Category Archives: WisCon 46 in 2023

Let’s Rebuild WisCon!

This update is written by me, Kit Stubbs (they/them), in my role as Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization.

Thanks to everyone who donated, volunteered, and helped spread the word, last year we were able to #SaveWisCon! It’s now up to us to #RebuildWisCon by building up our financial reserves to run WisCon 46 in 2023 and years to come and growing our volunteer base so that we can have an awesome con in 2023.

WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening!
We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!

As soon as registration and hotel rooms are available, we’ll send out an update via our newsletter. As always, please subscribe if you aren’t already on our list — email is the most reliable way we have of communicating with you!

Finances
Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in 2023, including:

  • Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden
  • Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members
  • Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants
  • Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost
And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.

If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!

Can you give $1k or more to help rebuild WisCon? Write me (Kit) at treasurer@sf3.org to help start a matching funds drive.

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.

Volunteers
We are so grateful to everyone who helped out pre-con and at-con in 2022! We are now still desperately in need of pre-con volunteers so that we can provide all of the activities and infrastructure that we did last year. This year, if we don’t have department leads in time, we’ll have to start cutting back on what we offer. If there’s something you really love about WisCon and you want to make sure it happens, now is the time to step up by completing our volunteer survey!

We’ll continue to send out calls for volunteers over the coming weeks, but right now we need new people in the following committees & departments (departments/activities at risk of getting cut in bold):

  • Personnel:  We need people for Personnel who want to do back-end checks, posts, and permissions. This role is great for anyone who likes checklists, many small & well-defined tasks, and staying organized. You get quick, small victories that recur with each new opening and candidate. The big payoff is getting each new person on board! It takes an hour per week, on average, though like everything else that can get more intense closer to WisCon, depending on staffing turnover. No at-con work, remote volunteers OK!
  • AppDev: We need at least one more volunteer developer to help with our back-end scheduling & registration software (PHP/Apache/MySQL). Remote volunteers OK!
  • Art Show: We need an Art Show Room Setup/Teardown Coordinator – Leads at-con volunteers to build the Art Show panel structures (out of pipes and pegboards) on Thursday afternoon/evening and tear them down on Monday. We have tools and instructions for this, but are looking for a handy/engineering-minded person to take charge of the process.
  • Communications (Print Materials): We need help so we can offer print materials next con! We’re looking for a Print Coordinator to grab info from our departments and turn it into PDFs for printing so we can have some basic materials available. If you’ve got some basic word processing/layout skills and you like supporting our membership through communications, this might be a good fit for you! Remote volunteers OK.
  • Communications (Marketing): We need someone who’s excited to help us spread the word about what WisCon is! We know there are lots more people who might be interested in joining our feminist speculative fiction con but they just don’t know about us yet. If you’ve got ideas for what we can tell or show people to excite them about WisCon, the Comms team can help you get those ideas out on our blog and social media. Previous marketing experience helpful.
  • Communications (Twitter): Twitter’s still here, and we need someone to help out with WisCon’s Twitter account! At a minimum, this involves making tweets at the request of other departments and committees; but if you’re into it and enjoy being on Twitter, you’re welcome to put your own stamp on it by signal boosting our past Guests of Honor and others whose work might be of interest to the WisCon community. Previous experience using Twitter required.
  • Con Suite: We need one to two more co-leads or we won’t be able to offer Grab & Go food or meal vouchers. This is an at-con position involving buying and working with volunteers to set up and restock the free food available to members in our Con Suite. Previous experience in food service is a plus but not required.
  • COVID-19 Team: We’re looking for one online support volunteer and one in-person support volunteer to join our existing COVID Team members to help out during the con. Support volunteers are available to help set up air ventilation as needed and connect attendees who test positive for COVID with the resources that WisCon has available. We’re looking for folks who have a strong interest in keeping WisCon 2023 as safe as possible; a general understanding of public health policy making is helpful.
  • Dessert Salon: We need at least two co-leads (at least one at-con) so we can run our Dessert Salon fundraiser this year! This involves working with the hotel to set the menu of desserts; scheduling dessert salon volunteer shifts; and working at-con on Sunday to pass out dessert line number tickets & oversee the event.
  • Dealers Room: If you love checking out the vendors in our Dealers Room, we need an at-con co-lead to help liaise between dealers on site and the rest of the ConCom.
  • Gaming: Love games and helping people play them? We’re looking for an at-con co-lead to join our Gaming department! Should we continue to run scheduled games the way we have been doing? Should we look at a more Games On Demand style schedule (recruiting a small group of Game Masters who have a small catalog of games they can run with anyone who shows up)? If you have ideas about how you’d like to see gaming run at WisCon and want to help recruit people to run and play games, please join us!
  • Gathering: If we’re going to have a Gathering this year, we need at least one lead! Leads solicit for activity ideas and help with room setup. If you want to help people mingle — maybe you have ideas for activities to help our members meet each other? — this would be a great fit!
  • Green Room: Want to help support our program participants? We need co-leads to organize and schedule volunteer shifts for our Green Room.
  • Guest of Honor Liaisons: We need two people, one for Martha Wells and one for Rivers Solomon, who facilitate communication with them pre-con and help direct them to where they need to be at-con. Liaisons also introduce them at the Thursday night reading and Sunday Guest of Honor speeches. If you’re a people person who’s into scheduling and logistics and you’re OK with some public speaking, this could be a good fit for you!
  • Hotel: We need one person to be an at-con coordinator for A/V with our awesome hotel, one person to be a pre- and at-con liaison for our event spaces with the hotel, and one person to help manage the WisCon room block (remote OK). All these roles have been filled by one person for the past number of years and we need to bring in some new volunteers. The Concourse is awesome and the staff is very friendly and helpful, we’re looking for folks who are detail-oriented and excited about logistics.
  • Kids’ Programming: If we’re going to have a Kids Programming track this year, we need one to two co-leads attending in person to advertise for activities and/or help run activities for kids. If you like working with kids, we’ve got plenty of supplies and ideas from past cons to get you started!
  • Panels: Panels Programming needs more pre-con volunteers to help review panels submissions and help with scheduling; you can help out whether you’re attending remotely or in person.
  • Readings: We need at least one person to help solicit for readers and work on scheduling readings or we won’t be able to offer Readings this year.
  • Registration: We’re looking for two at-con leads to help coordinate the Registration desk during the con, and an at-con volunteer to help coordinate tech support for folks participating in online Zoom-based sessions. You don’t have to do everything yourself, you’ll be working with the Registration team to set up volunteer shifts and provide info & training to during-con volunteers.
  • Safety: We need at least two co-leads to help us take care of us! Safety co-leads help promote a safer environment at WisCon through consistent security staffing throughout active con hours, issuing warnings as necessary, and working together with our Anti-Abuse Team, Con Co-Chairs, and hotel security. A lot of what Safety co-leads do involves recruiting volunteers for Safety shifts, offering brief trainings, and empowering those volunteers to help members who have questions or who need assistance.
  • SignOut: If you love supporting our attending authors, we need a lead so we can have SignOut again this year! Leads help solicit authors to participate, plan for who sits where, and then attend & oversee the SignOut event.
  • Workshops: Passionate about our workshops? We need an in-person co-lead to help solicit and schedule workshops and liaise between our workshop runners and the rest of the con, and a co-lead to help coordinate online-based workshops (remote OK!).
If any of these sound like they might be a good fit for you, mention the role or department in the survey under the “What kind of volunteer work are you interested in?” question. Want to help out but not sure where? That’s totally fine, too! We’ll work with you to find a role you’ll enjoy.

Thanks for helping us #RebuildWisCon!
Whether you’re able to donate or volunteer, we also need help spreading the word! Thanks for re-sharing us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and please subscribe to the newsletter and tell your friends to subscribe, too!

Co-Chair and Online Con Leads needed to have in-person, online events in 2023

Last week Stephanie announced she would be stepping down as co-chair for WisCon 46 in 2023. Please join us in thanking Stephanie for all the hard work she did on the post-con survey, Guest of Honor nominations, and department outreach/coordination as co-chair. We’re really grateful for her willingness to jump into things after having only attended WisCon one time!

In order for WisCon 46 to move forward the SF3 Board will be starting recruitment for the open Co-Chair position (who must be able to attend in person). In addition, for online or hybrid programming to happen next year we need at least one, ideally two, Online Con Department Co-Leads (either one person at-con; or two people, one at-con and the other either at-con or remote).

As we determined last year, Online Con Department Lead is a ConCom Co-Chair-level position due to the sheer number of departments that that position interacts with and the at-con workload. This means that if an Online Con Lead is willing to also take on some more general ConCom Co-Chairing duties, that person may fill the general co-chair vacancy and we may only need 1-2 new people total, not 3.

For more information on the Co-Chair role, see this blog post. Additional information about the Online Con Lead role will be forthcoming. If you are interested now in potentially becoming an a Co-Chair or Online Con Department Lead, please contact the SF3 Board at board@sf3.org.

In the interim, Ira is coming out of co-chair retirement temporarily to keep the ball rolling on Stephanie’s departments. Thank you Ira!

In the interest of transparency, we want to let you all know that if the open Co-Chair position isn’t filled by end of November, the in-person con will be cancelled.  It is possible we may still do an Online-only con in that scenario, but that depends on a number of other variables.  If we’re able to fill the Co-Chair position but aren’t able to recruit Online Con Department lead(s), the con will be in-person only (we won’t be able to have online or hybrid programming). In either scenario of in-person and/or online con not being able to happen, we will use that time to build up departments, train up leads and chairs, fundraise, and put ourselves in the best possible position for a full event the following year.

Because we don’t know whether or not we will be having an in-person con yet, we haven’t signed a contract with the Concourse. Without a contract in place, we also can’t open Registration or hotel room reservations. This does mean that in the case we’re not able to recruit a Co-Chair for an in-person con, we would not owe the Concourse a penalty fee.

We will continue to provide updates as we have them, and we will continue planning for an in-person convention for next year as recruitment for a Co-chair commences.

Send Us Your Workshop Ideas by March 1!

Are you a professional author or editor interested in running a critique session for WisCon 46 in 2023? Do you have other skills you’d like to share with the WisCon community? If so, then Workshops would love to hear from you!

In the past few years, we’ve been working to expand our events, and in addition to our critique sessions, we’ve offered special workshops on everything from special writing topics to hair braiding, handspinning, and panel moderation. Historically, we’ve also had volunteers coordinate workshops for our teen programming.

We’re already planning out the offerings for 2023, so now is the perfect time to be in touch. If you have an idea for a workshop, please send us an email at workshop@wiscon.net.

We’re also looking for volunteers to hang out in our Writer Salon at the hotel to ensure it stays a quiet space for people who want to write there and people to run writing sprints for the online con. If you’re interested in volunteering for one of these roles, please send us an email so we get you on our volunteer list.

If you want to learn more about Workshops before committing, you’ll find answers to many of your questions on our Workshops page (https://wiscon.net/programming/workshops/).

Announcing Guests of Honor for WisCon 46 in 2023

WisCon and SF3 are pleased to announce that our Guests of Honor for 2023 will be Rivers Solomon and Martha Wells! As we celebrate our 2023 guests, keep in mind that nominations for the WisCon Guests of Honor for 2024 are open, and anyone in the WisCon community can nominate anyone they wish, including themselves! Please send your nominations to gohnoms@wiscon.net.


Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon wearing a white collared shirt and leather jacket.
Rivers Solomon
Photo credit: `Wasi Daniju

Rivers Solomon (fae/fer or they/them) is a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade who resides on an isle in an archipelago off the western coast of the Eurasian continent and writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home.

Solomon’s debut novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017, Akashic Books), won a Firecracker award and was shortlisted for the Locus, Lambda, Otherwise, Astounding, and Hurston/Wright awards, as well as being named a best book of 2017 by The Guardian, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bustle, and others. Faer second book, The Deep (2019, Saga Press), is based on the Hugo finalist song of the same name by the experimental hip-hop group clipping, headed by Daveed Diggs. The Deep won a Lambda Award and was shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards. Their third novel, Sorrowland (2021, MCD Books) was described by Tor.com as “a genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables,” and The Guardian said, “It’s about escape, self-acceptance and queer love. It’s about genocide and the exploitation of black bodies, self-delusion and endemic corruption, motherhood and inheritance.”

Faer short work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Best American Short Stories, Best American Horror and Dark Fantasy, Guernica, and Black Warrior Review. Solomon also collaborated with Becky Chambers, S. L. Huang, and Yoon Ha Lee on the serial novel The Vela.


Martha Wells

Martha Wells wearing a black blouse
Martha Wells
Photo credit: Lisa Blaschke

Martha Wells (she/her) has been writing speculative fiction since 1993, and in that time has won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Alex Awards. Her work has also been nominated for the British Science Fiction Award and the Philip K. Dick Award, and she has been a USA Today Bestseller and a New York Times Bestseller. She has written for Star Wars, Magic: The Gathering, and Stargate: Atlantis, as well as writing short fiction, non-fiction, and YA novels.

Wells is best known for her Ile-Rien, The Books of the Raksura, and, most recently The Murderbot Diaries series. The Books of the Raksura won the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Series, while the novellas, short story, and novel in The Murderbot Diaries have been shortlisted or won Alex, Locus, Nebula, BSFA, and Hugo Awards, culminating in 2021 with the novel Network Effect winning the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel while The Murderbot Diaries as a whole won the Hugo Award for Best Series.

Wells’s powerful and believable worldbuilding and fictional societies are assisted by her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, and she has written nonfiction about the women of Doctor Who; the ups and downs of a long career; and magic systems, the environment, and non-humans. She lives in the USA in Texas with her husband.

No Co-Chairs = No WisCon 2023

Ahoy! This is Kit (WisCon 2022 Co-Chair & Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent nonprofit) with an important update about WisCon in 2023: We are urgently recruiting for co-chairs so we can have WisCon in 2023! (Nope, no April Fool’s joke here!)

The deal is that I (Kit), as Treasurer, won’t recommend that the Board sign a contract with the hotel for 2023 unless we are sure that we have co-chairs. Signing a hotel contract puts WisCon on the hook for many thousands of dollars, and breaking a hotel contract would effectively bankrupt our organization. We need to make sure that a WisCon is going to happen before we sign a contract, and at a minimum, that means we need at least two co-chairs.

Couldn’t Ira, Aileen, and I just co-chair again for 2023? Co-chairs are asked to take a year off in-between cons so that we don’t burn out dedicated volunteers. This explains in part why there was no official WisCon in 2021: Ira and I had just co-chaired WisCONline in 2020 and no one else volunteered to co-chair for 2021.

What happens if we aren’t able to get two confirmed co-chairs for 2023? In that case, we would plan to sign a contract with the hotel for 2024 and there would be no WisCon in 2023.  If that happens, Ira and I are both willing to stay on the ConCom as Fairy Conparents to help document how we actually run WisCon. We’ll encourage all of our current pre-con volunteers  to stay on with us to work together on creating department/committee runbooks under a more flexible schedule than con-running permits.

If there is going to be a WisCon in 2023, we need at least two co-chairs. At least one of these people should have had some previous experience with WisCon/SF3 in a pre-con role, meaning that the person is current or former member of the ConCom, Personnel Committee, Comms, or the SF3 Board.

If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know via Basecamp or email to chair@wiscon.net!

You can find more information about being a co-chair below.

Role: Conference Committee (ConCom) Co-Chair

Department/Team: The Co-Chairs supervise the ConCom and work with other SF3 committees also working on Con business (Communications, Personnel, etc.)

Reports to: SF3 Board via monthly reports

Time Requirements: During the less-busy part of the con year (July-February), each co-chair spends an average of about 2.5 hours/week on con-related tasks. During the more-busy part of the con year (March-May) this increases to 4-5 hours/week; exact time needed depends on how well-staffed the rest of the ConCom is.

Presence at con: Required. At least one Co-Chair is “on duty” at all times during the con.

Term: One year, starting in July.

Role summary: The role of the Co-Chairs is to work together to provide high-level management over other ConCom departments to ensure that WisCon takes place. The Co-Chairs generally keep track of which departments are more or less active and what major tasks need to be done at any given time. The Co-Chairs also help Departments coordinate with each other (especially  if members of one department don’t realize something they want to do will impact another department). Co-Chairs also run the Guest of Honor selection process for the following WisCon (details below), and analyze the prior WisCon’s feedback survey results. The Co-Chairs interface with the SF3 Board primarily through monthly reports.

At the end of the day, if a task doesn’t have anyone working on it, Co-Chairs must decide whether to complete the task themselves, delegate it to someone else, or decide the task will be left undone.

Main Tasks:
  • Running ConCom Meetings. This includes setting the dates and reminders, setting the agenda, collecting reports in advance of each meeting, presiding over the meetings themselves, and making sure minutes are published afterwards.
  • Tracking Responsiveness/Reports.  A large part of the job is keeping track of who hasn’t reported in for a while and what emails are going unanswered to make sure everyone’s on track and to keep morale up. If someone isn’t responding to emails about once a week or so, the Co-Chairs reach out to them, and if they get no response, notify Personnel, who makes a determination on how to proceed. If a role is to be listed again, it should be taken to a ConCom meeting for a discussion, any suggested/agreed-upon modifications made, and then posted.
  • Tracking Departmental Coordination. If a Department has a question that can be answered by another Department, or is proposing changes that may impact another department, Co-Chairs must help connect the relevant Departments to each other as needed. Sometimes Departments know who to ask or realize which other Departments are involved with a task, and sometimes they don’t.
  • Making Judgement Calls on Events/Roles to Keep/Drop. Sometimes it is not possible to fill a role before the con. There’s a limited number of things that can just be cut, but Co-Chairs must also weigh whether events will keep happening at future cons if they are not formally run at a present con. Co-Chairs have to determine what tasks absolutely have to be done.
  • Being On-Call During the Con. There is a chair cell phone that can be used to contact the chairs anytime during the con. Most of the calls will come from the hotel. Chairs can choose how to split up the times of being responsible for the phone. Some chairs alternate days, others take specific shifts during each day — whatever works for the two of you.
  • Participating in Safety Processes. If someone wants “to talk to a manager,” co-chairs our our ultimate at-con managers. Co-chairs may also be involved in judgment calls about Safety issues (such as potentially banning someone, asking them to leave, etc.).
  • Running Guest of Honor Selection Process. The chairs are responsible for selecting a GOH Vetting Committee and making sure the GOH nomination and voting process is executed according to schedule. This involves collating the GOH suggestions and putting together bios for the candidates, making sure the surveys get run, and contacting the top finalists to invite them (for which there are templates).
  • Answering Questions. The Co-Chairs may receive a wide number of questions (both from inside and outside the ConCom/SF3), and they must either answer the questions directly or help forward the question to the person/department who might be able to answer. It’s not uncommon for people to write basically asking to be invited in an “official” capacity. We have an email template for responding to that.
  • Analyzing Prior WisCon Feedback Survey Results. Co-Chairs are in charge of analyzing the post-WisCon survey results from the con before theirs. This may involve working with other departments to implement changes based on the feedback received.
  • Manage tasks that don’t belong to any other department or that have slipped through the cracks between two departments. This includes supervising printing of standard-sized materials and contacting previous year’s lifeguard and child care team to see if they are interested in working again this year.
  • Interfacing with the SF3 Board. 
Skills & experience:
All Co-Chairs Should Have:
  • Task management and delegation skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Excellent one-on-one communication skills (for communicating with other co-chairs)
  • Time and ability to check email and Basecamp on a frequent basis
At Least One Co-Chair Should Have:
  • Some degree of comfort with public speaking in front of large audiences
  • Excellent written communications / public relations skills
  • Ability to lead meetings effectively, including making sure everyone gets heard, covering an agenda, and sticking to a time limit.
  • Ability to take notes during meetings (these do not have to themselves be minutes-quality, just enough to write the minutes later).
  • Prior ConCom experience of at least one year preferred
Exclusions:
  • Co-Chairs should not also be chairing/leading any other departments/teams within WisCon or chairing any other cons
  • Co-Chairs should not co-chair two WisCons in a row
If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know by email to chair@wiscon.net!