This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending WisCon, a feminist science fiction convention in Madison, WI. Last year was my first WisCon, and I knew very early into the con that I’d be coming back. WisCon has a strong academic thread as well as a clear social justice orientation, in addition to being a SF/F writing convention. Plus, Madison is a great city, the hotel is in the middle of a great cluster of restaurants downtown, and I have local friends to visit.
This year I had even more fun than the first time. I’ve been to a number of conventions over the years, and it always takes me a few hours to rev up, but once I get going, I’m in full extrovert geek mode, happy to meet new people and wax geeky.
I had the chance to participate in programming this year, thanks to the quick work of the convention committee and the generosity of the Exotic Worlds group: Bradley P. Beaulieu, Holly McDowell, Derek Silver, and LaShawn M. Wanak. I read from chapter two of Geekomancy, and was very happy that the time I spent on preparation paid off.
Since I’ve been performing nearly my whole life, between choir, dance, and various RPGs (tabletop and LARP), I do my best to make sure that my public readings are performances, with notable value added. If I just read what is written, I wouldn’t be adding anything new. But since I have that experience, and love a crowd, I try to use those skills and inclinations as a benefit. Word on the street is that there are far fewer book tours these days in U.S. publishing, where only a small handful of authors for each publisher are supported with funds for in-person tours across the country. By developing my reading performance skills now, I can try to make a reputation as an entertaining reader…and if that leads to
The reading went very well, I think, since I was happy with it and I got good feedback over the weekend from folks that were there.
This was also my first convention after selling Geekomancy and sequel, so it was all fresh and new to be a bona fide author, with a novel coming very very soon. I had a great time talking about Geekomancy but tried not to toot my horn too often or too loudly. No one wants to listen to the writer that turns every conversation into an extended commercial for their books. I love the conversations that pipe up at conventions, from craft to life, tips to tales of publishing mishaps small and large. Conventions are where I go to bask in the awesome of the SF/F community, who are some of my favorite people in the world.
Even as I was leaving, I started yearning for the next WisCon. Each convention has its own flavor, its own feel, and it can change from year to year (especially conventions that change locations each year, like the World Fantasy Convention). But WisCon was and will likely remain one of my absolute favorites.