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My First Guest Appearance

January 24, 2011
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ChattaCon marked my first time as a guest at a con and only my second con overall.  It was a small con, rar smaller than ConCarolinas.  But I’m pretty sure I was ten times more successful with my networking.  I think the size made that easier.

Registration was quick and easy.  Rumor has it this has not always been the case for ChattaCon, so I thought I’d mention it.

Things started with a meet the guests panel, meaning the guests of honor.  Kristine Kathryn Rusch (hereafter called Kris to save time) was the guest I was primarily there to see, having missed the opportunity at WotF since her husband (Dean Wesley Smith) was ill.  I also found Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Toni Weisskopf fascinating. After the panel was a reception.  I shoehorned myself shamelessly into the big names’ conversation but didn’t quite get the opportunity to introduce myself to Kris until afterward on her way to the bar (where she did not consume alcohol…but others did).  I introduced myself and we briefly discussed Writers of the Future and she invited me to sit with her and a group of guests.

I won’t play-by-play everything, but I wanted to make it clear how timing and luck played into this con experience.  At the table with us were Toni Weisskopf (publisher of Baen books) and three guys involved in an upcoming anthology, Zombiesque.  (Maybe I’ll plug this book later; it comes out in a week.)  We’ll call these three guys Steve, Greg, and Rob since those were their names.  Anyway, these guys took me under their wing.  Toni knows who I am.  I ended up having breakfast on Sunday with Kris (more lucky timing) where we discussed he business of writing.  I think I made five good solid contacts.  Not that these people can directly advance my career, but they are people I can turn to for advice, guidance, or an introduction.

The con was enjoyable.  The con suite had free beer (!) and slightly questionable snacks.  Programming was thin but not terrible.  I was on two panels.  The first was the zombie panel and was great fun.  The second was “Getting off this rock: how and why.”  There was some difference of opinion as to the precise nature of the panel; was it colonization or just getting into space.  I was the only one on the panel without a significant an related scientific background, so I got steamrolled a bit.  The information was good but I would have like a bit more involvement.  It was a science fiction convention after all; it was a panel about bringing the speculative and the real together.  But I learned some from it so it wasn’t a wasted hour.

All in all it was enjoyable.  I would like to attend again, next year or the one after.  My wife has “suggested” that my writing needs to pay for my con habit.  A sound idea.

Attending the con did two things for my career.  It built contacts and it reminded me what I’m doing.  Science fiction is a community.  Lingering too long away from that community can make it tough to act in the community’s interest.  A little dose of “geek” has my fuel tank primed for more writing.  Maybe I’ll get to it now.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Gregory Nicoll permalink
    January 24, 2011 4:00 pm

    Scott, as one of the characters (“Greg”) who’s mentioned in this account, I’d like to chime in and give it a big thumbs-up. Your assessment of Chattacon is accurate, fair, and (taa-daa) actually fun to read. I’m pleased to have made your acquaintance there and so glad we got to hang out as much as we did.

    • Scott W. Baker permalink*
      January 24, 2011 9:23 pm

      Hey Greg. Thanks for stopping in. Total fun last weekend. Luckily school was snowed out for me today so I got to recover.

  2. February 7, 2011 7:23 pm

    I hear you about conventions and writing. I find I need at least a small conventions every quarter to keep my creative batteries fully charges. Luckily San Digeo has two, and LA is close enough to fill in the rest fo the year.

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