Back from a weekend of sci-fi / fantasy literature panels at ConDFW. It seemed a little smaller this year though that may have been due to the new venue. There was gaming, costumes, and a fairly solid line-up of panels that focused on topics ranging from story pacing to creating new cultures.

My head expanded to about three times normal size and I wish I could say it was from some glowing comment by a respected author about my work. Nothing of the sort. People may deny global warming but rest assured, my nose tells me the pollen is starting to fly earlier and earlier every year.  I actually spent most of Sunday in bed and by the time I got up, didn’t feel like driving out to the Con again.

Saturday was fun and I managed to make it to several panels. My son tagged along and spent his time playing Battletech with a nice group out of Garland. I even got sidetracked a little bit there as well, reliving some robot smashing memories. Still, I took away some useful information and even some great book recommendations along the way.

From the panel on Pacing, featuring guest of honor Jo Walton, I learned to look at every scene and say “Why not go straight to the interesting parts?” Figure out what you are establishing and get there. Sure, setup is important and well moderated description and such but never let it distract from your main focus.

I attended a panel all about anthologies – both the business of publishing them and writing for them. A nice little hint from a publisher was to shoot for the lower word count if you are looking to break-in to the scene. She pointed out that it was much easier to find space for stories on the lower end of a word count than squeeze in the really long ones. (Not the thing you want to hear when your last short was about fifty words off the 5k max for an anthology.)

The self-editing panel had the age-old suggestions – get more eyes on it, let it sit a while before going back to it, etc. They got into a side-discussion about publishing and noted that the big New York house’s marketing groups are just as important as the editor. Even if your novel is amazing, they’ll do an analysis based on similar works and see how well those sold before giving a project the green-light. It was also mentioned that affixing a genre label was often a marketing decision as well – it’s more about selling your book than classifying it in a useful way. Sometimes this is a very mixed blessing.

Overall, it was a good experience. I wasn’t feeling incredibly social so not much valuable networking got done this year, but it was informative. I’m looking forward to next year where it looks like they scored Kevin J. Anderson as their guest of honor. That should be interesting and I might be well into a fantasy novel by that time.

Categories: Con Updates

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2 replies

  1. Interesting. I’m not at all familiar with this con, but it sounds like it’s more for fans than writers? Or am I wrong? Do they include horror with the sci-fi & fantasy? It sounds like you learned some good stuff.

  2. Well, the majority of the panels were on writing topics, but it is sort of a fan convention. It’s a strange mix really. It’s hosted by the Texas Speculative Fiction Association and it does include horror. Some of the panelists I believe were horror writers, but not many. The past two years, the “guests of honor” have included a fantasy and a steampunk writer. Next year, they’re supposed to have Kevin J. Anderson, another fantasy writer.

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