Posts Tagged ‘conventions’

MileHiCon Loometh

SQUIDERS! MileHiCon is NEXT WEEKEND omg.

They’ve moved it to the first weekend of October rather than the fourth, and I am apparently unprepared for this change. But at least now it’s not going to interfere with Halloween activities some years.

Anyway, I’m behind on preparation. I mean, it’s not a lot–most stuff I just carry around from year to year with little variation. And it’s my own fault panel-wise, I’ve had the schedule for, like, almost a month. I’m moderating another editing panel this year (whee, must have done a good job last year or something) and am also on a panel about how far horses can travel, which I think is about realistic travel in fantasy, but I’m not 100% sure.

It’s in person this year too! I’ll admit that makes me a little nervous, but they are requiring masks and you get a special Vaccinated! ribbon to hang off your name tag if you’re vaccinated.

(I do love my con ribbons.)

Anyway, hopefully this isn’t a horrible mistake. The Critter Crunch is on again this year, and the larger, mobile one has expressed interest in going (also building his own robot, but that ain’t happening before the con), but I think I’m going to wait and see how safe I feel the con is before I commit to taking him. He’s not old enough to be vaccinated and with how dumb some people are about everything, I want to be safe.

Emotions suck. I’m excited for the con, yet scared. Luckily it’s not that big of convention, in the great scheme of things, so it could certainly be worse.

In other news, my favorite coffee shop is open for inside dining again, provided you show proof of vaccination, which is fine for me. As an added bonus, the vaccination requirement has a bunch of people up in arms, so I don’t have to worry about those people being in said coffee shop.

Anyway, here’s my normal to-do list for the con, for my own use so I can find it again later:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

I feel like I’m forgetting something. Hold on, checking previous years’ lists.

Oh, yeah, business cards. I never remember my damn business cards. Oh! Credit card reader! Good job, past!Kit. Very on top of things.

Has anyone been to a con recently? Tips you would recommend?

Virtual MileHiCon Aftermath

Oh my God, it’s Thursday. When did that happen? I swear I didn’t mean to skip Tuesday. I blame the snow day on Monday.

So! MileHiCon happened last weekend. How did it go?

Well, first of all, I felt like my panel went pretty well. Hopefully that’s also objectively true! (It’s up on YouTube, actually.) And the bigger, mobile one was mostly quiet during it, huzzah.

Normally I do 2 or 3 panels per con, and I haven’t moderated before, but I talked to a couple of other people, and it seems like, with the exception of the guests of honor, everyone was down to fewer panels, or only one, in many cases. I think that comes down to fewer “rooms” and the need to space the panels out, so tech issues could be dealt with in between in case panelists were having problems.

Overall, I felt like the con was well run. The addition of a Discord channel for panelists and attendees to continue discussions was a good idea, and it also allowed the staff to provide real time updates, which was essential, especially on Friday, when the website crashed and was inaccessible for about twelve hours. (So it turns out that having multiple ways to access the panels was also a good plan.)

They said, during the closing ceremonies, that they’d sent people to every virtual con they could for the past several months, so they could see what was working and what wasn’t, and the result was a well-run convention with very few hiccups (aside from Friday).

I wish I’d gotten to spend more time on it. As expected, being unable to distance myself from my responsibilities by being physically present at the con made it hard to focus on it. Friday would have been the day I could have focused the most, but the site being down limited what I could do. I was supposed to be manning the chat room on the Turtleduck Press page in the Authors’ Row, but alas, it was not to be.

Saturday was full of real-life activities, and I didn’t even get to sit down until dinner time, let alone do con things. (I made a nice Little Red Riding Hood cloak in twenty minutes flat, which I’m pretty proud of, not going to lie.)

Sunday morning was also busy, so I didn’t get back to the con until about 2 (and closing ceremonies are at 3). I did make the most of it, though–I went through the Authors’ Row and chatted with some of the other authors (nobody’s chat rooms got much use so maybe it wasn’t worth it to have sprung for one), looked at vendors and the costume pictures people had sent in, went to a panel, chatted in the Discord.

So! For a virtual con, it was good! But I much prefer the real thing, and I hope next year we can be back in person.

Other than that, oh man, November starts on Sunday! Planning for my mystery is coming along, but do I feel ready by any stretch of the imagination?

Nope!

I hope you’re having a good week, squiders! I’ll see you next week and next month.

Going to a Virtual Convention

So, MileHiCon, which you’ll remember if you’ve been with me for a while, is a scifi/fantasy literature convention I hit every year. Except, of course, this year sucks.

So MileHiCon has gone virtual.

There are pros and cons to this, like with anything, The biggest con, of course, is not being able to physically be there. I’ll miss my writing friends and acquaintances that I don’t always get to see elsewhere. I’ll miss the con atmosphere. I’ll miss the Critter Crunch. I’ll miss the networking and random discussions.

The pro is that my other Turtleduck Press people can come this year, which they usually can’t. So that’s exciting. I think.

We signed up for the virtual author’s row, which in theory gives us a space to advertise (and also gives us a chatroom–be interesting to see if anyone comes in. Other than ourselves). I haven’t heard a lot on that front (which is bad since the con starts on Friday) but I know they’ll pull it together. The con has a great team, and I’m actually a little impressed at the virtual space they’ve put together for the con itself.

(I watched the panelist info video yesterday, which was well done and also hilarious. It was so good.)

Speaking of panels, I basically told them not to feel like they had to put me on any panels this year. Without being physically at the con, I can’t guarantee that I won’t have the small, mobile ones or other family members bothering me.

I did get one assigned–a panel on editing. As the moderator.

I’ve never moderated a panel in my life. The closest was two or three years ago when I and another author led a roundtable about Doctor Who. (Which does not add to my confidence, because basically the other author talked the whole time and shot down anyone who didn’t agree with him.)

So that’s fun! Nothing like trying to lead a discussion while hoping the bigger, mobile one doesn’t need help on his social studies (it’s on Friday during the day)!

It’ll probably be fine. I just need to do some work before hand to make sure I’m prepared. Fingers crossed and all that jazz.

It is too cold to type out here. Hold on.

Anyway! I shall be interested to see how the con goes this year. A lot less prep than usual on my side, but I wonder if I will get as much out of it as normal. Things to talk about next week, when the con’s over.

(If you’d like to come, please do so! It’s $15 for a full weekend membership, and there’s decently big names as the guests of honor: Cory Doctorow, Rebecca Roanhorse–what? Barbara Hambly is coming? ::makes notes::–Connie Willis, etc.)

(Also, I appreciate MileHiCon always treating me like I’m someone worth coming to see.)

Have you guys gone to or participated in a virtual con this year? How did it go? Any tips you have? Any moderating insights?

MileHiCon (and Costume Pics!)

MileHiCon this weekend! Yaaaaaay. I’m mostly ready–just need to get marketing materials (mail list sign up, business cards) together, do some research for my panels, and put everything together some place where I can find it.

(To remember: book stand, credit card reader, water bottle.)

My costume is now ready to go. I test drove everything today with the exception of the nail polish, because I know if I do it now it will look bad by the weekend, and also I know how to do nail polish and it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Have a couple of pics:

Everything feels and looks pretty good! The contacts do tend to rotate, which I expected because of the reviews, but alas, they are what they are. (If you recall, this was the single pair on the entirety of the Internet that were generally the right color/design and also came in powered prescription.) Otherwise they’re great–the colored part doesn’t block my vision and they’re the right power, so I can see just fine.

And then later I realized I forgot to do the tattoo as practice and then had to do that separate.

Kind of hard to see, also alas.

That actually went really well too. Way easier to draw on my face than expected.

I’m on three panels for this weekend. I suspect I’m pretty low on the totem pole when it comes to panel assignments, because sometimes I end up with the weirdest topics. I’ve two this year that are a bit bizarre. The first is a panel on faster-than-light (FTL) travel, but from a real-life, scientific point of view. The panel coordinator emailed me specifically about this one, since she knows I used to be an aerospace engineer. I’ve tried to explain to people in the past that being an aerospace engineer is not actually that beneficial when looking at theoretical spaceflight, especially in a fictional context, but that never seems to stick.

(The book says it’s a panel of “scientists and experts” of which I am neither, so I definitely need to make sure I’m up to date on stuff so I don’t come off as an idiot.)

The second is about identity and memory, which is an interesting topic but, again, not one I really know about. Research!

I was originally on four panels, but two of them ended up being at the same time after the schedule was re-arranged, so I had to drop the one on Steampunk costuming. A little sad, as this is a topic I know about–I’ve done two different Steampunk costumes–but the other one is about fandom, and I love fandom, so it won out. Plus I know someone else doing that panel, so hooray, friends!

Plus I’m at the author’s table for two hours, and I’ll need to decide whether to do the big signing or not. It normally depends on if someone I know and like is also doing the signing. (What I find is that the guests of honor tend to get 85% of the attendance, and the other 15% spread out among everyone else, so having someone worth socializing with is a must.)

But yay! I love conventions!

(There is a slight damper on this weekend since the spouse is having foot surgery tomorrow and may or may not be functional. I will need to play that by ear and deal as necessary.)

Plus my friend will be there as Aziraphale on Saturday too, which will be nice, because it’s always nice having a friend about.

I’ll probably flail through on Thursday, so you’ll hear from me one more time before the Con happens.

Happy Tuesday, squiders!

Post-Con and Nano Musings

I have survived the con again! Yay, go me. It was actually pretty relaxing, all told, except for panel nerves, a lot of which probably stemmed from the fact that I was the youngest person on all my panels, usually by a matter of decades.

(The moderator on my last panel had sold her first book the year before I was born.)

That’s kind of MileHiCon in a nutshell, though. It gets a lot of major speculative authors, but a lot of them, especially the science fiction ones, have been in the business for a long time. The average age of that subset is probably 70. And you get a lot of attendees who match that subset, because they’ve been reading those authors forever.

And then you have a lot of younger attendees, people in their teens and early to mid-20s, who grew up with the con because their parents dragged them along, and they have their own events and stuff, including a Harry Potter academy and so forth.

But I had a good time, and I wrote quite a lot on my anthology story (which is running slightly longer than I anticipated) and I drew some pictures and plotted out some children’s book series. Landsquid needs another friend, but I can’t think of anything. Turtleduck’s kind of hard to draw (I’ve never had success in the leg department–maybe if I quit trying to do duck legs and give her turtle legs? I can draw turtle legs) and I would really need three characters for a picture book. I came up with a stealth rhino this morning (essentially a rhino with tiger stripes) but my husband says it’s not weird enough.

Shall continue to ponder that.

The very last panel of the con was called “Nanowrimo Support Group” and I ended up going to that, not because I plan to do Nano, but because I have done it for many years (this would be my 16th if I’d done it consecutively) and thought I could offer support. It was mostly us just hanging out, offering tips and talking about potential write-ins (everyone except one person had done it before), but it was still nice, and it got me thinking about Nano.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Nano. I don’t quite love the monstrosity it’s turned into over the years, but in those early years, when it was only a couple thousand of us, I got a lot–friends, stories, skills–out of it. I still love the idea, and I think it’s a great way to get going if you want to start writing.

(As a bit of background, I learned about Nano in 2002, joined in 2003, and did it every year between 2003 and 2012. I won all but twice, my first and last years–my first one I suffered a concussion and a death flu, and the last one I had a four-month-old, my first, and only did it because it was my 10th anniversary. I also did it and won in 2014, but have not done it since.)

And I would be lying if, while I was sitting there in that room, with those other Nanoers, I told you that I wasn’t tempted. But it almost feels like I’ve outgrown Nano, or it’s outgrown me. It’s harder to do Nano if you have a serious project with a serious deadline, or if you’re editing, or if you’re co-writing, or a number of other situations.

Still tempting, though. And maybe I’ll be in a position again sometime where it will make sense to do it again.

How was your weekend, Squiders? Thoughts about Nano?

It’s Go Time!

I just want to let you all know that you are absolutely no help at all. 😛

(I’m not quite done with my anthology story, so that answers the question about what I’ll do for at least part of the time. And maybe I’ll bring a sketchbook.)

MileHiCon starts at noon today! It feels like it’s come up very fast. It is a week earlier than normal this year (wonder why?), which might be part of it. But it feels like it sprang out of nowhere, all the same. Like…it’s been on my radar, but I still had less time to prepare than normal, if you know what I mean. Or maybe I’m crazy.

I’m doing a panel today on self-publishing and doing digital books versus physical books. I’ve been given a couple of moderator questions (Are physical books going away? When?) but the most part I’m not sure what exactly we’re covering. Ah, well, I have almost a decade of experience at this point, so I shall probably be fine.

(Sunday’s panel is about editing–Machete vs. Scalpel, they’ve called it–and there’s no provided questions for that one, but, again, lots of experience so I should probably be able to muddle through without looking like an idiot.)

Got to get some things done this morning before I head out, so I’d better run.

Quick list of things to bring:

  • business cards (more editing than writing)
  • books
  • card reader
  • notebook
  • laptop
  • permits
  • water bottle
  • snack

I’ll see you guys next week, hopefully still in one piece. And if you’re local and come by MileHiCon, stop by and say hi! I’m normally some place in the atrium when not doing panels.

MileHiCon and Nanowrimo

I have survived the con! \o/ Barely. But I had a good time and made some new friends (yay!) and am now on a search for a refillable notebook cover. (Craig Griswold who was in the art show, on the off chance you read this, you have no online presence and I would like to buy things from you.)

(If you know of nice refillable notebook covers–i.e., a cover you can move from notebook to notebook that attaches to said notebook’s cover, kind of like a dust jacket for a notebook–in a larger size, such as composition book or steno book size, let me know. It seems like the perfect solution to my need to buy fancy notebooks but then my reticence to use said notebooks because they’re too fancy.)

I think the panels and limited signing/selling books time is a much better combination for me. I might have sold more books if I manned a table all weekend, but hey, maybe I wouldn’t have. I sold a decent amount for the time I did man a table, and any difference in sales is not worth being trapped at a table all convention. I got to see the costume contest for the first time ever.

The panels were mostly fun. The Trek one was the best, both because of the obvious love for the franchise by everyone on the panel and in the audience, and also because we actually discussed things back and forth on the panel. The audience was engaged and had great questions and comments. The Doctor Who one was the worst. It was a roundtable, which is basically just a big discussion between everyone present, but it was dominated by a small minority who wanted to talk about special effects and other background things while it was obvious some people just wanted to geek out over their favorite companions and whatnot. And the fangirling panel was fun, but we would all just go in a row to answer each question, and I wish we’d had more actual discussion.

It was a learning experience, though, and I’d definitely do it again.

There were a lot of questions from con attendees about Nanowrimo. It makes sense–the convention attracts a lot of amateur and beginning authors and it is almost November (I wrote Navember, haha)–but it still surprised me. So I figured I’d better do my obligatory Nano post for the year here.

I’m not doing Nano this year. I have not been terribly productive this year, at least not as productive as I’d planned to be, due to various stresses, and while November should be pretty chill (after next Wednesday, anyway) I know that the moment I commit to anything, something else will fall apart. So I’m out for the year, though I will probably do a smaller goal (somewhere between 10K and 20K) on my rewrite.

Doing Nano, squiders? Thoughts on MileHiCon if you went, or conventions in general?

Also, happy Halloween!

An Alternative to Writers Conferences

meant to tell you guys that if getting to a writers conference isn’t doable, either from a money standpoint or because of a scheduling issue, or if you’d like to get an idea of what a writing panel might be like to see if they’re useful or not, you should check out your local nerd convention.

Scifi/fantasy and comic conventions often have some writing panels, since several have authors as guests. The guests tend to skew toward science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors, but it depends on the convention and the year.

These can be very hit or miss. I have gone to some truly terrible and useless panels on things that sounded interesting, like publishing or networking. I have been to some that gave me a lot of good information. Some of these panels are aimed at local resources, which can be good for helping you find writing groups and other help in your general area. Others are more industry-based or genre-based than craft-based, which can be good for beginning writers or people interested in seeing where the market seems to be going.

Author and writing panels at comic/scifi cons are generally culled from the authors and publishers attending the conference, so bigger conventions are probably going to have bigger/more experienced people than smaller ones. It does depend, though. Kevin J. Anderson is a local author, and he tends to hit all our cons, even though I would consider him a “bigger” speculative fiction author. You may have big name authors near you that like to do the same. You can check your con’s website and schedule to see who’s coming. Look at both the guest list and the vendors.

Some places specifically have scifi/fantasy literary conventions. These are, of course, a little more specialized, so in theory the panels might be more relevant. But it still depends on who’s going to be there. And that’s not to say that a smaller name author can’t have a ton of useful information to share, or that a big name author won’t be completely useless. As you become aware of your local author community, you’ll learn who’s a good bet.

It also somewhat depends on how the convention is run. In some cases, panelists submit their own panels to con staff. The panelists typically prepare for these, so you get more coherent information. At other cons, guests or vendors may show up to discover they have been assigned to panels they were previously unaware of. At least one con I know of, you just tell the panel person you’re interested in doing panels, but you don’t know which ones (or when) until you arrive.

So if writers conferences aren’t going to work for you for whatever reason, give your local cons a look too. They’re cheaper, you might learn something, and, if nothing else, you can network with local authors.

MileHiCon This Weekend (First Con Table)

So, this weekend is MileHiCon, which is a scifi/fantasy convention in Denver, Colorado. I shall be manning a table for Turtleduck Press for most of the weekend, and I’m a little terrified.

Why you ask?

Well, many reasons. One, I’ve never manned a table at a convention before. I have been to conventions, I have talked to people at tables (though admittedly that terrifies me most of the time too, because like many other authors I am a Super Introvert and also very very shy), I have cosplayed and gone to panels, but I have never sat at a table and tried to provide people information and/or awesome books.

To make it slightly worse, I am in charge of the table. I am the main contact, the one who’s been talking to the convention, and I need to get tax permits and badges and figure out how to get merchandise to and from the table in a logical, efficient manner and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Not just because I have no experience in table running, but I’ve also never been to MileHiCon before and so am unfamiliar with the layout of the building and the programming.

So, to recap, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m running out of time in which to figure it out (three days!), and I am going to have to be social with other people in a non-weird way.

Now, I’m sure everything’s going to be fine. MileHiCon seems to have a reputation for being friendly and helpful, and probably the people at the tables next to me will be lovely people, and the attendees will be lovely people, and perhaps I shall make new friends and attract new readers and I will look back on the weekend and wonder what I was so worried about.

But for now, while I am excited, I’m also in that place where introverts go when they know there’s going to be a lot of people very shortly and that they will be unavoidable.

Any con table tips, Squiders? As a con goer, anything you like/dislike that you’ve seen people do?

DCC Aftermath

So! Denver Comic Con (DCC henceforth) was pretty fun last weekend. This is DCC’s third year, and last year was a ginormous mess because the people running the convention didn’t expect the 60,000 people who showed up, and there was a lot of line standing (Friday was especially a mess, where people stood in line to get in to the con for several hours only to get turned away) and not a lot going on.

Luckily, this year DCC figured that they’d be ridiculously popular and amped everything up appropriately. They completely redid the lines to exchange tickets for badges and get into the convention. I showed up about when doors opened Saturday morning and only spent half an hour in line, which is a major improvement over last year (where I think we stood–not moving–for about two hours).

Additionally, they added a ton more panels and made it clear where lines to get into things were. They reorganized the dealer’s room and artist alley to fit more in and to make it easier to navigate. (And I see why I didn’t get a table–I think there were maybe three tables in the artist alley, and only two or three in the dealer’s room, selling books. The rest were selling comic books or graphic novels or some form of visual art.)

The unfortunate downside was that it seemed like some of panels were a bit stretched, like they felt like they needed more panels but didn’t know what to do. I think that’s true of a lot of cons, though, especially ones run mostly by volunteers.

But overall, I had a great time. I talked to a bunch of friends, including people I don’t see very often (including people I haven’t seen since last year’s DCC). There were a lot of neat costumes, and everyone else also seemed to be having a great time. Only a single person recognized me as Amy and asked for a picture, but oh well. (One of my friends thought I was Mary Jane from Spider-Man, which is actually a perfectly reasonable thing to assume.)

The best panel I went to was on anime openings from the 90s, which the panelists turned into a game, and everyone was obviously into it and having a good time, so there was a good energy in the room. And we went to the costume contest, which was kind of meh, though the comedian who was MCing was pretty funny at points.

All in all, much better than last year, and a good time overall.

Did you guys hit DCC? Been to a con lately? How did you like it? Would you go again?