And Now, Time For Something Different

So, a few days ago I gave notice at my job. My last day of work is November 15th.

I’ve been working in I.T. for almost nine years now, and I’ve enjoyed most of my time at the places I’ve worked, but I feel like it’s time to take a break for a while. Maybe even for good. Between my own savings and a portion of my Mom’s estate, I find myself in a position where I have enough resources to spend most of 2014 working full-time on projects of my own. And I hope, by the end of that period, I’ll be making a sustainable income.

That’s the plan, anyway. It’s still open to adjustment. And I’ve got some traveling to do first; I plan to spend December back on the East Coast. I’ll see my Mom’s completed columbarium for the first time (the engraved stone wasn’t finished at the time of the memorial service) and spend some time with old friends, then travel down to Florida and spend the holiday season with family. I kind of feel like I’ve been working with my head down ever since I got back from Mom’s funeral in March, so in December I plan to take my first real vacation in a while.

In 2014 I may do some more traveling, too. I haven’t taken an international trip since my 2010 trip to Europe. But we’ll see.

As for what projects I’ll be working in 2014, well, of course I’ll be writing. I have two novels I want to write, so if nothing else, by the end of this “freelance” period I hope to have a couple stories to shop around. I have a separate non-fiction endeavour I’d like to finish and publish on my own, so this will also give me an opportunity to work on that, and test the waters of of self-publishing.

In the meantime, I’ll also be working to expand my photography, doing photoshoots and events, selling prints, and getting a business running.

I’m also planning to start a hypnotherapy practice. Those of you who follow my blog will know that hypnosis has long been an interest of mine, and I’ve even blogged about the relationship between hypnosis and writing. I’ve been a certified hypnotherapist in Washington state for over a year, and I’ve already started planning what it will take to finally put that into practice.

This is a big list which has the potential to keep me very busy, even if I’m working on it full-time. And the opportunity to spend some serious, long-term time working on dreams of your own isn’t one that comes around very often, so I very much feel like this is an opportunity knocking on my door, and a day/month/year demanding to be seized.

This site will still primarily be about my writing, but as other big news happens (like as I get my other businesses and their websites running), I’ll likely post about it here. After all, this blog is ultimately about my own personal journey, and this is certainly part of that.

I feel like I’m embarking on the biggest change of my life since 2010, when I stuffed everything I could fit into my Hyundai Elantra and drove to Seattle. This next change I’m hoping will be a little more focused and goal-oriented than that one, but it’s one I’m very much looking forward to.

GeekGirlCon: Fandom, The Next Generation

I spent Saturday hanging out at the Washington State Convention Center, enjoying GeekGirlCon. This was my first time attending GGC since its debut year in 2011, and I was blown away by how much it’s grown. In 2011, it was in a tiny suite of rooms in the northwest corner of the Seattle Center; this year, it took up most of the Conference Center at the WSCC.

I loved the atmosphere at GeekGirlCon. The place was busy without being jam-packed, and there were wide-open lobby spaces for easy photography, meeting friends, and even concerts, courtesy of Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks.

But of course, “atmosphere” means more than the physical surroundings. I got the distinct but hard-to-define sense that GeekGirlCon was a much safer space than usual cons. Maybe it was the prevalence of gender-bending cosplay, and people taking risks with their cosplay that they might not at a usual con. I don’t mean risque cosplay– although there was some of that, too– I mean cosplay that involves stepping out of your comfort zone, to play someone who’s not like you, either in gender, or body shape, or personality. People seemed more willing to open up, try something different, even potentially embarrassing, because of the friendly atmosphere that permeated the con. I suspect that just the name and theme of the con attracted a more open, welcoming, and socially aware crowd, and that was reflected in people’s comfort, and also in the overall atmosphere.

The crowd at GeekGirlCon was an all-ages crowd, but trended toward the young side. It felt like most of the adults I saw were in their 20s and 30s, and there were also a lot of families with young kids. That second part in particular was nice to see– I truly did feel like I was seeing a lot of next-generation fans. And kids at GGC got a chance not just to indulge in the typical range of media properties that are classified as “geek,” but also to kindle the love of creativity and science that to me, more than anything, defines what is at the heart of geekdom.

One of the coolest features at the con was the DIY Science Zone, where panelists and volunteers helped kids do various science experiments. Apparently one of the panelists even brought a small piece of the Chelyabinsk meteor for show-and-tell. I think one of the bigger challenges facing not just geekdom but society in general is how to bring more inclusiveness and diversity to the Science and Technology fields, not just for this generation’s sake but for the next, and so I’m always glad to see GGC maintain such a strong focus on real-life science and tech.

The exhibition hall, meanwhile, was full of local artists and small craft folk; most dealer’s rooms generally are, but I got the sense at GeekGirlCon that there was a much larger portion of artists just starting out, maybe even folks operating a booth for the first time. And I don’t mean that in a bad way; there was a charming, almost homespun feel about the exhibition/dealer area that I liked a lot.

But ultimately, the number one reason I say that GGC felt like the next generation of fandom is because of how open, diverse, and inclusive it felt. To me, it felt like how fandom and geekdom could be, once we get past the misogyny and homophobia and various market-driven forces that seem determined to tell us how to be a geek in present times, how certain pursuits and books and games are “boy” or “girl”. I was only at GGC for one day, but I still felt that in some sense GeekGirlCon represents the potential for what geek culture could become; hopefully it really is a window into the next generation.

Occasionally during and after cons, I hear people fretting about how fandom is aging, or dying out, or withering away, but having been to GGC I’m quite confident in saying it’s doing just fine. Sure, it’s changing, but all in all, I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

New Story Appearing in “Lakeside Circus”

I’m happy to announce that one of my short stories will be appearing in the debut issue of Lakeside Circus. Lakeside Circus is a new quarterly magazine, edited by Carrie Cuinn, and in its first issue will have 42 pieces spanning flash fiction, poetry, and short stories. My own story, titled “Natalie,” falls in the flash fiction category, and I’m quite pleased with how it came out. It’s a science fiction story, about a geologist who finds herself involved in a particularly unusual way with a mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

The magazine will be released on November 29th; subscribers will receive it via e-mail, and will also receive .epub and .mobi versions (suitable for various e-readers). After that, the stories will gradually appear on the website over the next three months, one every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don’t know yet when my story will appear on the website (when that changes, I’ll update my “Stories” page accordingly), but in the meantime, you can receive my story and lots of others by subscribing to Lakeside Circus– I believe an annual subscription works out to $20 for around 200,000 words (about 800 pages) of original genre fiction. In addition, folks who subscribe by November 15th will receive the first issue of the magazine a week early, on November 22.

Right now they’re a semi-pro magazine, but their goal is to raise enough money through subscriptions to become a pro magazine. Moreover, I have a huge amount of like and respect for the editor, Carrie Cuinn, who’s repeatedly put herself on the front lines of the fight to make all of science fiction & fantasy field more socially aware, and more inclusive to less privileged folks. So beyond selfish reasons, I’d love to see this latest venture work out, and a new, forward-thinking pro magazine take root in the field.

Anyway, that’s my plug for my story, and for Lakeside Circus. Check ’em out for yourself.