Balticon 47. Wow. What a rush. I’ve got a lot to go over, and I’m not sure how I’m going to do it all. Suffice it to say I had more panels this year than EVAR before. 16 I was listed for. 15 that I actually made. I ended up having to skip the Never Have I Ever panel due to a pre-existing commitment elsewhere.
I then got tagged for the WordPress 101 panel that I had not only written up as an idea the year before, but been listed on this year’s online panel pdf, but then been taken off of for some unknown reason. It was Krazy.
People I met
I’ve been to Balticon every year since I met BrandG in 2008. Some years I get to meet people but don’t really interact. Suffice it to say, this was NOT one of those years.
Some of the highlights of this Balticon include getting married on Thursday [the day before Balticon 47 officially began]. Brand and I actually made the daily paper, which was a hoot! But because of the wedding, I got the incredible opportunity of hanging with AB Kovacs and Scott Sigler. Two of the awesomest and most kewl peeps a body can hope to ..you know..hang with. Ask Scott to tell you about getting milk for his coffee sometime. Also, the smoking Jacket.
I got to be on several panels with Pamela Gay as well. This was a new and interesting experience mostly because I’m pretty sure the panel IQ level tilted severely in her direction. I really enjoyed her insight on several topics including WordPress as, for some odd reason, I only ever think of her as an
astrologer astronomer. But she is actually a professor of computer science as well. Way cool! Though I think she had to reign me in a bit when I got carried away on the WordPress 101 panel.
Another oft seen but ne’er interacted with person was Starla Huchton. She is an avid author who moonlights as a graphic artist. That gave us something to actually discuss as I have often worked with folks needing graphic design insight and help. We were on a panel regarding the covers and layout of books and I think we both gained a mutual respect for each other. Mostly because we both actually knew what we were talking about. As opposed to..nevermind. Moving on.
P.C. Haring was there as well, which while not new, was interesting because he and I don’t interact much. But it’s always good to be able to help out with someone having a wordpress issue. And I’m happy to say that several of P.C.’s sites will be getting a hand up in the next few weeks due to several of our discussions.
Panels I Sat On
Friday was a fairly light day as I only had ”Meeting Other Podcasters” in the Derby Room. This panel ended up being more about the science of networking and progressing with a podcast than actually ‘meeting podcasters’. Which is not exactly how I interpreted the write up. Still I got to sit on this panel with Chris Snelgrove (who moderated), Katie Bryski, Doc Coleman, Nutty Nuchtchas, and Nobilis Reed. The panel was an indepth look at why you should network with other podcasters, and what you should steer clear of. I think the overall agreement was that this cannot be reduced or oversimplified. Much of the advice given is relevant based only upon your intent and goals.
After that, we were invited to do Bar Con with AB Kovacs and Sigler. We got to hang out with them for a while and met a great group of new peeps who were attendees and not participants.
Saturday was my biggest day for panels. I ended up streaking back and forth between Derby room and Chesapeake all day. I’m confidant that I burned off most of the calories gained from eating the Noodles & Company Rice Krispy Treat.
At 12 pm I jumped in on the “Blogging for Dummies” panel down in Chesapeake. Tim Dodge moderated this panel and we got several late add ons. Our main goal was to discuss what works, what doesn’t, and how to use a blog to drive traffic to your site, book, or podcast. Honestly this was a pretty laid back panel that ended up discussing what you needed on your blog. There was some advice handed out that I didn’t really agree with but que sera sera.
“Promoting your podcast” started at one p.m. in the Chesapeake room so I was able to stick around after Blogging and not have to make a break for it. Lucky me. The panel was moderated by Alicia Goranson, but she wasn’t able to make it until near the end so Scott Sigler [another panelist] ended up taking over as moderator for a while. Hugh O’Donnell, AB Kovacs, and I were the other panelists but only AB and I were there with Scott at the start. Hugh wasn’t able to show up right at the beginning, but joined us a bit later. Our topic: Where and how does an up and coming podcaster spread the word about their releases? Honestly, we went off the rails as the only ones there that did a significant amount of promotional work were AB and Sigler. And I was OK with that. The picture up top is from that panel.
So at the end of that panel I had to go streaking back down to Derby for the 2 pm “Writing Real Children”. Let’s be honest here. This panel pissed me off. Most of the people there had their ego out on display and it just erked me no end. But I rush in. Katie Bryski was the moderator, and she was very up front with the fact that she didn’t have kids. Collin Earl, Gail Z. Martin, T. J. Perkins, and I were the panelists. We were asked how can authors realistically portray children in their writing, whether in YA, or in adult works featuring young characters? Also, what are the pitfalls to watch out for when writing a child character?
Most of the panelists launched into great ideas on keeping with the rules of your story, don’t break character, try to be realistic if called for, etc. And then it started getting weird. The other panelists all started patting each other on the head as they discussed how kids don’t act like adults, can’t be written like scam artists [an idea that I had earlier espoused], etc. But the one that really sunk the nail in the coffin of this panel was when one of the panelists said that an author can’t make a child be able to say something along the lines of “Tom Cruise is a good actor. I think he portrayed that character very well.”
To be honest I was kind of aghast considering Elf Princess was sitting in the room at the front. Let her never hear that and take it to heart! My daughter is incredibly well-spoken when she decides to be. And anyone who has ever had time to seriously have a conversation with her knows this. She’s an under 10. So at what point did these mighty panelists decide that kids, who are in general terrific mimics and scammers, were too stupid to be able to pull off an adult level of conversation? Perhaps they’ve never bothered to actually talk to a truly geek kid. Maybe they’ve never bothered giving their own kids enough credit to raise them to speak properly. I was incredibly proud of myself for keeping my mouth shut. The rest of the panel was so full of their own wisdom that they literally couldn’t be bothered with the evidence sitting in front of their faces. It was pathetic.
With that great mindset, I went into the 4 pm “Make Your Book Shine!” panel. Happily, the panel was a much better one and I was able to kewl my jets. I moderated while A.L. Davroe, Starla Huchton, and Betsy A. Riley discussed basic information on interior formatting and layout of manuscripts and book cover design. We went on to cover when to DIY or hire someone, how to find the right people for the job, and how the panelists’ own covers were assembled the way they were. This panel was one of my favorites because I got to lead a really great discussion and cover a topic I really enjoy. Art.
At 5 pm I ended up sitting on the “Put Together the Total Package” panel in Chesapeake. I’d thought about possibly having Brand sub in for this one, but AB Kovaks had asked me to stick around for it. So I did. Boy was that a mistake. Starla Huchton, A. B. Kovacs, Jim Stratton, and I were on a panel moderated by Collin Earl. Our goal was to discuss how to make your book sell, including various self-publishing avenues and requirements, marketing strategies, and tools to promote your work. I guess no one told Jim that he wasn’t the star of the show.
AB and I just sat there and tried not to look at each other [A kept telling me to stop looking at her because she was trying not to snicker or laugh] as Jim went on to discuss why “The Facebook” was an ok social media tool. And I’m pretty sure Starla barely was able to look up from her hands. I know. I was watching. Jim Stratton has a way about him that just puts my teeth on edge. I can’t really nail it down. It might have been his QVC quality of self promotion, or maybe it was the completely erroneous list of things to do to self-promote. All in all, he had the total package for turning me off, forever, on his writing and his work. I guess, in that light, he had his brand down pat.
Let me put it this way. Collin Earl is a happy sort and an attorney. He’s kind of loud when he gets going, but in a friendly sort of way. He barely got a word in. That’s how loud and pushing and wrong Jim was.
As we quickly exited from that panel, which seemed to drone on forever, I tore off to the 7 pm “Business Cards and Beyond” down at Derby. Cynical Woman and Starla were on the panel with me. And honestly, I think I laughed the most at this panel. We just had a good time. We ended up deciding that Moo cards were pretty awesome, QR codes may or may not work, and that making people pay $1 for an extra business card with special art was a nifty way to go. Damn good time had by all.
Balticon was a rush around, and I think i could have slept for weeks. More to come.