The theme of Windycon was the scifi genre of Steampunk. It was fun, though it was a lot heavier on the costuming aspect than I’d anticipated. I met a wonderful group from Columbus that do some spectacular work with costumes.

The writing panels were good and I enjoyed them, the just weren’t as… I don’t know… spectacular as I’d hoped.

I think one of the things that made me a little uncomfortable about the con is that this is the first con I’ve attended in a long time where I wasn’t a panelist. I had the incredible urge to fill in the blanks for the panelists – to jump up and blurt out everything I knew about their topics. That, of course, would’ve made me THAT GUY. You know, the dude in the audience that won’t shut up and spoils it for everyone else? It’s not that I thought I knew all there was to know about the topics, there just seemed to be a lack of prep for some of them.

But here’s my problem with some of the panels – not just at Windycon, but other cons as well – It’s the big name writer who only seems to be on the panel because he’s a big name writer and the conference people had to find somewhere to put him or her in order to justify bringing them in. I am incredibly nervous in preparing for panels. I write up notes, I develop questions to ask others, I occasionally email with other panelists beforehand to make sure we’re all on the same page. I think these things are the least I can do for the attendees so that they get the most out of their con experience.

This weekend a panelist got out his program booklet and read the description aloud. Not in a “If this isn’t the panel you were expecting, you’re in the wrong place” kind of way. It was obviously meant to clarify what the panel was about – as if he wasn’t certain.

I understand that some famous authors have been in the business for years and can talk about any subject off the top of their heads, but some really can’t. The majority of the panelist with a few books under their belts had no notes or anything in front of them this past weekend and it showed that they really weren’t prepared. They rambled. They drifted from one topic to another. Whenever a certain author didn’t have a good answer, he told a “Let me tell you about the time Extremely Famous Author X did something vaguely related to our topic”. It was annoying and a bit of a rip-off.

I say a rip-off because at the other end of that table was a young writer with very few credits to her name. She had several pages of notes, including relevant examples of what we were talking about. She got to talk twice, maybe. She got steamrolled by the babbling bestsellers and that was a shame. It would’ve been nice to hear more of her ideas.

All in all a fun time – I’m still regrouping, but I’ll talk more about the annoyances and high notes soon.