Writing Steampunk and 400 Photographs

I went to the Wild Wild West con (WWWC8) in Old Tucson last weekend. I attend steampunk events to keep tabs on the readers of steampunk. I’m a writer, I have to keep my finger on the pulse of the readers. I also visit with the authors that are selling their books there. There were only four or so authors with booths there so I may try selling there next year. Plus I enjoy going to these events.

I had never been to the WWWC before. It was spread out so I did a lot of walking. The first day was windy and cold. I was lucky I had my rain coat along. It was raining when I left the coast to go to Tucson. The rain coat went well with my outfit. The second day was nicer.

There were a lot of impressive outfit there. Some attendees wore a different outfit for every day of the con.

For the last couple of years I have been taking photographs at these event. Since keeping the photographs to myself would be a waste I offer to send a copy of the photograph to those I photograph. That involves getting a copy of the person’s email address.

I will hand out my steampunk business card when I get their email address. I gave out over a hundred business cards. I took close to 400 photos. I usually take 2 or 3 photos of someone. Occasionally I will take only one photo of someone but other times I will take a half dozen photos. You never know when someone will blink and you will get a photo of them with their eyes closed. When I got back I broke down and started cleaning up the jpeg photos immediately. There’s not a lot you can do with a jpeg. And jpegs are smaller files. Even then I have to reduce the size of the photo to send it out in an email. The system limits the emails to 20 Mega bytes and one of the full size photos range from 9 to 12 Mega bytes.

I do offer to set up a drop box so that anyone that wants a full sized photo can get it.

It’s a lot of work going through 400 photos and culling out the bad ones. Cleaning up the ones that are worth sending to someone, and figuring out the handwriting of someone email address.

If you go to a Steampunk event get and give out business cards. It’s what they did in the 1800s and it’s good manners.

After working on them for three days I got the last of them out last night.

It always surprises me how many people work so hard on their costumes and never have someone take a photo of them dressed up. A selfie will not do justice to all the hard work they put into the outfit.

With all the business cards I handed out maybe someone will stumble onto my web site and end up buying my book. I can only hope.

Would you photograph people for free for a chance to sell your book?

Am I crazy? Well those cowboy boots are rough on the feet and I don’t know if anyone even knew I was wearing them. What an author will do to sell a book.

Stay strong, write on, and photograph those Steampunker.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Writing About Time, In Steampunk

Time, we think we control it, but we don’t.

This morning I was in Tucson for the Wild Wild West Steampunk convention. At 6:30 I walked down to the lobby to get some breakfast. The breakfast nook was closed.

I asked the check at the front desk when the breakfast area would be opened. He said 6:00 AM. I said that the clock in my room said 6:30 and I showed him my cell phone which also said 6:30.

He said that Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. I said I know that and I did not change the room’s clock and the cell phone company knows that.

He said his cell phone also had changed to daylight savings time and he had to reset the phone to get it to read right.

Ten minutes later I came back to the front desk to hand in my room keys and there were several people in the lobby waiting for coffee. One guy was in his jammies. These non-morning people were not in any condition to go driving around Tucson to find coffee in their morning zombie mode.

What happened? We were inconvenienced by modern conveniences. The clocks, in our rooms, are bought in bulk for the whole chain of hotels. Arizona is the only state in the 48 continuous states that does not observe daylight savings time. The clocks have a feature where they automatically correct for daylight savings time. If you’re in Arizona you get the wrong time, twice a year until someone goes to each room and resets the clock. Of course the guy at the front desk couldn’t understand that, so all the early raisers had to wait for their coffee. For a non-morning person that is a big deal.

What does this have to do with writing about time. First take a look at decimal time. Introduced in France in 1792, it came before the metric system. It divides the week into ten days, the day into ten hours. An hour is 100 minutes and a minute is 100 seconds. Why didn’t it stick?

Workers only got one day a week off in the 1700s. The old way is you got a day off for every 7 days. The new decimal time way you got one day off for every ten days. Not a good deal in the workers eyes.

For an example of using decimal time in a story, see Dune by Frank Herbert. The character gets a watch and it’s a decimal time system watch.

Now imagine a kingdom where it is noon everywhere in the kingdom when the sun is highest in the sky at the place where the king is. Now add to that that it takes hours or days for messengers to get from where the king is (summer place or winter place, visiting someone) to the various major cities of the kingdom to tell them what time it is. Add to that, everyone has to eat lunch at the same time the king eats lunch. Your hero is thousands of miles or klicks away from the king and has to eat lunch while it’s still dark.

Or imagine that each airship company has divided the world up into time zones, but the zones are different for each company. Getting airship from different companies to land at the same place and the same time gets complicated.

Now mix together and stir. Imagine the king is planning an invasion a year in advance, using three different companies of airships. What time will everyone arrive?

Stay strong, write on, and change the battery in your pocket watch.

What does time and a comma have in common. Compare the title to this; Writing, About Time In Steampunk. Both can cause havoc if used incorrectly.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Beta Readers, What a Writer Will Do To Get

I need all the feedback I can get. Beta Readers are a great source of feedback, except they’re hard to find and half of the ones I do find don’t give me actionable feedback.

A comment like; I don’t understand this paragraph (or sentence, or page), is worth it’s weight in gold. I know what I wanted the reader to get out of that paragraph and I failed to communicate. Writers are communicators and in that paragraph I blew it. I can fix the paragraph if someone points out something wrong.

Comments like; I didn’t like it, are useless. With no specifics I have no idea of what to fix or if the reader doesn’t like that type of story.

I’m on a constant search for Beta Readers, and I’m desperate. At ConDor convention in San Diego I talked to an author and we got around to discussing Beta Readers. She said she get them from the Romance Writers of America. She doesn’t write romance, but does belong to the group.

I’m desperate, I’m thinking of joining the Romance Writers of America to get Beta Readers. I’m not a romance writer, I’m a recovering engineer. Think Dilbert, not a romantic bone in my body. I’m a failed comedy writer (but that’s another story). Would I read romance stories to get Beta Readers. Yes, hey I’m desperate.

I have subscribed to authors patreon pages and pay them so I can have access to the Beta Reader section of their group. Some of the writers in the patreon page Beta Reader section need way more help that I do. And I’m leery of trying to give them help. I have tried to help so many writers only to have them disappear on me. I wasn’t hurtful or mean. I gave them advice I use, things I do, but if I’m talking to a writer that has published seven books and sold about that many I suggested trying something a little different. Never did hear anything from her again. Seven books, I wish I could write that much, fast, consistently. Still I would rather write one book and sell seven copies than seven books and sell one copy each.

Am I nuts for joining the Romance Writers of America just to get Beta Readers? Am I so un-social that I’m shooting my self in the foot all the time? Write me and tell me your opinion and advice at professor at professorvoltage dot com.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage