Time travels swiftly. I’m sure you’ve all been there. That point when you look up and realize it has already been a year. What had felt like a forever-away has pounced on you in moments. And so it was that I found myself walking around the Chattanooga Choo-Choo to attend LibertyCon.
For those that frequent the larger convention beat, LibertyCon is an interesting beast. You see, my only convention for many years had been GenCon Indy. Which is a massive weekend of gaming. To get into events you have to register for tickets. Very rarely can you just show up to something and get in. GenCon engulfs downtown Indianapolis. Restaurants in the area create custom gaming themed menus it’s so big.
LibertyCon, on the other hand, takes place in one small hotel area. Each panel is only going to be in one of three places (for the most part) and the attendance to each will be a smattering of people. The main focus of the weekend is Science Fiction and Fantasy writing.
And I love it.
It’s because of the intimacy of the entire thing. At each panel you begin to see familiar faces. Staying after to talk with the authors, agents, and artists one-on-one is encouraged. We are all there to talk about the art and craft of writing. For beginning writers it’s a great resources to learn from those that have gone before.
This was my second year in attendance. I’ll be honest, this year didn’t feel as strong. Aside from one panel, the moderators did little to keep the panelist on topic and wouldn’t open it up for questions near the end. If you wanted to ask a question you needed to strong arm your way into the middle of someone’s rambling. Which is not something I like to do if I can help it. In addition, I didn’t feel like many people gave substantive information. Many times I felt like the panelists devolved into moaning about the state of traditional publishing.
Despite all that, I still had a good time. My goal this year was to meet new people. One of LibertyCon’s greatest strengths is how small it is. This allows you to really get to know everyone around you. If you didn’t get a chance to ask your questions during the panel, there is always time afterward. This year my writing group and I struck up a friendship with author Stuart Jaffe.
Stuart had a lot of information to give and was very personable. What I found most impressive was his ability to moderate and keep panels on track, while also opening up the floor for questions. Here is a quick blurb about him from his Amazon Author page.
Stuart Jaffe is the author of The Max Porter Paranormal-Mysteries, The Malja Chronicles, a post-apocalyptic fantasy series, The Bluesman pulp series, and After The Crash as well as the short story collection, 10 Bits of My Brain. Numerous other short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies.
He is the co-host of The Eclectic Review — a podcast about science, art, and well, everything.
I’m currently reading his book, “A Glimpse of Her Soul.” A YA Dark Fantasy about a girl who discovers that there is a message written on her soul. And there are plenty of monsters lurking in the dark who want to part her with that message. He definitely doesn’t waste anytime getting right into the meat of it all. When I finish the book I’ll give a deeper review here.
Leaving his reading on Saturday I stuck around and spoke with him a bit when the rest of my crew wanted to head out to eat. We invited him to come along and with it being his birthday and having nothing better to do, he accepted. What started as a simple invitation turned into a night of (nerdy) adventure. Unable to find a place to eat around the convention, we all packed up and headed over to the condo we were staying at. This ended up being a better deal. The restaurant was quieter, which gave us all time to talk shop and joke. Afterward we headed back to the condo to play Cards Against Humanity until 1:00 AM.
Getting up the next day was brutal, but totally worth it.
Overall I made some new friends and a couple of connections. Stuart convinced me to check out JordanCon next year (which I had always assumed was Wheel of Time only) and he highly endorses Con Carolina. As it is now I’m going to get some rest, do some more writing, and get ready for next years convention. Last year I had a half complete MS. This year I had a completed one. Now it’s time to have it either represented or in a publisher’s hands by next year.