From left, JK Cheney, Patrice Sarath, and Tex Thompson at ConDFW.

From left, JK Cheney, Patrice Sarath, and Tex Thompson at ConDFW.

Had a great time at ConDFW, one of the best Texas regional cons. I highly recommend these small cons. They are less intimidating that the big WorldCons, but no less immersive in the genre world.

I got in late, after putting in a full day at the day job, and settled in at the bar Friday night. Saturday I had a good number of panels, and made a point to hear several readings from a variety of writers, including Stina Leicht (Of Blood and Honey), Adrian Simmons (editor, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly), J.K. Cheney (The Golden City), short story writer and redhead Rhonda Eudaly Simpson, and Candace Havens, among others.

There is a whole new crop of talented Texas writers (see Tex Thompson, who is a newly-minted Solaris author) who are newly agented and/or have books coming out this year and next. Aspiring writers, take note: publishers are still signing deals. It’s all still going on. And as the industry is in flux, it may be more important than ever to have an agent to navigate the dangerous shoals.

I was able to take part in some really fun panels. The Cover Art panel was thoughtful and lively, with Brad Foster and Alain Viesca being candid about the life of an artist and how technology has changed the process, but not the creativity. Interestingly, digital modeling having taken over from clay modeling has enhanced Alain’s work, because by making things easier, he is freer to create. Now, digital tools cannot replace an artist’s education, and there is a clear difference between experienced artists learning new cool shiny digital tools to create, and newbies thinking that software can replace practice with traditional media. It can’t.

Giant monsters roved the land of our imagination in the Size Matters panel, ably moderated by Micheller Muenzler, the purveyor of yummy cookies and creepy horror. I continue to maintain that however frightening a small monster can be, or a bacteria or a virus, if you see a T. Rex bearing down on you between the trees, you will sit up and take notice, before you run for your life.

The YA vs. NA panel on Sunday morning was also fun and lively, for an 11 am panel. I dragged Stina Leicht onto the panel at the last minute, and panelists were informative and thoughtful. Thanks to Amy Sisson, librarian and writer, for wonderful insights into the question of who is reading NA, and if relegating it to the soft-core sexytimes is missing the point of the target audience. Self-discovery, yes, autonomy, yes, but perhaps not so much with bondage and S&M. (50 Shades, notwithstanding). Ultimately, NA is schizophrenic designation, and writers are better off letting marketers handle where books are shelved.

Thanks to the organizers for an excellent convention.

 


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