Have you seen this?
I believe all articles of clothing and accessories should have pockets. Well done, Ginoza Costuming!
I’m still drafting my report on BayCon, but realized that post was getting rather lengthy. Here I’m going to a breakdown of how I prepared for that convention, and what I would have done differently.
First, let me make a distinction between a convention and a conference. To my mind, a convention is a fan event, where you’re going to interact with people in and out of the industry for the purpose of fun, enjoyment and sharing. A conference is primarily a business and networking event, designed to help you move to the next stage of your career through information sessions, networking, and formal pitching events (or similar.)
That may not be a textbook definition, and there is certainly some overlap. I’ve made most of my professional connections at conventions. But that’s not our quibble today!
Here’s how to prepare for a convention — a fun, fan event — as a pro.
1. If you’re speaking on panels or giving a presentation
Make friends with the organizers. See what they’re expecting of you. Reach out to others who are speaking on the same panel as you, and get to know them. Read their work. It helps to know how the discussion will go, so that you can prepare relevant information.
2. Prepare relevant information
If you’re going to an instructional workshop, have your notes with you. Simplify and break them down into small chunks the audience can follow without getting lost — but don’t go overboard. Generally, you’re not lecturing. Find a balance between being informative and entertaining.
3. If you’re moderating a panel for others
Read their work. Check out their web sites. You should be able to give a brief introduction of each person — or better yet — be able to use their accomplishments as a starting point to introduce the topics of discussion. Prepare more questions than you need. One method of question-prep is to list out every question that comes to mind on the topic, and then erasing all the boring ones. Remember, you’re there to facilitate them; not hog the spotlight yourself.
4. Clothing and Costuming
This is something I’m still figuring out**, so I invite your comments and suggestions.
Generally speaking, if you’re going to be at a convention as a pro, you should dress the part. I’m a little put off by the idea of setting a glass wall between me and other people — fans, pros, or otherwise — but Kevin Andrew Murphy once said, “it’s not so much a glass wall as costuming as your authorial persona. Don’t wear anything on a panel that you wouldn’t want for your dust jacket photo. Dressy casual is good.”
Of course, dressy casual is relative.
I’ve had mixed responses as far as, say, a fairy costume. Some fans thought it was great, and made me more approachable — whereas other pros were less impressed, and saw it as a reason not to take me seriously. Consider who you’re dressing for. That said, the convention you go to might have costumed events such as a masquerade ball, or regency dance party. Dressing up at night for parties is generally acceptable.
FOOD: Hotel food is expensive. I usually pack my own, as though I were going camping.
RECORDING EQUIPMENT: I also pack extra notebooks to take notes on panels (even the ones I speak on, you never know what you’ll learn from the folks you’re sitting next to.) It’s also a good idea to take a camera or minirecorder if you want to recap your performance to see how you can improve. Always ask for permission to record, of course.
MISC: Band-aids, painkillers, allergy medicine, needle & thread, bathing suit, extra socks — prepare for it all.
CASH: Again, sort of a no-brainer. Between the dealer’s room, the parties, and meals, having cash in your pocket, rather than your whole bank account on a card, is a quick way to budget your weekend.
It’s always better to over-prepare and not need it, than to under-prepare and get caught with your pants down. Remember, whether you’re there to make friends or to sell your books, conventions should be FUN. All the prep you do should be to self-facilitate, and make the live experience as smooth as possible.
How do you do it? Did I miss anything important?
** With regard to costuming… this probably merits a post all its own. Wearing costumes is easily one of my favorite things about conventions, and the prospect of them being off-limits deeply saddens me. I dressed up as a yellow fairy for two reasons: I have a story coming out from Fey Publishing this June, and wanted to promote that. Also, I have a friend named Fritz, and I had to make a joke referencing Bakshi’s animated film, “Wizards.”
Here’s a quote to contradict Murphy’s, regarding my costumes specifically:
“I thought you did an excellent job with the two panels I attended. Your personal excitement and passion for the subjects made them much more accessible than they otherwise might have been. The entire panel on building your writing community was easily the best at the con. The chemistry of the panelists and the sensitivity that each of you all brought to the subject was model perfect. Frankly the “glass wall” can (in some cases) hinder the process. Of course we attend panels primarily to listen and learn, but we also go to engage and respond. The audience’s “yes” and “Ah’s” as well as the questions are what bring such panels to life.” – Andrew Roberts
I listened to the Guys & Dolls not too long ago, so that kind of music has been in my head even though it’s not my favorite genre. I’ve been dancing around the kitchen humming and writing this song in anticipation of tomorrow night’s dinner, which I don’t have to cook.
Some girl’s babies make them swoon and crawl
Wind ’em round their finger till they drop their drawers
And once they’re done
They’re on the run
Because they had their cake
But my baby, he just makes me steak.
Some girl’s babies buy them fancy things
Cars and clothes and sparkling little diamond rings
Until they see
That the love ain’t free
And they’re rudely shocked awake
But my baby, he just makes me steak.
Some girl’s babies have just one thing on their mind
A family name, some kittens, and the daily grind
But my boy and me
We let each other free
‘Cause a ring’d be a mistake
That’s why my baby, he just makes me steak.
I’m in the process of doing final edits on my fantasy novel before I ship it back to my agent. It’s been challenging, because I’m also working on the first draft of a steam-ish scifi story as well. I’ve been reading a lot about the trend, its love of fashion and deep appreciation for detailed custom-craftsmanship.
My research brought me to the door of my new friend, the dementedly talented Dmitri Arbacauskas — who has fascinating wares for both steampunk and horror lovers.
I ordered a hoodie from him, and it arrived today! It’s thinner than I expected, but really soft and super-warm. Probably much warmer than I’ll ever need, as it doesn’t snow here. Check out his store, Tormented Artifacts, to see if something strikes your fancy.
Once a week, I send out an invitation to my writing group that says when and where we’re meeting, as well as what to bring. Earplugs are sometimes a good idea; but as far as how to get our work done, there’s a lot of leeway.
Kurt Vonnegut didn’t think much of writing with crayons, but there’s probably a writer out there who can ONLY work in waxy Spring Green.
Can you write with anything on anything, or are you as consistent as James Bond and Captain Picard’s choice beverage?
“It’s called a pen. It’s like a printer, hooked straight to my brain.”
– Dale Dauten
“I don’t use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.”
– Jay Dratler
“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.”
– Gilbert K. Chesterton
You’ve got your pitch, you’ve got your manuscript. You’ve got the hustle and the flow. All that’s left is to seal the deal.
Joyce Carol Oates had the following to say regarding breaking into the publishing world.
“This is sound advice for beginners, but it’s not an invitation to be lazy: A good writer should always be curious, constantly looking around for new and more powerful people to sleep with. Set small goals for yourself at first. Agents can be valuable lays. Even fucking someone’s assistant can be worthwhile if he or she has an editor’s ear.”
Oh JCo… you so cray.
Take a grain of salt, get some rest — we’ll see you Thursday.
Many years ago, I had a disastrous falling-out with a friend. A week ago we reconnected and decided to let bygones be bygones. As though no time had passed, we fell into old patterns — one of which was the exchange of limericks. His are far better than mine, and he has given me permission to share a few with all of you.
An athletic young lady from Dallas
Used a dynamite stick as a phallus.
They found her vagina
In North Carolina
and her buttocks at Buckingham palace.
That old chicken farmer from Hay
Had chickens that just wouldn’t lay.
The problem was Brewster,
His champion rooster.
Brewster the rooster was gay.
Our most glorious king of An Tir
At the top of his lungs yelled, “more beer!”
We ran out of brew,
So we fed him some glue,
Now he can’t take a piss for a year.
There once was a Scot named McAmeter,
Whose tool had prodigious diameter.
But it wasn’t his size
That gave girls their surprise…
‘Twas his rhythm — iambic pentameter.