Your Favorite Cons?

No, no, not convicts. Please stop sending confessed serial killers your underwear.

Conventions! Or, for a variant, conferences.

I’m noodling new appearances in the next couple years (scheduled this year: Writer’s Digest East, Balticon, Worldcon in San Antonio, and Genrecon) and I wanted to know which conferences and conventions you dig and attend? What are they and why? Would they support a bearded raconteur such as myself? Is there a bar? GODDAMNIT I SAID, IS THERE A BAR?

Ahem, sorry.

Please, if you’re so inclined, deposit your nuggets of convention/conference wisdom into the comments below. Your help in this matter is much-appreciated. *takes a bow*

52 comments

    • It’s the plan! BLUE BLAZES releases at that time as does the Mighty Mur Lafferty’s SHAMBLER’S GUIDE, so I think we’re kinda doing a dual-release-thing.

      Do go! Would love to hang!

      — c.

  • February 25, 2013 at 8:32 AM // Reply

    I always go to DFWCon for a solid writerly type convention (as opposed to a fan one). They are very organized, tons of info, and there is ALWAYS a bar somewhere near by. I think you’d fit right in! ;-)

    • Another vote for DFWcon! It was my first conference ever last year – went, pitched, landed an agent, and this year I’m one of the organizers. Having Chuck at DFWCon would be an insane thrill – unfortunately, it’s usually the travel expenses that limit our non-local authors. (What we really need is the con equivalent of a fantasy football league…!)

  • Pikes Peak Writers Conference, held every April in Colorado Springs, CO. A conference for writers, as opposed to a convention for fans. (I love both, but it helps to know which audience to expect.) This year’s keynote speakers are Amber Benson, David Liss, Libba Bray and Barry Eisler. Tries to present a good balance of writers across genres, focusing mainly on commercial fiction. Also has a panel of agents and editors who speak and take pitches. Estimated attendance usually around 300 writers–much larger in 2012 because it was the 20th anniversary (faculty included Jeff Deaver, Robert Crais, Joe Lansdale and Carrie Vaughn). Held in the Colorado Springs Marriott, lovely bar in the lobby, would work to have a drink named after you if you attended.

    If you’re interested, contact me. I’m the programming director for 2013 and 2014.

  • Dragon*Con is still a ragged edge when it comes to writers… They’re trying too hard to be a media con like San Diego Comic Con. I still go, mind, but it’s for fun more than anything else. We’re hoping to make it out to World Horror Con in NOLA this year. Still no idea if that’s happening.

    • Would love to hit World Horror — McCammon’s getting a lifetime achievement and, hey, I’m a huge fan.

      Dragon*Con is, ehh, I don’t know. Not that it matters, as I think Worldcon is the same weekend.

      — c.

      • To be fair, the main reason we still hit Dragon*Con is because my wife’s company takes us. It’s honestly too big for my taste, at this point. I don’t know that I’d make the trip if I had to pay for it.

      • I recommend World Horror; I really need to register but keep putting it off. If you come and need crash space/ eating recommendations/ gaming recommendations/ site seeing recommendations/ etc., let me know. I live in NOLA.

  • All of my convention experience is game-related, so that’s the only front upon which I can offer advice. I’d second GenCon, as Travis above said, but I’d put Origins in front of it.

    Origins is big but not huge, and a lot of industry talent makes it to Columbus for the show. Since it’s not huge, the pace is more laid-back and there’s a lot more time to just talk to people, especially after-hours. There’s a bar attached to the convention center that does a dandy job of handling that aspect of convention-going. As well, the available food in the area surrounding the convention center is excellent. It’s my favorite convention, by far.

  • San Francisco Writers Conference. Okay, so my kids live there, and I can only afford to attend one conference (although the Pikes Peak WC is intriguing since I still have family there) but the conference is GREAT. I’ve been for five years, and I’m still learning. The keynote speakers this year were Anne Perry, Guy Kawasaki, and R. L. Stine (who is hilariously humorous!). AND, the bar at the Top of the Mark makes the most amazing martinis. Consider it for next year. I’d love to hear some politically incorrect swearing.

  • My new favorite con is JoCo Cruise Crazy. You may argue that it’s not a convention, per se. To which I say tosh. And pish. It fulfills all the requirements of a con as far as I am concerned, and comes with fruity boat drinks.

    Reasons it is my favorite are many and legion. First, it’s a cruise. So, your downtime is considerably more pleasant than at any hotel- or convertion-center-based con. Second, it is a week long, so there is a LOT of stuff going on. Third, Despite the quantity of stuff, the pace is more relaxed. There are only two things going on at any given time that you REALLY want to do, instead of five to ten. Fourth, previously mentioned fruity boat drinks. Fifth, the nature of it being a cruise neatly scrapes off that element that comes to a con but either can’t afford a hotel room or chooses to squeeze in twelve to a room. Sixth, the gender ratio is very nearly 50-50. Seventh, it has a really awesome community between cruises. Eight, eight, I forget was eight was for…

  • I just attended the Old City, New Blood conference in St. Augustine, Fl. It was a new thing – a smaller con and everyone was very cool. I’ve heard it’s going to be a regular annual conference. There was a bar there. More importantly, the authors and blogger who showed up were party people, so it was easy to relax and have fun with everyone.

  • My favorite con is Capclave, which is run by a group call WSFA and held in October every year in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is a small con, but has a reputation for good conversation and a strong literary focus. It also has a high concentration of aspiring writers, and considering how much writing about writing you have published, I think you would gain a lot of new readers by attending. And if you’ve got a workshop handy, I know they’re still looking for good workshops for this year’s con. George R.R. Martin is the GOH this year. (E-mail me if this interests you.)

    North Carolina has a lot of great cons, and I don’t just say that because I live in NC. Stellarcon is a con that is run by a college scifi club in Greensboro, NC. It’s in its 37th year of existence and a lot of younger fans attend as well as an awesome group of writers. iLLogicon is a relatively new con held near Raleigh, NC. There are some organizational kinks that need to be worked out in terms of programming, but a lot of fun awesome writers come to this con. And if the hotel is a factor in your decision at all, the rooms in this hotel are HUGE, the lobby has a large gathering space with lots of comfy chairs for chatting, and your room rate includes a free breakfast buffet (with made-to-order omelets) and free drinks during their happy hour from 5-7PM. Mary Robinette Kowal is GOH next year.

  • Allow me to toss in a vote for… Well, anything held in Toronto, where I live, since I don’t very often get the chance to travel to cons held in other cities. But we do have several here, the biggest of which is Ad Astra. I confess I haven’t even made it out to that all that regularly, but I’d definitely go if I heard you were going to be there. My con attendance or lack thereof tends to be strongly influenced by which writers are going to be present.

  • I’d second everything Meagen said about Capclave (www.capclave.org). I’ve gone for several years and have been really impressed with the strong literary focus, particularly on short stories. Good guests, good panels, and yes, a good hotel bar.

  • Hm. Crossroads was great for inspiration and spilling drinks on people. FandomFest was great for book sales and meeting authors and Norman Reedus but not great for panel crowds. Olde City, New Blood was tons of fun, especially since I rarely get to meet bloggers and I got to be on a drunken dating game. The one I’m most excited about right now is Phoenix ComiCon this May.

    And I’m still waiting for TWITTERCON.

  • I’m going to World Fantasy Con 2013 in Brighton, and it’ll be my first ever writing convention. :) http://www.wfc2013.org/
    So I can’t judge how good it will be, but I am *so* glad it’s not in London, because urgh, London. I thrive in the most remote corners of Scotland, London is not an environment I enjoy being in.

  • Another Texas Con to consider is FenCon in Dallas, typically late September or early October: fencon.org It has become my favorite con of the year, but I rarely travel past 300 miles for cons anymore.

  • I live in Philly and learned about the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference the weekend before it happened last year. I’ve been looking forward to going this year when it happens in June.

    Kind of your neck of the woods, isn’t it?

  • I only started going to cons very recently. I’ve enjoyed going to Philcon, right outside Philly, but missed it last year (wedding) and will miss it this year (HS reunion). I went to my first and only Worldcon last year in Chicago, and will be going to my first Readercon this year.

    Other than that, I’m taking notes from the rest of the comments.

  • My first and (so far) only con was WFC in Toronto last November. Totally awesome and right up my genre alley. I learned so much, and was revitalized all at once. I’d like to go to Ad Astra in Toronto, but my cards are maxed out. :(

  • Ok, being all Uk and that..

    The Sci Fi Weekender (previously the SFX weekender) Brain Blessed eschews questions and just talks for an hour in an ‘interview’. Fricking awesome. Craog Charles does the disco. Fricking awesome. A Doctor or two? Yup. Chance of getting bear hugged by a wookie? High. So. Much. Fun.You should go. Also. this year, Professor Elemental. And people dress up on Saturday night and,..it rocks it really does.

    Eastercon – mix of publishing and fans. Always fun, I tend to lose my voice by the end of it (usually due to the writers workshops we run, but it;s not on this year so I may last!)..

    Fantasycon is usually more for publishing peeps, but it’s combined his year with the World Fantasy con. A tad more staid than SF weekender, but can be worth it if you want to know about stuff what happens in publishing

  • World Fantasy Con is totally the best (although I confess to a huge dose of genre partisanship here, being a rabid fantasy reader and writer) :) Yes, they have a bar…and a lounge or two as well. But the fun is in the Con itself. Would love to see ya there.

  • Missouri Writers Guild in St. Louis in April always has a great mix of workshops, breakout sessions, writers, agents, editors and bars. oh, and me. So there’s that.

  • Not being American, I reckon it’s awesome that you’re heading over to Australia. Of course, you would have to time it for when I’m still on the wrong continent. It is great that you’re willing to export your awesomeness around the globe!

  • I go to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference every year.

    Main site: http://www.siwc.ca/
    Speakers, Agents, Publishers (2012): http://www.siwc.ca/speakers/2012/list
    Contact form: http://www.siwc.ca/contact/index.php

    Why? Great speakers, great digs, great attendees. Diana Gabaldon goes every year, Robert J Sawyer has been there several times, I love Anne Perry’s workshop. Last year I worked up the nerve to ask her a question. Gracious lady.

    Is there a bar? Of course! It’s a writers’ conference. ;)

  • You should consider Eeriecon (http://www.eeriecon.org). Always held in the last week of April. We’re at a new hotel this year on Grand island, halfway between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The ConSuite always had a private bar, but because of the aforementioned new hotel, I’m not sure what the arrangements are this year. If you have the weekend free, or even just a day, check it out, and say hi.

    This will be my sixth year there. Always lots of fun (did I mention the private bar?), good guests, good panels. Nice mix of Canadian and American authors in attendance.

  • The OWFI conference each May (that’s the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc)! Usually held at Embassy Suites, so YES there is a bar. They also have an AMAZING breakfast buffet in the morning. And considering the keynote speaker for 2013 is Patrick Rothfuss, I’m sure you’re fine for a speaker sometime :D.

    My other favorite conference is the Ozark Creative Writer’s conference. But . . . it’s lots of little old people, with a smattering of tight-knit younger writers. You’d probably give most of them heart attacks,sadly. It’s held every October in Eureka Springs. It’s sooooo pretty out there.

  • GenCon was already mentioned — great fun there, but I go to roll dice and slay shit. Don’t really know where the happening bars are, though. I do know Apex Publishing makes an appearance and a number of quality writers attend/host the symposium

    Origins also got a nod — Another good one for dice slingers. Can’t say anything about the writer’s track because… well… evil needs slayin’, yo? However the Hyatt has the famous “Bar on 2″ where a lot of folks hang out. Nearby is Loughmillers, a nice bar/restaurant where HackMaster fans have been known to frequent (good bunch, that lot).

    Convergence is amazing. Your liver may hate you for it, but it’s worth going. If I had enough vacation time I’d be back there this year

    ConText is a great, small con. The hotel that hosts it has a fair bar (not great) but there’s a bar/restaurant across the street (The Winking Lizard, if memory serves me right) that’s very good. Great program for writers.

    And while not exactly a con, I would like to make a plug for this writing conference: the In Your Write Mind Workshop at Seton Hill University. It was set up by the alumni of the Writing Popular Fiction program to help raise scholarship funds, starting out as a retreat, but now welcomes non-alumni. The University has been compared to Hogwarts by some, but typically by students and graduates of the program. Being a Catholic University, it has no bar, although the Wine Social does make up for that. (Disclaimer: I’m an alumni of this program, so take what I say with the usual pound of salt.)

  • Phoenix Comic Con!!!
    Memorial Day Weekend – directly across the street from the Hyatt Regency (with a BAR) and in the heart of downtown Phoenix within walking distance of many other bars! The Con is really well organized – seems to get better each year! And you can see by the website, the Con is VERY author-friendly – the list of awesomeness this year included John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, Cherie Priest, Terry Brooks and many other fan favorites. Please consider Phoenix in 2014! http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/

  • The Cascade Writers Conference! Milford style crits, lots of workshops and free time. I went last year and had the time of my life. I’m going again this year and I cannot wait. They also offer two scholarships for the conference, I won one last year.
    http://cascadewriters.com/

  • Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, there is also Norwescon (http://www.norwescon.org/). Lots of writing panels and there is a good writing workshop they do every year, as well as the Philip K Dick Awards. It also covers a wide range of nerdenkultur, so there are gamers and cosplayers and the usual assortment of fans, but I’m mostly interested in the writer stuff.

    One of the advantages of Seattle is that between being a book lover town and being a geek town, there is a metric crap ton of genre writers who live in the area (and if they aren’t in Western Washington, they’re down in Portland) so you will get lots of writers showing up to do readings and panels (a panel with Jay Lake is a glorious entertaining thing).

    Much fun to be had.

  • KillerCon is awesome. Point One- It’s held in Las Vegas. Which means cheap air fare and lodging. Point two- It’s held in Las Vegas, which means plenty of booze and mayhem. Point three- The hosts of this con are amazingly open and friendly, and they throw these fantastic short story contests every night. The gross out contest is not to be missed.

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