Category Archives: World Fantasy Con

What Kind of Year Has It Been?

So what kind of year has it been? A year of transitions—although that may not be saying much since it increasingly seems that all years are transitioning to and from one thing or another. The idea I once held in my imagination of a stable life and career seems more far-fetched every day.

The reality is that I didn’t make much overall progress on my fiction in 2016, although the business of my writing life is a different story. After a four-year absence, I dove back into the convention pond (I attended two, When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta and World Fantasy in Columbus, Ohio) and emerged with some excellent prospects. I had a very good year in my writing-adjacent day jobs, as a newspaper owner/editor and freelance book editor. I broke ground on a novel which I expect to be my most challenging and ambitious project to date; it’s the sort of project that keeps you up at night for the sheer excitement of plotting it out.

And yet I didn’t actually do very much writing, an ugly truth which I must stare down. In the face of this, it can be small consolation that I’ve greatly strengthened the infrastructure of my life. I must do better in 2017. It’s as simple as that.

Let me talk about those convention appearance, which I came back from energized to produce more and better work. Every time I attend a convention, it solidifies my certainty that there’s a market for my writing. That’s the value of conventions, but they are really hard.

Well, maybe they’re not hard for everyone. For me they’re nigh impossible. Gone are the halcyon days when I went to my first conventions and filled my days with programming. It didn’t take long to realize that the panels are mostly doesn’t come at all naturally to me. You need the ability to walk up to strangers, or near-strangers, and find something to talk about instantly—without seeming needy and pushy. This is quite a tightrope.

Because that’s what you’re there for. You’re generally not there to listen to a panel of novelists talk about the importance of map-making in fantasy literature, nor are you there to listen to well-established professionals wax eloquent about their decades-long careers and the generally pretty unrelatable logistics of publishing fifteen-volume epics. Those are definitely perks, but eventually you’ll realize that those panels are more or less all the same, and they don’t get you from A to B. You could get a similar result from an afternoon browsing YouTube clips.

I spent the first evening of World Fantasy returning periodically to my hotel room to steal precious alone time, breaks from the stress of wandering through the convention halls looking desperately for people to talk to, like a feral animal.

At one point, a friend of mine said to me that most of the people there were just like me and they were wildly faking their smiles and easy-going manners. He pointed out that a majority of writers are probably introverted shut-ins, which explains why they would be attracted to a field where so much of the work happens when you’re, well, very much alone.

But anyway, you don’t spend hundreds (thousands) of dollars on convention fees and airfare and hotel rooms and pub food only if you’re going to actually dive into that pond. So when the second day dawned, I pulled on some swimwear and got wet. The water was excruciatingly cold at first, and only slightly warmer by the end when I finally crawled onto shore like a beached whale, but damn it I came away with a couple of manuscript critiques and some short story anthology opportunities. (One of those opportunities came when an editor inadvertently dumped his entire beer all over me, a soggy mess which ultimately paid off handsomely by weekend’s end.)

It’s not comfortable, and it’s not my favorite part of the job, but I’ve already booked a couple of conventions for 2017 and hopefully it won’t take me so long to acclimate this time.

Evan BraunEvan Braun is an author and editor who has been writing books for more than ten years. He is the author of The Watchers Chronicle, a completed trilogy. In addition to writing science fiction, he is the managing editor of The Niverville Citizen. He lives in Niverville, Manitoba.

Confessions of a Con Novice

A few years ago at a writing seminar I was asked if I’d be attending a local upcoming “Con.” I wasn’t exactly sure what a Con was. My friend clarified that she was referring to “Comicon.”

This may come as a surprise to some, but I hadn’t ever heard of Comicon. Or Dragon Con or Worldcon except that it sounded like Worldcom. (No I promise that isn’t a knock at the Hugos. I really was this ignorant).

But I didn’t want to flaunt my ignorance so I googled, Comicon and sure enough there was one in Phoenix that summer.

Have you ever learned an exotic word that you could swear you’ve never heard before, but once you learn it, you hear it everywhere? All of the sudden, everyone I knew was talking about Comicon.

So I gathered the family and we ventured to the conference center. I was blown away at how popular it was. There were crowds upon crowds of people, most dressed up like it was Halloween. Someone asked me if I was into Cosplay. This was also a new word for me and it sounded, well, kinky, so I shook my head and ran away.

As far as the Con, My kids loved it. I loved it. My wife would have preferred about anything else but she obliged, allowing me to be amongst “my people” as she lovingly called the attendees.

So, I’m still a Con novice, but I’m gaining experience. I have attended a smaller con in Arizona and last year I went to Salt Lake Comic Con as a volunteer in the Word Fire Press exhibitor booth.

And today, I have returned one year later to that same Con of Cons to be amongst my Word Fire friends but this time I brought my son and I might even let him Cosplay. Because I’ve made it my mission as a dad to help my children have a better childhood than I had. That’s how we make the world a better place. My son knows what a Con is. He also knows that Salt Lake Comic Con is different (though it is of similar pronunciation) than Phoenix Comicon or San Diego Comic-Con. And there are a good many more Cons of comics and other great things.

Here’s a helpful list and for the sake of humanity, please take your children; after all they are our future.

Salt Lake Comic Con – August 31 – September 3, 2016

San Diego Comic-Con – July 21 – 24, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – June 2 – 5, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – Fan Fest Dec 4 – 6, 2015

Dragon Con (Atlanta) – September 2 – 5, 2016

2016 Worldcon hosted by MidAmeriCon II (Kansas City, MO) – August 17 – 21, 2016

Rose City Comic Con (Oregon) – September 10 – 11, 2016

World Fantasy Con 2015 (Saratoga Springs, NY) – November 5 – 8

World Fantasy Con 2016 (Columbus, OH) – October 27 – 30

Click here to see a bunch more


jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can visit my author website at, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

The Savviest Thing I Could Have Done


I’ve been negligent. I like to blame it on the fact that I’m a recluse at heart. But that’s not an excuse—or at least, not a very good one. In the writing game, we authors are frequently called upon to step outside our comfort zones.

Well, for me, attending a convention is about as far outside my comfort zone as it’s possible to get. It’s not that I’m afraid of people—or strangers—but I’m not a good socializer, and an even worse self-promoter. As this month’s posts are so far making pretty clear, conventions are largely about socializing and self-promotion!

Three years ago, I stepped out for the first time and bought my ticket to attend the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto. I didn’t know what to expect… and I was intimidated. It helped that a few of my good writing friends were also going to be there.

I turned out to be woefully unprepared. I didn’t have any elevator pitches worked out, nor had I familiarized myself with the list of attendees. I hadn’t scouted out any editors or agents to approach either. This sort of homework is second nature to seasoned convention goers.

Fortunately, I got some much-needed assists from my friends and fellow Fictorians, particularly Ace Jordyn and Nancy DiMauro. Upon arrival, I went out for lunch with Ace, and she quickly set me at ease. As a WFC newbie, it was helpful to have someone to tag along with and make introductions on my behalf.

On the second night of the conference, I found myself wandering the Tor Books party in a suite on the top floor of the hotel. The room was packed to the gills. This is precisely the kind of scene that usually makes me uncomfortable, but Nancy pulled me through the crowd like an expert.

At some point, I found myself at the bar—an awkward place to be, seeing as I barely drink. The bartender made eye contact with me and said hello. Before I had a chance to reply, I glanced at his nametag—and instantly recognized the name. This was no regular bartender, but one of those big-time editors I knew I was supposed to be watching out for.

All things being equal, my most likely impulse would have been to clam up and back away slowly.

I surprised myself. “Hey there, it’s good to meet you. I’m a huge fan of the line of Star Trek books you edited.”

Caught flat-footed? Certainly. But this had the virtue of being honest. I knew this editor had worked on Pocketbook’s line of Star Trek novels for many years. While in high school, I had collected hundreds of those books.

As it turned out, we didn’t get the chance to talk about my own books—or even the fact that I was a writer. He was a big Star Trek fan, I was a big Star Trek fan, and we found all sorts of things to talk about between poured drinks.

Before I knew it, I’d said goodbye and wandered off, pleased with myself and happy to have made a connection.

Nancy intercepted me a short time later and asked all the practical questions I had neglected. Had I given him my pitch? Had I gotten his card? Had I given him mine? Had I asked for an opportunity to submit my completed novel for him to take a look at? No, no, no, and no. Good grief, I hadn’t even thought to bring business cards. As I’ve said, I didn’t know what I was doing.

It turns out that using this fleeting connection to talk about Star Trek was absolutely the savviest thing I could have done. The convention was packed with writers clamoring to get the editors’ attention. Instead I treated the editor like a person and got the chance to casually talk about our shared interests. And I think I made an impression.

Nancy insisted that I go back later in the evening. I did, and I walked away having given my pitch, gotten his card, and been rewarded with the opportunity to submit my completed novel. Not bad for a newbie!

Evan BraunEvan Braun is an author and editor who has been writing books for more than ten years. He is the author of The Watchers Chronicle, whose third volume, The Law of Radiance, was released earlier this year. In addition to specializing in both hard and soft science fiction, he is the managing editor of The Niverville Citizen. He lives in Niverville, Manitoba.

Not All Cons are Created Equal

For fans, conventions are all about having fun, meeting people who share your interests, and having a weekend of unbridled and unapologetic geekiness. We gather at convention halls to meet our favorite authors or film stars, to attend panels, and to shop for art, books, collectables, costumes, and gadgets. Conventions are inherently a celebration of all that is nerdy, and so it only makes sense that they be as varied as the fans who attend them.

However, as authors, conventions are also a business trip. At a convention, we can sell our books – both to industry professionals and directly to fans. By observing what is popular, we can keep our fingers on the pulse of fandom and learn the tastes of our target audiences. The convention hotel bar is a great place to meet people, network, and make friends who understand the struggles of being an aspiring author.

Even though conventions are an invaluable experience, I know of very few people who have an unlimited budget and the freedom to travel as they please. The rest of us need to choose carefully how best to use our vacation time and financial resources. Even if you don’t consider all of the seminars and workshops offered, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of conventions worldwide. The task of narrowing down your choices may seem overwhelming, but if you approach selecting conventions with your goals in mind, you can make the process much more manageable.

Though all conventions are unique experiences, I’ve noticed that most seem to fall somewhere along a series of five continuums. By properly placing the perspective convention, I have found it easy to evaluate the convention’s personality and utility to an aspiring professional.

CONTINUUM 1: Big Cons vs Small Cons
Much of a convention’s personality is a function of its size. Cons with larger numbers of attendees have more leverage with local hotels, businesses, and governments as they represent a massive and predictable influx of tourism. As such, they will be able to secure special rates with the nearby businesses, and convince local municipalities to shut down roads and parks. They will attract the attention of higher profile guests and be able to pay for their appearance fees, travel, and lodging.

No matter how much good the influx of a hundred thousand people does for the local economy, there is a draw back. Larger cons are inherently more chaotic, have longer lines for events, and tend to react more slowly to change. They can easily become overwhelming for someone who is unused to or uncomfortable in those sorts of crowds. It’s also very hard to get noticed in such a large group. If you are looking to shop a book, for example, I’d recommend somewhere a bit more intimate, where you can take the time to get to know agents and editors rather than have 2.5 seconds of their attention as you pass in the mass of humanity.

CONTINUUM 2: Party Cons vs Business Cons
Some conventions, like World Con or World Fantasy, are largely focused on getting business done. Sure, there’s still partying, but most of that is geared towards networking. Editors and agents go to these sorts of conventions to acquire new talent and catch up with old friends in the industry.

On the other hand, conventions like Dragon*Con or Salt Lake City Comic Con lean more heavily towards celebration than business. Though it’s possible to seal a deal at these sort of conventions, the odds of getting the attention of an industry professional are not in your favor. They are, however, a fantastic place to meet and interact with fans, as well as sell lots of books in the dealer’s room.

CONTINUUM 3: Narrowly Focused Cons vs Multi-Track Cons
When you are in charge of organizing a con’s content, how do you choose? Some cons focus on a single vein, such as steam punk, horror, anime, or even the works of a particular author. For example, JordanCon is a convention held each spring in Atlanta. Its founders chose to focus on the works of Robert Jordan and all things tied to the Wheel of Time. On the other end of the spectrum, Dragon*Con, also in Atlanta, is a sprawling agglomeration of every possible fan interest. You get a lot more depth at a convention like JordanCon and a greater variety at a gathering like Dragon*Con. Both approaches have their advantages.

CONTINUUM 4: Content Cons vs Dealer’s Cons
Though every convention is going to have some sort of dealer’s room, some conventions, such as World Fantasy, focus mostly on the panels, parties, and other social interactions between fans and guests. On the other hand, conventions like San Diego Comic Con have massive dealer’s rooms and much of their attendees’ focus is on acquiring merchandise and collectibles. If you are looking to learn something, go to a content con. If you are looking to buy from vendors or sell to consumers, go to a dealer’s con.

CONTINUUM 5: Static Cons vs Traveling Cons
Some conventions, like Bubonicon or Space City Comic Con, are held in the same city, even some times on the same weekend, year after year. They are inherently easier to plan for, and tend to have better relationships with local business and governments. Additionally, local celebrities and authors tend to adopt a “home convention” that they attend year after year.

Other conventions, such as any con with the word “World” in the title, travel to new destinations each year. What they lack in stability, they gain in variety of experience and often leverage with the locals. After all, Spokane, Washington likely bent over backwards to win their 2015 bid for World Con. Albuquerque, New Mexico on the other hand probably won’t go to the same extreme for Bubonicon, which is held there year after year.

Want to see the world? Follow a traveling convention, but you’re travel costs will likely be proportionally more expensive. It’s often best to catch such events as they cycle through a city near you.

So, how do you know what sort of convention you’re in for? It’s simply a matter of research. Your social network will go a long ways to help you with this. Find friends who have been to the convention in question and ask them their opinions and experiences. Another good option is to peruse the convention website. What sort of guests are they expecting? Cons with guest lists heavy in celebrities and authors often are content cons while those who have tons of artists lean more towards the dealer’s floor. Additionally, you can search through public media, blogs, and social media sources for coverage of the previous year’s event. Those sorts of articles will often report attendance numbers and focus on the perceived high points of the convention’s programming.

Ultimately, only you can know what sort of convention will best fit your needs and interests. Are you actively trying to sell a book to traditional publishers? You might focus on finding a small, business focused con. Or, are you trying to meet your favorite author or celebrity? In which case, you should look for a large, narrowly focused, static con. Do you want to be entertained at a party, content focused convention, or are you trying to find a rare printing of a comic book at a dealer’s convention? There’s a buffet of experiences ready for you to sample. All you have to do is pick up a plate and make a decision as to where to start.