Current process and Con report

This post originally appeared on Patreon over the weekend. It is an example of the kind of meta/background post that the $5 support level will see (among other things.)

So it’s been a busy weekend at Orycon. I’ve done 8 panels so far, the only thing remaining is the actual first official “public” reading from A Lon Beginning. My schedule was completely wrapped around the themes of the Lon Universe, (except filk, but I’m sure that will change soon enough.)Here’s the schedule, with some commentary.

Friday

4:00 pm: Economics of Fantasy Worlds

Not my panel (I was on the panel or moderating most of this list,) but relevant enough. The economics of the planet Lon have some interesting pressures that echo fantasy worlds, in that some things seem to just sort of show up without anyone having to do anything, but not everything. People are people, though, and given unbalanced resources and needs and skills, economics is unavoidable. I don’t yet know how all the economies on Lon work, but rest assured that I am as committed to not handwaving economic realities as I am to not being cavalier about the laws of physics.

5:00 pm: Biotechnology of Reproduction

I was moderating this one, and we had an exciting geek out over placentas with Jessica Hebart of the PDX Broadsides, whose day job is PhD candidate with a focus on placentas. My kind of nerd. I could (and have) talk placentas for hours. One of the other panelists asked, “But why would people use extrauterine gestation when we have mothers?”

I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED. (This question, and others, informed the entire genesis of the series.)

7:00 pm: Limits of Inclusivity

This was half about the abstract issues of excluding behaviors and people who cause harm to others, and half about the fact that actually having meaningful policies is hard given the limits of the institutional structure of science fiction conventions. Not my favorite panel, but an important topic of conversations. More agreement this year than in past years that yes, it is necessary to do more to exclude people who make places unsafe for others. The topic of Missing Stairs came up, and is relevant to the current political dialogue.

This panel was not helped by being opposite Alexander James Adams’ concert. I’ve been a faithful Patreon supporter of Alec since I joined Patreon, and I’ve known him for 19 years. He played at our wedding. I was Not Happy about the scheduling, but I got to pick up the last song of the concert anyway.  I would have told them no, if I’d known, but I absolutely loathe panels being cancelled last minute, and this is an issue I didn’t want to just push off.

10:00 pm: Fanfic Bedtime Stories! & Originals!

So I did a practice run on the first chapter with this very small panel, who listened so nicely and asked lots of questions. While I listened to the other fics, I worked on art for chapter 3, which is why we have the new cover. If you want to read my fanfic, I’m at Archive of Our Own.

11:00pm: Transgender Progress or Regress

Okay, so me at my first panel: Show up a few minutes early, chat with participants, have questions prepared and links and ideas all laid out.

Me at my fourth panel of the day: shows up 3 minutes late, forgets that I’m actually moderating, take two or three minutes to get my thoughts composed. That said, it was a fascinating panel and many connections were made that had people smiling for the rest of the convention. There have always been trans people at Orycon. This year there were a TON. Most of the people at the mixer on Saturday were some flavor of nonbinary. All that aside, the general consensus is that despite the pushback, this is a tide that cannot be turned. The progress made in the past 3 years as a whole is possibly more than the past 30 years combined. Which is why the pushback is so sharp.

Saturday, November 18

12:00pm: Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Themes in SF

This was a great session despite me showing up a couple minutes late after next to no sleep. Balanced conversations, great audience, and much marveling at how far we’ve come. Topics included good and bad representation, how cis people can write trans and queer characters without being offensive about it (answer: very carefully) and what we actually want from media now that we have more choice than Brokeback Mountain and lost lesbians. I moderated this one, too. (I’m actually a pretty good moderator once things get going. Getting places on time and already organized is a little difficult with an electric scooter, multiple elevators, an Escherian hotel layout, and uneven executive function can be Interesting.)

3:00pm: Surviving Cons with Disabilities

I survived the con with disabilities by not being too hard on myself for showing up late to this one, entirely due to elevator issues. No one minded. This was by and for people with disabilities, and we covered everything from hypersensitivities to smell and severe food allergies to navigating with mobility devices and spoon management. Also discussions of issues around anxiety, ADHD, autism and other sensory issues. The Creation Station sponsors a very large track at Orycon and is highly sensitive to the needs of participants. Great people, horrible room assignment.

4:00pm: LGBTQI mixer

I automatically dread anything with the word “mixer” in it, and I ended up being the only program participant other than Rhiannon Louve, who was moderating. Rhiannon had them circle the chairs and I immediately nudged it from a traditional mixer (spoiler alert: my allergies are not conducive to public snacking events) to something more along the line of a group get-to-know you. It ended up being my second favorite panel of the con, and the only reason it was my second favorite was because the one that followed it was so amazing.

7:00pm: Starting from Scratch

YOU GUYS OMG. So I was moderating this one, and the topic was on building civilization from the ground up. We had one AI specialist (yes, you can hear me rubbing my hands together) and a guy who has spent many years in the military being a specialist in disaster recovery. The audience was engaged, no one dominated the discussion (though the disaster recovery specialist thought he did, he was wrong) and this hit on so, so many themes of the Lon Universe that I was basically sitting there with anime star eyes the whole time. We talked about Puerto Rico and we talked about terraforming and we talked about information preservation and necessary skills. It was far and away the best panel so far, was well-attended and fascinating and just really interesting and fun and everyone left energized. I am so happy about it. I live for this stuff. I have many thousands of words of backstory about this stuff.

Still to come (dun dun dun…) 

Sunday, November 19

12:00pm: Concert: Possible Side Effects

The Possible Side Effects include my husband and his best man and anyone else they can drag into playing filk music with them. Honestly, the man I married is a delight and you should totally check out my Youtube channel to hear him sing. His lyrics are amazing.

AND…

2:30pm: Reading

That’s me, reading A Lon Story. Or as much of it as I can reasonably cram into about 20 minutes while still being engaging about it. (Reading aloud can be very different when your goal is to get people interested vs. putting children to sleep. Fortunately this story works both ways.)

So that brings me to the process part of the post.

Right now I’m still ramping up the launch of this Patreon and the story as a whole. The first seven chapters are written, but as I get ready to post each chapter, it goes through an additional process where I read it aloud, add in missing flavor details, and then find art for any breaks. My long term goal is to NOT be the primary artist for this story. My drawing ability is severely hampered by not liking to hold pens and simply not having the stamina to practice. EDS, Rheumatoid arthritis and fibro don’t seem to interfere with my typing ability, and I tend to be able to power through the mousing, so I have no trouble writing, little trouble doing photo editing, and mountains of issues with drawing. All art currently falls into two categories: Craig’s photos, and my photomanips.

I’m not apologizing for my manips, but they are not my be-all-and-end-all for the series. I’m necessarily limited by what images are available to play with free until the Patreon is making enough money, and once it’s making enough money I’d actually rather pay someone than keep switching gears between writing and art.

I’ve learned to play to my strengths, which is why the goals of this Patreon are heavily focused on getting other people paid to do art and website management. I’ve spent most of the past couple weeks working on photo manips and the annoying details of website and social media management, and my muse is yelling at me to tell you about the Rise and Fall of Babylon and Ama’s early years.  We’re a Lon way away from the story of where Mama went, but oh, I want to tell you!

Which is a roundabout way of saying not only “Yes, fanart” but that I actually want to pay artists to help tell this story and that’s going to need the Patreon getting out into the world.  I honestly have as much story to tell as people want to hear. Some of the rewards levels involve giving readers a chance to ask questions and get answers about everything from my in-universe predictions for the very near future, to questions about how the planet Avalon works.

The current limiting factor on getting new chapters up is simply the amount of time it takes me to take the chapter from the words to a finished product with art.  At the moment each new chapter is going into the next higher reward tier until we’ve hit the $20 level. At that point, each chapter will progress through each level, with the current plan being 1 chapter each week becoming public. People who put money into the Patreon will get them faster, but all chapters of the basic storyline will eventually be public. Once they’ve been public on this part of the site for a little while, they’ll be posted to the website and broadcast to social media that way.

Once 7 chapters are up, that’s the first novella, and at that point there will be a story break, and more meta will come for a little while, and then the next novella will begin. I don’t have a fixed length in mind for each part of this, I much prefer to let the story dictate where the breaks fall and how the story goes. I do have a rough structure mapped out for about a dozen stories, some of which might be shorts and some which might be novel-length.

Reward tier benefits that involve exclusives like Q&A and dedicated chats will happen right after cards charge on the 1st. I know people will come and go at the lower levels, and I can’t really control for that until Charge Up Front is an option, but most exclusive rewards at higher levels will require payment first, which means doing things very close to the first of the month.

Some Q&A content may become future material for lower levels, but some will stay exclusive, depending on how essential the material is to the ongoing story.

Postscript

It’s now a couple days after the con, and the reading went well. I got to read two chapters in the allotted time, and my biggest fear, that no one would show up, was not realized. There were even people there I didn’t already know! This stage of creativity is really, really daunting, where my precious baby is being shown to the world and most people simply haven’t heard of it yet. And I got artwork done for Chapter 4, which is now posted at the $5 patron level. Wednesday, chapter two will become public on Patreon and I’ll send out chapter one via the website (which will push it to all the social media I have for the story.
This is a lower res version of the artwork for Chapter 4. I love how it came out. Art doesn’t always look exactly the way we have it in our head, and this one… this one is very close.
Posted in Blog, Convention Report, Meta, Patreon info.

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