Posts Tagged ‘SF convention’

SpoCon’s swan song was a really great weekend. I came home tired, in a good way. I also sold almost all the books I brought, which is always a good feeling. And, yes, there were a few tears during the closing ceremonies. It was the end of an era, and we all knew why, but that didn’t make it easier.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from the panel discussion, “That’s Too Political.” I was joined by my old friend Manny Frishberg, with newer friends S. Evan Townsend and Michael Hodges.

“That’s too Political” is an accusation that gets thrown around a lot recently. It’s meant to stop uncomfortable conversations. The panelists all agreed that all fiction is political. Science fiction and fantasy have been at the forefront of this more than many other genres. Anyway, this is what I remember about my closing thoughts.

“One book can change the world. Books are that powerful. When people say, “That’s too political,” it is a form of censorship. They want to stop the conversations that challenge their world view. Through a coordinated campaign of school and library censorship around the country, they want to stop kids from having empathy for a gay, or a Black, or someone thinking of suicide, or someone with a mental illness.

“We as writers must not permit this. We writers cannot be silenced.”

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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This weekend is SpoCon, and I’m all over it! The process of testing equipment and packing books is already well under way. Here is my schedule for the weekend.

Friday, 7 pm, That’s Too Political, a panel about the accusation that various arts are “too political” and how the history of fantasy and SF has always challenged the comfortable.

Saturday at 11 am, Creatures! There are so many great creatures in folklore, but authors often want to create something new and distinct. Where is the balance?

Saturday, 1 pm, Reading. I read from a selection of my work and take questions from the audience.

Saturday, 2 pm, Autographs. Just what it sounds like.

Sunday is doubled up for me. I’m running an Animal Crossing Treasure Hunt from 8 to noon, but they also scheduled me for a 10 am panel, Landscaping, A Reflection. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.

SpoCon doesn’t have a book seller this year, but my books will be at the Marmot Market for those who are so inspired.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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After all my blogging about getting ready for this convention, possibly you want to know how it went.

It was good in a lot of ways. The big thing I was worried about was people not being masked, or ugly confrontations about masking. I’d guess about 95% of the attendees were masked. The con-goers took care of each other. That’s honestly a relief. My husband’s workplace gave him at-home COVID tests and I still plan to do that by the end of this week, just to be sure I’m not asymptomatic.

The crowd was very small. This convention attracts 1,000+ people, and I’d guess we had less than 300. Scary for the convention’s budget, but not surprising considering how many people are still worried about attending indoor events.

Our fan table, supporting SpoCon in October, was very well received. People were excited to know that we’re trying it again. Not many actual memberships were sold, but we passed out a lot of flyers. During the times I was at the table, I displayed my books. Everything sold except the book I needed for my reading. Okay, my price was ridiculously low as I’m moving out printed copies from my soon-to-be-former publisher. Still, it was cool to come home and completely refill my book bag.

The one downer was I discovered some of my program ideas from SpoCon had to been swiped and used at RadCon. This isn’t a “gee that sounds familiar” moment. My exact titles and descriptions were in their programming. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you go to these conventions, you know how many of the panels are on “gee that sounds familiar” topics. When the panels are unique and interesting, people notice. It can be a reason for members to return to a certain event.

It was jarring to see an idea I had personally devised and developed, be on someone else’s program before my own. I don’t even know who I might talk to about it.

All in all, though, I’m glad I ventured forth to RadCon!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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It’s been a couple of years since I attended an SF convention, for obvious reasons. It’s exciting to prepare for this weekend. Yet, it’s also made me look back at these events and how much the circumstances have changed, even before the pandemic.

Anyone who’s done an event like this knows how hard it is to fit all the pieces together and make it successful. It’s gotten harder and harder over the past decade. What’s become evident to me, as someone who designs programming, is how much the social picture around SF conventions has changed.

For many of us, SF conventions used to be a vital social outlet. SF itself was considered an odd fringe interest. Fans had to look hard to find people to shared our joy in these books, comics, games, movies and animation. At SF conventions, you could talk about shows like Star Trek with people who wouldn’t look down on it. You could game in person. Go to panels on esoteric subjects. Meet authors and get autographs. Admire costumes. Buy art and all sorts of fannish goodies. Watch movies and anime. These were all things you couldn’t do anywhere else.

In the 30 years I’ve been working on these events, the entire society has changed enormously. SF and fantasy is no longer an unusual hobby. After movies like Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series, and TV shows like Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, SF is widely understood and even beloved.

Thanks to the Internet, nobody has to seek out those fannish goodies any more. With streaming media, you can watch all sorts of shows at any time. There are Facebook groups for gushing about your favorite shows and Discord chats to talk about esoteric topics. You can play games online. If you’re interested in an author, you can follow them on social media. Etsy and similar websites allow fans to buy their goodies and get them delivered. So far, costume contests haven’t been replaced, but that may be just a matter of time.

SF fandom and conventions have definitely been successful. We’ve won the whole world over to our side. It’s a little sad to think that we’ve made ourselves obsolete. The larger events, like DragonCon and San Diego Comicon, will no doubt continue to thrive based on their fame, but for small local conventions, I think perhaps our day has passed.

Guess I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One of the sales-oriented goals that I established at the beginning of 2020 was to attend 6 book events over the course of the year. As an independent author, I’m always looking for ways to publicize my books, after all.

Book events can be as simple as a couple of hours at a table in a store, chatting up customers. Or they can be as elaborate as science fiction conventions that run across a full weekend. I always have a good time meeting people and (hopefully) turning them into my fans.

This year, there’s an obvious barrier between me and my plans — pandemic closures. There’s really nothing I can do about it, and I don’t plan to moan about it (much). What I do want to mention is that there’s another aspect to book events besides the author’s fun and/or profit.

The organizers of these events are suffering, too. They work for months to get everything set up. It’s painful to see all that effort wasted. For example, this coming weekend I was supposed to attend a science fiction convention in Missoula, MT. That’s now been delayed by a year.

It can also be financially painful. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may recall that I’m on an SF convention organizing committee myself. I do programming, as my sneaky way of keeping in touch with all the writers around my area. So far, three genre conventions have been cancelled locally. Do we really thing we’re going to be the exception?

Our dates for 2020 are in October. It looks likely that the state will be allowing large gatherings again by then. The question is whether average fans will feel safe enough to attend a convention. That’s where the financial pain comes in.

Our event has a contract with a hotel. If there is a stay-at-home order in effect, the hotel will allow us to cancel the convention, or delay it by a year, with no fault to either side. But if the state is “open for business” they will expect us to hold our event and pay them everything we owe. Even if our instinct tells us attendance is going to fall and leave us in dire condition, we are still obligated.

I’m not blaming the hotel, either. They must have had a tremendous number of cancellations, and it’s natural that they don’t want to let go of any possible revenue. So I’m not going to moan about that, either (much).

It’s just one of the trials of a writer’s life.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Well, I knew it would be hectic. It’s the week before SpoCon, and I have to tie up every loose end for programming. People who haven’t followed up with me in months are getting in touch about program ideas. I needed those suggestions in February! And, why didn’t I know they wanted to bring a guest? Maybe because they haven’t answered my e-mails. And by the way, their laptop went out and they hope I can come up with one for them to use.

But, I will be gracious to everyone in print, and they will never see me rolling my eyes in disgust. It will all be great!

In addition, there are those mass shootings, and the usual round of deflection that follows. “Thoughts and prayers.” Video games. Mental Illness. “Freedom from tyranny!” which can only be defined by owning a gun. It’s maddening.

The guns are the problem. Not video games. Not mental illness. Not the immigrants. It’s the guns.

And now, I return to packing for the convention, which is something that I can exercise some control over.

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I did have a great weekend at MosCon Revival, just as I hoped. For one thing, we drove down Saturday and stayed until Sunday afternoon, so we didn’t have that all-day-in-the-car experience. We got to spend time with a lot of old friends, which was a big reason for going down there. It was especially good to spend a few minutes with my dear old mentor, M. J. Engh. That’s a thing money can’t buy.

The featured speakers were Cat Rambo and Richard Kadrey. They were excellent, friendly, and always on topic. I enjoyed their panels a lot. One of my highlights was getting a first-page reading from them that was on my next novella, The Ghostly Grove. They had nice things to say and were very encouraging.

The panel I was on was about whether women look for different experiences in games and got off more into harassment in online venues. But that is a real issue, so I felt it was productive panel.

Because the event was small, we got a lot of great exposure for SpoCon. We talked about our best programming and passed out flyers to convince people to come. We even got questions from the wait staff at the place where we went for lunch and gave them flyers, too.

We had fun and the response was great. But next weekend? Next weekend, I’M STAYING HOME!

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As mentioned, my husband and I went to Sandemonium last weekend. How did it go? First, you need to know that Sandemonium is very small. Maybe 100 people were there. We were surprised by how young the demographic was. For mostly high-schoolers, their cosplay was amazing. Several fur suits were walking around, which is a feat on its own considering it was 88 degrees out. Props to those cosplayers for their dedication!

We sat at a fan table and raised awareness for SpoCon by giving away old paperbacks. That was fabulous. While between guests, we taught another friend to play a game called Tsuro. I didn’t win any of the matches. Oh well.

For my panel, though? Nobody came. The organizers were apologetic, but I think I chose the wrong topic for that event. Mostly white kids in a mostly white town are not worried about harmful stereotypes. They just don’t feel it. Other panels were well attended. I think if I’d done one about magic systems or something for beginning writers, I would have drawn a crowd.

Next weekend is the MosCon Revival. I am scheduled for one panel and may jump in on others if I see an opening. You might wonder why I’m doing so many conventions in a row? Partly, it just worked out that way. Partly, I’m fulfilling one of my resolutions. The resolution was to make more appearances in support of my books. Usually I do two or three, so I doubled my goal to six appearances in 2019. With these two, I’m on track to make that goal.

Did I actually sell books at Sandemonium? No, but I got a lot of interested looks and gave people my book marks. Maybe some of them will follow up.

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As I’ve been mentioning, Sandemonium is coming up this weekend. This is my first time there, but they’ve been going on for at least seven years. I’m excited to know what it will be like.

My presentation is at noon, and it’s on “Ugly Tropes.” This is a topic I’ve blogged about (relatively) recently, and I just plan to cover that in a more interactive way. It’s also an opportunity for me and my husband to sit at a fan table for our own convention, SpoCon, which is coming up in August.

Finally, Daron’s mother lives in Sandpoint, so I imagine we’ll work some family time in, too. I expect that we’ll have fun no matter what.

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IMG_20180812_061909090Last weekend was the convention I mentioned, SpoCon. It was just as amazing as I had hoped. As predicted, I encountered a number of dragons there. This one was hand drawn by one of the hotel workers, just for our convention!

There was one guy going around in a “furry” dragon suit that was quite remarkable. I couldn’t believe he wore that in the middle of August. Unfortunately, the picture I took of him didn’t turn out.

I must confess that my own costume was almost completely dragonless. My husband gave me a Wonder Woman tiara for our anniversary, and I put a costume together. Bear in mind, I’m not nearly athletic enough to wear Wonder Woman’s actual costume. Mine was more Amazonian mother-of-the-bride than warrior. The necklace I wore with it included four Asian dragons.

There was also a major trend of resin sculptures this year. Two different artists had sculptures in the art show, including numerous dragons. The detail was incredible, down to individual scales and whiskers. The painting was equally amazing, with colorful patterns and very life-like eyes. Sizes ranged from a few inches in diameter to a foot or more. Very cool and a lot of work!

For anti-piracy reasons, photography was not allowed in the art show, but both artists have online galleries. So go ahead and check them out, James Humble and David Lee Pancake.

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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