I was a panelist again this year, but this time it wasn't a last-minute thing, so I had participated in the programming process from the beginning. Liz was trying to keep everyone with a maximum of five panels to avoid wearing us out, but I'm greedy. I like sitting around a table talking about things I know and am passionate about. So I asked her for more. I ended up with eight, including my reading. On top of that, NIWA scheduled me for five hours running the table in the small press room. Even though this meant I had zero time to see the rest of the con, I don't regret it for a second.
|Luna Lindsey reading Touch of Tides|
from Crossed Genres magazine.
Photo by Andrew Williams
Friday began at 2pm with a last-minute panel because someone else had canceled. It was Professionalism in Indie Publishing, in which I met or re-met some great fellow indie authors and publishers, Kaye Thornbrugh, Mike Chinakos (former president of NIWA), and David Boop. We talked about the importance of presenting a professionally written and formatted book, acting professionally, and the differences between individual self-publishing and independent publishers.
At 4:30, I moderated my first panel ever, Picture This! This is an unusual panel, and my second time doing it. It's a really fun exercise. Three authors (myself, Peter "Frog" Jones, and S. Evan Townsend), read some fiction, while pro authors and audience members (if they want), draw a sketch inspired by the reading. The Pro artists included Howard Tayler, Herb Leonhard, and John Gray. It's a really great way for artists and writers to mingle. Our two creative crafts can play off one another so well. I've been inspired by art, and as they proved in the panel, it works in the other direction.
I read a draft of my as-yet unpublished story, "Meltdown in Freezer Three", which included vivid images of ice cream trucks and praying mantises. Here are the three different interpretations of my story:
|Howard Tayler - Meltdown in Freezer Three|
|John Gray - Meltdown in Freezer Three|
|Herb Leonhard - Meltdown in Freezer Three|
|Howard Tayler - Grace Under Fire|
|Herb Leonhard - Grace Under Fire|
|John Gray - Grace Under Fire|
|Howard Tayler - Hammer of Thor|
|Herb Leonhard - Hammer of Thor|
|John Gray - Hammer of Thor|
For the evening's work, we had some lifestyle and adult themed panels, which were new to RadCon. My partner Roland joined me on both panels.
|Sex At Dawn |
The anthropology of non-monogamy
I really liked this format. Often these sorts of panels are 101 courses. Giving a subject to talk around still allowed us to disseminate basic information, but also gave the topic multiple dimensions. It made the topic matter. It also means that oddly, we never once used the term "primary" (a definition of a poly relationship which is the first or most important), which a Poly 101 panel certainly would have had. Just an interesting factoid.
The next panel was 50 Shades of Consent, which was technically supposed to be about how to write BDSM, but that was just an excuse. *grin* It was really more of a BDSM 101 panel, though because it was tied to the concept of literature, we did get to add that extra dimension of talking about how it is portrayed in books like 50 Shades of Grey. The panel was not quite as full, but even then, we did have people standing. Also on this panel were Amanda Baldwin, Ari Goldstein, and Frog Jones.
Saturday I spent at the NIWA table. It was pretty slow in the back of the small press room, but I sold a few copies of Emerald City Dreamer and the books of other members as well. I got to spend more time with some fellow NIWA members, which is great because they're mostly in Portland and I don't get to spend time with them. Specifically, I talked with Brad Wheeler, Tonya Macalino (who also writes urban fantasy), Kaye Thornbrugh (who also writes about fairies), Mike Chinakos, and Kami & Rory Miller, as well as other small press people like David Boop and Peter Wacks. Plus some people I'm sure I've forgotten.
I was originally dismayed at the potential spoon-cost of spending five straight hours at this table, but I'm so glad I did it. It also let me talk to readers, sign a couple of autographs, and run into old friends I used to know from the Tri-Cities where RadCon is held. The theme of this RadCon for me was "networking", and working in the small press room was a huge part of that.
At 8pm, I had another panel, Gender and Sexuality, with Roland Lindsey & Tamra Excell (I'm in relationships with both of them), Voss Foster, and Rhiannon Louve. We had a lively and participating audience, many of whom had reason to relate to various kinds of gender nonconformity. It was awesome to bring a beacon of validation to the Tri-Cities – I used to live there and know how isolating my old small town can be. We covered many gender-related topics, including trans issues and male/female gender roles and expectations in general. Since Facebook had just announced their 58 gender choices, it was a perfect way to talk about non-binary genders as well. And we skirted the edge of feminism and how male roles can be just as restrictive and confusing, especially for a modern generation of boys who are not given clear roles to follow. A broad topic, to be sure.
Saturday night was party night! The small press room had a party, so we started there. Then we party hopped and passed out private invites, until we went back to our room to prepare. Roland can really throw a great party, and he hosted a wonderful closed-door private shindig. He went all out with the snacks and cocktails. The bathtub was full of ice and beer and some nameless unconscious guy who is now missing a kidney. We attracted an all-star cast of wonderful people, GoHs, Pros, old friends, and new friends we'd made at the con. And really, really old friends I'd forgotten I'd known. Nineteen years at the same con will do that to me.
At some point, Roland and I did a small "dance" performance that involved music and rope. This is why private parties are the best. I was going to make a [REDACTED] joke, but I figure whatever you'd imagine would be far more risqué than what actually happened. Oh, except for the [REDACTED] part which actually did happen.. ;)
Sunday, I awoke bright and early to pack up my stuff and make it to the 11:15 panel in time: Getting Into the Mind of the Religious Fanatic for the purposes of writing. I was accompanied by DiAnne Berry, Rhiannon Louve, Elizabeth Guizzetti, and guy Letourneau. I talked about mind control and cognitive dissonance. We talked about the myths and "cardboard cutout" stereotypes of cult followers and leaders, and some of the realities and what it takes to make a believable zealot. It got a bit dark, talking about poverty culture, Jim Jones, and terrorists, and there were some differences of opinion on whether "fear" or "joy" are the main motivators of religious fanatics. (My conclusion is that it is both.) All in all a very stimulating panel.
Immediately after was my last panel, Writing Neurodiversity, with DiAnne Berry, Tamra Excell, Janet Freeman-Daily, S. Evan Townsend, and Peter Whacks. We were all immensely qualified, given our varied background as educators, parents, and relatives of neurodiverse people, and all of us neurodiverse ourselves. Perhaps the panel focused a little too much on autism as the main example, since it's the brain-flavor of the month (plus the one several of us were most familiar with). Other than that, we discussed many aspects of different brains and how to get beyond the stereotypes we see on TV. Included were discussions of learning differences (instead of learning disabilities) and how neurodiversity contributes to society.
I didn't really see much of the con other than these panels. Cosplay seemed A++, including Chamberlain, the skeksis from The Dark Crystal. Cosplayed by Ryan Wells. But I was busy and didn't chase him down to get a good look.
|Photo by Cassandra Smith|
If you've never been to RadCon, give it a shot next year. If I've done the math right, next year will be my 20th RadCon. And I'm ecstatic.
UPDATE: Fittingly, while I was gone, I received my print copy of Crossed Genres Magazine 2.0 Book Two Anthology. This was here waiting for me when I got home: