Slightly delayed, but here I am as promised to tell you about my adventures at Context 25.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Context — it is a speculative fiction convention held in Columbus, OH.
I had never been to a convention before this one. If you’ve read my blog long, you may remember me posting once or twice about the good folks over at Misanthrope Press — C. Bryan Brown and Inanna Gabriel. Talking with these two excellent people over the past year, I’ve learned a lot. At some point, I believe it was Chris who encouraged me to attend a convention and he mentioned Context.
Columbus is about a three hour drive, so after consulting with my husband, I decided to go for it. With the help of birthday money and a supportive family, we managed to pull it off. But enough of that pre-convention stuff — let’s get to the actual weekend!
I drove up Friday, the 28th. The drive went relatively well until I hit Columbus and their crazy drivers. However, I did arrive safe at the Double Tree hotel where Context 25 was located. After getting checked in, I met up with Inanna Gabriel. Again, I’ve mentioned her before. She is the co-editor of Misanthrope Press and author of the very dark and intriguing novel, Act Three, Scene Four, among other projects. Meeting Inanna was awesome. I tend to be really awkward and shy in person, but she quickly put me at ease and gave me a tour of the different rooms where workshops and such would be held.
Later in the afternoon, I got to meet C. Bryan Brown and his family. Chris is also co-editor of Misanthrope Press. He recently had his first novel published this year with Post Mortem Press, a gritty, supernatural crime novel called Necromancer. If you haven’t yet, I really encourage you to pick this one up — I bought a copy at Context (got it signed too!) and already finished reading it. I’ll have to post my review later this week.
Friday I had my first workshop, along with Chris and Inanna. Monster Wrangling with Lawrence C. Connolly was very informative and entertaining. Since I had entered the flash fiction contest to be attended later, I payed special attention to the way Lawrence read us excerpts from monsters stories.
After grabbing a bite to eat at The Winking Lizard Tavern with Inanna, I headed back to the hotel and prepared for the contest. Now I love me a free contest, so I was excited to learn Context was hosting its first ever flash fiction contest. However, the contest required you to read your story aloud. That was nerve wracking, let me tell you! My friends encouraged me and kept me from getting too nervous. And at last it was my turn to read.
I managed to get through my story without my voice shaking too bad, though the paper was definitely not still between my trembling fingers. Thankfully, I read second so after that I got to sit back and relax, listening to the other writers read their stories. It was a lot of fun and lasted long into the night.
Also, my family dropped in and totally surprised me. They drove down from Michigan without telling me and we met up for breakfast bright and early the next morning.
Saturday was full of learning and fun. I had two workshops — Self-Editing and Revising with Timons Esaias and Characterization Through Dialogue with Maurice Broaddus. Both were fantastically informative and I filled dozens of pages with notes to pour over next time I edit. During the course of the day, I had some free time when Chris and Inanna were in other workshops, so I dropped in on a few panels, got to meet Michael Haynes — another wonderfully talented author with three pieces released this week in three very great markets.
Sunday I had one last workshop — Mastering Flash Fiction with Gary A. Braunbeck (actually one of the judges of the flash fiction contest). Also learned a lot there, especially with the fascinating and thought-provoking examples of masterful flash fiction. Before heading out, Inanna took me further into Columbus for lunch and to try Jeni’s Splendid Ice-Cream. I didn’t try any weird flavors like corn, but I can tell you the dark chocolate ice-cream was absolutely fantastic. 😀
After hitting the dealer’s room at Context one more time, I said my goodbyes and at last headed home. All in all, it was a weekend full of learning and fun. A lot more social interaction than I normally have over the course of a few months, and Chris and Inanna proved to be gracious hosts and wonderful people.
If you get a chance – check out a convention near you. There are tons all around and they are definitely worth every penny.