I Volunteered for What?

Let’s start out nice and easy with the plea, then we’ll delve into the history.

Do you write Speculative Fiction? Do you know someone who does? Would you (or that individual) be interested in lecturing, participating in a panel, presenting, demonstrating, or otherwise participating in this year’s
Penguicon?

What is a Penguicon? I’m sorry, perhaps I should back up a bit. Are you a geek? Of course you are, you are reading my blog. Why would I even ask that question? Penguicon is, as far as I am concerned, the mecca for all things geekish. What started as a collection of like-minded Linux users has grown into a brilliant, fun, and even educational weekend. It turns out that people who are interested in computer programing share some other interests. These included technology, DIY, Science Fiction and Fantasy, the ecology, costuming, gaming, the list goes on and on. Penguicon turned into a convention which embraces all of those things and more. This year the convention will be at the Auburn Hills Marriott, 26 - 28 April.

Well, now that you know, wouldn’t you like to participate?

If so, please check out the information on
Presenting at Penguicon. Then fill out the Participant Application. If you are specifically interested in participating in the Literature Track, you can also e-mail me at literature@penguicon.org.

Yes, you can e-mail
me.

Because I am the Literature Track Head. I volunteered for the position last week.

Yep, only a few months away from the convention and I dove in.

This should be an indication of how much I love this Con.

Now, naturally, this is not the only Con I’ve been to. It was not even the first convention I went to. It is however, one of my favorites.

This is where the history part comes in.

I am not sure what my first Con
1 was. It may have been one celebrating the X-Files. I remember Dean Haglund desperately trying to get Charles Nelson Reiley through an improv skit. There was a lot of cool stuff to buy at that one, but neither Scully nor Mulder was able to make it.2

Other early Cons included:

The
Love is Murder Convention in Chicago: This was one of the first Cons I attended after rededicating myself to writing. I was focusing a lot on the mystery genre at the time. I attended some really interesting panels. I also met F. Paul Wilson, one of my favorite authors and a genuinely nice guy.

The
Horror Writers of America convention: This was back when the HWA con was always held in New York City. This is an especially fond memory. I booked the flight, the hotel, and the convention passes without The Mrs knowing anything about it. She just knew that we were going on vacation. When we hit the road she thought we were going to my folk’s cabin up north. When I turned south on I-75 she thought I was going the wrong way. She was flabergasted when I pulled up to the airport. That convention I met Jack Ketchum (I’m sure he wouldn’t remember me), Scott Nicholson, and enjoyed the cab ride from Hell3 and the Cheesecake Incident4.

Horrorfind Weekend: I took advantage of the fact I have relatives in the area, visited them, then ended the vacation among a bunch of Horror fans. Lots of cool panels. I met a ton of people, some of whom I am still in contact with today.

Context: If you are a writer of speculative fiction you owe it to yourself to go down to Columbus for Context. This is a collection of experienced writers speaking to other (would-be) writers. There are also a number of workshops each convention which provide invaluable information for the fledgling and experienced writers. I attended Context a number of times and the information I received was priceless.5

Contemporary Issues in Forensic Psychology: This was another vacation/conference experience for The Mrs and me. She attended as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and I as a Criminology student. We spent the days in various lectures (this was a scholarly conference) and our evenings in Las Vegas. I also got to let out my inner geek at the Star Trek Experience, now defunct.

HauntCon: Yes, I have always loved Halloween. I love scaring people and being scared. When I found out that the national convention for people who run haunted attractions was being held in my back yard, I had to go. There were a ton of amazing panels (I paid for the Gold Pass so I got preferred seating to all of them). I have been able to incorporate some of the information into my yard haunt. The real fun was attending tours of haunted attractions with other people who ran other attractions (from around the country). I also got to get a back stage look at how some of the haunts worked.

Convergence: I have only attended this 4 day Con once, but it was a riot of fun. I went on the recommendation of MontiLee Stormer. I am very glad I did. I met a number of wonderful people there. I loved the way the space was set up in the evenings. Each room facing the central are of the hotel had a different party hosted by a different group. It was like walking along two floors of fun. I had toast with all different kinds of toppings. I had a Buzzed Aldrin (vodka and Tang). I somehow ended up as ML’s minion. I seem to recall this involved reciting poetry in the Goddess Suite. I also stood in for her on a panel when she wasn’t able to make it (so count Convergence as a place where I have been panelist). Good times.

That is, I think, the history of my convention experiences
6, excepting those that I still attend on a regular basis. I had planned on including them in this post as well, but we are running a little long. I think I will save them for another day.



1 Throughout this post I will be using Con interchangeably for Convention and Conference. In the world of Academia, a Convention usually denotes a coming together of interested, learned individuals to discuss a common topic while a Conference is a gathering where the learned individuals speak to an audience (who may or may not be learned individuals themselves). In the Sci-Fi/Fandom world, Conferences usually concentrate on a very specific subject (eg. a particular TV show or film series) while a Convention will have a broader scope (Science Fiction, Comics, etc.). You are more likely to get a big Dealer’s Room at a Convention.

2 Which was a bummer because I had a HUGE crush on Gillian Anderson. Did I say “had?” Heh.

3 I don’t enjoy flying. I used to get valium from a friend of mine before getting on the plane. She was out so she got me one of her mom’s (which was double the dosage I was used to). The Mrs describes the ride from the airport to the hotel as “freakin’ terrifying” and claims we were up on the sidewalk for a while. At the time I was reported to have said “WHEE!” I have no memory of said cab ride.

4 The Mrs is a big fan of cheesecake. She claimed the cheesecake served at the banquet was not “New York Cheesecake” so after eating a ginormous meal we crossed the street to get more cheesecake from an all night deli. I do remember that and it was yummy.

5 Even worth spending a weekend in Ohio.

6 Cons that I have attended as an attendee. This does not include a number of conventions that I worked with the
GLAHW.