ConQuest AAR

This past weekend was ConQuest 48 here in Kansas City. I had originally intended to attend with the plan of getting a dealer’s booth, but decided against it when I had the opportunity to be on 7 panels.

Two of the panels were a little whimsical. One was about beer. Not necessarily beer in science fiction and fantasy, just the kinds of beer we like. It was well-attended, which was nice from my perspective as the moderator. I went around the room and let everyone talk about their preferences, because otherwise it would have been a short, boring, rambling panel. By going around the room, we all participated and riffed off of each other.

The second whimsical one was bars in science fiction and fantasy, which didn’t go as well. I moderated this one as well, and I couldn’t really think of many good questions to move things along. Fortunately, the panelists, Selina Rosen and Tom Trumpinski, didn’t need much prompting.

I moderated another panel, this one on writing strong characters. This panel had four panelists, and ranged far afield. I didn’t do a good job here, because I think we could have focused on some specifics but instead talked more theory and philosophy. Obviously, those are important, but I don’t know that what we discussed was overly helpful to anyone there. The panelists did a good job and were always contributing, but I never emphasized a focus, and in retrospect, I think we could have given more had I done so.

I was a panelist on three panels. My favorite was Selina and I talking about writing combat scenes. One specific I need to print out and put in my office is: “Remember what your character is actually fighting.” Just because a particular opponent is facing them doesn’t mean that’s the character’s real battle. Luke isn’t fighting Vader, really. He’s fighting the Dark Side. This actually came from a discussion ahead of time in a conversation about both strong characters and combat scenes. It’ll help me going forward, I think.

I was also on a panel about using sources from across the world, not just the Arthurian / Celtic / Norse / Greek myths that form the basis of much fantasy. There are already a bunch of hints of that in Shijuren, and more to come. I include Russian, Balkan, and Middle Eastern myths already, along with a touch of Sub-Saharan African and Mongolian. There’ll be more coming from Amaranth, too, which will be heavily influenced by the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Vita from Indian traditions. There’s good stories in a lot of traditions, and I’m happy to use them.

My other panel was my using history in SF/F by going through the Martin Koszta Affair. I’m going to continue doing this, as the people there seem to be really interested in how I look through things. My big problem is that I get so excited I go too fast. I need to pace a little better. I had about 5 minutes of flex that I should have used simply by going slower.

Finally, I had a reading on Sunday. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many people there. The other reader, Jeri Frontera, had a great idea to Facebook Live her reading. I’m going to do some research to see if I can’t start doing that. I definitely need more media on my website.

Overall, a good weekend of schmoozing and meeting people, which is what a con is supposed to be.

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