Back from Balticon

This year, I took the trip to Balticon to promote Redwing’s Gambit on behalf of Galileo Games. My experience with literary conventions has been mixed so I had no idea what to expect.

I don’t want to turn this into a rant, but there were internal glitches that greatly affected my ability to promote myself at this show as an author. So, let me get this business out of the way first. Overall, I felt that the organizer’s attitude was very scattered and in some cases boiled down to: “Well, I don’t know who you are so you’re not as important as our other guests.” E-mail is one thing, but this was reinforced at the show. The organizers admitted there were problems this year, so I don’t hold it against them, as long as it’s fixed. Unfortunately, this was a common theme at this year’s show.

Despite the problems with scheduling, I felt there was a very positive, non-threatening aura at this show toward new guests on the floor. If new media has been suppressed in the past like a shy kid at a dance, here it was the belle of the ball. It’s pretty exciting to see established authors published through traditional media alongside podcasters, podiobook developers, e-book publishers, etc. This, in my mind, is where we can benefit one another as a community.

I was thrilled to run into C.J. Henderson and Keith R. A. DeCandido; both are established authors and have been so supportive and understanding of my work over the years. I really feel like when I connect with authors like these, it’s that little boost that keeps you going. I had the chance to babble incessantly to Brennan R Taylor, my publisher, J.R. Blackwell, my editor and photographer extraordinaire, and author/comic scribe/etc. Jared Axlerod. Many thanks for that, the stories, and the laughter.

New friends, too, were formed out of the clay that is convention hob-nobbing. I’d like to give a special shout-out to Paul Alexander Butler for his great stories and his deep, deep love of games. He’s the store manager over at Games and Stuff and recommended some fun two-player games to try. (I’ll be putting that together in a separate post for all to read.) Secondly, author Simone Caroti who penned The Generation Starship in Science Fiction: A Critical History, 1934-2001, was awesome to chat with, too. The award for friendliest author is split between Guest of Honor (and fellow cat lover, it seems!) Jody Lynne Nye and new media guru Nathan Lowell who made me feel very welcome. There are others who I’m SURE I’m forgetting — such is the way of lost business cards. (Like lost socks, only instead of having a cold foot, I have a missed connection.)

I think the biggest thing for me that came out of this show was a better understanding of where I “fit” within the science fiction and fantasy genres. For me, I’m so heavily focused on story and characters that the details are only important in the service of that tale. Science fiction fans are very well-read and some are hyper-focused on the plausibility of the sciences postured within the context of a tale. I’m more focused on the anthropological aspects because, to me, how a character feels when faced with astronomical wonders, technological feats, and superior explorations into the furthest reaches of space is what shapes a story. If, in the service of a story, I have to sacrifice some scientific particulars? I’ll do that because I feel my job as a storyteller isn’t to relay a precise depiction of “X” — it’s to suspend disbelief. All this means, is that when I write science fiction, I shape my boundaries to hone in on characters and do my absolute due diligence on the subject when required.

That’s not to say the specifics don’t matter at all. I just feel that there’s a certain contingency of fans, in any genre, who get very upset when the details don’t perfectly jive in some beautifully-architected way. Sometimes the lack of detail-jiving is intentional; other times it happens by complete accident. If those bad details break a reader from their love of a tale and stops them from reading that’s one thing, but plots and story arcs and characters are entirely different aliens altogether.

For many reasons, I enjoyed the trip and the experience. I was blown away by scientists like David Allen Batchelor and their seemingly unlimited font of knowledge. I enjoyed being able to talk to people who were way, way, way smarter than me to understand a part of their world. My head is bursting with fresh ideas and optimism. If that doesn’t tell you a small thing about the calibre of the people at this show, then I have failed my job as a wordsmith.

Now, to plan for the next one.

    Mood: YAY! DUCKS!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I was bad.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Does cat wrestling count?
    In My Ears: Errmm…
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations
    Movie Last Viewed: Indiana Jones as part of a marathon
    Latest Artistic Project: Crystal Cluster bracelet in gold
    Latest Release: “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” included in Don’t Read This Book for the Don’t Rest Your Head RPG
One Response to Back from Balticon
  1. Nathan Lowell

    Awww, shucks. T’weren’t nuthin’.

    I love going to BaltiCon. It’s been my “con home” since I started going in 2008 and I’ll keep going as long as I can afford the pilgrimage from Colorado.

    This year had some issues that were new, but some years are like that. When you rely on volunteers, some years it works and some years it doesn’t.

    Basically, it’s a great party and a wonderful place to sit back, let your hair down, and just meet people you’d never be able to even find in larger events.

    It was great to meet you and put a face to another of the Galileo Games authors.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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