Orycon 34 was fantastic. Getting to be with new friends, make new friends, and show off Portland to some of my favorite out-of-town visitors was a blast. And unlike Orycon 33, I did not get stuck in the elevator and need to be rescued by hunky firemen (although I'm not totally certain that's a win. ;) ).
Here are a few thoughts from the con:
I've heard a lot about self-publishing and Kickstarter over the last few years, but M.K. Hobson is a lady who is doing an amazing job making it work for her. After a tremendous first novel and very good second novel that were both released by a traditional publisher, she ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and produced her third book herself. The book is beautiful--I can't say enough about the back cover of The Warlock's Curse, because it looks so damn cool, and even the typesetting is terrific. It's a great approach for an author with production skills and a passion for her large, immersive world. Plus, she throws a truly fun launch party!
This convention had some terrific panels, and I'm glad I went to them. I think it's all too easy to get sucked into parties and networking (hey, I love that stuff!) and never get a chance to attend a panel, so I feel really lucky my schedule let me sit in on some good ones. This year I made a point to seek out more information about martial arts and warfare, and I feel incredibly inspired to keep exploring those topics. I am still mulling over some of the information Rory Miller (corrections officer and writer) shared at our panel (the other brainy panelists were the fantastic Kamila Miller and the delightful Jason V. Brock) on "Smut, Gore, and More." I came to talk about body fluids--yay, smut!--and left humbled by this man's experiences facing real violence and true horror.
Everything about the convention kept circling back to the truth about writing: that it's for people. Even when you're writing science fiction and fantasy--heck, maybe especially when you're writing science fiction and fantasy--your writing needs to tap into something true and human. It's critical to use your time not-writing to expand yourself as a human being.
Oh! And one last thing: I came back from the con to discover that my weird tale "American Farmhouse Style" is up at Phantasmagorium's website. It's an oddball and the first piece I ever wrote that spooked me out!