I attended OryCon 33, a regional science fiction / fantasy con in Portland, Oregon. This is my second time attending OryCon. As a writer, it’s a great opportunity to get questions answered about professional writing and the publishing industry, learn writing craft, and to meet authors, editors, and fans.

Like most conferences I go to, I take a lot of notes. Here’s what I took during OryCon. The links take you to a full post on my line by line notes from the panel.

  • Author Influences: Who most influenced the panelists? Answers ranged from Ray Bradbury to Kelly Link. I’ve already bought a dozen books based on what I heard here. 
  • Self-Publishing: The New Vanity Press? This controversial sounding panel actually turned into a great discussion about how an author can be professionally successful self-publishing. Annie Bellet is great, and even surprised the other panelists with the success she’s had, and the counter-intuitive discoveries (such as finding that author platform had no impact on sales).
  • Getting Your First Professional Sale: Tips, tricks, and personal experiences from five published panelists including E.E. Knight and Mary Robinette Kowal. 
  • How To Promote Yourself as a Writer Without Being Obnoxious: This panel discussion promoting the writer vs. the book, how to use social media, and when to push back against the publisher. 
  • Self-Publish Write Note: Hands on panel by Robert Plamondon on the mechanics of self-publishing, including print books.
  • Ethics of Artificial Intelligence: This panel included Robopocalypse author Daniel H. Wilson. The discussion including our ethical responsibility towards A.I. (is it OK to kill them?), our responsibility to ensure that A.I. behave ethically (how do we keep them from killing us?), lovebots, and robot nursing aides.
  • Using Social Media to Get Published: The use of social media, author platform, and self publishing to help achieve getting traditionally published.
  • Writing Formidable Women: By the end of this panel I learned how to spell formidable. Great discussion about what makes women formidable. Victoria Blake (editor, Underland Press) said “wanting to do something other than please someone else.” Also discussed how a formidable woman is inherently more complex than a formidable man because of social, physical limitations. There’s a broader palette of tools for a woman to be formidable.
  • Structure of Writing: A writing craft discussion of structure as a tool.
  • Playing God: Apocalyptic Storytelling: Another panel where I learned how to spell a word through repetition. 
  • Gender and Writing: Discussion about male and female characters, different styles of problem-solving, and how the Buffy effect (kick-ass female characters) causes a lack of other, more feminine stylings of addressing conflict.
  • Internal and External Change in Writing: The important and effect of internal character change in additional to external (action) change. It’s not a story unless a character learns something or changes in some way.
  • Use of Description in Writing: self-description, adverbs, the view paragraph – what works and what doesn’t. 
  • Ken Scholes Evolution of a Writing Career: Published author Ken Scholes gave an overview of his twenty year career in writing, and how what appears to be sudden success is actually the outcome of many years of practice and networking. Then he addressed audience questions about writing and publishing.