This weekend will be my 7th Balticon in a row and my second year staffing it — and being on panels. Although, I’d like to think that my panel status isn’t related to my staff status. I’d applied to be on panels before anyone ever asked me to help out. While I might not be a published novelist, I’ve been blogging for 7 years, vlogging for 5, voice acting for 5 years, and podcasting solo for nearly a year. I can talk pretty well about the author’s side of the query table, and I know my way around a virtual convention by now. (Can you tell I’m talking myself out of impostor syndrome?)
My childhood convention attendance numbers are a bit fuzzier in my head. My mother was cosplaying when I was in the womb (I was Leia) and I just about learned to walk in a Con Suite my dad was staffing. My mother even met my stepfather for the first time while he was hanging the Balticon Art Show… by himself because of staffing snafus. I suppose it was inevitable I would end up here.
While we were all hoping for an in-person convention, Maryland was a bit behind the curve at opening up vaccines to all, and children haven’t gotten the go-ahead yet. May was pushing it a little too close, but next year, I hope to see faces not on a screen.
This year, Balticon‘s programming is on Zoom, with the hope to have all recorded items uploaded to Youtube within 24 hours. The rest of the con is scattered across the Balticon website, Discord, GatherTown, and Second Life.
While the Art Show in Second Life looks amazing, I’m not a huge fan of the app and am happy to just watch the video recording of the experience. GatherTown, on the other hand, has blown me away. My first experience just made it feel gimmicky. But, as a browser-based space, we have it mapped out almost like the normal Balticon host hotel. It operates like a 16-bit video game, with a few avatar options and arrow keys to move. And then, your audio and/or video kicks in when the other people’s avatars are near you — just like walking past people at a in-person con. You can even select and start a ‘bubble’ with someone for that side-conversation feel with a private conversation.
Just like last year, I’ve been running some Discord training. Discord, of course, is all the text chat, with pop-up facetime as desired. Plus, of course, all the staff coordination one could want. But, less of the focal point this year, which is good for the resource-hungry app.
The ConSuite on Zoom is where the Room Parties, Book Launches, Book readings, and tons of activities are. So, I’m excited to see how well the break out room situation works this time.
As always, I do my best to completely over-schedule myself.
I’m on programming for 5 items, including 2 Virtual Tours I added to the schedule today, because I’m pretty sure cons are easier for attendees when they know how the whole thing is put together. And where to go for what.
Friday, May 28th
2:30pm – Techniques for Plottting Your Novel (mod)
6:00pm – Balticon 55: A Virtual Tour (guide)
10:00pm – Anansi Storytime MAD LIBS (not PG)
Saturday, May 29th
11:30am – Balticon 55: A Virtual Tour (guide)
Monday, May 31st
11:30am – Plotting Character Growth
But, let’s be serious. I took a look at the schedule and I have 47 items on my ‘want to attend’ list, with only half of those double-booked. If you’ve been around for a while, you know I always do this at conventions. It helps that I know most of the items will be up on youtube the next day, but I still want to see it all, do it all.
One program item I’m not on that I cannot miss is my own dad’s book launch! A small press is publishing his science fiction novel, 11,000 Years next week. When a science spaceship gets a little too close to the black hole it’s investigating, the crew finds themselves, 15 minutes later, 11,000 years from everything they ever knew. Now, to handle the aftermath and find out what’s happened to humanity in the time they missed. If Dad can support me with all my trials and tribulations, I’ve gotta be there for his first novel launch! [Guess who the Author Spotlight Guest for this coming week is?]
Of course, as staff, I’ve got a lot of backend work to do as well. I’m hoping to schedule most of it in advance, but I already let tech know I could be a back-up zoom host, and they were happy to hear my offer. So, I imagine my schedule is only going to get tighter.
Do You Enjoy Cons?
I know, I sound really busy and stressed out. And I am. But? I like cons. I like seeing people talk about things they love, that excite them. And? I like being a part of something, making something happen. It’s like being a hostess, I get a lot of satisfaction out of a job well done. And that makes me happy.
Come see me! Or watch me on the replay this weekend. There’s a lot of great stuff I’m NOT on.