I had a great weekend attending panels in sunny California!
The blog is in two sections, first is my personal experience. Panel names are in bold for easy skimming. Beneath that, section two contains general tips for conventions.
All my panels went spectacularly.
My first panel was the Character Slam Book. Emerian Rich led the class, gave away free notebooks and worksheets, and talked about creating consistent character profiles and location layouts for authors and RPGers. We had several dozen participants, who seemed very engaged. Like any good co-host, I added my two cents and asked Emerian leading questions.
A big thanks to the men and women who danced with me in the Regency Dance. You were all very kind–even if I did learn that I don’t know how to Viennese Waltz. It was completely different from the waltz I had learned.
At the Writers Workshop all three submissions had potential and I wish the writers well. I don’t think we were too rough on them. I remember being on the other side of the table two years ago.
I jumped into the Hunger Games BOF only a few minutes late, despite being double booked, and the conversation was lively. We even had time to expand the talk into the question of children in movies, violence, and the upcoming Ender’s Game film.
The Post-Apocalypse Fiction panel was packed. Even after we stole chairs from other rooms people sat on the floor. The other panelists were fascinating in their knowledge of survival techniques. I took away a nice list of fiction to check out in the future.
I gave a Sci-Fi Reading of Pirate. We had a another great turnout, and other than the door resisting our efforts to keep it closed, the reading was ideal. I even got some nice laughs. However, my performance was nothing compared to author Cliff Winnig. He acted out his story with photos, accents, and the largest leap I have seen an author make. Check him out for a reading if you get a chance.
While I was at the Con I had the pleasure of meeting one of the editors of the magazine that published “Pirate”, Philip Carroll. I’m not used to meeting people from the internet in real life, so that’s one great reason to attend these conventions.
This completed my marathon schedule for Saturday. I squeezed in dinner, games in the game room, and got to relax during the Masquerade, Klingon Slave Auction (people are so brave!), and a portion of the Burlesque.
The following day, Sunday, started with me sitting on the pool deck to finally get some California sun. I found that I didn’t want to watch the Iron Editors tear into everyone’s submissions just before giving a reading myself.
Fortunately, the reading I did for the Horror Reading Panel went well. The other readers were also fabulous, including Emerian Rich, Laurel Ann Hill and Jay Hartlove. And a big thank-you to the listener who came up and bought a book from me in person.
That afternoon on the pool deck more than 15 people joined me to talk about the genius of Joss Whedon at the Whedon BOF. I enjoyed this panel the most. Maybe because it was so relaxed, or perhaps I just liked getting to organize things, but we found a shady spot with couches and chairs and discussed absolutely all of Joss’s works. People’s passions were amazing. And where else could I share all the minutia I’ve learned about Joss’s works and the recent Avengers movie?
A friend of mine that I only see when life sends me to California found an hour to steal me away from the hotel. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have left the hotel all weekend.
The Wicked Women Writers panel had some women who seemed seriously interested in the group. I gave my grittiest reading. Emz recorded the panels, so hopefully audio will be available soon. To my surprise, I found that I was the most soft-spoken of our bunch. I don’t think of myself as quiet, but waveforms don’t lie. Thanks to the other ladies for letting me sit in front of the mic.
I have to admit, I snuck out of the Horror Addicts panel to visit the Regency Dancing, but I was there for the beginning and end. We sold several copies of The Wickeds and I signed them happily. IMPORTANT NOTE: This weekend was my first opportunity to hold a print copy, and I discovered my short story had been printed without italics. Since it originated as a podcast with both sound effects and thoughts, this makes a big difference. I’ve notified the publisher.
I danced until midnight, went to bed, got up again and wandered the halls in the wee hours. I hadn’t had an appetite all day, so I hadn’t eaten much, but I figured I needed to find some food. I found a friend, no food, and he seemed busy so I returned to my room in failure. Ate a bag of chips from the airplane, then fought mild stomach ache the rest of the night. I’d picked up some weak bug, I guess.
I didn’t have time for anything con related. I checked out and flew home.
The Con Experience – Con Tips
If you’re a writer unfamiliar with conventions, check out other blogs that give general tips on using your time and planning. Here are my tips that may not be listed elsewhere:
If you have books you want to sell, carry copies with you. Remember to also have change.
Even better, go into the dealer room and ask a likely bookseller if they’ll sell copies on their table. We left our books with the wonderful people of Basement Books on Friday, and picked up unsold copies on Monday morning.
Be friendly. People at the conventions are there to be social. And they love the same things you do, so conversations shouldn’t be hard. I discovered familiar names and faces.
I’ve also heard a lot of authors say just sitting in the bar lets them mingle. I haven’t mastered that yet. Perhaps I don’t know enough people, or maybe they think it will give the wrong impression if they come up to a woman sitting alone at the bar. If I’m sitting at the bar at a Con, I’m inviting you to join me. (Unless you want to tell me that, “sometimes wedding rings are just for show.” But that guy was with another of the conventions at the hotel and not typical.)
Don’t hang out in your hotel room. Nothing new will happen there. Go to the green room, or hospitality room, or party floor, or whereever else you can go to relax. Even if you’re not used to crowds. I’m working on this one.
If you can afford it, call it a vacation and get a hotel room, whether or not you’re local. You’ll enjoy the convention more. As an author, you won’t have to carry all your books with you all the time, either. You can restock from the room.
Wash your hands, lots, and carry hand sanitizer. You’ll spend a portion of your day shaking hands as you meet people, and when people come from all over, so do germs.
I probably learned more than that, but this post is already too long for a casual reader. Let me just thank anyone who attended one of my panels, or said a kind word to me in passing or at the Horror Addicts table. I hope to go again next year.
I may have more conventions in the future, and likely several closer to my home in Seattle. I’ll let you know where I’ll appear next.
Finally, if you’d like more photos from the convention check out my author’s page on Facebook, or if you’re interested in Baycon follow their Facebook group. And if you found me through Baycon please, please say hello. Leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on twitter for @hroulo!