Tag Archives: WorldCon

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 www.jacekillan.com, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

In the Company of Giants

A guest post by Lou J. Berger.

As other writers have mentioned to me, sometimes life manifests situations so improbable that, if you were to write them into a story, no reader would accept them as plausible.

And yet…

I walked through the dealer room at Reno’s WorldCon, showing my girlfriend Kelly around, marveling at the artist displays, looking around to see if I could spot Bob Eggleton, a tremendous artist that I’ve only met via Facebook, never in real life.

My eye lights upon a grinning, elfin woman with graying hair and the eyes Yoda only wished he had had, as expressive as a sunset. She spies me and calls out my name and wraps me in a hug that conveys love and adoration and respect, then calls over her husband, Joe Haldeman.

Gay Haldeman is an angel among people, and she has an encyclopedic memory, knows everybody, loves everybody, and is one of the nicest folks I know. Without my being able to figure out how, she manages to convince me that she considers me one of the most important people she’s ever met. I know, in my soul, that I am just another cog in the gears that permeate her life—and a small, insignificant cog at that—but she has that magic touch, that personality that the best of the best seem to have.

Joe smiles at me and shakes my hand, I introduce them both to Kelly, and Gay says, a hand upon my forearm, “You will join us for lunch, won’t you?”

I glance at Kelly, she nods, and I say, “Of course!”

A rare cloud crosses Gay’s unlined brow. “Oh. Do you mind if I invite another person to join us?”

Well, I had been hoping for some one-on-one time with Joe and Gay, but any friend of hers…

“Sure,” I reply. “The more the merrier!”

Gay’s cloud dissipates and sunlight radiates from her again. “Great! I’m sure Larry will love to meet you.”

Larry. That’s such a familiar name, especially the way she says it. I open my mouth to clarify, because, after all, there is no way it could be… “Oh, here he is!” Gay cries out, grinning, looking past my shoulder.

I turn and, in true Ewok form, there strides one of the greatest giants of SF-dom, Larry Niven. It is him. Of course it is him.

He’d passed me in the hallway at Denvention, a couple years earlier, and I’d said, upon seeing him, “Shoot! I was hoping to attend your panel!” Without breaking stride, he shot back. “Well, you missed it.” And then he walked on.

So we walk, the Haldemans and I and Kelly, with Larry Niven beside me. I’m trying to be cool, but this is the man from whose brain all those books I read in high school sprung. He’s the Ringworld Engineer Deluxe, the guy who invented the Mote, this is Larry freaking Niven!

“You’re a writer,” says Larry to me. (See? I’m calling him Larry. Like we grew up together. Like we’re old pals. Like I have any damn right to be walking beside him, this ordinary-looking man whose prose has put me on the badly-colored carpet of a Reno convention center, walking toward an unimpressive cafe in an adjacent casino.) “Tell me a story,” he finishes.

I take two careful, measured steps. I think of the works I’ve written to date, the stories I’ve excised from my fertile imagination, the tortured words I’ve yanked out of my brain and through my fingers and onto the page, the single story I’d sold. Worthless. In the company of a god, my best work is fool’s gold, iron pyrite glittering with false richness, not worthy of discussion.

“I’m sorry, Larry,” I stammer, after a while. “I’m a little star-struck. My brain isn’t working quite right.”

“It’s okay,” he says, patting my shoulder. “Happens all the time. Give it a moment.”

I walk alongside Larry, watching the carpet flow beneath our feet, and we walk into the casino, my hand clutching Kelly’s. We sit down for lunch and I listen to Larry and Joe talk about old times, laughing and reminiscing, and I slowly relax, beginning to process that what’s happening around me, this august company I’m part of, is because of Gay, not because of anything I’ve ever done.

She’s the catalyst, the one who keeps her eyes peeled for the spark, that ineffable quality in a writer, just starting out, that signifies some semblance of promise. And like any spark, the spark she sees is tenuous, hesitant, and should, as most sparks do, simply wink out. She captures it, fans it, finds a home for it, and nurtures it into a small flame.

Then she brings that flame into the firelight and welcomes it home.

I’m not sitting with Joe Haldeman and Larry Niven because I’m some sort of brilliant writer. I’m sitting with them because Gay believes in me.

I lean across Kelly and catch Gay’s attention while Larry reminds Joe of something arcane and brilliant. “Gay,” I whisper. “Thank you.”

She peers at me through her glasses and a warm smile crosses her face. “Thank you for joining us, Lou.” She turns to Kelly. “And you too, Kelly.” She gazes at us for a minute and then turns her face back to Joe.

Her eyes go soft as she looks at the man she loves.

I squeeze Kelly’s hand and we eat our lunch in the company of giants.

loubergerpicGuest Writer Bio:
Lou J. Berger lives in Denver with three kids, three Sheltie dogs, and a kink-tailed cat with nefarious intent. He’s an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, has been professionally published in short form, and is writing his first novel, a non-genre YA book set in 1978’s North Carolina. Take a few moments to visit his website.

Sophie’s Convention

A guest post by Kim May.

34890898Every year, I’m forced to make my very own Sophie’s choice. Except instead of choosing which child has to die, I have to choose which seminars, workshops, or conventions I’m going to attend. As much as I’d like to, I don’t have the vacation time or energy to attend them all. Not to mention that my meager travel budget can’t accommodate it. But they all have something unique to offer. Some, like Clarion, can be life-changing, while others like the Superstars Writing Seminar, have so much to offer that I’d be crazy not to go. WorldCon is enormous fun, and there are enough craft workshops to make my head spin.

So which one gets to live and which one gets to be taken out back like Old Yeller?

I don’t know if I’d ever be able to choose if it weren’t for a mentor’s advice. His advice was to consider what would be of the most benefit to my career at this stage. So where is my career? I’m still getting my name out there and trying to make my first sale. I’m also still mastering the craft (I suspect I’ll be striving for perfection the rest of my life, but that’s a discussion for another day). This means I need something that’s going to help me move forward.

Going back to a favorite workshop or convention is all well and good, but if all I’m getting out of it is renewing old contacts, something that I don’t have to do in person, then it’s in my best interests to go elsewhere. Even if a workshop updated its course materials, the majority would still be a review for me. If I need a review, and I often do, I can look at my notes. They’re free.

With this in mind, I can look at what each has to offer and make my choice. Like Sophie, I do harbor some regret that I can’t have them all. However, I can rest assured that my choice is the right one. Besides, just because it’s not wise for me to revisit doesn’t mean I can’t ever go back. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be asked to come back to one of them as an instructor. Until then, I’ll have to make the grave in the backyard a little deeper and keep enough ordinance on hand to double-tap the desires that I can’t fulfill this year.

Guest Writer Bio:
Kim MayKim May writes sci-fi and fantasy but has been known to pen a gothic poem or two. She works at an independent bookstore and dog/house sits on the side. A native Oregonian, she lives with her geriatric cat, Spud, and spends as much of her free time as she can with family and friends. She recently won The Named Lands Poetry Contest. If you would like to find out what she’s working on, please visit her blog.

Conventions: Not Just for Gamers and Cosplayers

A guest post by Sherry Peters.

I’d been writing science fiction and fantasy for a number of years before I attended my first local SF/F fan convention. I’d hemmed and hawed over attending it for several of those years. Often I forgot what weekend it was on. I didn’t think I knew anyone who went, and as an introvert I’m usually not great at introducing myself to new people, so I wasn’t keen to put myself in that awkward situation.

In 2008, an acquaintance of mine, a fellow alumnus of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, posted in the Odyssey email forum that she would be attending Keycon with some of her friends that year, and that Keycon was hosting the Aurora Awards, the top fan-voted award for science fiction and fantasy in Canada.

As usual, I’d been thinking about going to Keycon, but wasn’t really sure until I saw her email. Throwing caution to the wind (she might be a closet serial killer, or I might be), I contacted her, said that she could stay at my place for free, if she wanted, and we’d go to the convention together. It was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life, especially in my life as a writer.

You see, there’s a fairly large writing community here in Winnipeg, but most of the science fiction and fantasy writers stay hidden, unknown to each other. I knew a lot of writers in Winnipeg, but none like me, until I went to Keycon. That weekend, I attended every writing/literary-oriented event on the program. I made a lot of friends, all of whom are writers, including my current best friends and writing group.

Over the years since 2008, I’ve made many other good connections through Keycon, with established writers and editors. I’ve also learned a lot about the fan community and the place of writers in fandom. I’ve even gone so far as to volunteer to plan the literary track of programming for the 2013 convention. (One of the best years for literary track programming ever, if I do say so myself.)

Some years, your local convention will be better than others. They are planned by a committee of volunteers which changes from year to year. Off-years should be expected. But even on those off-years, there’s always something to be gained by attending, even if it’s the Saturday evening dinner with your friends and fellow writers.

So, why should you plan to attend your local convention?

  1. It’s a great opportunity to meet other writers who live in the same city as you. Writing is a solitary occupation, usually. This one weekend of the year, the party is in your backyard. You get to meet with others like you. The possibilities for networking and shop-talk are endless.
  2. Volunteer to be on a couple of panels, or to do a reading. This is a great way to get your name known among the fans in your city. Remember, these are the people who are going to read your work and create a fandom out of it. They’ll be your biggest fans and be the ones to spread the good word about you to others.
  3. If the programming isn’t great, hang out in the hotel restaurant or bar. That’s where the other serious writers will be. While the connections may or may not be as big as the kind you’d make at a World Fantasy Convention or WorldCon, depending on the guest of honor and attending list, they could be just as important to you. We know from World Fantasy Conventions and WorldCons that all the good stuff happens in the restaurant and bar. We’re trained that way, so hang out there when you have an hour or two of down time. And while you’re there, be open to sharing a table with others. You may just find yourself sharing a glass of wine and a laugh with your favorite author, dream editor, or number one fan.
  4. The Dealer’s Room. As a book lover, not much more should be said. However, at a local convention, you’re not just going to find books in a Dealer’s Room. There will be all kinds of other retailers there as well. It’s fun to see what’s going on in the fan world, and maybe pick up a few souvenirs—and books.
  5. The Dealer’s Room. Of course, this is also the place where your books will be sold. Frequent the room, sign books for the dealers (and your fans after your panels), and be friendly with the book dealers. If you’re self-published and thinking of getting a table of your own, remember that not everyone is your ideal reader; you’d rather they buy your book because they’re interested, not because they’re guilted into it. So be friendly, have someone to help you run your table, consider tag-teaming with another author or two, and enjoy meeting new people. They’ll buy your book because they like you, not your sales pitch.

One final note, as someone who has planned literary programming: often it’s only as good as its panelists and attendees, so if you find that your local convention hasn’t had great programming in the past, then get yourself and your fellow writer friends on the panels and in the audience. Contact the programming committee with your ideas for panels and what would help you get the most out of your weekend. And don’t forget to visit the convention suites (also known as the themed party rooms)!

Most of all, enjoy your local fan community. It will soon become an annual must-attend event.

sherry1Guest Writer Bio: Sherry Peters lives in Winnipeg, where she works as a Life Coach for students at St John’s College at the University of Manitoba, and spends her evenings and weekends writing. Sherry is a trained Life Coach specializing in the areas of goal setting and eliminating writer’s block. She attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop and earned her M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She credits the year she spent in Northern Ireland as not only being one of the best years of her life, but for being a daily inspiration and motivation in her writing. For more information on Sherry, her coaching, her book Silencing Your Inner Saboteur, and when she’ll be presenting her workshops, visit her website.