No query corner this week: instead here’s a quick review of Balticon 52. I’ll be going into more depth on some of the panels later.
After a long week away from home learning about Aeronautics, my bed got me for one night before I hit Balticon 52. I saw old friends, made new ones, and–as always–brought home loads of notes to share with you!
For those of you who don’t know, Balticon is an annual Science Fiction and Fantasy convention hosted in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s not a for-profit convention like the Comic-cons and the AwesomeCon’s of the world, this one is a labor a love, run by fans, for fans.
Balticon is a bit smaller and more mellow than DragonCon, though chock-full of activities and panels. There are writers and agents, scientists and publishers galore. But, unlike some of the writer-targeted conventions, there are no ‘pitching sessions’, etc. At least outside of BarCon* (the habit of some agents/etc to hang out at the bar. ‘Can I buy you a drink’ is often a good conversation starter…)
In years past, I’ve attended up to 21 different writing panels and workshops in the 4 days of the convention. This year was a bit lighter. Partially because some panels repeat, and partially due to me pacing myself a bit better.
I would have liked to get to the convention before the traffic picked up on Friday afternoon, but it was not to be.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent last week learning about aeronautics and my flight home wasn’t until after 4pm on Thursday.
If I had to list the biggest misconception I had corrected, it would be the concept of the ‘sonic boom.’ I’d thought it was a boom that emitted from the aircraft as it passed the speed of sound, radiating out from that point in space.
Nope! Instead, it’s the sound of the air leaving the speed of the aircraft and returning to standard pressure. It follows the vehicle like a dude water-skiing follows the boat.
But anyway, I’d made the decision to schedule an evening flight home to DC, aiming for the latest flight possible as to not miss any of the class. As it was, I had to miss the final review and the certificate ceremony.
I was pleased because flying back the next day would have me landing at Dulles, during rush hour, on a Friday–OF A HOLIDAY WEEKEND. Basically, a nightmare for getting to Baltimore.
However, that decision set me up for a 90-second layover in Detroit.
WHAT? Do airlines even allow that?
Well, it started out as a 42-minute layover, with the same airline, so it seemed reasonable.
Until you realize that planes start boarding 30 minutes before takeoff, and typically have to close the doors at least 20 minutes before taxiing.
So, that leaves me with a bare 22 minutes before they stop boarding.
Plus, that doesn’t include disembarking time. And did I mention it was a smaller plane so my rolling luggage wouldn’t fit in the sloped overhead compartment, so I had to wait for my luggage to be brought to me?
There I am, watching the clock, a map of the Detroit terminal on my phone, ready to run. And run I did, because my plane arrived at gate C15 and my next flight was at gate A73. The FAR end.
There were several people-movers (moving sidewalks) and I scurried. And in 12 minutes, I made it to my gate. With about a minute to spare before they belatedly began to board my flight.
After I got home, I made the intelligent decision to assemble a new nightstand that had arrived while I was gone. I finished around 1:15am. What can I say? I haven’t assembled the 2 bookcases that also arrived! Because I couldn’t assemble just one. And after assembling them, I would’ve needed to finish unpacking from my move! (not my trip)
But back to the convention. By the time I got up, got moving, and got on the road, it was 1:30pm. And my radiator needs to go into the shop.
Fun Facts About Morgan’s Radiator Issues:
- It was 90+ degrees on Friday
- If I went over 65 mi/hr, I could have my AC on
- If I was under 40 mi/hr, I could have the AC off, but the temperature still cool
- If I was under 30 mi/hr, I had to have the heat on
- If I was in stop and go traffic, I had to blast the heat
If I didn’t? My radiator overheat warning would come on! I only had to pull over twice before I got my levels properly calibrated.
I arrived, splurged on valet parking, and the line for Registration was done in under 15 minutes, my dad handed off my room key, and I was ready to convention!
Panels I Managed to Attend At Balticon
- Writing Characters with Agency
- Sustaining Tension In Your Writing
- Keeping Your Topic Interested (ended up being a lot about how to interview people)
- Reading Your Own Work (workshop)
- Pitching Your Own Work (workshop)
- What Makes An Idea Worth Exploring
- Ask Me Anything – Editors & Publishers
- Sassafras – (Concert! Including a Loki/Thor duet)
- Class Structures in SF/F
- [Nap Attack — missed some panels and was late to the next one]
- Useful Rabbit Holes For Writers
- What Good Is An Agent (I thought it would be preaching to the choir, but got useful stuff!)
- Making Fantasy Feel Realistic
- This Kaiju Life (live podcast)
- Writing Compelling Villains
- Pitches We’re Sick Of (And One’s We’d Like To See More Of) (mostly boils down to writing what you’re passionate about, don’t chase trends, Zombies, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance are currently out, Steampunk may make a resurgence in the next 3-5 years. And vampires are coming back)
I like to wear silly shirts, play dress up, and–I like bad puns. I kicked off my weekend with a ‘My Weekend is all Booked!’ T-shirt, and then followed it up with my Book-shaped bookbag wearing copper and red dragon, otherwise known as my ‘BookWyrm’. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my button-eyed Other-Morgan, as inspired by Coraline, but I did manage to creep out a few people and get several double-takes. Maybe next time?
I lost the hall costume votes by 2 votes TO A MUPPET!! A guy dressed as a Jurassic Park scientist, with a giant egg and a baby velociraptor muppet who visited the kids’ room during their ‘Dinosaur Dig’ hour, but STILL. I lost to a muppet. I blame the lack of costume title/explanation on the vote sheet.
I also helped hostess the DC 2021 bid party!
Confession: I’m a second generation geek and when I decided to hit Balticon, I emailed my dad and asked, “Hey, can I room with you?” To which his reply was, “Only if you’re okay helping Bill with the Bid Party. Cause I’m signed up, as usual, to work the midnight-3am shift in the ConSuite (food and relaxation space open to all Con attendees).”
Hostessing is something I’m usually pretty comfortable with, so he didn’t really need to talk me into it.
Anyway–at SF/F conventions like this, room parties are usually on the ‘party floor’, and put on by other cons that want you to attend them as well, committees bidding for the next WorldCon to be scheduled, or other groups. You wander down the hall, check out their snack and drink offerings, and chat with people.
We got a fair number of sign-ups of people buying supporting memberships for the DC bid (currently unopposed…) I gave out tiny stickers as long as people promised not to vote against DC, and the last people wandered out at 2:52am–the last party to shut down on the hall by quite a bit.
Good chats and I hit the chips&dip pretty hard.
I cleaned up, changed into my pajamas, and the alarm went off. 3:03am. So, I tromped down 5 flights of stairs and waited for the all clear. It took about 10 minutes. Then, back up to the room, helped carry all the left-overs to the ConSuite.
I’m sure I was asleep before 4am, but barely.
Between panels, I managed to fit in meals with friends, a few walk-throughs of the dealers’ room and art show, and, of course, SUNDAY night’s ‘return of the fire alarm’ at a more respectable 12:48am.
I met a lot of lovely people everywhere I went, dropped into a round of CodeWords for a bit, and overall had a pleasant visit.
Now, I’ve got to wait til next year.