The weekend of June 15-16 was the biannual State of Black Science-Fiction run convention now named Blacktasticon. I was so happy to be invited as a featured guest and had the opportunity to sit on two great panels as a panelist. The first panel I sat on was the Octavia Butler panel entitled Patternmaster: The Legacy of Octavia Butler. I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about being on this panel because of the other awesome panelists. We had a New York Times bestseller in John Jennings who is the artist for the amazing graphic novel version of Octavio's book kindred. We also had Linda Addison who not only worked with Octavia Butler but also is a multiple Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award winner and had just been given the lifetime achievement award from the H WA as well. We also had Sheree Renee Thomas who not only worked with Octavia Butler closely but also literally wrote the book on Afrofuturism, Dark Matter. If that weren't enough, we also had the wonderful Troy Wiggins the editor-in-chief of Fiyah Literary Magazine, Steamfunk & Science Fiction Author, Valjeanne Jeffers, and myself. After my nerves calmed down and I sat down to the panel it was like having a chat with old friends about a dear one who passed away and as I said on the panel Octavia Butler really does feel like not only a cherished friend and mentor for the Afro-futurism community but also the gateway for many into science fiction by a black woman or a black person in general.
The next panel I was on was on Black Women in Speculative Fiction and it was another powerhouse panel. The panel was graciously moderated by friend, fellow writer, and small press owner Nicole Kurtz of Mocha Memoirs Press. On that panel we had the fabulous: Valjeanne Jeffers, Sheree Renée Thomas, Linda Addison, Myself, Dr. Susana M. Morris, Violette Meier, Kyoko M.,
& Christine Taylor-Butler. The panel turned out wonderful and it was another meeting of old friends and new friends. We talked about our opinions on Black women in speculative fiction, past, present, and future. We also spoke on where we've been and where we feel the genre is going and the frustrations of being a black woman in this genre.
As a panelist there were some panels that I missed but I heard from everyone that attended that all the panels were great. One of the activities that I was unable to go to, but my husband and my children were was the virtual reality room. They told me that they had a lot of fun and the kids were talking about it the entire weekend.
Another great panel I attended which was facilitated by Milton Davis and Kyoko M on marketing and self-publishing. I learned a lot as someone who mainly markets online I was really happy to hear Milton's thoughts on marketing two bookstores especially small black on bookstores that might be receptive to our books. Kyoko M had a lot of great information on establishing your online presence and how to use an online presence to not only market your books but to make friends in your genre. Milton Davis also gave us a lot of sales advice for those that aren't inherently sales people which really helped a lot, as someone who sometimes feels like giving a sales pitch is “bothering" someone.
One of my favorite interactive panels was an “Iron Authors” panel, which was much like the show Iron Chef where the authors had five minutes to create a story through prompts given by the audience. The panel members on that were: Nicole Kurtz, Johnson Kelly, Jeff Carrol, Christine Taylor-Butler, Violette Meier, and they all did a great job. We decided the winners of each round through the scientific process of raising our hands and tallying the hands raised. Each time it was extremely hard to choose a winner because all the stories were really great.
In addition to the wonderful panels was of course the exhibitor hall where there were tables of art, books, comics, and other wares relating to Black speculative fiction. I purchased two comic while I was there and my mother and father, who also attended the event, didn’t come out empty handed. My mom is a huge art collector and bought herself two pieces of art which they're now trying to find an empty wall to place them on. All in all, the convention was really great as a panelist as an attendee and I know that everyone that I talked to during the convention after the convention were really excited about the convention and what it brings to the genre of Black speculative fiction. Learn more about Blacktasticon on FB!
It was great seeing both old and new friends at the convention and I know that there are some great things coming out from a lot of us directly based on the networking and friendships made during the convention.
Oh and SWAG! Lots of swag!