Travel in January is always a gamble, so when I heard we were going to attend ConFusion in Novi, Michigan, I was a little apprehensive! Glynn Stewart was scheduled to appear as a panelist and I joined him there along with the rest of the Faolan’s Pen publishing team. If you didn’t know, the team lives in three different cities across Canada, so that meant a lot of converging travel. Kate, Operations Manager is in Calgary, Alberta. Glynn and his partner (and CEO!) Jack are in Kitchener, and I’m way out on the East Coast of Canada in an awesome little port city called Halifax. As I have only been with the team a few months, this was the first time I was going to meet my coworkers in person.
Fortunately for all of us, the weather cooperated (for travel days at least!) Jack and Glynn made a short road trip over the border, while Kate and I met up in Toronto and boarded the same tiny plane to Detroit. Kate’s got a two hour time difference, plus a toddler, plus a longer flight, so as soon as I saw her I knew she was in desperate need of coffee. (Coffee and cats are things our team definitely has in common.)
The Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel immediately felt friendly and intimate, with a good central bar/lobby area to socialize and mingle. Although I’m a veteran of several cons, this is the first time I experienced BarCon, which I learned is the term for meeting and mingling in the hotel bar.
After settling in, the team got together for a bit of planning, then explored the hotel, including the artist’s alley.
We knew artist Rachel Quinlan, who created the awesome Starship’s Mage art we had commissioned, would be there. Once Glynn saw she had the original with her, he had to pick it up. It’s going to have a place of honour in his office, no doubt! We also gave out this fabulous art on cards to readers throughout the weekend.
Independent Publishing Panel
Panels are definitely the name of the game at ConFusion. Glynn took part in two panels over the weekend. The first was Independent Publishing – The Next Step. Glynn was joined by Pablo Defendini (Fireside Magazine) and Phil Tucker (Author, The Path of Flames). The panel was moderated by Richard Shealy (freelance copyeditor).
The panel description set up the conversation quite well:
In music, successful independent musicians created multimillion dollar empires and labels often built around just their own work. We’re starting to see independent authors do the same thing. Many independent authors make the leap to full time and wonder what comes after that. Successful indie writers gather to discuss what they did, whether they think it worked, and speculate on what would work now.
The conversation started with advice about what to do before making the leap to full-time. Phil and Glynn talked about the classic advice to save six months’ worth of expenses before quitting a day job. Phil was all for it, pointing out that it can be hard to judge whether the success you find with your first few books is going to continue, and you need a fallback plan. Glynn agreed that that’s excellent advice, but said that it’s not advice he personally used. His approach was to carefully assess his existing success across multiple series, and using his background in financial analysis, determine that the risk was more than worth it. Then the conversation turned to writing rates, marketing strategies and planning how much you as an author can sustainably write, or as Phil put it, “[not] plot[ting] out the future based on your max capacity.”
You can read the full live-tweet thread here:
— FP Publishing (@faolanspen) January 17, 2020
Interstellar Nations and Warfare Panel
On Saturday, Glynn moderated a dynamic and lively panel called Interstellar Nations and Warfare: Space Opera Worldbuilding. The panel description:
Space Opera often features grand interstellar empires, and, of course, equally grand interstellar battles. But both empires and space battles are swimming upstream against economics, politics, and good ol’ fashioned physics. In the face of these scientific realities, how do we weave empires and space battles into our worldbuilding in a satisfying way?
The panel featured authors Jenn Lyons and Maquel A. Jacob, and literary reviewer and engineer, Karen Burnham. The conversation covered everything from how to create conflict in a post-scarcity economy, when to rely on real science and when to make things up, and what elements of world-building destroys immersion for the reader. The panelists also talked about fusing magic or near-magic into the setting (à la Starship’s Mage) and the effect that has on the world.
The prevailing advice from all the panelists was internal consistency and believability were important to creating a cohesive and believable universe – and to consider what the ramifications of technology would have on other parts of your world(s). All in all, it was a really great discussion. I’ve been a lover of SF since I was a kid, so the insight into how much thought goes into building a world.
You can see the whole live tweet thread here:
— FP Publishing (@faolanspen) January 18, 2020
Glynn’s New Sci-Fi Series
After the panel, Glynn had one last commitment, which was to give attendees a taste of Conviction! Attendees of the con were the first other than our beta readers and Patreon supporters to hear how this exciting new series kicks off. If you want to read it yourself, it’s available now! It’s also got a really dynamic and cinematic cover of awesome starfighters and kickass ladies. What more do you need?
After that, and an experience getting to and from dinner on the last night (don’t ask), it was time to say goodbye and head towards our respective homes. We left feeling positive and pretty certain we’d be back next year!
- The whole Faolan’s Pen team had lots of opportunities to meet and mingle with indie and traditionally published authors. As we all work in fairly solitary conditions, it was a much-needed infusion of energy!
- We hosted a reader meet-up at the hotel bar. Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi!
- We brought 20 free copies of Starship’s Mage that disappeared pretty darned quickly.
- We all became fans of Panera Bread. Seriously. We went there twice. We would have gone more often but we only discovered them on the second to last day. Panera, come to Canada, please!
If you didn’t make it out this year, we hope to see you next time!