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As NaNoWriMo 2014 approaches – my twelveth go at it – I am rushing to finish applying edits that I made in a red pen to a paper copy of my 2012 NaNo manuscript to the digital version and get it off to my proofreader. I am a little behind on getting ready for NaNo this year. Okay, a lot behind.

As in, I haven’t even really decided what I’m doing.

A few conversations with friends have thrown some ideas that I had for a novel into the fan, where it’s been chopped up and I’ll need to reassemble what’s come out the other side. A few other conversations has revealed some flaws with the ending of said 2012 NaNo MS, and has me considering the possibility of writing a sequel novella to go with the book.

And a look at my ever-increasing To Do list and Anthology Invitations has me thinking that maybe I should scrap the idea of a new novel all together and use the peer pressure of the NaNo wordcount to play catch-up.

Basically, I’m stressed.

What began for me as a fun way to push myself to write a long fanfic, and then to write original stories is now sort of in the way. The meetups are all scheduled horribly for me, I have become a terrible introvert when I’m writing and prefer silence and darkness to help me focus so the write-ins are counterproductive, and the thought of slogging through 50k of new stuff that my agent hasn’t seen or approved yet and might veto at the end of it is horrifying.

I am also contemplating… cheating. I’ll be AFK for three days at the start, and I keep thinking that if I just write that 4k NOW, then I’ll be on track once I get back. But that is totally against the spirit of the thing.

In short, I think I’ve outgrown NaNoWriMo.

GASP.

But—! But—! I don’t want to! I love the community, I love the challenge, I love the rush of surpassing your word count for the day. I’ve already bought my notebook for this year, and gave my donation. I’ve already begun to post in the forums, and I’ve already put a novel up on my profile.

I love the literacy and arts therapy that the Office of Letters and Light promote, I love the Young Writer’s Program, and Camp NaNo. I love how important this has become for people, for their hearts, and their heads, and their lives. I love 30 Covers in 30 Days. I love that this matters to people. I love that, yes, there are published authors out there whose NaNo MSes are now purchasable at your local bookstore (including mine), but more than that, I love that there are millions of stories out there in the world, now, that there weren’t before.

NaNoWriMo matters.

But does it still work for me?

This is a question I assume many NaNoers ask themselves every year.

Not only are there questions of how well writing 1700 words daily works for an individual’s personal writing style, but whether November is a good time of year this time around, and if they even have a project ready to start fresh.

I want to be honest, here. I walked away from this blog post for about three hours. Yup, writing the above bolded section made me upset. Sad, that perhaps it was true that my time with NaNo was over. Angry, because aren’t I supposed to be a professional writer, dammit? Shouldn’t I find a way to MAKE it work? Upset because I feel so overwhelmed right now, so many ideas and not enough time to do them in. Resentful because I can’t seem to write that one project that will enable me to quit my dayjob and be a full time storyteller. Jealous of my fellow pro NaNoers who managed to NaNo up a New York Times Bestseller. Guilt because I talk so highly of the NaNo community and I don’t go out to near as much as I could, don’t participate on a level that I wish I could make myself do, that I haven’t had the stones to stand up and be a Mod or a ML, that I hide so often behind the excuse of “No, I have to write, I have things do to People. Important Things for Important People.”

It left me with a lot of roiling emotion.

I felt just crummy in general, because maybe it really was time to throw in the towel and declare my days of NaNoing over. I thought for a long time about what I love about NaNo, why I started, what it means to me and realized this:

I don’t want to go.

So maybe I’m a poor community person, and maybe sometimes I have to cheat a little to make sure that I get my wordcounts in, and maybe I don’t always start on a fresh project like you’re supposed to.

But you know what I always do?

I write.

It doesn’t matter what, and it doesn’t matter when, and it doesn’t matter what the project is.

In November, I write. And that? That I don’t want to give up. That I never want to give up.

So I’m a bit of a cheat, and a bit selfish with my time, and a bit of a sneak, but I am also a writer.

NaNoWriMo – for twelve years – has given me that.

And that is why I will come back. Every year. Always.

And if that’s what NaNoWriMo means to you, if that’s what makes your heart beat fast and your passion sizzle, then do it. Do it however you have to – be a bit selfish, be a bit of a cheat, be a bit of a sneak – but do it.

Write.

That’s all NaNo is asking of you. Allow you to ask it of yourself, too.

HALLOWEEN SALE.

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress is now just $1.99 on Kindle!

Now you can read a scary, fun, funny story to your wee ghouls and goblins before bedtime on All Hallows Eve.

But beware! The price rises (like the dead!!) after Halloween.

 

CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!

Colour by Adrienne Kress

Colour by Adrienne Kress

It’s colouring time!!

Enjoyed The Dark Lord and the Seamstress? Love the fantastic, emotive, wonderful art of Jennifer Vendrig? Want a FREE copy of The Dark Lord And The Seamstress signed by J.M. Frey?

All you have to do is colour!

How The Contest Works:

1)There are three age ranges: 0-7, 8-15, 16+. We will mail out three physical books, signed by J.M. Frey, to the three winners.

2) HERE are eight of the twenty four illustrations that make up the book for you to colour! Pick one, and right click to save, or download, or print! (These are PNG. If you want the TIFF files, contact me and I’ll send them along)

3) Colour one of the pictures. It can be any way you like, in any medium you like. Be creative! (After all, the Dark Lord is a horrendous dresser).

4) Post the picture on Tumblr and tag it #tDLatS and indicate your age range. If you don’t have a Tumblr, post it to another site and inform me that it’s up and I will add it to the Tumblr album.

5) You will have until HALLOWEEN (October 31 at The Witching Hour) to post your picture with the tag and age information.

6) J.M. Frey AND Jennifer Vendrig will be choosing the THREE winners to receive signed copies of the book.

*

FAQs
Q: Will you be picking the BEST pictures?
A: Nope, I will be picking the ones we like the most! That doesn’t necessarily mean the most elaborate, or the most professional, or the neatest. We’re looking for fun, for passion, for energy!

Q: Can kids enter?
A: Absolutely! Make sure you indicate your child’s age range when you post the picture. If you’re a kid, make sure you ask your parent’s permission to post, first.

Q:What if I feel like redrawing the whole piece in my own style?
A: We will love you forever, and totally consider it for the contest. That would be super cool, yo.

Q: Are there any limits to what I can do with the piece?
A: Well, it IS a kid’s book, so keep it PG. Otherwise… no?

*

Want ideas for how everything should look? Here’s the full text of the poem, over on Wattpad.

CROPPED Dark_Lord_and_the_Seamstress_Cover_8.25

It’s here! It’s out! It’s available!

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress

Once upon a time, oh yes, so very long ago, there came to be a lovely girl, who came to learn to sew. And as it goes, fair listener, she learnt to sew so well, that even the Dark Lord himself learned of her talent down in Hell.

 “The Dark Lord and the Seamstress” is an illustrated love story told in verse about the importance of looking beyond someone’s (poorly dressed) exterior and into their heart. Features a little trickery, a little romance, and a little bit of sartorial fun!

*

Review by: Mystical Press on Oct. 19, 2014 :
5/5 Stars What a fun and delightful book!!! The illustrations were lovely and the story in prose was just adorable! Okay…admittedly…I teared up a little. IT WAS CUTE, SO SUE ME! LOL Looking forward to more from this author.

*

Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads | Smashwords

book launch

Here is my scheduled appearances at GenreCon 2014!

 

October 18, 2014, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Crowdfunding 101 – Galt Room

 

October 18, 2014, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

J.M. Frey Reading – Library

 

October 18, 2014, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Dark Lord and the Seamstress Book Launch – ConSuite

 

October 18, 2014, 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Sexual Consent in SF/F – Brock Room

 

October 19, 2014, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Separation of Author and Word – Wyndham Room

 

October 19, 2014, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

World Building 101 – Wyndham Room

 

October 19, 2014, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Transmedia 101 – Wyndham Room

 

October 19, 2014, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Steven Moffatt: Hero or Villain – Galt Room

So, this article about how Cosplay is Killing Cons went up, and then JV Friedman Tweeted this amazing rebuttal, which generally sums up my feelings on the topic. I commented on the rebuttal on FB, and was asked to repost it as shareable. So, with some tweaks and extra thoughts added, here’s the reposting.

I’d like to jump in and add my two cents about the future of Cons.

As it stands, right now, I prefer the concept of Con As Social Space over Con As Access Space. 

Cons began as a way to get access to things that fans – separated from one another in different cities without the aid of the internet, and separated from the writers/actors/creators they admire – wanted access to. Fans created Cons for ourselves so that we could exchange VHS fanvids and get into one room together to screen a special-access episode or film, or to get access to stores or shops that sell fannish things, or to sell/exchange Zines, or to exchange fanfic, or show off our awesome Cosplay skills, or to have a chance to meet celebrities face-to-face and get photos with them, get autographs, get a chance to chat with them and ask questions.

And dude, that’s awesome.

I began going to Toronto FanExpo 17 years ago, before it was called FanExpo. I remember Voice Acting workshops with Roland Parliment (which led to some auditions and show pitching, on my part). I remember buying $300 of manga because it was the only place I could get it. I remember buying volume #1 of X/1999 on Friday, reading it Friday night in the hotel room, and going back to the same dealer to buy the whole run on Saturday. I remember the thrill of searching Artist’s Alley and finding things I’d never, in a million years, have found elsewhere.

Back then, there was no Etsy. There was no Zazzle. There was no Red Bubble. There was one anime shop in Toronto, and some comic stores stocked Akira, Sailor Moon and Dragonball, but little else. Chapters did not have a comics/graphic novels/manga section. There was no place to buy bubble-gum pink wigs and yellow contacts except around Halloween.

There was Fanfiction.net, and later LJ, but I still subscribed to paper Zines and Yahoo Newsletters. Youtube wasn’t a thing, so vids were posted on community boards, and passed around via VHS or later, DVDs. Very few shows had box sets, so you had to tape it every week. Going to a Con and finding the full season of a show on VHS or DVD Was a jackpot, because where I lived, there was no HMV, no Sam the Record Man, no Sunrise Records. And even then, the selection of television shows was slim.

They only way to hear filk was to go to filk meetups at cons, and download the tracks if the filkers had them up online. There was no iTunes, and no ability to self-publish albums. If the band/filker had a CD, the only way to buy it was generally from them directly.

And the only way to talk to stars was to go to Cons. Or write them a letter that generally garnered a very lovely generic letter from their publicist and a signed glossy in return. Very nice, but not the same.

This is not me “Good Old Days”-ing.

This is me explaining how and why Conventions –the  Conventions as Access – was important. It was vital. It was community building.

But. Then there was the internet.

Anything I could possibly want to buy – licenced, or fan made – I can now do so online. I love Etsy, and Red Bubble, because I love being able to support fanartists from all over the world. I love being able to find or commission the perfect prop for my cosplays, or the right wig. (And I still spend most of my time in Artists’ Alley IRL, too. Man, Fanartists, watch out for me. I always collect business cards and then shove the artists’ online portfolios at my publishers when they ask me about cover designs).

Anything I could possibly want to read – licenced or fan made – I can read online, or buy via Chapters, Amazon, or the comics or manga’s own app and store. I can buy fancomics online, now, and read them. I can buy digital fanzines. I can get newsletters. I can read reviews an hour after the show aired on a blog, or listen to podcasts. I don’t need paper anything anymore. (The environment and my overburdened bookshelf are grateful).

Because of Twitter, and FB, and Tumblr, I no longer need to write fan letters via snail mail to get access to the stars I like. I tweet to him thanking him for playing a day-saving hero with a cane because #RepresentationMatters, and Burn Gorman graciously replies. (Sure, there’s bad stuff too, like people bullying Steven Moffat off Twitter, and being rude to Mark Gatiss – but most of it is good.) Neil Gaiman and Gail Simone answer Tumblr Asks, and all the filmed Q&As and panels end up online.

I can watch fanvids on Youtube, and Vimeo, and see celebrity’s vines, vlogs, and blogs.

I can buy sheet music and digital albums from my favourite filkers.

I can watch Masquerade videos and have access to thousands of Cosplay photo albums.

I no longer need to pay megabucks to get tickets to get into cons and then pay more bucks to get autographs/photos/good seats or access to the mic in the Q&A in order to meet writers/actors/artists/talents. Because of the internet, I don’t need to subscribe to paper newsletters to get episode critiques and reviews. Because of the internet, I don’t need access to Cons for fanvid screening panels and filk workshops, and special viewings of unaired pilots.

In short: everything that attracted fans to conventions – access to creators and artists, and access to each other’s thoughts, opinions, and fanworks – is now obsolete.

So what does that leave? What can Cons do that the internet can’t?

Why are Conventions important? Why bother with them? Why keep them alive if the internet has taken over?

Well, I can’t hug my fandom friends through the internet. I can see photos and vids of their cosplays, but I can’t touch them, marvel at the work in person, pose for photos with them, etc. I can talk to my favourite stars on Twitter, but at a Con dance, I can buy them a beer and have a chat in the bar. I can revel being in a safe space, a place filled with my tribe and my people. I can make new friends. I can chat. 

Conventions still do one thing that the internet does not.

They provide a physical meeting place for Communities.

I can still do all the things I used to do at Cons, but now I don’t go to cons specifically to do Q&As and Photos and Autographs, and all the things the big cons are nickel-and-diming me over. So I don’t do them. I use the con to have meet ups, go for coffee, go out for karaoke, do cosplay photoshoots, talk shop,etc.

I stopped going to the Big Cons as a fan. Because what they want me to pay for, I can do for the price of my monthly internet bill. And the stuff that *I* want to do, the stuff that supports the reason I’m there (to be social) is virtually absent from the programming, or costs extra on top of the ticket.

To survive now, Cons have to evolve and adapt. Cons as Access Space are obsolete. To survive, Cons have to provide something that the Internet can’t, and that’s a Safe, Fun, Social Space.

That’s why “relax-a-cons” like FutureCon are, I think, the wave of the Convention future. There’s light programming, an emphasis on social events and interaction spaces, and the guests have virtually no barriers around their time. At FutureCon-I was a guest, and I had no autograph session, no table, no Q&A session. The local bookstore took care of selling my books at a table in the Dealre’s room, and the Dealer’s Room and Artists’ Alley were conflated into one room so you got to see everything all at once.  Instead of being held apart from the attendees I was just…. there. And when I was out in public space, people were free to come sit beside me, have a chat, get an autograph, get a pic, have a high tea, or dance with me. And I really liked that.

(And sure, some celebrities won’t want to do this. That’s their perogative. And sure, even I am careful about how much “public” time I give, especially given the size of Con it might be. And some fans will be horrible. But overall, the experience has been good for me, and any horribleness I have had at such Cons has been headed off or taken care of by alert and competent security volunteers and ConComms.)

KeyCon in Winnipeg was great too, because as a guest, I actually got time to spend with the other guests as well. Richard Hatch bought me a drink and kissed my cheek! Lar de Souza and I sat in a hall way drinking funny named cocktails while he drew me as a caricature and taught me how to twerk. I got to share some of a new short story by just drunkenly saying “Hey, who wants to hear a thing??” and let people vote yay or nay. I wandered around and sat in on a filking circle, and signed things in the halls, and it was great because I both got to be a guest and enjoy the con myself.

Next weekend I’ll be a GenreCon as a guest, and I’ve got a signing session and a reading, but I declined to have a table because it’s nicer to be able to go to other people’s panels, and to scope out the rest of the Con, and get to share in the artists’ alley and see the dealer’s room. The thing I am literally looking forward to the most is finding that talented bastard Thomas Gofton and singing a duet with him, again.

As a guest, yes, it’s important to have a structured time and place for people to be able to find me. There’s nothing worse than going to a con specifically to see/meet/get a pic with/get an autograph from someone in particular, and just playing Polka-roo with them the whole time. I still like scheduled autograph and reading sessions for just that reason. But I think it’s also important not to overschedule guests so they can enjoy the con, and interact on a less formal level.

Actually, I think it’s important not to overschedule a Con in general, because if you offer too much to do I in the same hour, you spread your audience awful thin. If your con has 100 guests and ten panels going on at the same time, you’re going to have some empty rooms. Especially around mealtimes.

(And I never understand why anything is scheduled against the Guest of Honour’s programming. It’s a bummer for the other guests who might like to go see the Guest of Honour’s Q&A/talk/reading/screening/etc. but it also, I think, sends a bad message to the GoH: “Yeah, you’re important, but not so important that we’re not gonna try to siphon the audience away from you for that hour.”)

And you know, I know people who go to these sorts of Cons and never even go to a guest panel or Q&A. They’re there to hang with their friends all weekend, and shop, and eat, and laugh, and dance, and cosplay, and sing along to musical episode screenings, and filk, and just be in a  good space.  For those people, good guests are a bonus.

And there’s my two cents.

(Only I’m Canadian and we don’t have pennies anymore, so… there’s my nickel.)

TL;DR – For Cons to survive, they have to evolve into the one thing that the internet doesn’t give fandom: a Safe, Fun, Relaxed Social Space with light programming and less nickel-and-diming.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress by J.M. Frey

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress

by J.M. Frey

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Hello, everyone! Wow, two updates in one day!

(It's a little blurry because it's a screenshot. I promise it will look better.)
(It’s a little blurry because it’s a screenshot. I promise it will look better.)

Firstly, you see above the first look at the final cover of the book! It’s just a screenshot, so it’s not as clear as it will be in print.

Secondly, every one has now been paid, and the book is currently being processed by the publisher!

Thirdly, I will be sending the email addresses of those of you who requested interior art or sketches from Jennifer Vendrig to Jenn this afternoon. If you don’t hear from Jenn in the next few days, let me know.

Fourthly, as promised, there will be an announcement video for my next novel. The release date for the video and the free first chapter looks like it will fall mid-November. Trust me, it’ll be cool.

And, lastly, some really great news for users of Goodreads: the book’s listing has gone live! Click here and add THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS to your “Want To Read” shelf! Not on Goodreads? You can sign up here.

Much thanks, again, for your awesome support. Feel free to splash this all over social media!

–J

Just a quick update this time around, everyone.

Jennifer Vendrig, Hard At Work

Jennifer Vendrig, Hard At Work

The money has arrived in my account and I will spend today sending it out to all the people and places it needs to go. (Huzzah!)

I also received 99% of the survey responses. (Luckily, those of you who didn’t fill out the survey are related to me, and I do, actually, know where you live!)

Lastly, we uploaded the finished book to the printer’s site last night. I’ll be doing final reviews and tweaks today, and then checking the proofs, and then… printing! How exciting.

Brienne E. Wright hard at work finalizing the cover.

Brienne E. Wright finalizing the cover.


Some bad news, though. The publisher tells me that it may take 6-8 weeks for the ebook to be formatted after I upload the print version.  I’ve got the files so I can do it myself instead of waiting for the printers to do it, so hopefully it’ll be available sooner than that! So, for those of you who chose to get just the e-book copies, apologies. I will do my best to ensure that it’s available before Halloween, but I hope you’ll forgive me if it’s not.

Thank you for your support, again.

–J

My lovely fans and friends – I’m happy to announce that I will be a guest at GenreCon October 18 & 19th! Come see me be a clever-pants in panels, for a signing, and to attend the book launch for The Dark Lord And The Seamstress on Saturday afternoon (at an hour appropriate for your littles!)