So, I was asked about six months ago what I was doing in August 2015. Not being a person who knows what she's doing the next day, I said to my biggest geek friend, "I don't know, Erin. But I'm guessing you have a suggestions. If it's coming out to Boston, I can't just yet, though I'd love to. "
"No, not that far," she reassured me. "Just Spokane." I got all excited, "You're coming to Spokane?!" She laughed, "No, but we hope George R.R. Martin will be, among others." I assured her I'd rather see her, but, being a big Martin fan, I was geeking out a little. "Okay, what are you talking about?"
"I need help with the YA Area of Sasqaun, someone local, and it'll be held in Spokane. Do you think you could help?"
When I said yes I didn't know what I was getting into. Mounds of emails, important meetings, scheduling, contacting authors, researching the area, orientation, site-gatherings and talking to people, lots of people. Having never even attended a Worldcon, it was all a little overwhelming, but, more than anything, it was very very fun.
To be here now, in the thick of what I could only imagine when I saw the empty Convention Center not long ago, is awe-inspiring. Cosplay, costuming, characters galore: minions, Victorian ladies, Steampunk pirates, Girl Genius and Discworld characters come to life, Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Homestuck, LOTR, and even Zelda...So much geek that my head almost explodes from eyes bulging and taking in the fun.
I remember helping to schedule panels. It was the hardest, most time consuming, most confusing part of the process, and, looking at my Con guide, it still boggles me that all these little things I typed in the screen are coming to life, that people are attending them, enjoying them and talking about them. I've acted, done set design and directed in plays before, but working for Sasquan was like doing all of those things all at once, and the end result is the same: relief and joy.
I'be been asked, by several people, "Oh! Your first Worldcon and you helped put it together?! What is your favorite part?" And I can honestly answer:
Seeing how much people are enjoying themselves, making connections, meeting old friends and being with like-minded others. There is a a palpable energy in the air and it's very positive, and that's my favorite part.
I've met people who are fans of my work, people who know what I do and think I'm pretty okay at it, but my favorite thing to do when I meet them is not talk about my books. That's embarrassing. It's asking them why they come to cons at all. What they love about it. Because I, too, came to be connected: to readers, to writers, to other geeks who would understand my tattoo references and love of all things fantastical. And I feel very loved, very blessed to be where I am.
But, my favorite part, one that will stick with me forever, is when I was putting together the YA Meet and Greet for the Sasquan Teens and Preteens. I made sure the food, free books, games and things were all in their places and I stood outside the room to greet the youth and to stay outside of their hair. A father sat outside the lounge, letting his teen have her fun a part from him and, at the end of the meet and greet, she came out of the lounge, beaming.
"Dad! I found my kind! I found my people!" I can't say why, but that still brings tears to my eyes. Maybe it's because, when I was young, I did not live in a geek culture, so when I finally found people as passionate about the worlds and words behind my favorite books that was exactly what I wanted to yell, too. If my dad had been there, I would have rushed into his arms, excited and joyful.
Because, you know what? I've found my people, too. And it's a beautiful thing. Warm regards from a very tired but very blessed Sasquan staff member. May the rest of the Con be your time to shine. Enjoy yourselves, my fellow geeks. May you all live long and prosper.
The Youth of Sasquan
Being a writer is an awesome job. I get to make stories up, and people are usually amused by them and send me nice comments and reviews. It's a sweet gig, but I'm pretty new to the published writer business. That is, I've been writing my whole life, but just recently thought, Hmmmm, maybe other people would relate to this or find it worthwhile to read. So it came as a surprise to me how very sick of my debut novel I am. Do I think it's worth reading? Well, I've been honing it for five years, so it's probably as done as it will ever be, and most likely entertaining. Does it deal with cool stuff? Check. Does it delve into life's serious traumas. Double Check. Do I mind blogging or talking about those things? No, I enjoy that. I'm just sick of the book I just released. Physically and emotionally sick.
It surprised me that I became sick to my stomach the week of release. I'd previously released my book as a self-pub title, so I was unsure why it made me so physically ill to release it the second time, and I think I have an answer. I actually have a readership this time. I blogged, discussed, shared and crafted relationships with people, and now I care what they think of my book. I want them to relate to it. I want them to laugh and cry and be angry. I know I have people reading it this time, and that makes a pretty big difference. I respect my readers and I know I have them. My books doing well in Amazon rankings and that, for some strange reason, has made my stomach hurt worse. Eeek! People are buying it? What will they think?!
So why am I emotionally sick of a book that, for years, I've been passionate about getting to a wider audience? Because I've spent YEARS on it. Spending that amount of time on any one project is bound to make you a little tired of it. I mean, I've read it so many times that I could probably put on a play without a script, no problem. Please don't ask me to. Because I'm a ham, and I just might. I suppose editing made me look at my book differently, too. It made me see its imperfections, which is positive, but you can't unsee that stuff. Now, I'm still catching things that I wish were better, but it's out of my hands now. That should make me feel better, but it doesn't. I strive for perfection, and it's unobtainable. My book is proof of that. I suppose those are all good reasons to feel a little blah about it all.
Deep down, though, I know I still love this book. I know why I want people to read it. I think it's important, touching. It looks at big pictures in an entertaining way. It helped me evaluate where I was at when I wrote it, deep in postpartum depression. In giving my characters a chance for hope and redemption, it gave me the same hope.
But, still, I'm sick to death of it. Because it's time to move on. Move on to one of the six other projects I have in my mind, on napkins, in notebooks and in shitty first drafts. My mind longs for the new territory of stories untold. So, on to writing the next book. Before I do, however, I'd like to take a moment to be proud of writing a book that (deep down) I'm very happy with, no matter how done my body is with it.
Okay, I'm done. I'm gonna go write something else now. Thanks, debut book, for making me feel like I can write for readers. I'll still tell people to buy you, but don't ask me to read you again for a while. We need a break from one another.
H.M. Jones is the B.R.A.G Medallion author of Monochrome, re-released by Gravity, an imprint of Booktrope. She is also responsible for the Attempting to Define poetry quartet and has contributed a short story to Master’s of Time: A Sci-Fi and Fantasy Time Travel Anthology, "The Light Storm of 2015." A bestseller only in her mind, Jones pays the electric bill by teaching English and research courses at Northwest Indian College. Jones is also the moderator for Elite Indie Reads, a review website for Indie and Self published books. Besides buying enough second-hand books to fill a library, Jones loves to spend time helping her preschoolers grow into thinking, feeling citizens of this world, run, weave, pull with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Canoe Family and attempt to deserve her handsome husband, who is helping pay the other bills until his wife becomes the next big thing.
I'll be featured on BlogTalk radio August 5th, 2015 at 3:30 EST. You can call in to talk with me. Just click the above picture and it will take you to the link, if you're interested in knowing more about my writing or process.
Monochrome is here! Thank you, street team, publishing team (Gravity by Booktrope), readers, fans and reviewers. This book would not be where it is without all of you. Please join our launch party online today:
What would you do to save your most precious memories?
That’s the question that Abigail Bennet, a new mother, must answer in this dark fantasy.
The cries of her new baby throw Abigail into rage and desperation. Frightened by foreign anger and overwhelming depression, the first-time mother decides to end her life to spare the life of her only child. But before she acts on her dark intuition, she is overcome by a panic attack and blacks out.
When she awakes, everything is blue: the trees, the grass, the rocks and still, scentless sky above her. Everything except the face of the man who stands over her. He is Ishmael Dubois and claims to be her Guide through the dangerous world of Monochrome, a physical manifestation of the depressed mind. But in a place where good memories are currency, nightmares walk, and hopeless people are hired to bring down those who still have the will to live, Abigail starts to wonder if she’ll ever make it back to her family. Despite her growing feelings for her handsome, mysterious Guide, Abigail must fight for the life she once wished to take or fade into the blue.