The Penguicon Schedule is Out!

Penguicon is more than a month away1 but the schedule is available now!

OK, technically the schedule can change right up to when the convention starts, but it is finalized and released to the public. It contains 366 separate events totaling 454 hours of programming. Naturally, I will be participating in some of it.
2 For those who like to start planning their weekends ahead of time and want to know where I will be,3 I present the following (Material in italics include the title of the event and the official description. My own comments follow in standard text):

My Penguicon Schedule (As Of 1 April).

Friday 2 April 2014

16:00 Board of Trustees Room
Sequels and Series in Genre Fiction
We all love that feeling we get when we can fully immerse ourselves in a fictional world. Conversely, the return to the real world can be quite shocking. Is this part of the reason for the prevalence of series work in genre fiction? Is it something from the publishing side? Is there a place for the stand alone work in SFF?

I will be honest, I have not written any sequels yet, but I do have them planned. I am quite familiar with reading series fiction however. Hopefully I can be a useful addition to the panel (which will consist of myself and my friend and fellow author Mary Lynne Gibbs4).

17:00 Board of Trustees Room
Plotters vs Pantsers — Finding the Storytelling that Works for You
Some writers are plotters, and can’t proceed until they know how everything ends. Some writers a pantsers, and they surprise themselves as they go. How can you figure out which one you are, and how can you harness the strengths of each approach while avoiding the weaknesses?

I fall somewhere in between the two extremes discussed in this panel. I am definitely not a plotter. I can’t stand working from an outline when writing fiction. However, I do have a general idea of what is going to happen and when. I know when the big scenes will appear. I have discussed this in GLAHW writing workshops as my AAA map technique.6 The auto club used to provide maps called TripTicks (this is way before the days of GPS) which broke one’s travel into little individual maps. That’s kind of my way of writing. The panel also features Ferrett Steinmetz and fellow GLAHWer Jim Leach.

Saturday 3 April 2014

12:00 Algonquin B/C
When Did We Get Cool? The SFF Explosion on Screen
In a world where some of the most watched shows deal with SFF themes or have been adapted from SFF material (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, The Avengers et. al.) where does the “mainstream” line get drawn? Why is it suddenly acceptable for the SFF genre to be viewed? Has this translated over to the written word? Side question: why has mystery always been more or less accepted but SFF is a more recent explosion?

All right, this one I am actually quite nervous about. The Lit Guest of Honor Ernie Cline will on the panel which is part of the reason it is being held in one of the rooms which hold a hundred or so people. Also on the panel will be John Scalzi, who is a fantastic writer. Fortunately I will have some familiar faces there from the GLAHW — Sean M Davis, Nicole Castle, and Jim Leach. We will be discussing one of my favorite topics, the ever changing line between what is popular/literary/accepted and what is genre/for geeks only. I have participated in panels which discussed Genre vs. Literature before. This will be an interesting chance to expand on the topic, especially given the recent rise in SFF popularity.

18:00 Board of Governors Room
Obligatory Undead Panel: Is Undead Dead?
Shoot ‘em in the head, stake ‘em through the heart, the good old silver doesn’t matter, the undead keep coming back. Have zombies, vampires, and werewolves finally run their course or do these creatures still have legs? Is there a division between genre fans who have grown tired of these creatures just as they’re taking off in the general public?

After a couple of hours to cool off following the When Did We Get Cool? pannel I get to step up to the plate again for something totally in my wheel house. The first panel I ever appeared on was on the undead. I’ve been on undead themed panels a number of times since then. I usually start out by saying something along the lines of “My name is Michael and I’m a horror author. My first published story was a zombie story. My first paid sale was a zombie story. I have zombie poetry which had been published including a zombie haiku which I am very proud of.” I have all kinds of crazy theories about the popularity of zombies, werewolves, and vampires. I can talk about the cyclical nature of vampire popularity, how zombies fill in for whatever portion of society is currently a threat, the classic trope of man fighting against his bestial nature in the werewolf story, and so on. The panel will include Mary Lynne Gibbs and two GLAHWers: Sean M. Davis and Ken MacGregor. It should be fun.

17:00 Hamlin
The Importance of Editing and Non-Writing for Would-Be Writers
Editing is an important part of creating a book, even if it isn't as sexy as, you know, actually writing. We'll be discussing editing, query letters, and all of the business crap that comes along with doing this for a living.

My last official panel for the convention. When I originally submitted the idea the title was “and other non-sexy stuff for would-be writers” but that was changed for the sake of clarity. Mary Lynne Gibbs and I will be discussing why you can’t just finish a novel and then upload it for publication. I’ve discussed this topic in the GLAHW workshops before, focusing on editing, beta readers, and proper formatting. Since I started putting together my own anthology and actually acting as an editor I have a whole bunch of other things to talk about. The amusing anecdotes will be flying in this one.

As I said, those are the places I will be officially. I will most likely pop into a number of the other Lit panels (there are almost 30 of them) just to make sure that things are going all right. I plan on being at the Open Readings at 8pm on Saturday just to make sure that things start off OK and that no one is hogging the time.

I also plan on attending the Opening Ceremonies at 6pm on Friday. This will be my first time checking them out, so I don’t really know what to expect. However, this is the first year that I spent an extended amount of time with the people working behind the scenes
7 and I would like to celebrate the Con with them.

There are also a number of panels which I am looking forward to sitting in the audience for. Some of them are in the Literature Track, but many are not.
Copyright v Free Information is one that I hoped would get some interesting participants from both the Lit and Tech Tracks. I couldn’t be happier knowing that Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Cory Doctorow will be on this one. There is also a really cool Birds of a Feather idea that will happen twice during the convention. Participants will create a story one bit at a time, each person taking turns adding a bit.

There are also a number of tech, science, and life panels I want to attend including ones on neurodiversity, the future of healthcare, exploring mars, virtual reality, foraging in Michigan, earning a living doing what you love… The list goes on and on. Between now and the start of the convention I will probably plan things out multiple times, then end up playing it by ear.

Check out the
schedule and see if you don’t find a ton of stuff that you would be interested in.

1 Sob.

2 Less than last year, so that means I will get to explore more of the Con than usual. I also won’t have to run off to attend a different convention either.

3 Either to see if I make a fool of myself or to avoid me.

4 Who I convinced to leave her home and family and return to Michigan for Penguicon, on her BIRTHDAY no less.

5 I just realized that I will have to make sure everyone knows it is her birthday while at con.

6 Which you have to be of a certain age to understand.

7 Last year I took over as Lit Track Head late in the game.