Yes, I finally attended my first convention. Hubby and I went to ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC, and I returned tired, inspired, and ready to dive back into revisions.
First off, this amazing experience began with a plane ride. What’s so great about that? Well, I think I may have been the last adult in the Western world who had not flown before. According to my husband, I grinned like a mad woman on take-off. (He said something about the adrenalin-junky pig from the Geico commercials – “weeeeeeeee we we weeeeeee!” – but I ignored him.) I know I was glued to the window, feeling like a kid on her first roller-coaster until we banked and turned and I remembered why I don’t like roller coasters anymore.
ConCarolinas is billed as a multi-media scifi/fantasy/horror convention and there were plenty of Klingons and Ghost Busters and even a Wonder Woman walking around. My husband amused himself by people watching and texting photos home to his friends.
The con also has an extensive writing track and that’s what I was there for. I attended several writing panels, which I’ll mention more in-depth in following posts. Suffice it to say, there was a nice overall slate of topics ranging from the first steps in a writing career to marketing yourself and your book. I came away from each panel with some new nugget of information.
The most important thing I gained from this con, however, was the crucial networking experience writers need to succeed in the publishing world.
I chose ConCarolinas for two reasons.
For my first-ever con experience, I needed something relatively small. I don’t know the exact numbers for this year, but the last few years, ConCarolinas has had a little over 1300 attendees. I felt this was the perfect size and didn’t once feel overwhelmed.
Second, this con appeared to be the “home” con of the folks from MagicalWords. I’ve followed this group blog for years and found the combination of down-to-earth, friendly individuals with a genuine wish to assist writers in the writing process to be irresistible. I felt a connection and wanted to meet these people in person and I was not disappointed.
Faith Hunter, David Coe/D.B. Jackson, Misty Massey, A. J. Hartley, Kalayna Price, and Carrie Ryan, as well as former contributors Edmund Schubert and Stuart Jaffe, were all part of several writing panels. I was also able to speak to most of them one-on-one later and they graciously answered my questions. (When I was able to open my mouth, that is. My natural shyness reared its ugly head, I’m afraid.)
What was fun was getting to meet other people who, like me, regularly comment on the site and was able to put faces to familiar names. It felt like a community of writers and I was honored to be a small part of it.
In addition, I met other writers whose books I’ve read, like Gail Martin. Some writers like John Hartness, Rachel Aaron, and James Tuck, I’ve heard of or followed their blogs or followed them on Twitter, but haven’t had a chance to read their books. Other writers like Janine Spendlove, James Maxey, and David Drake were completely new to me.
I brought home a stack of autographed books and plan to buy more from all these fantastic writers.
One last thing. After the con, my husband and I went uptown for dinner and a change of scenery and were very impressed by the city of Charlotte. It is a very clean, very green city with lovely, friendly people and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Have you attended a writers’ and/or speculative fiction convention? What did you like best or least about it? How do you think it helped your writing?