Consanguinity II

ConSanguinity (November 3-5, 1995) is a small but well-run con specializing in vampires but having a fair section of programming devoted to writers and artists. The only major glitch was the long time it took my pre-registration check to clear the bank.

The con itself, which was held at the Corporetum Hyatt in Lisle, Illinois, was well-managed overall. Check-in for pre-registered members went smoothly, unlike the disaster that befell pre-registered members at Duckon IV in June (there the pre-printed badges were in numerical order instead of alphabetical and each had to be hunted up with reference to a list of pre-registered members, so what should have taken a few minutes stretched into several hours). Although I had arrived late (my workplace was running a pledge drive and running short onvolunteers, so I stayed over to help there), I was able to get my badge and check inmy art for the art show in plenty of time to see the opening ceremonies.

Unfortunately someone failed to communicate that the Opening Ceremonies were being moved from the ballroom to the pavilion (a tent attached to the hotel, which was unbearably cold in the November winter) so I missed the first few minutes while I was trying to find out why everyone was leaving the ballroom. However once I found this out and moved there, Opening Ceremonies proved to be a good indication of the theme of the convention. Two of the con officers, dressed in vampire costumes, climbed out of caskets to introduce the con and its guests.

The programming went quite well, although I had to miss one panel discussion because I was running behind on Saturday. I was in charge of the Writer's Workshop, which consisted of two parts. The first, which was held on Saturday at noon, was a panel discussion by pro writer Jody Lynn Nye, The Fractal editor David Gardner, writer Kevin Stein, and myself.In it we discussed the mechanics of workshopping and of professional submissions in general. The discussion also touched on the importance of trust in workshopping and the danger that certain individuals may try to salve their own tender egos by deliberately attacking the work of their fellow workshoppers.

The second part of the Writers' Workshop was held on Sunday and consisted of actual hands-on workshopping of stories that the attendees had brought. Everyone formed a circle and the participants read aloud the first five pages of their stories while the others made notes. Then each listener gave an oral critique and after everyone had a chance to speak the written notes were given to the story author as a reference for rewrites.

Other panel discussions that would be helpful for writers would be those on "Breaking into Writing" (basic information on how to submit a professional-looking story), "Practical/Impractical Weapons for Writers," "Childhood Traumas into Chilling Plots" (which focused on how people deal with problems), "Screenplay Writing" (nuts&bolts discussion of the screenplay writing business, including the dangers of dealing with Hollywood) and "Return of Collaborating without Killing your Partner" (which discussed the problems and benefits of collaborating and of working in established universes such as Star Trek). There was to have been a panel on "Pros and Cons of Writing a Series," but due to a lack of attendance it was cancelled.

For those with an interest in the visual arts, there was an "Artists' Workshop," a one-hour interactive session in which the participants had the opportunity to have their works critiqued by pros Charles D. Moisant and Sophia Kelly Shultz. From them I learned the importance of using references in drawing in order to get proportions correct and not to put down my own work or say that I hadn't brought my best work.

On Sunday there was also a "Stage Combat Demonstration for Artists" in which a team of stage combat specialists (who choreograph and perform fight scenes for plays) demonstrated the moves of fighting with broadswords and with rapiers and daggers. They did the moves of the fights in slow-motion so that we could get a chance to see how things were happening, and also posed several very dramatic scenes for photographs that could be used as references for drawing combat scenes. Because almost everyone attending was a writer as well as an artist, they also gave considerable attention to issues of how weapons and fight scenes are presented in fiction. They also had two multipage handouts on technical terms relating to swords and swordplay.

Other activities included dances both Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as the usual Art Show (small but of high quality) and a superb Con Suite in the second-floor Panorama Room, which affords a fine view of beautiful suburban Lisle. Con Suite fare included real food such as hot dogs and sliced vegetables as well as the usual fan food of pretzels and chips. In the morning there were even breakfast cereals and waffles.

The Dealers' Room, rather than being a single room with tables and booths as is typical at most cons, was the entire fourth floor of the hotel. There the dealers had their shops in their hotel rooms and thus were able to each set their own hours for opening and closing. (The second night I got crash space with GailSaunders of Cloak and Dagger, and we stayed up until after 1AM watchingDemolition Man, as part of an informal challenge as to which dealerwould hold out the longest).

The second floor was the party floor and there were a few parties on both nights, although they were all relatively low-key. My personal favorite was the Chicago 2000 WorldCon bid party, which had a drawing at midnight Saturday/Sunday night, open to all pre-supporting members. Four winners were drawn, each of whom got to choose from several prizes, including Chicago 2000 t-shirts and additional collectors' cards. I won a hand-colored print of a dragon.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.