Last weekend I attended Farpoint, a pop culture convention local to the Baltimore area, as a panelist and presenter on the writing and fandom tracks!
As I explained to a handful of authors that I met for the first time during the event, I don’t generally attend conventions for the primary purpose of selling books. That’s a perk, certainly, but mostly I go for social reasons. Along with seeing old friends and meeting new ones, essential to building the community necessary for such a solo profession, I’ve found that these events do so much to fill my mental health and creativity wells. This year, Farpoint accomplished all of those goals, and I look forward to coming back next year!
Since this event is fairly local to me, I commuted from home instead of staying at the hotel this year. I headed out right after work on Friday afternoon for an evening panel on finishing projects. Alas, since it was scheduled during the dinner hour, no one attended. However, I spent a lovely 30 minutes meeting and chatting with my fellow panelists (see above RE: why to attend conventions)!
Afterward, I perused the dealer room to see where my money would go this weekend, which also allowed me to greet and chat with plenty of other familiar faces. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang out for too long, since I had to head back home to “fire watch” for some good friends. (I don’t babysit — but I will lie on the couch and read after the kids are asleep!)
The other perk to local conventions is that since my mother lives nearby, they are a great opportunity for the self-proclaimed president of my fan club to see me in action! (She’s also a great personal assistant.) We arrived back at the hotel for my signing slot first thing in the morning, during which I had some lovely chats with people in line to meet the weekend’s special guest, Star Trek Discovery actor Wilson Cruz.
Though Farpoint is nominally a Star Trek convention, they celebrate multiple fandoms, and next I had a blast as a panelist for the discussion “How much Star Wars is too much Star Wars?” I think we figured out that there’s never enough Star Wars, as long as the Star Wars in question continues to be of the fairly excellent quality we’ve been treated to in the past few years. Ryan Permison was an excellent moderator, and I look forward to potentially being a future guest on his podcast.
After a quick lunch, it was time to put my “expert” hat on, for my popular alternate history storytelling presentation. The audience was lovely and everyone seemed in interested in participating. For this event, we created two scenarios: What if the stock market did not crash in America in 1929? (Result: World War 2 would probably still occur, with very different American participation, followed by a communist revolution in the United States.) And what if Earth’s gravity was greater? (Result: “Human” sentience evolves aquatically, with significantly different geographic spread and technological development.)
For my final event of the day, an author reading, I shared the beginning of a short story set in the world of my Steel Empires series. That’s when the texts started rolling in from the spouse and some friends about sushi, so it was time to head home!
I was solo again for the final day of the convention, though desperately in need of caffeine. No one attended my 10 AM author reading, but after doing this for so many years, I knew there was a pretty decent chance of that occurring. However, I sold a few books during my signing slot afterward! And though I don’t really do celebrity autographs or selfies, I also got the chance to tell Wilson Cruz how much I enjoy his work on Discovery and shake his hand! He’s as kind in person as you could imagine.
For my final panel of the convention, I discussed building identity in fiction, which is an integral part of both character and world creation. Our lovely moderator Zack Be led us down a super intellectual path, but I think fellow author Aaron Rosenberg and I managed to muddle through well enough with good contributions!
Before I headed home, I attended an excellent panel on LGBTQ Representation in Media, which definitely should have been held earlier on the schedule than the final slot of the weekend. Did I mention The Old Guard as one of my favorites when the panelists invited audience suggestions? What a silly question. Of course, I did.
The final haul: