Thursday, June 10, 2010

ConCarolinas: Convention Report

I’ve been going to ConCarolinas for four or five years now, and it gets concarolinas_2010better and better each year. This year was no exception; if anything, because it was also this year’s DeepSouthCon, the crowds were particularly inflated, as was the guest list. On the one hand, that was a boon, because it filled the hotel up with many of my favorite people. On the other hand, it made for some challenging moments during the panels. Seven and sometimes eight panelists was the norm this year, and that’s too many people.

The only exception was the workshop I helped with on Sunday. There were only three panelists at the workshop, but it turned out that even though it was conducted at 9a.m. (not, as you might imagine, a time of day when a lot of people at a con are awake, much less wanting to work), there were close to twenty people who showed up. Given the nature of the workshop, if there had been more than three panelists we would never have finished in the two hours we had.

But of course I’ve gone and started at the end. Some where near the beginning, I drove down Friday afternoon, grateful the whole way for the invention of cruise control. I live five minutes off of Route 85 near Greensboro, and the convention was held in a hotel five minutes off that same highway in Charlotte. So despite my recent knee surgery, the drive down was a relatively simple one.

At the con, I was assigned a hallway table in the same area as a slew of good friends, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, A.J. Hartley, Misty Massey, Mark Rainey, Jeremy Lewis, Gail Martin, and James Maxey, to name a few. However, while most of them were selling their books, I filled my table with printouts of stories from IGMS to give away to fans in celebration of our site’s relaunch. In fact, four of the authors near my table (David, Mark, Jeremy, and James) have been published in IGMS, so I gave them copies of their own stories to give away as well. Including my story, “Mean-Spirited” from issue 16, we had five IGMS authors/stories, and it was a pleasure to see all the fans getting their copies autographed.

After my last panel on Friday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Claudia Christian (best-known for her role as Commander Ivanov in Babylon 5) in front of a good-sized audience. The con has their media guests appear twice, once with a moderator/interviewer, and once without. Fortunately I got Claudia before her solo appearance, so I didn’t have to worry about being redundant.

Saturday I had several panels as well, including one that got rather heated. For some reason (most likely nothing more than my willingness to take the role when no one else wants to) I ended up moderating every panel I was on except one. I enjoy moderating, but this one panel flirted with becoming an episode of the Jerry Springer show. I’m not going to name names because I’m not interested in embarrassing anyone, but voices were raised to a point where I had to use a microphone to be heard over the din. Given that I come from New York and once spent a period of ten years umpiring baseball, I know how to make myself heard, so if I need a microphone, there’s lot going on.

On a more pleasant note, I was able to spend a lot of after-hours time with the folks who run the group blog, I’ve met all of them at previous cons and always enjoy their company, and David Coe (the one who introduced me to the rest of the group) is as good a friend as I have in this business. But something happened Saturday night while I was with them, something much greater than the sum of the parts. David, Faith (and her husband Rod), Misty (and her husband Todd), A.J., and Start Jaffe (who had just come down for the day) invited me to join their group, and we collectively hatched up some plans that I’m very excited about. I’ll be writing about the first of those projects this coming Saturday at and I hope you’ll join me there to see what all the hubbub is about.

That’s about all the news from Charlotte, NC. Once we’ve run the rest of our author’s essays from the current issue, I’ll be back to talk about a few more details related to the relaunch of IGMS. We’ve received a lot of helpful feedback from our readers and spent the past week tweaking the site further. Thanks so much for that feedback, both positive and negative. We can’t always implement everything you’d like to see (we can’t even implement all the things I’d like to see myself), but we hear you, and we do everything we possibly can.

--Edmund Schubert, Editor

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