Penguicon Post Mortem

Holy crap, what an amazing time.

I attended quite a few technical panels this year, so that I could learn things that might level me up as an Ops Engineer. That mission was a success, and I came away with pages upon pages of notes, as well as a couple of panel suggestions for next year. It may not be your typical technical conference, but there was a whole lot of generalist and introductory information available.

I did get to see a bit of the literature track this year, and was impressed (as usual) with what i found. There seemed to be less debate about whether or not self-publishing was viable, and more debate on how to go about it properly and professionally. Thumbs-up to that.

I missed out on the retro gaming room. Unfortunately, I had booked that entire day with panels, except for the first hour that the room was to be open. Unfortunately, the people running the room were late in setting it up, so I missed out. I heard it was fantastic, and hope that it will return next year.

Cosplay wasn’t limited to anime characters that I was unfamiliar with this year! There was a Kaylee from Firefly, and there was a G1 Soundwave, complete with heat-sensitive rubsign! Her chest piece was even playing the video of CGI Transformers dancing to Gungam Style!

I successfully handed out the last of the Remembrance ribbons. That is, until I find more in wacky storage locations throughout the house. I’m fine with pretending that they’re all gone in the mean time. On the other hand, I received more ribbons than I ever have before. More than once, I had to adjust the badge lanyard to prevent my ribbon chain from drooping too low. Now that I’ve moved it into my journal, it takes up four pages. The bottom ribbon, and now my favorite, says “RIBBON HOARDER.”

The best part of Penguicon, top to bottom, was seeing old friends and making new ones. While Alex, Peter, and I did the Three Musketeers thing through much of the con, I ran into a ton of old friends, was introduced to a slew of awesome people, and even got up the courage to introduce myself to a blogger I’m a fan of, and compliment his nails.

Photographic Evidence!



Did you get a red ribbon at Penguicon with this URL written on the back? Then you’re one of the lucky few to receive the last of my ribbons from my original release of The Remembrance. In 2006, when I debuted the novel, I made three different convention ribbons. The first was a green one, with the text SQUIRREL KING. The second was a purple one, with the text THE REBUILDER. You have one of the third ones. With each ribbon “release,” I set up an associated page:


Most of those pages are outdated, and though you can technically still buy a copy of the book there, I would advise against it.


Because I’m rewriting it. My wife is using her editorial chainsaw to hack it to bits, and I’m putting the pieces back together, usually according to her amazing advice. The floor is covered in stuff that’s been cut out, and I’m writing a lot of new material for it. The goals are to be able to better relate to the characters, close plot holes, and make more sense as a whole. Those clumsy stumbles in a first novel, where you can’t help but throw the reader out of the story? Yeah, those are enemy number one.

Why again?

Because I want to submit it for traditional publishing. I want it to be the best novel it can be, and it’s just not there. It never has been. It’s always been a “first novel.” I need it to be a “good novel.” I want it to be a “fantastic novel.” I want to put it through the crucible of traditional publishing and see if it will come out the other side.

And when I finally finish its sequel, written over the span of at least eight years, I want to be able to apply what she and I have accomplished to the new story, and keep doing it as I write into the future. I want to learn this lesson.

So, while you can technically go and grab a copy of The Remembrance, I’d rather you check out some of my other work over there in the side bar. One’s a novella and the other is a short story, both at more recent steps on my storytelling journey than the first novel was. In the next few months, a new novella will appear there. I’d love it if you came back and checked it out, as well.

I hope you had a great time at the con, and I hope to see you again!

Edanna and Amateria

I finished Myst 3: Exile a while ago. My lack of posting about it probably gives a good idea of how I felt about it at the end.

Edanna was fun. It was a bit more linear than I expected, but the puzzles made a lot of sense as a teaching Age. For its time, the graphics were beautiful and engaging. My only complaint was that it was sometimes difficult to tell which bits were background and which were pieces of the puzzles.

When I got to Amateria, I just used a walkthrough. The puzzles made absolutely zero sense to me, and even after completing the Age, I have no idea what it was trying to teach.  The “lesson” was a clue as to how to solve the puzzles, but had little bearing on the Age itself. This is where the change in game creators comes through most clearly. This Age threw me out of the game and made me want to give up on the entire Myst franchise.

I’m pretty sure that whoever developed this game had a hand in Minkata in Myst: Online. One messed-up, overly-difficult Age that is completely unrelated to the game’s story, or the story at large, can ruin an entire game.

It’s been long enough that I’m considering installing Myst 4 and 5. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. We’ll see.

Penguicon 2014!

It’s been since 2010, but this year, I’m going to Penguicon! I haven’t always been able to make it, but I’ve been attending off and on since Penguicon 2.0 in 2004.  I’ve posted a few times about it. Pictures, too.

This year, I’m going purely as a fan of things technical and fictiony. I’m hoping to meet up with old friends and re-connect, meet new friends, and learn a bunch of stuff that I didn’t know before. I’m not scheduled to speak on any panels this year, and I won’t be doing much advertising.

Okay, maybe I’ll talk up Two Vampires a little bit.  And the upcoming Adam’s Name novella. And the rewrite of the Remembrance.  The thing is, and this is hard for me to admit, I’m really proud of these projects. I’m proud of finishing them, and I’m proud of not giving up on the work Nikki and I are doing. I’m excited about them, too. I’m hoping to get over some of my social anxiety and feeling of being a pretender, and just share my excitement.

If you see me wandering into or out of a panel – this year I’ll be focusing a lot on the technical ones – carrying my Decepticon notebook, come up and say hi. Share with me what you’re excited about. Don’t be offended if I ask you to slow down; you’ve hooked me and I’m taking notes.

That excitement is my favorite part of Penguicon. This year, instead of leaving it in Southfield on Sunday, I want to take it home with me.


IMG_0050My parents gave me this journal. It was a Christmas gift, if I remember correctly. I was living on Fairview. It came in its own box, the same color as the cover. I remember being enthralled with the ribbon bookmark, the stamped leather cover, and the gold leafing on the edges of the pages.

This journal was simply too fancy for me to desecrate with my chicken scratchings.  How could I possibly taint it with anything less than perfect handwriting?  What if I spilled coffee on it, or got diner grease on the pages?  Those were badges of pride in my second hand or homemade journals, but seemed offensive in this work of art.

This journal was NICE.

It spent a year or two collecting dust in that house, and then in storage, and then in my nerd cave in the Bancroft house.  A couple of months after the move to Bradley Ave, I picked it up, brushed the dust off of the gold leafing, and steeled myself.  I took my collection of convention badges and ribbons and taped them throughout.  It no longer shut properly.  The gold had gaps in it.  When it opened, the pages naturally parted to multicolored evidence of nerdy shenanigans.  It was no longer too nice for me, and I could write in its pages with abandon.  I had given myself permission.

I’m glad I did.  The pages are thick and solid.  They’re a bit glossy, creating issues with some pens, but work fine with most.  The ribbon bookmark frayed slowly at the end, but never enough to impede its function.  It’s been an absolute joy to write in.  Somehow, it avoided both grease and coffee stains.

And just in case you’re interested, they’re still made.  In Dublin.  I highly recommend them.