It’s a science fiction con. It stands for Inter(net) (Con)vention. This one was within driving distance for me along the George Washington Parkway. If you’re not familiar with Washington, DC, that’s a very scenic road that follows the Potomac River. This is is a photo:
It should be gorgeous once the trees begin to change color. No pics from the con this time though. The con simply didn’t have much in the way of photo ops. No action workshops (darn! I was looking for another action demo), and very little cosplay. I saw only one person in full costume, though horns were popular. Do you think I ought to get horns since Halloween is coming up? Ooh, ooh — maybe alien antennas.
I did raid the dealer’s room for a few more t-shirts …
Overall, I was not impressed with the con. It was sparsely attended and seemed poorly organized. The first workshop I went to did not bode well. “Writing a Fantasy Novel” was a given about the subject matter. Four comic book artists showed up for the panel. Two of them didn’t even know the name of the workshop and spent time complaining about being there. One lost interest midway through and started sketching a picture for an auction in a hour that he should have done before he got to the con. I spent $40 for this?
The other two workshops I attended were much more interesting, but they were also the only ones I found of any interest. One was “Blogging for Fun and Profit” with Mark Blum and Mike Fenn. I wasn’t too sure what I was going to get since on the last one I attended it was apparent none of the writers knew what they were talking about. As it turned out, there was a lot of good information. The message that resonated for me was on how to market you blog. Some of the things they mentioned:
- Put out cards with the blog name and site address at cons. I had a “Do-oh!” moment on this one. I have Moo cards and haven’t been doing that at any of the cons. I did have some with me, but I realized there was a small problem — I’d left off that I was a writer. So I’ll get that fixed in time for the next con.
- Write your blog name on your con badge. Yup, we all hauled off our badges and added the name right there.
- And the final note, which is that you can’t be afraid to promote yourself. The hardest thing about being an introvert is that it’s very difficult for me to even think of stuff like that. With the Moo cards, I was always thinking that I needed a book published.
Despite this great workshop, I couldn’t help noticing that almost none of the panelists really promoted themselves. They mentioned they had an online comic strip, but didn’t provide paper samples or even a card with a link on it. Maybe that was a symptom of the entire problem with the con?
The best workshop was “It’s About the Villain.” The panelists were Michael Terracciano (did villain imitations), Eric Kimball, A.J. Rosa, and Elaine Corvidae (the only person in costume). They had a blast and had the audience really laughing. Yes, we do enjoy our villains. Some highlights, since villains are always fun:
- Good guys are defined as much by their villains as they are by their deeds. Or, by any other name, make the villain a strong character.
- A villain can be terrifying if you can’t reason with them (given we recently had a tiger attack on the news, I thought about a tiger. You can’t reason with a tiger. He just thinks you’re lunch, or whatever meal he’s missing).
- If readers love a villain, give him a moment to be awesome before he’s defeated. The example given was Boba Fett from Star Wars. A lot of fans really liked the character, but he went out without much fanfare.
But Michael Terracciano was adamant that hero-villain team ups were a really bad idea. So what do you think? Should villains and heroes ever work together?
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Starting November 4, I will doing a month-long session on Forward Motion on “Basic Training of Military Culture.” The lesson plan for the course is posted here. I promise that I will promote myself for this!