BayCon 2014 Recap- What a ride!

by Emerian Rich

bcBayCon is always my favorite (and frantic) time of year. This year to add a little excitement, I had a bone spur in my foot, making it hard to walk. Luckily, I was out of the wheel chair before con and by Sunday wasn’t limping as much so I don’t think anyone really knew. Injury/handicaps/me and BayCon seem to go together. Three years ago, I was moving, two years ago I had a torn rotator cuff, last year I was in stress-decor mode, and this year, the foot… so it’s all par for the course. I’m just hoping next year doesn’t bring any broken bones!

Saturday

10 a.m. Writer’s Workshop Panel

Three very talented newbie writers, who are the future of SciFi/Fantasy literature, bravely submitted their work and listened as we tore it apart and (hopefully) gave helpful suggestions for three hours. Having been one of the participants about five years ago, I know how hard it can be, but the experience also helped me become the writer I am today. It’s hard to share your work at first and gets a little easier each time you do it. And it’s worth getting your ego bashed around a bit. Gives you that tough skin you’ll need when your book goes live and haters give you 1 or 2 star ratings, pointing out every miniscule detail you missed or error-ed on.

2:00 p.m. Geeky Crochet with SallyRose

After Writer’s Workshop and lunch, I was ready to crash. I’d been up too late the night before and taking pain meds for my foot didn’t help. As I flung my worthless carcass across the bed, mumbling, bye to my hubby who was off to take in another panel most assuredly having to do with Cthulhu or swords, my eyes rested on Geeky Crocheting in the program book. I jumped up, only then remembering my injured foot, and hobbled to the DIY room like an old lady late for a yarn sale! The crochet handouts showed how to make a golden-snitch (Harry Potter) and that blue police box thingy that Dr. Who fans get so excited about. (Side note: I still don’t understand the fascination and probably never will since I haven’t been able to sit through one entire episode–old or new–of the series. Sorry Who-ians… just not my thing.) I stupidly left my crochet hooks at home. You see, I had this discussion with myself before we left home and it went like this… “Emz, you are only going to BayCon for two days, one night, in which time you will be paneling all day, socializing, connecting with friends old and new, trying to take in a few panels, visit the dealer room, art show… OH! And you already have a full novel to edit and writing with you. When are you going to have time to squeeze in  crocheting?” Answer? 2:00 p.m. Saturday! Luckily, there were some crochet hooks to go around and I spent about an hour crocheting a wristband. I know, not exactly on the geek menu, but I was helping a lovely new friend learn, so I tried to pick something easy.

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3:30 p.m. – Self-Publishing, Where does it fit in the literary food chain?

A wonderful panel led by Dario Ciriello. I’ve seen a real change in attitudes about self-publishing in the last few years. Instead of having to defend my choice to publish my first book myself, now it’s the new trend. Ursula Vernon brought a new kind of perspective as she spoke about art and children’s book publishing. Also on the panel were David Friedman and Kyle Aisteach who were new to me, but each had their parts to play in making the discussion inspiring.

Soapbox – Self-Publishing

While we’re on the subject of self-publishing, can I just voice my opinion on a trend we are seeing with authors right now? This has nothing to do with the panel and it’s not just one person either, it happens enough that I have become irritated and am now moving into the jaded mode. We (the DIY, self-pub, podcast authors) are being encroached upon by “traditionally published” authors claiming to be self-published.

Five years ago, self-publishing was a nasty, dirty, gutter of a term that these same dino-authors sneered out of the side of their self-righteous mouths to set themselves apart from us, as if they somehow had more right to breathe oxygen than we did. Five years ago, great debates were had on who was really an author and who deserved the title versus us scrappers who just pilfered the title. We were third class citizens, locked in the bowels of the Titanic while they enjoyed brandy’s and cigars above board. Thankfully we unlocked the gates with long hours of Kindle formatting and “paying our dues” to reach the lifeboats.

Today, these same dino-authors are drowning in the cold realization that lit contracts don’t mean much from a publishing house going under. The other publishing houses are like the ships too far to rescue the dinos and so they are frantically swimming for our lifeboats, calling themselves self-published so the readers will accept them as part of our new “get it now” world.

Now that I’m published traditionally as well as self-published, I suppose I am part of this new “hybrid” work force, but still, I resent them presenting themselves in such a way and expecting us to accept them with open arms. Where was the acceptance while we crawled our way up from the third-class? I cannot despise anyone for rolling with the times, and trying to market themselves to appeal to the new “hybrid” reader, but don’t expect us to treat you special just because you learned how to work the Kindle machine. Down here, you have to stand in line, just like the rest of us.

All right, off my soapbox.

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5:00 p.m. All Ages Storytime

After an interactive tale from M. Todd Gallowgas, a hilarious zombie story from Bob Brown, and a script reading from Taunya Gren, it was my turn. I thought it’d be fun to read my short, “The Monkey Queen” from the Phobias book, which talks about my real-life phobia of monkeys. It was the first time I’ve read a non-fiction piece aloud since my oral report on Adrienne Vittadini in college! Although the reading went well, it might have been a mistake because I have been freaking out about monkeys ever since. Somehow reading my fears aloud, made them all come back. Kay Tracy sewed up the readings quite nicely with a fun fable about a village being too greedy. It reminded me of the Christmas Everyday story I read as a child. Great readings by all and I think the audience really enjoyed them. I saw no yawning or drooling, which is always a good sign.

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9:30 p.m. Horror Addicts Panel

Laurel Anne Hill and J. Malcolm Stewart are two writers I love to panel with. Great authors and conversationalists. With Jason’s sense of humor and Laurel with her bat, we all settled down for a long winter’s nap… Wait, no, that’s another story. Pardon me. The Horror Addicts panel is always a fab time. All my like-minded peeps in one room talking about horror. What an awesome talk! The post about what’s hot and not according to those present can be found here: BayCon Horror Buzz. Exhausted from being up all night and day, I went to the hotel room and crashed without seeing my favorite thing… the Klingon Slave Auction. Blast!

Sunday

Sunday morning, I was much better rested. We took advantage of the hotel’s excellent breakfast buffet and because it was so packed, we had to share a table. The share worked out in our favor though, because we got to pair up with Wanda Kurtcu and Heidi Stauffer, two regulars at BayCon who I enjoy talking to very much! Thanks gals – I’d share a meal with you any time!

11:30 a.m. Do Back Cover Blurbs Work?

Moderated by Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who I’ve met before, it was a lively discussion about cover blurbs and what we’ve used in the past to lure readers in. The two ladies I didn’t know, Margaret McGaffey Fisk and S.L. Gray had a lot of good information too. Deirdre’s got me chomping at the bit to read her biography, coming out soon.

With a little time to kill, we were able to check out the vendor room where I met a very talented artist, Gabriel Moore-Topazio. I was excited to find his dark spin on art at BayCon when so much of the work displayed is more scifi/fantasy. I hope to bring you more news of his work through HorrorAddicts.net soon. I chatted with a few authors that I will hopefully be mentioning on HorrorAddicts.net, and with a few older author friends.

I took a break in the lobby, thinking I might get some work done, but there were so many people to talk to, my socialite trait wouldn’t let me concentrate. We met a nice young man and his father who were at the hotel for a gymnastics competition and were curious about the ribbons on our badges. I love it when the people who aren’t at BayCon become curious about it, just by seeing how much fun we have. I spoke with some of the people who helped out with the live reading last year for our Raven recording and then had a very delightful conversation with Patricia Watson, who I’d met previously at the San Mateo County Fair. Our fun socialization was cut short by my having to run off to my next panel.

3:30 p.m. Authors: Stop Blocking Your Potential

In Napa III, a room set apart from all the others, we found the room PACKED. I was happy to see a lot of  writers I knew fill the place along with some new ones I hadn’t yet met. My goth heart skipped when Wednesday Addams came in to sit on the front row. 🙂 I always love seeing gothy/horrory costumes at con!

The subject of the panel was of interest to the writer population of BayCon and I was the token chick, with Tony Todaro moderating and two other gentlemen I had not met before, Matt Mawell and Steven Paul Leiva, rounding out the pack. I always wonder with a panel of men authors, if I’ll get a word in edge-wise, but they did let me speak every so often.

I think my goal in a panel such as this is to give writers a pep-talk. To let them know they are not alone and that they can overcome their mental blocks with sharing, submitting, or even publishing their own work. I don’t think the panel touched on what I would say are the biggest ways new writers block their potential, but to read my thoughts on that, go to Sandy Saidak’s blog where I wrote Three Ways New Authors Sabotage Themselves and Baby Steps for New Authors.

To the writers I know were in the audience, Sarah, Angela, Patricia, and Ruth (if I missed anyone, I’m sorry, I could only see the first couple rows), keep writing girls and don’t get discouraged because of how hard it all seems. I know you are the future authors of the con. One day, I know I will be paneling with you!

5:00 p.m. Podcasting for 2015

The podcasters of BayCon had a great discussion with Mike Higashi (BayCon 2015’s Program Head) about what we’d like to see and what resources we’d like to have next year. Some exciting stuff was discussed and hopefully I can bring you news of this as the con gets closer.

As the day drew to a close, we travelled home, sad to be leaving the con. This was our shortest stay at BayCon, cut down to two days from our normal five, and leaving is always a shove back in to reality. The dream world of con life is suddenly snatched away and it leaves you wondering… Why can’t life always be as fun, informative, and action packed? Well, if we lived at con, we wouldn’t appreciate it as much, right? Until next time BayConers! Miss you already. 🙂

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