Con Report: Confluence 2016

This weekend I attended my third Confluence convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a participant on programming. This is one of my favorite conventions, and I was delighted to be asked back for another year. I’m already looking forward to doing it all over again next July!

FRIDAY

Since I’m low on vacation days at my new job, I wasn’t able to leave Baltimore until after work on Friday. I usually take the scenic mountain route to Western Pennsylvania, but in the interest of time, I gritted my teeth and drove the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I find this to be one of the most soul-sucking roads in existence. I arrived safe, just in time to grab my convention badge and schedule, and met up with some friends for a late dinner (the inevitable SHU Writing Popular Fiction contingent that is at every con).

SATURDAY

I was up bright and early (by con standards) for my first event: the writer’s workshop. I and three other writing and editing professionals had the honor of critiquing seven submissions of fiction (either short stories or excerpts from longer pieces) last week, and that morning we presented our notes to the group. No one cried and no one looked like they wanted to kill me with their brains, so I hope everyone was able to take something away from our notes that will help them improve those particular pieces or their craft in general.

After time for a short snack, I was off to my next event, which was a panel on “How (Not) to Sabotage Your Writing.” I had a great conversation with the other panelists, who all brought different perspectives to the table, and we all shared some stories of what and what not to do as a writer. The audience asked great and critical questions, as well. Major takeaway point: Being a writer is a mixture of both actually writing and being able to sell yourself and your craft.

Then it was time to set up shop and try to convince people to buy books so I could sign them! Though this wasn’t my best-selling weekend ever, I was pleased with the number of books that I did badger convince people to buy. The best part was sharing a table with author and poet Timons Esaias, who was one of my mentors in graduate school! (Without him, Steel Victory would not exist.)

After a late lunch in which I got my pirogi fix (a must when I am in the area), it was time for my second panel on “Older Characters and Disability in Fiction” (recording to be posted when available). Despite some weird dissent from one audience member, everyone else was really interested in discussing both how to increase representation of these things in fiction and the best ways to represent them realistically.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying time with friends that I see too infrequently. We stayed up much too late, but the gin and tonic was worth it.

SUNDAY

My first event was doing a reading with fellow Dog Star Books author Albert Wendland. I was incredibly excited to hear the first scene of the current project he’s working on, the long-awaited prequel to The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes (one of my favorite books ever). Afterward, I read a fun except from Steel Magic that showcases Toria being a sassy badass.

Finally, I participated in the writer’s workshop follow-up, where I had an informal discussion about writing and publishing with my fellow critiquers and a few of our victims submitters.

After a final swing through the dealer’s room and a quick lunch with my friends, it was time to hit the road again. With a sunny afternoon and no time constraints ahead of me, I was able to take the scenic route home. Obviously, it poured twice along the way.

Thankfully, my house and cats are as I left them. I live a few miles away from the devastating flooding that hit Historic Ellicott City last night. I really appreciate everyone who reached out to me last night and today to check that I was safe.

And finally, the book haul:

Confluence 2016
BB-8 inspects my purchases.

Published by steelvictory

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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