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PhauxCon LE 2010: My Favorite Convention Experience

5 October 2010 by

This was my first year attending PhauxCon, a small but significant and introspective convention centered in Philadelphia. The ‘faux’ is a nod to the convention’s small size, which initially deterred me. However, the size of the convention provides a classroom or lecture-style feeling to the convention.

As a fan and as a marketing professional at Seventh Kingdom IGE, I’ve enjoyed attending several conventions over the past couple of years. After a while, however, the overt commercialism of the conventions gets quickly tiring. At many cons, you pay a fee to enter the convention. This gets you into a vendor area, where your choices involve browsing and buying things.

To get autographs or into select panels in some conventions, you need to fork over more cash. After a few hours attending most conventions as a fan, I often wish I’d spent my money on a new costume or a day at a renaissance faire. I feel like I receive a generic experience; gone are the days when big names like Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) frequently end up at small conventions.

At smaller conventions, I’ve experienced less pressure to spend money and more absolute boredom.

PhauxCon removed my doubts and cynicism about small conventions and I’m really glad I decided to attend. Convention Fans owner/blogger Kelly asked me to co-moderate a panel discussion about Star Trek as I am a Next Generation enthusiast and Commander Riker’s biggest fan.

I was instantly relaxed by the laid-back atmosphere of the event. The hotel conference room in which we met reminded me of a cross between the observation lounge in TNG and a college classroom environment.

Instead of ‘sell sell sell,’ this convention focused on discussion of literature, films, television and pop culture of fandoms. We each spoke of our own endeavors, careers, books and games and it was an honest discussion.

I enjoyed launching into conversation with peers already fluent in basic geek terminology. Everyone present seemed to have at least a general understanding of the esoteric topics each panelist discussed.

At first daunted by the $20 entrance fee, I believe the convention was well worth the money. A master class or materials for a book discussion group would have cost more—and each attendee received a goody bag including a ticket for a raffle. Even though I didn’t win anything in the raffle, I walked away with plenty of goodies.

There were writers of various levels present at PhauxCon, including a published author also working in marketing. Their openness and willingness to discuss the highlights and pitfalls of their experiences was especially meaningful to me. As a full-time freelance writer typically focusing on articles and other works of non-fiction, I’m about to attempt National Novel Writing Month in November.

I’m serious about spending December on edits and getting my manuscript into the hands of a trustworthy agent. While I’ve worked in academic publishing, self-publishing and at a newspaper, I have no experience as a novelist. I learned more at PhauxCon than I could have learned at any specialized seminar.

I walked away with the inspiration to write a steampunk story (a new genre for me) and the encouragement of some very knowledgeable steampunk fans—people who contributed information about the genre without aloof airs.

Do not miss PhauxCon 2011—this is the convention that gets down and dirty with all things geek on an intellectual level.



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