Posts Tagged ‘convention’

Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022

This is an open message to my friends and colleagues who plan on attending Farpoint Convention in Hunt Valley, Md., next month (Feb. 25-27).

Though I have been looking forward for some time to seeing you all there, I regret that it currently appears I will not be attending the con.

I was recently made aware that Farpoint’s concom has decided not to require guests, staff, volunteers, or attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent (< 72 hours) negative result on a reliable COVID-19 test, per its online statement:

Farpoint 2022 COVID-19 Guidance

On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing. On behalf of the Farpoint concom, Cindy wrote back to me this past Monday, January 17, 2022, with this reply:

“We value your opinion on this issue, and appreciate your candor. Unfortunately, it’s a tough decision to make. With breakthrough infections increasing even among vaccinated persons in the wake of the Delta and Omicron variants, we do not want to send the message to attendees that an all-vaccinated con will be free of Covid. Because the reality is that cannot be guaranteed, especially in a facility that is not requiring vaccinations for guests not attending the convention. Marriott’s policy makes it impossible to establish a safe bubble.

“If people are going to choose to accept the risk of attending a public event—and it is a risk—we want them to understand that risk, and we want them to follow the safety protocols recommended by Maryland and the CDC that stand the best chance of keeping them infection-free: increased sanitation, social distancing and masking. We are implementing these recommendations.”

To say I found this reply discouraging would be an understatement.

In reply to their assertion about what message such a policy would send, I shared my opinion that the message conveyed by a strong vaccination/test policy is “We are doing everything reasonably possible to provide the lowest-risk environment we can for our guests and attendees, as well as the general public.”

Regarding their excuse that because the hotel is not enforcing such a policy on non-convention guests at the hotel that weekend, it is not possible to create a “safe bubble,” I responded,

“You’ve applied the wrong standard. You’ve let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

“For starters, hotel guests who are not con attendees are not likely to have any significant prolonged contact with con attendees. The most likely places of overlap between these two groups, based on historical patterns, is the front lobby and the lounge area. Both of those spaces are relatively open and well ventilated; the former has a high ceiling, and the latter has good spacing on its seating options.

“Those are not high-risk areas, and the con should not be concerned about them.

“The highest-risk areas are those that, for the weekend, WILL be under the con’s exclusive control: the Tack rooms, the Salons, and the Hunt-Valley Ballroom. The Tack rooms and Salons are small enclosed spaces that, if attended by an individual who happens to be contagious, could turn into petri dishes.

“Likewise, because of the sheer crowd density in the Hunt-Valley Ballroom for headliner events, even a single contagious person in that space risks turning it into a superspreader venue.

“Allowing access by unvaccinated and untested individuals sharply increases those risks.”

I offered, as a further criticism of their policy, my observation that it places “all responsibility on the guests and attendees, which is not only unfair, it’s irresponsible, especially considering the number of children who attend the con.

“It is appropriate to ask all attendees to observe those practices for communal safety while in the convention and public areas of the hotel,” I continued, “but the con has a responsibility to do what the attendees cannot, either individually or collectively: screen out the highest-risk persons for the good of the community as a whole.”

The concom’s decision not to revise its policy for a safer one, regardless of their rationale, is one that I consider to be medically unsound. I think it creates an unnecessary degree of risk by omission of action.

Consequently, I have informed Farpoint that, barring an official revision of its COVID-19 safety protocols to include a requirement for all staff, volunteers, guests, and attendees to be either fully vaccinated (2x + booster) or to present a negative COVID test processed in the 72 hours preceding the start of the convention, I will not be attending Farpoint 2022.

I offer this information not to sway anyone else’s decision, but to make sure that my friends and colleagues who choose to be part of this year’s Farpoint Convention clearly understand all of the risks that will be involved. Each of us needs to make our own informed decision whether the increased level of risk that will be present at Farpoint Convention is merited and acceptable.

For those who choose to attend in spite of this lax admission screening, I wish you a happy and healthy convention weekend — but if you choose to attend Farpoint (or any other large event that features gatherings in small windowless rooms, and isn’t verifying vaccination or negative-test results), please take all possible precautions.

My Shore Leave 2021 schedule

Where to see me this weekend during the Shore Leave 41.6 virtual convention!


SATURDAY

11AM ET — “The New Age of Star Trek
I’ll be talking about Discovery, Picard, Short Treks, Lower Decks, and Prodigy alongside Dayton Ward, Keith DeCandido, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Derek Tyler Attico, and Kirsten Beyer.

5PM ET — “Star Trek: The Motion Picture … 40+ Years Later”
Does the first Star Trek feature film still hold up? Did it ever? I’ll debate this with Howard Weinstein, Dayton Ward, Derek Tyler Attico, Alan Chafin, and Kevin Dilmore.


SUNDAY

3PM ET — “What’s New in Star Trek Literature”
Come, see your favorite Treklit authors tell you what new works they have coming out in the next several months. This spoiler-ific panel will feature me, Scott Pearson (moderator), John Jackson Miller, Christopher Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, James Swallow, and maybe a late cameo appearance by Dayton Ward himself!
— NOTE: This panel was originally listed at 10AM; it has been moved to 3PM ET.

 

The full Shore Leave 41.6 schedule is here: https://www.shore-leave.com/schedule/

Farpoint Convention 2021 – My Virtual Schedule

For those of you taking part in next weekend’s virtual Farpoint Convention, I’ll be on two of their Zoom-based virtual panels:
 
SAT 2/20 at 1PM–2PM ET
“Got Enough Science?”
with Christopher Ochs and Phil Giunta
 
SUN 2/21 at 1PM–2PM ET
“How Does Star Trek Thrive?”
with Derek Tyler Attico and Keith R.A. DeCandido
See the convention’s full schedule here.

MidSouthCon 38 postponed to 2021

Now that an official announcement has been made on MidSouthCon’s website, I can share the news that MidSouthCon 38 has been postponed until next year at this time—March 19–21, 2021—to help safeguard the health of its attendees, guests, staff, volunteers, and hotel personnel from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

I was slated to be this year’s Author Guest of Honor at MidSouthCon, and I fully support the convention committee’s informed decision to postpone the event. As much as I’ve looked forward to my first time as a GoH, I don’t think it’s worth risking the health or safety of other people for a moment in the spotlight.

The MidSouthCon committee has graciously invited me to be their GoH next year when their convention returns, and I have gratefully accepted their offer. I have been impressed by their attention to detail, their superb sense of organization, their clear communications, and, now, their commitment to public safety.

To everyone who was hoping to see me next week in Memphis, I’m sorry we won’t get to hang out until next year. But my hope is that, until then, you’ll all do your best to stay safe and healthy, and help others to do likewise. Be well, friends, and I’ll look forward to seeing you all next year in Memphis!

My Farpoint 2020 Schedule

Here is my schedule for this year’s Farpoint Convention, being held once again at the Delta Hotel by Marriott (formerly known as the Hunt Valley Inn) in Hunt Valley, Md. At times not listed here, the most likely place to find me is — big surprise — the hotel bar.


FRIDAY | 21 February

7:00 PM — Tales of Woe … and Healing
Salon C (Moderator)

10:00 PM to Midnight — Meet the Pros (aka Book Fair)
Hunt-Valley Corridor


SATURDAY | 22 February

Noon — Author Signing
Autograph Table 2

2:00 PM — Killing Characters 101
Salon C (Moderator)


SUNDAY | 23 February

11:00 AM — Writer Hobbies
Salon C (Moderator)

Noon to 1:00 PM — Author Signing
Autograph Table 1

 

See you at the con, folks!

#SFWApro

Con Fusion 2020 – My Schedule

For those of you planning on attending or bar-conning How to Train Your Con Fusion next week, here is my schedule for the con:

THURSDAY 1/16

7:00 PM — St. Clair Room
Guests-of-Honor Dinner

FRIDAY 1/17

12:00 PM — Manitou Room
Finance for Career Fiction Writers
LaShawn M. Wanak (m), David Mack
 
4:00 PM — Charlevoix Room
The Business of Comics Writing For Prose Writers
David Mack, Seanan McGuire, Richard C. White

SATURDAY 1/18

11:00 AM — Saugatuck Room
Reading: David Mack, K.A. Doore, Richard White
 
3:00 PM — St. Clair Room
Mass Autographing Session
 
I hope to see old friends, make some new ones, and enjoy drinks and conversation with fans and pros alike!
 
The convention’s full schedule is here.

C3 Con Wrap-up

Kara and I are home and unwinding after a wonderful weekend at the Creatures, Crime & Creativity (aka C3) con in Columbia, MD.

I was the Friday night keynote speaker, and Saturday night’s keynote was by the delightful Julie Hyzy.

C3 also marked my wife Kara’s first time as a panelist at a con! (She’s in the picture above, seated to the far right.) After all these years of supporting me from the audience, Kara got to be one of the panelists, for Friday afternoon’s “Living with a Professional Liar: Writers’ Spouses/Partners”. As I’d expected, she was witty, charming, and relaxed.

I can’t say enough good things about C3. It was well-organized and housed in a lovely space, and the panels were run by superbly prepared moderators, and attended by keenly interested writers of varying experience levels. This is a relaxed con for people who take writing seriously.

I need to thank con organizer Austin S. Camacho for inviting me to deliver a keynote address (something I’d done only once before, as a commencement speaker at my former high school). But the best part of the con was making many wonderful new friends, including Dr. Glenn Parris, Dana King, Denise Camacho, Corky King, Shawn A. Cosby, Julie Hyzy, Serg Koren, David Simms, and others who I hope will forgive me for neglecting to recall their names off the top of my head, but it’s late and I’m tired.

The definite highlights of my weekend at C3 were getting to know Julie Hyzy (whose childhood and path to authorship paralleled mine far more closely than I had thought possible) and spending time with Shawn A. Cosby, whose “Noir at the Bar” reading (“Doubt Not That the Stars Are Fire”) blew me away.

A great weekend, and one I’d heartily commend to anyone who would be keen to spend a weekend among others who take the craft of writing (but not themselves) seriously.