At the Festival

One of the many romance-related panel discussions held at in the Maryland Romance Writers pavilion at the book festival. Although most of the audience members were women, the "Steampunk: Gear Up for Adventure!" panel definitely brought men into the tent.

The Maryland Romance Writers' pavilion. I converted this image to black and white and used vignetting to draw attention to the signage.

Baltimore Book Festival sign

Signs like this showed the scheduled presentations for each group at the festival. There were a lot of them! I had to take a picture of the sign because my name is on it -- it's not quite "in lights," but close.

I enjoyed the Baltimore Book Festival and found it to be a pretty laid-back affair. Since I was going to be speaking on a panel, I expected to be pretty nervous, but the saving grace was that I wasn’t going to be sitting alone in front of the audience. The festival directors had an author hospitality area set up for us that included some food and drinks, as well as comfortable sofas. It was helpful to sit in there and relax for awhile before going out. I’ve done craft shows before and sitting in a tent all day can make you surprisingly tired. You never relax entirely, especially when the weather isn’t being cooperative — and it wasn’t cooperating on Friday because it rained all day.

The festival was held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I only went on Saturday. There were presentations I would like to have listened to on Sunday, but I had too many commitments to drive back to Baltimore for a second day of the festival. On Friday I had to work.

The weather was generally good yesterday, although it poured with rain on Friday and made a few small rivers through some of the pavilions. The ground was still squishy on Saturday, but most of the festival was set up on pavement. The grassy areas were partly in the pavilions and those had  raised platforms for the speakers’ table and chairs.

The panel that I was on was called Steampunk: Gear Up for Adventure! We had six panel members and the moderator, Laurel Wanrow, who introduced the topic and gave the audience a brief description of what Steampunk is. The panel included Paul Ellis, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, me, Elektra Hammond, Lea Nolan, and Bill Gawne.

We talked a little bit about Steampunk technology, Victorian history and sensibilities, inventiveness, and world-building in Steampunk stories. All of us had some costumes on, even if it was just a fancy hat. The audience was reluctant to ask questions at first, but once one person broke the ice they all chimed in. Most seemed to really be interested in our clothing and asked us whether we wore any part of our Steampunk clothes in everyday life.

It’s funny that someone should ask me that (well, the panel) because I’m not a particularly outgoing person. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to be invisible so that I don’t draw too much attention to myself (living in bad neighborhoods does that to you). Plus, maybe it’s an age thing, because as an adult you feel a little silly dressing differently from other people. But I’m getting used to it. I advised the audience to start small, maybe with some jewelery, and add a hat or gloves. I told them that wearing boots was a good option, because if they didn’t want to show off the boots they could pull their pants legs over the boots and no one would really be the wiser. Of course, that won’t work with short skirts, but boots are so fashionable for women that really almost anything goes. Men can try pocket watches instead of jewelry, and hats definitely will work.

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