This weekend was Rustycon and my first convention as an active professional.

The personal side of the convention was described at nixxignatius.

This may go long so I will add my thoughts behind the lj cut.

All of my panels were on Saturday and Sunday, but I decided to go on Friday.

I went to a couple of writing panels, but honestly I didn’t learn that much. Most of the information covered was really basic. I did meet several nice people. I think I learned a lot about fandom that night. Some of the things that grayarcadian has been saying started making a bit more sense. The concept of fanfiction has always been kind of weird for me. On one hand, I can see how it would be fun, but I have difficulty putting out that much effort for something that doesn’t belong to me. I really liked the two entries I did for the Strange New Worlds anthologies, but now that it is over I can’t really do anything with them. I can’t put them in another anthology or magazine.

These fans had a lot of passion. One of them was a big fan of the Greatest American hero, which is kind of funny because I loved that show as a kid. It helped remind me that I love writing and I’m not just trying to write for a paycheck. Aside from the things that they taught me, I think I made some fans.

There was a bookstore ran by a wonderful lady named Jane that carried my books. They sold out of the first set I had given them by the end of the night. I promised to bring more in the morning.

Afterwards, I went home and slept.

Saturday, my wife and I returned to the convention. This time, we checked into a room. I think next time I am going to get a room for the entire time. The extra cost is very much worth it. I dropped off more books and went to more panels.

The first panel was kind of dull. My first panel, as a pro, was called the Joy of the Short Story. I think it went fairly well. I gave out what information I knew and the audience seemed to appreicate it. I chatted with Bruce Taylor. You can read more about him here. One of the fans I had spoken to eariler said that my stories kind of sounded like his and from reading his website I can see why. Bruce was very kind and gave me his card and asked me to email him.

My next panel was Writing for Yourself and I was on the same panel as the Guest Star of the convention Mike Sheppard who write the Kris Longknife series. I wasn’t aware of him as a writer, but obviously I need to hang around the bookstores a little more. Mike said something that put a lot of things into perspective.

There is a difference between a first novel and novel. The example he used is Interview with a Vampire. It is a solid first novel, even though Ann Rice wrote other novels before this. First novels are simple with a hook stories that takes the reader by the hand and walks them through the story. This doesn’t mean that you have to make the story dull or slow, but it is a proving ground. You have to earn respectibility with readers and with editors. You might love the Stand and want to write the Stand, but before you can publish the Stand, you have to have a Carrie.

Carrie is a really good first novel. It has a simple story with engaging characters. It is a novel with a good hook and a solid theme that shows the readers and the editors that this writer can do the job.

The Stand has a complex story with dozens of characters that have a multi-threaded arc. It really is something you have to build to as a writer trying to gain an auidence.

I keep trying to write the Stand rather than a Carrie or an Interview with the Vampire.

I think it hit the nail on the head with why I was having trouble with the Highway West. It isn’t a first novel.

On the other hand, I think Abigail’s Dragon *could* be a good first novel. I gave away a copy of the short story to a little girl wandering the hallways bored. Everytime I saw her after that, she was reading it.

My reading at at 8pm. Most of the people that said they were going to come didn’t. It was a small circle, but it was my first time so that seems like it was a good thing. I went through my reading without totally screwing up.

I learned a lot. I’m glad I went.

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