Browncoat in training

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Cons, my two cents worth
kshuler2002
Recently, I've read an abundance of comments related to Con attendance and most I agree with. In fact, I encourage attendance to these fun filled events as much as I can. I have happily tried to convert as many non-geek people as I can, because I believe everyone should experience the fun and excitement that I have these past twenty something years.

My first con was in Chattanooga Tennessee. It wasn't huge, or for that matter medium in size, but the people that I met there made up for the size. I was very young and attended the function on my own. Star Trek had been my first true love, one that I never deviated from. I read all the books, watched all the TV reruns and salivated over the movies. So when I heard that members of the cast would be at a Con in Chattanooga, thirty miles from home, I threw my backpack in the car and took off. I was but eighteen years old, young, naive and completely green to such gatherings.

As I stood in line for my ticket, my heart raced with excitement. Once I passed through the double doors of the convention center into the dealers' room, I wandered for hours. If I hadn't been so shy and timid, I would have squeeeeed all the time, for the dealers had everything that a new collector could dream of. After a bit of wandering around the room skirting the people in the costumes, and casting sly glances toward their way, I was noticed. A few seasoned Con vets observed my newbieness and, thank goodness for me, introduced themselves. After my initial shock at their forwardness melted away, I spent the next several hours in the midst of the most wonderful people that I had ever met. They bombarded me with information, funny stories involving past conventions, good will and friendship. It was the beginning of my love for Cons.

The next few years; I attended at least one Con each year, preferably Cons that were close to me. They were typically small, so I remained in my comfort zone. It wasn't until my mid thirties that I discovered a bigger, more dramatic Con that would change my reading habits and introduce me to another interesting genre, Fantasy. In 1991 I attended my first Con in Atlanta, what is now refferred to as Dragon Con. It was the most mind boggling Con that I had ever been to. There were people everywhere! Tons and tons of them crowded the room. People dressed in fantastic costumes roamed the halls, laughing and enjoying themselves. The dealers rooms were awesome, as well as the Art room. There were actors, comic book people, authors and attendees from every part of the US. If was fabulous! I was hooked from then on. If fact, this was the turning point for me. No longer the closet SciFi Geek, I made a promise to try and convert as many people as I could from that date forward.
And I have. :)

Since my younger years, I've always been interested in telling stories, putting them on paper. But, I never thought myself good enough to do so. However, once in college, I thought that I would give it a try. I signed up for a creative writing class. It was a dismal failure. The teacher, along with most of her class (her followers, all English majors), did not consider Science Fiction or Fantasy worth mentioning. During the first meeting, when asked what we enjoyed reading and writing about, I made a very big mistake. I responded with glee that I loved SciFi and Fantasy. The sudden quiet in the room left no doubt that I'd made a tactical mistake. The teacher, and the English students made it very evident that they did not relish the idea of having a Science Major in their vicinity, nor did they believe Science Fiction or Fantasy a legitimate endeavor. Responses from critiques and reviews of my work were engineered to deliver the most devastating of hits to my writing enjoyment, so much so, that I finally withdrew from the class and never wrote a single complete paragraph for my enjoyment for four years. They had won.

However, that all changed in 2002 when I found out about the writing classes that were being offered by A.C. Crispin at Dragon Con. I was forty years old and pregnant for the first time, six months to be precise. Anyway, I knew that I would not be able to keep up the pace at the Con that I previously had in the past, so I decided to take it easy and sit in on the Beginners Writing class that Ms. Crispin offered. I was lucky enough to have my best friend to accompany me. The class was awesome! I learned a great deal regarding the 'How to', and the 'What not to do's' and best of all, some of the attendees of the class decided to create a critique group. This group turned out to be the best thing that I'd experienced in my wannabe writing career. The group created a site on line, so that we could communicate and exchange ideas. It wasn't long before I realized that this group truly wanted to help each other.

I must say, for the first year, I was a lurker. I would provide feedback for others work, but I never submitted mine own. In fact, I had never finished anything, other than poems, and that had been prior to my bad experience in College. It wasn't until a group chat on line and a very pushy group member (you know who you are) goaded me into it, that I finally took the plunge and put pen to paper. During the chat, our leader (so to speak) gave us a writing problem: Write a story that contains the following elements: A Clown, a fight scene, and something gold. It was like the light bulb over the head moment. When I started, I couldn't stop until it was done. I posted my first finished short story to the group two years after our initial meeting. And since then, I have completed multiple others, received good reviews from editors, and am currently finishing up the first draft of my first novel. And during the entire past seven years, members of our group have been supportive and encouraging. They rock!

Though the years, more groups from Ms. Cripins writing classes have tried to obtain our status, but have, so far, failed. I thank the stars everyday for leading to that particular class. It has opened an entirely new direction for me, one that I'm enjoying immensely. Many authors have openly professed the attributes of having a supportive critique group, and I'm here to say, they are sooooo right.

So, here's the jest of my rambling in a nutshell. Cons are a wonderful way to meet really fun people and expand your comfort zone. And if you're a writer, they are a huge source of information, editor, author & agent contact, not to say all the chances in the world to actually get your career as a writer started. Whether it is for fun or to actually make money at, Cons are one of the best ways to pave your way to achieving your writing objective. And if you don't make that sell, what to do? Well, you'll sure to enjoy yourself while trying. And think of all the fodder you'll see to add to your writing! Substance for your tales is endless!!!

So get on-line and look for that next Con, it will be worth your while. And who knows, maybe we'll meet at D-con next year!
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