After my second year Fogcon has become my favorite conference. Modeled after the elder Wiscon, it’s a feminist sci-fi/fantasy/horror con. Like Wiscon, it’s not only feminist but commits to overall representation: gender, race, disability, sexuality, neuro-divergence. However, having also enjoyed Wiscon, something I like about Fogcon is it’s focus on reading and writing, where Wiscon is equally oriented toward TV, games and movies. There’s plenty at Fogcon for fans, if you’re a fan of writing.

Another boon is that Fogcon is local to me—I live in Oakland and the conference is in Walnut Creek—so I actually know at least ten other attendees, mostly from East Bay Sci-fi Fantasy meetup. What a relief not to be a weird guy on my own as happens too often in my life!

Some highlights from this year:

Okay, I didn’t go to the “Writing Workout” this year, but I did last year and do recommend it. Writing from prompts isn’t just for beginners! True, by now I should be able to create my own prompts. Yet doing this with others, even if I don’t see their work, is powerful. In Wiscon, I merely opened my computer in a room full of strangers with their computers and ‘twas so different than typing in my basement apartment. I got hooked on prompts through a pagan-ish meetup called “Full Moon Writers’ Society,” and have been up for it ever since. If your brain tends to get stuck, go for it!

Last year at Fogcon I used the prompts for brainstorming and outlining—I didn’t make any prose—and the non-linear thinking changed my tale from idea to plan. For this particular story, “Funland,” setting was everything, as the name suggests, and the prompts guided me into my vision of a twisted Candyland.

Panels I enjoyed this year:

Meta-fiction: stories within stories. Standing out in the short story slush pile: nothing I didn’t know, but validating to hear that this is in fact a pain in the ass. Grief, both in life and in our writing: my experience was disrupted by voicemails that caused me grief but I still got a good feeling about it. Andrea Hairston, honored guest, gave a reading from her novel with musical accompaniment: I’m so jaded but this lifted me up and changed me. Impostor syndrome: I wish I has impersonated the missing panelist!

And oh, anyone can read their fiction. Good practice for something or other. I read a scene from my novel and a flash converted into a radio play to a small appreciative audience. Just sign up for reading when you register online. See you next year!

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