Ancient City Con review: the panels part 1

(This post originally posted on our wordpress site 7-31-2011)

I have to say that this year at Ancient City Con, I enjoyed quite a few of the panels I went to and most were very enjoyable.  However, this was not always the case.  In fact, there were 3 panels that have really stuck in my mind; unfortunately, it’s not because they were the ones I enjoyed.  Did they have some good information?   In some ways yes, but no matter how good the information was, there were things in each panel that just soured these three for me.  The panels I will be speaking of here were the “Self-Serve: Using Blogs and Bloggers for Promotion”, “Folkloric Analysis of Anime” and “Fanfiction to Fiction”.

First was“Self-Serve: Using Blogs and Bloggers for Promotion”, as I was on the verge of starting the very blog you are reading,I figured this panel would be a very good one to attend.  Unfortunately, I really only got one good piece of information from them in my opinion.  That piece of info was simply this:  To get more hits on your blog, go to like minded blogs and post comments and network with fellow bloggers.  This was about where the panel ended as far as being useful it seemed.  They talked a lot about their own blogs, they stroked each other’s egos as they recounted different blogs they did and how each of them had commented on each other’s blog and thus led to more blogs.  But in the end, they really didn’t tell us much.  The biggest problem I had with their panel ,however, was that each of them review books BUT they all refused to review self published books.  The reason for this they claim was the fact that the most self published books were horrible.  What makes this so insane when you think about it is simply this, at ACC 99% of the authors who show up are self published or have been self published at some point and time.  I have bought several books over the past few years from the authors at ACC and I have yet to find one I did not enjoy.  These bloggers are seriously missing out on some good books by limiting themselves to reviewing only the so called ‘good authors’ who are simply good because one person in some publishing house somewhere liked their work.  That would be akin to me no longer reading the Star Wars books simply because I absolutely hated the two novels that Barbara Hambly added to that universe.  However, I stuck with Star Wars and I am glad I did because the other 99% of the books havebeen amazing.  I would love for one of these bloggers to pick up William Hatfield’s book “Captive Audience”, or Linda Cowden’s “Grimmie” or  “Mirror of Oposition” by T.S. Robinson , or even “Bitten” by K.L. Napier.  Perhaps one of these books could help to change their minds.  Then again, with people who are that closed minded, perhaps I don’t want them to read the books that I see as treasures; I would hate to see them sully them with a short sighted review.

The second panel was “Folkloric Analysis of Anime”.  This panel had the possibility of being REALLY cool.  It was run by a guy who was visiting the con with a company called COO-IE.  However, for all of its possibilities this panel was a bomb right from the start.  It started with malfunctioning AV equipment, and trying to get that fixed took up at least 15 minutes of the panels 1 hour time limit.  Once he decided to continue and tell us things from a mixture of memory and what he could just read off of his laptop screen to us, we found out that this panel was going to be as bad as a college lecture.  To say this guy was dull would be an understatement.  He gave us some information about ways to classify folklore by simply rattling off the number from one particular database and then telling us what it was.  For instance he would say a number, such as “grid number 33”, and then say something like “Hero calls creature from an object to fight in battle for him.”  He then pointed out the similarities to pokemon and then starts spouting the next number.  He also had another way of taking fairy tales and putting a number value to each part; perhaps this would have made more sense with the visuals he had planned, but I have my doubts.  When Cinderella starts looking like an algebra equation is when my mind starts to shut off.  By this time he asked for questions, but thanks to the time he took fooling with the AV equipment we had maybe 3 minutes to try and turn our brains back on and ask him something.  Needless to say most of us simply got up and walked out of there looking like a zombie from “Night of the Living Dead”.

The third panel, “Fanfiction to Fiction,” was one that both my girlfriend and I were really looking forward to.  Last year I was the prestigious winner of the First ever ACC Fanfic contest; this year I entered it along with my girlfriend, who took the crown away from me.  So we both went into this panel with high hopes.  Within seconds however, those hopes were shattered.  Eventhough two of our author friends came in to sit in on the panel with us, it was not they who were running the panel but the guy from COO-IE.  This time he was far from boring, instead he was confusing.  In one sentence he told us that fanfiction was worthless because it did not allow you the room to learn how to be creative enough or how to write things properly, but then in the next sentence he would say that fanfiction was worthwhile because it gave you a chance to practice writing things correctly.  Huh?  Somehow we got off topic and onto TV writers, at which point he basically said they all suck and told us how he had tried to be a TV writer and found that they played games and didn’t tell newbies how to play.  The general feel of this panel was “I used to write fanfic but somehow got burned by it so I no longer enjoy nor endorse it, just like I tried to write for TV and got burned by it so now all TV writers suck.”  Not only did this panel not give us anything useful but it lasted about 10 minutes into the next panel!  Thankfully, the next panel was run by Linda Cowden and Kevin Ranson, and they talked about some of the things they disagreed with Mr. Coo-ie on and most of their points were things we too were thinking.  The only good thing to come out of it didn’t even come from the main speaker of the workshop but the discussions afterwards and that was this: to not tell publishers that you write fanfic.  Simply put, when trying to publish your own works, don’t tell people you practice in someone else’s playground.  What made this panel even more of a disappointment was the fact that on the way home, I read an article in the newest Trinity Gateways newsletter.  Why does this make it worse?  Because as I read this article, I found myself saying “Wow this is exactly what the panel SHOULD have been!  I wish my friends from Trinity Gateways had been the ones to run this panel!”  If you would like to read this article simply follow this link http://trinitygateways.net/Newsletter 202011-07.pdf

Now please do not think that I am bashing panels and was terribly disappointed with the panels.  For the most part, I found the panels at Ancient City Con to be very informational, entertaining , and enjoyable.  It was just these three panels that really left a bad taste in mine and my girlfriend’s mouth.  But rest assured, we will be writing about the other wonderful panels that we enjoyed very soon, so check back and relive the best and most interesting panels of ACC!

1 thought on “Ancient City Con review: the panels part 1

  1. Fanfiction, from what I have seen both online and in the mindset of writers from my country, is considered very much as either black or white. It seems to me that somehow they fail to put it in between, which, to me, personally it’s annoying. Some, if they heard you write fanfiction, dub you as a complete loser, completely unable to think up your own stories and limited by other people’s creativity. Others, on the other hand, think it’s something grand and even better than normal literature. To me, it’s simply writing. It can be good, bad, mediocre or downright astonishing. I write fanfiction and I am proud as hell by the works I have written. I read tons of fanfiction and many of the stories I have read where a million times better than novels that I have seen published and reaching bestseller status worldwide. But, that is far from an absolute. Just as I have read cringe worthy books, I have read cringe worthy fanfics.

    However, what I cannot really come to terms with, is the whole “don’t tell you write it” attitude. History has brought to print hundreds of pastiches. One needs only to look at Sherlock Holmes’ “sequels” to see that. Some were insanely good; some weren’t worth the ink and paper paid to print them. So why is it that it’s ok to say that you wrote and even published pastiches, but not that you write fanfiction, which for all intents and purposes is almost the same? I cannot get that mentality.

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