Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CONduit day two report

Day two of CONduit ws fun. There were more people, more costumes, and I spoke at a panel. I ended up missing the first set of panels at 10 due to a schedule conflict, so the first thing I attended was:

11:00
Scott Taylor, Tom Carr, John M Olsen
Geek Parenting


I had one of our attendees snap this picture of Scott, Tom and me. Funny thing, that. My brothers are named Scott and Tom. No relation to the guys in the picture though.

We had a lot of fun talking about the benefits of geek parenting, and good techniques to use. We talked about lots of access to books, art, music, board games, activities together, and general family building. Find the stuff kids are interested in by putting a large menu in front of them. They may surprise you, like Tom's son who is in a redneck pickup truck phase. :)

The most serious bit was when one of our attendees asked about bullying. That's a problem whether it's related to the geek aspect, or any other. You can tell the kids that the bully is just insecure and seeking attention, or that they'll end up in a dead end job at a fast food place while the geek kid becomes CEO of a high tech startup, but that doesn't fix the problem of being bullied NOW.


Here are some shots of our attendees as well. The Star Trek guy was the dad of the long haired Harry Potter fan. Another couple had their under-a-year kid along. The gal in green and the assassin in white were a couple as well.


12:00
Paul Genesse, Jane Lindskold, Aaron Lee Yeager
Frank Herbert's Dune

This was yet another panel with Jane Lindskold. They kept her busy as the guest of honor at the conference.

One thing they mentioned is how for most stories, the world building takes second place to the characters by a good margin. This isn't the case with Dune. It's not that the characters are week, it's that the world building is just that good. The world and environment can be seen as playing the part of a character in the story. This environment character has conflict with the other characters, and has its own story arc over the series.

1:00
Sarah Seeley's Book Reading

Scott Taylor and I stopped by to say hi to Sarah at her book reading. She read from her story coming out in the Steel & Bone steampunk anthology the end of next month (June 2015).


2:00
Jane Lindskold, Julie Bartel, Eddy Roberts
Judging a book by its cover


Sorry, I didn't get a picture at this one. This was a tour of book covers, describing the good, the bad and the ugly. What sells, what doesn't, and why in the world publishers feel the need to add "A Novel" to the cover of novels, as if it is hard to tell what it is. :)

They also talked about cover tropes, like having a female showing her bare back with a tramp stamp tattoo, or having a woman in a big fluffy evening gown. Or how about the woman on the cover with the top half of her face trimmed by the top edge of the cover so it's easier to use the main character as a Mary Sue? Ever seen a cover with a nearly monochrome picture, other than the text which tends to be brighter?

One thing they discussed is that the best covers tend to appeal to different audiences for different reasons. This increases the shelf appeal because it has a broader audience that will take a look to see what's inside.

3:00
Aaron Lee Yeager and Christopher Husberg
Villains

These are the same guys who did the romance panel on day one. Here's the same picture since I didn't bother taking a new one. :)


Give the bad guys a reason to be bad. They need a motivation.

A difference between heroes and villains is not the challenges they face, but their response. Heroes overcome challenges while villains succumb to them.

The less sympathetic your villain is, the more charismatic he needs to be for your reader to care.

There are some triggers which will instantly and eternally mark a guy as a villain. If he kills dogs, cats, or other domestic animals, he's marked by the reader. You can have someone cut a swath through a dozen innocent victims, then kill a cow, and people will be upset about the cow.

Killing monsters is an upbeat thing, but killing a sympathetic bad guy is a downbeat.

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