Sat on my first panel as a professionally-sold author today, at LTUE 2010.
Last time I sat on a panel — for any reason — was in 1994 when myself and Scott Howard and the other Searcher & Stallion guys were at CONduit 4 doing a panel on SF audio.
Then, there were more panelists than people come to listen to the panel. Yikes!
Today, not so. The room was very large and very well attended. My three partners on the panel were Colonel Meeks (ret) from the Marine Corps JAG, Steve Harmon who is a former Marine Corps NCO and Desert Storm veteran, and Lee Allred, multi-published SF author and Writers of the Future winner who also happens to be an E-7 in the USAF Reserve who has spent a fair amount of time overseas in various capacities.
Our topic (as if you needed to guess) was putting more real military in Military Science Fiction.
Colonel Meeks had an outstanding presentation yesterday, so today’s panel felt sort of like a follow-up to what he covered. I wish we’d had two hours (or more) because there were so many hands raised and there was so much to talk about, we ran out of time before any of us — panelists or attendees — were even halfway through with what we wanted to talk about.
I must say, Lee Allred was particularly pleasant and unassuming, given his experience as a writer. He could have wiped the floor with the rest of us — in terms of writer clout — but he was very self-depricating (we luv yah Air Force!) and it was fun to sit next to him; though I was sorry to hear about his larynx problems that made it difficult for him to speak up.
I do forget sometimes how much an alien, otherworldly experience the military can be. It’s been seven years since I ‘crossed over’ and for me it’s kind of become no big whoop. But for lifetime civilians, it’s this fascinating, confusing, exciting, and often closed universe about which much folklore and misinformation is spun. Allred, myself, Meeks and Harmon had a good time trying to myth-bust, as it were, and I think the crowd got a lot out of it.
Next year — assuming I am not deployed, knock knock — I am tempted to ask LTUE if they can somehow give us two hours for a similar panel, because we literally only had time to scratch the surface on many topics, and I wish we’d had a bigger window with which to work, for those who had questions and comments and weren’t able to be heard.
I was also reminded — during the after-panel questioning that always happens between attendees and panelists — that I am now officially on the ‘Other Side’ of the equation. Ergo, I am a blue badge, not a white, and this carries Meaning for the white badges. I remember what that was like, since I was a white badge last year. I hope I was able to answer questions sufficiently for those who wanted me to talk post-panel. If not, maybe they can grab me to tomorrow?
Thanks to everyone who attended. It was a terrific introduction — for me — to the experience of being an author panelist.