I’ve attended most of the PenguiCons since they started ten or so years ago, so I was particularly looking forward to this year’s, which was to be the first I’d be at where I was doing a panel. That panel was “Fantasy vs. Dark Fantasy vs. Horror: What Happened to the Boundaries?”, and it was really the first thing I did after registering on Friday (April 27th).

I was somewhat nervous, despite having done panels before, as I was the only person conducting the panel–another first for me. Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. Not only was the panel well attended (by between 15-20 people), we were all seated around a circular table (as opposed to the usual row-of-panelists facing rows-of-attendees scheme), which really helped me with making the panel into what I wanted it to be, which was a discussion. It also helped that the topic was one that I’d suggested, and that it was something I’d already put a serious amount of thought into, thanks to all the publicity I’d done for Brutal Light (coming up with answers to questions on ‘why write dark fantasy,’ which in the process had me explaining what I believed dark fantasy to be). The discussion was fun and at the end, I gave away a couple signed copies of Brutal Light.

From then on, I went into attendee-mode. Since I didn’t get a room at the hotel (being as I’m both cheap and local), I set out for various panels that attracted my interest. I dropped in on the opening ceremonies, and got treated to seeing John Scalzi playing ukelele and singing Prince’s “Kiss.” Even though my life was much more complete after that, I kept on with the evening, catching Mikey Mason‘s Geek Rock Comedy Show, and generally tracking down and chatting a bit with friends I usually only see at local cons.

Saturday was more of the same, plus drinking. PenguiCon is pretty massive, and in addition to literature has lots of programming for tech, science, gaming, and more, and there’s always something going on. I did manage to hit a few panels, including one on “DC Comics’ New 52,” and one called “Strike a Pose!”, loosely inspired by a famous blog posting by Jim C. Hines (and this followup). My wife showed up that evening and we spent the rest of it hanging with friends, dancing and enjoying some tasty mixed drinks. (Sadly, as I had to drive, I kept my enjoyment to a couple drinks, with plenty of time to let the buzz subside before I headed out. Next year I definitely have to get a room, at least for Saturday night.)

I ended up skipping Sunday altogether, for reasons of laziness. But all in all, I had a good time, met a bunch of cool people, and am very much looking forward to next year’s PenguiCon!

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.