2015 Baycon Recap
by Emerian Rich
A lot of you have been clamoring for a BayCon recap and so here goes…
As I’ve said many times before, BayCon is my home con. It’s where I started and where I first had an early glimpse of the Hall Costumes, or what now has been come to be called cosplay. Seeing real live Klingons as a young goth was quite an experience, and since I wasn’t really exposed to the Comic/Anime lifestyle before, a first for me. That first con I will remember always. My hubby and I were only dating then and getting a long-haired, goth-metal dude to dance in Renaissance style, let me tell you it was a feat never to be attempted outside of fandom walls. But the magic of BayCon causes you to do things you never thought you’d ever do like Belly dance (I miss you Mary Nancy Cordero!), see live sword fights with real weapons, and meet some of our writing heroes. So from that first glimpse of a Klingon, to attending as an aspiring writer, to being on staff, to now paneling as an author, publisher, and horror host, I feel like I’ve run the full gambit and I’d really like to see this con survive the downfall that so many of our fan-run cons have succumbed to.
This year at BayCon was different from a lot of other years. It felt like attendance was down (I don’t have the official numbers, so I may be wrong on this), we were missing a few of our key elements, and because the main guests were all women, I think we might have (unfortunately) lost some of the attendees. I thought the Women of Wonder was a great idea, but with only women headliners, I’ve heard from some male attendees, they felt the programming was swayed too feminine. I have to say, you guys might have felt that way, but for years the speculative fiction genre cons have been dominated by males and male-friendly programming, so suck it up for one year, will ya!? There is also the controversy over so many cons being held in the same area on the same weekend. I don’t know why BayCon should have to change their dates—we’ve had Memorial Day since ever—but if they do, I hope I can still attend.
Despite all the drama around attendance, there were still lots of people there and I had a great time. That being said, I really hope this con rallies and continues to provide an outlet that so much of us living amongst the NORMS in our daily lives need.
So what was so fun? Well, it all started for me and my husband when we arrived Thursday afternoon. I love arriving at the hotel early. Not only do you not have the crowds of check-in, it also affords me a relaxing launch into con life. This is the time to switch from 24-7 solitary writer mom life to social butterfly fun time. I was excited to have dinner with a couple of friends I never get to see in person because they live so far away. I was able to organize the massive amounts of swag and books I’d brought for the Horror Addicts Guide to Life release party happening the next day, and…I got to watch cable TV for once. Although watching TV, I remembered why we decabled long ago after a few commercial breaks when my hubby and I had turned to our phones for entertainment during the commercial breaks and forgot to look up when the commercials were over.
Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Officially World Goth Day, I was reminded of my freedom to express myself by setting up our HorrorAddicts.net fan table. This is where I spent a good portion of the day meeting new people, joking with the other fantable sitters, and promoting the fact that we were giving out tons of swag that night at the release panel. This was also a big year for one of my close friends, Heather Roulo, whose first zombie novel released…Plague Master. So proud!
Meet the Guests
Although I was spending most of this time rallying the troops and drumming up excitement about the Horror Addicts Guide to Life release party later that evening, I was able to sit for a few minutes to hear about our guests. Was really exciting to see them all. During the con, I was especially impressed with the comments Amber Benson made at several of the panels I was able to attend. She is really so much more than just “that chick who played Tara on Buffy” and I enjoyed seeing her in the writer capacity.
HorrorAddicts.net BOF & Horror Addicts Guide to Life release party
What can I say, this is always my favorite panel of the weekend. To be with my peeps and discuss horror, what better way to pass a couple hours? This year we had so many more panelists to enjoy the fun! We also had a great turn out and gave away lots of swag. We even got a serenade by Dr. Horrible! Thank you to all the authors who came. Through the wonders of Sumiko’s video camera and a VERY helpful addict (thanks Chad!), you can watch a clip of the first part on YouTube.
Also at the HAGL Party, I was awarded a Mixy Award from Steve Mix. At the time, I had no idea what it was or why I was getting it, but I was excited to receive it. It has since been revealed that Steve is awarding these to “people who are wonderful” and also to “celebrate the use of imagination”, which is the part I truly love. It’s about time someone awarded me for asking those “what if” questions. Hhehee. Thank you Steve!
Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
Saturday started off with some scholarly pursuits. The annual BayCon Writer’s Workshop is something that I enjoy participating in. I submitted a story in 2008 (?), before anything of mine was published, and now I always feel it’s my duty to pay back to the program by mentoring other aspiring authors. As a plus, in these meetings, I always learn something myself. For how are you to learn more about your own skill and improve it, if you aren’t willing to look into others work, see the faults and realize you do them as well? Crit-ing is truly something every author should do on someone else’s work. We’re all still learning and we should all be in service to our fellow authors in some way or another. I joined Sandra Saidak and Arianne “Tex” Thompson as one of the pros. We had two lovely manuscripts to talk about and two talented young authors to help out. It’s interesting to me what the writers take away from the experience. It is not the most comfortable situation to be in…it might even feel like an attack, but we are all there to help. With completely different stories and strengths, I hope these two get their books ready and published! I’d love to see them on the shelves someday.
I took advantage of a little free time on Saturday to visit the vendor room, which I always love. While there, I spoke with several authors, saw some friends, and met the Winner Twins. These two young authors are so cute. Full of energy and eager to share their stories, I see them going far!
World Goth Day Panel
Although a day late, we celebrated what it is to be Goth in the World Goth Day panel. It felt a little strange to be having a panel on “being a Goth” since Goths generally scoff at the title and for many years I would have flipped someone off for calling me one. After the initial introduction though, we all kind of settled in and just chatted about the funny misconceptions many people have and the weird experiences we’ve found ourselves in. We touched lightly on the misconception that goths are all out to kill and convert. What a funny concept. The lackadaisical aspect of our personalities really make organized killing a drama we’d rather not have to endure and as for converting, we’d rather not have you dressing like us thank you. It was great getting to hang with the very few dark souls haunting the halls of this very SciFi/Fantasy con.
Sunday, May 24th, 2015
Signing in the Dealer Room
Man…note to self: Sunday morning, not the best day to do a signing at con. Very little traffic in the dealer room early and the people who did walk through seemed half-asleep. I did, however have the chance to meet some people and chat with a few old friends.
Yes, I taught a mini-crochet class. No, there are no pics. Why? We were busy crocheting, damnit! This was probably the funest panel I was on. To get to hang out with other crocheters who are experienced enough to understand crocheting with thin thread and microscopic hooks was really fun. We had a good turn out and I loved seeing what these creative ladies did with my initial design…how they changed it to their will and made something they could call their own. Thank you ladies! I’d love to do it again. Maybe at Convolution!
Theme Reading – Pop Culture in SF/F/H
This reading panel surprisingly only had two panelists, and we were both speaking from the horror genre. Sumiko and I read quickly from our planned readings and then had more time to read more. I read SoulTaker 2.0, which is a piece of flash centered around a computer game programmer on Halloween. For my second read, I pulled out my phone and read from Anime Girl 2 on my Kindle app. This was the first time I ever read from one of my romance books and it just proved to me, I need to do it more!
Marketing and Branding for Writers
This was the last panel of con for me and was very well attended. I loved seeing all those writers’ faces…old and new…thirsty for help in this matter. It’s changed quite a bit from when I started doing cons. At that time, there were very few self-pub authors and no one ever talked about marketing your own books. It was something the publishing houses were supposed to do and social media had not blown up like today, so there was really no outlet for authors to do it themselves. I had a great time chatting with the crowd and listening as the other ladies on the panel shared their knowledge with us.
Sunday night, after much of the hub-bub was over and we went to our room, I crashed. Exhaustion had finally set in.
Overall, I had a great time at BayCon. Thank you Sally, Kathleen and all the staff that worked hard to make it wonderful!
I know BayCon has their issues as all con organizations have had, but I have faith in the fans not letting this one die. Hope to see you all there next year. 🙂