ChattaCon 2017 AAR

I attended ChattaCon as part of my trip to Birka. A very productive con, enhanced by getting to participate on a bunch of panels.

My first panel was on Friday at 5pm about what makes the well-rounded character. I believe a well-rounded character has to have a little bad to go with the good and a little good to go with the bad. Protagonists have to be appealing to the reader in some way, so that the reader wants them to succeed (compare how much people wanted Anakin Skywalker to succeed vs. Darth Vader). I also add to my characters by having them like, or not like, food or other normal things around them. The scratch of rough linen on their skin, for example. There weren’t a ton of people at this panel (nor at any panel, really) but those that were there said they got something from it.

That was my last official thing on Friday, though I believe that if I’m a professional on panels at a convention that it is my responsibility to be at opening ceremonies. I went, they were ceremonial, and then I went to the Meet the Pros ceremony, which again I feel is part of my responsibility. I had a good chat there with a number of people, including a couple that had come to the first panel.

More importantly, I got a few minutes with Mike Resnick, the Guest of Honor. One of my favorite books is Birthright: The Book of Man, which is a collection of short stories that are tied together to tell a future story of mankind. Brilliant stuff. More importantly right now, Resnick wants to promote new authors so I’ve a new venue to submit some short stories.

Guess I’d better write some.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the LibertyCon room party. LibertyCon has been very good to me, and I will attend and help as long as they’ll let me. Had great conversations with a bunch of people, and Melissa Gay and I had a great idea for a panel, which I’ll talk about more when things get firmed up.

I might have stayed up late on Friday night, so I was a little slow Saturday morning, but made it to my panel at 11am. Unfortunately, no one else did. It was my panel on Moana, humorously enough. Ah well.

At 4pm, I had my chance at the Author signing booth. In real terms, I only had 4-5 people chat with me, but in all honesty that was more than I expected. Every reader matters and that was a well-spent hour.

Immediately afterwards, I went into a panel talking about using non-European mythologies in fantasy. While I haven’t done this a ton yet, this is actually something I’ve been planning for a while. The Secret History of the Mongols and the Mahabharata are major parts of my world-building, even if I haven’t revealed those sections of the world yet. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit.

At 7pm was a panel on Gaslighting. This was an odd panel topic, in my mind, since to a certain extent at a meta level, my job is to gaslight the reader. Of course, we were talking about things like 1984. I moderated the panel, and I think we served a difficult topic well.

Given my activities the previous night and the fact that most of the socializing was at Track 29, which is a goodly distance from my hotel room, I ended up wandering about for a bit after dinner but not really doing much. I went to bed early and read.

On Sunday morning, my first panel was on Futuristic Visions of the Locked Room Mystery. This panel seemed a little disjointed to me, in part because I don’t know if it’s a topic that really needs an hour. Maybe a better topic would be a discussion of the traditional mystery types and using them in science fiction instead of limiting it to one particular type. Still, any panel with Stephanie Osborn on it is fun.

Right after that was to be a discussion of the best and worst science fiction films. Many thanks to Mark Wandrey for inviting me to join him. Unfortunately, I really don’t remember what we talked about because it was during this panel that I received mom’s call about dad passing.

Anyway, I had one more panel, the power of storytelling. It was a good discussion, and I lost myself in the topic, which was nice. We roamed far afield on our important aspects of storytelling, which included the kinds of challenges characters overcome and the importance of those challenges making characters grow. Again, Stephanie Osborn and I riffed off of each other. It was nice.

Louise Herring-Jones was at that panel, and she and I ended up having a great discussion afterwards about books and philosophies. Smart woman, lotta fun to talk to, look forward to chatting again in the future.

All in all it was a productive con. The attendance was low, but in all honesty, that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I got to actually talk to a number of other professionals like A.R. Cook, Mark Wandrey, Dave Schroeder, Melissa Gay, Louise Herring-Jones, and a bunch of others. There was also time to spend with readers, and I enjoyed that most of all. A good time.

I’m hoping that I do well at Birka, because it would be nice to make this swing a normal trip. We’ll see this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in bars in Frederick, MD working. Maybe do some sight-seeing afterwards.

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