Back from Context 27

I owe you two or three posts today, but you’re only going to get the one. The first one was a bit more on the pre-order for Things Don’t Go Smooth and the second was this week’s list of squees. (A third was going to be on how I write long form works, but hey… there’s only so much time in the day.) Instead, I turn to my summary on what happened at Context 27–because it’s fresh in my mind.

Having been to more science fiction and fantasy conventions now, I feel that there’s a marked difference between shows and what you can expect from them depending upon what you want to get out of the convention. I talked about this before, but I feel it’s important to note that yes, I do have a touch of social anxiety when it comes to meeting new people. I am terrible with first impressions, partly because I have a very big personality that I realize can/has steamrolled over others, but also because I’m sensitive to the mood of the room or I’m trying to be respectful of what the person I’m talking to is there to do. As I told one of my friends, I see the threads connecting folk, and I never want to feel like I’m imposing. This changes with time, yes, because as I get to make more friends who are comfortable around me it gets easier. (Which I think is true of anyone, really.) BUT, it’s also equally important that I have something to “do.” A media or gaming convention? No problem. But SF&F cons tend to have a slower pace due to their focus, which means I have to get “creative” with my time and make the most out of it while I’m there. Yes, absolutely, I can write or read, but that’s something I can do at home.

Context fits into my sweet spot because (though the hotel was probably designed by Loki) there were definitely Things To Do and it had a tight focus. I went in a day early to decompress and not be rushed; meandered over to this lovely place called Pies and Pints where I stamped “approved” on their pulled pork nachos and blueberry cider. Everyone in the general area was extremely friendly and happy to divulge their life’s story, from the Nigerian shuttle driver to the local pottery artist to the budding songwriter. It was lovely. For Day Two, registration began, I got to meet guests-of-honor Jonathan Maberry and Betsy Mitchell who were both fabulous. Then, I had a fun panel about the future of magazines with Brady Allen, crashed my friend Maurice Broaddus‘s workshop on Building Your Brand, had dinner with the amazingly talented Lucy Snyder and a heap of others, and started to get excited. As folks trickled in, I knew the guitars would too–courtesy of Lawrence Connolly, John Hornor Jacobs, and Geoffrey Girard. So we spent later Friday night in an impromptu jam, and it was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. I hope that this’ll become a regular thing, as there are loads of great musicians floating around!

Saturday was The Big Day with more panels, a signing, a reading with Janet Harriett, my Build-a-World game show, and parties. The most feedback I received about my panels was for the Writing for Media Tie-Ins with Tim Waggoner and Laura Resnick and the Build-a-World gameshow–which was a total hit! Congrats to John Hornor Jacobs, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Addie J King (e.g. Team Things Could Get Ugly) for their hair-raising six-point win over Team Responsible and Sober! Huzzah! Also on Saturday were shenanigans at the various parties. But, since what happens at Context stays at Context…

Sunday I slept in a touch, got to make my good-byes, and scrambled for the way home. Now, I am SURE I am missing something. Positive, even. (I’m also certain I am missing more someones, too… DARN IT ALL and HUGE apologies in advance!) But here’s the thing: the reason why I feel that this show is a good one to attend, is simply that there’s a strong emphasis on craft. If that’s the type of convention you want to attend? Then mark your calendar for next year’s show!

Thanks again to Steven Saus for inviting me!



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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