Today was the last day of ICON 37, one of the few conventions that I've been going to. The other is WisCon. Conventions are complicated for me. I look forward to them since I learn so much, I get a chance to socialize, and generally meet up with friends. It is also a checkpoint on my goals for writing, so I usually come away feeling that I haven't accomplish anything at all. Remarkably, this time, that wasn't true. I feel pretty encouraged by what went on this year, despite missing one of the three days.

Panels

Panels are fun, depending on the panelists and the audience. It is always a mix but this year was mostly good, which is nice.

Martial Artists for Writers: A fun panel with Gabe Hamilton, Adam J. Whitlatch, and Jim C. Hines. They talked about Hollywood martial arts verses "reality". Much of it I heard with other panels over the years, but it was nice to talk about close verses far, weapons, and everything else.

New Author Bootcamp: This had Steven Erikson, John Jackson Miller, and Sarah Prineas. This panel, I didn't get much out of. There was some minor things, but mostly it was "find your own path" and "just keep swimming."

LGBT Motifs in Speculative Fiction: Doug Brenner, John Johnson, and Todd DeGraff. I find these panels pretty interesting. Much of it was trying to talk about the acceptance of gays in novels, but also the other aspects of QUILTBAG in writing. Remarkably, the audience had a lot of trouble with anything besides gay and lesbian, but it gave me some ideas for how my world and cultures would handle it.

… It's How You Use It: Steve Erikson, Jim C. Hines, and Lars Pearson. This panel talked about series verses stand-alone novels. It is interesting the discussions about stand-alone verses ten book series (Steve wrote a 10 book series) verses every other combination. I found this one interesting, because I do plan on having a series for BAM and FOTS.

Military Fiction: Glen Cook and Steve Erikson. I do like military fiction, mostly in fantasy and sci-fi. There is a certain mentality that I haven't been able to write. This panel was a lot of fun and gave me some ideas (for more stories of course) but also where to find some gaps that I'm missing.

Beyond Monogamy: Denny Lynch and Tom Webber. This was the first time they had this panel at ICON and there was a pretty good attendance (40+ people). I went because of the premise (if they allowed gays to marriage, poly would happen next). Many of the questions were legal discussions (our laws can handle two members in a marriage a lot better than multiples), but also how to handle such groupings legally. There were a couple outbursts and one lady talked up a lot (despite the fact everyone else was holding up their hands and waiting their turns). Overall, a pretty good panel about the legal ramifications of various poly relationships.

Games

I got a chance to play a number of card games too. I taught two teenagers how to play Dominion and also played one of the later expansions with some good friends from when I used to live in Iowa. I realize I don't enjoy the expansions, mainly because they went from simple rules on the cards to ones that require a lot of thinking or "yet another stack of cards". In many ways, Dominion is going the route of Killer Bunnies, so I'm going to pointedly avoid getting the expansions. We lost all joy for Killer Bunnies after the expansions because it was just too many rules layered on top of each other.

I did play a round of Elder Sign with a group of players who knew how to play. I had a lot of fun and this is a game that I need to pick up for the gaming night we have bi-monthly. The fact it is a cooperative game makes it even more enjoyable since I always prefer games were teams win over individuals.

Finally, I learned how to play Three Dragon Ante. I lost both rounds, but there is enough strategy in this game that I really got into it.

Social

Every time I go to conventions, I'm afraid I'm going to be an idiot. When I get nervous, I have a tendency to babble (also known "pay attention to me!"). I think this year, I managed to avoid it, but there were two really good reasons. One, two of the panels had someone doing the very thing, including interrupting everyone or interjecting themselves into everything. That reminded me that I had to work on that. I caught myself doing it once and stopped, but I think I managed to not make an ass of myself for once.

I did see Shannon Ryan having dinner with Jim C. Hines. I'm a fan of both of them. Though, I did get a brief impression that Jim was the master and Shannon was the apprentice, which was understandable given their outfits. I also thought it was awesome because I like both of them.

I got a chance to talk to Jim during the Benefactor's breakfast (I have to bribe my way to talk to my idols). We had just some fun, general discussion about a whole range of things from Russia, writing, the end of the world, Anton Strout and diabetes. I was squeeing inside most of the time. I like Jim, he's fun to talk to. And if you have a chance to read his Muppet story, don't hesitate to ask.

He also signed my book, which was just awesome too.

Writing

Normally, I come out of conventions depressed (happens a lot). But, in this case, I didn't. Part of it is my talking with Jim and Tyree Campbell, but mostly just because I felt like I'm almost there as a writer. Or, more importantly, I have a chance.

There is something about being encouraged and I feel pretty good.

2012-11-04