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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

NerdCon: Stories | Life's Adventures

The 2nd Annual NerdCon: Stories happened this past weekend - October 14th and 15th - and I would say that my experience was a success! There was such a wide variety of panels, workshops, and experiences to be had. I ended up being able to attend seven "sessions". There were plenty of others that I wanted to attend, but they were at the same time as the ones I did attend.

First one was Mental Health in Young Adult Literature. I wanted to sit in on this one because there was one of the same title at Y'ALL FEST in Charleston, SC and I wasn't able to get in the room before it was filled. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but the presenter had plenty of novels and essays to give examples of what is out there. But the stated purpose of this presentation was to establish the why we write about mental health - to help end the stigma - and why we read about it - to know that you're not alone. There were plenty of facts that you can google about the statistics of mental health.

"Session" number two for me was - Self Promotion: Getting the Word Out. The general consensus from each of the panelist was that they did not like self promoting. I don't blame them. It's awkward and uncomfortable. This didn't mean that they didn't have an advice and that I wasted an hour of my time. Make sure that you are supportive of your creations. It doesn't matter if it's a book or a short film or something else. If you are not supportive of it, then why would anyone else? Your audience is essentially split into two categories - those who buy and those who appreciate. There is nothing wrong with posting some free content for those who appreciate what you do. Chance are that person has someone in their life that will be a part of the buy category and will help those who appreciate get the content you put out for purchase. "Selling" a social community through building relationships and creating community is another way. This will help create your word of mouth network, which tends to work best in getting the word out about your new content. Don't let all of your posts be about "buy my stuff, buy my stuff". Mix in some genuine posts that fit in with your social community that you are creating. Finding your people also helps. And that all depends on what kind of content you are creating.

The final session I attended on Friday was Adaptation: How does it Work?. I can't say much about this because it was agreed within the room that this session was going to be "a moment in time that goes nowhere". I do have notes from it, but I cannot share them. I don't think that it will be available when the podcasts come out for each session.

Something cool I sat in on was a Spoken Word Open Mic. Rachel Kann seems like such a fantastic human being. She was so encouraging to all of those who participated. You had to sign up before hand. At the end of it, I somewhat wished I would have prepared something. But I feel like there is more I could learn about it before participating in it. The topics of the pieces were all over the place. There wasn't a common thing like depression or sexuality. I really enjoyed it!

First session of Saturday, for me, was The Moral Responsibility of the Storyteller. This panel was more of a discussion than the other panels I had seen. I don't know if they ever came to a conclusion of whether or not there is a responsibility for the storyteller. The way I see it, there is a certain level of responsibility. BUT the storyteller is in no way responsible for how others interpretate the work released.

Session two of the day was How to Create and also Eat. Being open to opportunities and being strategic with networking are two big things. The biggest is definitely being consistent in your work. There is a balance between creation and promotion. You can't just create all the time or promote something that doesn't even exist. But the whole experience is individualized. No one else's experience will be like yours. So don't try to copy exactly what others do. Doesn't mean you can't try somethings that they have, but you have to see what works best for you. Collaboration can help out. There are definitely areas that it works better in than others, but that doesn't mean that it won't work in some areas. Get creative with how you produce things. Don't always go about things in the exact same way. Spice it up for yourself. Don't put all of your energy into one thing. Have some variety in your passions. You'll tire yourself out if you focus everything on one thing. Make sure you research the pay for your craft to help prevent clients ripping you off. Taking on some smaller projects could help refresh you for the larger projects. Giving away things is generally a bad idea when you are starting out. That doesn't mean to never do it. Just be smart about when and how you do it. Because it is good to give back, and it is important to do that. But don't let someone take advantage of you.

Session three - Why would you say that?

This was a workshop on dialogue. Really entertaining. Eileen Cook was amazing! She had a lot of great anecdotes that helped keep my attention. This was the session I took the most notes in. So many things to apply to creating dialogue - more specifically, believable dialogue. It's important to make sure that it matches the character (ethnicity, class, etc). Everyone communicates differently and your dialogue should reflect that. It is meant to amplify the conflict and help move the plot along. Read it out loud and hear how it sounds. Make sure you are aware of communication killers. Adverbs aren't the best of ideas. That doesn't mean to never use them, but don't add one to every single "said" in your dialogue. Revising is your friend. Start at the good part. Don't worry about boring small talk fluff. Start the conversations when the tension is present and the conflict is growing.

I did pop in and saw about fifteen minutes of Dread. The game sounded interesting, but I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if I could have played. It didn't hold my attention enough to want to sit there for the whole hour, hour and a half it was going to be played.

And the last session I completely attended was Breaking into Publishing where I happened to win a drawing for a novel. The authors there all had great advice for different ways to find out if what you have written is what a publisher or agent is looking for. Keep track of your queries. Don't forget that it is all about the book. Share it with others. Believe in your book. Write the best book you possibly can. Make sure it is what YOU want. Read a ton and read widely. Allow yourself to make mistakes. It's not done until it's published.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many attendees appeared to be around my parents' age and weren't there with kids. It's not a bad thing. I think it's really cool that they are still learning and attending events like these. I just wasn't expecting it.

I am proud of myself for not attending a single session where John Green was a part of it. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. Going into this convention, John Green was the only name on the list of speakers that I recognized. Part of the way that I picked which sessions I attended at Y'ALL FEST was based on what authors were speaking. I didn't do that at all this time. I felt like there was a clear enough explanation of what the panel, workshop, or presentation was about that I felt comfortable enough to pick out what I wanted based on content. Which is how it should be honestly.

I would definitely recommend going to this convention. I'm going to see what I can do about going again, if it happens again.

Until next time...


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