Basically, all I have to say is “Stop making excuses and go to this Con.” This especially applies if you are a writer. ConCarolinas is a three-day con in Charlotte, NC, with an endless supply of authors, artists, panels, vendors, geeks, nerds, and everything wonderful.
If you are an established writer, go as a guest. Sell your shit. Gain countless new fans. Network with publishers and other authors. Divulge your knowledge.
If you are an aspiring writer. Be inspired. Learn from the pros at the countless panels. Network. Fangirl. Buy lots of books and get them all signed by the authors.
If you just love Star Trek or Doctor Who or Harry Potter or Star Wars or Superheroes (the list goes on)…go to get your geek on. Cosplay. See awesome cosplays. Fangirl. Listen to Wizard Rock. Listen to epic filking. See nerdy burlesque.
It’s really difficult to describe the love I have for ConCarolinas. I have been accepted and supported. It’s inspiring. It’s hilarious. It’s informative. I stick mainly to the writer panels, and there’s an endless supply of those, but there are plenty of other non-writing related panels. At times, I have to choose between which one will help me more in a block because the panel topics are SO GOOD and the panelists are AWESOME.
Here’s a rundown of my weekend. Everyone can have a completely different con experience.
Arrive fairly late, get checked in, eat dinner, take a quick trip around the late-night happenings, figure out the layout of the land, catch up with friends who arrived separately, get sleep to prepare for the epic Saturday.
First panel: “En Garde!” about writing fight scenes. Panelists include writers with significant martial arts backgrounds to writers who research how to write their fight scenes. Takeaway: Follow the emotion. Time-disparity in a real fight. Hyper-awareness. Trained fighters are wary of inexperienced unpredictability in novice opponents.
Second panel: This was a show. I went to the first half of the hour-long set from wizard rock artists The Blibbering Humdingers.
Third panel: I left the Blibbering Humdingers show to attend the “Cover Art Crash Course” panel. Take away: Typeset and art need to match. If you use stock art, modify it enough to make it look different. Eye-catching. Sometimes less is more. You can pay for high art, but graphics are good too. Sometimes you don’t get a say on the cover-art with publishers.
Fourth panel: “A Cast of Hundreds” Juggling large casts of characters. I went to this mainly because my friend wanted to go to it, but also because it was in the same room as the next panel that I wanted to ensure a seat for. My stories hover around 5 main characters, which can get a little tricky, but some of the authors in this panel had upwards of 10 prominent characters in a book. Takeaway: Have a great editor to catch discrepancies. Keep a character bible. Unique names.
Fifth panel: “LIVE ACTION SLUSH” My absolute favorite. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to print off a submission for this panel, but what happens is the first page or so of a manuscript gets read and three editors raise their hands at the point they would have stopped reading. Once all three hands are up, they say why. This is an AMAZING workshop. It’s great constructive information. Even if you don’t submit your work, it gives you a lot to think about when revising. Next year, I will submit to this for sure.
Sixth panel: I skipped a couple hours of panels in order to get some dinner and came back in time for a super-sexy panel called “Romancing Your Reader” which explored different levels of sex in novels from fade-to-black to full-on erotica.
This was followed by Nerdvana Burlesque which included some musical performances as well as nerdy burlesque! After burlesque I spent a few hours hanging out with friends and listening to karaoke until about 2am. My room happened to be on the party floor, so there were still a lot of room parties going on as I walked back to my room.
Sunday can be difficult to fit in getting checked out with hitting all the panels you want to see. Luckily, our group was able to get late check out for the two rooms we had and didn’t have to be out until 1.
I had to choose between Star Wars Yoga (which I LOVED last year) and going to “The Perfect Pitch” panel. I chose The Perfect Pitch because I’m getting close to having pitchable manuscripts. This panel was kind of like Live Action Slush where you could share a pitch with the panelists. I was put on the spot by the panelist who happened to be in my group (which is totally fine if you read this Mara :D…) and ended up sharing a pitch. IT WAS TERRIFYING but wonderful to get feedback from people you admire.
After this, I had to rush upstairs to try to get my stuff together to check out with a hope to make it back to go to the Self-Censorship panel. I had to go back to get a book from one of the panelists, but I really wanted to stay for this panel. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the panel but did get the first Jane Yellowrock book by Faith Hunter.
Sunday was the book-buying day. I bought twelve books by eight different authors, all signed. I will be reviewing these books as I read them.
This Could Be Love, Make My World Spin, Just What You Need all by S.A. Price. These are super-sexy novels about rockstars co-written by Stelle and her sister Audra. I saw Stella Price on a few panels and loved everything she had to say. I’m currently reading Just What You Need. I bought these three as a set for a discounted price and it came with a cool swag tote bag, a giant eraser that says I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie, a sticker that says Books are Metal as Fuck, and a few other cool things.
Jovienne by Linda Robertson came as a set with an originally scored soundtrack for the book also by Linda Robertson. I saw this author on a panel and was immediately intrigued by the soundtrack, since it’s something I also want to release with my books. My boyfriend is a fantastic composer on the orchestral side of things, and I write rock/pop/folk/blues songs. I actually already have a theme song for one of my characters. This is an urban fantasy with angels. I believe the tagline was “Even God Has Secrets”.
Phoenix Rising: Naked by Alexandra Christian. I bought this book for a couple of reasons. It kind of combines the genres that I like to write personally. It’s a steamy, paranormal thriller.
Act of Will by A.J. Hartley. I did not see A.J. Hartley on any panels, but I heard other panelists talk about how good his voice is, especially in this book, so I went by and read the first couple of pages and decided to bring it home. The main character is a medieval actor and playwright, something I’d never seen before. It caught my attention, and I can’t wait to read it.
Dead Run by Jeanne Adams. So, I attended a panel by Jeanne Adams last year about “How to Dispose of a Dead Body”. That panel came back this year, but I didn’t go to it because of other things at the same time. Her dead body panel was AMAZING though, and I enjoyed the panels I saw her on this year. She also writes in genres similar to what I write, and I wanted to read one of her books. I decided to go with the non-supernatural romantic thriller. Also, the Faithful Defenders series, which is what this is part of, has dogs as characters and the animals will be the connecting theme of the series.
Quincy Harker Year One by John G. Hartness. Hartness is someone I’ve known of for a while. A couple of my friends are published in his anthologies. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to meet him. This was pitched to me as “Supernatural but on HBO”. I was sold with that one line. It’s a collection of four novellas following demon hunter Quincy Harker. Can’t wait to read this one!!
Skinwalker: The First Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter. OMG, Faith Hunter *fangirlflail* I fell in love with her on panels last year and even more on panels this year. I didn’t have money to buy books last year because I was leaving for Italy in a couple of weeks, and I didn’t have time to read books during my first year of teaching, so this year I bought ALL THE BOOKS. Faith Hunter did not have a table set up, but she did have books with her and I was able to get this book on Sunday afternoon. This book combines vampires, skinwalkers, sexiness, Native American heritage, and the bad-ass that is Jane Yellowrock. Also, can’t wait to read this one.
Thieftaker, Spell Blind, and Children of Amarid all by David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson. This is another *fangirlflail* I still can’t believe I shared my pitch to a panel that had both Coe and Hunter on it. I bought the first novel in each of his series. Children of Amarid is an epic fantasy, Spell Blind is urban fantasy, and Theiftaker is historical fantasy. I am excited about all three of these. He did warn me that something happens to a dog in Theiftaker and I was glad for the warning. So I am passing the warning along to you. As a side note, he wrote “Great pitch” in one of the books when he signed it. *fangirlflail*
Those are the books I bought. There’s a good mix of self-published and traditionally published authors there. Some who are published both ways. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the authors there. Rysa Walker, whose book Timebound I already have on my Kindle but have yet to read (and will be soon) was there. Kalayna Price, Columbia, SC, based author of the fabulous Alex Craft Grave Witch novels was there, along with many others.
I’m hoping by maybe 2019 I can have books and have my own table! Throwing that goal out there.
Book reviews will be coming on these books.
The moral to this blog post is GO TO CONCAROLINAS! Or really any small, regional, writer-heavy con if you’re a writer. There’s so much good to come of the experience.
I’m currently looking into these similar cons:
LibertyCon June 30 – July 2, 2017 Chattanooga, TN http://www.libertycon.org/
ConGregate: July 14-16 2017 High Point, NC (additional cost for some writing workshops) http://www.con-gregate.com/
HallowCon Oct 27-29 2017 Chattanooga TN (horror and fantasy focus) http://www.hallowcon.com/
AtomaCon Nov 17-19 2017 N. Charleston http://atomacon.org/
IllogiCon Jan 12-14 2018 Raleigh, NC http://illogicon.org/
MarsCon Jan 12-14 2018 Williamsburg, VA (this one is themed, last year was Dragons, this year is Werewolves) http://www.marscon.net/wp/
MystiCon Feb 23-25 2018 Roanoke VA http://mysticon-va.com/
RavenCon April 20-22 2018 Williamsburg, VA http://www.ravencon.com/
ConCarolinas June 1-3 2018 Charlotte, NC http://www.concarolinas.org