RavenCon 2013

by Doc Coleman on April 10, 2013 · 2 comments

in Asides

Well, it has been a long and tiring week. A big part of the week was a trip to Richmond, Va for RavenCon. This was our first time going to RavenCon, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Considering my previous sci-fi convention experience was Balticon, I found RavenCon to be considerably smaller. This did have some advantages, and a few disadvantages. 

This was our first overnight trip since my wife had her knee replacement, too. So there was some concern over how we would manage everything. To be honest, I was concerned that we might be spending a lot of time in the hotel room because her pain was too great to let her deal with being around people. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Her pain management doctor changed her medication earlier in the week, and it finally got her pain under control. Which is not to say that she was entirely pain-free. No, she still had pain and limits to her activity, but it was no longer the relentless drain on her resources.

This was also the first time I’d been to a con with a dealer badge, working for Randolph’s Scriptorium Tools. I’ve been to Balticon as a regular attendee, and as a guest, but never as a dealer. Attending a con as a dealer is a very different experience. Your first priority is making sure that the table is attended while the dealer room is open. This meant giving up meals, missing panels I really wanted to attend, and even having to walk out in the middle of a panel because no one else was available to cover and the person on the booth had to leave.

I regret some of the panels that I missed. We were late getting on the road on Friday, and were bogged down in traffic all the way down to Richmond, so we missed  the first few panels of the con. One in particular that I regret missing was entitled Steam Powered: Rage of the New Victorians. If that name sounds familiar, it is because that is the exact same name as a panel I participated in at Balticon 46. In fact, the audio from that is the second episode in the Balticon 46 Wrap up. I really wanted to see what someone else would do with the same panel.

I also missed the History of Podcasting panel. As a podcaster, I wanted to hear what the panel considered to be the important milestones in the evolution of the media from its home-grown beginnings to the current day. I’ve heard some things about how podcasting supposedly got started, I would have loved to hear some more details about the early days.

Finally, there were two panels I missed on Sunday: Balancing your Writing with the rest of your Life, and The Science of Steampunk. The first is naturally of great interest, seeing how I’ve tried to better balance my writing with the other things in life. There never seem to be enough time. All to often that means there’s never enough sleep. Of course, as a fellow steampunk author, a discussion of the science behind steampunk would be of great interest to me. Especially considering some of the steampunk stories where the laws of physics take rather a beating.

I did still have the opportunity to attend some interesting panels, though.

There was the very interesting two part panel on Alternative Lifestyles and how they tend to overlap with fandom. Oddly enough, while the readers are likely to dabble in some form of alternative lifestyle, they’re usually not very well represented in the media, be it television or writing. Some elements of alternative lifestyles are getting more exposure in fiction, but often seem to be included to shock or titillate the audience.

I also had my first exposure to The Eye of Argon. For those of you, like myself, who were previously unaware of The Eye of Argon, it is quite possibly the worst story every written. It is rife with spelling and grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors. Written in 1970 by then sixteen year-old Jim Theis, The Eye of Argon actually managed to get published by the Ozark SF Society in their journal, The OSFAN. In the grand tradition of really, really horrible movies, it has now become a cult classic and a parlor game. Panelists, and eventually audience members, attempt to read from the Eye without a mistake. Note that in this case a mistake is defined as stumbling over a misspelled word, accidentally correcting the grammar, or cracking up laughing. Most readers didn’t make it very far. We didn’t even get as far as Chapter 3 1/2. Yes, this story has a Chapter 3 1/2. Dont’ ask me why.

I got to sit in on a panel called Doctor Who and the March of Time, talking about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and getting everyone speculating on what we’re likely to see in the upcoming 50th Anniversary special. The panel was moderated by Billy Flynn of the Geek Radio Daily podcast, “Two words: Susan Foreman.”, and roamed all over the continuity of the new and old series.

Then there was the Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta presentation on Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me. This mostly dealt with how to be professional as an aspiring author, and how to NOT burn your bridges before you’ve crossed them. Or even after. There wasn’t a lot of a chance for questions in this presentation, as it was a two-hour workshop compressed into a 50 minute presentation. There was an overall “Fake it until you make it” quality to the talk. To become a professional, you have to act like a professional. And do the work to prove you do professional quality work.

One of the highlights of the weekend was sitting in on the live recording of GRD SWeekly with Billy Flynn, the Flynnstress, and “The Bruce” Scholl, and guests Jennie Breeden of “The Devil’s Panties” and Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit. While I’ve listened to the podcast before, this was the first time I’d seen it in person. It is quite a different experience. And the faces that Jennie Breeden made during the recording were hilarious.

I had tried to attend the Beyond Steampunk panel, but before things got too far, I was summoned to the dealer’s room to cover the booth for the next hour. Be the time I was free again, the panel was over, but I got to catch the last half of Professional Self-Publishing. At the point at which I entered the conversation seemed to have turned to warnings about rip-off “publishers” like Publish America that exist more to sell bogus services to writers instead of selling books to readers.

The last panel I got to attend was The Companions of Doctor Who on Sunday morning. The panel featured Charity Fowler, Gail Z. Martin, Angela Pritchett, and Susan Z discussing the various companions from both the new and old Doctor who series. We discussed favorite companion, worst companion, best companion arc, and speculation on what we can expect from the latest companion, Clara.

I made a few new friends at RavenCon this past weekend, but I didn’t feel as if I’d really managed to get plugged into the con. There were several parties and concerts over the weekend, but I’d managed to miss them all due to other demands on my time. The booth did decently, and Randolph’s Scriptorium Tools will be back at RavenCon next year. Hopefully, without one of our number on injured reserve, we’ll be able to get more out of the con.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) April 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I had RavenCon on my list to try one day. And it’s kinda close for us. I might have to give it a go, if I can work up some spare money one year. 🙂

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2 Doc Coleman April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

We’re planning on going back next year. It doesn’t seem like a bad con, but it is a different experience. I still feel like with all the different things I was trying to deal with that weekend that I failed to connect to the spirit of the con. I think I haven’t managed to connect with what RavenCon has to offer.

Doc

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