September 12 – Geek Kon!

As promised, here is a report on the great weekend I had at Geek Kon!

The first thing I saw when I walked in the door of the hotel was the Tardis, and it just got better from there! I arrived early and managed to get through the registration line without too much hassle or delay. I expected people in costumes, but I was surprised at the sheer number of cosplay attendees. It seemed like every other person was dressed up as something. The costumes ranged from steampunk to anime to gaming. There was even a Pac-Man and a person with a Lego head.

The dealer room was focused more on anime than anything else, but there was also some steampunk and fantasy stuff around. And there was only one bookstore that participated. That was the biggest difference between Geek Kon and the other two conventions I attended this year (OddCon and WisCon). While there was a writing track, the attendance at each of the panels was minimal. Most of them had only four or five attendees (including yours truly). Speaking of panels….

My first panel was Creating a Steampunk Persona. I have been mildly intrigued by the steampunk movement and wanted to learn more about it. I got a few ideas, and learned about the local steampunk organization.

Next was Coolest Science Fiction of the 21st Century. Jim Frenkel was the panelist. He is an editor for Tor Books, and I met him earlier this year at both OddCon and WisCon. It was an interesting discussion, and I walked away with a few more books for my To Read list.

Jim was the panelist for the next panel as well. It was simply titled Steampunk, and actually had about 20 people attending. Jim pulled a couple of them from the audience to join him on the panel and talk about their feelings and experience with steampunk. It was interesting, but I had to leave early to go to….

Small/Indy Press Publishing. Monica Valentinelli and Matt McElroy were the panelists. I actually shared a couple of meals with Monica at WisCon, and it was great to see her again. We had a great discussion about the current small press market. I shared my experience with selling my first story to a small press, and got some advice on how I might better handle future sales.

After that I took a break for dinner, grabbing a ham sandwich and candy bar from the concessions booth. The last panel of the night was New Author/New World, and Monica was the sole panelist. That was okay, because there were only six of us in the room. The problem was that she was competing with the warmup of the rock band in the next room, and it was sometimes hard to hear. But she had lots of advice for new writers, and I think that we all had a good time.

Saturday was a lot of fun, and I actually got to sit with fellow local author Alex Bledsoe for several panels. Of course I had to start with a fanboy moment and tell him how much I enjoyed his Eddie LaCrosse books. You should pick them up if you get the chance. They are like a film noir detective in a medieval setting. Really cool!

It started early, with a panel on Creating Enduring Characters. Troy Denning had a lot of good tips on the subject of character creation, and I even took notes!

Following Troy was a panel on eBooks vs. Traditional Publishing. They discussed the trends in the market regarding eBook sales, and Jim Frenkel was there to represent the old school publishers. He told us that even the big boys are moving to ebooks, because the market is growing rapidly and they would be fools to ignore it. They also discussed some of the problems with ebooks, including Digital Rights Management (DRM) and piracy. A lot of information to consider if I decide to self-publish.

After that was a long break. I took the time to get some lunch and have some new pictures taken from a free photographer that was set up next to the cafe. I posted them on my Facebook and Google+ profiles, so feel free to check them out. The overcoat I was wearing belonged to my grandfather, so it is older than I am! It was really warm in most of the rooms, but it was worth it for the pictures.

Following lunch was a session on Writing for Shared Worlds. I went because I thought they might have some advice on working with another author, like for a collaboration. But it was mostly for contracted work for tie-in fiction, like if I was hired to write a Star Wars or Forgotten Realms novel.

After that was a panel on World Building. It was nice to hear some of the things I need to consider when I am working on my stories. It was also nice to hear that it isn’t necessary for me to do all the work before I start writing. Some parts of world building can be done during the creation process.

A Writing Panel followed, where I was able to hear comments and stories from published authors regarding their experiences. I went to a panel on Getting Published in the Gaming World after that, but I left early because it wasn’t quite what I expected. I was hoping that it would be about getting a contract for writing for a gaming magazine or tie-in fiction, but it was actually more about writing adventures and rules systems. So I went to have dinner instead.

After dinner I went to a panel titled Bak Desu Ne! (Being An Idiot In Japan). The plug for the panel was that I would learn what it was like to learn Japanese, live in Japan and then start an indie animation project to teach Japanese. So I was expecting something on how to learn Japanese, but it was more about the experiences of the panelist who had done these things. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, it was still probably the most fun panel of the day.

The last panel I attended Saturday night was Manly Women of Anime, where we discussed some of the women of anime, and how some of them are portrayed as masculine, where it is almost impossible to tell they are women. We also discussed how even the ones with more feminine appearances are given male personality traits. It was interesting, and it made me want to watch more anime.

Sunday I was planning on starting with The Horror and Wonder of NaNoWriMo. My other option was a Writing Workshop, but I didn’t have anything that was ready for critique. I ran into Alex again before it started and he said he was filling in for one of the workshop panelists that had to cancel, so I promised to go. There were four aspiring authors that came to the panel (including me), so we had plenty of time to discuss our work and we still finished early. The piece I shared was the short story that I submitted a couple of weeks ago. They told me that they thought I should change my opening back to the way I had it for the original draft, so now I’m thinking that if it gets rejected I’ll make the change before I send it out again.

After the workshop I went to a panel led by Jim Frenkel titled What is Science Fantasy Anyway? We had a good talk about the topic and named some books and authors that have dabbled in this hybrid genre.

I had an hour for lunch, and then my last panel of the con was Costuming 101. I have to admit that all the people walking around in costumes over the weekend made me feel like I was an outsider because I wasn’t wearing one. It wasn’t so bad on Saturday when I was wearing my mafia outfit, but I had started thinking about what I might be able to do in the future. I learned quite a bit, and got some information about the local costuming group, so who knows? If I can make up my mind what theme or character I want to portray I may be able to put something together for next year.

So that is my weekend in a nutshell. Geek Kon was a lot of fun, and I am already looking forward to going back next year.

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