Guest Panelist at ChessieCon

Over Thanksgiving, I was a guest panelist at ChessieCon–first time as a panelist for me.

This is a picture from my first panel.  I’m in the teal on the end.  My book Cursed Planet is standing up by my name plate.

Me and the other four panelists

The con hotel had changed hands again.  The hotel is located near the Maryland State Fair site, so it gets a lot of interest from the bigger brands.  But the hotel is old and the cost to bring it up to brand standards is expensive, so it changes hands about once a year.

So the result was that when I checked in, the hotel was being remodeled.  The heat was completely out in the part of the building where the panels were.

It was thirty outside.

My panels included Military Life Vs. Real Life; What not to do when trying to get published; book covers; and time management for writers.  I had eight panels altogether.

I was thinking that I would be able to attend some other panels, but I was surprised at how draining it was.  I only managed two.  I’m an introvert, and I had to be on for the duration of the panel.  So I vanished up to the hotel room between panels to recharge (staying in the hotel when you’re a panelist is a must).  I did a little writing towards the tail end, but I was pretty fried.


Know your genre – from the What Not to Do panel.  In the Gold Rush days of indie publishing, I ran across a writer who had 8,000 Twitter followers. I was jealous!  I naively thought that translated into a lot of sales of books.  How could I get in on that?  One day, he asked me to review is book, calling it an action-adventure thriller.  I looked at the book.  It was a fantasy detective book, and definitely nothing thrillery like I would see in a James Rollins book.  He got upset when I turned down the review and said it had lots of action, because there was a big action scene at the end.  Sorry, that’s not a thriller.

Time Management: Hands down, health.  Do too much sitting and not enough exercising, or eating right, and the writing itself will suffer.  In terms of my priorities, it’s above writing.

Distance in stories:  Not one of I was on, but Jo Walton made an comment about the culture of distance.  We think nothing of driving somewhere if it’s about a day away.  In fact, commuting in the Washington DC area is at least a two hour drive for many people because we have such a housing shortage.  But in Great Britain, which is only about 600 miles long, twenty miles is considered a long ways to go.  They think of the distance as this giant chasm to get across.

Military Life: Know the difference between the officers and enlisted, and what the ranks are.  You’ll go along ways to “feeling right” with those two items.  Yet, I’ve seen a Lieutenant Colonel in a book who was 25 years old (in a modern setting), and in movies, they’ve mixed up officer and enlisted.  Mike McPhail was on this panel with me.

Covers: Blue and gold is trending for science fiction now.  And, of course, I told the story about an indie writer who posted up her cover for a thriller and it was clip art photo of a peaceful snowy scene.  Readers get their first impression from the cover.  Mike was also on this panel with me.

Aside from the bone-chilling cold, the con was a lot of fun!


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