ApolloCon 2012 report

I enjoyed ArmadilloCon so much last year,
I thought I’d try out Houston’s version.

After driving to Houston and getting checked in and typing up my last critique for Saturday morning’s Writers Workshop I was pretty wiped, but I managed to make it to a couple panels.

Friday
Of Blood Spatters and Fingerprints: Clues to Fool the Savviest Fan
Martha Wells, Patrice Sarath, Bill Crider, and Ramirez 
A discussion of how mystery writers work clues into their stories without telegraphing the ending. It’s tricky walking the fine line between believability and predictability to create a satisfying mystry. All writers being different, many approaches were discussed.

Cue the Evil Laugh: Lessons Learned from Evil Geniuses
Tanya Huff, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Rhonda Eudaly, and A. Lee Martinez

 All about evil villain stereotypes and how smarter villains make for a better story. This was a lively panel where villains and villainy were discussed. Personages mentioned ranged from Thantos to Wile E. Coyote. Everyone agreed that good heroes need strong villains, and villains need to be relatable (you have to understand their motivations). Martinez has the theory that villains are often likeable because of their committment to their goal and their crazy ways, like how the riddler MUST frame everything in a riddle even when it makes things more difficult for him. Interesting. Glad I stayed up for this one!

Saturday
Writers’ Workshop

I spent the morning in the Writers’ Workshop led by Martha Wells. It was a good solid critique session with three other participants in our group. We had time, after talking about our stories and chapters, to talk about some of the larger issues regarding world building and publishing.  Very worth my time and you can’t beat the price!

I spent the afternoon on the science panels. Being in Houston, a couple NASA people were kind enough to grace ApolloCon with their expertise.

Saturday Science with Paul Abell 
Dr. Abell is the lead scientist for Planetary Small Bodies assigned to the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Wow! What a title. He gave a really interesting talk about the study of NEO (i.e. asteroids), and he brought slides!

100 Year Starship
Al Jackson, Stanley Love, Paul Abell, and Todd Caldwell

He was dressed slightly more casually for the con.

This panel took a little while to find its feet, but once it got going there was an interesting discussion about the science and challenges and rewards of interstellar travel.

Enter the Dragon: SpaceX and the Future of Manned Spaceflight
Al Jackson, Paul Abell, Stanley Love, and Scott Padget
A discussion about how private space companies will shape the future of crewed spaceflight and space exploration. This was a lively panel with some real world information and anecdotes from the people who make it all happen.

I finished off the afternoon with Austin (both Jane and Texas!) author Patrice Sarath. She read an excerpt from The Crow God’s Girl, her stand alone novel of the Godarth Wood Series. The excerpt sounded quite intriguing, so I have yet another book to load onto my Kindle.

I made sure to stop by ArmadilloCon’s Party since I’ll be seeing them next month!


 Sunday
Writing 101 
Tanya Huff, Kerry Tolan, Bev Hale, and Julia Mandala
Billed as tips from pros on how to get started, stay motivated, and how to see your Big Idea through to the end. The wide-open topic seemed well suited to the first panel of the morning. It was fun with lots of real world writing advice and encouragement.

The Best YA You and Your Teen are not Reading
Patrice Sarath, Bev Hale, and Katy Pace
Well attended and in a small room, which happily encouraged more of a group discussion. Very enjoyable and now I have another long list of books to read – I may have to delegate some of these titles to my daughter!

Authors and books mentioned included (but were by no means limited to):

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Scott Westerfield (Uglies, Leviathan)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
M. T. Anderson and Paolo Bacigalupi

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