Live anywhere near Michigan? You should come to Confusion
Posted February 1, 2015on:
A few weekends ago I was at Confusion, a fan run scifi convention in Detroit Michigan. This is my fourth year attending Confusion, and every year there are more “hey, great to see you!”’s, more hugs, more great conversations, more random meetings with people I was hoping to run into (but didn’t know what they looked like until now), and more happy surprises. Long story short is that Confusion is a fan-freaking-tastic convention, and if you live within driving distance of Detroit, you should consider going.
this year’s Confusion was a whole new con for me, for two reasons:
I was on panels
People knew who I was
We arrived after dinner on Friday, just in time for Opening Ceremonies. That event leads into the Dessert Reception, where you can get pastries and cookies and such and mingle with the special guests. I was hoping to introduce myself to Karen Lord, because I’d recently interviewed her at SFSignal. I caught up with her as she was finishing a conversation with someone else, and introduced myself. And she knew who I was! We had a very nice chat and I may have nearly passed out.
Friday was about mingling and getting the lay of the land, Saturday was when the real work began. i had a bunch of panels Saturday evening and Sunday. In between panels I was on and panels I wanted to go to was more in the way of mingling, chatting, introductions, subtle networking, and being geeky with my geeky friends. I got to finally meet my friend Stacey, who I’d only chatted with over e-mail before, and authors I met included Tom Doyle and Christian Klaver, I got to meet Scott H. Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mary Robinette Kowal made me feel super special when she shared her whisky with me, Karen Lord gave me some book recommendations, Bradley Beaulieu and I geeked out about one of our favorite fantasy authors, Tobias Buckell gave me the lowdown on the challenges of recording audiobooks when your characters speak in a specific dialect, and I super shyly introduced myself to Robert Jackson Bennett. James Leach of DailyNightmare.com remembered how much I loved the gorgeously typeset 13 Quick Shivers, so he gave me a copy of their new anthology 22 More Quick Shivers. Even if you’re not into horror or flash fiction, these little books are amazing just for the graphic design and typesetting. Also? fantastic storytelling in exactly 100 words.
I was on five panels, the highlight of them being the “Is Paradox really so bad?” panel with Ted Chiang, Catherine Shaffer, Steve Buchheit and Doselle Young. We spent a good 10 minutes defining what is a paradox (going back in time and killing your grandfather, thereby causing yourself never to be born), and what isn’t a paradox (going back in time and giving advice to your younger self). There was some disagreement as to if our discussion should only include true paradoxes, or if we were all just here to have a good time and play around with funny stories.
I moderated two panels – “What Should I read Next?”, with Brian McClellan, Leah Bobet, Justin Landon and Jay Ridler, and “Book Reviewing 101” with Seleste deLaney, Jackie Morgan, Justin Landon and M.H. Mead. the “What Should I read Next” panel was a lot of fun, as we let audience members tell us 3 books they’d recently enjoyed, and it was up to the panelists to make suggestions for them. Leah Bobet had the best method of finding out specifically what people liked, she’d ask people “what was it about those books that you enjoyed?” From speaking to a few audience members after the fact, looks like Brian gave the best recommendations. In the Book Reviewing 101 panel, the panelists talked about how long we’ve been blogging, what types of things should be covered in a review, the importance of a unique and descriptive blog name, single person blogs vs group blogs, like that. I was suprised at how few hands went up when we asked the audience “how many of you are bloggers?” (no hands), “how many of you want to start a review blog?” (a few hands). M.H. Mead had the most unique blog of all the panelists, she reviews books on How to Write. I was really interested in her experiences reviewing non-fiction books.
I was also on “Writers as Fans, Fans as Critics, Critics as Writers and Fans”, with Seleste deLaney, Jim C. Hines, Jackie Morgan, and Justin Landon. The discussion seemed to orbit around questionable author behavior, including if authors should comment on (positive or negative) reviews of their work, if authors should draw their fans towards negative reviews, or on the other side, and if authors have a responsibility to stay as far away as possible from reviews of their work, or should only review the works of people they don’t know. There was some discussion of how women are more likely to be the victim of bad online behavior, and that men don’t have to worry as much about what is said or done online. Luckily, I have never been in the crossfire of this type of situation.
My last panel (really, it was one of the last ones of the convention!) was “There’s more to comics than superheroes”, with Carrie Harris, Matt Feazell, Doselle Young, and a 5th panelist whose name I don’t remember (I’m sorry!). Once our 5th arrived, we had more panelists than audience members, so this panel actually felt a lot like recording a podcast. I didn’t really have much to say for most of the panel, as the discussion seemed to focus on Comic books I’d never heard of, and different authors of different superhero scripts. Near the end, I was finally able to get a shout out in for Ursula Vernon’s Digger, Girl Genius, xkcd, and a historical manga called A Bride’s Story.
The problem with being on panels was that I missed other panels and events I wanted to go to. I’m not complaining, i’m just making the case that someone really *really* needs to invent that time turner thing from Harry Potter. Wrapping my head around the fact that I had to be at a certain place at a certain time makes a convention feel very different.
An event that’s become a tradition at Confusion is the Saturday afternoon Reddit AMA room. Steve Drew, who runs the reddit/r/fantasy subreddit takes over a meeting room at the hotel, fills it with laptops and adult beverages and invites attending authors to stop in for an hour or so and do a pop up AMA (ask me anything). The room feels like an author clubhouse, but it is open to the public. they *want* people to stop in and say hi. It’s basically the chillax space that isn’t the bar. I knew Steve by sight, so on Saturday afternoon I popped my head in and we chatted for a few minutes. I tagged him in a tweet, which lead to a cute conversation where he said he knew my blog, and had recommended it to his niece who blogs, and before I knew it I was sitting next between authors Tom Doyle and Robert Jackson Bennett doing my own quickie Reddit AMA. so yeah, that happened.
I actually got to watch a few panels too! My favorite was one about costuming. Run by Annalee Flower Horne and Alex Drummer, I remembered them both from last year,when they both sported fantastic cosplays. Topics discussed were how to figure out how the outfit will actually go together, where the seams will be, what type of fabrics to use for what, how to find an adaptable sewing pattern, how to make weird stuff like super stiff collars, fake weapons, stiff anime hair, floppy pirate boots, and more. A lot of really good tips. Time to dust off that sewing machine!
When I got home, I realized I’d done a ton of chillaxing and schmoozing, and had taken hardly any photos. 😦
here’s a few photos I did manage to take:
If you’re within driving distance of Detroit, I hope you’ll consider attending ConFusion. If you’re not within driving distance of Detroit, I hope you’ll consider attending a convention near where you live.