Capclave 2013 in retrospect, Part the first.

by Doc Coleman on October 16, 2013 · 3 comments

in Asides

As I mentioned in last week’s #WriterWednesday post, this past weekend was my first experience with Capclave. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but I figured that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend a con in my own back yard. I expected the con to be small, but in its own way, it was bigger than usual. I guess having George R. R. Martin as your Guest of Honor will do that to your tiny literary con. This had both good and bad consequences.

First mistake I made was doing a full day’s work before going to the con. Yes, I’ve been called back to work for the time being, although with the House holding the country hostage it is hard to tell if that is a good thing or not. But that is a subject for another post, this one is about Capclave. I had figured that since I usually get back from work around 3:30 and the first panel started at 4, I’d be able to get from home to the con and grab my registration credentials before the first panel. What I hadn’t counted on was time to change out of my work clothes, and to gather the things I’d need at the con for the evening. Being so close to the con hotel, we were staying at home and driving over. That meant I’d have to carry whatever I needed with me. Wouldn’t have a hotel room to go to.

The result of all this was that I’d missed the 4 o’clock panels and it was past 5 by the time I got on the road. Then I got a call from my wife, who was helping out with Randolph’s Scriptorium Tools during Capclave. She’d picked up my registration packet, and they’d set up in the dealer room, but they hadn’t had time to get food. So now I needed to stop off at Panera Bread and grab some sandwiches for them to have as a snack/late lunch. After picking up the food, and finding a parking space at the hotel, I delivered the sandwiches and got my badge just after 6 PM. At this point, I skittered off to my first panel of Capclave: Buy my book.

Buy my book was a panel about the right and wrong ways to deal with social media when doing self promotion. Michael Ventrella moderated, with Philippa Ballantine, Jennifer Barnes, and John Edward Lawson talking about how not to be that guy that just repeats “Buy my book!” over and over until they get blocked by everyone. It was an interesting panel, and it re-enforced a lot of social media principles that I had learned previously.

The next panel I went to was Doctor Jerky and Mr. Hyde: Private & Public Personas. Bud Sparhawk was the surprise moderator for this one. This panel also featured Jennifer Barnes again, plus Craig Alan Loewen, and Tee Morris. This panel was billed as an examination of why some authors put on a false front at cons and in interviews, but it transformed into a look at why you, as an author, should keep some information private, both for your protection,and for the protection of your family. It also addressed dealing with readers who decide that because a character acts in certain ways and believes certain things, the author must also hold those views and be promoting them through their writing. The reality here is that you can’t control what other people believe, and once they have chosen to believe something, you cannot change their minds. You can present evidence to the contrary, but belief usually doesn’t have a connection with facts, and you can’t make someone change their mind.

After that panel, I got to go to dinner with Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris, and another couple whose names I cannot find. I am horrible with names unless I’ve got notes or I’ve seen them a lot. My wife wasn’t able to join us, as Randolph’s Scriptorium Tools didn’t have quite enough stock for the weekend, so they went off to do more turning and product assembly. The five of us went to Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg and had a great time. Lots of very tasty food and delicious Dogfish Head beer. Didn’t have room for dessert.

I got back a little too late to catch the beginning of Any Resemblance to Real People is Purely Intentional. I came in the middle of the panel. The panel featured Brenda Clough and Allen Wold discussing the implications of modeling characters and events on real people and historical figures, with occasional comments by Howard Waldrop. Modeling character behavior on the behavior of real people is one of the ways to make a character particularly believable, but following too closely to the personality quirks of a single person, or tracking too close to life events in one person’s life without their permission can cause the author quite a lot of legal trouble. Of course, it is very easy to create unique and interesting characters from an amalgamation of real behavior, so it usually isn’t necessary to copy any one person closely.

The last panel of Friday night was Strange Adventures – The Sub-genres of Science Fiction Action Adventure. This was an exploration of science fiction, and the huge collection of sub- and quasi- genres that are attached to it and collected under it with authors Catherine Asaro, David Bartell, Matt Betts, Heidi Ruby Miller, and K. Ceres Wright. This was a really interesting discussion. There seems to be a lot of confusion between sci-fi as a setting, and as a genre. and many times the meaning of a genre name may change over time. For instance, Catherine Asaro used “romance” in its original meaning, referring to a story that romanticizes a particular aspect of a story, i.e. a romance that idealizes war or idealizes adventure, as opposed to what romance has become in the modern usage: a very dramatic love story.

After the last panel, I talked with Matt Betts for a bit about steampunk and sci-fi stories ideas. I then went to the bar to see if I could spot anyone I knew. I did see one person: George R. R. Martin! I considered going up to talk to him, but he had a circle of folks pulled in tight around him, and a beer in his hand. I figured that he gets enough fans bothering him at events like this, he deserved to have his beer in relative peace. So, I went wandering about to see what, if anything else was still going on. I stopped in at the con suite, chatted with a few folks, and then found myself heading back to the bar. George had moved on by then, but this time I found Norm Sherman and had a chance to chat with him and one of the gents from PseudoPod, the branch of Escape Artists that deals with horror stories.

We talk a good bit about voice acting and podcasting, but it wasn’t until later that I found out that Escape Artists are in a tough spot financially. It seems that they’ve been hit along with everyone else in this economy. Escape Artists runs three podcast magazines: Escape Pod for sci-fi, PseudoPod for horror, and PodCastle for fantasy. They try to pay professional rates for short stories, but they are funded solely by listener donations, and they’re running low on funds. As I said, that didn’t come up in our conversation, I found this out later. If you want more details, listen to this Escape Pod Metacast.

Since things seemed to be shutting down, I headed out to the car and headed home. It had been a long day, and a start to a long weekend. But the rest of that is a story for  another day.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa (My words and pages) October 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

Sounds like a packed full day! Wonderful. And many great faces too. Glad you had a good time. 🙂


2 Doc Coleman October 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm

And as it was, I kept missing Val Ford. She was there on Friday, but we were never in the same place.



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