Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Print to Screen - Do They Get it Right?

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina show has surprising
differences to the comic book.
The recent explosion of SFF titles developed into films is exciting for us readers and writers alike. How glorious is it to see the genre we love splashed across the screen, larger than life? 

Unless they haven't gotten it right.

Tom Bombadilo's Godberry, the River's Daughter.
The wave of Fantasy adaptations started with Tolkien's LOTR and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter almost twenty years ago and moved on to properties like Charline Harris's True Blood and Stephenie Myer's Twilight, both released in 2008. 

They were followed quickly by L. J. Smiths The Vampire Diaries in 2009 which brought us to a peak in the realm of VampLit. 

But readers of our genre tend to be sticklers for authenticity. Keeping to the 'spirit of the book' isn't always enough. 

For example, a strong character from LOTR was omitted from the film adaptation.  (I've mentioned this before so you can tell I'm one of those reacting.) The enigmatic Tom Bombadil is nowhere to be seen. In this interview, Peter Jackson explains why:

AICN: Will you be including Tom Bombadil? The Ralph Bakshi production cut it out, as did the BBC radio drama.

PJ: At this point in time Bombadil is out. The main reason is not just time or pace, but one of simple narrative focus ... the Bombadil sequence has so little to do with Sauron or the Ring, it is difficult to justify the screen time. It simply doesn't give us any vital new information. A very simplest rule of thumb that I use in movie storytelling is to try and further the story with each new scene. 

I wonder what Tolkien would say about that!

In other adaptations, readers had trouble adjusting to a dark-haired, slightly tragic Elena Gilbert of the TVD series. After all, L. J. Smith made a big deal in the books about her long blond hair, blue eyes and snarky attitude. A reader elaborates:

...it became immediately obvious that TV Elena was more of a mild-mannered doormat instead of an ice queen with a sacred, sworn duty to ensnare the hot new student. - Read more...

An interview with TVD creators Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson explained that actor Nina Dobrev was perfect for the parts of Elena and her doppelganger Katherine (who isn't a doppelganger in the books BTW) and the gal just wasn't blond. They also found the book Elena too unsympathetic and decided to write her a different way. 

Some readers still haven't forgiven them.

In 2011, episode one of Game of Thrones appeared and yes, the first five seasons are drawn heavily from the books because they were already written. HBO had direct material. But... seasons six, seven, and eight aren’t based so specifically on Martin's next books. Regrets? 

GRRM himself says he wishes the show had found time to include Lady Stoneheart. "I can't imagine how different the show would be with her in it."

From Marvel and DC Comics' The Avengers, I Zombie, Umbrella Academy, Aquaman, to Terry Brook's Netflix release of the Sword of Shannara, print versions differ from the scripts. 

Apparently, there are four major reasons why this happens: 

1. Time
2. money
3. technology
4. storytelling. 

After all, it is an adaptation, not a direct translation.

In iZombie, our main character in the show has a change of name, location, occupation, origins, memory, friends and enemies from her comic book counterpart. In many ways, it's a completely different story, but a good one, on both platforms.

How about you? Have any pet peeves from print to screen adaptations? Favourites? I'd love to hear about them.

* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2020 - The Bone Throwers. 

Also, check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

High Fives from Amanda: Getting Burnt

I thought this month I would get SUPER honest. 

I'm exhausted. Even after a vacation, I'm exhausted.   So this month, I thought I'd five you a few pointers on how to avoid that other burn that happens during the summer time: Writer Burn Out.

Burn out is a warning you might be losing passion. You are running out of energy to actively sustain your love of something. If losing passion is not an option, then you need to heed the warning. And this isn't just for writing- this can be for a job that you are passionate about or, frankly, life in general. 

Here are my five tips for dealing with burnout. 

1). Negotiate a successful failure- If you really can't finish, what can you finish? If you can't do the edits on the whole thing, can you finish the edits on the first 15? the first 30? Thirty pages edited is more than nothing, and you'll be sane enough to edit another day. This is when having SMART goals comes in really handy. 

2). It is okay to suck. Leave your perfect Alice Hoffman and Steven King and Jim Butcher at the door. Accept that somedays it is okay to just suck. Just tell the story. Just get the words on the page because, very much like #1, it is easier to edit a page with words than a page without words. For me, sometimes this looks like (insert emotional beat here). 

3). Explore other creative outlets- the more physical the better. Sometimes you just have to get out of the 'writing brain' and use some other hemisphere. Work in a garden. Color-coordinate your bookshelves. Reorganize your living space. Clean everything. Honestly, sometimes just cleaning off my desk is enough to get me back in a writing mood. Mostly because I hate cleaning, and I tell myself, "Look Arista, it is either cleaning or writing, so pick one."

4. Sleep and Relax. When you are facing burnout, sometimes binging Netflix is TOTALLY OKAY. Its okay to watch five seasons of a TV show in a weekend. You are a) potentially angering your muse so much that she will start to saturate your brain with better ideas than this drivel and b) resting and releasing the tension that burnout causes. It is a powerful thing to just put your phone down, put the book down, and allow yourself to go to sleep at the same time as your kids. Try it. Ten hours of sleep is LIFE-CHANGING. 

5. Worry about yourself and yourself only. This one takes a few different faces. - Get off social media. When you are burnt out, the last thing you need to see is some peppy author with a three book deal. What she didn't post was the years that it took to get there- you're only seeing the snapshot and you don't need to see that right now. Stop comparing your journey to others journeys. There are others like it, but this one is yours.- Assess motivations for writing. Do you need to adjust your goals? Are you being too hard on yourself and that is causing burn-out? Is what you are doing today really advancing those goals or is it just busy work? If you stopped writing, what would happen? That last one is hard, but if its a scary thought- you're world without writing- then at least you know the passion is still there. - Eat better, drink water, and exercise with a purpose. Like throw yourself into taking care of YOU. Do that 10 step face cleansing. Try that three day juicing thing. Walk your dog. But do it for you. 

Not trying to be preachy with this, but I know. I've been there. So forgive yourself for the bad days and know that with a little sleep, some hydration, and maybe a walk around the block, it will be better tomorrow. 

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: Katharine Kerr's "Daggerspell" and Love At First Meeting


Introduction: #YOR #RIFF

As recapped last month, I've dedicated 2019 as my Year of Romance (#YOR) here on Supernatural Underground, specifically Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF). Because it's love after all, that helps make our crazy old world go around (in addition to physics, that is! ;-) )

Also last month, I let you in on my sekret plan to alternate older Fantasy works with more recent titles. So since last month's title was a 2010 publication, which counts as recent by my book, given I started with Tolkien in the mid-1950s :-), this month I'm heading back to 1988, when Katharine Kerr's Daggerspell launched her wonderful Deverry series (or sequence of series, as it turned out.)

And because the #YOR #RIFF posts are building up now, I'll start listing the links to the preceding posts at the end of each installment. Now  onward to Daggerspell and the fateful "love at first meeting" between Jill and Rhodry.

Katharine Kerr's Daggerspell: Jill, Rhodry, and Love At First Meeting

Love at first sight is one of the great traditions of romantic love and Jill and Rhodry come close, being strongly attracted from their first meeting. I also said their meeting was "fateful" and that is also true, since fate, or wyrd, is one of the prime drivers in Katharine Kerr's tale of the Celtic world of Deverry.

In particular, the spirits and wyrds of four central characters are tied together through a succession of lives, because of initial tragic events. The first of the four is the sorcerer, Nevyn, who has sworn an oath not to rest until the old wrongs are righted. This has rendered him undying until the oath is fulfilled, so he is the only one of the four not to die and continually be reborn. The other three were originally Brangwen and Gerraent, a brother and sister, and Blaen, a friend to Geraint and in love with Brangwen. Nevyn was Brangwen's original betrothed before circumstances and his own youthful pride forced them apart.

In the story's present time, they are Jill (originally Brangwen), her father Cullyn, a "silver dagger" or mercenary soldier (originally Gerraent), and Rhodry (originally Blaen), who is heir to his mother's small kingdom (part of the wider kingdom of Deverry.) I say originally because they have all been through many lives between the original events and the present, some of which are also woven into Daggerspell

When it comes to romance, though, there are several time-honored aspects at play in the story. In addition to "love at first sight" and the "fated love" angle, there are also two triangles, in various permutations depending on how the reincarnated lives play out: Nevyn-Brangwen-Blaen; and Brangwen-Gerraent-Blaen. 

In terms of Jill and Rhodry's love, however, which is central to Daggerspell and the first Deverry quartet, another important aspect of that is "unequal love", i.e. Rhodry is a minor prince and Jill is a silver dagger's daughter, one who carries a silver dagger in her own right. Silver daggers are almost-but-not-quite outcasts, so that puts Cullyn and Jill at the bottom of the social order. 

Jill and Rhodry meet under exceptional circumstances, however, the sort that breaks down social barriers during the crisis. Part of that crisis, too, is a rebellion based on sorcery (called 'dweomer' in the Deverry world) and where Jill turns out to have a vital part of play  all of which conspires to throw Jill and Rhodry closer together, despite Nevyn and Cullyn's best endeavors otherwise.

And here's a wee excerpt from that first meeting:

"Jill turned to Cullyn and gave him a smile that made her beauty as delicate and glowing as that of any court lady. Rhodry's heart sank. It was cursed unfair of the gods to give a lass like this a father who happened to be the best swordsman in the whole wide kingdom of Deverry."

Overall, Daggerspell is a fantasy read I recommend, but if you like romance (#RIFF) to be as much part of your Fantasy reading as adventure and battles and magic, then I think you'll find a lot to enjoy as the Year of Romance (#YOR) rocks on. 

See you all again next month. :-)


List of Year of Romance in Fantasy Posts (so far):

March: JRR Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings Effect
April: Laini Taylor's Daughter Of Smoke and Bone  "My Enemy, My Love"
May: Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster of Hed  "Constancy Amid Tumult"
June: Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven  "When Your Ship Doesn't Sail."


Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. The second,The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012, and the sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood (Book Three), was published in 2016 and Helen is currently completing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Stories within Stories

The Mysteries of Udolpho art by Roman Cieslewicz
Lately, I've been fascinated with the art of intertextuality, as when a fictional character becomes engaged in a story within the book. In a simple example, Sookie Stackhouse always picks up a romance novel when she's not deep in a vampire/were/fae drama. Roald Dahl's Matilda reads widely and continuously, as do all the main characters in The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

Roald Dahl's Matilda and her love of literature.
In many cases of intertextuality, the reader is better understood or defined by their books. For example, Tyrion Lannister sets himself apart by being an avid reader in a world of swords and betrayals, dragons and oncoming winter.

“The mind needs books like the sword needs a whetstone.” (Tyrion Lannister) in A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin.
And let's not forget Lisa Simpson. She has surprisingly eclectic tastes for a cartoon character. I've seen her reading A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and the entire Harry Potter Series to name a few.

In this way, a character's literary choices can show us something about who they are, what they love and maybe even what they desire.

Look at the fictional character Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel, Northanger Abbey. What does her obsession with Gothic novels, and The Mysteries of Udolpho, a real-world novel by Ann Radcliffe, add to the plot and world building?

The Mysteries of Udolho by Ann Radcliffe first published in 1794.

One of my favourite speculative fiction novels of all times, Angel of Ruin (also known as Fallen Angel) by Kim Wilkins, tells of a contemporary journalist with not enough luck and a bit too much curiosity. As stories unfold within stories, the origins of one of the most famous poems ever written, John Milton's Paradise Lost is re-visioned. In this case, the intertextuality becomes so intricate that there is no plot without it.

"Milton's Paradise Lost" by John Milton and illustrated by Gustave Dore Henry Altemus, Philadelphia - ca 1885, first thus edition (first Altemus Dore edition)
From cartoons to literary fiction, intertextuality has a role. Of course, when we are reading, we don't think of it that way, being too lost in the other worlds. At least, that's the goal.

Do you have a favorite fictional character who reads? A story within a story? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

* * * 

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. 

Also, check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Under Heaven” & When Your Ship Doesn’t Sail


Introduction: #YOR #RIFF

Just to recap, I have dedicated 2019 as my Year of Romance (#YOR) here on Supernatural Underground, specifically Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF). Because as I indicated last month, Fantasy is how I roll. :D

I began in March with JRR Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings (aka when romance is missing-in-action), continuing in April with LainiTaylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is romance of the kind I categorize as “my enemy, my love.” Last month, I featured Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemasterseries, with the additional tagline of “Constancy Amid Tumult.”

As I indicated at the outset, this series is all about my personal favorites as opposed to any sort of endeavor to faithfully document the evolution of romance in Fantasy, or hone in on its most significant examples. I’ll include this reminder from time to time, just in case you’re wondering why your personal favorites, or various landmark works, haven’t been mentioned yet. ;-)

However, one thing I am trying to do with the #YOR #RIFF series is alternate older works with more recent publications. So I started with Tolkien (mid 1950s), leapt forward to Laini Taylor (2011), then it was back to the late 1970s for Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster trilogy. By doing this, you may get some sense of how romance has manifested in the genre since Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. If that adds additional interest for readers, then so much the better  I’m entirely good with that!

For now, however, onward to our June feature, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven, which was published in 2010.

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven:
Li-Mei & Meshag’s Tale 
or ‘When Your Ship Doesn’t Sail’

Also known as: When The Stars Don’t Align, aka It Could Never Be – even though you, as reader, would really love to have that ship sail!

By way of context, “shipping” is a fandom phrase, in which fans of a series or show advocate for characters to get together romantically. If the series does end with your preferred characters getting together, then your “ship” has sailed. In other cases, it may sink without a trace… One well-known example of “shipping” (where the ship did not sail) is from the original animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which fans shipped Katara and Zuko, arguing for their “ship” until the end. J

So that probably gives you an idea, if the tagline didn’t already give it away, of where this is going… ;-)

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven is a Fantasy loosely based (as I understand it) on events during China’s Tang dynasty. Like most of Kay’s novels, there are several point-of-view (pov) characters and – in this novel, anyway – several important romantic relationships. My personal favorite, however, is the story of Li-Mei and Meshag.

Li-Mei is a noblewoman of the Kitai (i.e. China, Middle Kingdom) empire, who has been adopted into the imperial family for the specific purpose of being married off, as a gift or tribute bride, to one of the nomadic, barbarian (to the Kitai, anyway) tribes (the Bogū) from beyond the Great Wall. Needless to say, her opinions on this arrangement were not consulted.

Meshag, son of Hurok, is the eldest son of the Bogū kaghan (ie khan), but has fallen victim to a sorcerous attack in which is soul and life have been bound to that of a steppe wolf. The only reason the attack failed is because Li Mei’s brother, Tai, thwarted the spellcasting – which was itself instigated by Meshag’s brother, who wished to become heir, then kaghan, himself.

So when Li Mei is sent beyond the empire to marry the evil brother, Meshag undertakes to rescue her and return her to her home. His primary motivation is to repay the debt he owes Tai for his life, soul, and freedom; the secondary objective is to thwart his brother’s rise to power. The story that ensues (woven together with the others in the book, but you can also read it is a standalone sequence—true confessions: which I sometimes do, it being a favorite tale!—by following Li-Mei’s pov chapters.) is one of a flight and pursuit, in which the (in many ways) polar opposites of Li-Mei and Meshag are thrown together.

The reason I say “in many ways” is because although Li-Mei and Meshag come from vastly different backgrounds they do have common ground on which to meet. Initially that common ground is Tai’s part in both their lives, but as the story develops they turn out to have personal qualities in common as well: chiefly grit, resolve, and personal integrity, as well as humor. These are important qualities that play a considerable part in their survival and the feelings that develop between them.

I could argue that any moderately attractive, moderately intelligent young woman and man, thrown together in such circumstances, are likely to develop feelings for each other, which makes this an inevitable outcome of the story. I believe, though, that it is those important qualities in common that make Li-Mei and Meshag’s relationship more than just one of circumstance and survival.

To my mind, their tale is a romance, but a delicate, almost ephemeral one. At the very least, their journey has unquestionable romantic elements: i.e. the author has definitely “shipped” them. As a reader, however, you know that their ship is unlikely ever to sail, because the stars of events and their disparate worlds are highly unlikely to align. Li-Mei and Meshag know this, too. And yet there is that indefinable “something” present between them – and detectable to the reader.

I love this kind of storytelling, where the “certain something” is conveyed so powerfully and yet cannot be – and you, as reader, also feel the rightness that it cannot be. In terms of romance, therefore, Li-Mei and Meshag’s story fits into the ‘bittersweet’ quadrant of the compass, without being saccharine or bleak.

I also note that, while Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing is often thought of in conjunction with high or epic fantasy, Li-Mei and Meshag’s tale aligns with elements associated with paranormal fantasy – particularly the spell that binds Meshag to the wolf:

“Meshag, son of Hurok, is strange beyond words, barely human at times, but he is helping her, because of Tai. And his dead eyes do not undermine or refute steadiness and experience. He killed a swan with a single arrow. And he has the wolves.”

I think an important element of their ‘ship’ is that Meshag ends helping Li-Mei for her own sake, too.

All in all, Li-Mei and Meshag’s story is one of my favorites, and their journey and relationship has remained with me, long after other books and their ‘ships’ have long set sail into rose-tinted sunsets.

I therefore consider Under Heaven, but particularly Li-Mei and Meshag’s part in it, a worthy inclusion in my Year of Romance #YOR, with its closer look at some of my favorites Romances in Fantasy Fiction. #RIFF

See you all again next month!

Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. The second,The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012, and the sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood (Book Three), was published in 2016 and Helen is currently completing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Choose Your Poison

Poison in a Bottle
As synchronicity would have it, the last three books I've read had much to do about poisons, toxic substances that caused grievous harm. Some of the results are accidental, some intentional, but what ties all three reads together is the way the poison itself becomes a character.

Sure, you could say that chemical/magical substances are just tools, good or evil depending on who wields them. But in these books, I found the alchemy so unique and essential to the plot that it warrants a life of its own. 

I'll highlight them here so you can judge for yourself if you want to partake. I liked them all very much, in different ways.

Poison Study by Maria V Snider -

Book one of nine in the Poison Study Series

In this dance with poisons, the hero, Yelena, convicted of murder, is offered the option of becoming a taste tester to the Commander of Ixia. The other choice is death. Being a taster means she's well housed and very well fed. Of course, it also means she will die at any moment if she can't identify a poison quickly.

There's another twist to the plot that keeps her from running away, an ingenious addition by Snider that keeps the story moving as well as elevating the poison to a supreme 'power over.'

Fabulous writing. I love how you can settle in for nine whole books in this series!

An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

YA Historical Fantasy

This debut story whisks us away to the time of King Louis XIV, focusing on a seventeen-year-old who is shocked when she learns the truth about her mother's once-revered Shadow Society. Mirabelle Monvoisin is an alchemist, after her father, whose love of chemistry and magic, life-saving and life-taking, brings to life the plants and herbs and elements she works with.

While she struggles with a life or death situation, she meets the
Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon, loathed by his father the Sun King but devoted to his siblings who are in desperate need of saving.

As the captions reads: "She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. As sworn enemies, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?"

A rich and entertaining read. It made me dust off a history book to learn more about the French Revolution.

A Beautiful Poison - Lydia Kang

YA Historical Fiction/Mystery

I just realized this is one of the few non-fantasy novels I've read in some time. I was drawn to the author by reading her YA fantasy title - The November Girl - and although this story is very different, the writing is every bit as engaging and immersive.

Set in the early 1900s, in both the homes of upper-class New Yorkers and those less fortunate, we meet Allene, smart, educated, entitled and out to solve a murder mystery. She teams up with two old friends, the fragile and stunning Birdy, and Jasper, a young apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital. 

As the story deepens, I found myself guessing 'who done it?' but oh boy, was I surprised at the very end. Brilliant writing. Amazing toxins and characters so real it makes you cry. Set in the era of NY jazz and the Spanish flu... Highly recommended.

As I think on these three authors and how they have weaved their poisons into the plots, I am reminded of Paracelsus when he said:

Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either deleterious or healing... 

Have you read any books about poison lately? Authors, how do you use toxins in your books? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

* * * 

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. 

Also, check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

High Fives from Amanda: Conference Season!!!!

Five things to take to writer conferences

The season is upon us for writing conferences. The one time of the year that us hermits dust off our extroversion hat and meet other writers.

Personally, I love going to conferences. But I'm that perpetual nerd who loves learning and, as an instructor, I really love listening to how others have figured out something or how they frame a concept. I love the energy that conferences give me. Much like meeting with a writers group, there is a buzz that seeps into your skin and just makes you want to write, write, write.

In fact, I'm running a little behind schedule on my blog post because I'm headed out to Inkerscon tomorrow!

But there are some essentials to conference season, so here are my top five things to make sure you have when you attend any conference.

1). A TARDIS bag. Not in that it is a police box blue, but a bag big enough to hide the water bottle, snacks, notebooks, swag, free books, and computer with charger that you are going to be hauling around with you all day. There might even be another pair of shoes. You just don't know.
This thing needs to be like Mary Poppin's carpet bag and be HUGE on the inside.
2). Author Identification. Yes, self promotion can be icky, but always be on the ready when someone asks for your contact info or the books you have written. Don't shove them at people, but other attendees might actually keep hold of a business card for a day or two instead of that bar napkin that you write your email on. Also, sparkly business card holder for the win.

3). A scarf, sweater, or pashmina. The hotel industry has yet to find a way to regulate temperatures in conference settings. I'm either too hot or too cold, so I always have a scarf or something to wrap up in. And bonus points for any literary themed wear.
Also very helpful for hiding stains for when you accidentally spill coffee on yourself first thing in the morning or drop a carrot down your shirt during the keynote speaker. Trust me on this one.

4). Special notebook. Notebooks are precious to writers, so I always buy a new one for each conference, because I don't want notes getting lost in the back of some notebook that I'm using for plotting. I've also got the current novel notebook in tow as well just in case a presentation knocks loose a brilliant idea  and I must scribble it down now.
And of course post-its. Are there people who actually leave home without post-its?

5). Something interesting to read at break time. Conferences are hard. Lots of people in a tiny space. Lots of human noise. So I always take something to read. Something to use to help disconnect my brain from the conference even if its only over lunch or a small break in the afternoon. Doing something even for a few moments that isn't siting, smiling, or taking notes helps with my energy over the course of the conference. Just a few moments to focus, center-yourself, and in this case, get a little research done as well!

What do you take? Let me know if there is an essential that is essential to you at conference!

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Amanda Arista