MilehiCon is my local con, so I try to make it every year, and in the last couple of years I’ve taken to volunteering for panels. But this year, I felt I was, overall, better prepared to be useful on said panels. And I think it helped tremendously to actually have a book published, to hold up for the crowd to see; in fact, I was quite astonished that whenever I mentioned that the book had just come out that weekend, everyone clapped and took the time to congratulate me, audience members and fellow panelists alike. It was a very rewarding feeling, and I’ve never quite felt so welcome in the community as I did this weekend. I had a reading and people actually showed up (though for all I know they were there for Hilary Bell, not me:-D) and I handed out quite a few postcards about my book.
My panel load included Researching Fiction, which went well, and everyone had very useful and inspiring things to say about the importance of research in fiction-writing. The best overall panel though was the Border Crossings: Non-Western Fantasy panel–a bit of a surprise since, in the past, I haven’t done well on panels on such potentially heavy subject matters. And when I saw the original questions, I was dreading going to this panel (and in fact was really hoping that no one would show up so the panel would end up getting cancelled). Luckily, we were blessed with a really good, astute moderator–Jonna Gjevre–who tossed the questions out and led us in a fascinating and fun discussion about the importance of writing the Other and how to go about it with care and integrity. I left the panel feeling excited and uplifted in a way I never have with any other panel. What a difference a really good, passionate moderator can make in a discussion!
The best part of any convention is seeing friends again, and meeting new people. I signed up for Autograph Alley this year, and though I didn’t sign anything, I sat with my friend Carol Berg and met Bonnie Doran, and we all hung out in the bar afterward for the Writers’ Networking (if you pop over to Bonnie’s blog, you can see a picture of me and Carol at the signing. I’m the one in the blue Soft Kitty shirt. Being shortsighted, I neglected to get any pictures of my own at all during the convention.). There we met up with a bunch of Codexians, like Eric James Stone and Matt Rotundo. If I’d been staying at the hotel, I would have joined Matt and a few others for some Karaoke downstairs, but instead had to drive back home for the night. Next year I’m going to consider renting a room for the weekend. The next night I went to dinner with Carol, Courtney Shafer, and Rick Friesen, whom I’ve come to fondly think of as my MileHiCon posse; we ended the night with a writing session in the lobby since there didn’t seem to be anyone in the bar, and I did a little work on Bone Flower Queen.
Overall a very productive and fun convention.