Convention Review: ConTemporal

Sometimes getting to a science fiction con is enough to drive a girl crazy.  This con was part of a two leg trip for me: First to Norfolk for a conference, and then to Chapel Hill for ConTemporal.  By the time I got there, I was glad I was transported to another dimension!

I picked ConTemporal because I hadn’t been to Chapel Hill before.  I’m glad I did because I got a different con experience.  They have a sword fighting school in North Carolina, so I got to watch people whack each with swords!

Two women fighers armed with epees attack a man with a sword in a demo.

Mmm.  Action.

First up for me on the action side was a demonstration of how fights are done in the movies and how they’re really done.  The movie fight scenes are choreographed so the viewer can see the action.  In a five against one fight, the stunt people will attack about 1 1/2 seconds behind the last one.  It looks like it’s happening all at once, but it’s not.  We had a demonstration where everyone went at the same time, and the ‘one’ lost the fight in two seconds.  Also broke his nose.  Even demonstrations can be dangerous!

We also got a discussion on women and fighting.  We can’t fight like guys, but that’s how we’re taught.  The differences:

  • A woman’s fist is more angular than a man’s.  This will affect how she will swing a sword.
  • Women have a lower center of gravity and are better at groundwork.
  • Women’s power comes from their hips.  With men, it’s the shoulders.

On the writing side, there were a few writing workshops.  I wasn’t much in the mood for how-to write workshops this time, but ‘Writers and Finances’ caught my eye.  Here are some facts:

  • A typical first novel in hard back will sell 1,600 copies or less.
  • Your book gets 3 weeks on the shelf.
  • Royalties for hard backs:  10% for the first 5,000 books.  12 1/2% for the next 5,000 books.  15% after that.

This workshop made me change one of my goals.  I used to do short stories, but the paying markets were limited, and I didn’t fit in with them.  I was also trying to work on a novel at the same time as the stories, but the stories became procrastination when I got stuck on the novel.  I decided to focus on writing novels, but the revisions have taken so that long that I haven’t been published in years.  The industry has changed a lot since I made that decision, too.

Since I’ve been sick of revisions, I’m taking time off from the novel and work on getting short stories and articles on there.  As shocking as it is, I’ll submit to non-paying markets if my stories fit.  With some of the flexible rights, I can republish the stories as indie.  One’s already out to an anthology now.

How’s your week been?  Did you have problems with that major storm that went through a lot of states? 

6 thoughts on “Convention Review: ConTemporal

  1. I did not know that about women and swordfighting (*squirrels away factoids for later use*).

    I think shorter fiction is becoming more economically viable for writers these days. That’s a great thing. 🙂


    1. What’s really surprised me is a new trend. In the 1940s and 50s when there were pulps, my uncle wrote a lot a short stories, then got them reprinted numerous times. A story might appear in a magazine, and then three more anthologies. But that disappeared largely with the pulps — until Indie Publishing popped in. Now, if the rights revert back, a writer can self-pub a short story by itself or create an anthology.


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