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Geeky Gateway Drugs – Smith
Have a friend who “doesn’t like sci-fi”? We can help ease them in!
Panelists: Joey Starnes (M), Margaret McGraw, Gray Rinehart, Carol Cowles, Rich Sigfrit
The Art and Music of Science Fiction – Cameron
Spaceships are cool, but so are costumes that reflect a culture, in-universe cantina music, and sprawling space-murals that tell the story of a people. But in space. Join out panel talk about those human details that make a world a home, even when it’s alien.
Panelists: Michael G. Williams (M), Tera Fullbright, Darin Kennedy, Andrew Greeson, Debadeep Sen, J.L. Hilton
Plunge! Turn Your Hobby into a Career – Reynolds
Do people always compliment your work or ask, “This is great! Where can I buy it?” Have you sold a few stories or started to make a few bucks from music gigs? How to know when/if to take the plunge.
Panelists: Jim McDonald (M), Mur Lafferty, Matthew Penick, Samantha Bryant, Fraser Sherman
Open Music and Filk – Crescent
Hang out and play some nerdy tunes!
Beautiful, Hot Messes: TV Movies and B Movies – Smith
Sharknado and more. Are TV movies better when they embrace the cheese or try to play it straight? Mini-series (looking at you, Shanara Chronicles) are also fair game.
Panelists: Joey Starnes (M), Jason Gilbert, Chris Shrewsbury , Dave Ellis, Richard Dansky
Lost in Translation: Adapting from Books to Screen – Cameron
There is something simultaneously endearing and incredibly problematic in Disney adaptations; let’s get down to brass tacks about what works in Disney adaptations and what doesn’t
Panelists: Mandy Burkhead (M), GD Burkhead, Justin Lapoint, Tony Daniel, Holly Walrath
Do You Even Geek Sports and Fitness? – Reynolds
Apps, gamification, heart rate computer bands, zombie runs… There are more ways than ever to improve the health of our physical meat sacks in the nerdiest of ways!
Panelists: James Maxey (M), Calvin Powers, Matthew Penick, Mur Lafferty, Bill Ferris, Ian Malone
Reading: Gail Z. Martin – Crescent
Queer Fandom: QUILTBAG of Holding – Smith
“As you know, Bob, I’m super gay.” Let’s touch base and discuss the state of QUILTBAG fandom! An annual discussion and mixer.
Panelists: Michael Williams (M), Sharon Stogner, Mandy Burkead, Tracy Holt, Gerty McHenry
Genre Mashed Potatoes: Do Genres Even Matter? – Cameron
Are genres good for anything other than outdated shelving categories at book stores?
Panelists: Joshua Leone (M), Richard Dansky, John G. Hartness, Misty Massey, Betty Cross
“You”-duunit: Writing Mysteries and Thrillers – Reynolds
Join novelists, comics writers, and more to talk about how to construct a good mystery that keeps your readers guessing!
Panelists: Suzanne Adair (M), Justin Lapoint, Janet Carden, Deek Rhew, Fraser Sherman
Reading: Stuart Jaffe – Crescent
Conventions and Disabilities – Smith
Join Chris Shrewsbury and others for a discussion of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities in fandom and convention culture
Panelists: Chris Shrewsbury (M), Joshua Leone, Justin Lapoint, Joey Starnes , Ian Malone
#Hustle: Author Newsletters and More – Cameron
Platforms are great, but they aren’t always your friend. How to build your community using author newsletters, and what makes a good one
Panelists: Stuart Jaffe (M), L.C. Fiore, Michele Berger, Suzanne Adair, Leann Rettell
So Over It: Tropes We’re Done With – Reynolds
What tropes and stereotypes are you just sick of?
Panelists: Samantha Bryant (M), Alyssa Wong, Darin Kennedy, Emily Leverett, Fraser Sherman
Reading: Michael G. Williams – Crescent
Open Your Own Book: Personal Interests and Storytelling – Smith
They say to “write what you know” or “write what you like,” but it can be hard to weave in your personal interests in your storytelling. Let’s get into it!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Holly Walrath, Stuart Jaffe, Darin Kennedy, Emily Leverett
Opening Ceremonies – Cameron
Join us in welcoming the Guests of Honor, Fan Groups, and Entertainers! Features some teaser performances!
Turn Anything into an RPG! – Reynolds
Have you ever had an amazing idea for a campaign, but the setting doesn’t technically exist yet? We have you covered!
Panelists: Justin Hoyland (M), Janet Carden, Roger Carden, Michael G. Williams, Natania Barron
Fair Use and Fandom – Smith
Fanfic, art, and fan films are easier to make and find than ever! But what’s the difference between something “fun” and something infringing?
Panelists: Jim McDonald (M), Stacey Lantagne, Dave Ellis, Mandy Burkhead, Jay Requard
Trivia for Chocolate – Cameron
Our annual “Stump the Nerds” challenge FOR CHOCOLATE!
Hosted by Rich Sigfrit
They Blinded me with Science – Reynolds
Join Raulie, Christopher, and a panel of actual science people to dicuss the crunchy realities of the year’s hottest SF movies and books!
Panelists: Chris Holmqist (M), Raulie Raulerson (M), James Maxey, Gray Rinehart, Leann Rettell
Reading: Fraser Sherman – Crescent
Box of Office Bombs – Smith
Sci-fi, comic, or fantasy movies aren’t niche and they’re getting some mega-budgets. Why do so many under perform?
Panelists: Jason Gilbert (M), Bill Ferris, Michael G. Williams, Samantha Bryant, Jay Requard, Ian Malone
Aliens Among Us? – Cameron
Alien life is a popular discussion both in real life and fiction. Is it that out of left field to think they’re already here?
Panelists: James Maxey (M), Stuart Jaffe, Josh Leone, Jim McDonald, Ada Milenkovic Brown
The Witch’s Candy House: Dark Side of Fairy Tales – Reynolds
Many western fairy tales have some pretty intense roots! Pass me that gingerbread…
Panelists: Misty Massey (M), Melissa McArthur, Tera Fulbright, Gail Martin, Emily Leverett
Reading: Ian Muneshwar – Crescent
“Ships” for the Ages: Pop Culture Pairings (18+) – Smith
Join Color of Fandom for this 18+ panel about the most titillating relationships in our fave books, tv shows, and movies!
Panelists: Donna Eason (M), Kenya Easley, Tracy Walker, Erley Tilus, Deborah Ulmer
Female Body in Fantasy Fiction – Cameron
Like visual art, the female body has a long tradition of being celebrated (or objectified) in fantasy and genre fiction; what does it all mean?
Panelists: Natania Barron (M), , Julie Steinbacher, Mandy Burkhead, Nicole Givens Kurtz
Your Protag is Problematic – Reynolds
Messy, broken, disorganized, or just delightfully awful protagonists can be a lot of fun to read and write! Panelists discuss their faves from their own works and others
Panelists: Emily Leverett (M), Alyssa Wong, John G. Hartness, Misty Massey, Paul Krueger
Reading: Richard Dansky – Crescent
Sex in Other Worlds (18+) – Smith
How do aliens… do it?
Panelists: J.L. Hilton (M), Julie Steinbacher, Natania Barron, James Maxey, Jim McDonald
Victorian Monsters Made Modern – Cameron
Our panel lets their imaginations fly in updating your fave Victorian scaries for the new millennium
Panelists: Jason Gilbert (M), Gail Z. Martin, Richard Dansky, Janet S. Planets
Dumpster Fire Clip Show 2018: Dumpster Warriors – Reynolds
Same dumpster. New nightmare. After 2017, all we can offer is additional nightmares. The Eye of Argon reading to directly follow
Panelists: Clayton Wick, Al Ross, Chris Ross
The Rogue 105th – Crescent
Join the 105th Engineers for a table read of something fun TBD!
Anthologies: How they Pick ‘Em and How to Get In – Smith
Anthologies can be a great way to break in or sell a story
Panelists: Emily Leverett (M), John G. Hartness, Misty Massey, Michele Berger, Ada Milenkovic Brown
Body Positive Cosplay – Cameron
Join members of our Fan Groups and more to discuss the ways in which cosplay is for every body!
Panelists: Mikki Marvel, Elle Derpstra, Nerd-Vana
Brush Up on Grammar and Self-Editing – Reynolds
Get back to basics with some tips and tricks to help you polish your writing!
Panelists: Erin Rhew (M), Sharon Stogner, Melissa McArthur, Jay Requard, Janet Carden, Roger Carden
Reading: Tony Daniel – Crescent
Team Up! Writing Collaboratively – Smith
Lots of authors work as a team! Is it “write” for you? Advantages and pitfalls of having a writing partner.
Panelists: Melissa McArthur (M), Mur Lafferty, Emily Leverett, Mandy Burkhead, G.D. Burkhead
SWORDS AND STUFF: Basics of Stage Choreography for Improving Cosplay – Cameron
A workshop for cosplayers or anyone interested in combat arts
Panelists: Captain Scurvy, Janet S. Planets
Self Mythology in a World of Authenticity – Reynolds
Social media, marketing… “Authenticity” is a huge buzzword right now, but how do we balance being authentic when we curate so much of our online and real-life presence?
Panelists: Splintered Reality (M), Stacey Lantagne, Fraser Sherman, David Tyberg, Madison Metricula
Reading: Michele Tracy Berger – Crescent
Anti-World Building – Smith
When what you don’t say says more than what you do. Sometimes too much detail in your world-building can be immersion breaking
Panelists: Holly Walrath (M), Alyssa Wong, Jason Gilbert, Bill Ferris, Clay Griffth, Susan Griffith
Suit up! Basic Armor Pattering – Cameron
Armor can be an eye-catching, high-impact skill to add to your costume toolbox! Join Matthew of Ribbons and Rivets to learn how to get started
Hosted by Matthew Penick
Baen Traveling Roadshow – Reynolds (12:30-2pm)
Baen Books wants you to know what’s coming up in their pipeline! Drop in for info, a meet’n’greet, and some sweet Baen swag!
Hosted by Tony Daniel, Gray Rinehart, and Baen Books
Reading: Broad Universe Rapid Fire – Crescent
Don’t miss the women of the Broad Universe Association in this whirlwind sampler of work!
Hosted by Broad Universe, featuring Samantha Bryant, Ada Milenkovic Brown, John Hartness, Emily Lavin Leverett, Gail Z. Martin, Margaret McGraw
Making Magic Real – Smith
Gritty, believable magic systems are tough but can add so much to a story when done well!
Panelists: L.C. Fiore (M), Paul Krueger, Fraser Sherman, Gail Martin, Richard Dansky
Low Cost-Play: Cosplay on a Budget – Cameron
Don’t let a light wallet or lack of tools get you down when it comes to cosplay! There are more resources available than ever to do a lot with a little
Panelists: Janet S. Planets (M), Tera Fulbright, Betty Adorno, Mandy Burkhead, Matthew Penick
Reading: Natania Barron – Crescent
Stranger Than Fiction: Flora and Fauna to Inspire Your Next Fantasy World – Smith
The porgs of Last Jedi were famously inspired by the real-world puffins that lived on the Irish island of Skellig Michael, where parts of the movie were filmed. Join us for a tour of real-world critters and plants that might inspire you!
Panelists: Natania Barron (M), Misty Massey, Michael G. Williams, James Maxey, Jim McDonald
Cosplay Photography Tips and Tricks – Cameron
Technical, safety, and photog tips for photogs, models, and anyone just looking to step up their game!
Panelists: James Rippe (M), Debadeep Sen, Matthew Penick, FanDames
MFAs, Workshops, and Writers’ Groups: Which One is For You? – Reynolds
Do you need them and are they right for you?
Panelists: Julie Steinbacher (M), Holly Walrath, John G. Hartness, Ian Muneshwar, Margaret McGraw
Guest of Honor Reading: Alyssa Wong – Crescent
Things That Go “Bump” in Real Life – Smith
Spooky, real-life ghost strories from films, theatre, and more
Panelists: Alex Matsuo (M), Jason Gilbert, Janet S. Planets, Gail Martin, Samantha Bryant
True Tales of Minority Cosplayers – Cameron
Cosplay is not consent. We join Charlie Rocket and others for a discussion about some issues unique to cosplayers of color and ways for non-minority con-goers to be better allies
Panelists: Charile Rocket (M), Betty Adorno
We Open in a Tavern… Pitch Your Campaign! – Reynolds
Pitch your idea for a DnD or other role-playing game campaign to our panel of GMs for advice!
Panelists: Michael G. Williams (M), Richard Dansky, Justin Hoyland, Roger Carden, Chris Holmquist
Reading: Misty Massey – Crescent
Science Clickbait! – Smith
“Ugh, science is so unreliable! One minute they say butter is bad, and now they say I should eat sticks of butter in my coffee every morning!” How headlines misinterpret and mislead the public on what science is and what it says
Panelists: Chris Holmqist (M), Raulie Raulerson, James Maxey, Gray Rinehart, Ada Milenkovic Brown
CosPlay for Charity – Cameron
Join Fan Group CausePlay Carolinas for how-tos and stories of bringing characters to life for good causes!
Hidden Gems of Diverse Speculative Fiction – Reynolds
Color of Fandom hosts a roundtable on some of their favorite works by authors of color that you may have missed
Panelists: Donna Eason (M), Karen Stanley, Robyn McGlotten
Reading: Mur Lafferty – Crescent
Hold on to The Light: A Discussion of Mental Illness – Smith
A discussion of creativity and mental health hosted by the Hold on to the Light initiative
Panelists: Darin Kennedy (M), John Hartness, Gail Martin, Misty Massey
Costume Contest Awards and Promenade – Cameron
Come show off your work at our 2nd annual Fashion Show! We feature two costume contest divisions: Craftsmanship (traditional “pro” or enthusiast division: entry and judging open from 4-5 pm Friday and 1-3pm Saturday) and Showcase (judging occurs at the Promenade and is geared toward casual, walk-in or novice costumers). See our web site or fliers at the registration table for more details and categories!
Hosted by the 105th Engineers, judging by independent panel
Fanfiction: Fun and Fundamentals – Reynolds
Fanfic! What it is and why we love it! (Subject matter may be adult due to Sherlock fangirling)
Panelists: J.L. Hilton (M), Stacey Lantagne, Alyssa Wong, Tracy Walker, Gerty McHenry
Reading: Suzanne Adair – Crescent
Geeky Rants – Smith
It’s a like a real-life TWEETSTORM full of only the ANGRIEST NERDS. What petty hill would you like to die on today?
Panelists: Chris Shrewsbury (M), Janet S. Planets, Jason Gilbert, Michael G. Williams, Carol Cowles, Darin Kennedy, Margaret S. McGraw
Reading: Gray Rinehart – Crescent
Charity Auction and Cookie Break – Smith
Proceeds from this year’s charity Auction will benefit Child’s Play, and organization that provides toys and games to kids in hospitals and domestic violence shelters.
Hosted by Rich Sigfrit and CausePlay Carolinas
Reading: Bill Ferris – Crescent
Splintered Reality – Cameron/Reynolds
Existential Nerd Metal band Splintered Reality kicks off a night of performances!
Reading: Julie Steinbacher – Crescent
League of Extraordinary Belly Dancers – Cameron/Reynolds
Candy Salon – Hotel Bar and Atrium
Are the performances not your scene? Join us in the hotel bar for bowls of candy and conversation!
Nerd-Vana Burlesque – Cameron/Reynolds (10:30pm)
Start a Podcast on the Cheap – Smith
It seems like everyone has a podcast, and there’s a good reason! Podcasting is fun and more accessible than ever. Here are tips on how to get started
Panelists: Calvin Powers (M), Alex Matsuo, Mur Lafferty, Carol Cowles, Joey Starnes
Non-European World-Building – Cameron
Creating non-European fantasy worlds of wonder and mindfulness of cultural interpretation
Panelists: Betty Cross (M), Paul Krueger, Ian Muneshwar, Jay Requard, Nicole Givens Kurtz
How What We Read for Fun Sculpts Us – Reynolds
“But it’s just a story!” Well, yes and no. How what we consume can shape our ideas–for better or worse
Panelists: Jim McDonald (M), Tera Fulbright , Margaret McGraw, LeAnn Rettell, Stacey Lantagne
Reading: Darin Kennedy – Crescent
Social Media for the Socially Awkward – Smith
Are you shy? Awkward? A lizard person in a human suit? We got you. How to navigate social media in healthy ways
Panelists: Joey Starnes (M), Melissa McArthur, Chris Shrewsbury, Alex Matsuo, LC Fiore
Afrofuturist Fiction and Trends – Cameron
Modern black SF-discussions of Afrofuturism/Black pessimism, aesthetics, art, culture
Panelists: Nicole Givens Kurtz (M), Michele Berger
Moving Past the “Tragic Gay” in Storytelling – Reynolds
It wasn’t that long ago that having a queer character in a story at all was a “Dangerous Vision,” let alone a queer character that got to be happy (still weeping for you, Tara). What does the future hold?
Panelists: Ian Muneshwar (M), Betty Cross, Julie Steinbacher, Natania Barron, Sharon Stogner
Reading: James Maxey – Crescent
Mothers and Daughters – Smith
Women’s relationships to each other are simultaneously universal and unique. Let’s explore feminine familial relationships in genre fiction!
Panelists: Michele Berger (M), Alyssa Wong, Holly Walrath, Leann Rettell, Susan Griffith
Music for the Road: Gray Rinehart and David Tyberg – Cameron
Join nerdy singer-songwriters Gray and David for a few acoustic tunes on guitar and rock banjo!
Steampunk’d! – Reynolds
Finally awake? Panelists “steampunk” and movies based on audience suggestions!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Tera Fulbright, Jason Gilbert, Natania Barron, Andrew Greeson
Reading: Jim McDonald – Crescent
Crowdfunding: Is It Right for Your Project? – Smith
Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites can be huge, but is it right for your project?
Panelists: Alex Matsuo (M), John Hartness, Margaret McGraw, Stacey Lantagne, Suzanne Adair
Casting Castigations – Cameron
White washed casting is still a thing. Is it getting better? Worse? What does “better” even mean when actrs of color aren’t given credit for having “mainstream appeal”?
Panelists: Charlie Rocket (M), Tracy Walker, Erley Tilus, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Mur Lafferty
Discover Star Trek Discovery – Reynolds
Delightful people gush over Star Trek and maybe rant
Panelists: Chris Shrewsbury (M), Dave Ellis, Michael G. Williams, Gerty McHenry, Robyn McGlotten, Tracy Holt
Reading: Betty Cross – Crescent
Living the Dream and Getting Paid – Smith
So you’re ready to turn that hobby into a career (or a least a decent side hustle)? We gotta talk shop on financial planning and the business side of creativity.
Panelists: Ian Malone (M), Jim McDonald, Ada Milenkovic Brown, JL Hilton, Fraser Sherman
What Should We Be Reading? – Cameron
You’ve read the “classics,” but what’s next? New stuff comes out every year and some awesome old stuff (particularly by women and authors of color) resurfaces to start getting the visibility it deserves! Panelists and audience alike will be recommending books to read.
Panelists: Michael G. Williams (M), Natania Barron, Alyssa Wong, Michele Berger, Stacey Lantagne
Greatness Past 50 – Reynolds
Characters “of a certain age” still have a lot of offer–a discussion of ageism, aging characters, and older characters
Panelists: Samantha Bryant (M), Chris Shrewsbury, Margaret McGraw, Dave Ellis, Gail Martin
Reading: Nicole Givens Kurtz – Crescent
Closing Ceremonies – Cameron