the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘conventions’ Category

Over the weekend of Sept 27/28 Elizabeth Campbell and I attended Context 27 in Columbus Oh.  Maybe you’ve seen some of my teaser photos? Every convention has a personality, and Context’s personality is “mellow and inviting”. This is my second year attending Context, and two years in a row it’s been the most welcoming convention I’ve attended. I recognized a lot of people from last year, so it felt like a reunion with plenty of hugs in hallways and Omgosh Hi!’s.

 

But it isn’t easy to walk into a hotel full of strangers. To help break the ice, Elizabeth had the genius idea of picking up a pack of “Hello my name is” stickers and a pack of markers. For people we knew well, we gave them obnoxious or non sequitur name tags. For example, I quickly had stickers that said “Sober Andrea” and “I don’t know how to use my phone”, and “on vacation”. For people we didn’t know, I’d ask them what they’d like on their name tag.  Context was the perfect amount of people for this kind of game, more than a few hundred people and I don’t think it would have worked. Next year, we should pick up half a dozen packs and give them to different people, so by the end of the weekend everyone gets at least one sticker.

By Saturday night I was covered in stickers.

By Saturday night I was covered in stickers.

 

The programming at Context is designed for writers. There are workshops you can sign up for, readings, panels, games, and the famous Friday Night Flash Fiction Contest, along with the requisite dealer room, consuite and nighttime parties.  What was I, a non-writer, doing at a writers convention you ask? Well, I had such a fantastic time last year that I had to go back… and would you believe that writers like book reviewers?  This was also a big first for me: being on panels.  Would anyone show up for my panels? Would my co-panelists be cool? What if I was a crappy moderator? quick answers are yes, yes, and I did fine.

First time moderating a panel? Might as well do it while cosplaying Sabetha Belacoros.

First time moderating a panel? Might as well do it while cosplaying Sabetha Belacoros.

It was probably easier because the quantity of people to serve was smaller, but this consuite was fantastic. Snacks, soda, coffee, more snacks, breakfast, dinner, sandwiches, dessert. Sushi even showed up a few times. The dealer room was small but well curated. No items were repeated, so no one was completing with anyone else, which was nice. There were shiny new books from the big publishers, more shiny new books from small presses, steampunk jewelry and accessories, used books, Star Wars items, and more. Two of my favorite small presses, Apex and Alliteration Ink were right near the front, so I barely made my way to the back of the room. I’m sure there was a lot back there I never saw.

 

Autograph sessions were done in a unique way. Instead of having one large mass autograph session, two or three authors at a time would spend a scheduled hour in the dealer room, answering questions and chatting and autographing books.  I had some books I wanted signed, and never managed to be in the dealer room at the right time, so luckily I was able to catch up with people later.  Personally, I think I prefer the larger mass autograph sessions.

 

With the majority of the programming being on Saturday, Elizabeth and I spent most of Friday browsing Columbus area bookstores, schmoozing with friends in the dealer room, and hanging out in the bar. Much pumpkin beer was had. Then we went to some panels!

 

Ready to hear more than you ever wanted to know about all the panels I jammed into one weekend?

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Last weekend I was at Context in Columbus OH.  This small-ish SF/F convention is so casual and fun that it felt like a relaxicon.  Columbus is also a fantastic city to visit, with bookstores on nearly every corner, beautiful college campuses, historic neighborhoods, and a highway system that actually makes sense. While you are being so very patient to hear about my adventures, here are some photos to whet your appetite.

 

Warning: large photo files ahead.

Is that a panelist packet? why yes, yes it is!

Is that a panelist packet? why yes, yes it is!

pumpkin beer in a pumpkin glass.

pumpkin beer in a pumpkin glass.

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The weekend of Sept 26th-28th I’ll be in Columbus OH, attending Context27.  Context27 is a small-ish, very casual convention aimed towards speculative fiction writers and anyone involved or wanting to get involved in writing. Their programming offers workshops, panels, informal discussion, and of course, evening parties and schmoozing.  This year’s guests of honor are Jonathan Mayberry and Betsy Mitchell.  Other guests and panelists include Lucy Snyder, Laura Resnick, Gary Braunbeck, Matt Betts, Maurice Broaddus, Carrie Cuinn, Jason Sizemore, Steven Zimmer, Sarah Hans, Janet Harriett, Tim Waggoner, Michael West, Gery Deer, Geoffrey Girard, Jennifer Brozek, and more!

Oh, and I’m a panelist*   this year too!

Here’s my panel schedule:

Saturday 10am – Being a Woman in Publishing

Saturday 5pm – Hot New Writers

Sunday 1pm – Getting Your Book Reviewed/ Being a Good Reviewer

 

 

Columbus has a huge  craft beer scene, so when I’m not at the convention hotel, I’ll be chilling with Elizabeth Campbell at a bar somewhere. If memory serves, there is a place nearby called “Pies and Pints”, which is crafty beer and fantastic pizza.

 

also, did you know? Robert Jackson Bennett’s amazing City of Stairs is released today.  If you haven’t already decided to buy this book, go read my review.

 

* this is my first time being a panelist. I am excited/scared shitless. Constructive advice/criticism is welcome, but please be gentle. i talk a good talk, but i is a sensitive mouse.

So I recently posted about a bazillion photos (part 1, part 2, part 3. that’s almost a bazillion, right?) from Anime Midwest. Yes, the people watching and cosplay was the highlight of the weekend, but I did things other than sit in the lobby and photograph people!  The convention had tons of programming, there were panels about cosplay, about specific shows and fandoms, Q&As with famous voice actors, concerts, there was so, so much to see and do.   Hubby and I went to a few panels together, but there were so many good panels that were all occurring at the same time, that it was mostly “You go to this one, I’ll go to this other one, we’ll compare notes later”.

 

Here’s a recap of what we saw and did:

 

Friday:

 

The first  panel we went to was called Dialects of Kansai. The woman who hosted the panel studied and lived in Japan, and was doing a series of panels over the weekend about Life in Japan. Students who study Japanese learn the “standard” Kyoto dialect, but Osaka uses a much older dialect and language patterns and casual slang that goes about about 1,000 years.   I didn’t understand most of the Japanese she used, but it was a really cool panel. She also did the Kimono panel I went to later Friday evening.

 

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Q&A with voice actress Caitlin Glass, who anime fans know as the voice of Winry Rockbell, Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club, Evergreen of Fairy Tail, Petra of Attack on Titan, among many other roles. She is such the perfect nerd!  She said that as a child she loved the movie The Little Mermaid so much that she’d walk around imitating Ariel’s voice.  She studied classical theater in College, and took the “never close any doors” advice to heart, later auditioning with Funimation in her home town in Texas.  It was a huge crowd, and she was great about answering everyone’s questions and having a lot of fun.

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In the last two posts, I mostly showed photos of Japanese manga, anime, live action tv, and video games.  There were plenty of people cosplaying western comic book, movie, and video game characters as well!  see?

 

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

 

Merida from Brave.

Merida from Brave.

 

Even Doctor Who and the Daleks made and appearance!  I was able to catch up with one of the Elevens (I saw at least 3 of them) as he battled a Dalek-head. This guy, oh man did he have the physical mannerisms down!  Acting the part takes the cosplay to a whole new level!  (and yes, there was a number ten, but I couldn’t get close enough to get a photo)

it's The Doctor!

it’s The Doctor!

 

Too fun to watch!

Too fun to watch!

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Just joining us? You’ll want to read this post first.

Oh, and if i have misidentified characters, let me know in the comments so I can fix the  captions. Google image search only gets you so far….

Jumping right back into cosplay photos:

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

Natsu from Fairy Tail

Natsu from Fairy Tail

 

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online was another very popular show to cosplay, there were a ton of Kiritos and Asunas running around. Running Around, very hard to photograph.

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This about summed up the weekend.

This about summed up the weekend.

Last weekend, hubby and I drove to Chicago for Anime Midwest. Over 6000 people converged on the Hyatt Regency and neighboring Expo center for  autograph sessions and Q&A sessions with famous voice actors, concerts, panels, fan meet-ups, fashion shows, the dealer room, fandom specific activities, and the best people watching in the midwest.  More a Cosplay convention than anything else, the lobby of the hotel and all areas outside were most definitely the place to see and be seen.  it was all about the cosplay, with the most popular costumes being Kill la Kill, Madoka Magica, and Attack on Titan.   Lots of younger people were dressed up, and the costumes these kids put together were simply incredible. Entire outfits, props, wigs, make up, the whole nine yards.   Also? more Homestuck than I ever want to think about.   I took a ton of photos, but for photos that are actually good, head over to Geek Girl Chicago’s recap.

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

You know how we’re always talking about how we want our conventions to be more diverse? We want more women, more minorities, more younger people?  This convention was the definition of diverse. The crowd skewed on the young side, with plenty of kids and teens with parents in tow, and a huge crowd of 20-somethings. I saw all ages, all backgrounds, all skin colors, all everything. and it was beautiful.  Everyone was cheering their favorite fandom, dressed to the nines as their favorite character, or in some cases, favorite two or three characters all at once. there were anime characters, video game character, a Maid Cafe, American superheroes, Disney princesses, you name it. Had I known ahead of time that there would be so many American characters, I’d have taken my Sabetha costume (don’t worry, I took a different costume!)

A few more quickie comments before getting to the photo dump (which lets be honest, you’re here for the photos, right?)

The hotel was spacious and down right huge, with plenty of public areas for people to socialize and take photos. Loud activities such as concerts were in the basement, as far from the hotel rooms as possible.  Celebrities brought in for the convention did wonderful panels, gave autographs, and seemed genuinely excited about interactive with fans.  The peoplewatching, oh my god, the people watching!  I’d just sit in the lobby and watch people go by!  There was a huge variety of panels, everything from anime show specific, to learning about Japan, to Cosplay tips and tricks, to Japanese street fashion, to fanfiction, to how to use Samurai Swords, to name that tune, to about a billion other things.  The most popular events were, unsurprisisngly, the Masquerade Costume Contest, and autograph and question sessions with the attending voice actors, like Greg Ayres, Sonny Strait, Caitlin Glass, Johnny Yong Bosch, Chris Patton, Alexis Tipton, Laura Post, and D.C. Douglas.

Programming went very late at night, and around 11pm, most panels switched to 18+, and I was impressed with how strict they were about carding people. You had to show a convention badge and an ID. The two guys in line in front of me for the 18+ panel I attended were turned away, and the guys doing the carding chuckled when I said “I’m old enough to be those boys’ mom”. They let me in no problem.

photos!  lets get to the good stuff!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.