So, many people ask me, “What do you do when you go to a convention? Do you dress up in costume?”
“No,” I tell them, “I generally speak on panels.”
“What are panels?”
Sigh… So, yeah, I do a lot of panels. For the uninitiated, a “panel” is a “panel discussion,” where a team of “experts” tackled a question or problem which is described in the title of the panel. Sometimes “experts” just means a team of volunteers or draftees, but it usually means a team of people who at least have an interest in the subject. Below are some examples, which also happen to be the panels I’ll be appearing on at Balticon in just two short weeks.
I’ve left off times and locations, as my schedule is only a draft, and I don’t want to add to anyone’s confusion!
Favorite Science Fiction Authors – Naming them is easy. Defending WHY they’re your favorite almost as much. Responding to those who HATE your favorite? Therein may lie a challenge. Robert Heinlein pissed off a lot of people in his time. L. Neil Smith (bless him) continues to do so. But I’ve even met people who actively dislike Alan Dean Foster. Go figure.
Flipping SF Archetypes – I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Aged Characters in Fantasy – I don’t even recall signing up, but okay. I can talk about Dumbledore, Merlin, and perhaps (because I don’t read much fantasy) even Lazarus Long.
Forgotten Works in Sci-Fi / Forgotten Works in Fantasy – Hmmm. I guess I’ll talk about Eric Frank Russell? Or John Morrissey? Perhaps Gordon Eklund.
Shortening Your Books and Stories – Somebody’s gonna say “Murder your darlings.” Writers love that phrase. I never murder my darlings. I just remember that narration doesn’t need to be as complex as I’m tempted to make it, and that written dialogue only has to SOUND like real speech, it doesn’t actually have to be as baffling and confusing.
Bars in Science Fiction and Fantasy – Well, I’m not Spider Robinson, but I’ve written a half-dozen scenes set in bars. Bars are time-honored in the genre. All the best stories are told in them, and they’re where you go to get the lay of the land in a strange place. Did you know that the origin of the term “gossip” is actually, “go sip?” It meant to go have a drink at the pub or tavern and hear what was being said by the locals. It was a reliable as CNN and probably less annoying.
Converting your eBook for multiple formats – Some panels are less discussion and Q & A with the audience, and more, “This is how I carry out a task.” But seriously, there’s a LOT more to creating an eBook than dumping your Word doc into Kindle’s upload form.
Etiquette in Science Fiction and Fantasy – Very important to a lot of authors. Asimov’s robot novels were very concerned with etiquette. Lots of Star Trek episodes, too. Remember when Wesley Crusher trampled the flowers and almost died? Yeah, he got that reaction a lot, in the days before the Big Bang Theory.
Good and Evil in Genre Literature – or the lack thereof? Actually, SF & F spend a lot more time discussing the nature of these two than most other forms of literature.
Your Novel: Getting to Second Draft – Perseverance. Any questions? Oh, there are? Okay…
Firebringer Presents – Firebringer, if you don’t know, is my publishing company. Here’s our chance to tell our audience what we’ve got coming next. Come early, it’s usually standing room only.
And I’ll probably have an autograph session and a scheduled reading of my work as well. Busy weekend. Costumes? If I took the time to get into costume, I might not have any time at the bar!