This past weekend, I was invited to take part in the Norfolk Slover Library’s very first science fiction convention, Get Your Geek Con. The panel that I participated in was focused on independent publishing and was organized by the editor of the Outliers of Speculative Fiction anthology that I was lucky to be a part of last year. L.A. Little and his colleague and friend, Toi Thomas, and I spoke for an hour about why we choose to publish with either small and independent presses or to self-publish, like Toi. It was an engaging conversation that covered why it’s important to work with an editor who is invested your work, how sustainable that model of submission & editing is, how we feel about the difficulties of publishing with mainstream SF/F presses, and the critical importance of a diversity of voices in our field. I spent the rest of the evening wondering if I’d said “um” too many times, and if we’d sounded as cogent and engaging as we felt. The audience was small, but had lovely questions – and given the fact that the Lightsaber academy and children’s costume contests were happening at the same time as our panel, I felt very lucky that we had anyone attend at all. There were some photos taken and a video make of the panel and I hope I’ll have a chance to share it with you soon. I even got to sign a copy of the anthology – that was the most amazing feeling for a brand new writer!

It’s surreal to have been invited to do this. I prefaced my introduction with saying I’m really just a beginning author. I can speak to the experience of having just recently started submitting and publishing, but I’m by no means an expert. I orbit around the periphery of SF/F, grabbing tiny tidbits of news and industry updates and read the twitter feeds of favorite editors and authors, but I continue to struggle to find time to write and use those brief moments efficiently to do more than just review what I’d previously written. I’ve enrolled in Mary Robinette Kowal’s upcoming “Writing on the Fast Track” workshop this Fall and I’m both nervous and excited to complete it. I understand from participants in her Short Story Writing Intensive Workshop that your brain is often reduced to quivering mush from all the fabulous practice and knowledge you acquire. I’m relieved that the schedule is less, well, intensive, than her other workshops. If I can start developing better time management habits and efficiency in my writing process, I might actually be able to produce submittable stories more than, say, 1 every year that I seem to be averaging. *sigh*

Regardless, I’m honored to have been part of the Slover Library’s inaugural convention. It really was fantastically set up and coordinated. I hope they invite us back next year. And I’m looking forward to the wonderful return of cooler weather this fall, bringing with it the glory of school days for young children and time to write for Mom. Now if we can only manage to survive this most miserable of heat domes over the DC Metro…