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Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

GRL - Post-Con Thoughts

It's human nature to dwell upon the negative. What's the saying? "For one negative review, there are ten positive reviews that don't get written." Or "every negative review can influence ten people, who will repeat the negative, while the positive is forgotten.' Or some such sayings like that.

Of course, each and every convention can be improved every year they hold one. I'm sure this convention ran much more smoothly than say their first one. So, all that said, let me start with the positive.

The music was da BOMB! Love to dance, even though I'm not good at it and look pretty much like a beached whale writhing on the dance floor, but hell, it's fun. The costume party was the most absolute perfect way to end the convention. Had a great time at the Casino Royale as well - was fun learning how to play roulette.

The panels were fun, but much improvement to be made (see below). Great moderators and the authors were awesome to meet. The featured author signing was fun as well (didn't get to experience the supporting author one as I WAS a supporting author - but great to be asked for my autograph. Heck, maybe some day those will be worth something! LOL). I got to meet people I only knew on-line and it was great to put faces to FB profiles. Felt a little funny going up to some people, as some more than others share their lives with us on-line. To know a little more intimate details about someone you've actually never met face-to-face, then to meet them face-to-face - well, more than once I got tongue-tied and really had no idea what to say (and for those that know me, you will find that hard to believe).

I did find myself feeling a bit out of place, though, especially the first day. There were quite a few 'cliques' going on and a lot of authors had their followings. Not to say that's bad, but it did make this newbie feel like an outsider. What did I have to offer other than the two novels I'd written? Could they even be compared to the prolific works of many of the featured authors? I felt so small at first, but when people actually brought copies of my books for them to sign and also tell me how much the books meant to them ... I felt it was all worth it. By Saturday I felt much more brave and actually introduced myself to people (instead of waiting to be introduced or waiting for them to introduce themselves). I think I needed one more day and I would have sprouted into a real social butterfly. By Saturday evening I felt much more confident. Wonder of the event organizers would consider a full-week convention in the future?

So, what to improve? Well, I'm putting the book selling tax fiasco behind me. I feel bad for the authors and publishers who had to give up a large percentage, but all I could do was offer my help and it wasn't needed. Moving on.

I'm going to briefly mention the hotel, as the hotel and its staff are well beyond the control of concom. The hotel knew we were coming, yet they did not have extra staff on hand and actually were woefully understaffed. Common sense notions (like leaving four towels per room when there were four people in the room) didn't seem to be a concern. So weird for a Hilton to not leave four washcloths, four hand towels and four bathtowels at the very least when the room was made up.

Okay, so the convention. As stated above, I enjoyed listening to the authors and liked how they had Q&As, spotlights and readings. What I was disappointed about was the lack of 'general' panel Q&A topics. For example, why not have a panel on how to deal with trolls (both as an author and reader - trolls are equal-opportunity idiots you know). Or how about one on how to write a good critique or review - not just the 'OMG I love this book! You must read it!' Or one on marketing, or how to use social media, or how to find new authors to read or how to read outside your comfort zone, or ... you get the idea. This convention, to my knowledge, was created to be a readers' convention. It needs to cater to the readers a bit more and not to the authors' egos.

And why did they limit the panels to featured authors only? There was no criteria to differentiate from featured to supporting other than the money paid. I think panels could have started earlier, gone later and more of them to choose from. If the Hilton is the common size for this type of convention and the con attendance was around 500, more panels can be easily held. (I actually had been waiting throughout Aug/Sep to be asked what panels I'd like to be on - sorta like the fan cons I've gone to in the past). I didn't realize it was only featured authors that get to sit on panels.

I was also shocked that every single event was held at the hotel. While there is an expense to driving into Chicago, it has a very vibrant gay community. Why on earth were we stuck at the hotel? I'd think for a nominal fee we all could have went club hopping one evening. Rent a couple of buses so everyone can drink to their hearts' content and go out and get sweaty.

As for newbies, while I do know there was a newbie breakfast thing on Thursday morning, it would be been nice to have one in the evening (or early afternoon) on Thursday to accommodate those that came in late or for those of us who just aren't morning people.

And lastly, the meaning of 'brunch' - a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast or lunch. Thus 'brunch' does NOT start at 8am. Brunch should start around 10a/11a (and I thought I read the on-line app schedule that said brunch started at 11a - the start time unfortunately was in grey and was hard to read on a white screen, while the end time was in blue and popped out.) If you are going to start at 8am, call it breakfast. Was a little pissed about that one as I had planned on going.

All-in-all, I was glad I went. Had an awesome time with a great group of friends at the sushi place - Kabuki in Glendale Heights. It was definitely a dinner and a show all in one.

Next year it's going to be in San Diego. California is extremely expensive and I don't see how plane fare will be much less than $500. Even if I bunk with three others again, probably looking at minimum $200-$300 for hotel and even eating conservatively at maybe $200 for the five days, looking at at least a grand to just get there, get a roof over my head and food to eat. Not to mention registration fees, pet-sitting fees back here at home and hoping I could get the time off work. <sigh> I need to win the lottery. If only I played it. Perhaps a long-lost relative will pass and give me lots of money. Or that Nigerian prince comes through. You never know.

For those on the west coast, yes, go. It is worth it, even with some of the drawbacks. It was such an honor to talk to those that have read my books (and then be asked when the next one was coming out!) 

So now I am rejuvenated. I feel like writing again. Maybe not today as I'm very sleep-deprived and there's not telling what might come out, but this week, definitely. I've got a YA novel started that I'd like to try to finish before NaNoWriMo so I can finish a vampire novel I've been working on for NaNo. (I know you're not supposed to have something started for NaNo, but my goal for the book is around 90k and I've got around 40k done, so the 50k is all new stuff for November LOL.)

For now, I bid everyone a fond adieu as I need a nap. Rocky and I are going to snuggle on the couch while the football game lulls us to sleep.

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