the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘conventions

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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Yes, yes, I know you’re all desperate to read 3500 words about all the panels I attended,  who stole the show at Opening Ceremonies, how I introduced myself to Sam Sykes, and what Cherie Priest was really doing in the bar on a friday night (rolling for an assassin).

but more than that, you want to read about how to  build a Dalek.

but even more than that, you want to see photos! Okay, here ya go! (Dalek building post is coming soon. Sooner than the post about panels)

2014-01-17 15.49.39 smallthe foldable keep-in-your-pocket panel program, or at least part of it.  they tease!  making it look like it’s possible to get everything done that I want to get done!

He greeted you in the lobby

He greeted you in the lobby

Authors at the Reddit AMA. see those gauntlets at the front of the table? no, not the bottles of Scotch, the gauntlets.

Authors at the Reddit AMA. see those gauntlets at the front of the table? no, not the bottles of Scotch, the gauntlets.

Yeah, those gauntlets!

Yeah, those gauntlets! Tobias Buckell shows us how he really feels about them  being fully articulated.

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Warning: massive photo dump ahead.

Continuing my post from yesterday about the awesomeness of ConText26, on Saturday afternoon we went to a few more panels:

What Editors Want, with Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore, and Scott Sandridge. This was one of my favorite panels.  They talked about common errors seen in manuscripts  (such as not following submission guidelines, the story submitted doesn’t match the style of genre of the publication,  bad grammar), the author-editor relationship, and how the anthology editor decides what order the stories should in be. Frustration with not being able to take great stories came up more than once, where an editor was putting together a themed anthology and had to reject an excellent story simply because it had nothing to do with the theme.

Faith, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Sandridge

Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Scott Sandridge

A big part of the discussion was What Do Editors Really Want?

– how did you put a different spin on the idea?

– how is your approach different to everyone else who has used the same device?

– originality is better than polish

– how is your character different? what do they care about? Why should the reader be interested in them?

– humor is a plus. Just make sure you are laughing because the author wrote it as a humor piece!

During the Q&A time I asked how they each got into editing, and what steps someone who is interested in that aspect of the business should take.  The advice was to volunteer as a slush reader to get a taste for it.

next, was:

Non-Human Characters, with Elizabeth Bear, Matthew Cook, Linda Robertson, Dave Creek, T. Lee Harris, and Scott Sandridge.  Another excellent panel! Be the character an animal, alien, shapeshifter or humanoid who isn’t human, they can’t just be the classic Star Trek “dude in a rubber suit”, or the person with nose ridges and lots of ear piercings. The authors talked about their techniques for writing non-human characters, which included tossing a lot of questions out to the audience. What sensory experiences does your character have (maybe they depend on smell?)? just because we are  base-10 doesn’t mean other creatures will be, especially if they don’t have 10 fingers.  What about symbiotic relationships? If you are on an alien planet, the environment of that planet will affect everything about the creatures who live there, everything from their physiology to their economy to their moral culture.

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I got to do a bunch of cool stuff last weekend.  Once of them (which encompassed all the other things) was attend ConText26, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Columbus, Oh.  As you can tell by the number after it’s name, ConText has been around for a while. Geared towards writers and publishers, this is a smaller convention. There was probably around 200 people there. In this case though, smaller is better. It makes for a casual and friendly atmosphere in which to learn and network.   As a “fan, non-writer”, I was in the minority. Nearly all the other attendees were writers, or involved with publishing, and interested in learning more about the craft.  I’m not a writer, but I was still fascinated by everything. Beyond panels and seminars, ConText offered a Filking concert, a Flash Fiction contest, a mass autograph session, a dealer room (to buy books to be autographed!), author readings, and of course, evening parties.

The best part was that I got to spend the weekend with my friend Elizabeth. She runs Dark Cargo, and she’s my partner in crime over at Bookstore Bookblogger Connection. She showed me around Columbus’s cool Victorian neighborhoods, took me on a bookstore adventure, introduced me to the local pizza and beer scene (Pies and Pints, FTW!), and generally ensured that I would have a #bestweekendever.  I met up with my friends John and Paul as well.


on Friday:

First panel was Liz Coley’s How To Make Your Words Shine. This was mostly about revising your drafts to get your manuscript ready for submission.  Everyone knows the basic grammar rules, but she touched on more subtle writing concepts, like adding sensory and textual descriptors (use your senses other than sight!), verbal patterns that it is easy to fall into (such as using too many adverbs) and other tips.  In my brain, what she was talking about was the engineering behind the artwork, the act of putting in the foundation last so the surface can glimmer with the texture you originally planned for it.  She suggested using the “find/replace” function to make sure the same words or phrases aren’t used over and over again, or twice in one sentence.

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well, I’m off to ConText, in Columbus OH.  electronic gizmos have been charged, car has been washed and gassed up. Friends will be met, new friends will be made,  books will be drooled upon and purchased (you drool on it, you buy it). Also, there will be beer. Copious quantities of beer.

While I’m enroute to C’bus, you should totally enjoy my latest Convention Attention post over at SFSignal!  Con curious?  Want to go to one but aren’t sure what to expect? Not sure if there are any near you? The goal of this series of columns is to shed some light on what Cons are all about and what happens there. And hey, if you’re at one in the MidWest, and you see a short redhead running around, give a good loud shout of “Andrea!” and see if she turns around. 😉

Michael deLuca, Alastair Reynolds, Howard Andrew Jones, Brian McClellan, Saladin Ahmed

Michael deLuca, Alastair Reynolds, Howard Andrew Jones, Brian McClellan, Saladin Ahmed at ConFusion, 2013

apologies in advance if your comments get stuck in moderation. Blog, e-mail, and twitter access will be limited for me this weekend.



We have returned, victorious from GrandCon!  A new gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI, GrandCon featured pre-scheduled gaming events, a ginormous gaming library you could sign games out from, a Pathfinder competition, table top roleplaying, game demos, a really nice dealer room,  seminars, and more.   I’m happy we got there early in the morning on Saturday, as the registration lines only grew and grew into the afternoon.  I heard at one point that over 1200 badges were printed and that they ran out of programs.  I think they’re gonna need a bigger hotel/convention location next year!

There was also an adventure to a brand new comic/gaming shop in the city, and an unintentionally SFnal dinner involving LED lights in a sushi presentation.

While I write up a longer post about the super cool World building panel that was presented by Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend and Jeff Grubb,  you should enjoy these photos.

photodump commencing in three. . . .  two. . . . and we have lift-off/photo dump!

These huge cardboard monsters were set up in the lobby, they were part of an oversized gaming demo for King of Tokyo



The game comes with regular sized dice, and regular sized cardboard characters that go on a regular sized board, but throwing big plushy dice is so much more fun!

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Today I’m over at SFSignal talking about Conventions. It’s a new column over there, Convention Attention!

oh, also, this.

btw, this is just the beginning of a kick-ass awesome week. stay tuned!

Long story short – It was ah-maz-ing.   another weekend of my geekgirldreams brought to us by the very hardworking folks at Stilyagi.

but, in case you are interested in the short story gone overly long, here ya go:

Last year at ConFusion I was about authors, authors, authors, and just for good measure more authors (also, one particular author, but that’s a different story). But this year I wanted to branch out a bit and see what else was going on. Luckily, the programming made that even easier for me. The sheer variety of programs and panels was amazing. There was an entire Science track, a Doctor Who track, lots of guest artists doing artwork in the hotel atrium,  and a Studio Ghibli movie marathon on top of all the amazing author readings and “such-and-such in Sci and Fantasy” panels.  And the best part? I was totally cool about this year. A little bit less of the running up to authors and babbling ohmygodIloveyourbookssomuchwillyoucomehomewithmecanicookyoudinner going on. Also, I cosplayed for the first time. Now that I’ve worn a tail, I can see why people don’t want to take them off.

Friday afternoon was saying hi to friends, hitting up the dealer room, finding the consuite (on the first floor, down the hall from all the panel rooms = WIN) and playing “spot the famous person” (omg, there’s John Scalzi! and he has a ukelele!). I made it to 2 panels on Friday, Fun with Liquid Nitrogen, and the Opening Ceremonies of the Con.

Liquid Nitrogen with Dr. Jennifer Skwarski.   I always thought if the stuff touched you, that part of your body would shatter off. not so! (wait, scifi movies lied to me??) Apparently you can splash it all over your hand and be OK, although I don’t recommend trying that.  Also, it makes a really neat snapping noise when splashed all over the floor. Demonstrations included the amazing whirring around ping pong ball, frozen vodka, frozen soap bubbles, crunchy expanding balloons, and of course making ice cream!

The epic immersion blender of awesome.  Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

The epic immersion blender of awesome. Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

Not too much to say about the Opening Ceremonies, except that Mary Robinette Kowal had the best ever marionette story.  I’m hoping she posted it on her blog somewhere, because if I try to tell it I’ll mess it up, and also it’s not my story to tell.  And, Yes, she had her Hugo. Perhaps it was a prop for this?   Also, Charles Stross has a really cool accent.

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This weekend is WorldCon, in Chicago. I hear there were a record number of Hugo ballots received this year, and it’s expected to be a pretty big crowd, due to Chicago being a fairly accessible and get-to-able city for most folks in America. Twitter is afire with messages from my favorite authors and editors saying things like “heading to the airport!”, “ready for WorldCon!”.

I DEMAND blog posts from ALL OF YOU when you return, you hear me? I want photos too. Tweets are also appreciated.

Them’s my demands, and I’m sticking to them! You should also check out my most recent local radio segment, and let me brag about my guestpost on SFSignal.

In return, I agree to finally finish book reviews and post them of Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse, and Steven Brust’s Jhegaala.

And while all the cool kids are chillin’ in Chi-town, I’ll be at a pizza party. But not just any pizza, it’s the third annual pizza cookoff, hosted every year by some foodie friends of mine.  Hubby and I have been experimenting with different pizza toppings and sauces, resulting in a possible cook-off winner (we knew it was a contender because we fought over who got to finish the leftovers), and one pizza that was so disgusting it went right in the trash after the first bite.

if ya’ll post WorldCon photos, I’ll post bizarro pizza photos. equal trade, right?  😉

* * * * *
This is part FOUR of my EpicConFusion posts. Click accordingly for parts ONE, TWO and THREE.

* * * * *

Come on.

this is me.

of course there is a massive fangirlish Scott Lynch post.  If you’re not a fan, or you don’t know who he is, or you don’t care, skip this. It’s 100% fangirl drooling.  But now I can say I’ve met him!!

if you’re just here for updates on Republic of Thieves,  it’s about two thirds of the way to the bottom.

He was very nice. and tall. and has a lovely voice. and didn’t freak out too much when my attempts at wit came out horribly awkward.  Sunday morning I was pretty much following him around like a puppy.  Luckily his girlfriend (the wonderful Elizabeth Bear) was cool about it. Apologies that this may not be perfectly in chronological order. Epic ConFusion was that kind of weekend.

There was a mass autographing session on Saturday afternoon.  Not knowing how crowded it was going to be, I got in line early, planning to find Lynch’s table as soon as I got through the door. Not only was his the first table I went to, but I was the first person in line for his autograph.  I awkwardly said something about how I came to this con just for him, and that I’d been stalking him online, and if he registered for a restraining order against me by the end of the weekend I would feel like my mission was completed.  He politely signed my well loved copies of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies:

For Andrea: You need to set more things on fire to get a restraining order. Cheers and Best Wishes, Scott Lynch

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FTC Stuff

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.