, it solidified my thoughts on being an indie. Last year, I was at Con as someone who hadn’t yet published. This year, I have three books out. My perspective has changed slightly, from how I listen to what I’m hearing. But my thoughts on this path haven’t.

Why? Because I have looked at the options, talked to people on both sides of the options available, and still feel this is the best option for me. That’s the hard part – figuring out which is the best option for YOU. The more I explore, the more I feel this is it, and I’m where I ought to be.

If it weren’t for self-publishing, I wouldn’t have these options, and I can tell you I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I could be somewhere better, or worse. I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be here.

I just got the trade copies of all three of my books this week. Come back from Con, and books are waiting. It doesn’t get much better. I’m headed to the RMFW Gold Conference this weekend, and I’m really excited. That’s nothing but writers, and people at all stages of the business. The potential to meet and talk and learn is enormous. Explore other options, hear things that have worked for others and see if they might work for me.

There’s always something to be learned – and now, like I mentioned, we as authors have OPTIONS. Seek them out. See what resonates with you. Try out some of the options. You may fail, you may not. But you won’t know unless you explore – and having self-publishing as one of those options is a good thing.

That’s the takeaway I’d like to see – that sure, you can self-publish – but here are the pros and cons, and here are the pros and cons of publishing traditionally. Weigh them, and see what’s best for YOU. Not me, or anyone else. Once you hear that, weigh it. What can you live with? What do you think will be your struggles? For me, it’s solidifying a marketing plan, and time management. I’ve been trying to write this damn post all day and keep having distractions. *What? A squirrel??!! Quick! Let’s go – oh, look, fun FB post!*

It seems to be an either/or with some factions on both sides, and while I am passionate about my decision, it’s MY decision. There is no other option for me that will be the best. Having the ability to discover that and see what will work best for you is truly marvelous, and one of the things I feel makes this such a great time to choose to write as your career.

And now, in a totally unrelated subject, most of the costumes I wore this weekend. I need to snag one other pic because it’s my interpretation of Dean and Sam’s Impala, and who doesn’t love Baby?

Until then, I give you the Tardi Sisters and the 7th Doctor, me as Potassium in the Parade of Elements in the DC Parade, and my Battle of the Planets/G Force/Gatchaman Joe/Jason the Condor costume. (I love this costume beyond belief. I would call it George if it didn’t already have a name.)

Now get to work.

thedocntardis fabana sapfab

lisajason

One week to go.

Until Dragon Con, that is. Not anything on the radar of most of America, I’m sure. But for the geeks in the crowd – It’s Nerdi Gras, baby!

On deck are the Tardis costume – along with the lovely Sap, of course.

CThomasHowell

I do not believe there will be a C Thomas Howell in the offing this year, however. Sadly. BTW, how is it the guy looks even better older than he did younger? Or is it that I am just older? Nah. Never mind. Not going there.

I’m testing three new costumes. One is my Chiquita Banana, which I will be rockin’ for the DC Parade, in the Parade of Elements group. As Potassium, the banana is a must.

Then I am trying out my Supernatural Baby costume –  I’ll post pics.

Finally, there is my awesome, amazing, fantabulous incredible G Force Costume. I’m Jason/Joe (what his name is depends on when you watched it). I have the boots and gloves, and am waiting on the dress and cape. Got the helmet and other accessories.

helmet

Just to give you an idea of the amazing awesomeness.  The entire costume looks like this:

charactor_joecondor0

Except I’m wearing a dress instead of that unrealistic body suit. So I’ll post pics of that too.

And in honor of the one week countdown, I’m getting things done. All the house stuff, kid stuff, groceries, schedules, NEWSLETTER!, and books. Yeah. Two books out this week – One Night At The Ball is live now, and Casimir’s Journey on 8/31. In print, even. I’m all sorts of motivated.

Now I gotta go find a hat for my banana.

At a crossroads

So I have finally finished Book One of the Saving Sylvah series. THE SEARCH is done. Not only is it done, it’s edited. A LOT. It’s been an amazing process, learning how to get my story out better.

I’ve been basking in the ‘It’s Done!’ of it all, and then this week, started thinking about Book Two, as of yet unnamed, I struggle with titles, btw. I don’t feel like there’s a clever bone in my body when it comes to trying to appropriately title my work. Anyway, back on topic here. I’m thinking about Book Two.

My problem is that I am thinking too much. To the point where I am pulling over while driving and making notes on the phone. LOL, I could do it via voice, but my phone is really bad getting my voice sometimes. The few emails I’ve sent have scared the recipients, so pull over and write it down it is.  There are so many ways I could go, as I added a different ending to B1 than I originally planned on.  Where to take it?

The best thing is that I have already found my tension-maker. One of the things that will string the story along a fine line throughout the whole book. And when it came to me, it was like “BAZINGA!” because I just KNEW I would like to read this if it were someone else’s work, and it would be something I could keep on with til the end.

I dunno what it is. I was really feeling in the weeds and behind the eight ball and all the other struggling to get done cliches before the end of the year, and now, I am feeling like I am actually getting shit done.

Well, I am behind on my critique group. *sigh* And my costuming. Anomaly Con is a couple of months away and I have some of the necktie corset to finish, and the Cthulhu fascinator to finish as well. My tentacle fingers are nearly done, I just need to put the gear suckers on them. I’ll need to see how the blouse looks. I also need to do my Leia steampunk headgear. I feel like I’ve really gotten far away from my cons and costuming, and while I adore writing, and feel so good, I adore the costuming. This one is probably the costume that will have taken me the longest, other than my Inara gown.

So while writing is going along, I suppose the worrier in me can be at ease with the fact that of course there’s more to do, LOL.

Goal for this week – decide on the outline for B2, get the critique inbox cleared, and figure out what to do with the tentacle fascinator.

Now THAT’S a To Do list.

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