GeekGirlCon Wrap-Up – Raven Oak

GeekGirlCon Wrap-Up

This past weekend was GeekGirlCon 2016, which was my 4th GGC and probably the best so far. Over 11,500 attendees came out this year, which is really awesome. I love seeing what began as a small convention grow to a decent size!

Raven Oak at GeekGirlConWe arrived early Saturday morning since parking is always an issue downtown, picked up our badges, and chilled while we dug through our swag bags.

I always love the scurry of activity just before the doors open to the public, when the con staff (or agents in the case of GeekGirlCon) are running around trying to figure out last-minute details while they eyeball the line of people outside.

Besides seeing our friend Shaylee, Dalek Overlord of Seattle, and her Dalek Clara, we also met an attendee who had built his own remote-controlled R2D2. He was sitting off to the side and as people arrived, they thought someone was inside the R2 unit and would ask the R2 unit if they could get a photo. The unit would then respond in some series of typical R2 noises, confirming in their mind that someone was inside, and a photo would be taken. It was quite hysterical seeing children react to this!

R2D2 GGC16

My first panel was at 10 AM, entitled Science Fiction Romance: No Tentacles Required. For a 10 AM panel on the first day of the con, we had a decent turn out. (Apparently the line for badge pickup had circled the block!) We ended up with a few more people than the picture below shows as I took this photo about 10 minutes before we began.

SF Romance GeekGirlCon

My co-panelists were authors J. Tullos Henig and Tricia Barr. What I really enjoyed about this panel was that we discussed the difference between a romance novel, where readers expect the happily-ever-after and the stories are more character driven, and science fiction/fantasy works with romantic subplots, where you can have anything from plot-heavy military SF to characters dying daily a la George R. R. Martin. The reader expectations vary by genre. Publishers know this, which is why genre categories exist in the first place.

Quite a bit of the audience was like myself in that they didn’t mind romantic subplots in their SF/F, but still wanted the stories to carry the genre traits expected for works of science fiction or fantasy. Setting something in space doesn’t necessarily make something science fiction. Readers want more than that.

SF Romance GeekGirlCon

After this panel, we had a quick lunch before my next panel on Imposter Syndrome: Are You as Good as You Think You Are? with scriptwriter John Lovett, RWA’s 2016 Librarian of the Year Robin Bradford, and authors Frances Stewart, Phoebe Kitanidis, G. G. Silverman, and me.

Imposter Syndrome GeekGirlCon

This was probably the best panel I have ever participated in in my entire career thus far, and not just because of the topic being personal. My co-panelists were insightful and amazing in their honesty and discussion of such a difficult topic. In fact, not only did we pack the room (complete with people sitting on the floor and on the window ledges) but the GGC agents turned away 30+ people from the room.

Imposter Syndrome Panel GeekGirlCon

And another shot from the other side…

Imposter Syndrome Panel GeekGirlCon

Normally I find myself as moderator, but the awesome G. G. Silverman stepped up to moderate this panel–her first!–and did an amazing job!

I meant to record the panel and forgot in all the excitement! Some of the things we talked about in this panel were:

  • Many attribute success to luck rather than hard work
  • Both Kate Winslet & Maya Angelou both have suffered from Imposter Syndrome
  • Fandom is ripe with folks suffering–maybe because fandom is made up of folks who already feel they don’t fit in
  • Imposter Syndrome can also impact applying for jobs and accepting opportunities, creating content, etc.
  • Coping strategies: Scotch, humor, circle of friends, learning to laugh at one’s self, keeping a “bragging bits” folder containing evidence to remind you that you earned it or look back at older work to see progress and improvement, meditation, self-compassion, allowing yourself the opportunity to feel vulnerable and be honest with yourself and others.
  • Showing up to something–like this panel or this convention–is half the battle!

Author Fran Stewart wrapped up the panel nicely with a quote from dancer & choreographer Martha Graham:
Martha Graham Quote

After this panel, I had a brief break before my autograph time at the autographing area where I chatted with some new and old readers. Sold and autographed some books too. 😉 After the signing, we retreated down to the gaming area where we played some Magic the Gathering, chatted with a few folks from LPS (Lady Planeswalkers Society), and met a few folks new to Magic.

We left a little early on Saturday since I’m still recovering from a post-op complication, but arrived Sunday bright and early for day two and my last panel.

We spent the morning down in the gaming area playing Magic again before heading back up to my last panel entitled Loving What You Want with authors Frances Stewart, Bridget A. Natale, myself, and Hafidha Acuay.

This was another great panel where we got to dive into what makes fandoms work and what makes a fandom fail. How and why do gender expectations drive certain fandoms and how can we buck the system so that fandom is more inclusive of everyone?

I didn’t get a photo here but we were in a huge room (bigger than the one for SF Romance, my first panel of the convention) and filled about 2/3 of it. There were a ton of great questions from the audience, including one from a high school teacher who asked how we could encourage inclusivity in fandoms and groups without appropriating cultures. She had students who wanted to take part in anime clubs, while some of her Asian students felt that wasn’t appropriate–that the club was for Asians only. (Her example wasn’t anime, but it was something similar. I’m paraphrasing.)  With appropriation being an important consideration in fandom, it was an excellent question I wish we’d had more time to explore.

One of the things I noticed yet again about GeekGirlCon was their effort to ensure that the convention was both safe and inclusive–right down to the gender neutral bathrooms.

gender neutral bathrooms

<sarcasm> Low and behold, no one was molested. No one was attacked either. I walked in to see men and women doing what they do in the bathroom–flush bodily fluids/solids from their systems. Imagine that! </sarcasm>

GeekGirlCon also had a scavenger hunt through the convention which awarded raffle tickets for prizes. A set of my books was up as one of the prizes, and I was excited to see it featured in the video tweeted out.

I hope whoever won the set enjoys the books! I really want to know who won the stuffed animal on the right (I can’t tell what it is). That’s way too adorable!

We stopped for excellent Thai food on the way home, but even with a full stomach, I was sad to have arrived at the end of GeekGirlCon again…at least for another year. Hopefully next year will be just as awesome!

* Most photos were taken by me (Raven). A few were taken by my awesome copanelists and a few audience members.

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