Taking the concept of Bar Con too far…

Authors at Top Floor Bar RT 2016*Rant warning/*

Planning to be at a con but not paying registration to be at said con, some call it “Bar Con-ing”, seems to be happening more and more and there are those who’ve taken the concept of Bar Con too far. Here’s the thing – Bar Con itself is a positive aspect of any con. The key consideration here is that Bar Con occurs because the con is happening. It’s a part of the con.

When you didn’t pay registration, but you’re at the con all weekend in the bar or lobby? Posting publicly in advance on your professional author pages or websites to tell readers you’ll be there and let you know if they want to buy your books? Selling books out of your bag or hotel room? Not cool.

When you’re sneaking into a panel or event to see friends? And oh, you didn’t plan to do it but you did? or it was for research? You didn’t pay registration. You’re hurting the con.

This is why we can’t have nice things, people.

Yes, there are amazing networking opportunities at a con, especially at the bar. Everyone goes to the bar eventually. And hey, if you’re not attending the con but you’ve set up some time to have drinks with an agent or editor or fellow author for networking while they’re in town? Cool. Or maybe you pick them up in the lobby and head off site for dinner. Great.

But “I’m attending… sort of” or “I’ll be at the hotel all weekend” or “come find me at the bar all weekend” and flying or driving long distances to get there? You are attending the con and not paying the con for the confluence of professionals and meeting of minds you want to take part in. The con suffers. You’ve hurt the con financially and if it deteriorates as more people like you do it, you wonder why.

You are part of the problem.

Authors and Readers having drinksBut the networking! “I need the networking and I can’t get ROI on the con itself”. I see this argument a lot from people. But did those people approach it in a constructive way? Reach out to agents and editors and industry pros who’ll be there to schedule meet up times that don’t conflict with con interests? Most of the time no. They sit at the bar where the magic happens because they might accidentally or randomly talk to an agent or editor who likes the convo so much they invite the author to submit their manuscript.

Yay! It could happen!

Yes, it could.

That agent or editor is also going to see the author doing this unprofessional thing. They will likely research the author online–because that happens when considering working with an author–and see that the author even posts about planning to do this unprofessional thing. Or the author posts after the con describing how they snuck into panels or events. Not only unprofessional but indiscreet.

Classy.

The writing career is tough. I get it. I live it. There are also nuances to every situation that could argue for why what a specific person is doing is not hurting the con and is important for their life or career. Bar Con is a great thing and valuable to career building. It is.

Piper at OtakonHowever, people have jumped way the hell over the line in taking advantage of it –taking Bar Con too far– and then they wonder why their favorite cons deteriorate. They say they only do it to this one con because whatever but really it’s like cheating in a relationship. If they do it once, they’ll rationalize doing it again and again. I’ve seen this at anime, SFF, and romance conventions. It frustrates me when those cons go down under the weight of this sort of behavior.

I prefer to contribute to the cons important to me and support them, as opposed to cutting corners and cheating the con.

*/end rant*

ETA: Brief recap to be clear…

  • Bar Con can be good when not taken too far. Meet ups and getting together can be super valuable. Bar Con in general = GOOD.
  • Sneaking into convention panels or events = BAD.
  • Selling at the bar or in the lobby or out of your hotel room = Tacky as hell. And Bad.
  • Camping out all weekend stalking agents and editors coming to the bar = Questionable results.

There can be times when Bar Con is great! It’s just lately, I’ve seen people take advantage to the point of extreme WTFery. There is the source of my rant.

What do you think?

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Focus on Writing in 2017

Piper Surviving Deadlines by Focus on WritingI made a careful decision to have a stronger focus on writing this year. As an author, one might think I write, therefore I have a focus on writing.

But here’s the thing: when an author goes to events, the author isn’t writing much, if at all. When an author is doing book signings, the author isn’t writing much. The priority is to spend time with you, the reader, and rightly so. It’s important and I love meeting readers!

But all those events take away from writing time. There’s also travel that both takes away from writing time and is generally exhausting.

I maintain a day job career in parallel to my author career and I do travel 85% of my time for the day job. Add writerly events in there and I am sometimes away from home for up to 3 weeks at a time. I don’t take vacations, I take time off from the day job to attend writerly events and conventions. There’s no down time and without down time, my creativity suffers.

Last year was rough and much of it was due to the killer schedule I set for myself. I wrote 5 full length novels and several short stories through the course of the year in addition to throwing myself into my day job for the most challenging project of my day job career.  I am proud of my work.

There’s no way I can maintain the pace. I wouldn’t survive.

This year, I’ve decided to manage my time carefully and only attend writing retreats. At these retreats, my writing productivity has been amazing. My intent is to come through 2017 with high quality writing and the foundation laid to do great things with my writing career in the future. My priority is to provide great stories to my readers. This year, I’ll focus on writing.

Even if you don’t see me in person, you can play Find the Piper all over the internet for insight into my writing and hijinx:

Sign up for my newsletter for occasional news about upcoming releases plus exclusive excerpts and giveaway.

Check out the PJRA FB group for fun interaction, shared writing snippets, and occasional contests as my readers track my Travel Hijinx.

Follow me on Instagram for photos of my travels and behind-the-scenes insight into my writing only available here.

Listen to EMEPiper and subscribe to my Patreon to support writing-related creative content.

And of course, I can be found on FB and Twitter, as well as Pinterest and YouTube.

Come 2018, I’ll be looking at events again. I’ll be out there to meet readers and network with pros in the industry. Moving forward, I’ll be carefully balancing these priorities so my writing — the core of me as an author — is still strong as I participate in upcoming events too.

If you’d like me to attend your favorite convention or reader event, please contact the event coordinators and request me. It’s the best way to let events know you want me there. These events are for you, readers. Let them know who you want. 😉

Play Find the PJ at the Nebula Conference 2016!

When Mary Robinette Kowal asks me to be a panelist/moderator at the Nebula Conference-a professional conference for Science Fiction and Fantasy-I’m extremely likely to say YES. Not only because I have a decades long love for the genres but also due to my deep respect for Mary herself.

She is thought-provoking. She is also considerate. She writes wonderful novels. And she demonstrates via her actions the messages she presents via her words. Mary Robinette Kowal is one of those nifty people who inspire me to strive to do great things.

And so I’ll be in Chicago for the Nebula Conference, on panel and moderating. I’ll also be attending the many other interesting panels to expand my mind.

It will be my first Nebula and I have no doubts about it being interesting. 😉

ComingSoon copyI’m evolving this year and this conference will be a test of that evolution. I am Piper J. Drake when it comes to romantic suspense. But will PJ Schnyder continue on or will that alter-identity fade into the archives as Piper continues? It’s a question that involves publishers, my agent, and some deep thinking. Regardless, I intend to continue writing science fiction, paranormal romance, and steampunk in addition to my romantic suspense.

As a part of the evolution, my social media platforms are consolidating. So whether you are looking for PJ Schnyder or Piper J. Drake, you will find my thoughts here.

And I’ll hope to see you at the Nebula Conference in Chicago. 😉

PJ’s (Piper’s) Panels at the Nebula Conference

Saturday May 14 at 2pm

Being a Hybrid Author

Rather than choosing traditional publishing or indie-publishing, some authors are doing both. These panelists talk about the nuts and bolts of combining publishing strategies to diversify a writer’s income stream.

Moderator: Kameron Hurley

Panelists: Eric FlintCharles GannonAlethea KontisPJ SchnyderDan Slater

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Saturday May 14 at 3pm

Day Jobs for Writers

Discussion would include considerations for writers balancing their writing careers with day jobs from time management techniques to whether to have pen names to what not to Tweet in order to avoid getting fired. Bonus discussion on how experience in the workplace can impact your writing perspective.

Moderator: PJ Schnyder

Panelists: Rachel AcksDanielle FriedmanN.K. JemisinMartin L. Shoemaker

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Saturday May 14 at 4pm

Redefining Aliens of the Future

In early SF, aliens were often used as stand-ins, to represent groups of Others in our own societies. They are still sometimes inappropriately inserted into lists of marginalized groups by people attempting to downplay bias. In SF worlds where the human condition is portrayed with full diversity, what new roles can aliens take on to keep their relevance to their core genre?

Moderator: Juliette Wade

Panelists: Charles GannonNick Kanas, M.D.Fonda LeePJ SchnyderRachel Swirsky

 

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Japanese Paper Stars

I spent yesterday folding Japanese paper stars with Joyfully Reviewed as part of my gifts to the readers sitting at my table for the upcoming Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend, specifically for the big Saturday luncheon.

Japanese origami stars

The ribbon these are made of is particularly fun because the writing glows in the dark. They’ll be going into the base of my table decorations at the event and hopefully go home with the readers I meet at my table. Aside from being extremely cute, there’s a story behind these stars and a cultural practice from my childhood in these.

Story Behind Origami Lucky Stars

Should we start with “once upon a time”?

There was once a little girl in Japan named Hoshi. She loved the stars in the night sky and would lie on the grass at night,staring at them. As hours went by, she would wonder how the tiny stars could shine so bright, remaining suspended in the air for so long.

One night, the stars fell out of heaven in a shower of light. So many fell, Hoshi was afraid there would be no more. Saddened, she ran to her home and found herself an empty glass jar. She took up paper and folded one paper star for each spot she’d seen fall. Within the night, the little girl folded perhaps a hundred paper stars.

And yet, she was still saddened because many more stars had fallen fro the sky and she hadn’t been able to fold a paper star for each of them.

The next night, she saw only a few stars in the night sky. She ran and knocked on all the doors in the village, asking all the little boys and girls to come out. She explained to them her worry and each of the children wanted to help. That night they made two thousand stars. Every child placed their own stars in their own jar.

As they watched the sky the following night, more stars appeared in the night sky and the children cheered. After such a magical achievement, Hoshi was inspired.

“These stars are lucky because of us. From now on, these paper stars will be called lucky stars.”

She also looked up at the stars in the night sky and said, 

“Whenever a lucky star is made, a falling star is saved.”

~ story paraphrased from Secrets Behind Japanese Origami Lucky Stars and origamiway.com.

Paper Stars and Piper’s Childhood

My grandmother taught me to fold paper stars for luck during my childhood summers in Thailand. This is a Japanese folk tale, but the practice spread to Thailand and other countries. I was taught to pick a pretty glass jar, fold stars of colored paper, and present the filled jar as a gift.

I fold them now to wish luck to those I meet and gather the tiny paper stars in a jar to give as a gift.

It’s a gesture that’s about effort and consideration, wishes for luck and thoughts of friendship. I very much hope the readers at my table will enjoy them.

Play Find the Piper at RT16 in Las Vegas!

FOR_Drake_elevator cling_v4_signing_webRT16 in Vegas is my first con as Piper J. Drake, the first of the year, and wow, it’s going to be an activity-packed week!

The RT Booklover’s Convention is an amazing event, filled with great authors and readers, and incredibly fun. I’ve attended for several years in a row now (as PJ Schnyder) and I’m looking forward to participating on several romantic suspense panels and reader events as Piper.

My True Heroes series launched in January of this year and I am super excited to go see this graphic in real-life at RT, covering one of the hotel elevators. It’s going to blow my mind!

Giveaway!

Readers attending RT: I would be so happy to see pictures of you taken next to or in front of this graphic on the elevator at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Take a picture, post it to FB, Twitter, or Instagram and use #FindthePiper. I’ll have a special gift bag for one of you after the Giant Book Fair on Saturday!

 

Piper’s Scheduled Appearances on Panels and at Events:

First Timer (aka Virgin) Orientation

This convention orientation is designed for all first-time RT attendees. We’ll give you the “quickie” seminar experience. Trust us: if this is your first-ever RT Booklovers Convention, this could be the most important 60 minutes of your week! After you head to registration, get your bag of goodies and experience the initial shock and awe, you’re going to have questions. That’s where we come in. Come join us for an hour that, for some, has been a life-altering experience. We understand what it’s like — your virgin year at RT! Here is where you get your questions answered, meet other first-timers and become part of a special group like no other during convention week.

Host(s):

Tuesday, April 12, 12:15pm-1:15pm, Brasilia 6

Steampunk: The Diverse Punk

Sin City Murder Mystery!

Think fast. Love slow. Keeping great pace!

Romantic Suspense: Alpha Heroes and Kick-Ass Heroines: Romantic Suspense Characters That Make Readers Cheer

Romantic suspense is filled with super-hot alphas and kick-ass heroines, but how to craft those three-dimensional characters so readers will cheer for them until the very last page? These best-selling authors will discuss the building blocks of fan-favorite characters, the role of the heroine in romantic suspense, breaking characters stereotypes, balancing character and plot, crossing genres and more!

Moderator:

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 10:00am-11:00am, Lambada

Memorable Themes and Settings in Romantic Suspense

From treasure hunts in the Caribbean, to the jungles of Central America, from New Orleans society and cemeteries to Key West intrigue: how to incorporate memorable themes and settings into romantic suspense.

Panelist(s):

Friday, April 15, 11:15am-12:15pm, Tropical C

Intergalactic Bar & Grille

Attention starship crew! Charge your blasters and get ready to repel the invasion of the dastardly alien space ducks as we drink, snack and indulge in sci-fi silliness at RT’s only sci-fi party. Win prizes! The first 200 crew members to report for duty get goody bags loaded with swag. Brought to you by Captain Linnea Sinclair and her trusty space commando authors!

Host(s):

Friday, April 15, 2:45pm-3:45pm, Brasilia 2