On Saturday I drove to Charlotte to check out ConCarolinas. Several notable authors were there, including Jerry Pournelle and John Ringo, and I also wanted a chance to try out my birthday present to myself, a Canon Rebel T1i DSLR Camera. If I want to submit any travel writing to magazines or websites that might actually pay me for it, then I need to be able to take really good accompanying photos. The camera on my Motorola Droid, while decent, just won’t cut it for that kind of work.
So, since cosplayers make good photo subjects, I packed up my camera and headed two hours west to see what ConCarolinas had to offer. Keeping in mind that I was introduced to cons through DragonCon, my first thought was wow, this con is small– it only takes up one hotel! But it was also much cozier: the writing panels were in a room about one-tenth the size of the one at DragonCon, which meant they were much more interactive and laid back, and it was easier to ask questions.
So for an hour I got to sit less than ten feet from John Ringo as he exposited on the neurological effects of military combat. Later I talked with author Stephen Mark Rainey for a good fifteen minutes, chatted with Edmund Schubert, the fiction editor for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show (embarrassing moment: I didn’t realize who he was and asked if he was a con volunteer), and found Robert V. Aldrich relaxing in the lobby, and talked with him for a while as well.
As for the photography side of things, I actually ended up with as many pictures of ducks, fountains, and swans in the lake by the hotel as I did of cosplayers. This was partly due to the layout of the hotel (a lot of narrow corridors, and not really any good places to hang out and take pictures… except outside, where the humidity was 150%), and partly due to social anxiety on my part. I hate interrupting people and asking for a picture, whether they’re talking to friends or just hurrying down a corridor, and that seemed to be the case for pretty much everybody. Despite its smaller size, ConCarolinas seemed somehow busier than DragonCon. I did get some decent photos, though: the gallery is here.
But the writing panels, and getting a chance to talk to authors and editors, were definitely the highlight of the trip. And chances are good that I’ll be back, particularly if I can convince some friends to come with me next time. For all my complaining about photography opportunities, I did get a front seat at the costume contest pretty easily– small cons do have their advantages.