Continuing review of World Horror Con
Late start due to excessive fun the day before, but got rolling in time for the first panels. This was a big one for me - Pitch Workshop / Editor Meet & Greet. I didn't have a pitch for them, but I wanted to get some idea on what's being looked for and get a few tricks. Also relevant was the moderator had done a bit of work on my novella and given me a metric ton of good feedback. Still working on getting that incorporated and ready to pitch to folks in the next few months. The editors on this panel were awesome and inviting, stressing they weren't gatekeepers or meanies that were keeping authors back. It's [almost] never personal and could just be a matter of timing. This is something I've heard quite often in the past. Collected a few cards and contact information before running off to the next panel on "Research in Horror".
If anyone ever looked at my research history, pretty sure they would wonder WTF is this guy doing on these sites? A common thing among writers is that we read everything we can and if there's a question, we're off to find out the answer. With the advent of the internet, sources are easier to find and a good basis, but never forget the library or books that fill out the details. One of the panelist commented about using their vacation as a research and a tax deduction, because it was "work". They were joking, but you could see the lights go on in the other panelists. Another point made is that in the age of information & fact checking, you get it wrong and people will tell you. Often rudely. Snagged a quick lunch and then circled back to the next panel.
Thought about this one and I have to say it disappointed me. In the Pitch panel, the editors were supportive. Not so much in this one. Pretty much the message was "If you're not famous, piss off, we're not interested. Also, if you aren't getting paid pro rates, you're an idiot for giving it away". These were big name editors and they basically had "their roster" and that was it. Invite only and "exclusive club" mentality. Vastly disappointing and honestly, made me angry. This dovetailed into the next panel "Advice to New Writers" which could be summed up as "Don't". Don't start unless you're willing to bust your ass to get noticed. Don't start unless you have thick skin. Don't start if you think you're going to make Steven King money. They were brutally honest. Writing as a job is close to impossible. The market isn't there like there was 20-30 years ago. Not great news, but as they said - "Writing is about passion. If you don't have the passion, go back to the cube".
Fuck the cube. Not unless I'm desperate and even then, I'm tempted to get a job slinging burgers first.
Last panel of the evening was "Finding You Voice". It's not a technical thing, but encompasses everything. If you read Steven King, he has a voice. George RR Martin has a voice. JRR Tolkein has a voice. It's the feel of the words, the execution of text, and fullness of story. And that's all about practice and the best stuff could be 20 years down the road as you refine your writing and get better. A good note to end the day. Afterwards, met a friend for dinner, drank beer, and had a fun time socializing with him until the next event. Not a panel, but a show being put on by Deadite Press - "The Bedlam Sisters Sideshow". Holy crap was that a fun time. the stage wasn't the best, but the performers more than made up for those shortcomings. Think of a carnival sideshow and you've got the acts - fire dancer [only no fire, but lights]; a burlesque show based on the prom scene from Carrie; broken glass manipulator; bed nails [3 performers, the top one using a hula hoop]; and straight jacket escape. I'm bummed that it was only an hour and the next time I'm in Portland, I'll have to track down their performances.
The final event of the evening was quite simply the most amusing bit. The Gross Out contest. 10 people get 5 minutes to tell the most revolting tale possible in front of 5 judges and a live audience. Last one was one by a guy grinding his teeth and talking about a dental procedure. This year's the subjects included ones including cannibalism, a horse act, doctors, pregnancy, food, and mother's day to name a few. Horror writers have some seriously messed up psyches when they put their mind to it. I'm not going into detail, since it's a "you had to be there" situation. Well worth it and as long as you weren't easily offended, enjoyable. And with that, I retired for the evening.
Got up early to have breakfast with a buddy at a place called Waffle Window. Got a Belgian waffle with ham, bacon, and a jalapeno sauce. Very tasty, but sugary. Got back in time to listen to my friend, Christine Morgan, read a passage from "Sven Bloodhair" from the "Someone Wicked" anthology. She channeled her viking voice, adding a fun note to the reading. Being Sunday morning, there was only me and one other person [who won 3rd place in the previous evenings gross-out contest]. I read the story previously, but live readings are so much better. Last panel of the day covered the topic of "Smut & Gore in Horror". The name of the panel really tells you all you need to know, except one thing - the writers aren't the people you think. One of the panel members looks like he'd be your kindly old uncle or grandfather. Yet he wrote some rather disturbing stuff. Well written, but rather off the wall. Another panelist worked in a warehouse and wouldn't stand out in a crowd. An interesting discussion and surprisingly clean.
Afterwards I hit up a couple of folks to chat and make a few inroads into being a "professional". A positive and enlightening experience and one I look forward to repeating. Next year is in Atlanta and the year after in Provo. Not sure I'm up for those locations, but it's a temptation.