I got back from Balticon this year, I was on the ground for two days, and I took off again for…
ConCarolinas was the first convention I have ever attended and it is completely the fault of the Magical Words family – and I do not use the word “Family” lightly.
Although I don’t live anywhere nearby, I still consider this my “Home” con and I’ve had a blast every time I’ve gone and this year was no exception.
The panels were great and I found myself attending a few that, even a year ago, wouldn’t have held as much interest for me as they had this year.
I stocked up on panels that revolved around social media and marketing for writers. I also took the opportunity to attend panels that covered some of the weaker points in my writing.
Yes, that was me sitting in the middle row of the “Writing Romance Right” panel.
On the networking side of things, a friend of mine asked me if I’d be interested in co-writing a steampunk book with her and I jumped at the chance to hop on that airship.
And that, pretty much, sums up what cons are about for the working writer. You hang with your tribe, get the opportunity to sharpen some skills, and network with other professionals in the field.
Drinking may be involved…so I’ve been told.
Pretty much the entire thing was a highlight. I enjoy this con quite a bit. There were a couple of bits of above-average awesomeness that I wanted to mention.
The chance to branch out into other genres was a real high point. I haven’t done anything steampunk. Ever. I love the genre, so I’m pretty jazzed at the thought of getting my feet wet here.
Catching up with friends is a serious high point. ConCarolinas is the only time during the year where I can see certain friends (and every member of my writer’s group) face to face. We email, but that’s a poor substitute. I look forward to seeing them every year.
This year was extra cool in that Kalayna Price was there. She’d taken a hiatus from cons, and writing and, during that time, I’ve had a story sell and a book published.
Kalayna is one of the writers that’s had an impact on my work. I’ve read every bit of advice she’s posted on Magical Words and on her own blog (I’ve totally stolen the concept of the “Muse Droppings” folder from her). When I was (and still am) learning how to create strong female characters, my short list of instructors included Alex Craft.
We’d met before but, up until this year, I’d never had a chance to let her know that she was an influence and to thank her for sharing, not only Alex, but her insights, thoughts and writing process.
On the last day of the con, I stopped by her table to pick up a copy of Grave Visions (You should pick this up – You’ll be glad you did) and had her sign it for me. I had my author’s copy of the Weird Wild West with me. I opened it up to the author’s page, pointing my name out, and I thanked her for the part she played in my name being there. She stood and gave me a hug. I might have had to blink a little to clear my vision.
Why mention this?
Writing is a lonely craft. Even when co-authoring a book, at it’s most basic level, it comes down to you doing the work by yourself (even if it’s only in your head). Add to that just how difficult it is to “Break in” to the publishing business (It is getting simpler to do via self-publishing, but it is no less easy…there’s a huge difference between simple and easy) and it isn’t a stretch to think that the writing community could be a cold, insulated, and cut-throat group.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, the writing community (The Speculative Fiction community in particular) – from NYT Bestsellers to folk that haven’t been published yet – is the most welcoming, the most supportive bunch of folks that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet and work with.
I think that, to a person, we’ve all benefited from that kind of support and that we all try to “Pay it Back” to the community as well as we can. That’s what this blog is for. It’s my small way of giving back to the community, my community. If anything I’ve posted here has helped even one person, the effort has been worth it.
Music: Blind Guardian – Ashes of Eternity