I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. Incidentally, the post below was my very first column on SpecChic, published on August 11, 2016! You can find the original post here. I’ll be republishing these monthly over the rest of the year (or until I run out 😉 ).
Dragon Con is coming up this weekend in Atlanta. It’s a huge science fiction/fantasy/horror fan convention; they’re estimating 82,000 people in attendance this year. That’s a lot of people.
All the things you’d expect to happen with that many people in a two mile square area happen: traffic is crazy; restaurant wait times are off the chain; and don’t forget something in your room, because it’ll take you an hour to get up there and back again. And some things you might not think to expect: don’t bother with your cell phone, as the towers are so jammed, you can’t hold a phone call; texts too. They’ll go through, but on their own time, so if you’re trying to plan something for NOW, smoke signals might be better.
I have a monthly column over at Speculative Chic. Over the last year, I’ve written a number of posts on convention life. I thought it’d be a good idea to curate them all into a list in one post. So here it is!
Here’s your intro to conventions. If you don’t have any idea what to expect; if you’re not sure whether they’re right for you; if you have no idea how to even find one or choose one, then this is the post for you!
In deciding what convention to attend, take into consideration your purpose in going. Are you looking to land an agent? Hobnob with actors? Reinvigorate your writing? Your why will help you to decide which conventions you want to invest your time and money in.
I wrote two posts especially for those of us who are not independently wealthy, about doing con season on a budget. It’s all about volunteering.
In this post, I give some pretty detailed steps about how to go about figuring out what you want to do for a convention and how to land the volunteer spot, including how to interact in a face to face meeting with a track director and the wording if you’re contacting them via e-mail instead.
Before you reach out to throw yourself into the volunteering fray, figure out what areas you’d enjoy working in or which could utilize your strengths.
And we keep going with the volunteering theme. In this one, I talk about what to do and what not to do, so that the conventions you work with will want you to come back year after year. Since conventions usually offer free or discounted admission to volunteers, this can save you some nice cash that you can instead spend in the vendor rooms!
And on the topic of guests — people who are on panels or giving classes — you might be in contact with celebrities. It can be a little overwhelming and you might be tempted to fangirl/boy all over your favorite author/actor/artist. Don’t do it.
There are a lot of “C” words associated with conventions. I didn’t really notice it until I did this series 😉
If you haven’t done many cons, you may not have heard these terms. But it’s good to be familiar with them so you can guard against things that need to be guarded against and deal with things that need to be dealt with.
You don’t want to be in the middle of getting dressed, then realize you left your pants at home (I say this from experience!).
Consent has come to the forefront of conversations about fan conventions in recent years and I’m really glad that it has. Consent is something we don’t talk about enough in our culture anyway, and conventions are places where having someone’s consent to do anything — from taking a photo to touching them — is of the greatest importance.
Anyone has the ability to violate consent. It happens much more to women by men than vice versa, but it can happen both ways. The only hope in combating this is to make us all more aware.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to police our own actions.
So there you go! Lots of stuff about attending conventions, working conventions, and surviving conventions!
Any additional suggestions about conventions? Please let me know in the comments!
EPICon starts tonight with a mixer and booze! For those of you who don’t know, EPICon is the official conference of the Electronically Published Internet Coalition (EPIC). Every year, EPIC takes nominations and members vote on the best eBooks of the year over multiple categories. The EPIC eBook Awards banquet is Saturday night and I am excited to share that one of my authors at Loose Id, Jessica Freely, has been nominated for her eBook Rust Belt! This was the first book I worked on with Jessica and it’s still one of my favorites! If you haven’t read it, check at out at the Rust Belt Loose Id page!
I am also teaching two classes, one on Friday called Pulling More than Punches: Writing Great Action Scenes. I think the title needs to be redone though. Though it’s a very snappy title, really we don’t want to pull punches. We want to punch the reader in the head with the action. So maybe I’ll be changing this title to something like: Not Pulling Punches. Or something. I suck at titles. Except this one, which is my other class:
Manuscript Corsetry: Tighten Up That Story! Yep, it’s a revision class. I hit on lots of things to watch out for in your ms, but also different methods of approaching revisions. I think it will be a fun class!
I think I’m also taking pitches for Loose Id, but I’m still a little hazy on those details. So that’s my agenda for this weekend. I’ll be tweeting periodically (which reminds me that I need to put my Twitter feed back on my blog).
Anyone else out here in rainy Williamsburg, VA?
I just returned from the SCWW 2009 Writers' Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. The full conference is somewhat pricey, but well worth it, especially if you're just starting out or in the middle stages, as far as classes. There were several agents and editors in attendence for those with finished works to pitch.
Keynote speaker was thriller writer Steve Berry. He was very entertaining and personable, as well as inspirational for all of us who are still slogging away, trying to get published. I was also able to attend a class he taught on suspense, which I found interesting. He shared his approach to writing and his style in creating suspense within a ms. If you get an opportunity to see him speak, I'd recommend it!
Two agents are interested in seeing partials of my manuscript so that's fantastic! I got to hang out with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe again, which is always awesomeness personified.I met her last June at a conference and totally got to schmooze with her. I was excited to see she was coming to the SCWW con. She was very busy all weekend, unfortunately, and we didn't get to goof off together as much as at the other, but it was great seeing her again.
I was also able to meet and speak with Holly Root, of the Waxman Agency, and Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Both of these agents are personable and fun to speak with, as well as being very passionate about what they do. The conference had what they called "slushfests." These were group sessions where folks would bring in a 2-page transparency which was either a synopsis or the first two pages of their novels. So I was part of the SF/Fantasy slushfest and offered the first two pages of my novel. Unfortunately, somehow the decision was made to only do the first page of them. A few of the issues they had with the first page would have been addressed had the second page been read. However, there were a couple things they identified that will really help strengthen that scene, so I'm very grateful! Afterwards, I went up to each and asked if they'd be interested in seeing a partial. Both said yes (yay!) and Holly even asked for a few more pages than she normally requests (she made a point of this). As I said, they're both pretty damn cool! (And not just because they asked for my pages! 😉 )
There were a number of other agents there, but those are the ones I actually interacted with.
I also want to toss a shout-out to Echelon Press. I hung out a lot with one of their editors and an author and man, are they great people!
I took not one, but two classes on synopsis writing! So expect a WIL post soon!
Okay, so bear with me as I get my footing on the blogging again!