Launch Pad

Hello from Launch Pad! This morning's post is a bit late because I am in Wyoming attending Launch Pad with another fine group of writers. Last night, we made the trip up Jelm Mountain to see the WIRO telescope. The night was clear and the students staying up there were doing science. We also got to watch the ISS pass overhead – first time I've seen it. We didn't get back until very late last night. I managed to wake up just in time to walk over for breakfast.

Peacekeeper 3: Pathogen currently stands at 11,955 words (if you’re counting). The proofing of Dragonverse Origins is moving along. The goal is to have a completed manuscript sent off to my final beta-reader/proofer by the end of this month. While he does his reading, I will be finishing up the cover and doing a bit of promotion.

Last Wednesday I left Ohio and flew to Denver. There, I met up with a group of writers headed for Launch Pad. This is my 5th year going to this fantastic event. In 2012, I was an insecure self-published writer who had never met a published author. Today, I’m on the Launch Pad support staff and confident in my writing abilities.

I did have one embarrassing moment as we were preparing to leave Denver. I always bring my TomTom GPS to make the trip easier. When you drive a long route only once a year, you need some help. My particular TomTom is an older unit and I recently updated the maps. Unfortunately, its memory capacity was not sufficient to store the entire United States and I was forced to select an area to download. I assumed (wrongly) that the upload would include details of the selected area and major roads for the rest of the country. I was shocked when I powered on the GPS and discovered that it had no concept of the State of Wyoming! Luckily, one of my passengers fired up his cell phone GPS and we arrived without incident. The first thing I did after check-in was to make a trip to Walmart to purchase a new GPS. Lesson learned – never assume – assumptions are often wrong. Life should be lived based on facts.

Wednesday was a very long day for me. I was up at 0300 Ohio time because I had to run and enter data for a report at my day job. I can’t run it until the first of the month and it’s due by the 5th – two days before I return. I left Cleveland at 1030 and arrived in Denver at 1355 (1155 Denver time). Keeping the time-zone locked on Ohio time, I arrived in Laramie at around 1915, checked in, and then went to the dining hall to eat. After dinner, I took a group of people to Walmart so they could purchase supplies. One of them had to buy a shirt because his bag never made it to the United States (he flew in from the UK). Back at the dorm, we hung around and chatted until the rest of the attendees arrived and then spent a couple hours going around the table doing introductions. By the time it was over, it was after midnight Ohio time and I had to get some sleep.

Launch Pad is an event where I get to network with fellow writers. Going to breakfast with a group of like-minded individuals, talking about science, science fiction, and cultural issues that are of interest to writers is one of the main reasons I love coming back to Launch Pad year-after-year. Writing is a lonely art and being able to interface with fellow writers is something that all writers need – even if it is only once a year. For me, Launch Pad isn’t just about learning science – I’ve been through all the classes several times – it’s about being with a group of fellow writers and experiencing the camaraderie that develops as we get to know each other.

This year’s group includes many talented individuals with impressive resumes. One grew up in a house where Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury were frequent guests. Another developed the X-Men Evolutions movie concept and has been heavily involved in the creation of the X-Men characters. Another has written episodes for Star Trek. Yet another is the author of a series of books based on the Firefly television series. We have Hugo and other award winners. One of the attendees is an orbital mechanics engineer and he presented a lesson on his specialty. And then there’s myself. But I don’t feel like an outcaste despite the tremendous amount of talent I’m with. The vast majority of writers treat other writers with respect. It’s a wonderful feeling.

There are people who join clubs and work their way into the company of other individuals so they can leverage these contacts to further their own agendas. There are some who form contacts so they can promote themselves. These are the self-centered “look at what I’ve done” or “look at me” type of people. The individuals I’ve met at Launch Pad do not fall into this category. We are all equal and we are here to share our experience and learn from each other.

I’ve had people who are not writers suggest that I leverage my more well-known author contacts to help promote my books. If I tried something like that I would quickly find myself without any writer friends. Promoting my books, asking people to read my books, or begging someone for a review is not why I return to Launch Pad. These people are my friends and fellow writers. They are not stepping stones to be used for my benefit or anyone else’s. If someone want to read one of my books, then that person will decide to do so on their own. If someone wants to give me a signal boost, it will be something they decide to do without my prompting. Being a “look at me” kind of person or someone who uses others for personal gain will get you quickly labeled as a person to be ignored.