Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Penguicon report

Overall, Penguicon was a lot of fun. It was a much bigger convention than I was expecting; the online FAQ had implied about 800 people, and I think when all was said and done they had 1500 people or more.

I've been enough involved with Context that I fully understand the stresses that conrunners are under and that despite everyone's best intentions, unfortunate things happen. The main unfortunate thing was that there seemed to be a bit of non- and miscommunication amongst the people running Penguicon. Registration was loopy. I was a Nifty guest this year, which meant that while I wasn't a top GoH, my bio/picture was on the website and had been for months. Early on, I'd inquired about Gary getting on programming etc. and didn't hear anything back for a while, long enough that when I was finally told he wasn't going to be on programming and had to pay for a full registration, online registration had closed and we were stuck paying for him at the door. Not a huge deal, but a teensy bit annoying going in. And so when I went to the registration area to sign in, I was told to go get my badge at a different table, where I was told "Oh, I didn't know you were coming." WTF? But despite this they did have a badge ready for me, which apparently they did not have for some of the other 2nd-tier nifty guests.

They didn't have anything else for me; other cons thoughtfully print out a mini-schedule for panelists (often on a label stuck to the back of their badges) so they don't have to spend 20-30 minutes going through the program book hunting down everything they've been scheduled for. So, if anyone from Penguicon is reading this, mini-schedule labels = awesome. It's possible the concom planned to do this, but a last-minute disaster happened that prevented it. Understood and sympathized. But if it wasn't part of the plan, it'd be great to see guest schedules next year.

The other thing I never saw were the table tents with authors' names for panels. Not a big deal, but kind of an odd omission. I expected to find schedules/table tents in the green room, but none were to be found.

What they did have in the green room were a couple of sports medicine volunteers who were giving free chair massages. Holy shit those were awesome, and erased all my crabbiness from the drive and registration. The green room and the consuite both were very well stocked with snacks and good-quality sandwich makings and a variety of drinks, and I give the convention high marks for that.

The other really nice touch was that Penguicon had a volunteer named Jake who regularly took a huge cart of drinks and food through the dealers' area so that the people who were chained to tables could get something to eat. Other cons have done lunch runs for dealers, but Penguicon did this more often and had better stuff than I'd seen before.

Anyhow, Jake, if you're reading this: you rock.

Also on the food front: the Brazilian barbecue Saturday was delicious. I hadn't had the chance to get a ticket for it online, and it seemed like too much trouble at registration, but luckily they opened the 'cue to everyone interested after a while, and for $6 Gary came back to our table with a huge mounded plate of perfectly-cooked steak cubes. So yummy I didn't even feel that little twinge of guilt I usually get when consuming mammal.

I didn't get the chance to try the liquid nitrogen ice cream but I heard it was pretty darn tasty.

I got to (briefly) meet a bunch of people from my friendslist: ckd, marykaykare, cmpriest and her jungle guide earthgoat (who I owe 25 cents!), and several other folks. We didn't get to the con in time to hit the LJ party on Friday, else I expect I would have met many others.

The one recurring downside to the convention was that, because of the open-source nature of many of the offerings, some fans evidently assumed that anything not tied down was free for the taking. And so some people took books from the dealer's room without paying, and someone took several of Catherynne M. Valente's books that had been left boxed on a table near Gary before Gary had time to say, "I don't think those are for you." We rescued the remaining book; Gary later found Cat and she said she'd wondered what had happened to the box and told him to keep it.


I was on a bunch of panels Saturday; here's my report for each.
  • A Surplus of Talent: This was my reading slot with Jeff deLuzio (timeshredder) and John Scalzi. I hadn't had a chance to talk IRL much with Jeff before (we've known each other for a while on E2) and was chatting with him when Scalzi came up and introduced himself. I honestly wouldn't have recognized him otherwise -- he's one of those men who looks utterly different once he grows a goatee and grows his hair out. Scalzi was very pleasant and read a fun story; I met his wife later and she seems like a lovely person. Jeff read an excerpt from a new novel he's working on and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest someday. I read "Your Corporate Network and the Forces of Darkness"; I was a bit nervous and read too quickly, but people laughed and evidently several of them bought Installing Linux on a Dead Badger right after the session was over.

  • Excellence in an Economy of Words--Why Write Short Fiction? This was a lively panel that also featured Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Jim Hines (jimhines), M. Keaton and Sarah Monette. The consensus of course was that short fiction is good because you can experiment with different kinds of writing and storytelling and also because it helps build your writing chops. We also answered questions from the audience about plotting short vs. long and also about co-writing techniques.

  • National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I shared this panel with Jim Hines (jimhines), M. Keaton, and Daniel J. Hogan (danieljhogan). Another good panel. I was the only person there who hadn't formally participated in NaNoWriMo, but like the others I feel it's a worthwhile endeavor. I shared Gary's situation of having had to write 40,000 words of one of his recently-published novels in 8 days. Yep, he had to write and edit half a novel in just over a week, and, as I told the audience, if you rise to the level of working pro novelist, this could easily happen to you, too. And if you haven't had to crank out that kind of word count before, you could easily waste precious time freaking out about the crushing deadline instead of getting the work done. We all agreed that NaNoWriMo is excellent for learning how to get writing done and work through blocks -- both extremely valuable skills -- but we cautioned that new writers shouldn't assume that the resulting novel will be publishable and also warned against the vanity presses that prey on the hopes of NaNoWriMo participants.

  • Johnny Can't Read and Nobody Thinks it's a Problem This panel was scheduled for 7pm Saturday, and I made the mistake of lying down in my room for a short nap that became a much longer nap due to a mis-set alarm. So I didn't make this one. When I awoke, bleary, I thought, "Heck, probably everyone was at dinner anyhow. No biggie"

    How wrong I was. This turned out to be the One True Panel. timeshredder was on it, and he told me that it was standing-room only, and that they had to open the doors so that people in the hall could listen in. Some members of the audience started a loud fight over homeschooling. Evidently "lively" didn't begin to cover this panel.

    And the next day, I was approached by two utter strangers -- not panelists, mind you, nor con organizers, but people from the audience -- who scolded me for not making the panel. In over 10 years of congoing I'd never, ever been scolded for missing a panel before. How odd.

  • Basic Survival Skills for Authors This was at 10pm Saturday, and I did make it. Jim Hines and Elizabeth Bear were on this one as well. Everyone was a bit tired, and the panel meandered a bit, but I think ultimately the audience got some helpful advice. However, we ended up giving them a bit of a Catch-22: "For God's sake don't quit your day job when you sell your first novel, but on the other hand if you do well as a fiction writer you're probably going to be so tired/distracted at work that they're going to fire you eventually."

And speaking of the day job, it's time for me to hit the shower.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a pretty good show overall - awesome that you got to sell some books. I'm going to OSU printers today after work, where hopefully, teh cards will be done and I can see a proof of the magazine...
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, the con was definitely worth going to. Although Gary and I both had a moment of doubt early on when a fanboy came out of the dealers' room and his buddy asked him, "How is it?" and the first guy responded "Boring! Nothing but books in there."
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Did we meet at one of the other Hot Damns? My memory's not good; I talk to people online long enough and see their pictures and I get the sense I've actually met people IRL but I haven't.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
Also, your video montage is awesome -- I put it in my followup post :)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
The use of sources? Do tell.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
And: ai yi yi, my memory. Or lack thereof. I blame the hypothyroidism. Sorry 'bout that.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
Excellent report on the con. Now I find myself wishing ardently I had been there, and trying to figure out how to get there next year.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Well, if you wanted & had time, you could come by Columbus first & we could show you the town a bit, and we could carpool up.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Ah! Thanks for the clarification, and the link :) And it was great to meet you as well -- hopefully at a con someday we'll have time for more than a drive-by chat :)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
That would be awesome.

Speaking of Columbus, are you going to be around on May 10th? Like in the evening?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
Gary and I are going to be at the Ohioana Book Festival until 5pm or so, but we'll be free after that.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
We'll be in town attending a gem show at the Veteran's Memorial. Wanna do dinner?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! Are you two just doing a day trip, or are you staying over someplace?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
We haven't totally decided yet. I'm leaning toward staying over, if we can find someplace decent and not too expensive. Any suggestions?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
At Hotel Braunbeck you will be treated to the finest in sofa and floor-positioned air mattress comfort. During the hotel's late-night cat safari, you will be a much-investigated tour site. Free widescreen horror movies and complimentary breakfast.

Alternately, if you want an actual bed and actual privacy, there are a bunch of not-too-expensive hotels near us ;-)
Apr. 22nd, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
I heard someone say the folded paper name cards for the speakers were included in each speakers packet. Evidently, most of guests/panelists didn't know to look for them in there and never found theirs.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Ah. They didn't have a packet prepped for me at the table ... I suspected the packets other panelists got might have contained something more that I was told to pick up on my own off the freebie table!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books

Switchblade Goddess

Shotgun Sorceress


A glimpse of Darkness

Sparks and Shadows

Chimeric Machines

Installing Linux on a Dead Badger

Sparks and Shadows

Latest Month

June 2019
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow