Browsing Tag

conventions

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!

Con Season Winding Down: Dragon Con & MultiverseCon

Conferences, Publishing, Writing

Summer’s almost over, though you wouldn’t know it in Atlanta. Our temperatures are still in the mid-90s! I’ve got one more convention and then con season is over for the year. Dragon Con just finished up and now I’m marching toward MultiverseCon!

Dragon Con

I did a Con in Review post over at Speculative Chic last week about Dragon Con, so I won’t rehash a bunch of that. But, in that post, I didn’t talk much about the writing things that happened at con. Nothing super huge, but some fun and interesting stuff happened.

Dragon ConI got to reconnect with a couple really amazing women writers that I’d met in previous years at Dragon Con, one of whom had an idea for an anthology. She’s already got some big names who are interested, if she can pull it together and find a publisher. There will be a certain number of slots for invited folks, folks who are invited to submit, and a certain number for open submissions, meaning anyone can send their story in. I got invited to submit! It’s the first time I’ve been invited to submit to an anthology. That is super exciting.

A panelist on one of the early Dragon Con Writers Track panels mentioned Zombies Need Brains, a publishing company that uses Kickstarter to fund their anthologies. (Later, I got to meet Joshua Palmatier, who is the brains behind the zombies!) I went and checked out their current Kickstarter, which was open for pledges at the time. They open for submissions once the Kickstarter funds. One of their proposed anthos is a post-apocalyptic theme, which I think would be a great home for a short story based on my Hovel Rats world (which you don’t really know anything about yet, because the books aren’t out). The Kickstarter funded and so that antho, along with the other two, are now open for submissions! If you’re a writer-type, be sure to check it out!

And the other cool thing I did at Dragon Con is that I got up the courage to ask one of the authors I respect a lot if she’d be willing to blurb Jivaja, if she liked it. She agreed! Doing that always scares me, so I’ve mostly chickened out in the past. This time, I didn’t allow myself to think about it. We were in a conversation and when it occurred to me that this might be a good time, I asked. I didn’t allow myself to think about it or dwell on it. I just asked. And she said yes! I hope she likes it 🙂

Multiverse Con

MultiverseConI mentioned I have one more con and that’s next month’s MultiverseCon! I’m especially excited about this one, because I love its mission (to bring and celebrate greater diversity in fandom) and I’ve got in on the ground floor from almost the beginning as the WRITE Track Director. This is our inaugural year and we’re so stoked to get it going! More info below and I’ll be posting the WRITE Track schedule when we get a little bit closer.


What: MultiverseCon
When: October 18-20, 2019
Where: Atlanta, GA

I’d love to see you there next month!

Have you been to any cool conventions this year?

.

 


Dragon Con logo is owned by Dragon Con, Inc., MultiverseCon logo i owned by Multiversecon.org; both used with permission. Featured image is copyright Venessa Giunta.

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 🙂

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! 🙂

State of the Book: Surgery, Writing, and Cons, oh my!

Book news, Conferences, Life Stuff, State of the Book, Writing

Whew! It’s been a minute.

I thought I’d take a moment and update folks on what’s going on with me.

Surgery Stuff

In February, I had rotator cuff surgery. I’d love to say that I got hurt doing something exciting or sexy, but no. It was a couch potato injury. The MRI showed a tear (there ended up being 2 tears, they discovered when they were in there), which can really only be fixed with surgery. So in I went.

I don’t recommend tearing your rotator cuff. The recovery time is forever. It is now late May and I’m still in physical therapy. I’ve gotten about 70% of my range of motion back, but we’re still working on it, and we’re just now beginning strength therapy. Do not recommend.

While I’d planned to get some writing done while recuperating, I didn’t factor in the idea that I would be on narcotics daily for two and a half months. My therapist keeps telling me to let myself off the hook for not writing that entire time, but I admit that I’m having trouble not beating myself up. It feels like a bunch of wasted time.

Which brings us to…

Writing Stuff

Yep. Blank page.

The end result is that Book Two of the Soul Cavern series — titled Visci — is still in the works. My current plan is to publish in early August (in time for Dragon Con!), with Book Three coming either at the end of the year or in early 2020.

I’m disappointed that I’m not likely to make my goal of publishing 5 books this year, but having lost almost an entire quarter to health stuff means I have to pivot and adjust my goals to reality. So I’m going to see about 3 books published this year (one, Blue Edged Soul, was released early this year and I’m hoping to count Book Three as the third book published, as I’d really like to get it done by the end of the year).

On a good note, I’ve got the cover for Visci and will be doing a reveal in a few weeks!

Convention Stuff

If you’re in or around Charlotte, NC, next weekend – May 31 through June 2, I’m a guest at ConCarolinas!

Photo: ConCarolinas

Here’s my current schedule:

Friday

3pm – How to Speak “Editor”
Most of us are years past our high school English classes. What does it mean when your editor complains about copulas? Or past-perfect tenses? What does she mean about the commas? This panel of editors will explain some of the most common editorial suggestions and help you learn the best way to handle them.

7pm – Designing a Government (moderating)
The way a land is governed colors the behavior of its citizens. Even if your character isn’t involved in government, it’s still an important aspect of world building. This panel discusses the best governing system for your story, and how to blend it into your narrative.

Saturday

10am – The Ups and Downs of Traditional and Indie Publishing (moderating)
The publishing world has seen some exciting changes in the last fifteen years, and things aren’t stopping yet. Our panel will talk about the pros and cons to both aspects of publishing.

11am – Con Survival
Tips and tricks for surviving a convention, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth.

12pm – Writing the Fight
The best stories include conflict of all kinds. Our writers talk about writing physical fights, from fisticuffs to fencing, and offer their opinions on some of the most famous fight scenes in SF/F.

1pm – Choosing an Editor
Acquiring editors, developmental editors, copyeditors… what kind of editor do you need? And how do you find one? Join the panelists to learn more about the kinds of editors, what to expect when working with an editor, and how to choose an editor that you can work with—and how to work in a situation when you don’t get to choose your own editor.

Sunday

12pm – An Hour with… Venessa Giunta & Quincy J. Allen

2pm – Book Signing with Venessa Giunta

So that’s my stuff! You can check out all the great programming here!

I hope to see you out at ConCarolinas next weekend!

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.

 

 

Convention Life: The Other “Con” — Consent

Conferences

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, about consent — a super important topic in con life — was published on August 10, 2017. You can find the original here!


Maybe you’ve heard the term “Cosplay is not Consent.” It’s a movement within the fan convention community to educate people on how to act — or rather, how not to act. And it all revolves around Consent.

Why talk about consent?

Conventions can be a lot like parties, and at parties people want to have fun. But generally, folks are thinking of their own fun and not necessarily the fun of others. So talking about consent is important both within and outside of conventions so that we can also be aware of other people’s comfort and wellbeing at the con.

It’s also important to talk about consent because having ownership over one’s body is a fundamental right of being human. Setting boundaries on how other people treat us is a healthy way of living life. And consent is a big part of boundary setting.

 

What is Consent?

Photo: CARE – Campus Assault ResponsE – http://campusassaultresponse.org/

Consent is simply agreement. It can be nuanced in different ways, but when you drill right down to its basic definition, it is agreement.

Consent means that all involved parties agree to what is happening, whether it’s something physical, like touching or taking a photo, or verbal, such as being catcalled, being talked about, or objectified.

What does consent mean at a convention?

It means that no matter how someone is dressed, no matter how much (or how little) skin is showing, there is no touching without asking. It is not an invitation for other people. It does not mean that the person — usually a woman — is a party favor for your use.

This isn’t just about touching, though. It’s about everything from touching to speaking. It’s about being aware of how the words we say affect the person we’re speaking to or about. It’s about treating people with dignity.

Cosplay is Not Consent is the movement that has come out of the flood of complaints of harassment and, in some cases, assault, that has happened at conventions across the country, from the biggest to the smallest. Check out Geeks for Consent for some great links to news stories about this topic.

Is it all in the gender?

Fan conventions are often male-dominated, so it makes sense that the higher number of consent violations are done by men. It can be difficult to explain to men why being touched without permission or being objectified by verbal comments is unwelcome.

Often, when we, as women, say, “How would you feel if…?” the response tends to be, “Oh, I would love it if a woman just walked up to me and grabbed my ass!”

What these men often don’t have perspective of is that women receive this sort of treatment all the time. Catcalls, inappropriate comments about their bodies, and even unwelcome touches from men. And it is all with no choice in who is doing these things. It can be any man, at any place, at any time.

If men think this is something they might enjoy, I believe they’re envisioning a woman they’re attracted to doing it at a time and place they would like it to be done. And that is not the experience of women who receive this sort of attention from men, both at conventions and outside conventions. These behaviors are done by men, regardless of whether the woman is attracted to them, is in the mood for such attention, or wants any attention at all. In other words, without her consent.

So men who think they would like this often don’t understand that they probably wouldn’t, if their reality matched the reality of women’s experiences.

But men are not the only people violating consent at conventions. Women do it too. Not nearly to the numbers as men, but they can be just as offensive as men. I once watched a woman literally grab a guy’s codpiece for a photo, to the man’s absolute surprise. I couldn’t tell whether he was offended or not, but it was still non-consensual and a sexual assault by its very nature.

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.

How To Avoid Being ‘That Dude’ (or ‘That Chick’)

Do

  • give compliments or ask questions focusing more on the costume than the body in it — “Did you paint your leggings yourself? Those are really cool!”
  • give generalized compliments –“Your costume is amazing!” or “You look just like Gal Godot! That’s incredible.” etc.Keep Calm and Get Consent
  • pay attention to body language and environment — If they’re waiting in line for the bathroom, be very brief in your interaction, if it’s necessary at all; if they look like they’re on a mission to get somewhere, let them go; pay attention to whether your attention is welcome.
  • be respectful of someone’s time and space — don’t monopolize.
  • ASK — Everyone appreciates someone who takes a moment to ask their consent to take a photo or touch a part of their costume or body; this can’t be stressed enough.
  • Be respectful of the answer to your question — Always remember that they’re allowed to say no. Don’t already be doing the thing as you ask for their consent. Wait for their answer.
  • Say thank you when they’ve agreed to something you’ve requested, because they’re doing something nice for you.

Don’t

  • catcall, unless it’s appropriate — It might be appropriate at a costume contest, or some other situation where an audience is expected to make noise.
  • comment specifically about someone’s body — Consider “You’ve got great boobs!” vs “You look great!” The first is a big no; the second is a big yes.
  • assume anything — And this means anything.

Accidents Happen

So what do you do when you’ve offended someone by accident, or realize you’ve done something inappropriate?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

~~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It doesn’t have to be about you having made a mistake. It is absolutely about how you handle the mistake you made.

Always, the first thing to do is apologize. And be sincere. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can do. Sometimes the person you offended doesn’t want to hear it and will walk away. Let them go. They’ve made their decision, and you trying to force your apology on them is just another version of the mistake you made in the first place.

But if they do listen, you can then ask what you can do to fix the situation, what will make the other person okay? There may be nothing you can do other than go away. And that’s okay. But maybe you took a photo without asking, and they tell you that you can make it better by deleting the photo. Then delete the photo. Act with integrity.

The final thing you can do has nothing to do with the person you offended. The final thing you can do is remember your mistake. Remember it and do your best not to do it again in the future. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure. And, again, you can never go wrong by asking.

Conventions can be a great time! They’re big and fun and exciting. We’re among our nerdy tribe and our fellow fangirls and -boys. Convention producers create them for folks to have a great time. But we have to make sure our good time doesn’t make someone else’s experience a bad time. We’re all in this together!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are mine or CC0 licensed.

Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

Conferences

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 May 11, 2017. You can find the original here!


Convention Life

I’ve talked a lot about Conventions this past year and I’ve got one more set of important topics to touch on. You might hear some of these terms from seasoned con-goers:

  • Con Prep
  • Con Crud
  • Con Drop

The last two, especially, are things you’ll hear regular con-goers talk about. Prep is just really what happens before a convention and can vary, depending on the type of con you’re going to and the level of immersion (ie — cosplay) you’re looking for.

Con Prep

My staging area is significantly larger than this 🙂

When people think about prepping for an event, they often just think about packing. Maybe travel logistics. Certainly those are important things (we’ll touch on packing in a bit), but if you’re going to be doing fan, comic, or book/writing conventions regularly, there are some other things you’ll want to think about, as well.

When going to a new convention, you’re going to want to hop on Google Maps and check out the area around the con for restaurants. If you have the budget to eat out during the convention and there are suitable restaurants around the hotel, this will affect what you pack.

If there are no restaurants, you’ll want to try to bring a cooler with food to the convention, if possible, and/or a lot of good snacks that can live in bags for several hours. You may still want to bring these things, to some degree, even if there are restaurants. The ratio of eating in to eating out, just like at home, will depend a lot on your personal budget for the convention.

Speaking of money, note that most conventions have vendor rooms. These are magical places which will be hawking your favorite books, games, DVDs, comics, and even autographs from authors or stars that turn you into a huge fangirl/boy. Unless money sprouts from your ears, think about how much you’re willing to spend in the vendor room. Set a convention budget for yourself so that you will have money for your rent next month. 🙂

When you’re packing, you’ll want to make sure to remember some key items for the convention that you might not consider when you’re packing to go visit your folks, say. Things to think about bringing:

  • day bag: could be a fanny pack, a wrist bag, a messenger bag, a purse, whatever — I tend to
  • prefer something small and light
  • hand sanitizer (more on this later)
  • pain meds: for headaches, body aches, etc.
  • personal meds
  • water bottle: most cons will have water stations with cups; it’s often more efficient and environmentally friendly to have your own bottle
  • snacks: particularly the sort that you can carry around in a bag
  • ear plugs: especially if you’re sharing a room with others, but it’s a good idea in general too, since hotel room walls can be thin and people in hotels tend to play their tv on max volume (why do people do this?)
  • immune system stuff (we’ll talk about this in a minute too)
  • books or other memorabilia you might want to have signed by convention guests
  • if you’re cosplaying, a small sewing kit (or whatever would be most effective if you have a wardrobe issue — hot glue gun, duct tape…)
Convention Life - Dragon Con

Forgot my pants. Luckily, hubby wasn’t far away!

If this is a convention that encourages cosplay and you’re going to be dressing up as your favorite Marvel character (or Game of Thrones or Doctor Who or whatever 🙂 ), make sure you’ve made a list of all your costume pieces and checked them off as you put them in your convention suitcase. 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!). It’s a real disappointment if you’ve put all this time and energy into creating an amazing costume, but then can’t wear it at the actual convention because you don’t have all the pieces.

I mentioned immunity system stuff above. About two weeks before the convention, start taking something for your immune system. Some folks swear by Airborne; others love Vitamin C and Zinc. I use standardized Elderberry, myself. You want to bolster your immune system because conventions can be a lot like school in regards to germs. You’ve got a lot of people from all over in a somewhat confined place. Someone in that giant group will be sick, getting sick, or just getting over being sick. And those germs are gonna get passed around.

Another thing that will help your immune system pre-convention is to make sure you get enough sleep, enough food, and enough water in the weeks prior. This will set your body up for the crazy stressors of being at a convention for 3-4 days — an event that can feature bad eating, half your usual sleep, and a ton of fun.

Con Crud

So what happens if your immune system doesn’t prevail over all the germs at the convention? Well, then you’ll likely end up with a case of Con Crud. It’s a mystery illness that usually shows up a week to two weeks after attending a convention.

Con crud – It’s not *usually* this bad 🙂

Keep taking your immune-boosting stuff throughout the con itself and for a week or two after. Even if you end up getting Con Crud, symptoms will likely be lessened if your immune system is stronger.

Con Crud can be anything, really. It might be the flu, the common cold, an infection of some other sort. Seriously, just about anything.

During the convention, you can use hand sanitizer and other things to help with the germs. A lot of people swear by them. Personally, I don’t use hand sanitizer, but it’s mostly because I’m terrible at remembering to use it! I pack it, then forget to put it in my convention bag. Or I put it in my bag and forget to take it out of my bag to use it. It’s just a lost cause for me. But I also believe that being exposed to some germs is good for the immune system because they cause it to work, rather than not work. So instead of hand sanitizer, I just wash my hands whenever I’m near a sink and let my body do the rest.

Whether you use hand sanitizer or not is entirely a personal call, just like what you decide to take to bolster the immune system itself (if you take anything at all!). It’s all down to personal risk management. No one else can make that decision for you. Try different things and see what works for you.

Con Drop

Okay, so you’ve come home from an amazing convention. You’ve unpacked and you’re back to work or school. Things are going along great! You’re telling fun stories about stuff you did  at the convention to all your friends and talking them into going with you next year! And then, three days after you’ve come home, you’re super emotional, you’ve got all the feels, and you just cried during a Kleenex commercial. Wtf?

Convention Life - Con DropThis is Con Drop. First, understand that it’s completely normal. Most people have some form of Con Drop, even if it’s mild, such as just being unmotivated to do anything productive.

Con Drop is a physiological reaction that often has emotional or psychological symptoms. Essentially, it’s the endorphins and other happy chemicals your body has been spewing out at the convention for the last 3-5 days drying up. It’s the crash after the high.

Con Drop generally happens two to four days after the end of the convention. Some folks get it as early as 24 hours later, but I think most people get it right around the 3 day mark.

So how do you get rid of Con Drop? The bad thing is that you don’t. The good thing is that it usually only lasts 24-36 hours. So you won’t feel this crappy forever. Know that there’s an end.

The best way I’ve found to mitigate Con Drop is to simply be kind to myself. If you find yourself dropping, do things that you like, that bring you comfort. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Go biking. Whatever brings you joy and comfort in the world, do those things for a while. And, again, know that this isn’t going to last forever. It’ll be over soon.


Hopefully you’ve gotten some good stuff out of this convention series! And hopefully you won’t let the idea of Con Crud or Con Drop keep you from heading out to a convention and enjoying the hell out of it!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

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 🙂

JordanCon! Free Stories! Tribes! (ALL THE THINGS)

Book news, Conferences, Craft of Writing
JordanCon

Happy December!

Just a quick update about a couple things.

First, it’s official! I’m a Featured Guest at JordanCon! I’m really excited. You can find me at the very bottom of the list right here! (They’re alphabetizing by first name. If they’d sorted by last name, I’d be just before Faith Hunter! lol)

JordanCon runs from 26 April 2019 to 28 April 2019 right here in lovely Atlanta! That’s a great time of year too, because it’s not too hot and not too cold (usually… you can never really be sure here 😉 ).

I’ll be selling print copies of Jivaja at my author table and my plan is to release the sequel around 15 April, so I should (hopefully) have copies of that as well! Super exciting!

I’ll have some other awesome convention news for you in a couple weeks too, so stay tuned.

Free short story!

I’m in the second-to-last round of edits for the new Soul Cavern short story (tentatively titled Blue-Edged Soul) that is a companion to Jivaja. I plan to have it ready for release mid-January. It will be up on Amazon as a .99 read, but folks who’ve read Jivaja already can sign up right here to get their free copy when it’s released!

Sign up so you know when it’s ready 🙂

Are you a writer?

Ready for 2019?

Right now, over in The Writing Tribe, I’m doing a series of videos about planning for 2019. The Writing Tribe is a small group of authors who are dedicated to improving (or creating) their professional writing career. We have a lot of newer writers and quite a few successful veterans.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about doing this for real, drop in and join us! (Please make sure you answer the questions when you request to join. Otherwise, your application will be rejected.)

Stay tuned for more Quick Edits and Tool Time Tuesdays in 2019! I’m planning to do more updates so you really know what I’m working on.

Okay, that’s it for now!

Wishing you a lovely holiday season,

 

 

JordanCon image courtesy of JordanCon.org

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: 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.