Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CopperCon 27

We woke up early this morning to the dog barking, and found Grandma on the floor by the front door. "I just arrived," she said. I'll probably never know how she got to the front door without her walker, but there she was. Senility with convelescence and incontinence is not a pretty thing.

I attended CopperCon 27 this past weeekend. The guests of honor were Charlene Harris and Michael A. Stackpole. I had opportunity to chat with both.

Saturday marked my first experience as a panelist. I had three: "Humor in the Genre" with Bennie Grezlik and David Brown, "Big Ideas Were Our Mainstay," with Michael Contos and Bennie Grezlik, and "Publishing Short Stories," with Jack Mangan and David Lee Summers.

The first panel was a disaster. One of them decided to read an essay he wrote about humor rather than use if for notes to spur impromptu discussion, the other wanted to read one of his own stories. Not good. I was getting bored and I sat at the table in front. Making it even more painful, Charlene Harris was in the audience. I mentioned this to Michael Stackpole and he agreed with me, never read your own work at a panal.

The second one was a little better. Nobody read, at least. It turned out to be a fairly good discussion that covered a lot of ground.

The third panal was the most fun, and it drew, by far, the largest audience. We had almost 20 people show up, compared to the average panal attendence of about 6. Jack, David, and I all know each other. David is editor of "Tales of the Talisman," and both Jack and I have appeared in that magazine, so we had that in common, as well. Any writer with a track record would have sat in the back nodding to everything we said--it's all common knowledge to people who have been writing for a while. New writers, however, don't know these things, and have to hear them somewhere. It went over pretty well, and all three of us were pleased with the result. After the panal, I signed my first story. It was the story that appears in this month's "Tales of the Talisman" for a woman who bought the issue from David right after the panal. My first official autograph!

Later on Saturday, I watched the masquerade, where the costume people compete. I'm not really into that aspect, but everyone else was there. While the costume judges went to deliberate, they brought out the instruments for filk (singing songs written about works of fiction). I'm not into costumes, but I'm even less into filk.

On sunday, I attended only to see Stackpole's discussion "21 Days to a Novel." Very good stuff. Realize that at this stage of my writing career, I already have established methods and habits, so I always look at these things with the attitude of take what you will work for me and ignore the rest. Not everything he said will help me, but he did present a lot of ideas for generating a story that I can use, and I took away more than average. I'll be working with Stackpole again this coming February at the 2008 ASU Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.

All-in-all, a good experience for a minor con.

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