Context 21

You take the good with the bad, right?

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


  • 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.


  • 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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10 thoughts on “Context 21”

  1. Heather–the class was way more than I expected. I need to sit down with the crits to swallow and digest my shortcomings. (Cuz I kinda know my strengths)

    Monica–my eyes bugged out and I said something along the lines of, “You did not just do that.”

    Kelli–I was a little concerned when he started hiding from me because he knew I’d cut him off. LOL

  2. If it helps I’d already heard the joke (from my husband). His presentation was amazing. I did think I was going to have to help you drag him to your room because you were going to hit him with a heavy object 😉

  3. Better than ACFW, huh? Maybe I need some info on this one, too. Although it would be easy to become a conference groupie and never actually sit down and write if you went to too many. I never felt particularly excluded, but I’m pretty clueless, too, so I may have been and not noticed 🙂 You do get some awfully odd looks at a conference like that when you say you want to write Xian zombie/horror novels and whatnot!
    How many people were there?
    And hats off to you for not punching the lady that flashed her hoo-ha at your husband. Of course, such a tacky come-on is not usually getting my husband’s attention. He’s into the more subtle pickup tactics.

  4. Hey, it was great to see you at the con! I’m looking forward to the photographs!

    re: the map: they did have a map of the hotel and convention rooms in the program book, but they got more people than expected and ran out of program books. D’oh.

  5. Michelle, thank you for stopping by the Shroud party. It was an absolute pleasure to have you there. I am sorry if there were a few kinks in the end, thankfully your grace and class made up for the rest.

    -Tim Deal from Shroud

  6. Glad to hear you had a good time and are doing something with your writing (which is more than some people (mememe) we know.

    Eh, at ACFW we all didn’t know each other well enough to let loose. It’d be different if we all went now. MISALIGN!!!


  7. Just sent you an email about Context photos for the website. Hopefully, the hotel won’t look like the set to a Mad Max movie next year.


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