JordanCon 2014 Recap (Part 1)

This past weekend (at least as of when I started writing this post) I attended JordanCon 6 (also known as Asha’Con). This was my fourth time attending, and it really has become a yearly highlight. I wouldn’t have subtitled last year’s recap “Why you should come next year” if I didn’t feel that it was worthwhile–though there was record attendance this year, so I’ll give my posts some credit toward that :p. The trip was made more interesting this year due to its proximity to the holiday of Pesach (Passover), which began the Monday night after the convention (I arrived home at about midnight Monday morning.) I don’t know if “con lag” if a term, but I was definitely needed a good day or two to get back to normal life, made more difficult by late nights for the seders. But by Thursday morning I stopped wearing my convention badge and no longer felt sleep deprived.

I suppose I’ll begin after my arrival; not much point in recounting my trip out to Atlanta and then to the hotel in Roswell. I was fortunate enough to not have a 6am flight this time, which let me get a little more sleep. And despite our vie president’s opinion that New York’s LaGuardia Airport is like a third world country, everything went smoothly.

Like always, the con began with the opening ceremonies, this year run by the tWoTcast, this year’s toastmasters. I haven’t personally listened to much of their show, but the presentation was quite funny, and I liked the ‘false starts’ by past years’ toastmasters (both from within the times I’ve attended, so it brought back memories). There was also a great bit where “Rand al’Thor” broke out of a box. It’ll make more sense to watch that part, and video should be up eventually on YouTube.

There was a bit of a break after that, which worked well for me as my roommate and I had to check in. It also gave me a chance to say hi to some people I’ve met at JordanCon in past years. Gradually I’m coming to know more people, having been there for 4 of 6 cons and all, but given my tendency to be quieter and stay more in the background, it’s a slow process. While I missed much of it, I did get back down in time to catch part of the first Patrick Rothfuss panel, which was great despite there being standing room only. It was a blast, as was every panel Rothfuss was a part of. My only regret from JordanCon was that I somehow never managed to say hi to him. I’ll have to catch him at some other point, maybe when his next book comes out…though it could be a little while for that.

Following that, the writers’ track began with a panel of Gritty Writing. I missed a bunch of this too, because I spent a good half an hour getting amazing feedback and critique from an editor I first met at JordanCon two years ago. While it was of course disappointing to learn of the issues he had with the story as submitted, the feedback was very good and will help me not just revise that book but avoid the same missteps in my others. All told, it was a nice conversation, and I have some work to do to get other stuff ready for submission.

Once we finished, I did make it to the panel, which was hosted by James R. Tuck, John Hartness, Alex Hughes. Given that my personal writing style is not particularly ‘gritty’, and my stories tend to not fall on the darker side of things, it was an interesting glimpse to the other side of that, both in the sense of general tone and specific details–do elves fart? After that somewhat abridged panel I ran to my room, got the four books I had for Brandon Sanderson to sign, and came back to that. For signings this year there was a new, efficient system where tickets were given out for the signing about an hour beforehand, so that there wasn’t a huge line for a long time. And luckily for me,  I was fairly high in the line, which let me get my books signed quickly–and got to talk to Brandon a bit and give him a couple packs of Magic cards again, as has been my tradition since  I started going to his signings.

The only problem with getting done with the signing quickly is that I hadn’t planned on which panel I was going to go to at that timeslot. I ended up going to another Patrick Rothsfuss panel, a discussion on the epic fantasy genre, with Rothfuss and Dan Carroll. With the general panel name, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but between Rothfuss just being so darned entertaining and some interesting discussions, I was glad I’d made it.

And just like that, it was time for the 7pm dinner break, and with sundown approaching things got more complicated for both me and the friend I was rooming with, since we’re both orthodox Jews. Fortunately two previous years at this hotel left me prepared for the quirks of getting into the room and moving between floors on the Sabbath, and I was able to hitch a ride on an elevator and get down to the writing workshop session that I was really looking forward to.

This too was organized differently this year. 25 of us submitted approximately 1000 word samples online, which were printed and given to the professional who would look at it and run the smaller sessions. It was broken down to 3 writers and one professional, be they author or editor. My group was fortunate enough to be run by Debra Dixon, publisher at Bell Bridge Books. As someone on the publishing side of the fence, in some ways her advice is more useful than that of an author’s, as she looks at writing from the perspective of someone who acquires books. And as a result, I got great feedback on the opening of my second book to go with the feedback I’d already gotten on my first. Now I just need to make the time to implement that feedback.

That was more or less it for me for the night, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other major events going on that night, particularly the charity events. There was the annual Seanchan Hold’em poker tournament for charity, which raised money for the Mayo Clinic, the Brandon Sanderson Write-a-thon, (where he live-wrote a story), which raised money for the Waygate Foundation. And unrelated to the charity events was the social event of the evening, Karaoke.

I briefly considered staying up a bit to try and find a game of Magic, but I really started feeling the fatigue as it got later, and I’ve learned from past years that it’s better not to push myself too hard.

And that brings an end to the first part of my recap, the first day of JordanCon 2014. Parts 2 and 3 will follow later this week, but the final two days of the Passover holiday will delay them a bit. Unfortunately, I doubt there’ll be pictures in my recap, as I tend to not take many and I don’t quite know how to put them in here. When I’m done, I’ll post links to the other recaps I know about (and I think they’ll have attended different panels than I, so it won’t be repetitive.)

Until then, keep writing, and seriously consider going to JordanCon next year (it’s still growing, and moving to a bigger hotel!)

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