The end of October marked the beginning of a new phase for me as a debut author. The CONS. Conferences and conventions.

For the past three years, I have attended the Sirens Conference for women in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I have always enjoyed this conference for its camaraderie and passionate and informed discussion and panels. For me, Sirens has the familiar feeling of an academic conference with the added bonus of wildly imaginative readers and writers.

This year, I was excited to reunite with friends and catch up on projects. I was also keenly aware of the opportunity to network, or rather the opportunity for a shy person to practice how to network. Like many writers, I am not naturally extroverted. But the chance to introduce myself and talk about my upcoming book in a welcoming environment like Sirens allowed me to get over some of my jitters. In the process, I made new friends. I also received some great How To pointers on CONS which I put to work at my next CON, World Fantasy.

While Sirens felt like a reunion, attending World Fantasy Con for the first time felt a little more like sitting for my grad school qualifying exams. I was convinced everyone knew more than me, and they’d figure out there was an imposter in the room. But really, only part of this was true. There were indeed many award-winning and talented writers, both among the Guests of Honor and the attendees, but they were also welcoming and engaging.

And while World Fantasy had stellar programming, ¬†it had another “track” beyond panels and readings that happened in the lobby which put to task the skills I’d practiced at Sirens. I shook hands, introduces myself, talked about my book, asked questions, and most importantly had wonderful conversations with folks that I now can’t wait to see at the next World Fantasy Con (in Baltimore).

Next year, my CON schedule will be hectic to support the publication of THE SONG OF ALL (FogCon (Bay Area), WisCon (Madison, WI), DragonCon (Atlanta, GA), World Con (San Jose, CA), Sirens (Vail, CO) and World Fantasy Con (Baltimore, MD). And these are just the confirmed ones. I know I’ll face many next new challenges this coming year, but I also know that there will new friends along the way and hopefully a streamlined packing list to keep me going.

Postscript:

My packing list for 10 days of travel and two very distinct climates (Vail, Colorado and San Antonio, Texas) was bolstered by 3 Advanced Reader Copies of my book THE SONG OF ALL, 3 books to be signed by attending authors, 100 new business cards, 250 new book promo postcards, protein powder and travel blender, and enough nuts and seeds to keep me and neighborhood squirrels from going hungry in between meals.