Below, you will find the conventions I have gone to and/or participated in. BayCon and Muse Online have become an annual tradition that I intend to maintain as long as it is possible while the others are ones that I have had the opportunity to participate in at least once and enjoyed (more to be added as I go).
BayCon is an annual Bay Area convention that I have been going to for more years than I can recall. I have participated in the associated writing workshop both as a writer and as a critiquer in the past, as well as being on panels since 2008. In 2009, I agreed to moderate panels for the first time, an experience made delightful by panelists who were interesting as well as being willing to share the stage and discussion. I’ve gotten good feedback from both panelists and audience members, a fact that makes me quite willing to moderate again. I spoke on three panels, one as moderator, in 2010, and have continued to be a panelist ever since.
Thanks to Rick Hipps, Tony Todaro, Deborah J. Ross, Juliette Wade, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Adrienne Gormley, and Valerie Frankel for making my live moderation debut a success, and to all the other panelists I’ve enjoyed presenting with as well as the people who came to hear what we had to say and contributed their own unique perspectives.
The Muse Online Writers Conference **On Hiatus Indefinitely**
Muse Online is the brainchild of Lea Schizas and Carolyn Howard Johnson. It provides a way for those who are unable to attend in-person conferences to experience the same chaos and influx of information along with the ability to meet interesting people who are also writers.
Beginning in 2009, The Muse Online Writers Conference also offers agent and editor pitches that are done through a chat server.
I first discovered the conference in its inaugural year when it was run as a yahoo listserv and a series of chats (it’s now a forum and chats). I learned a ton and experienced the same overwhelm of an in-person conference as I struggled to keep up with as many chats and listserv presentations as I could.
When one of the presenters, Sara Reinke, asked me to join her in offering a forum class the next year, my survival instinct failed and I said yes. We split the days of the week and my pieces were quite rough, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how much to ask of people. (One of the days I presented was later expanded into a 4-week workshop on Forward Motion.)
However, I’ve since improved significantly, and people have told me that they enjoy my workshops. I’ve also had repeat attendees the following year, something that says a lot considering how much is available. My favorite moments, and there have been several each conference, are when the light bulbs go off and attendees feels their writing muscles stretch into positions that weren’t possible before.
Muse Online is an annual conference that runs for one week in early October. Go check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Signups are available right after the convention.
For 2007, I taught a workshop with Sara Reinke on editing.
For 2008, I taught a workshop on effective description.
For 2009, I taught a workshop on non-verbal communication.
For 2010, I taught a workshop on effective description again.
For 2011, I taught a workshop on how to learn from our favorite authors.
For 2012, I taught a workshop on making the most of Office 2003-2010.
For 2013, I taught a series of writing technique workshops based on previous years and more.
I went to my first World Fantasy in 2009 in San Jose, California, and found it a wonderful experience worth repeating. This is a reader-focused convention, as shown by the conference tote full of books you receive when you register. The panels generally focus on editorial or authorial topics such as the state of certain tropes or where publishing is focused. There are readings and signings. Despite the name, there is some crossover with other speculative fiction genres. The key elements of this convention are its size (get your ticket early or there may not be space) and its focus on reading rather than the broader spectrum of most science fiction conventions. As a member, you are also eligible to vote on the World Fantasy Awards.
I’ve been to only one WorldCon so far (Renovation 2011), and hope to attend more in the coming years. From the stories I had heard about this convention, I expected to be overwhelmed. What I hadn’t realized was that BayCon is a perfect training ground for WorldCon, being one of the larger cons. WorldCon covers all the different sides of speculative fiction, writing, reading, movies, cartoons, even puppetry. Also, members, both full and supporting, get to vote on both the Campbell and the Hugo. Yes, it’s a big convention, but it’s like coming home. Interesting conversations happen in the hallways and the con suite. Panels on pretty much anything you can think of regarding speculative fiction occur at a rate of several every hour. There is a robust dealers room; a good art show; performances of music, puppetry, and theater; and both signings and readings, as well as all day gaming and parties in the evening. You’d be hard pressed not to find something worth going to or participating in practically at any given hour.
I only went to Confluence once, back in 2004, simply because it is a decent distance away. Given my druthers, I’d go back frequently. Unlike the other cons, this is a very cozy affair with the same events at other cons, but fewer per hour so you don’t feel as rushed or that you’re always missing something. The staff was very welcoming. I went because I’d won the Triangulation contest that year, which turned out to have many benefits since I enjoyed the experience of being part of a con program. Without the comfort of my participation at Confluence, I wouldn’t have offered to do the same at BayCon, or WorldCon for that matter. Confluence is a perfect place to get your feet wet, and relaxing for those new to con going, or just looking for a fun break with like-minded people.