Since Balticon is my “local” convention, I was thrilled to finally be invited to participate as a panelist this year. I hadn’t been back since 2006, but the convention was just as great as I remembered, filled with fantastic panels, extraordinarily nice people, and amazing hall costumes.
Since I work in a nearby part of Baltimore, I headed over to the hotel after work. Checking in to the con was very easy, and I wandered the dealers room(s) for a bit, catching up with friends.
Later in the evening, I moderated a panel on world building in SF/F. Everyone on the panel was lovely, and the audience asked great questions. Main takeaway: Research, research, research (but be careful of whacking your readers over the head with it).
Afterward, I met one of my best friends for dinner and we had a lovely time catching up before I headed home.
A surprise special guest, for one day only! My husband was willing to join me for of the con, and I hope he enjoyed himself. He was kind enough not to mock me too much when I insisted on bidding on my very first art show piece! Even though prints were also available, I fell in love with the watercolor and knew that I needed the original in my life.
Saturday morning, I participated in a panel with three other female authors on writing female characters and female representation in literature. I was thankful that I was not moderating, and that the moderator was both patient and assertive, because the audience was very participatory. To the point of flat-out arguing with the panelists and jumping down our throats because we were not intimately familiar with the breadth of comics canon and Egyptian mythology. Pro-tip: Feel free to correct panelists, but it never hurts to do so politely. We’re volunteering to be up there because we feel like we have some measure of expertise on the subject, but no one can know absolutely everything.
After lunch, we enjoyed a panel on current television shows, though I think we expected a conversation about Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, etc., rather than a round-robin of the panelists just talking about their current favorites. I’m not sure whether it’s a good or bad thing that out of the approximately 15 television shows discussed, I’ve watched at least a dozen. I might have a problem!
I signed books for a bit in the afternoon, though I wish the autograph table had been in a more high-traffic area. My very introverted husband was getting a bit peopled-out by that point, so we headed home for a quiet night of pizza and watching The Fifth Element. I hadn’t seen the film since high school, and I was surprised to find that I minded it much less this time around.
After brunch with some good friends, I headed back to the hotel. Even though I had no events until the evening, I had a great time wandering the con and chatting with random people, which is generally one of my favorite parts of any con. I admired someone’s artwork in progress, I helped brainstorm panel topics for someone moderating a panel in 10 minutes, and fangirled over Keith R. A. DeCandido (I may have asked him to sign his Supernatural media tie-in novels to Sam).
I won the watercolor in the art show! (No one else bid on it.) I’m so happy to hang it in my office with my other gryphon.
My panel that evening was on genre blending, and we had a great conversation about how genre means different things depending on whether you’re an author, reader, or publisher, and how that affects different aspects of storytelling and publishing. Main takeaway: Write the book you want to write, regardless of how neatly it fits into a genre or based on what is “currently” selling. The moderator, Scott Roche, recorded the panel, and it will appear on his Patreon page soon.
I had dinner afterward with some great writing friends, where we talked writing, politics, and family, and generally caught up on life.
This is a looooooong convention, since it’s held on a holiday weekend. I was back bright and early Monday morning with another local friend, who’d never been to Balticon before. She patiently sat in the audience as I participated in three events back to back.
I signed up for an extra panel on a whim the evening before, called Imaginary Book Club. I was under the impression that it was a comedic presentation, where the panelists “reviewed” books that didn’t exist based on title suggestions from the audience. Imagine my surprise when one of the panelists immediately launched into an intellectual discussion about actual books that don’t exist (e.g., the Necronomicon). I felt way out of my depth and figured I’d been completely wrong about the panel, but tried to roll with it. Luckily, we got back on track, and I had a blast brushing off my improv skills in the world of literary criticism. (The intellectual panelist was not thrilled with this turn of events and sulked for the rest of the hour.)
Next up, I moderated a panel on writing groups. We had a great discussion about different types of writing groups and how they can help writers at different levels. Main takeaway: Know what you want out of the group and don’t be afraid to leave if you’re not getting it.
Finally, I read a short selection from Steel Magic. After a final loop around the dealers room to see whether I needed anymore fun stuff, it was time to head home.
And by home, I mean stopping at Staples to print out a full copy of book 4, so that I can do a final proofread this week before submitting it to my editor. No rest for me!
The final haul:
- Original “Siamese Owlcat” watercolor by Patricia McCracken
- Genrenauts: The Complete Season One Collection by Michael R. Underwood
- Supernatural media tie-in novels by Keith R. A. DeCandido
- TARDIS/Van Gogh patterned small bag, which now holds my postcards and stickers for conventions and events
- TARDIS catnip cat toy! (We actually bought two of them, but the cats made one completely disappear by Saturday evening.)
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