FOGcon Roundup

Took me a couple of days to recover from the wonderfulness that was Fogcon, one of those delightful events that left me exhausted and, honestly, a little drained.

It started out Saturday with my reading (well, technically it started Friday, but I didn’t feel like dealing with traffic). My reading went well, though there were only a handful of people or so in the room, so very small, but that’s fine. I read a bunch of my poems, and got a good response from those present. I also got to hear Alyc Helms read from her unpublished novel, The Adventures of Mr. Mystic and the Dragons of Heaven, which seems like it will be a rather fun urban fantasy/superhero novel when it’s published (she’s shopping it at the moment).

About midday I went to Nalo Hopkinson‘s presentation on everyday culture. So many people tell her they don’t have any culture, and she asserts that they certainly do. As a way of presenting that, she had the group play ring games, hand clapping games, and other yard school games, which filled the morning with rhyme, rhythm, and laughter. It was very joyful.

I also saw here do a reading of her new book, a YA novel called, The Chaos, which I had to immediately go our and buy. She signed it for me with a smile. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading it, as I recently read her book Brown Girl in the Ring (which was wonderful and I’ll review later).

The first panel I was on was called “You Are Not Your Rejection Slips,” in which a couple of editors and my fellow authors and I discussed how to handle rejection. It was a good panel, I think. It’s a hard subject for me to feel that any new insights to discover, because rejection is just so normal for a writer; there’s no getting around it. It’s hard for me to judge, because I was one of the speakers and I was rather nervous. At one point, I opened my mouth to speak and then froze up entirely, but I think I finished well.

That night, I attended a panel about Body Image and it was absolutely amazing. It didn’t deal so much with body weight, but rather delved into more difficult topics, such as how gender (male, female, transgender), race, disability, or many other factors in a person’s life can contribute to how people see themselves and how they are seen by other people.

One of the things discussed that sticks with me is the concept of “helpfullness,” and how it can actually be very injuring or harmful, especially if the help is unasked for. It can be things like telling someone a new diet for them to try out, telling a transgender man that if he cut his hair he would look more masculine, or telling someone with a health issue about this great new thing that might fix it. The problem with helpfulness like this is that it assumes that the person being addressed hasn’t had the presence of mind to think of this “great new idea” before. But even more so, the panel said, it stems from a place of discomfort and fear, because the underlining message is, “Who you are makes me uncomfortable, so here are some things you can do that will make you fit how I think you should be, so I can be more comfortable.”

Much, much more was covered and discussed. The entire discussion was very respectful of each opinion throughout, and the result was incredibly powerful.

That night, [info]mslorelei also gave a rather awesome (and x-rated) reading a story she wrote. The story is (I believe) a part of a new ebook of hers that just came out, which is very cool. I really liked how the story was about two people holding on to love, as well as being rather sexy. 🙂

On Sunday morning, bright and early, I was on a panel called “Loving Something Problematic,” which discussed how you balance loving a book, movie, game, etc., when that thing you love clearly has some elements that are troubling, such as racism, sexism, or other isms, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt.

Again, I was very nervous about being on this panel, especially as it was a more challenging subject. I kind of approached the discussion from the point of view that I was new (within the last couple of years) to the concept of white privilege and issues of racism, transmisogyny, ablism, and other new isms that I had been recently learning.

My fellow panelists, Nalo Hopkinson, M. Christian, and Carolyn Cooper, were great, and Liz Argall was fabulous as the moderator. I started to shrink into my shell at the beginning, and at a well timed point, Liz addressed a question directly at me. As soon as I started speaking, I started to relax into a little bit more and was able to better insert myself into the conversation.

I wish I could present you with some of the great things my fellow panelists said, but I was so busy trying not to dissolve under my nervousness and trying to be present enough to communicate that I don’t exactly remember the details all that well. I’m told the panel went well though, and before we knew it the time was up and we had to let another panel come in. Pretty much everyone there wished the discussion could have gone on longer, so that’s a really good sign.

So those were the main highlights of the con for me, though there was a ton more that went on and several times I wished I could time travel or duplicate myself so I could go to more than one panel at a time. I can’t wait for next year, and I’m eager to try out some larger cons.

For the future, I will definitely be getting a hotel room, rather than drive back and forth from the con. The late night and early morning drives was torture, and contributed to my state of absolute exhaustion. It was worth it, though. SO much fun. (^_^)

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Two Things

1. Today is Nation Autism Day, and I am wearing blue in recognition. (Hopefully you are, too?)

2. Once again it is National Poetry Month, the month in which I try to write a poem everyday for thirty days straight, a challenge I always manage to get halfway through and fail. As you may have noted, I’m already a day behind, so at some point today, I owe you two poems, which will posted to my Tumblr (cross-posted everyday for the whole month is just a pain in the ass).

Okay, three things: I also need to do a post later today on how FOGcon went… Short answer: FANTASTIC.

FogCon, here I come (and other stuff)

Welp, I have signed up to attend FogCon, which will be the first con I will have ever gone, too. I am most excited,* especially as I will be doing a reading and participating in a couple of panels.

My schedule for FogCon:

Saturday, March 31
9-10:15 a.m. – I shall be doing a reading with Alyc Helms and Norm Sperling. (Have no idea what I’m going to read yet, though.)

4:30-5:45 p.m. – Panel: You Are Not Your Rejection Slips
Sacramento Room
Learn techniques for coping with the inevitable ups and downs of a writing career. How can you maintain a sense of self-worth after a hundred rejection slips? How do you handle the feelings of being simultaneously the most brilliant writer ever and the biggest pile of s*** in the field?

Moderator:    Cassie Alexander
Panelists:    Andrea Blythe, Gabrielle Harbowy, John Joseph Adams, Christie Yant

Sunday, April 1
9-10:15 a.m. – Panel: Loving Something Problematic
Salon B/C
Most of us have at least a few books, movies, or TV shows that we love that are also problematic in their depiction of race, gender, class, or something else. How can we be fans of these things while still acknowledging their flaws? How can we discuss the flaws in these works without incurring the wrath of devoted fans?

Moderator: Liz Argall
Panelists:    M. Christian, Andrea Blythe, Carolyn Cooper, Nalo Hopkinson

I am superbly nervous about being on panels. I think I have enough to say about each topic that I won’t sound like a total dunce, but we’ll see how it goes.

Learn more about the various panels going on here.

In other news…, I have been doing things.

Orlando, FL – My work trip for my day job went well. Saturday was spent lounging by the pool, getting some sun, drinking cocktails, reading, and generally being lazy. Sunday it rained all day, but it was that lovely warm tropical rain, so my coworker and I still went down to the pool. We went for a swim in the rain, had some cocktails, and spent the rest of the day generally being lazy.

So, the vacation part of the trip was successfully vacationy and the work portion at the exposition was also successful. I made a lot of good contacts and my boss seemed pleased when I reported back.

Cirque du Soleil: Totem – I took my mom to go see the Cirque last night under the big top. It was dazzling and awesome. Amazing costumes and performances, feats of strength, twirls through the air, and so forth. I won’t try to describe the amazing trapeze artists or the cup tossing unicyclists. (As a side note, the only thing that lessened my enjoyment was the obvious appropriation and over simplification of indigenous cultures for the sake of entertainment. I suppose it’ll give me something to talk about at the “Loving Something Problematic” panel.)

*I shall get to check something off on my massive list of goals! For joy!

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]