One of my many random quirks

It’s a new calendar year. Why not start a new thing on the blog?

For the next little while, I’ll feature tidbits of personal trivia I have been informed are not as well-known as I imagine them to be. It’s another topic to alternate with book posts, writing rants, media consumption lists, baking recipes, and so on.

My first not-so-major revelation: I am face blind.

Yes, yes, I know lots of people have trouble remembering names, many people are bad with faces, but…have you ever walked right past your parent or your spouse or your best friend of many years because you DID NOT SEE THEM out of context?

I have. Many times. That’s my level of “bad with faces.”

It doesn’t mean I’m people-blind.  I recognize people…mostly. Just not faces. Or voices.  It’s more that I deliberately construct conscious brain imprints of overall person-ness — how you move, speak, dress, etc. I can spot friends across crowded rooms, especially if I’ve made note of what they’re wearing.

But do I spot details like changes in hair color, eyeglasses, makeup, scars, tattoos or “identifying characteristics?” NOPE.  As a kid, I thought the ability to describe and remember other people like characters in books & on TV was a fictional power. And names? Pffft. The label for your gestalt may be stowed away in a totally different mental zone, because I have a WTF brain.

ANYway.

This means if you’re standing still, if I’m not looking for you–and especially if I haven’t seen you recently? My chances of knowing who you are or even SEEING you is 50/50 or worse. The longer it’s been since we last talked, the worse my chances are.

This makes conventions more than moderately terrifying.

Why? In large part because people tend to remember me for some reason. Good friends I see only at cons, wonderful people I met at conventions past–y’all spot me and make a point of saying hello, being the awesome, cool, kind, and wonderful people you are…

…and there I will stand, without the slightest clue who’s talking to me.

I am often forthright, even pre-emptive, about admitting I don’t know who someone is, but not always. Constant confession is emotionally exhausting and jabs a lot of big, red social-interaction buttons that trigger guilt dumps.

And whether I admit it or not, nothing will never erase the unhappy belief that people think I’m lying, that I’m a lazy jerk making excuses for not caring about them enough to remember them. It hurts to not be recognized by someone. I know this. 

I DO LIKE YOU. YOU’RE AWESOME! But I have faulty exterior-recognition software.

Guilty awkwardness is a burden on top of the already-huge stressiness of being at a con. (I love cons. TRULY. I love them. But it’s also true I love many things that aren’t strictly good for me…) 

ANYway.  Let me wrap up with this:

If you don’t see me often, there are a few ways to help avoid instilling quiet panic and deep-seated guilt in me when we meet. I don’t expect people to make the effort, but when it happens, I am FOREVER grateful.

The platinum standard: starts with “Hi, Karen (or Kem, or Kay, or Tigger, or Herkes, I answer to all these)  great to see you again.”

This demonstrates you know me. Then it’s decision tree time.

IF I respond with your name or a personal tidbit that makes it crystal clear I remember who you are, we’re good. My brain has coughed up your imprint in a timely fashion. Yay, brain.

If I DON’T use your name, could you please consider proceeding to something like this: “I’m <your name> we know each other from <place/time> and add something about our prior interaction?

By doing this you:

  • providing release from expectation damps down my guilty adrenaline rush. (adrenaline not being a friend of higher brain function)
  • Offering memory tags right off the mark helps me place you in context, which gets me to the proper brain space where your ID is stored.
  • The more you talk and move, the more data I have available to match to the gestalt of physical characteristics on file.

You can be as simple as, “It’s Felicity. From work? I’m in Accounting? We don’t see each other often.”  Or as complicated as “I’m Gwen. We were table neighbors at XYZCon, and it turned out we went to the same elementary school. We talked about meeting for dinner next con–how are you?”

But even if I appear to be entirely comfortable chatting, if I don’t respond with your name or personal deets, it’s likely I do NOT recognize you at the start of the conversation.

Talking comfortably at length with total strangers is a survival skill I mastered long before I knew face blindness was a thing, not a failure of effort on my part. If we talk long enough, I often…eventually…figure out what our relationship is.

It’s a huge relief when I don’t have to work that strategy or confess to cluelessness, though.

And yes, I do try to do this for others, on the rare occasions I am introducing myself to people I recognize.

Because I never expect anyone to recognize me.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Until later, world!

There’s more to my life than the new house: there’s also Dragon Con!

This weekend I’m pausing all the moving-in work so I can go to Atlanta for Dragon Con. (Why did I buy  house right between my year’s two biggest conventions? That’s just how I roll, what can I say?)

Will you be at Dragon Con? Want to meet up? That would be awesome. Easiest way to find me: stop by one of the panels I’ll be on. Here’s a handy list.

FRIDAY:

 Gimme a Break
Time: 8:30 pm Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Best advice for breaking into fantasy & SF novel writing.
Panelists: Venessa Guinta(M), Scott Sigler, Tamsin L. Silver, Esther Friesner, J. Gregory Keyes, K. M. Herkes, John D. Ringo
(I am seriously the Minority Report in this group. But it should be great.) 

SATURDAY:

A Sense of Place: The Role of Setting in UF
Time: 11:30 am Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Often the location where the action takes place can be an integral aspect of the story. Our panel of authors will discuss the role setting plays in their work & how it affects the stories they tell.
Panelists: J.F. Lewis, Linda Robertson, E.J. Stevens, K. M. Herkes, Jennifer Morris(M), Melissa F Olson
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Why Elgin, Illinois?” I’d have…some dollars. I’

The Isms: Looking at Classic Fantasy from the Viewpoint of Today
Time: 10:00 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Social consciousness changes, but books are forever. Something that was once progressive today may seem anything but. Are these works simply products of their time or true reflections of the person? Let’s not toss the dragonet out with the Hatching Sand and shells. *Trigger Warning*
Panelists: Ray Johnson (M), K. M. Herkes, Mike Massa, Dr. Charles E. Gannon
This…could be A-MAY-ZING. I’ve recently done some re-reading and re-watching of my classic faves, and wow…yeah. I am very much a fan of VERY problematic things. And that’s okay. Even good. Lots to discuss.

SUNDAY

Off the Record: Life beyond the Shelf – A Look at Publishing from the Other Side
Time: 5:30 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: What is the best way to approach a bookstore/library/track? What are these other people looking at and how best should you show that you are their answer? Time for an inside look at publishing from the other side of mirror. No recording, as this is Off the Record and Behind the Curtain.
Panelists: Tyra A Burton, Kathleen, Diane Aurand, Cisca Small(M), K. M. Herkes
Oooo, yeah, I have STORIES, from the bookselling years.

MONDAY

All the Subs
Time: 1:00 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Fantasy is filled with all kinds of stories, but sometimes a trend pops up that turns into a sub-genre. Supervise? Gamelit? LitRPG? Cozy? Noir? There are so many, & a few that don’t really fit in any…yet.
Panelists: L. Jagi Lamplighter, James A. Hunter, Aaron Crash, G. Scott Huggins, Cat Rambo(M), K. M. Herkes
Meep. I’m on a panel with Cat Rambo? MEEP. So exciting. Daunting, but exciting.
This panel topic is near and dear to my “organize-all-the-things” heart. I’m going to take deep breaths, sit up straight, and enjoy the heck out of it.’

I’m going to come home from this con with a TON of new reading material, I just know it.

Between panels, I’ll be hanging at The Bard’s Tower in the Vendor zone. With my books, yes. Want to buy a book or a patch or some pins? I can make that happen. Have I mentioned that I write books? Techno-thrillers, superpower fantasy. And science-fiction-knitting-romances. (And cozy ghost mystery paranormals, but you can’t buy those yet.)

ANYway. I’ll try to stay engaged online while away, but no promises. It’s a busy, BUSY con. I don’t have FB messenger, but texts or Twitter DMs will find me. I’ll also be going to panels & other events, because that’s part of the fun, and the con goes on all day & night for 4 days, after all. The Palmetto Knights are on my must-see list, for sure, and multiple visits to Artist’s Alley, of course.

All righty. That covers the con. Time to color my hair, unearth the suitcase, and pack the con clothes.

And after Dragon Con? Well. Expect this blog to go quiet. If I have time to sit down with words between Labor Day and Halloween, there’s a book to finish revising and another to finish drafting, and the urge to bury myself in manuscripts is getting stronger by the day. So. That’s how it goes.

Gen Con 2019 post #2

So many good things happened today. I want to write about all of them, but I am bleary-eyed tired & sleepy & full of good food from Bazbeaux Pizza and cannot possibly process it all.

I am also full of contentment after the long, busy Gen Con Saturday experience, what with all the meeting & chatting & connecting & sharing. And new ideas are firing up, sparked by great conversations with new friends.

Thanks to all who stopped by my table to chat, from Greg, who let me show him all my “baby house’ pictures, to Very Vocal Viking Troy who swung by for a return visit (!) and brought his wonderful friend Chandra, who bought the big book bundle and let me give her the free pins that went with it. And special glittery internet hugs for Shell who wanted me to know exactly how much she loves my characters.

Cheers to Patricia the artist with gorgeous line drawings (whose card I still need to grab) for letting me moon over all her beautiful art, all hail my many, wonderful aisle-mates on Authors Avenue for making me feel welcome, and big gratitude to all the passers-by who let me babble excitedly at them about my wonderful fictional worlds.

AND HAVE I MENTIONED SHANNON EICHORN? My table mate, my rock of stability, my holder of ipads and issuer of gentle reminders to hydrate?

Yeah. This con would not have been a success without her staunch support. Just saying.

ANYway. I could go on and on, but there’s still Sunday to go, and it’s late, and I have ideas to ponder & dream on before tomorrow arrives.

Until later.