lydamorehouse: (??!!)
It's Sunday evening, and I am at home... all con'd out. I will do my best to recount Saturday and today, but my frazzled brain is not responsible for gaps in the narrative. (Also, there may be more typos than usual. My apologies in advance.)

Saturday started with a panel I was a little worried about because there was only one other person on it. Luckily, that one other person was Lois McMaster Bujold:

lois mcmaster bujold and lyda morehouse

Our panel was "Of a Certain Age" talking about stories that feature older protagonists.  

I'm happy to say that this picture (by Mary Loving) is as it should be. Lois is talking and I am listening. The room was packed, despite it being 11 am, so my assumption was that most people were likely there to hear Lois, a Guest of Honor this year. I had prepared what I called a "binder of women" (old joke from, ironically, a brighter time) which was actually prepared by [personal profile] catherineldf and you can find the first part of it here.  With Catherine's hardwork as our guide, we had a pretty good panel.  

Saturday was my day of loose ends. I did a lot of wandering around and catching up with people. I had one thing I *had* to do besides my later 8:30 pm panel and that was to stop by the Just Enough Trope Podcast table. They asked me if I'd be willing to be part of their show. Since Naomi had only gotten a couple of hours of sleep, I actually brought her with me so that she could skip her later time slot and catch a decent afternoon nap.  I am SUCH a good friend (plus I figured they'd more likely use the segment if Naomi was in it.  Who's a Slytherin? You're the Slytherin!)  I had tentatively scheduled 1 o'clock but they were busy and while I waited for them to be free and for Naomi to join me, I watched a Marvel cosplay meet-up.  I really wish I'd remembered to bring my camera, because there was some seriously good costuming, including a guy who had 3-D printed his Dr. Doom armor.  Such a Doom thing to do!--well, if you added magic as well as technology. My other favorite person was a perfect Domino, who kept not ever getting a call-out because so many fans are focused on the MCU and not the comic books. But, they eventually called for a photo shoot of "mutants" and she was able to go.

If you've never experienced one of these group shots, they're really fascinating.  They're often in the program, but can also be semi-spontaneous (like  flashmob, at least in terms of getting the word out via twitter) where everyone who is cosplaying from a certain fandom shows up in one location. A loud-voiced person will voluntarily jump up on a chair and start shouting out organizational commands. It always starts with EVERYONE and then breaks-out.  "All the Spider-Men...", etc.

Thor was late this year, possibly because the God of Thunder does not the Twitter, but he came with this adorable Hulk-child.  Watching the little Hulk play with what was obviously daddy's cape, made me ridiculously charmed and weirdly broody for all the Thor kid-fic.  

The one other thing that was a "do not miss" was Seanan McGuire's signing. I got the book signed and it will be ready to ship off to my friend in Oregon tomorrow morning.  So, yay!

I did a lot of wandering around which, for me, was not necessarily a good thing. I'm the kind of extrovert that feeds on interaction and being at loose ends makes me vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and the busy-ness.  I probably should have gone home for a couple of hours, but there never seemed to be quite the right time and so I decided to take my laptop over to the Caribou for a little downtime. I ran into Dana Baird and her husband Eric in the most amazing steampunk Lady Groot and Rocket Raccoon. I didn't realize the amaze of her costume at first because I just saw this intensely ornate Victorian dress (and she was out of the stilts and not wearing the mask.)

Here's what the full thing looks like:

Lady Groot and Lord Rocket, Steampunk

Photo credit: Emily Dyess.  

Here's another with just them:

Lady Groot and Lord Rocket, steam punk

photo credit: Audrey Casteline

Hanging out with Dana is always a ton of fun and I can not get over that she made that whole costume herself (including Eric's Rocket, though he made the steampunk gun.)  The sheer amount of talent (let's be real: FABRIC ART)  on display is staggering, and that's just Dana. The costumes are always mind-blowing.

And humorous:

t-rex can't hug. Their arms are too short

Photo credit Michael J. Egglehorn

I ended up having dinner with Eric and Dana at Subway and they stopped by their car so Dana could put on the stilts (an amazing process to watch!!) and then I headed over to my last panel of the day, "Local Urban Fantasy."  

I was not in the best headspace for this panel. Plus, I never know if, with a title like that, people want a laundry list of what's out there or an exploration about why people write it/tips for writing it, etc.  I tried to provide a balance, but I'm not sure how successful that was.  I think if I had been in a better place it would have been find, but I left feeling like the panel was all over the place...  A little defeated by that, I headed home.  

Today I had only one panel, "Ms. Marvel Fan Panel," and I it was probably one of the best ones in terms of my abilities to moderate... and, hardly anyone saw my crowning achievement because: 9:30 am.  The room wasn't EMPTY, but I bet there were less than a dozen brave souls.  I stayed around afterward because I wanted to catch up with Naomi after her "From Fan Writer to Pro Writer" panel.  I actually ended up watching that and then Naomi and I went out to lunch to catch up.  We'd mostly missed each other this con--which is hardly surprising given her extra load as one of the GoHs.

After that, I headed home, promptly crashed for a 45 minute nap. I woke up, had a home-cooked meal, and then started to feel mostly human again.

Which is good, because tomorrow at 9 am I teach "More than the Zombie Apocalypse" to TWENTY TEENAGERS.  Normally, I cap my Loft classes at 15, but I agreed to add 5 more because THERE IS A WAITING LIST. I'm feeling a little pressure, if you can't tell. But, I looked over my syllabus and I should have plenty of time tomorrow to think about ways around the fact that the class is WAY TOO BIG to successfully do peer critique. Unless I super-limit the size of the sample?  Hmmm, now I'm thinking we could do "first pages." That might be fun, actually.  We can be sure to talk about hooks tomorrow and I'll have them bring in a first page.  OoooOooo, that might work!

If you can't tell, I'm naturally a very organic teacher. So a lot of how tomorrow goes will depend on whether or not I can get some response from my teens. (You're shaking your head, but I LIKE teenagers. Plus, these ones have all volunteered to be here.)

That's me. You?
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I missed a lot of the excitement this weekend over WisCON's harassment subcommittee's decision because we were in a small, resort town in Wisconsin enjoying our friends' cabin at Crooked Lake.  I took some awesome photos, but the uploading thingie here on LJ is still being stubborn so I may have to point interested parties to another site.  The lake was ice cold, but Mason, being Mason, braved it anyway.  I ended up in the water, too, though initially under much duress.

But, because we were away from Twitterverse and the rest over the weekend, a lot of what needs saying abut WisCON's decision has already been said.  I have to admit that I'm far less invested in this, despite knowing Jim personally (he was my agent), because I haven't been a regular attendee at WisCON for nearly a decade.  It used to be one of my favorite cons.  The ratio of writer-to-fan was skewed heavily toward the writer end of the scale and, at a certain point in my career, WisCON was the place for me to meet colleagues, agents, and editors in a relaxed setting.  I suspect that's probably still true, but when I switched to being a romance writer I felt less welcome, though never explicitly so.

So, everything I have to say about this is as a complete outsider. My only point is one of comparison. This year at CONvergence, I had a programming issue come up.  I felt it was handled so professionally and swiftly that I don't even feel the need to rehash the details here, except to say that I wish that WisCON could learn and take notes.  The programming head responded to my complaint within hours of my issuing it (even though it was the day after the con and everyone had every right to be off-the-clock, as it were.)  Not only that, but they had a very clear and firm policy that was expressed in unambiguous language to all parties involved.  There was a clear electronic "paper trail." When it seemed we'd reached an understanding, the programming person basically said to me, "I feel from your previous communication that you consider this resolved, but please let me know if there is any part of this issue that you feel is not resolved.  If you feel it is resolved, we will consider this matter closed."

It was amazing.  It was so professionally handled that I almost wondered if the folks at CONvergence were all required to take conflict management courses.

Having a clear, unambiguous policy was paramount to my feeling satisfied by the concom's response to my issue.  The programming head was able to say, "CONvergence expects x of this kind of panel" and there was no, "but we will review this if y or z is involved."  The hammer came down hard.  In fact, it was so intense I was like, "Uh, I'm not sure..." to which I was given a polite, but firm, "Understood, but these are the rules and we're clear about them, full stop."

Granted, this is an entirely different issue than harassment. But, the fact that this was how a relatively minor programming issue was dealt with, it gives me the sense there are even more clear and firm policies in place for other infractions.  They have a well-thoughtout harassment policy written in their souvenir program, for instance, though I'm not sure how well it would work for WisCON's clientele.  That aside, JUST the way this was dealt with could be a lesson for the WisCON folks, you know?

CONvergence is much, much larger than WisCON.  Not only is it on a significantly larger scale, but CONvergence's mission is very different from that of WisCON.  However, I think that WisCON could take note.  If they survive this particular misstep (and I do have to wonder if they will), I think it could behoove them to talk to bigger, more professionally run cons.  I'm sure a con like CONvergence has to deal with police calls and all sorts of things that a small con might never have to, but I would think that, if anything, this whole sexual harassment issue should show WisCON that maybe being prepared for all future contingencies might be a plan, so that there are clear rules and consequences from the start... for the next problem that comes up, because there will be one.

So, that's my two cents.  There are a myriad of other issues involved that I'm not going to comment on because I'm very much removed from the WisCON community.

With luck, I can get some photos of our trip up somewhere.  
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Seriously, these CONvergence people are good. I really rather adore waking up to have my schedule magically in my in-box. Here's today's:

Plaza 2
Anime Series: Year in Review
A yearly showcase of the past year's best anime series, presented by a group of anime fans who've watched and enjoyed them. Those looking to enter the anime fandom as well as those who've been otaku for years are welcome to attend. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Jessi Silver, Boris Smelov, Jo Thrace, Heather Deakman

Atrium 2
SF Writing Groups: The 2014 Scene
This annual (since 1986) get together of the Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers' Alliance helps science fiction/fantasy writing groups link with writers who are looking for a critique group. Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (mod), Lyda Morehouse, Tyler Tork

Atrium 6
Loki Can Rule Me Any Day
Loki is very popular, even though he wasn't the main character (or even necessarily a "good guy"). An exploration of side characters who have become fan favorites. Wolverine, Agent Coulson, Jayne, Connie Mk II - What makes us like them so much? Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Kamuran Paradis, Damarra Atkins, Todd Murray, Anne Lyle

Plaza 2
Which Supers Should Hook Up?
If Thor and Storm got together, they would have cute little thunderbabies. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Kenneth Konkol, Lathan Murrell, Samma Johnson (mod), Christopher Jones

So, a busy day, but all starting afternoon, which will be a nice thing.

Yesterday, I brought Mason along. He last minute decided to cosplay kid-Luffy, from One Piece. We spent much of the morning in search of the Straw Hat crew. Instead, we found a lot of really great cross/cosplay Marvel characters:

These ladies were really good (also traveling with a Thor and Tony Stark, though I only saw them later at the Marvel panel.) I was particularly enamored of Nicole Fury, as she had the perfect Wolverine claw mark scars visible under her eyepatch.

Lady Deadpool! Every con needs a Deadpool, why not a Lady Deadpool?

Fourth of July is Steve Rogers's birthday, so I wished this Stephanie Rogers a happy one and complimented her amazing 1940s style hair. (She defied my picture skills, though. Blurry here a little, but much worse when I tried to get her to pose with the two Peggys that were also at the Marvel panel.)

Another Cap (though, tbf, she might have been dressing as one of the traveling dance troupe.) Probably my favorite thing about a lot of the Captain American cosplayers is that they can embrace the 1940s aesthetic and be beautifully buxom and curvy.

There might have been a secret organization that was placing people in key positions at con, but I won't say who they were (*whispers*Hail, Hydra!*whispers*)

And, Old School Gambit, who isn't cross playing*, but come on! Look at this! It's perfect:

*today, according to [ profile] naomikritzer this guy often cross plays "Slave Girl Leia." Rumor has it he's coming as "Slave Boy Leo" today, so I'll be sure to try to catch a shot of him, if I can, because that sounds phenomenal.

Mason and I spent much of con wandering around looking at all the cool costumers and wandering around the dealer's room. He bought a new Munchkin pack (zombies this time) and I found a cell phone charm of Renji/Hihio Zabimaru chibi, and I can never, ever resist chibi Zabimaru. Sadly, my cell phone does not have the technology to accommodate a charm. Seriously. It's not a smart phone, so I have no case to which I can hook such things. But, it was cheap and will fit my keyring just the same.

The Marvel Roundup panel was phenomenal. I had great fellow panelists and despite my voice, I managed to squee and maybe even make a few points of interest here and there. With any luck, you'll be able to judge for yourself. One of the panelists, Shaun Duke, is (among other things) a podcaster and he recorded us for his Hugo Award-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. If our panel gets posted there, I'll send along a direct link. It was probably the most high energy panel I've had so far, so I would think it would make a fantastic podcast.

Then there was more wandering, and Mason finally caught up with some of his crew:

Here's Mason with Zoro (green-hair) and Nami (orange-hair):

And in a time paradox, an older Luffy!

My final panel was "Cyberpunk 101," which went fairly well. Admittedly, my energy was starting to flag. Probably the most interesting part of the panel for me was the fact that one of my fellow panelists was a light side hacker. He was an honest-to-goodness Mouse, a phone freak from the 1980s. (And yes, he let us touch his hem.) I could have listened to his stories for the full hour.

Instead, we talked about a lot of different aspects of cyberpunk and, once again, the audience had some really amazing, mind-blowing questions and thoughts about the future of cyberpunk. Because the question kept coming up, "If we're living in a world already predicted, where we're saturated with technology, how do you write beyond that point? Or, maybe more importantly, is it necessary to?"

And I don't know. People often ask me if I'll ever return to the AngeLINK universe and I'm hesitant. I love the characters, but the world is getting harder and harder to reach back for because it's become a kind of AU where Facebook and Tumblr and Google glasses never happened.

The point was also made that one of the things cyberpunk spoke to was the fears of the day, "What if we become so dependent on our technology that we're no longer human?" That's not really the thing we worry about these days. We worry about the environment. We *do* still worry about corporations taking over, but a lot of what we feared has already come to pass. I mean, corporations as people? Pretty sure that was warned about in any number of early cyberpunk novels.

Also, as our resident hacker pointed out, it's actually a bit harder to by-pass The Man. Technology has outpaced some simple phone hacks. It's harder to break-in and it's much, MUCH harder to escape without leaving a trace.

Our fiction has also become a lot darker. No one believes any more that taking out one corporation/Power That Be will solve all the problems... without causing others. The revolution is murky and complicated and deeply underfunded...

It was a good panel, but in comparison to the squee fest of the Marvel Roundup it felt far lower key. But maybe that was because it was "meatier."


Jul. 4th, 2014 08:41 am
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I don't have a smart phone, so I can't live tweet everything as it goes down at CONvergence, but I thought I would post today's schedule:


12:30pm – 1:30pm
Atrium 6
Marvel Film Roundup
Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have been out, and Agents of SHIELD, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Defenders, and Ant Man are on the horizon. How do they all compare? What do you want to see next? Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Allyson Cygan, Shaun Duke, John Seavey,

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Atrium 7
Cyberpunk 101
Discuss the cyberpunk genre in books, film, and games; from Neuromancer and Snow Crash to Deus Ex and The Matrix. Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Lyda Morehouse, Spencer Kennedy, Christoforo Pasquarette

If you were to use the nice app that shows you my schedule, however, you'd see me signed-up (?) or otherwise listed on "Ask a Librarian" and "10 Must-See Anime Movies." I'm not officially listed in the program as on those, however, so I'm not sure why they're showing up in my schedule. After last night I'm just has happy not to be on a panel with anime experts, but I'm kind of bummed not to be on the librarian panel. I'm NOT a librarian, but I work at a library and I thought it would be nice to let some interested parties know that you don't have to have a library degree to work with books.

So, about yesterday, let's see... parking was its usual nightmare. I did manage to get a spot in the old Sofiteil lot (it's now a Radisson, maybe?) At any rate, I booked it from there to my first panel about young adult novels and the dystopia genre. I tried to get a moderator rustled up from the people who were there, and I would have taken point myself, but for my voice. But, ultimately, the last person to walk in was the one we "volunteered." She did a fine job, though there was at least one panelist who maybe got three words in. If I'd learned the blue-haired young panelist's name earlier (Kethry), I would have jumped in (like I do) not just for myself, but to ask her opinion as well. Probably my favorite moment of that panel, however, was when a woman in the audience posed a fascinating sort of question comment about how it seems that a lot of the "revolutions" that happen in many of the current dystopia novels actually seem subversively conservative or reactionary. I had one of those "mind = blown" moments, but without my voice I couldn't catch hold of that thread and really explore it. Ultimately, I think the panel was good, but it was one of those that could have been better.

I ended up not going to the panel "Female Superhero Films: Why Can't We Have One?" because I wasn't listed in the actual program. I have plenty of panels otherwise, so it seemed wisest to stay off it. I mean, as you see above, I have a bunch other panels that seemed to have mysteriously attached themselves to my schedule. I'm going to treat that as some kind of glitch, especially since none of these "extra" panels are printed on the back of my badge, which comes directly from the programming/green room.

So, since I had no panel to scurry off to after the YA one, I hung out with my friend [ profile] seanmmurphy. We connected up with [ profile] matociquala and Sigrid Ellis at the bar. Once we were there we ran into [ profile] haddayr and Adam Stemple (with his kids in tow)... so that was sort of a classic con moment. I bonded with Sigrid because she'd just had throat surgery, so neither one of us could talk much. Later in the hall I ran into [ profile] naomikritzer and [ profile] jiawen.

My final panel was "Into to Anime" but everyone there at the panel already knew a lot about anime. As I later told [ profile] jiawen, it wasn't so much as an introduction as a 'hook-up.' But, I think there are only three anime panels in the whole con, so all the fans are going to all of them.

Anyway, today I'm going with Mason, who is dressed as kid Luffy. He looks adorable. I'm going to take a picture to post tomorrow. Okay, I have to run get dressed.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Wow, that registration line, huh?

Holy cow!

I was one of the lucky ones, as a panel participant and a former GoH, I got to stand in the "expedited" line. This meant I only waited a half hour to get badged. I last heard that the going rate for regular con attendees (of which, btw, this year hit 7,000) was FOUR HOURS. I saw volunteers running up and down along the lines making sure people had cool water and snacks if they needed one, because while I was waiting someone fainted... at least I presume so from the term "medical emergency."

I'm not sure why the wait was so long. The badges weren't pre-printed which may have been part of it. I think, perhaps, too, that the number of people who turned up on the 4th of July was unexpected. It's possible that the concom didn't quite anticipate the logistics of lots and lots of people with the day off work (and likely to want to register today rather than tomorrow, when they very likely have to go back to work...) I'm not sure CONvergence has actually ever started on the 4th before.

I should say that I think the volunteers and staff were working overtime to make things right. It's just that everyone showed up kind of at once, which is unusual. Mostly people trickle in over the day. But, I came right about when the con started and there were already lines.

But, the nice thing about standing in line for a while is that you see a lot of people passing by. I got a chance to hang out with [ profile] jiawen and catch up a little with her. I chatted with Aaron Vander Giessen I also got to see Sigid Ellis for a few moments. Had enough time to start a feud with Birdchick Sharon Stiteler, and get to my first panel... which I had honestly not been looking forward to. I'd been making faces in the hallway about the dumbness of the title: "Books I Hate That Everyone Else Loves." I was expecting my contribution to go like this: "Lord of the Rings. Never finished it. Thought it was dull, dull, dull" cue: angry fan mob, the end.

But I'd forgotten how wonderful my fellow panelists were. Will Alexander is always a treat as is David Schwartz. So, we managed to make the panel fun (and I hope) interesting. Probably the best moment was when one of the panelists (whom I shall not name to protect his or her livelihood) mentioned that he or she disliked AMERICAN GODS. After I high-fived them, I noticed a DEADLY silence in the audience. You dare! The sacred Neil Gaiman may not be dissed! (Never mind that earlier someone in the audience admitted to hating on LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula LeGuin.) I really actually thought that the audience might turn on us at that point. We had to quick make a joke and get back to books by other people that had failed us.

We never managed to actually discuss, more than in passing, what makes a book get on this list. I think Will Alexander brought up the idea that often books that are "hated" were once loved, but they turned some unforgivable corner. The author made us feel manipulated (as in ENDER'S GAME) or otherwise betrayed the contract with the reader (Sheri S. Tepper's FAMILY TREE). We also talked a lot about books we loved when we were twelve that horrified us when we returned to them as experienced, better informed readers (Anne McCaffery's DRAGONRIDER OF PERN) or books that turned us off with repulsive, unredeemed characters (Stephen R. Donaldson's LORD FOUL'S BANE.) I also confessed to bouncing off the first Harry Potter book because it had read too much like wish fulfillment to me. That lead to books that everyone loved (ie were bestsellers) that we found sort of mundanely or even poorly written, (cue the usual suspects, ala Stephen King).

I'm not sure the discussion was deep, but it was interesting. People bounce off books for lots of reasons. We even briefly discussed the fact that some books don't work for us the first time, but we find we can read when we're in the "right mood" for them.

Also... in breaking news, a surprising amount of classics don't work for SF/F people. (I actually long knew this. I got an English major, after all, and we read no SF/F, despite the fact we could have read Frankenstein or anything by HG Wells.)

I then followed Dave and Will to the programming participant's gathering in the bar, but I had to bail early tonight because last year we missed fireworks because I was a GoH and didn't quite get the message from my family that THIS WAS IMPORTANT, and thus, partied, while my son sobbed, which made me a VERY BAD PARENT. Thus, this year, I promised a dozen times that I would NOT miss this. In fact, we're going to head out super-early to get a good seat. So I'll be leaving in about a half hour.

Anyway, I'm hopeful that the con will be a good one this year. It's shaping up well so far.

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