Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why I Love Fan Conventions

Me with Angela Pritchett at the Southern Voices Book Launch Party. Picture by Leona Wisoker of The Scribbling Lion.
So, I went to Con-Gregate for the second time this summer, a small sci-fi/fantasy convention in High Point, North Carolina, where I was a guest author. I knew I was going to have fun, and my expectations were exceeded. There's nothing like spending time with people who love the same things you are passionate about. And--hey, bonus! I sold some books, too.

I was thinking about what makes time at a con so great. After all, there's a lot about a con experience that is hard on me. There's seldom enough quiet recharge time for an introvert like me. Or at least you have to choose whether you'll take the time for personal recharge or the opportunity to connect with like-minded folk (never an easy choice).

It costs money and I'm a schoolteacher in North Carolina, so I don't really have any of that. (As a guest author, usually my con fees are waived, but I will still need to get myself there, pay for a place to sleep and buy food and drinks).

If I'm to attend, then I have to rely on others (my husband and sister, usually) to take over the things I would normally have been doing--giving my kids rides, walking the dog, feeding people, etc. When you're a "giver" sort of person, it can be hard to be the one receiving help. I have to fight the guilt over being a little selfish and taking this time for me and my writing career.

But, still, even with all the cons of cons (ha! I amuse me) I *love* going to cons.

I was sitting in a session given by AJ Hartley, a Special Writer Guest of the con, called "What Can Genre Authors Learn from Shakespeare?" when I realized what it is. It's the level of discourse.

In my ordinary day to day life, I teach middle school. Some of my colleagues and students are brilliant shining minds that dazzle and challenge me, but a lot of them aren't. Not all of them are there because they want to be or because they love what we've come together to do. In fact, how few of them want to be there is a little depressing when you consider that I got into teaching, in part, to share my passion for learning and books.

But, as I sat in that session, I realized with a kind of rush that I was in a room of 30 some odd people (and some of us are really odd people) who love both speculative fiction AND Shakespeare. People with passionate opinions about things like whether the ghosts are really there in Macbeth and Hamlet or are just in the minds of the haunted.

Over the course of my weekend, I was part of conversations about moral boundaries in superhero stories, what white straight people writing more diverse characters need to consider, what constitutes cultural appropriation, why representation matters, what tropes serve stories well and which ones are offensive, advantages and disadvantages of different paths to publishing, why gender and race are more than check-box categories, and the difference between true (nonfiction) and heart-true.

My TBR list which is already longer than the time I will probably be on this earth grew by leaps and bounds, as did my list of shows to watch, music to explore, clothing to buy, places to go, and stories to write. It reminds me of the best moments of college.

It's worth the introvert coma that follows just to talk this deeply for a few days. It really is. Do any of you have any favorite fan conventions in your necks of the woods? If not, how do you get your geek on?

Post by Samantha Bryant, another bookish fangirl. You can learn more about her and her work at

Friday, September 1, 2017

Back to Hogwarts: The Hogwarts Tag

I was not a fan of school, but you better believe that if I got my Hogwarts letter I'd march right back to the education system for seven years of magical learning.

To celebrate the 1st of September, the official day that Hogwarts students take the Hogwarts Express back to school, I'll be doing the Hogwarts Tag. I'm not sure who the original creator is, but I saw it done by Dawlyn and Krista at Little Blind Book Finds. Be sure to check out their post and see the different answers they each have.

Am I Pure-blood, Half-blood, or Muggle Born?

I saw it explained somewhere once that a Pure-blood is a person who has read all of the books and seen all of the movies. Going by this statement, I'd surely be a Pure-blood Wizard (though not like the Malfoys! Much nicer.). ;)

Which wand chose me?

My wand, according to Pottermore, would be made of Elm with a Unicorn hair core, 10 3/4" with hard flexibility.

Did I take an owl, cat, rat, or toad with me?

An owl I can borrow from school if I need to, but I couldn't get through months of work like this without a cat by my side. 

Where did the Sorting Hat put me?

I would have been surprised to go anywhere else! Ravenclaw is home for me.

What house did I want to be in?

I don't suppose Hufflepuff would've been too bad and I do get it as a secondary house sometimes on quizzes. To be fair, though, my hybrid house is Slytherin, so I may well have found myself in green at Hogwarts.

What lessons are my favorite and least favorite?

Favorite: Charms. 

Least Favorite: History of Magic. I wouldn't mind reading Hogwarts, A History on my own time, but Professor Binns sounds downright dreadful. 

The form my Patronus takes.

How perfect that my Patronus is a cat. I wonder if I'd ever learn how to make three at once like McGonagall?

What does a Boggart look like to me?

Since I don't think a Boggart could accurately portray my fear of heights, I'll say Umbridge. This emotionally abusive, manipulative witch is something I couldn't deal with.

Do I partake in any magical sports or school activities?

According to the Harry Potter Wikia page, there was a knitting club at Hogwarts. It sounds like something I would've joined as, while I love Quidditch, I don't think I'd actually be a good flyer. In this club, I bet we'd learn how to make the images on our more involved projects move like wizarding photographs. Neat!

Where would I find myself hanging in my spare time?

While the library would probably get a lot of attention, I think I'd also sit under a tree next to the Black Lake as well. I do want to see this enormous squid!

What would I most likely get detention for?

Staying too late in the library, whether due to schoolwork or personal interest.

What career do I want after leaving Hogwarts?

I took a quiz and got Professor. The librarian at Hogwarts could be considered a professor, right? *lol* I'm not sold on the idea of teaching, but as Hagrid and a few others have shown us, it can be fun. I'd probably be the person in the gif, dancing around with the books after all the students have gone. :D

I tag anyone that would like to do this tag! A new year at Hogwarts has begun and we have until May, when inevitably some sort of trouble will occur. Maybe we can get through our exams this year. ^^;

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.