You take the good with the bad, right?

Phil and I attended Context 21 (Sci-fi/fantasy/horror) this past weekend.

Pros

  • Price. $35 for the entire weekend, $50 for my Gary Braunbeck‘s Short Story Master Class, $79/night hotel. Food was on us (and we spent way less than the $150 I budgeted,) but there was a “con suite” in which sandwich makings, fresh fruit, chips, cookies, and beverages were provided. (Compared to the grand I spent in 2006 for the ACFW conference, this was amazingly inexpensive.)
  • Panels. The horror panels were interesting and the discussions more than I expected.
  • People. I think all conferences boil down to the people. I want to name them all but I’m afraid I’d forget someone.
  • Parties. The room parties were interesting. (I’m not sure I get it though.) Free wine (thanks Shroud!) and cheese are good for me, though. Kudos to Thomas Sigel for a classy presence. I didn’t partake at the Apex party, but Jason Sizemore is a pleasure to mingle with.
  • Photographs. I had the experience of taking some really flattering photographs for some wonderful people. Thank you all so much for allowing me the pleasure.

Cons

  • People. Just like truck drivers who get a free shower ticket every time they get fuel (which has to be at least once a day) some conference goers obviously forget there is water and FREE soap in their rooms. I absolutely hate body odor. And for the love of God people, change your clothes sometime. (Drilling down, there’s one person I’ve met a couple times now and I’m pretty sure doesn’t like me, but I don’t know why.)
  • Information (or lack thereof) There was not a map of the hotel or the conference center in our goodie bag and the list of panel descriptions were, in my opinion, inadequate and separate from the schedule of events. The website was more informative, but I didn’t have a computer with me.
  • The hotel. It was under construction. I can understand that. The whole place was like a sauna though. And when I’m stuck with people refuse to bathe in a crowded elevator…
  • Parties. Free whiskey for Phil is bad. Free whiskey followed by vodka followed by beer is really, really, really bad. I’m sorry if you didn’t like the Patrick the Barstool-maker joke.
  • Panels. While they were interesting, moderators were not set ahead of time and most panelists had no clue what they panel was supposed to be about. Hats off to the panelists for being able to bring expertise and grace to your topics.
  • The woman who showed my husband her tit. I was not pleased. I guess she was showing it to people at the Shroud party as well. Some people have no tact or couth. I am still not pleased. EDIT TO ADD: The Context organizers have made it clear this is not acceptable, this is not that kind of Con (which we’ll discuss later) and have made amends with me–something they totally did not have to do. I do not in any way expect the organizers to take on responsibility for the individual in question. I’m learning about these conferences as I go and I’m basically clueless about the sub-culture. That said, my list of Con “Cons” should not be interpreted as a reflection on the con itself, rather as a list of my pet peeves.

Will I attend in the future? Most likely. However, there will be some minor changes on my part. All in all, it was a great weekend. I’d choose this conference over ACFW a hundred times over. At least the panels were geared toward my writing and I didn’t feel excluded for writing what I do.

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