The Family Roadtrip 2016: The GeekGirl Con Report

Last weekend, the family and I drove from the Bay area up to Seattle for Geek Girl Con.  Last year, my wife and our eldest daughter went and had a blast, so it only made sense that we would go back as a family this year. Thursday, we loaded up the Forester and headed for Seattle. One thing I learned along the way is that I have a fear of driving in the mountains for too long (four hours, in particular). My brain begins to contrive ways for me to mess up and send us hurtling over the edge. The sight of snowy volcanoes in the distance did nothing to encourage or hinder that frame of mind.

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I’m not sure what any of us newbies expected, but GeekGirl Con exceeded my expectations. I ended up spending a lot of time downstairs at the gaming tables, trying out new games (where we also won copies of  Spirits of the Rice Paddy, Act Too!, and Small Star Empires). The vendor area was amazeballs (seriously, it’s a good thing I knew we had a budget. And responsibilities.), filled with just about anything you could think of for a geeky con, with a distinct tendency towards handmade crafts and art.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Here were people with a similar interest set, many dressed up, just milling around and being nice to each other. It was such a refreshing atmosphere that the only reminder that you had been walking around was when your feet started reminding you of their aches.

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And that’s not even scratching the surface of the fun we had (as the pictures hint). We also got to sit in on a panel and listen to the voice of Lapis Lazuli, Jennifer Paz, from Steven Universe. The panel was great, like the rest of the con (btw, SU fans – the Thanksgiving episode is going to be longer and packed full of surprises!).

From Seattle we drove to Portland and stayed a day or so. I would easily chose Portland as my next home – it somehow managed to mix both the small town vibe old town Fredericksburg with all of the conveniences of a big city. We loved it. To boot, it was actually Autumn in Oregon, something we hadn’t really seen since moving to California. The trees were brilliant shades of red and orange, the air crisp, and we were happy campers.

I just have to give a shout out to my wife on this one. As always, she planned everything in advance, researching and plotting out everything so that we could just enjoy the vacation and now that our next stop already knew we were coming and had a warm place and bed waiting for us. How she does it I don’t know, but she is amazing. I also learned to appreciate how hard it is to find places to eat with the youngest’s food allergies. Finding safe places to eat on the road was a bigger challenge than I anticipated, but having great kids and an awesome wife made it all work out.

And now we’re back, slowly working our way back to the normal life of going to work next week. yay.

An Unexpected Writing Update

There are a few mantras you have to repeat to yourself when submitting short stories. “Keep it out there” is an important one – never let the story sit, eventually it will find a market. “Keep track of your submissions” is a super valuable one that I don’t think gets enough press. Whether you pay for Duotrope, use the amazing services of The Grinder at Diabolical Plots, or run your own homebew solution, you have to keep track of where you sent a story and when. This helps you not send it to the same editor twice, but it also let’s you keep track of how long it’s been out.

Take me. Lately, my stories have been novel length. That doesn’t mean I won’t write a short story if it bites, but most of the stories I’ve been working on of late have been, well, longer. That wasn’t always the case, and with some downtime yesterday I reviewed where I had stories pending still. To my surprise, and thanks to pure neglect, I had a few stories that had been out long past the point that I should have heard something back. So I did the only thing that made sense.

I wrote the editors and asked if they were still considering the story. This may seem a bold move if you know me, but at 100+ days, I figured it was about time.

This morning, one of the editors responded. Which is why I’m happy to share that I have my second publication (pending), a sale to the Enter the Apocalypse anthology. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but consider the story has both kaiju and vampirism in it, and this song was in my head when I wrote the first draft.

And happy Friday!

Does Cummings Actually Write?

I’m in a bit of a doldrum, folks. I am committed to finishing the first draft of this fantasy novel. The problem is, life’s insurmountable distractions aside, the capricious thing I call a mind is trying to convince me that the story is boring. That it’s time to move on to work on other things, more exciting things. Everything on the other side is shiny and new and untouched, and the fantasy novel is dull and boring and uninspired.

That might actually be true. It doesn’t matter, but it might be.

So why continue ploughing forward? Because I feel this way as I draw to the end of every novel. I know there are flaws in this draft – the hints I started the novel with that I never brought up again. The guns I placed on the fireplaces but left to collect dust. The shape of the novel evolved as I wrote, but I’m letting the part of me that knows there’s inconsistency cloud my judgement.

So it’s time to write it forward. I’ve said this before, I know. Frequent readers have heard me pledge I’m going to speed this up and finish writing, and yet here I am a month later and barely 10k further along.


To answer the question – I cannot say with any alacrity that Cummings has written lately. A few thousand words here and there, but nothing that distinguishes me as a writer. But I’d like to finish this novel before GeekGirl Con, which means I have just over two weeks. If I apply myself, that should be enough time. I’ve been using Novlr for the last few weeks, and really appreciate it as a soon-to-be scrivener online. I’m working through a bug with the developers (my most recent chapter is being moved around on me), but that aside really enjoy the app. Plus, it lets me utilize my Chromebook completely now, which is always a plus.

OK, enough babbling about that. I need to get some work done so I can settle in for an intense writing session later.