I went to a sci-fi/fantasy Con last weekend. CONduit is held every year in Salt Lake City. This was my second year attending. I was on three panels, did a signing, a reading, and got to hang out with some very cool people.
I know some writers are a little uncomfortable with the public, but I love it. I’m an extrovert, and I’ve spent many an hour standing in front of very crowded rooms talking about stuff like I’m some sort of expert. I’m also one of the guests that doesn’t ever need a microphone. I’ve still got my instructor voice. I can be heard over gunfire; I promise the folks on the back row can hear. I love to talk. I love people, which is odd, since I usually hate crowds, like at sporting events or concerts, but I love cons. Maybe I’m just psychologically more in tune with a herd of geeks than the general public. And as a rule of thumb, if I see somebody in public dressed as Sailor Moon, I get really uneasy. At a con, not so much…
My favorite part is hanging out with the other writers. I’ve made some good friends amongst the Utah Literati. As a group they’re smart, talented, and funny. I got to be on one panel with my good friend John Brown (Servant of a Dark God) where we talked about writing Rogues, and then another about setting mood with Dan Wells (I am not a Serial Killer). I did another about getting published with Dan Willis (Dragonlance), Eric James Stone (many many short stories), Bob Defendi (too many RPG modules to count), and Brad Torgersen (just won Writers of the Future!). Bob, John, Dan and I ended up having a long pizza fueled conversation about the future of the publishing industry. In addition I got to see Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series) and go to his birthday dinner with Jaleta Clegg (Nexus Point), Eric Svedin (Professor, who just survived an aneurism, very sobering), Julie Frost (much short fiction and Robert Downy Jr.’s #1 squealing fan-girl), and Patrick Tracy (who can bend nails with his hands). I ate lunch with Leslie Muir (president of the Romance Writers), Jessica Day George (her books may have princess in the title, but boys can read them too!) and most of the above mentioned writers. I went to readings from Paul Genesse (who totally does the voices), super reviewer Nathan Shumate (Golden Age of Crap), and Tom Carr (Talking to Yourself in the Dark), Leslie (who did fine even though she’d not done one before). I did a podcast interview with Dungeon Crawler’s radio (awesome guys). I met a bunch of other people for the first time, like Barbara Hambly (very sharp lady). I started to go to the Writing Excuses Podcast, but my kid’s demanded immediate lunch attentions, so duty called. I briefly said hi to a few of the other Utah writers I know, but didn’t get a chance to talk, which is a bummer because they’re cool too. And I’m probably forgetting a whole bunch of others, and if so, I apologize, but you know how these things are.
And I bought way too many books, as usual. I’ll have reviews of them soon. I’ll post one for Golden Age of Crap soon. (I was one of the cover quotes, so I got to read it early, it is awesome) and then I’ll be reading #2 in the Dan Well’s John Cleaver-Serial Killer series, Mr. Monster, because I loved the first one.
The thing about cons is that they are a great tool for networking. If you are an aspiring writer, don’t feel bad about coming up and shooting the bull with the writers. We enjoy this stuff, and we were exactly where you were a few years ago. You never know who you’re going to meet. Play it cool though, don’t just jump on the writer, monopolize their time, and tell them the 45 minute plot synopsis of the novel you’re currently writing. That does get you remembered, but not in the way you’re hoping for.
Here is an example of the awesome networking power of Cons. A large group of us went to lunch one day. Mostly I was just tagging along with Super-Author John Brown, because I wanted to lord it over him that my publisher gave me permission to stick internal artwork into Grimnoir. I had been inspired to ask Toni for permission after listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn artist talk about interior artwork in fantasy novels. He talked about tying in the aesthetic of the book to the style of the art, and that made me really want to do some 20s-30s style pulp ink art combined with art-deco symbology for the glossary.
So we get to the sandwich place. I only knew one of the aspiring writers, Dan Alanzo, but I didn’t know anybody else. So we sit down, and there is a guy sitting next to me that I’ve never seen before. He mentions his web cartoon, http://rocketroadtrip.com/ , (which is one that I read) and I had to jump in. This was the dude! Ironically enough, Isaac Stewart is the aforementioned artist from the podcast that got me spun up on having Grimnoir art. It is a small world. Plus, check out his comic. It is about a big guy who is a gun-nut monster hunter… Ironically that is a plot I can get behind.
(I’ll post more about Grimnoir art later)
Overall, CONduit was a lot of fun. I look forward to next year. My next Con event will be LibertyCon in July in Chattanooga.
EDIT: Because I keep calling people’s books by the wrong names and there are too many writers in Utah named Dan.