Vericon XV

I had a blast at Vericon this weekend.

Writing conventions are such a surreal experience. You get to rub shoulders with published authors, editors, and agents, listen to panels where professionals impart their wisdom, and also hang out with a bunch of really wonderful people. It's a whirlwind of excitement and activity that's over almost as soon as it begins, leaving you wondering what the hell happened to your underwear and whether or not you'll be able to find a cab at this hour.

Wait. What was I talking about?

I enjoyed Vericon more than Readercon (my first con, which I attended last year), mostly because I knew what I was getting into this time around, and I made a concerted effort to be outgoing and meet people. Also, Vericon is more intimate. Not only are there fewer attendees, but the schedule is such that there are almost no conflicting events. I was able to attend every panel and go to a bunch of readings/signings.

I'd like to think I handled myself with a minimal amount of awkwardness, but my social skills definitely still need work.

For one, I need to have a better answer when people ask me what I write. Instead of simply stammering, "uh-buh, FANTASY," I need to say something like, "I'm working on a novel about a golden wolf who's sick of being a god," or, "my next project is a space fantasy set in 18th century Persia."

For two, I need to learn that my snarky sense of humor doesn't always work well with people who don't know me. At the end of a lovely conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal, she graciously wished me the best of luck with my writing. I responded with, "I'd wish you the best of luck as well, but you're doing fine."

Stay classy, Peter.

(I'll call it a victory that I chose NOT to accost Patrick Nielsen Hayden in the bathroom, which I'm sure would have been EXTREMELY awkward.)

Highlights:

  • Ken Liu. His panels were a delight, and his Guest of Honor speech was incredibly informative. Also, I managed to snag an early copy of THE GRACE OF KINGS (which doesn't come out until April 7) and got him to sign it. I guess I'll just have to give the copy I pre-ordered away...

  • Daniel José Older. What a chill dude. It's a blessing to hear this guy speak, especially about diversity in fiction. I grabbed a copy of HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES, and just devoured it.

  • Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. SF/F's power couple. The wealth of industry knowledge between these two is, frankly, intimidating.

  • Mary Robinette Kowal. Having listened to Writing Excuses for years now, it was a pleasure to finally meet her (despite the aforementioned awkwardness on my part). She's a fount of good writing advice. The panel on the joys and perils of writing short fiction was particularly enlightening:

From left to right: Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Alex Shvartsman, Ken Liu

All in all, a wonderful weekend. My thanks to all the organizers and volunteers (and guests!) who made it possible. I'll definitely be returning next year.