Wow, what a weekend. For the second time, I participated in the Paradise ICON workshop which runs concurrently with ICON, the Cedar Rapids area SF convention.
Friday morning started a day of critiques with the Paradise ICON attendees. I’m going to be lazy here and paste in their twitter accounts: @SplitLegend @bluemaven @ransomnoble @cathschaffstump @GeorgeGaluschak @CoreKnell and @timothycward. I was a little nervous getting into critiques with people I’d never worked with before. Fortunately, George Galuschak’s piece, my favorite was up first.
Yeah, I’m playing favorites. I’m harsh like that.
One of the nice things about working with more skilled authors is they all know how to take criticism. It’s not that I want to be mean or gruff, but if you genuinely don’t connect with a piece, you need to be able to tell them that and explain why without them getting upset. Even if they don’t agree with you, you owe it to them to tell them how you felt.
After eight critiques, my time was my own. I’d intended to meet up with the Paradise crew at the bar, but I was too busy catching up with Adam Whitlatch, Lars Pearson, and Dylan Moonfire. It’s funny, when I first started coming to cons, I thought it was weird that people would come to socialize, play games, and do crafts, things that they can do at home or with their friends. Outside of the writing workshop that was mostly what I did.
My Saturday started out with lectures from Nancy Kress and Gregory Frost. Having read Kress’s Beggars in Spain, I was already excited to hear what she had to say. She spoke on the subject of character arcs and what makes a believable character. She also had a really nice character worksheet.
Greg Frost’s talk was an eye-opener for me because he talked about the differences between short stories and novels, and I have never been able to master the short story. Even now, I am planning a short story that goes against the advice he gave… I know. I know. It will probably fail, but I’m still going to try.
After lunch, we were supposed to get a Q&A from Ellen Datlow. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it, so I went downstairs and wandered into a panel on Dungeons and Dragons. I ended up having a very enjoyable time. Not only were the two local game masters very knowledgable and had good things to say, but Jim C Hines was on the panel. Jim had some interesting things to say about teaching morality and math.
Then I went to a panel on Doctor Who. My friends Adam and Lars were on the panel. Now, if you don’t know Lars Pearson, he is a walking encyclopedia of Doctor Who. His company Mad Norwegian Press publishes gigantic compendiums of Doctor Who essays and facts. As a panel member, he is a clever, hyper-animated–I hesitate to call him elf, but… yeah, elf.
Then we went to a nice dinner before our Paradise ICON rapid-fire reading. We were up against a Joe Haldeman reading and the cosplay Masquerade, so the attendance wasn’t great, but I still managed to be plenty nervous. Mostly we read pieces we had worked on in our group, but I was totally blown away when Tim Ward read his short story Cornhusker: Demon Gene, which was awesome.
After that, I went to the post-apocalyptic survival panel, featuring King Zombie Sean Beaty, Adam Whitlatch, and Jess Whitlatch.
Then I spent the night in the bar.
Sunday was a nice quiet day. The paradise crew went to breakfast, and then I attended a panel on cover art, featuring my friend Adam Whitlatch. After that, I attended a radio-style play done by the BrassGears Adventure Society. Finally, I finished off my weekend with a reading by Adan Whitlatch–you might have guessed that Adam and I get along well.
It was a tremendously fun weekend.