Browsing Tag

conference

MultiverseCon 2019

MultiverseCon

Ready for the first ever MultiverseCon? I am so excited for this convention! From the MultiverseCon website:

Every fan has a story. Together, our stories make up MULTIVERSE, the multi-genre literary con for everyone. Panels, Gaming, Cosplay, Shopping, Art Show, Book Signings, Parties, and more!

I am heading up the Writers Track and we’re going to have a bunch of great programming for you! Have I mentioned how excited I am? 🙂 Check out our Featured Guests of Honor:

Author Guest of Honor: SEANAN MCGUIRE

Artist Guest of Honor: JOHN PICACIO

Industry Guest of Honor: CAT RAMBO

And that’s just the beginning! 🙂

MultiverseCon memberships are now on sale. If you purchase before March 1, 2019, you can get an entire weekend pass for under $60!

Get your membership here!

Dragon Con 2019

Dragon Con
4th Doctor, Dragon Con

Me, as the 4th Doctor Who, confronting my arch-nemesis! – Dragon*Con 2015

As always at Dragon Con, you will find me in the dungeo — err… basement of the Hyatt Regency, in the Writers Track room. It is on Embassy Level, all the way at the back of the hallway.

We’ll have lots of programming for all you wordslingers! And we’ll have our third year of mentor sessions. You can sign up on Friday morning and afternoon to sit for a 15-minute session with a published author, professional editor, or agent. You can pitch your work, ask for advice, or just talk about the business or an author’s work. Whatever you’d like.

I’m thinking about dressing up as the 4th Doctor for this year’s Dragon Con, since there will be a bajillion 13th Doctors! 🙂

JordanCon 2019

JordanCon

I’m a Featured Guest at JordanCon for 2019! Come on down to Atlanta and hang out with me!

Once I find out my programming schedule, I’ll post it here so you know where you can find me. I will also have a table in Author’s Alley, so you can get signed copies of my books 🙂

From the JordanCon website:

JordanCon is a fantasy literature convention founded in honor of the late author, Robert Jordan. Jordan was the author of the best-selling The Wheel of Time series.

JordanCon features eight tracks of simultaneous programming, a Dealers’ Hall, gaming, an Art Show featuring original art by a variety of artists, and charity events benefiting the Mayo Clinic and other charities. Past guests have included Harriet McDougal, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sam Weber, David Wong, Jana G. Oliver, Emilie Bush, David B. Coe, Eugie Foster, Seanan McGuire, Michael Whelan, Larry Elmore, Saladin Ahmed, Todd Lockwood, Catherine Asaro, John Picacio, Patrick Rothfuss, Charles E. Gannon, and Stephen Hickman.

We are a 501c4 tax-exempt organization. Contributions to JordanCon, Inc. are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.

In 2013, we hosted the fifty-first DeepSouthCon, the Southeast’s premiere regional convention for fans of genre literature, and we hosted DeepSouthCon 54 in 2016.

 

 

Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

Conferences

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic, the collaborative blog that I write for which is all about speculative fiction of every sort. Go check it out! 🙂

Welcome to Part 2 of Con Season on a Budget. This post is about being a great volunteer so your favorite con will welcome you back, year after year. If you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention. I also wrote about surviving your first convention in Conventions 101!

Okay, so you’ve done all the legwork and gotten a sweet volunteer position at the convention you’ve been wanting to go to for ages! Now what? You definitely want them to like you enough to allow you to continue to volunteer. Even if, in the future, you decide to go as a paying attendee, it’s never a bad thing to have convention directors like you!

So let’s talk a bit about how to be a great volunteer.

Before your shift

You should get your volunteer schedule in advance of the convention itself, which is great, because then you know when you’ll be working. Within your schedule should also be information on where your volunteer shift will be. You may also get the name of the person you report to, though not always. You should know your department head’s name, at the least.

I always try to do a little legwork before my shift, especially if it’s a new place to me. It’s a great idea to scope out the event space, in general, so that you know where you’re going. This is especially important at larger conventions, where things are more spread out and perhaps a little more difficult to find.

Dress appropriately. If you’re doing load in or load out (which is helping to set the convention up or breaking things down), you don’t want to wear a costume to your shift. Or, really, nice clothes at all. Because you’ll likely be hauling stuff around and getting all sweaty. (I guess you could cosplay as Rocky or something!) Conversely, if you’re working the Hospitality Suite or Guest Relations, you’re the face of the convention for a lot of people. So don’t show up in raggedy clothes without having showered. (Ewww.)

Before you head out for your shift, think about what you’ll be doing and how long your shift is. You might want to bring a snack if you’ll be working for more than a couple hours or if your shift will require a lot of physical energy. Definitely bring a water bottle. Most conventions have stations in the hall with either water pitchers or water coolers, so you can refill. But it’s always good to have your own container for your drink.

Working your shift

This should be common sense, but arrive on time. Five or ten minutes early is even better. Give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go. Remember that you’ll likely be moving through larger convention crowds than you did when you were scouting out the location. So factor the extra people into your travel time for when you head over.

When you’re given instructions on what your responsibilities are, pay attention. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. You won’t look stupid if you ask questions. You’ll look like you care about your job, which is very important to those who are in charge.

Once you know what your job is, do it well. This isn’t the time for you to hang out and goof around at the convention. You’re working, not playing. Your department is relying on your to do the tasks you’ve been assigned. If you don’t do them, or don’t do them correctly, that means someone else who was assigned a different task that also needs to be accomplished will have to come around and do the things you were supposed to. That is a surefire way not to be welcomed back at all.

Don’t forget to be friendly! Be friendly with the other volunteers on your shift — after all, these are people you want to work with in the future. If you’re in a forward-facing role that interacts directly with guests or attendees, be friendly and professional. Again, you are representing the convention itself for these people.

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. You’re working with them in a professional capacity, so act professional. You absolutely can let them know that you love their work. I think you should! But leave it at that, then do your job. In my experience, these folks really appreciate you treating them as people rather than stars, and they will remember you for that, particularly if they’re a regular guest at that convention.

Don’t be that guy.

Also, if you are in a position, such as security, where you have some power over attendees, be very aware of how you exert that power. Don’t be a douche. I was recently at a convention where one of the security people seemed to have it in for a friend I was there with. Every time he saw her, he told her that she was doing something wrong. And it wasn’t even the correction that was the problem. It was the attitude he had of condescension while doing the correcting. He was power-tripping. In a conversation later with higher ups at the convention (I was a guest), I mentioned it and they conveyed that there had been other issues along those lines and that he likely would not be asked to work security again. Attitude matters.

After the convention

Whew! You made it! Great job!

There are no real requirements for after the convention. But I do have some suggestions.

Keep in touch with people you worked with. You’ll likely have made some friends on your shift(s), so don’t let the opportunity to have convention friends slip. Exchange emails or phone numbers and reach out a few days after the convention. It never hurts to keep in contact, especially if you want to work in that department again.

You should also take some time to ask yourself a few questions. Did you enjoy the work? Did you like the people you worked with? Were there other perks that are beneficial to you? And, most importantly, are you interested in working in this department again?

Volunteering can be hard, but it should also be fun. And the overall feel for your shift should be a positive one. If it isn’t, then you might consider volunteering for a different department. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad volunteer or that you were in a bad department. It likely just means that department isn’t a fit for your particular personality. It may take shifts in a couple departments to figure out which you like best. That’s completely okay!

What do you think? Ready to go out and snag a volunteer shift?

Do you already volunteer at conventions? Any additional tips for newbies?

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention

Conferences, Travel

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. This particular post was published on March 9, 2017. You can find the original here!


Con season is in full swing! Looking to connect with your spec fic tribe? Conventions are the way to go!

If you’ve never been to a con before, they are amazing fun but can be daunting. Check out my Conventions 101, or How Not to Get Killed by Cons post for some info on how to prep for and “survive” conventions if you’ve never been. But right now, we’re going to talk about how to get a volunteering gig at your favorite convention. This is Part One of a two-part series. In Part Two we’ll talk about how to actually work the convention as a volunteer.

Most conventions offer compensation for volunteering in the form of free or discounted admission. And most cons always need volunteers! So it’s not too difficult to score a position, though it may not be in the department you want initially. There’s seniority among convention volunteers in most cases too. Let’s get into how to actually do it.

1. Research what you might want to do at the convention

Most conventions have a ton of areas where they need volunteers, ranging from registration workers, to volunteers for specific tracks, to security folks and a bunch of areas in between. 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. For instance, if you like meeting people, working a registration table or an information desk might be something you’d enjoy. If you’re strong and don’t mind breaking a sweat, you’d want to look into load in/load out positions (the advantage of which is all your volunteer hours are before and after the con, so you get to enjoy every minute of the actual convention to yourself!).

The Con Suite can be a great place to volunteer. You meet people without having to figure out a topic to talk about. “Would you like some noms?”

You can often find information about the volunteer areas on a convention’s website. Look for a page that lists what tracks the convention has — writing track, gaming track, etc. Most tracks need volunteers of some sort.

Beyond the tracks themselves, there are infrastructure departments as well. Common departments include:

  • Registration
  • Guest Relations
  • Security
  • Information
  • Hospitality
  • Vendor Room

All of these departments need people to help them. So explore what department volunteer opportunities might be available at the convention you want to attend, then write down two or three departments you’d like to help out on. In some cases you might need additional qualifications or training (such as for Security or for Guest Relations), which the con will often provide. Most conventions will place you in the department or track you request if there’s a spot available.

2. Make contact

The “how” depends entirely on the convention, but most cons post pretty clearly how to apply for a volunteer position. Some larger cons will have staff meetings (or volunteer meetings) some time before the convention that prospective volunteers can attend to meet department heads/track directors. This would be where the heads can announce what’s open in their department.

Dragon Con does this. They have three staff meetings in the Spring and Summer where the
track directors explain what their track does and announce how many volunteer spots they have open. Then interested people approach the director after the meeting to discuss the opportunities.

Some conventions have a central volunteer coordinator whose responsibility is to gather the info for all volunteers and assign them to various departments. This can be helpful because the volunteers have a single point of contact and there is a certain uniformity to the initial volunteering sign up.

Conventions will often announce a call for volunteers on social media, their website, and/or their mailing list, so it’s beneficial to make sure you’re following them on some channel. They might have an online form to fill or simply an e-mail address to reach out through to offer your services.

Other conventions don’t announce volunteer opportunities, but put a note on their website to e-mail the department heads/track directors for information. Generally speaking, all conventions will have some sort of information on how to volunteer posted on their website or Facebook page.

3. The ask

Like anything else, first impressions are important. You certainly don’t need to dress up if you’re meeting in person, but do remember that how you present yourself will have at least some bearing on your success.

In person: If you’re meeting the director or other volunteer-coordinating person, introduce yourself and let them know you’re interested in volunteering. If you don’t know whether they have positions, ask now. Definitely show your enthusiasm, but don’t go overboard. No one wants to work with a fanatic. 😉 If you have specific skills that would be useful, mention them once you’ve got confirmation that there are positions open. If they seem agreeable, ask what the next step would be. Often there’s a registration process. Get their e-mail address and follow up right after the meeting.

Sometimes asking for things like this is daunting. We go through an entire litany of questions ranging from “Will they like me?” all the way to “What makes me think I’ll have anything to offer them that they would want?” We can’t always stop those gross thoughts from surfacing, but you can decide how to handle them. My take is that I say to those voices, “Okay, thanks for your input. I’m doing this thing anyway. If I fall on my face, you can laugh at me then.”

Remember, if you did Step 1 above, you identified a place where you can be useful and where you do have skills that will benefit the convention. So just keep that top of mind when you’re doing the ask, whether in person or not. You have the skills necessary to fill the position you’re requesting.

Via e-mail: If you’ve met them already and ironed out preliminary details, make sure that you introduce yourself in your e-mail and remind them of where you spoke and briefly of the conversation you had. Then let them know you’re following up for the next steps in the process. If you didn’t get a firm “yes” at the meeting, then simply let them know you’re still very interested and you’re looking forward to hearing back from them. Also, address them by name, so make sure you’ve noted their name when you met them!

If this is a cold e-mail, say from looking up the director or volunteer coordinator online, then introduce yourself and tell them that you’re interested in volunteering for their track. Ask them if they have any positions available and what you’d need to do to work with them. If you’re e-mailing a volunteer coordinator rather than a specific director, then mention what departments you’d be interested in volunteering for. Limit it to your top three, in preferential order. For example:

Dear Ms. Volunteer Coordinator,

My name is Venessa Giunta and I’d love to help out with AwesomeCon this year! I’m especially interested in working with the Writers Track since that’s what I do, but I’d also be a good fit for Registration or Hospitality if there are no positions available with the Writers Track. Would you let me know what I need to do to get on your volunteer team?

Much thanks!
Venessa

If you’re unsure what volunteer opportunities there are, that’s okay too. Just ask what’s available.

And that’s how it’s done! Stay tuned for Part Two of the volunteering series next month! We’ll be talking about how to be a great volunteer so you’re welcomed back again and again.

Do you volunteer at conventions? How did you get started?

Do you plan to volunteer at any conventions this year? Which one(s)?

Let me know down below!

 

As mentioned, this post was first published on Speculative Chic. There’s an entire category of Convention posts from several contributors. Also, if you’d like to read a lot of great content about everything under the speculative fiction umbrella (from books to games to anime to television and movies to lots more), check us out!

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Writing Groups, Critique Groups, & Masterminds, Oh My!

Writing

A couple weeks ago, I attended a new writing group. Not just new-to-me, but brand spanking, first meeting kind of new. Granted, I know all of the folks involved and call them all friend, but this configuration, this purpose, was new.

I’m always a little apprehensive of getting involved with writing groups or critique groups, because I’m often the one giving a lot more than I’m getting, simply because I’ve been working in publishing for a decade. But my challenges aren’t what I wanted to write about.

It used to be that the only way you really connected with other writers was by going to writing conferences or taking writing classes. And if you wanted to put together a support or critique group, you had to find a few people local to you. And just finding those people didn’t mean you’d have a good, quality group. There were still other obstacles, such as skill levels, personalities, scheduling, etc. It was easier just to find one writer and mail pages to each other.

But obviously now, things are a lot easier. There’s still the struggle of skill levels, personalities, and scheduling, but getting together as writing groups is a lot easier, because there are many different ways to “get together.”

Great Technology

I currently run a group called The Writing Tribe on Facebook (feel free to join, if you’re a writer who’s serious about your career 🙂 ). They don’t know this, but one of the things I want to do in 2018 is start a monthly chat (probably by video), where we teach each other things and have focused discussions and learnings about different aspects of writing.

And that leads us to one really powerful aspect of technology: the ability to communicate in real time over great distances. We no longer have to rely on whomever is in our area for writing groups. We can pick and choose the people we really want to work with, having regular online meetings and chats.

Not only can we get the support and camaraderie, but we can do critiques electronically, as well. And, really, electronic critiques and edits are the standard now, versus paper critiques. I don’t really know anyone who does paper critiques anymore.

How do you organize your group?

First, decide how often to meet. Once a week? Once a month? In person? Online? Some mix of cyber and meatspace?

Next, figure out what you want to do with the group. Will you just get together to work in the same room, everyone writing together and then taking short breaks to chat, get coffee, etc? Is it a focused critique group, where each person turns in pages well before the meeting and everyone critiques those pages? Is it a mashup with a little of both?

Our new writing group has decided that we will meet monthly and critique 2 people each meeting, and then use the rest of the time to write. However you choose to do it in your group is fine, so long as everyone is getting something they need out of the group. There’s no right way to do this.

What I’m kicking around for TWT is to have monthly online meetings and then planning a weekend retreat where people come in from all over and we learn, work, and play together. (This is all still in the very early stages of brainstorming, so don’t hold me to it! 😉 )

The biggest benefit to writing groups, whether they’re work groups, support groups, critique groups, or masterminds, is that it keeps us writing. It’s more difficult to “do it later” when we have a critique deadline coming up. We get inspiration from others of our tribe, which keeps us at the keyboard. The biggest benefit of a writing group is simply being among other writers. The automatic outcome is that we write more, we write better, and we achieve our goals.

In the end, how the writing group is structured matters less than the idea that everyone involved is getting what they need out of it.

Are you involved in any writing groups? How does it work for you and your peers?

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Ready for Dragon Con? Surviving A Convention (and More!)

Conferences

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!

Conventions 101: What Are They and How Do You Survive Them?

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.

Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention

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.

Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

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 😉

Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

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!).

Convention Life: The Other “Con” — Consent

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!

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Dragon Con. Unless attributed otherwise, all other images are CC0 licensed.

No blog post today: Rebooting my brain & my schedule!

Blog news

So I just finished up a crazy 3 cons in 3 weeks in 3 states cycle. I had pre-written most of my content for those weeks, but I didn’t get *past* them. Apparently I assumed I’d get on them last weekend.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. So the blog is taking this week off! I’ll be back next Monday with more great content and another Tool Time Tuesday for next week!

Go get some writing done!

 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

StokerCon 2016

In May, I’m heading out to Las Vegas for StokerCon! I’m super excited about going, in part because I had such a blast at World Horror last year when it was here in Atlanta. They’ve got Horror University with a number of classes and there are some great folks going! If you write horror, dark fantasy, or anything along those lines, you’re going to want to head to Vegas in the spring! 🙂