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WorldCon in Reno, NV: Days Two & Three

August 25, 2011

As I suspected, days two and three were much more crowded. And I overstretched myself a bit on day two. I went to five different panels/reading AND hung around at the Scholck Mercenary booth and chatted for an hour. I was so exhausted I didn’t make it to the Steampunk Ball. Which is sad but survival comes first.

First was Brandon Sanderson’s reading. He read from an as yet unpublished story, SteelHeart, for about thirty minutes, then answered questions. And of course, it was brilliant. It was just really strange to see him with a goatee.

Next was Dan Wells’s reading. Dan only got thirty minutes which is a shame because I was hooked on his new book right away, The Hollow City. And he did reveal that there is a movie version of I Am Not A Serial Killer in the works but nothing is for sure yet. I have my fingers and toes crossed for you Dan!

“Fairy Tales and Storytelling” was perhaps the most disappointing panel I attended at the entire convention. Really a disaster. It had two guests of honor who got into a fight that involved a bit of swearing and voice quavering before the mousy moderator would get up the nerve to intervene between them. A third panelist simply recounted all the latest books and movies she had seen, which I’m sure most audience members were familiar with. She didn’t know when she was rambling and unfortunately annoyed most of the audience before the moderator could stop her either. And not a single mention of the authors I love (Shannon Hale, Juliett Marillier, Gail Carson Levine, etc.) that retell fairy tales, are very well known and good at what they do! Complete and utter fail.

My mother, who came with me to the convention, is a fan of the television show “Fringe” so we went to that panel. I have only seen two episodes of the show and even I found the panel interesting. The difference was this panel was made up of fans, not professionals and they opened discussion to the audience. Lots of fun. I will certainly be catching up on that show.

In between I spent some time hanging out at the Schlock Mercenary booth, chatting and making a few purchases. Sal Sanfratello was great and told me a lot about swordplay and battle. Near the beginning of our conversation he informed me that in one and a half seconds he could have thrown me to the ground and stabbed me three times. I didn’t find this scary, because Sal had such a smile on his face and no sword in his hand.

And Howard Tayler taught me how to introduce myself to people as a writer and shook my hand twice. It was so sweet of him to take the time to make me less nervous. I really can’t thank him enough.

And finally there was the live recording of the Writing Excuses Podcast. I’ve listened to this podcast for years so it was a real treat to watch them record live. Mary Robinette Kowal was the savior of the day, figuring out the cords and cables so they could get the recording off the ground. I don’t know what they ever did without her. What surprised me most was how quickly they picked a topic and recorded. They asked the audience for topics and then hit record, no forethought at all. And yet they were all completely brilliant. Just goes to show you that they really are that smart.


Day 3 was much calmer. I slept in, took care of myself, got a bit of writing done and only went to two panels and one Kaffeeklatsch, which was such a great experience. I owe that entirely to Dan being such a nice guy who writes about serial killers. Luckily I had figured out the day before that authors are simply people and I hope I was a bit less star struck than I was the first time I met him.

And of course, I had a question that involved spoilers and so we went to chat after the Kaffeeklatsch and he asked my opinion about scenes in his book and questions about where he should go when he continues. Eep! I was frankly flattered that he wanted my opinion and could see my passion for his work. I love discussing books and it was amazing to do so with an author I admire so much. I hope my comments and concerns about his characters were helpful to him. Just talking to him was helpful to me. I love insight into how writers work and I feel better about being an insomniac and writing until two in the morning knowing that I’m not the only one who does it.

“Pitching the Project” with Lizzy Shannon was more of a classroom experience which helped immensely because I was so nervous. She asked for a volunteer to pitch and I volunteered first, simply because I knew I would chicken out and I wouldn’t have to compare myself to anyone who went before me and wonder if I did better for worse. I became the standard.

And I did a terrible pitch. Horrible. Awful. And then she gave me some pointers and then I did a one-line pitch. Much better, but still not perfect. I’ll transcribe it here later when I get the chance to go over my recording.

The “New Doctor, New Companion, New Writer” panel was a bit strange. I’m not entirely caught up on the new season of Doctor Who so there were a lot of spoilers, though I will admit I was warned by Alex Brown, whom I met the day before. Fun panel.

Overall, very productive day. Lets hope day four, which is the last for me, is even better. I’ve learned so much!!!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2011 11:22 am

    Okay, so I think this is a really cool coincidence; I met up with Dan just minutes before his Kaffeeklatch because I had been really frustrated about my con experience up to that point. I was wondering why I had come and spent all this money and effort to be there, but Dan gave me some of the same advice on what to do and where to go to make the most out of the Con.

    So first of all, high five for both being fans of the Serial Killer series. Second of all, High five for us both having a better con experience thanks to Dan Wells!

  2. August 28, 2011 3:52 pm

    Totally! During the Kaffeklatsch, Dan mentioned that he and Brandon had been going to cons for about four years when he gave up and decided they were a waste of time. He was frustrated too! But then Brandon kept going, met Moshe Feder and everything changed. That is why Dan is the perfect mentor for those who are frustrated at Cons. Glad you had a good experience with him too!

  3. August 28, 2011 9:06 pm

    Sanderson with a beard and that hat looks a little like I imagined Breeze looks from the Mistborn books. . . .

    Also, I’m surprised that the fairytale panel sucked. Seems like that would have been a slam dunk. What did they get in an argument about?

    • August 28, 2011 11:03 pm

      @JaredA – Guest A was arguing that because all fairy tales share roots that there is no need to stick to any one version and therefore no need to pay respect to the culture the story comes from because who says it didn’t come from another version? Guest B understood this as retelling, for example, the Japanese version of Cinderella without getting the Japanese culture and heritage right. This made her super upset. But what they really couldn’t get across to each other was that it doesn’t matter which version you are telling. You could tell the Egyptian version of Cinderella mixed with Asian influence, whatever, but if you are going to SET the story in Japan, you need to get the culture right. It was all a big misunderstanding. It’s funny to look back on it now but at the time I was super annoyed.

      • August 29, 2011 2:14 am

        That totally sparked another bad memory I had of the con. I was really looking forward to some of the writing panels, but they were just SO disappointing. In one of the steampunk panels I went to, they were arguing about what systems of economics were acceptable to use in Steampunk novels, and one of them was arguing that Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” (one of the biggest selling steampunk novels right now) doesn’t “actually qualify as steampunk” because of…

        I walked out about there. A LOT of the writing panels were like this, just terrible. LTUE is MUCH better at writing panels.

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