Showing posts with label sci-fest LA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fest LA. Show all posts

31 May 2016

Aliens, Hot Dogs, and the Case of the Missing Rat Island

by Melissa Yi

Once upon a time, experimenters took a bunch of rats and divided them into two groups. Both groups were dropped into a tankful of opaque water, but one group had an island, not visible under the surface, so those rats could eventually rest with their heads above water. The other group would…swim until they sank.

Luckily, the experimenters pulled all the rats out of the water before they could drown.

The next day, they set both both groups of rats in the island-less tank.

The rats who’d had islands swam twice as long as the rats who’d never had an island.

Bestselling author Jennifer Crusie pointed out that if you’re a writer with an island—basically, a writer with faith, a writer with resilience, a writer with grit, a writer who’ll keep swimming, writing, perfecting the craft, submitting, and persevering twice as long—that is the ticket to success.

For years, I’ve wrestled with this concept. It totally makes sense. But how can you force yourself to become a rat with an island? You can’t just hit yourself on the head and say, “Zowee, now I know everything will work out, if not this century, then the next!”

I got a clue last week, when I flew from Montreal to Los Angeles for Sci-Fest LA. I was a finalist for the Roswell Award for the best short science fiction, for the second year in a row. I was pretty sure a comical story like “Humans ’n’ Hot Dogs” wouldn’t win, so I considered staying home.

Then I thought, Nope. I’m going. I’m going to have fun and celebrate, whether or not I win $1000.

Award-winning Hollywood actor Rico E. Anderson read my story. Yes, that Rico E. Anderson. Boras in Star Trek: Renegades. The man in Criminal Minds, Modern Family, Young & Hungry, and Bones, and The Fosters in June. He got his first big break in the 2005 Academy Award Winning short film, Mighty Times: The Children's March.

Do you prefer theatre? Rico’s got you covered. His stage credits include Oedipus and Malcolm X.

Or, if you’re like my dental hygienist today, you’ll recognize him best from a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
So no wonder I was surprised and delighted by Rico’s interpretation of “Humans ’n’ Hot Dogs.” He seized the audience’s attention from the first syllable. He adopted voices for different characters, including aliens, a homeless man, and a pack of skateboarders. He winked. He worked the spotlight. He was funny, dynamic, and likeable.

The audience laughed and cheered.

And yet I didn’t win the Roswell Award.

<Pause to grieve.>

So many people adored my story, though. “It was so funny!" “The judges were absolutely gleeful after reading your story.” “I try to keep an eye out for stories that are suitable for young adults, and yours was it.” “Promise me you’ll keep on writing.”

And I loved Rico’s interpretation.

I could slink back to Canada, quietly weeping over my defeat.

Melissa Yuan-Innes and Rico E. Anderson
Or I could try something else. Something a rat with an island might do.

We weren’t allowed to record Rico’s performance at the Roswell Awards. But what if he recorded it later, and we released it as an audio book?

This is a financial gamble. A short science fiction story by a relatively unknown author isn’t going to light up the bestseller lists any time soon. This would be a special project. One for people who love wee gems, who support the underdog and love art for art’s sake.

Rico and I are going to crowdfund it. I decided to avoid Kickstarter and just have donations go to PayPal through olobooks [at] gmail [dot] com, to try and make every penny count. Both of us are committed to making the best production possible.

And the rewards. The rewards!

Any donation: heartfelt thanks and a backstage picture of Rico shirtless (to show off the wounds for Grey’s Anatomy, not just to ogle). Goal: unlocked! I’m posting it to my website (http://melissayuaninnes.com/bringing-humans-n-hot-dogs-to-life/in case any SleuthSayers have sensitive eyes.
Wiener ($5): an advance e-book copy of Humans ’n’ Hot Dogs and enormous thanks from Rico and me.
Pepperoni ($10): an advance deluxe e-book copy of Humans ’n’ Hot Dogs, including cartoons, inside tips on how to how to network in Los Angeles, and behind-the-scenes stories from Sci-Fest LA, Caltech, and Buzzfeed
Bangers ($20): deluxe e-book and you’ll be the first to hear the audio book, before it’s uploaded to Audible, iTunes, and other retailers. Humans ’n’ Hot Dogs all the way!
Chorizo($25): now we’re cooking. Deluxe e-book, audio book, and line producer credit in the book.
Andouille ($30): now we’re sizzling. All the previous rewards, co-producer credit in the book, plus a copy of my audio book, The Most Unfeeling Doctor in the World and Other True Tales From the Emergency Room
Bratwurst ($50): smells absolutely delicious in here. Must be your generosity. Includes all of the above, with associate producer credit in the book
Mortadella ($100): every single previous reward, with executive producer credit in the book, an autographed photo of Rico (yes, he’ll even do the shirtless one if you ask nicely), and a copy of the print book, shipped anywhere in the world for free. Yes, a real, live, print book that you can pass on to future generations, along with Rico’s stunning rendition of my oeuvre.

In other words, Rico and I are going for broke.

He’s a full-time actor in Los Angeles. He’s used to taking this kind of risk.

Me? Not so much. I no longer feel like rejections are mental razor blades, but I’m embarrassed when people turn me down. Yet I can see how handling failure wisely is one of the keys to success.

Rico and I may fail.

We may fail spectacularly.

But we’re both going to keep on swimming, and we hope you do, too.



Sleuths: are you a rat with an island? If so, how did you get that way?

01 June 2015

Would you like a little werewolf in your mystery? And how about some sex and swearing?


by Melissa Yi

Personally, I love a little genre shake-up. I’m the kind of person that, if you asked me, “Chocolate, vanilla, or mirabelle plum?” I’d say, “Is it possible to have all three?”

I know that Dixon Hill has investigated romance and mystery, and Eve Fisher's viral post on the $3500 shirt covered history and mystery. But what about fantasy and mysteries?

At the World Fantasy Convention in 2000, I leaped on Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris, which of course have since become the massive TV series, True Blood.


Fun fact: remember how I was vacillating about spending money to travel for writing? Last weekend, I flew to Los Angeles for the Roswell Award presentation, and Sci-Fest LA co-founder David Dean Bottrell, who played the professor on True Blood, shook my hand and said, “I just realized who you are. Wonderful story.” Yes! More fun LA moments on my blog.


"The creature" & David Dean Bottrell from THE LUNCHTIME SHOW at Sci-Fest LA


I also adore Charlaine’s “grave” series featuring Harper Connolly, the girl who was struck by lightning and left with a strange gift: she can now sense dead people and relive the way they died.

Who could resist Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, the big, powerful Chicago wizard who shoves himself into a tiny Volkswagen Beetle and regularly solves crimes, fights bad faeries, and saves the world?


If you’re like me and prefer werewolves (warm, furry) over vampires (cold, dead), I’ll throw in Sparkle Hayter’s Naked Brunch, where a Manhattan secretary with “lycanthropic morphic disorder” investigates a series of murders. This isn’t my favourite of Sparkle’s books, but I always love her craziness.

Full disclosure: I wrote a werewolf thriller of my own, Wolf Ice. I’m reading it at ChiSeries Ottawa Presents on June 9th. They’re putting me last because I asked, “Is it okay to have sex and swearing in our reading?” The paraphrased answer: yes, but we’ll put you last because sometimes a child will come to the readings, and this way, the parents can discreetly usher the minor out before you start your X-rated show.

In all seriousness, I won’t be cussing and tossing my characters in compromising positions the entire time. But close! And extremely fun for someone who spends her days in a buttoned-up job. In fact, I’ll be driving directly from the hospital to the venue, so I had to ask if there was anywhere in the hospital where I could shower off the germs first.

One of the side effects of joining two book clubs is that I realize most readers (alas, most people) don’t think the same way as me. They might think genre mash-ups are the Death Star of literature. Or they might want to throw Sookie into Hurricane Katrina, especially because they disagree with the series’ ending. I’m curious what you think, dear readers.

Hands up if you love some mixing and matching. Weigh in if you think it’s ruined both genres. If you want to hear more about L.A., hit me up in the comments! Or just click on my Patreon account to leave a tip. Cheers!

20 April 2015

The Writer's Dilemma: Risk vs. Reward

by Melissa Yi

I’m at a writing crossroads.
I’m a finalist for the Roswell Award for Short Science Fiction. I know, it’s a different genre, but bear with me. What to do next is a mystery that you could help me solve.

Dear Ms. Yuan-Innes [my real name; I use Melissa Yi for my mysteries],
Congratulations!
On behalf of SCI-FEST LA, I'm excited to announce that your story, "Cardiopulmonary Arrest," is a finalist for The Roswell Award for Short Science Fiction. 

Oh, good. One editor told me that story was “too weird.” Which is true. I am weird. And occasionally disturbing.

Your story is one of just six finalists chosen from over 300 submissions received from around the world. Your story will be presented in an Awards & Staged Reading event featuring our celebrity guest readers on Saturday, May 23 at 7:00pm at the Acme Theatre in Hollywood.

Ooh!

At the reading, each of our finalists will be officially recognized and the award for the best short science fiction story will be presented.

Our judges who will determine the competition winner include:

* Jack Kenny (Executive Producer, WAREHOUSE 13 & FALLING SKIES)
* Jordan Roberts (Screenwriter, BIG HERO SIX)
* Mike Werb (Screenwriter, FACEOFF & Writer on EXTANT)
And others soon to be announced!

We hope that you will join us! However, you do not need to be present to win the competition. If you plan to join us, please let me know as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we are not able to pay for travel expenses to Los Angeles.

Aye. There’s the rub.
My first instinct is to say, my odds of winning are one in six. I live on the other side of the continent. Even if I did win, it might cost me more than $1000 to get there. I’ve got emergency shifts to fill. I’ve got two kids. I’m not flying to L.A.
I could just go to CanCon in Ottawa, see?

But my second instinct? Hang on.
I checked my schedule. I’m working the day before, but not the day of. I have four days where yes, it is indeed possible for me to travel to and from Hollywood.
My husband Matt is away on a motorcycle course on May 23rd, so I would either have to get a babysitter or bring my children with me to an awards event that starts on the opposite coast at 10 p.m. EDT. Not a good mix. My eight-year-old could tough it out, but my four-year-old could not.
Still. Not impossible. I’d have to get a babysitter.
The money-conserving, risk averse part of me—the part that has dominated my life up until now, as I detailed on my blog—orders me to stay home. If I win, I’m $1000 richer. And if I lose, I’ve lost nothing.
Except an opportunity. And you know how opportunities can build. In an interview with the Seeker, I explained how winning the Cornwall writing contests led me to my Terminally Ill book launch, which earned an article in the Standard Freeholder, which got me an interview on CBC’s Ontario morning, which hauled me on to the Kobo Top 50 bestseller list, which probably tipped Mark Leslie Lefebvre toward choosing me for their international Going Going Gone contest promotion last fall.
Me resuscitating 'Elvis' (Kobo's Mark Leslie Lefebvre)
while his skeleton, Barnaby, keeps a watchful eye.

In March, David Farland told us, “Take these opportunities thrown in your face.” He once met a woman who could’ve gotten him a ride into space, but Dave was newly married and couldn’t easily afford to get to the launch site, so he let it go by. Now, he says, “I could have been the only science fiction writer who’s gone into space!”
This isn’t space, but it’s an opportunity to geek out with people who love science fiction. It’s a chance to meet Hollywood actors, executive producers, and screenwriters. It’s an excuse to take my kids to Hollywood.
I’d like to see my stories made into movies. It’s not my main dream, but hey, like I pointed out in my last post, film is a different and dominant medium for storytelling and therefore useful in my quest for world domination.

What say you, SleuthSayers? Should I go to L.A.?