Well, not actually "hit", but you know what I mean.
So Hannah and I hit up 4th Street Fantasy Conversation conference Friday Saturday and Sunday. We'd gone last year and wanted a repeat of the experience.
4th street isn't exactly a writing conference (though there's definitely a lot of writing discussion). You're not going to find any agents or editors (unless they're a panelist or just a participant), or have pitch sessions or chances to have your work read by industry professionals (unless you become friends with them or something).
4th street is set up as one giant conversation. There's a group of panelists, mostly authors, usually a fantasy fan, and sometimes an agent or editor, and they discuss, with the audience, the panel topic.
It's fun and I always seem to learn a lot.
Here's a run down of the conference (and like I said Monday, I have quite a few blog posts planned from discussions, so there will me more details on specific topics in future posts)
Friday morning and afternoon was reserved for the Writer's Seminar. This was an additional $35 (I think) and was one long panel devoted to a topic related to writing. For this year it was Writing Support Networks.
Elise Matthesen was the moderator and we spent hours talking to Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Bear and Patricia C. Wrede about their paths to becoming authors and the support networks they used along the way.
This, for me, was the best part of the whole conference.
Topic: Magic, Monsters, Metaphors
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Caroline Stevermer
What was discussed: This was pretty much a big discussion about monstrous people and forces that could control them. Jekyll and Hyde was mentioned quite a bit as was Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who, both who were good examples of men who, without their companions, could be quite monstrous.
Topic: Birth Control and Families in Fantasy
Panelists: Lois McMaster Bujold, Pamela Den, Sherwood Smith
What we discussed: I was really excited about this panel, but it kind of let me down. I think it was due to weak moderation and so the topic kept delving into real world discussions about women's issues.
Topic: It's a Secret to Everyone
Panelists: Anne Gwin, Will Shetterly, Patricia C. Wrede
What we discussed: This delved a bit into whether or not you as the writer are keeping secrets from the reader, or keeping secrets from the characters. Also discussion of surprise vs tension (A surprise is when people are playing poker and the table explodes. Tension is when we see a person plant a bomb under the table)
Topic: Feast and Famine
Panelists: Alec Austin, Elizabeth Bear, Jon Singer
What we discussed: mmmmm, food. This panel was deliberately scheduled right before lunch. Which was good because there was less talk about eating horses and dogs, and more talk about how stupid it is when adventurers cook stew out on the trail.
Topic: Middle Book Blues
Panelists: Steven Brust, Marissa Lingen, Scott Lynch, Sherwood Smith
What we discussed: Talks about how people can take as long as they want to write that first book, but once that's published, there's a lot more constraints when writing the second one
Topic: Scenes of Conflict
Panelists: Lois McMaster Bujold, Pamela Dean, Caroline Stevermer, Patricia C. Wrede
What we discussed: Another panel I was excited for and then a bit let down by. Discussion about how violence doesn't always = conflict and how emotion can equal conflict
Topic: Class and Colonialism in Fantasy
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Will Shetterly, Ginger Weil, Skyler White
What we discussed: This panel created a lot of arguments and got off topic pretty quickly. There was a lot of discussion regarding how people imagined the middle class throughout different ages of human history and how they're frequently inaccurate
Topic: Novelty, Complexity and Mass Appeal
Panelists: Emma Bull, Scott Lynch, Michael Merriam and Sherwood Smith
What we discussed: A lot of talk about different levels of writing within the genre. That often a newbie to the genre sees something in the work as groundbreaking, but experienced readers of the genre find it derivative. But that everyone starts somewhere and there's nothing wrong with writing books as breakout genre novels for those who are inexperienced
Topic: Getting beyond a successful character
Panelists: Steven Brust, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ginger Weil
What we discussed: Both Brust an Bujold are authors of long running series with the same character. Brust said he would never tire of writing this character and Bujold says she struggles with leaving people wanting more before you've given them too much and ruine the whole series for them
Topic: Pestilence, Plague and Public Health
Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Anne Gwin, Stella K Evans
What we discussed: A great panel talking about the lack of public health concerns in genre fiction. I learned a crap load about cholera and was relieved to realize I often have characters with missing teeth and illnesses in my fantasy novels.
So that was the conference in a nutshell. I'll be going on at length in later posts about specific discussions and the awesome brunch Hannah and I had on Sunday (IT WAS SUPER AWESOME!)