Friday, October 12, 2018

Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity 2018

The sixth annual Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference happened last weekend in Columbia. There are bigger conferences, better known conferences, but I’ve never attended a conference that is more fun or has a better vibe than C3. I missed the first due to a scheduling conflict; now I schedule around it.

It’s much more compact than Bouchercon so my review won’t be as sprawling, but it’s definitely worth recapping. The panels are a little shorter, the schedule is condensed, and the meals are communal to allow writers of different levels to mingle with readers before heading off to the bar. I’m not going to break things out by panel, but by days.

John DeDakis’s current work of fiction has the working title of “Fake.” It’s about the concept of fake news. He has to keep rewriting large sections as he can’t stay ahead of actual events. 

David Swinson has great faith in his agent. He once showed her a book. She read it and asked, “Are you sure you’re done?” He said yes. She sent it out. No sale. He has not again questioned her judgment.

No matter what you see on TV, cops shooting at moving vehicles is frowned upon unless the danger is greater to let the car go.

David Swinson was taken for a ride in a paddy wagon as a kid to put the fear of God into him after he was caught placing cherry bombs in trees. He later became a decorated cop himself. Chauffeuring a miscreant like that today is a firing offense.

Swinson and Bernard Schaffer agree that Internal Affairs cops are just doing a job and are not as vilified as fiction often depicts them. True, some are pricks. But cops like dirty cops even less than the public does, so the job is necessary.

Jamie Freveletti thinks the Netflix concept of binge-watching is trickling down to reading. If you’re thinking of releasing a series of short stories or novellas in sequence, get them out quick.

Friday’s after-dinner speaker was Keith R.A. DeCandido, writer of comic books, novels, role-playing video games, and tie-in books for properties ranging from Supernatural to Star Trek and Dr. Who to X-Men to…I was going to insert something really off-the-wall here but I can’t be sure Keith didn’t write something for it while I was busy elsewhere. The theme of his talk was “You are responsible for your career,” and he made sure everyone understood he wasn’t just running his mouth. I can’t do his points justice, but Keith was kind enough to post his remarks on his blog for everyone to read.

Keith was a tough act to follow, but E.A. “Call me Ed” Aymar put together the first (hopefully annual) C3 Noir at the Bar. Ten readers in a venue where everyone could actually every nuance of the stories brought out the best in the competitors. That’s right. Competitors. the audience favorite won an engraved buck knife to commemorate the occasion, and John Gilstrap’s epic poem and dramatic reading richly deserved the award. Note to anyone thinking of reading at a subsequent C3 event: Bring your A game. The bar has been set.

The only down side to participating in a panel is I can’t take notes for these recaps. Saturday morning’s discussion of villains had several lines worth repeating but I was too in the moment to memorialize them properly. The one that stuck out was when I asked Michael A. Black for the ultimate villain and he said, “Maybe Satan.” That’s badass, people, when someone will only go as far as saying Satan “might” be the ultimate villain.

Lunch dessert was an interview with the aforementioned Ed Aymar who gave us many insights under skillful prodding from Austin Camacho. We learned how long it took Ed to become an overnight success, the other writing-related ventures he’s involved in, and mostly, that he needs either adult supervision or medication. Both, to be safe.

Jamie Freveletti reminded us there are no INTERPOL agents who run around the world chasing criminals. INTERPOL issues warrants, usually for war criminals, It’s up to the participating governments to make the arrests.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are overrated. They can’t be enforced when the signer is answering a subpoena and whistleblowers statutes likely protect…uh,,,whistleblowers.

John DeDakis condensed a class he teaches to fit the time allotted and squeezed in enough worthwhile information for me to come away with several pages of notes even after having half a dozen novels published. Among the prime morsels:
Procrastination is not always a bad thing. Rumination is part of the process.
Some sort of organization system is important, but don’t let it be the tail that wags the dog.
“Go all the way through your first draft without your internal editor. You’ve written a book! It sucks, but it’s a book!” Then the real work of re-writing begins.
Cowardice is fearful inaction. You know what you have to do and don’t do it. Courage is action in the face of fear

Shawn A. Cosby referred to what are commonly referred to as “psycho sidekicks” as “benevolent sociopaths.”

Ed Aymar, pretentious as ever, quoted de Maupassant with, “Everyone leads three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” He then tried to claim credit for himself when the audience made approving noises.

The after-dinner speaker was Jamie Freveletti, who went over her career, and, like most of the successful writers I’ve heard speak, was quick to credit good fortune in her success, not that she hasn’t earned it. Her talk covered a range of topics from her own career and included her new venture, a publishing imprint of her own.

We had breakfast dessert on Sunday, as Austin interviewed John DeDakis about his career at CNN and his subsequent work as a novelist. I frankly wasn’t as aware of John as I should have been before last weekend, but after seeing him on a couple of panels, sitting in on his class, and soaking up his interview, that is an oversight quickly rectified.

If you’ve never seen John Gilstrap give a talk, make time to do so. John spoke for 45 minutes on POV in writing and not only gave everyone plenty to think of when writing their own stuff, kept them in stitches throughout.

There was one more thing for The Beloved Spouse™ and I to take care of before heading out: signing up for next year. September 13 – 15, 2019 at the Sheraton Columbia (MD). We’ll keep an eye out for you.

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