Last weekend, I visited my second science fiction convention of the year, Ravencon, which was in North Chesterfield, Virginia. It was chaos getting out the door and on the road. I nearly forgot to pack underwear, and I did forget my camera (sorry, no photos. I promise to be better next time.).
I arrived a day early to explore the area, but didn’t like the location much. North Chesterfield wasn’t pedestrian or car friendly. There were lots of restaurants but no easy way to get to them. No sidewalks! I visited the Science Museum of Virginia, a hands-on, interactive museum that was a lot of fun. I hovered in the beach exhibit for a while, and I’m sure people must have wondered why I was scribbling notes, which I could barely read later.
The con started at 3:00 on Friday, and I jumped into three writing workshops: Writing Action Scenes, Building Suspense, and Creating a Timeline. The organizers were generous with the writers at times — some of the panels had so many writers there wasn’t enough room at the table. But it was made for a good mix of writers. We had indie and traditionally published writers, and short story and novel writers, so there was a lot of different perspectives.
In the evening I attended the 2 hour A Different Kind of POV Workshop, which included writing based on a prompt. That one was a little disappointing — all the writers said omniscient viewpoint isn’t used any more, and then later brought up examples in omniscient. I dunno — maybe everyone is thinking of the 19th century version of omniscient?
Saturday is the big day of any con. Ravencon had an astounding sixteen hours of workshops, on seven different tracks. That was over 100 workshops! I felt like there wasn’t enough time to take everything in!
First up was What Harry Potter Did Right, a fascinating discussion that delved into the themes of the story. Other workshops I attended included Self-Publishing 101, Professional Self-Publishing, and Rooting for the Bad Guy. On social media: Macroblogging in the Microblogging Era and Self-Promotion and Social Anxiety Disorder. Hated the title of the last one — it sounded like writers had mental problems — but it was an informative discussion with different perspectives. Leona Wisoker mentioned how hard it was for her to just to participate on a panel.
Saturday night must have had a lot of late partying because when I came for the Write What You Know Workshop, there were six writers on the panel and audience of one: Me. Day (from my critique group), moderator for the workshop, sat in the audience, and Bud Sparhawk hopped into the audience as well to at least look like people were there. About 2-3 more came in late. Bud commented that anyone dealing with guns in their books should carry a gun around in their pocket for a while and see how dirty it is. (* Furtively writes information down. *)
A 12-inch Col Jack O’Neill teddy bear. Full camouflage uniform, and a Stargate SG-1 badge.
A kid in the con suite making popcorn sandwiches.
A waiter who was shocked at my magazine reading choice. The gun ad on the back gave it away. But honestly, how could I pass up articles called “Dealing with Multiple Attackers” and “How to Stop a Gunfight Fast” with a gun and magic fight in my book? (If you’re interested, these are in Shooting Illustrated.)
Attending Ravencon was empowering and exhausting, overwhelming and fun. I’m looking forward to my next convention!
We’re getting into the season of vacation travel. What are you planning to do — exotic trips, family visits, or just plain fun stuff like a good con? I’d love to hear about your coming adventures!