WisCon Retrospective

Two weeks ago, I went to Madison, WI to attend WisCon. For those who don't know about it, it is a feminist sci-fi convention which I've been doing to for about five years now.

I love the panels and community there, they show a world that I'm cannot join myself. I like seeing other stories, other people, other views that are so different from mine but also inspire me. This is a panel convention, almost all the events are panels as opposed to activities. That also means that there isn't much to do for the boys or my spouse.

Relationships and Friendship

While I go to Madison with my wife and the boys, I don't go with anyone to the convention. This puts me an interesting place where I don't have friends to hang around at the convention. I'm not really great at finding a group of “friends” there, so I end up spending most of the weekend alone between panels.

I did recognized two others there and had brief conversations, but that was about it.

This is probably the most frustrating thing about this convention. I can't really talk to anyone about what I'm listening to or reading. I just get hints and pieces of it despite doing panels. Some years, this makes me feel rather depressed but this year wasn't too bad. I think the reason was that someone was interested in what I said during a panel.

My other convention, ICON, is a different story. I have a lot more relationships with people who go there. Yeah, I spend hours just meandering about as they go to their own panel, but there is a chance that I will stumble on one of them and hang around for a little bit.

Art of Book Reviewers (Friday 14:30)

The first panel I went to was the Art of Book Reviewers. I like this panel because they talked about the difference of a book review and a critique. Reviews are teasers, critiques are spoilers. In many aspects, I write a bit of both but I think it gave me a framework for having the review part in the beginning and a critique at the end, which will make it easier to separate the two.

I don't review very often, but there were some good advice about the difference between the two. Not to mention adjusting reviews for the target audience.

Monsters and Mirrors (Saturday 10:00)

My first panel, a reading. I read the second chapter of Flight of the Scions. There was some rough points, but it is a fifth draft so that was okay.

LaShawn M. Wanak, who I met earlier checking in, had a fantatsic story about wood-like spores in the shape of people. Exterminators use singing and music to break them down. There is a lot in that story. It had a nice noir feel to it and had a lot of promise. I can't wait to read more.

Gwynne Garfinkle read a number of poems, almost all of them to older horror monsters. I really love the one about loving the Blob and one about Bride of Frankenstein. She has a nice voice to her poems.

Alex Bledsoe read a chapter from one of his book series. It was quirky and music-based which really fit the theme for everyone but me. Characters down on their luck always attraction my attention and his story fit that bill nicely.

Bi-Invisiblity (Saturday 14:30)

I was late showing up and there was only standing room left. I wanted to go to it, but too many people were interested in the same topic. So I went to…

Fat Characters in SF&F (Saturday 14:30)

A very informative panel about fat characters in fiction. I saw different ways of seeing fat, both from labeling (skinny fat verses fat fat) and also how they are presented problems. There was a lot of talk about fan villains, only being fat to present a problem, and talking about how many fictions don't include fat characters as protagonists.

Writing & Tabletop RPG (Saturday 16:00)

My second panel. I got to talk about writing and role-playing games, how they fit together and how they don't work. A lot of discussion that I got into was about authors having “one voice” verses RPG where a player will come up with something the author/gamemaster didn't think about it.

I got to talk about how I come up with three events in most NPCs that determine their life and built up as a series of experiences. There were other tricks for creating NPCs.

I got a few laughs, that was good.

Writing Tools (Sunday 08:30)

This ended up being my favorite panel. We talked about pens and paper, fancy gadgets that I will never use, and writing processes. I talked a bit about using Git and Markdown, which actually got some people excited (and someone actually wanted me to show it after the panel! *squee*).

This was recorded as a podcast by K. Tempest Bradford, so I'll post a link when it gets posted. I like her insights into WisCon in general, but also the process she uses for writing (and pen lover), though I probably won't deviate from my own.

I'm thinking about writing up writing using Git and Markdown again, mainly to reflect the changes since my last one.

Family Visit

I didn't do anything else on Sunday because I went to see my grandma, aunt, my aunt's husband, and my cousin. We went to McDonalds where the boys had a grand time and I got to talk. It was a relatively positive visit but it is always good too see family.

SignOut (Monday 11:30)

While the rest of the family headed back to Iowa, I finished up with SignOut. Overall, that was probably the lowest point of the convention. No one asked for a signature. I had one person scoff at the cover and another compliment it. Mostly, I chatted with my table mate, Catherine Schaff-Stump who I shared a table last year. We chatted about writing.

Someone I knew from ICON came by. We chatted for a bit and she pointed out why she didn't like the back of Sand and Blood which eventually led me into hiring someone to write a new blurb for the first three books.

In the end

In the end, it was a positive convention. Yeah, it ended on a low note and I felt out of place most of the time, but I still enjoyed myself. I got an idea for a couple of stories in the process, I'll add them to my list and see if they ever happen.