I had another fantastic weekend at my “local” convention, Balticon, over Memorial Day weekend! This convention was my first time manning a table in the dealer room for the entire event, which was both exhausting and fun, and definitely offered a different perspective on the convention experience. Luckily, I had friend and author Cara McKinnon to help me out, and we had an awesome girl’s weekend since the spouse took off for Florida to help some of his friends with an upcoming YouTube project.
When Cara arrived at my house shortly after noon, we loaded up her car with all of the gear to run a table for my publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press for the dealer room.
That day was all dealer room, since I had nothing on my schedule. Afterward, Cara and I did the unthinkable and LEFT THE CONVENTION. We had a great evening singing karaoke with friends elsewhere in Baltimore, even if it meant staying up way too late on night 1 of a con weekend.
Back to the dealer room, coffee in hand, the next morning. This was my marathon day, as we were at work at 10 AM, but I had three panels that evening starting at 4 PM.
We had a great day chatting with passers-by and talking about books, and luckily, our spot in the dealer room put us within easy talking distance of other friends with tables. With the power of a salted caramel milkshake from Shake Shake to sustain me, I headed off for my first panel.
We had a fabulous time discussing where the Marvel Cinematic Universe might go after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Massive bonus points to the Balticon programming committee for putting together this panel with ZERO straight white dudes.
Next, I moderated a panel on genre blending, and to wrap up the evening, I participated in a panel on self-editing a manuscript’s first draft. I’ve participated in panels on both topics multiple times before, but I love how a different mixture of panelists always results in completely different conversations, with new things to glean.
Leaving the convention that evening was a bit harrowing. A fracas involving a bunch of dumb kids and the BCPD was happening outside the hotel. Some of the kids blocked us on the street outside the hotel, and one jumped on the hood of my car. It was straight-up kids being idiots and doing stupid stuff because they could, not out of a sense of maliciousness. (Luckily, spouse banged out the dent in the hood of my old Honda Civic. But if I’d been driving the Tesla…someone would have ended the evening in handcuffs, and it probably would have been me.) We made it home safely without further incident.
Oh, Baltimore. I love my adopted city, but you are occasionally cray-cray.
I moderated another panel first thing Sunday morning, on the transition from writing fanfic to original, “pro” fiction. Since I was nominally in charge, I made it clear right away that this was a space where no bashing of fanfic would occur. My favorite moment of the panel was when we helped an audience member brainstorm ways to keep her family off her back about writing fanfic when she could be writing “real” (i.e., paying) fiction. I love being a writer, but I hate the modern “hustle” mentality that everything you do should result in some sort of monetary benefit.
Cara and I spent the rest of the day hanging out in the dealer room with quick breaks to warm up in the atrium and do some shopping of our own. That evening, we ate dinner outside at my favorite pizza place, where we introverted HARD after a day of people-people-people.
But Balticon was not over! A four-day convention is hard, but luckily this was a short day. I had a reading slot that afternoon, where I shared a short excerpt from Steel Time. Then it was time to pack up and head home.
I sold some books, I caught up with friends, and I bought some cool stuff. Overall, a successful convention weekend. Let’s do it all again next year.
My next scheduled event is In Your Write Mind, in Greensburg PA from June 27-30.
The final haul: