Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write Well Wednesday: Spicing it up with Con Attendance

This post is a little bit of a shorty because I've got about a half hour and have no time to post for the rest of the week.  Why?  Because I'm going to Boskone 2012 and, following that, I'll be presenting an award at the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival.

If you haven't guessed it yet, I'm big into science fiction and fantasy, so the majority of cons that I attend are SF?F based.  But, I do go to other genre based cons like ComicCon, FaerieCon, and Steampunk World's Fair.  One thing I wanted to bring to light for my fellow authors, readers, and fans is the sheer brilliance of a con -- no matter the type of con.  The number of interesting panels at these conventions never fails to amaze me, neither do the people who speak on them.  There are perks for everyone:

For writers:  Most writers forget about cons.  They're too caught up in going to writing workshops or events where they can pitch to agents.  Those who know about cons tend to think more about the promotional opportunities.  Yes, there are plenty of those.  If you're lucky enough to be a guest author, you'll get the chance to do readings, have signings, and flaunt your brilliance on panels.  This is also a fun, low stress way to interact with fans.  However, just going as an attendee can be very rewarding as well.  Each panel (if run well) can be as informative as a short class or seminar.  You can get all sorts of juice on world and character building, plotting, and navigating the industry.  If you're into Steampunk especially, most cons will be thematically geared toward this new and upcoming genre, with lots of panels on Victorian society, fashion, and science.  A lot of authors don't realize how accessible other authors are at these cons.  You can walk right up to your favorite author and talk to them...You might even get to go to lunch with them.  It's an excellent way to make contacts and get advise.

For readers/fans:  You can get a lot out of panels as well.  A lot of you may not realize just how many genres fall under SF/F.  Depending on the convention, there is a strong possibility that erotic, paranormal romance, horror, mystery and urban fantasy will be covered quite heavily.  Also, don't forget about YA.  Take a look at what's currently lining the YA shelves in Barnes and Noble.  What's that?  Oh yeah, it's fantasy and science fiction.  Yes, dystopians and paranormal romance ARE part of SF/F.  And if you don't think the SF/F peeps haven't noticed, you're nuts.  They look over the bookshelves, see the children flocking and rub their hands together.  "Minions," they think.  "The glorious SF/F readers of the future."  So yeah, they're talking about YA at these conventions too.  Inevitably, the panelists will bring up at least five books you've never heard of and they'll tell you why the books are awesome.  It's like reading a Goodreads review, only you can get to know the reviewer throughout the panel and decide if you think they're nuts or brilliant.  You get a chance to geek out with your fellow genre-holics, meet authors, and buy a ton of things you probably don't need in the merch room.  PLUS, there's usually a large emphasis on SF/F in the media, so if you've recently found yourself salivating for the latest episode of Grimm or Fringe, there's a place for you here too.

So, I hope you'll all consider attending a convention this year.  I can guarantee that (at least on the East Coast of the U.S.) there will be about three within driving distance of your house this year.  Hope to see you at one!

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