Balticon 2013

David and I attended our first Balticon this past weekend. We were there for two out of the three days, and had a blast. I’ve attended a writing conference (Pikes Peak) and a writers’ workshop before, but this was my first convention. It was a very different experience!

The People

What I loved about this con was that it drew in readers, movie/TV fans, costumers, artists, and film-makers, as well as writers. We met a guy in a steampunk Tigger costume, a retired mailman into historical re-enactment, and a woman who’d sewn an Inara costume for a Firefly-themed wedding. I LOVED meeting people with these kinds of passions and skills.

(And, I also got to meet Linda Adams, although briefly. Hi, Linda. *waves* Update: Check out Linda’s thoughts about the con in Tidbits from Balticon)

(Also, this was the first family-friendly writing-type thing I’ve attended. We’re thinking about bringing our own three next year.)

The Panels

Most of the panels I attended had to do with self-publishing (social media, podcasting, marketing, business) which fell in the New Media track (and so many of those were in a room tucked all by itself in an end corridor, hmm *wink*). There wasn’t much there that I didn’t already know–and when the panelists touched on anything new, it was in a cursory way, making me go, “Hmm, I’d better go research this when I get home.”

(I believe that cons are all-important for meeting people and getting that valuable face-time with them. Information you can get in spades online, usually in more depth and detail than can be crammed into a 50-minute panel.)

Things that I learned/need to look into:

* Google + for writers. There was an entire panel on this, but most of the panelists admitted they didn’t utilize this as well as they could. If you’re a writer using Google + extensively, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also–I’d like to do a Google hangout sometime. Anyone interested?

* Podcasting fiction is a LOT of work. I think I’m better off hiring narrators down the road.

* At some point, I need to look into setting up a LLC.

* Why you need a business plan: So that you can gauge whether an opportunity is worth pursuing or not. Will this opportunity take you closer to your goals, or off in a different direction altogether? (Thanks to Gail Z. Martin for this insight).

* Advice on shopping around rejected stories you wrote for a themed anthology: Other writers are inundating the market with their rejected Machine of Death stories, so wait a year for the deluge to die down and then submit.

* Note to self: Science presentations are awesome. Attend more of them next time.

Special Events

The highlight of my weekend was the Steampunk Ball (and yes, David and I attended that in costume. We had hats and everything!). Susan de Guardiola, the instructor, was awesome. We did line dances and circle dances, and quadrilles, and much fun was had by all.

It’s amazing how being in costume can help you meet people. They will naturally stop by to comment on the costume or–in a few cases–ask to take your picture. Also, doing something with other people (like everyone failing to learn a dance) is a great ice-breaker. The next day, when you run into them again, you have something to chat about. (Though you might need to remind them who you are. They may not recognize you without the hat/goggles/hooped skirt.)


Have you attended science fiction & fantasy conventions? Which was your favorite?


what my dreams tell me

I’m not big into analyzing my dreams–most of them are very random, making me believe that my subconscious is having fun pulling out fistfuls of memories, throwing them up into the air, and giggling at the mess they make when they come down. I tend to pay attention to recurring dreams, though, especially if they fall into one of the categories below. Rabia, these dreams tell me, you’re stressed, overwhelmed and feeling helpless. Stop pretending you’re okay and deal with your emotions.

Alright, subconscious, I’m listening. What are you trying to tell me here?

Oh no! I forgot to study for my physics exam and they’re going to make me repeat high school if I fail! These dreams always always take place in high school. And they always involve the adult-me, not the teenage-me. Adult-me, who has forgotten all her physics and most of her chemistry and higher-level math, but somehow must take these exams. The fact that I have three children to raise does not deter my high school teachers/zombie slave-masters from insisting I do so. The terror of being trapped in high school–again!–permeates these dreams.

Subconscious says: You’re feeling like you have lost control of your life. Stuff happens to you and you can’t cope. PANIC!

Help! I’m stuck in a house with a hundred rooms and I can’t get out! In this dream, I’m in a house. Supposedly my house. Only my house has spawned a hundred extra rooms when I wasn’t looking. And these rooms are old and horrid, full of peeling wallpaper, cracked linoleum, and stained metal bathtubs with clawed feet. And all of these rooms need renovating. Every single one, from the ground up.

I’m overwhelmed before I even start.

And no, it’s not like I’ve ever had to renovate a fixer-upper of a house or anything like that before. *puts tongue firmly in cheek*

Subconscious say: Yeah, you bit off more than you can chew. STRESS!!!

I’m in the ocean. No, by the shore. No, I’m crossing over a waterfall. Ah, the water dreams. These are the dreams I’ve had the longest, and they are the most ambiguous. Sometimes, they are downright terrifying, like the one in which a child of mine was swept off a narrow bridge and into the boiling rapids *shudder*. Other times, they are surprisingly peaceful; once, I dreamed I was in a shallow place in the middle of the ocean, bobbing in clear clear water, surrounded by white walls which kept out big waves. In the last iteration of the water dream, I was in a beach house right by the sea, looking out of a big picture window. Every so often, a massive wave would come in and engulf the house. I’d see dolphins and whales go by the picture window. Then the wave would retreat, and I’d wait for the next one. I wasn’t terrified, but it was surreal.

Subconscious says: WATER: raging, terrible, sweeping away. WATER: calm, peaceful, protective. WATER: vast, powerful, majestic. Oooh, look at the pretty dolphins!

Yeah, subconscious, I don’t get it, either.

What about you? Do you have recurring dreams? What do you think your subconscious is trying to tell you?