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A Norwescon 40 Debrief

A Norwescon 40 Debriefing

Norwescon 40 is over. I have returned from the land of hotels, fast food, long-term parking, and airplane noises. (Just kidding SeaTac, you know I love ya.) This means it’s time for a con debriefing! This is the post where I recap my experience, share photos, and talk about what happened during the convention.

K. M. Alexander and an Andorian
I met this surly Andorian wandering the halls.

This debriefing will be a bit different from previous posts. I wasn’t tied to a table, and so I got to experience the convention as an attendee as well as a professional. I really enjoyed my time. Let’s break it down by day and hit the highlights…


Thursday, Day 1

This was the quietest of days for me. I worked that day, so I didn’t show up until the evening. Once there, I checked in, got the lay of the land, said hello to a few friends. I managed to take in a few panels and checked out the art show opening before I went to the Small Publisher Party. The party was super crowded. I came late and learned that fashionably late means “no room” something completely different compared to art show openings.


Friday, Day 2

I started the day off with “Advanced Self-Publishing.” It was a great panel with a great moderator (Thanks, Tori!) and really we didn’t have enough time, and this panel could have easily lasted several hours. Loads of information was shared. I hope the audience enjoyed it and learned something in the process.

Afterward, I hung out with Elliott Kay, Annie Bellet and her husband Matt, their friend (and another fellow author) Ann, and the indomitable Jason Vanhee. We talked shop and chatted about everything. It was nice getting to know everyone. (Fun fact, Matt Bellet is the Daredevil featured in my post from last year. I had no idea.)

[Left] This Handmaid was my favorite cosplay costume of the weekend [Middle] Colossus by Josh Foreman [Right] Where I ended up on badge ribbons
[Left] This Handmaid was my favorite cosplay of the convention [Middle] Colossus by Josh Foreman was on display at the Norwescon Art Show [Right] Where I ended up on badge ribbons

My second panel was “Worldbuilding: Alien Cultures that Don’t Dehumanize.” I feel like it was a bit too narrow of a topic, but the discussion ended up being pretty good. Plus, I got to meet Rhiannon Held who ended up on two other panels with me as well.

I attended “Hated It!” that evening, and it was a highlight of Friday. The panel was a celebration of hate towards pop-culture properties moderated by Jason Vanhee. The audience filled out cards of things they enjoyed, and the panel hated on them. Much shade was thrown. As a result, I now hate Arrival, c’est la vie.


Saturday, Day 3

Steve Toutonghi showed up! Steve, Jason, and I spent most of the day together. Which was great. (Next year we need to get Steve on some panels.) My day was packed. My first panel was a return from Norwescon 39: The SF/FANTASY BATTLE ROYALE. It was wondrous, and as expected, it was my favorite panel. They moved us to a bigger room and we nearly filled it. Once again, Matt Youngmark hosted, Erik Scott de Bie and I returned, and we were joined by newcomer Jason Bourget. We made a good team. It was hilarious and raucous. In the end, I regret picking Malcolm Reynolds over Robin Hood the Cartoon Fox. I feel like it set up a chain of events that propelled us toward a painful outcome. Much to my chagrin, Deadpool won.

Ugh, Deadpool.

I hate Deadpool.

Bacchus/Dionysus was wandering the halls
Bacchus/Dionysus was wandering the halls on Saturday.

Thankfully, I was able to wash away the disappointment of the Merc with a Mouth’s championship by discussing “The Changing Landscape of Worldbuilding” which I really enjoyed. My fellow panelists were sharp, and I think the discussion was helpful.

Finally, I wrapped up the day on an evening panel that I had sat on from last year: “Location, Location, Location: Horror’s Unsung Character.” We quickly decided that Location wasn’t unsung in horror at all, it was horror. Plus the audience was great! There was loads of discussion. I like panels that feel more like a chat among friends, and this was absolutely one of those.


“You can put lipstick on a pig, and it can still be worth kissing.”

— In the “Call to Action” Panel


Sunday, Day 4

My morning panel reunited me with Annie Bellet and Rhiannon Held. 10 AM on the last day of a convention can be rough, but a lot of people showed up! We jawed for a while about Urban Fantasy worldbuilding. It was one of the best panels I was on, the crowd was engaged, the room was packed.

Sites from around Norwescon
[Left] Michael G. Munz as Heisenberg, the one who knocks [Middle] Pair of Daleks lurking under the stairs [Right] A cool (highly detailed) steampunk ensemble.

I had one more panel at the end of the day on worldbuilding in Post-Apocalyptic fiction, then had a few meetings before finally calling it a day. When I got home, I was exhausted. I had grand plans to write, but I sat down on the couch, and my body refused to move. I ended up watching Escape from New York on Netflix since my brain didn’t want to do anything else.


Quick Thoughts/Highlights

  • The staff of volunteers was great. Thank them.
  • The social media team killed it this year. Follow them.
  • The cosplay as always was wonderful.
  • People were really open and friendly and accepting. I appreciated that.
  • It was awesome spending more time with a few local authors. In particular Jason Vanhee who hung out with me all weekend. But also Steve Toutonghi, Elliott Kay, Annie Bellet, Matt Youngmark, Nathan Crowder, Rhiannon Held, and so many others.
  • My fellow panelists were great. There was a lot of mutual respect and some substantial discussion. I’ve heard there were issues in other tracks, but I have no complaints. The last thing I want to do is waste people’s time. I don’t think we did that. So, yay us!
  • It became apparent to Rhiannon Held and me that there needs to be a panel next year on Weird West. I’m totally planning to suggest and offer to moderate it. So if you’re into horror and cowboys, keep your eyes peeled.
  • I soft-pitched Coal Belly to the audience in one of the worldbuilding panels, and I heard a lot of positive reactions. Yay! It made me excited to keep working on it.
  • I sold books! I didn’t expect that, but I had a few readers return for the next book in the series. Also had some people approach me after panels as well looking to pick up a copy.
  • Not having a table meant I wasn’t in the Dealer’s Room all that much. But I did see a few friends from there. I was a bit bummed we didn’t have time to chat more.
  • It was great to see so many of the same folks in so many of my panels. (Including a lot I remember from last year.) Y’all have good taste.
  • Goodspaceguy was there.
  • I sat in on a few readings. I need to do this more, I always really enjoy them. Both Hayley Stone and Jeremy Zimmerman did a great job. I’m glad I caught both readings.
  • There were quite a few panels I missed because of conflicts. (A few of Elliott Kay’s, at least one of Jason’s, and the Gamemaster’s Manifesto podcast to name a few.) Which is a bummer. But, with a programming track as substantial as Norwescon that is bound to happen. In times like these, I wish I could split myself like Dr. Manhattan.
  • I managed to get up to the game room briefly. It’s lovely up there! I should play a session next year.
  • My one complaint: there needs to be more contrast on the name badges. I appreciate the artwork, but the whole point of the badge is to read folk’s names. When you can’t do that the badge is sorta failing its purpose.

As always, Norwescon 40 was great. I really liked the freedom of not having a table, and would absolutely consider doing this way again. I loved interacting with the Norwescon community, they’re warm and always welcoming.

As for future plans, I’m attempting to get into Crypticon for May, and Lilac City is coming up in June, and I’m hoping to make it to Orycon 39 this November. We’ll see. You can keep track of where I’ll be next and check out previous debriefings from previous conventions on my Upcoming Appearances page.

Thanks for an amazing Norwescon 40. I’ll see you at 41.


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