The two panels I was on both felt like they went well -- and there were kind souls at my reading (thank you power of Codex!) I read a little too fast, but slower than I have in the past. I'll get the hang of it, eventually.
I felt bad about leaving early to drive home, but we were exhausted, and I was feeling behind again. Getting home and doing 5 good pages on Moonshifted helped with that.
I saw a lot of friends at Fogcon who read here, or my mirrored livejournal, and so I got to talk about my German covers (one of which is my new desktop wallpaper! :D) with them -- and I remembered in one of those conversations the wisdom and humor of Something Awful, a website my husband reads quite a bit, and filters the best through to me.
Terrible Fantasy Book Covers -- (First, serious warning. Look, but don't post. This is the deep end of the internet. They will troll you at the slightest provocation, and like any long standing internet message board, they have their own ways of discussing things and treating outsiders. Just go look, but don't post, unless you want to spend a lot of time there learning the lay of the land. Also, they have cussing and aren't always politically correct.)
What I like about this particular message thread, is that they show the extreme variations that covers have taken through time (thank god I am not in the 70s!) and that they do now with different editions. It is worth noting that authors have as much choice over their covers as the man in the moon. (You all are going to love how oblique I am here, as I don't want to name names, authors, or books. Sorry, please roll with it.) I was at a bookstore once with an editor friend of mine, and he commented about how a publisher was repositioning a book that was there. I'd seen it, but hadn't really registered it...because in a way, that book wasn't "one of the books I look for". Somewhere inside I'd ingrained that books that looked like that one were not meant for my reading tastes. Upon closer inspection, I realized I'd actually read that book -- when it'd had a different cover. They'd reissued it to make it look more similar to more popular books -- and it wasn't a lie, really, because the book did juggle more than one theme, both covers were appropriate, they just skewed towards different market segments.
This is something I'm sort of having to grasp now. (Actually, I realized it this morning, when I got to pick out a punchy Threadless.com graphic tee to wear and not something more business casual that I own none of and really need to buy before I start going to romance conventions. Note: no matter how popular I get (someday, pretty please!) you will have to pry my Muse concert t-shirts from my cold, dead fingers.) I'm so so so so so used to going to science fiction and fantasy conventions, Worldcons, World Fantasy cons, local cons, anime cons, comic cons, etc. I know how to swim pretty well in that environment. But seeing those German covers punched home what my agent and editor had been telling me (via encouraging me to go to romance conventions)... that my book is, actually, to some degree, no matter how much I hesitate to think of it as that because it wasn't what I started out writing but yes, it is there...a romance.
I'm not disappointed in the least by that -- genuine emotional connection and realistic characters are what I was aiming for all along, and they're the hallmark of a good romance novel. It's just weird. I have to readjust. And in some ways, reboot my view of myself and my writing career over. I don't mind it...but when I started writing 15 years and 9 (unpublished) books ago, it wasn't where I expected to be now. When I started, I really thought I was going to be the next David Eddings ;). (In my defense, I was 14.)
Anyhow, this ties in to some recent thoughts I've had about the nature of the female narrative and how women learn to write from what they read, what you're exposed to, and then you find your own path about where you want to go, and write what's meaningful to you -- but that's going to be a much larger post, probably later this week.
Right now, I'm just baffled that I'm kind of sort of a romance writer. And I'm liking it.