I love ConCarolinas. The first time I went was in 2008—one of my first cons ever, and certainly the most influential. There I met a bunch of folks—Misty Massey, David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Stuart Jaffe, Edmund Schubert, AJ Hartly—who really made a difference in my writing life. Through them I found Magical Words, a website that did more for my writing than practice itself.
At that time, I hadn’t published anything yet—my first short story sale would come some months later. My first editing job was still a year off. The novel Sarah and I had in hand was .. well ... it's hard to find the right words. So I’ll go with the novel was so bad that, while I have a copy of it, I never want to read it again.
This year at ConCarolinas, 8 years later, I’ve edited for a small (now gone) erotica press, sold several short stories, co-edited three collections (the Big Bad, the Big Bad II, and Tales from the Weird Wild West) and a fourth one (Lawless Lands) . I’ve submitted a ton of other things—stories, novels, queries—and gotten a lot of rejections. Oh, and Sarah and I signed a four-book contract with John Hartness (who I met at a later CC!) of Falstaff Books for the Eisteddfod Chronicles. This weekend I got to give away postcards with a link to the (free!) first chapter of Changeling’s Fall, the first book in the series.
While that in and of itself was great, other things made CC incredibly special. As always, I got to see many of my writer friends from all over the US and Canada, and, as always, there wasn’t nearly enough time to hang out.
There were two panels in particular that I was on that I really enjoyed and felt were really important. The first, Impostor Syndrome moderated by David B. Coe, was about the crippling doubt that so many writers experience. John Hartness, Rod Belcher, and Andrea Judy were also on the panel with me. Everyone told raw stories about being sure that they weren’t for real—that whatever got them where they were must have been luck, or a horrible, horrible mistake that would eventually be exposed. We also talked about how we get over it. (We don’t. We find ways through it, but we’re never done feeling it!)
The second panel was called Hell Hath No Fury, and was about the (over) use of rape as a trope. The panel was well attended for 10:00 on a Saturday night, and while we were all pretty tired, we still had a great conversation. Janine K. Spendlove moderated and Misty Massey, Natania Barron, and Leigh Perry all were excellent. We determined, as Janine pointed out at the end, that rape is bad. Also bad is the use of rape without any care to the actual reality or the ramifications experienced by women. In particular, the use of rape as a means of furthering a man’s story without treating the woman as anything but a plot device, is both typical and problematic. We also agreed that eliminating rape from storylines isn’t the solution, particularly given the prominence of it in most women’s lives today.
All the panelists treated delicate and potentially volatile subjects with respect and professionalism. I was glad to be a part of both of them and hope that we continue to have conversations like this outside of convention panels, too.
ConCarolinas will always be close to my heart, both because I entered the world of writing genre fiction there and because the people make it amazing every year. So thanks to all of the organizers (and Misty Massey in particular for the Writers Track) and all the guests and all the attendees. I already can’t wait for next year!