Yeah, I know I post something like this almost every year about this time. These tips are still relevant, and become only moreso as the convention grows and the hotels do not. So here are Hartness’s tips for surviving Dragon Con.
- Carry a water bottle. You don’t have to carry a full one, there are water stations all over the place, and many of the hotel bars will fill your bottle for you if you’re nice and don’t jam it in their faces when they’re crazy busy. But it’s hot as Beelzebub’s ballsack in Atlanta Labor Day Weekend, and humid as a gator’s taint. If you aren’t accustomed to moving around in that kind of heat and humidity, you could end up in real trouble. So stay hydrated. For every beer or alcoholic drink you have, drink one glass of water. Ditto for soda.
- Plan for shit. There’s an app and everything. Your favorite writers have probably posted their schedules to their websites or Facebook. So there’s no excuse for doing nothing, unless you want to do nothing for a little while.
- Plan for shit to go sideway. It’s fucking crowded. It’s fucking hot. You’re fucking hungover. Hell, maybe you’re just fucking. But be prepared to throw your plans in the shitter if something awesome comes up. Maybe you’ll be waiting in line for a restaurant and one of your favorite cover artist of all time will invite you to go sit in the back of a panel and have a picnic with he and his wife, who happens to be one of your literary heroes. Maybe you’ll end up dancing with this amazing guy/girl/genderfluid person at DJ Spider’s set and you’ll go hook up. Maybe you’ll walk past a room and find a legendary knife maker teaching knife throwing. These are all things that are worth abandoning your spot in line to get Nathan Filion’s autograph, I promise. Have the flexibility to enjoy an experience more than a thing. And two of those three cool things happened to me. No, I’m not telling you which one didn’t happen. If you want to know buy me a drink, or bring a cold Miller Lite to one of my panels for me.
- Meet new people. There are some awesome people at Dragon, and some of them are folks that you’ve either read or heard of or watched on TV. Meet them. Either go up to their table and say hi, or if they’re in a bar with a crowd of people, don’t be afraid to walk up and say hi. If you’re a public figure and you don’t want anyone to approach you, you won’t be hanging out in a bar. Don’t be a dick, and if they seem to be in an intense meeting or conversation, don’t bug folks. Ditto when they’re eating in a restaurant. But bars? Before or after panels (especially after)? Fair game.
- Go to a reading by an author you’ve never read. I suggest the one held in the Hyatt Marietta room at 1PM on Saturday. Even if you’ve read my stuff, there will probably be someone reading there that you’ve never heard of. I open my readings up to my friends, because I don’t want to read for an hour. So come see me and my pals! Then stick around for whoever is after me, because they’re probably awesome, too.
- Go to the Dealer Room Monday or during the parade. This is a legit pro tip – the dealer room is crowded as FUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK. To avoid that shit, go when people aren’t there. Parade time and Monday are prime shopping times. Don’t know when the parade is? Use the app. You’re a damn adult, I can’t do everything for you. 🙂
- Don’t go near the fucking habitrails from 4PM Friday to 1PM Sunday. Those things are like a goddamn claustrophobic sauna during the height of the con. I avoid them at all costs during those hours.
- Take pictures, but don’t be a dick about it. Don’t stop in the fucking habitrails. Don’t stop at the top of the fucking escalator. Don’t stop right outside the fucking elevator. Don’t fucking stop abruptly. Don’t stop right inside or outside a fucking door. Don’t fuck up the traffic flow. There are 75,000 fucking people, and all of them want to get somewhere.
- Don’t be a perv or a creeper. Here’s how to tell if whatever you’re about to do or say qualifies. Ask yourself this question – “If someone said those words to my mother/sister/daughter/spouse/friend would I want to punch them in the dick?” If the answer is “yes,” then don’t say those words. The same thing applies to actions. If you wouldn’t want someone to do it to you or someone you love, don’t do it. This does not apply to me slapping Tamsin Silver on the ass. I have been granted a lifetime pass, and she has a lifetime pass to grab my butt. We went to college together. We’ve seen some shit, y’all.
- Stay calm, stay flexible, have fun. We all have anxieties. We all have things that set us off. Keep all that shit in check, and if you need to go sit in a bathroom stall for fifteen minutes to chill the fuck out, then go do that. Just grunt every once in a while so people will think you’re taking a titanic shit and they won’t be afraid you died. But for real, I have hidden in the crapper for five minutes to escape the madness on more than one occasion and at more than one con. It’s a legit survival strategy. Anytime you’re in a new place, you find out where all the exits are, and where all the shitters are.
- Do at least one thing you never thought you’d do. For some of y’all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. For others, it’s an annual thing. For some of us, it’s the toughest and most enjoyable work week of the year. But there’s one thing that’s universal – we love this shit. So do something awesome. Meet someone awesome. Have a motherfucking adventure!
- Buy my shit. No trip to Dragon Con is complete without buying my shit. You can place orders on the Autographed Books page and I’ll deliver them to Dragon Con. Just tell me which one of my panels you plan to be at (preferably one in the Hyatt, since that’s where I’m staying) and I’ll bring your books to the panel. Yeah, I’m a whore. What did you expect, public fucking service?
Here’s my schedule –
Title: Two Sides of the Same Coin: Angels & Demons in Urban Fantasy
Time: Fri 05:30 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Representations of angels & demons vary widely within folklore, religion, & literature. Our panelists will discuss how depictions often focus on their similarities as well as their differences.
Title: Reading: John G. Hartness
Time: Sat 01:00 pm Location: Marietta – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: The author of urban southern fantasy and host of the podcast Literate Liquors reads from his works.
Title: The Black Dog: Depression & Mental Health in Fiction & Fandom
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Our panelists examine how mental health is portrayed in SF. Are there any portrayals that help those of us dealing with our own issues? Note that this is not a prescriptive or workshop.
Title: Writer’s Block: Real or Imagined?
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: The debate about writer’s block is as old as the craft. Every writer has an opinion. The pros discuss the condition and the cures.
Title: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Time: Sun 10:00 am Location: Piedmont – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Enjoy a varied sampler of short readings from authors whose work spans a range of fantasy sub-genres in the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.
Title: Run Screaming into the Night
Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Does your own writing scare you? Dark Fantasy & Horror need a real edge that guarantees a terrifying read…even for the writer.
Title: Coming to America: An American Gods Fan Panel
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: A moderated fan-panel discussion of the new hit series based on the book by Neil Gaiman.
See you next week!