Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Invisible Workshop Panelist

That was me...well, that was all of us last year at the terrific CoyoteCon - it was a virtual, free, online conference "celebrating all flavors and blends of SFF, horror and romance", organized for 2012 by author Joely Sue Burkhart. (I understand it began in 2010 but that was before my time.) This was my first experience as an author, serving as a panelist, my courage bolstered because the interaction would be online and I knew I'd be comfortable "speaking" and answering questions from behind the computer screen! (No, not quite as dramatic as Oz, no fire LOL and I believe I'm better looking and a whole lot friendlier!)

There were four chat rooms, all kinds of fascinating topics, lots of cool people as panelists - I enjoyed the heck out of being on a panel and I enjoyed "attending" other sessions from the comfort of my own home. Yes, the timing was a bit crazy, depending where you live - we did one workshop at 6AM California time (too bad for the audience they didn't get to see my fetching nightgown, matching robe and cute slippers LOL). I was on the self publishing panel, having recently published WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, and also on one Science Fiction panel as I recall.

My Moderator was extremely organized, had us figure out our intros and some Q&A about a week ahead of time, so we could begin both of our sessions promptly. (One workshop that I "attended" was very congenial and happy but spent nearly half the actual session getting organized! Even in a virtual conference the excellent suggestions my fellow Word Whores gave earlier this week about being a Moderator or Panelist do apply.) Our Moderator was experienced and kept the discussion moving and made sure we addressed any questions.I'm looking forward to doing CoyoteCon again this year!

Being at an actual live event like RWA (I'm hoping to make it to RT next year) and networking and meeting people and ALL of that is fun stuff but I have to say there are some good things about a virtual conference, including no need to travel, which poses some challenges for me. I do it, but it's not my favorite thing. So don't rule out the value of attending a virtual conference!

In better years for the government travel and conference budgets, I used to attend one particular annual NASA conference for the day job, strictly as an audience member, but then after a few years I began volunteering and that was FUN. I loved being behind the scenes, acting as a session co-ordinator, introducing the speakers, keeping an eye on the questions and the time and bringing things to a graceful end. It's hard to get a word in edgewise with a group of enthusiastic, world renowned space scientists and engineers, to warn them they've run out of time and must move into the hall to make room for the next session.

I'm planning to volunteer at any future writing conferences I attend - the volunteers are so necessary and it's always a blast to be part of the event in that fashion. Puts a naturally introverted person like me right at ease.

So whether I see you at RWA, RT or another conference, or I "see you" at CoyoteCon, here's to interesting workshops, smooth moderators, proficient panelists and a well stocked bar!


  1. That does sound like a hoot. The introversion and the travel expense both tend to thwart my in person attendance of writer conferences.

    Online may present viable alternatives for me.

    1. I definitely think it's a viable alternative...nothing beats face to face but Coyotecon did have good workshops and I *think* there were online pitch sessions was a nice way to get the feet wet.