Whew! Sorry for the delay in posting my RavenCon report here, but I was so blasted with ideas and advice, I had to get some of it out as actual writing before it vanished like the play-by-play of a dream. Now, however, with a thoroughly re-written and re-submitted short story complete, and plans upon plans for more SciFi-ish goodness to come, I can now relax and tell you about my first science fiction convention.
Two things stand out.
First, these are awesome people and I’ve been missing out. It is FANTASTIC that the nerds and geeks among us have the opportunities to gather together to achieve a critical mass (not a fat pun) and then explode outward into a multifaceted mushroom cloud of fandom without reservations.
Second, I’m afraid I’m not awesome enough of a fan to cast aside all inhibitions and revel in it to the n-th degree. In a place where introverts are encouraged to REALLY extrovert without judgement, I still found myself holding back. There would be no costuming for me. When exhorted to get up and dance like a monkey for a good cause, I still found myself only dancing like a nervous cro-magnon. It was no fault of the Con that I could not release an uninhibited über-nerd upon the Richmond DoubleTree Hotel. The fault lies with me. I still find myself on the outside looking in, trying to find the right niche between aspiring author, published author, veteran, sailor, officer, and nerd/geek/neek/gerd.
But I’ll get there with a little help from a BUNCH of amazing new friends. First, I finally made contact with the Baen Books crowd! I met Gray Rinehart, their slushmaster who took so much great time helping shepherd along ASID, Tedd Roberts (Speaker to Lab Animals), Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Patrick Vanner, Jim Minz, and soooo many Baen Barflies (like the Royal Manticoran Navy crew, Peggy, and Julius — who is certain global warming is directly responsible for the rise in superhero movies). Drinking and woo-hooing were accomplished in style at two great parties on two great nights. Sailor Jerry, we hardly knew ye. A special shout-out goes to Joelle Presby and CDR Andy Presby, two great writers and mega-brains living in nearby Norfolk who work with the great David Weber, helping to flesh out the Honor Harrington universe.
I met and got to speak at length with the Guest of Honor, Hugo/Nebula/Campbell award winning author Elizabeth Bear. Bear gave me a lot of great advice and encouragement and was surprisingly gracious and down to earth for such an accomplished author. I really hope to be able to attend the Viable Paradise workshop, as she recommended (as long as I can a. Wow them and b. Afford the time and expense). I’d love to spend a week working with writers and people of her caliber.
Writers, editors, and fans everywhere, and not a single one made me feel unwelcome or unworthy in where I am and where I aspire to be. My favorite new contact/bud is Chris Kennedy, one of the Con guests who is in very much the same position as myself. He’s a retired Navy CDR and former kick-ass aviator (he kicks ass in other ways now) who just released his fourth self-published book, the second book of his planned space opera trilogy, the Theogony. Okay — no lie — go get Janissaries and When the Gods Aren’t Gods today for some great military science fiction, written by someone who DEFINITELY has the bona fides, along with a smattering of myth and fantasy. I hope to guest at future Cons, like Chris did here. And he did his panels in the ultimate Navy fashion: with PowerPoint! Best part, he also lives nearby in Virginia Beach, so I see some beers in our future.
And, of course, there were the panels and the Masquerade. I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and got told the best thing a writer can here: You, sir, have an ugly baby. (Yep, that’s a good thing.) I read the opening of “Bumped” and they INSTANTLY knew what was wrong with it, lifting blinders I didn’t even know I wore. That was the story I re-wrote on Sunday and Monday. It’s shorter, smarter, and a lot more professional now. Hopefully editors will agree.