I had a great time at FenCon this year.  This makes the sixth year I’ve made it to FenCon.

Rather than give a complete blow-by-blow, I’m just going to hit the highlights.  I’m sure a lot happened that I won’t even touch on, since there are so many tracks to follow.

Writer’s Workshop

Keith R. A. DeCandido
Keith R. A. DeCandido

Conducting Writer’s
Workshop at Fencon VI

I had pretty much committed to myself that I wouldn’t do the writer’s workshop this year.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing them . . . I love doing them.  But the time commitment is fairly substantial.  If you’re in class with nineteen other writers, that’s nineteen critiques you have to do.  That’s a lot of crits.

But then I heard that Keith R. A. DeCandido was teaching the class, and that it was to be a series of lectures and question and answer sessions with no crits involved.  Count me in.  And I’m glad I attended.  Keith did a great job of covering the business side of writing.  And as he put it, he tried to cover the topics that no one else covers.  He did an excellent job.


Tom Smith
Filker Tom

The Filk presence at FenCon continues to be strong.  Carla Ulbrich was the musical guest of honor.  She’s always been one of my favorites.  She’s an excellent entertainer and performer.  Her hubby, Joe G performed also.  He’s technically dazzling, interjecting Michael Hedges-like two-handed tapping techniques, and his own brand of humor.  And Tom Smith was at his hilarious best.


I went to several panels, and they were all good.  Of special note was the “Endings” panel with C.T. Adams, Paul Black, Lois McMaster Bujold, Paul Cornell, and my friend Julia Mandala.  As the panel put it, lots of people hammer into our heads the importance of starting a story off with a bang.  But ending with a memorable ending that is surprising yet satisfying is a huge challenge and often overlooked.

The DIY Self-Promotion for Writers and Artists with Kurt Miller, Real Musgrave, Muff Musgrave, Gloria Oliver, Rie Rose, Steve Wedel, and Cat Conrad was excellent. I heard this same theme time and again at FenCon this year: There’s only one person in charge of your career: You. 

The main guests were great.  Paul Cornell is insane.  In a good way.  I also enjoyed Lois McMaster Bujold.  Her keynote address wasn’t a speech at all.  Right away she opened up the session to questions.  The audience kept her busy.  The session could have gone on for hours. 

One of my perennial favorites is the “Four Redheads of the Apocalypse
press conference, where Yard Dog Press writers, and friends, Linda L. Donahue, Julia S. Mandala, Dusty Rainbolt, and Rhonda Eudaly presented a press conference–in character–each of them portraying their character creations in FROTA.  The session was capped off by a visit from Selina (Satan) Rosen who maintained the force her evil will by threatening to punish the disobedient by making them eat barbecued marshmallows.

Selena (Satan) Rosen Linda (Bunny/War) Donahue
Rhonda (Death) Eudaly and Juli (Famine) Mandala Dusty (Pestilence) Rainbolt

R2D2 at FenCon VI
at FenCon VI

Of particular interest was the life-sized R2D2 showcased by Glenn Pipe from Dallas Personal Robotics Group.  R2D2 is a remote controlled robot that Glenn has been working on for many months.  It moves about and makes the endearing sounds of the “realthing.”  One really cool aspect of R2 is that he has an onboard camera and Wi-Fi that allows passers by to “tune in” with a personal device such as an iPhone, and see what R2 sees.  Glenn can also use an iPhone as a remote control for R2D2.  This is really cool stuff.

The thing that probably floated my boat more than anything was Howard Waldrop.  I caught “An Hour With Howard Waldrop” hosted by Brad Denton. 

Howard Waldrop at FenCon VI
Waldrop at FenCon VI

Stories (the spoken kind) flew as Brad and Howard regaled the audience with tales of days gone by.  During the session, Brad questioned Howard about the myths and legends of Howard Waldrop, and Howard debunked or affirmed them.  Brad recounted of having heard that some fans had seen Howard on an elevator at a con just minutes before he was to participate in a reading of his works.  Howard wrote studiously on a yellow legal pad.  Legend has it that when asked what he was working on, he told his fans that he was finishing the story he would be reading to his audience in a few short minutes.

I attended Howards reading on Sunday.  And sure enough, moments before his reading, I saw him seated in the hotel bar, writing in his yellow pads.  Later he confessed that he was notactually writing the story.  Rather he was transcribing it into larger print so he could see to read it.  Hearing Howard read was a real treat.

That’s it for this year.  I hope to see you at the next con.