I have a tendency to walk away from most cons saying “that was the most fun I had at a con in my life!” Well, I’m not certain anything can actually top Dragon*Con 2012, the last year where Anne McCaffrey’s Worlds had its own track, and I had the privilege of really dialing in the writing craft with the help of Jody Lynn Nye, Todd McCaffrey, Toni Weisskopf (my hero!), and an amazing presentation on communicating emotion in writing from David Gerrold. That combined with bar hopping with infamous Albedo One publisher/editor Bob Neislon… well, it’d be impossible to top.
RustyCon is tough to compare to Dragon*Con in a lot of ways, but in all honesty, the experience came close to being as cool. It’s a much smaller convention (Dragon*Con gets about 50,000 people, RustyCon I believe was around 600), which leads to different kinds of entertainment– by which I mean I think I probably made the most of what I imagine will be lasting friends at any convention I’ve been to. Because of the size of the con, I was able to spend quality time with a lot of people who deserve shout outs in their own rights but I won’t bore all my readers with name lists.
Like the idiot I am, I didn’t get any pictures of myself from the con to put up here, though I did video the Guest of Honor speech by New York Times Bestselling Author, Todd McCaffrey:
My first panel was “One Pun To Rule Them All” on Friday night — aside, I try to sign up for more “performance based” panels that are on the fun side to give people laughs. I think in general cons need to work to have more of this type of thing, since there’s only so many times we can be told “how to write.” Maybe it’s just me, but this was awesome, and the programming was pretty diverse considering how small of a gathering this was– I actually spent the majority of the day laboring over an opening grand pun, which went a little something like this:
“I was going to open this panel in a prayer… but I figured I didn’t really want to alienate some of the audience. On the other hand, we need Allah help we can get.”
I turned to Todd McCaffrey. “I figured you’d say, no way, but I say Yahweh!”
“I figure it’d be best to cover the Judeo-Christian God and Islam’s at a Zion’s Friction convention.” [credit to Spider Robinson on this pun which I always try to force my way into using in public]
That devolved into a bunch of God-based puns involving Thor, Buddha, and others. I think author Janet Freeman-Daily was responsible for bringing it to the Norse-God realm. In which I said “I’m glad we switched to the old gods, because I want to keep this panel Loki.”
Groans and tomato throwing abounded!
Other panel highlight had to be Delphic Oracle, as it always is. If you haven’t seen this, I won’t spoil it, but this should be a staple of EVERY convention. Hilarity ensues every time.
I’m notorious for trying to get off-programming programming, or unofficial panels/events going at these things, to which I’m sure convention organizers hate me at this point, but I did just that at RustyCon as well on Saturday evening. At first, it started with a simple declaration that I was going to read my starting-to-become-infamous puppet murder story aloud at the bar in an effort to impress Evil Girlfriend Media’s publisher Katie Cord. Author Timothy W. Long mentioned he had an even more ridiculous story, and I said “let’s make a thing of it.” Next thing to do, of course, is approach the Guest of Honor and ask if he’ll join for a reading, because at this point we have a couple good opening acts and I figure Todd McCaffrey would drive the performance home. I asked him to read his short, “Men!” which is fabulous and hilarious and you can find in his “One Tree of Luna” short story collection on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tree-Luna-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B00ALBA6IO
We picked up a couple really good and more serious stories along the way from Janet Freeman-Daily and Tom Wright and boom, we have a couple hour long event.
As is typical with my lack-of-planning these things, we needed a venue. The bar was too loud and busy but we found a pretty big table in the restaurant (that still had the bar serving) which worked for our devices. With the help of two wonderful young ladies, word spread around and we received a respectable audience.
For any folk who may try to take this idea and incorporate it, here’s a couple tips.
1. This is not just a “reading”. Panel readings already exist, have for a long time and aren’t necessarily the most fun events unless you really want to see a specific author read. Keeping content to really amusing or flash fiction is imperative. I also acted as toastmaster instead of moderator, in which I ensured everyone got the drinks they wanted, introduced everyone in a boisterous manner so it requires someone with a lot of energy and presence running to so it doesn’t turn into a library-style reading. Fun is key.
2. The bar or somewhere where alcohol/beverages/food is served is imperative. This makes it so it doesn’t feel like a panel, or a quiet library style reading (partially by forcing the authors to read more loudly), but feels like an intimate time hanging out with awesome authors. It hits the collective memory spot where beat poetry and other performance arts done in bars, taverns and speakeasies in our culture.
Well, it went awesome. All of the readers were incredible. Great stories all around. Everyone who came to listen was equally incredible. I may have gotten a little too toasty because I wound up at a local bar doing a karaoke version of Boehmian Rhapsody with the crowd, but that’s another story…
There were all sorts of other fun times, but these were the highlights. A great con, and I recommend it for anyone in the Pacific Northwest, or who wants to visit the Pacific Northwest. It was great hanging out with you all, and look forward to the future.
Oh boy, I’ve started to compose a “RustyCon” theme song in my head, I may have to bring my guitar next year….