A lot of people have asked me what exactly these conferences are like. The simplest explanation is that they're one of those conventions where the people dress up in costumes. That usually clicks with non-geeks, and they get an idea. (Of course, some people like to make fun of those costumes. I personally think they're awesome. A lot of them clearly took a ton of time and effort to perfect. CONduit had a guy walking around in an eight foot Chewbacca outfit, complete with bow caster. He looked incredible. We also had a Batman, storm troopers, Darth Vader, Ghostbusters--just a ton of great outfits.)
But no, not everyone dresses up at these. Actually, often there are quite a few authors at them, come to talk to people about their books or about the craft of writing. They also do signings and readings. I was on eight panels this year, which was perhaps a tad much. In order of appearance, here are the panels I did:
- Adaptations/Novelizations--Discussing the processes and pitfalls that go into both. I love talking about adaptation, and I could do so for hours at a time. Unfortunately, they stopped us at an hour. It was a fun panel.
- e-Publishing--How and why to e-Publish. Advantages and disadvantages. Lots of good audience questions on this one. I think many people are turning to e-Publishing because they're giving up on getting traditionally published, or they think it's easier. I could say a lot on this topic (and I did at the panel), but that's a blog post for another day.
- 100 years of Dinosaur Films--I'll admit: I was out of my league on this one. I've seen a number of dinosaur movies, and I had some questions for the other panelists, but I was by far the least qualified person on the panel. Not a good feeling when you're up there. Not that I made an idiot out of myself (I think), but still . . .
- YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy You Should be Reading--This was a great panel staffed mainly with professional YA librarians (and me). We went over as many book recommendation as we could in 55 minutes. Lots of fun.
- Raising a Proper Geekling--I thought I would really like this panel, and I did in many ways. But at the same time, I felt like it became a bit too preachy at times, with people on the panel and in the audience presenting things in a little too "you MUST do this" sort of a way. I raise my kids the way I raise them. Yes, I think it's the *right* way, but I also try to refrain from telling other people that it's the *only* way. You do what works for you, and chances are, you shouldn't be taking too much advice from a sci-fi/fantasy panel. Though this kind of heavy-handed advice only accounted for maybe 5% of what was said. Enough to make me uncomfortable a few times, though overall it was a fun panel.
- Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Movies--A blast of a panel. We got to discuss why the original movies worked and what was happening with the two Hobbit movies. I was totally in my element for this, and I had a great time.
- Summer Movies--A very sparsely attended panel. We sat around and discussed upcoming movies for the rest of the year. I had a great time. More people should have come. :-)
- Fantasy Not Set in White/Medieval Europe--My last panel was the highlight of the conference for me. It was packed with about 40 or 50 people, and I was on the same panel as Tamora Pierce. The topic was right up my alley, and I had a great time. We ran through a series of recommendations of books to check out beyond the standard stereotypes. Good times.
Of course, going to a con isn't just about what panels you present on. I attended panels on podcasting, top YA books, creating memorable characters, and more. I hung out with awesome people, saw old friends again, and just had a great time. It was a busy three days, but well worth the trouble and effort of flying out here to go to the con. (Although next year I'm thinking I might shake things up a bit and go to LTUE, instead. Maybe the flights will go more smoothly in February? (Riiiiiiiiiiiiight).)
Anyway--any of you at the con? Have any insights to share? Speak up!