ClawofCat (clawofcat) wrote,

WriterCon - The Saturday Edition

Part I one of my WriterCon report can be found HERE.

I’ll give you all one guess how I was feeling when I woke up Saturday morning after my prodigious night of drinking. That’s right. The dreaded H word – hung over. Pass is an early riser, so while I was still drooling on my pillow, she was out and about at 6AM walking Nicollet Mall and greeting the day. By the time I began to stir at 9:30, she was already back with a bottle of juice and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich from Brueger’s waiting for me, bless her heart. I’d been eyeing the large bathtub the day before, so I decided I’d take a float and continue to read Stiff, my current non-fiction book of choice, which chronicles the various uses of cadavers in research, forensics, munitions and surgical fields in the United States. It’s an informative and surprisingly humorous read. I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially for any fic writers out there who are interested in injury and what exactly happens to the body when you’ve been shot, fallen from an enormous height or gotten into a car accident. Nothing good, that’s for sure.

Once I had bathed and Pass had gotten her nicotine fix several times over, we got ready to meet up with Mere and Philips at noon for a little bit of local shopping. Since we were on a time crunch to get back to the hotel by 2PM for a panel, the ladies limited the excursion to a single destination – The Smitten Kitten. I can’t say how Mere and Philips got wind of this particular uptown Minneapolis destination, but Pass had mentioned it before to me on the phone. The storefront is pretty non-descript, but walk inside and you’ll come face to face with an assortment of sex toys, erotic books, accessories, apparatus and other questionable paraphernalia. What sets it apart from any other shifty-eyed porn shop is that there’s nothing shifty about it. It’s owned and operated by women, is well lit and laid out like any other PG rated boutique with cute shelving units, helpful labels and a smiling clerk. Next to the front entrance is a cork board with flyers advertising parenting resources, workshops, and other women and family-friendly businesses. Set off to the right is a red couch and a few seats that scream book club rather than sex store. Here’s Philips, Mere, me and Pass smiling for the birdie.


Lest you forget where you are, there is a framed and autographed picture of transgender porn star Buck Angel near the sofa and a dildo planter with a sprig of flowers sprouting from the wall.


Like kids in a candy store, we spread out to poke around and play with the toys. Vibrators and dildos got the most careful scrutiny as we stood about trying to figure out how to turn them on and off, as well as discuss the merits of shape, size, intensity and durability. Here’s Mere holding us up with a black gun-shaped dildo. I wonder what the local police force in Arkansas would say if they found a dildo toting gunwomen gallivanting about with nipples clamps in one hand and mistreated action figures scattering in all directions.


While Pass and Philips admired the strap-on harnesses, I rocked out with my purple cock out. My nickname isn’t CoC for nothing!


Once the ladies made their way to the cashier to make their final purchases, including a wee flogger to use as a prop for poor doll!Spike, I flipped through The Best Erotic Fiction of 2009. Lemme tell you, what I see on LJ is a hell of a lot more erotic than the content that managed to get published in this anthology.


Back on the bus, we talked about fandom and kerfluffles and shared the front seats with two marathon runners and a bike messenger. It’s worth mentioning that the buses in Minneapolis, unlike New York, are equipped with bike racks. There were several spots on the streets that I passed that featured bike racks with a glimmering, colorful array of 20 or more bikes locked side by side. In general, bike culture is big in Minneapolis and some people use them as principle vehicles of transportation, though doing so in the winter seems a bit hazardous. Get your ski masks and Carhartt’s ready! There are also vocational programs for homeless or transient youth that teach them how to build and maintain bikes, a testament to their wide use and a need in the local economy for them to be serviced.


Back at the hotel, Mere and Philips went off to prepare for their Spuffy event later in the evening and Pass and I went to our first multi-fandom panel moderated by executrix called “Slash: Gay, Queer, Both, Neither?” Perhaps you ask why I, a het writer, would go to a slash panel. First of all, my interest stemmed more from a personal interest in gender and socio-cultural studies than from a belief that I would be aided in my writing. As Pass has mentioned, slash is often not slashy enough. It fails to bring to bear true issues of homosexuality and how that might affect the characters or ensemble cast in any given story. And this fact, the lack of slash representing a community’s experience, was something that was heavily discussed. Where do we draw the line at fantasy and titillation versus an incorporation or approximation of what being gay or being in a gay relationship means for our characters? A number of other points that were brought up was who’s writing slash and for what audience? Is femslash categorically part of M/M slash? Are they separate? Do we consider these stories genres or categories within genres? Are characters of the opposite sex treated detrimentally to validate the existence of the slash couple? Is there a thing such as “queer gen?” What’s the difference between top/bottom and sub/dom? Does our fic rating system, based on the movie rating system, do justice to slash fic? Is it a broken system? Must we warn for het or slash?


My open-ended question of the evening was why slash tends to have far more BDSM content than het fic does and what that says about our views on homosexuality and violence. I’ve often felt that BDSM fic is oddly portrayed with a leaning toward torture, rape and H/C. My BDSM fic, Wool Over My Eyes, which I posted last Fall, was my response to a lot of the fic I’d been seeing and tried to depict an alternative – pain as a coping mechanism rather than a weapon.


Overall, I thought the discussion was pretty interesting and well moderated. A number of fandoms were represented, which did occasionally make it confusing, since I had no idea who the characters or ‘verse was that the attendee was referencing. Again, I had this desire to want to split up by fandom so that I could have the opportunity to discuss issues specific to my characters versus fanfic as a whole. After some yogurt, sushi and a quick nap, I had the opportunity to do just that at the fan-led event “We Dorkazoid Spuffy Shippers,”


From what I understand, this event was a hallmark of WriterCon 2006 in Atlanta and, because of its rollicking success, deserved a repeat performance. Mary5958 was scheduled to moderate, but due to unforeseen circumstances was not able to do so last minute. What to do when you’ve got 30 some-odd BtVS fans eagerly awaiting two hours of nonsense? Call the queen dorkazoid Spuffy ‘shippers themselves – Mere and Philips, of course! Thanks to their volunteering, they saved the day and put on a great event featuring Badfic Bingo. Many props go to missmurchison for lending a helping hand in finding ludicrous phrases such as cockzilla, womb ferret, oozing vagina, scrotum pole and dangling fury for the bingo cards – see st_salieri’s hilarious crack fic HERE for a taste of what we endured.


Prior to the hilarity, Philips also ordered up a number of pizzas for us to eat, which gave us some time to chat. I was greeted by kcarolj65, who was one of my earliest commenters and supporters back in 2007. While fishing for pizza I bumped into st_salieri for the first time and we both gushed to each other how much we liked one another’s smut. Given that I’d had a conversation with someone earlier about how they just skip sex in a story and don’t care for it, it was encouraging to meet a like-minded harlot that appreciates my erotic contributions to fandom.  I also chatted with swsa and confusedkayt, who had an awesome Flash inspired red and yellow sweatshirt complete with hoodie and yellow lightening bolts. Denny_dc made an appearance to snap a bunch of photos of us eating – there’s a picture of me somewhere standing behind Mere resting my boobs on her head.


Back in the conference room, we pulled together a number of tables to play bingo. However, before Mere could utter the phrase “spasm chasm,” I asked that we go around the room and introduce ourselves since I hadn’t met many people there. Magista has a videotape somewhere of everyone’s introductions and how each of us got into fandom. Those that I can recall being in attendance aside from the people I already mentioned were slaymesoftly, rahirah, cindergal, lilachigh, ezagaaikwe, enigmaticblues, missmurchison (who was sitting next to me) and 10-15 other people. One thing that stood out was, well, me. I must have been the youngest person in the room by at least a few years. I did feel a little self-conscious about this. No one else watched the show when they were 10 with their mom? Anyone? *silence* No? Alrighty, then.


In addition to all the giggling and chocolate consumption that was going on, Mere’s dollies also made guest appearances. Here’s me with Spike and Buffy on my shoulders. St. Salieri can be seen pouting to me left. 

They whispered that all the talk about “muscular monoliths” and “wands of copulation” were making them a bit randy, so they took it upon themselves to release the tension.


Rebcake’s menagerie also made a guest appearance, followed by a confrontation between punk!Spike and Captain Jack over who had the privilege of copping a feel of rebcake first.


Admitting defeat, punk!Spike busied himself with seeing to Pass’s needs. He’s a generous soul.


Directly following the Spuffy event, Pass, rebcake and I attended “The Language of Love: How Sex Scene Descriptives Color the Overall Story.” I was excited about contributing to this conversation since it’s pretty much my bag and thought I might have something useful to impart. I wouldn’t say that the panel got off to a good start. One thing that got me down was that each of the four panelists wrote male slash. I'm not sure if this really makes any difference when writing sex since I only write het with occasional femslash, but I was a little concerned that there would be a skew toward tropes, themes, whatever that apply to slash. I also tend to tell my stories from a woman’s POV, which a m/m slash writer obviously wouldn’t do. There also seemed to be a uniform appreciation for BDSM by the panelists and they didn’t hesitate to make this known. In the future, I think the organizers should be mindful of having panelists with a broad selection in tastes, including a het writer, a femslash writer, etc.  


The content of the panel I’ll skip – if anyone is interested, I’ll try and recreate what was said in a different post – except for a particular incident that truly upset me. One audience member mentioned that she often used heat and temperature metaphors during her sex scenes and expressed interest in hearing other options. I’m a big fan of using water themes or other organic metaphors that are grounded in the natural world. Water has sound, texture, movement, smell (if it’s the ocean), can be rain or ice, hot or cold. It’s flexible, which is why I enjoy returning to it and using it as a central and grounding theme to bring my characters back to. See Landfall and Off Route 17 for examples of water motifs.


As I started to explain why I found this suggestion helpful, I was rudely interrupted by a woman across the room who said something to the effect of – “No! You should never do that!” In essence, she implied my contribution was stupid and proceeded to babble about some fic she once read that had some sort of nautical theme and used harpoon metaphors, which were horrible and didn’t work. Not only did the moderator let her go on, but she and the panelists didn’t speak up about how her response was inappropriate and never brought the floor back around to me so I could finish my thought. I was insulted, upset and felt pretty deflated on top of the fact that I hadn’t completely recovered from my hangover and felt lousy the whole day. Though there were some good things said afterward, I wrote off the rest of the panel and let it fuck up my mood.  However, two women sitting behind me passed an encouraging note my way, so if you’re reading: thank you to Tania and Al for the kind words. They really helped.  


The event ended at 9:30 and Dirty Drabbles was scheduled for 10PM, so Pass and I hurried back to our room to change. We had planned to briefly drop in and then meet up with Pass’ sister for a night on the town, but I was too exhausted to make it back for the drabbles. I dozed until Pass’ sis showed up and managed to rally enough to go clubbing with them.


The nightlife scene in Minneapolis appears to be concentrated to several blocks of back to back bars and clubs. In New York, any neighborhood you go to you can find at least several bars; everything is just that much more spread out. However, the concentration in MN makes bar hopping remarkably easy. You can just saunter next door or down the street to try out someplace different. Our first destination, the Imperial Room, was only a few minutes walk from our hotel and was a bar/club with several different levels, one playing hip hop, the other house. I wasn’t drinking, so I grooved along to the ADD dj as best I could. I don’t think he let one song play through to its completion the whole time we were there. None of us were enjoying the men or the music, so we left and waited on line at a bar across the street.


It was entertaining for me to take in the people on the street – I’m not exactly used to seeing guys walking around with Twins jerseys or girls hobbling off of party buses. There were at least two that were parked along the curb, their fluorescent purple lights glowing through the dark, tinted glass windows. Where did the girls come from, I wondered? The suburbs? Some other nearby city, like St. Cloud or Duluth?


I was also struck by the youthfulness of the crowd littering the street. I don’t think anyone out was over 30, which has not been my experience at New York bars at all. I often find myself with a fairly mixed crowd, but then again that might have something to do with the older company I keep or the particular bars I frequent.


An interesting local gesture that I saw on a number of occasions was a person flashing the peace sign sideways and saying the word “deuces” as they departed. I’ve never heard this on the east coast before and asked about the origins of the phrase. Apparently, like the West Side symbol, it originated as a gang sign and then trickled down to the general populace as a way to say goodbye.


Our last destination for the evening was a martini bar down the block from the Radisson called Seven. This place was very much my speed. It was upscale with a beautiful, Asian decor, handsomely dressed waiters, comfortable lounge couches and a loose groove that reminded me of New York. Pass and I milled around and danced while her sister waited online for entrance to their roof deck, which was three stories up and overlooked the modest, but still tall Minneapolis skyline. While on line, she met a friend from Aveda, whose corporate headquarters are located in the city. (I love their products!). He knew one of the bouncers and gathered together a small posse of friends that led the way to a back door at the rear of the lounge. A guy quickly doled out yellow wristbands to us and waved us up the stairs to the roof. Who doesn’t love a good hook up?


The roof was teaming; each of us had a drink and took in the fresh air and night sky. One area of the roof was decked out in red lounge couches, some of which were canopied with white swags of fabric. It reminded me a lot of the pool area at the resort I stayed in during my visit to Cancun



Part of my excitement had to do with the fact that there isn’t a lot of roof access in New York, since people have been known to jump. The opportunity to party on a roof is far and few between (though I have done it and it’s always a blast because of the view) back at home, so I was thrilled to get the chance to do so in Minneapolis. Honestly, it made the evening for me.


Tomorrow evening I’ll post my third and final con report to cover the events of Sunday!


Tags: meeting members of the fandom, picspam, vacation, writercon

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