Fun at YuleCon

“When you’re a writer, you no longer see things with the freshness of the normal person.” – Brian Moore

This past weekend I attended YuleCon in Fort Worth, selling and signing copies of the book Lawyers in Hell, which includes my story “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” as well as 21 other hellishly great tales. My good friend and fellow author, John Manning arranged for us to have a table in the dealers’ room so we could meet and greet fans. His story “Disclaimer” also appears in Lawyers in Hell, and he has a horror novel published, Black Stump Ridge, that we were also selling, which he co-wrote with long-time friend, Forrest Hedrick. We sold quite a few copies of books, so it was a succesful weekend as far as sales go and we made a lot of new fans who will most likely buy the books online as well.

These fan conventions are a lot of fun, and YuleCon was no exception. There are hundreds of people in character costumes,  many of them hand-made and quite elaborate. A lot of them are from anime and manga, which I have never gotten into, so I have no idea who most of these characters are, but nevertheless, they are cool to look at. You can go to my Facebook page and look at the album YuleCon IV, 2011 and see some photos I took at the con.

I met a lot of really great  people at YuleCon, including a lot of fellow writers, artists, and gamers. At the table next to us in the Dealers’ Room were artists Renee and Shannon, who make dolls and jewelry, and also run charity auctions at conventions. I also met Kurt who owns an online anime and manga collectables store and who had an entire wall across from us and who was very busy all weekend. There was also The  Iceman, whose real name I forget now, who was running con operations and security, and James, who founded and runs the convention. Also Ray who designed the graphic art for the con badges. I also met up with Tiffany, a fan of our book, Lawyers in Hell, who I’d met at FenCon, and who owns the online games store Roll2Play. She had a big area set up in the corner of the lobby where she was selling games and game accesories with the help of some of her assistants. Chris, one of John’s friends who was running some games for YuleCon, and also two mutual friends of ours, Alaura and Meghan, joined John and I for dinner Friday night after the Dealers’ Room  was closed up.

Over in the gaming room I met Kenneth, who was running a series of role playing games by Palladium. I also met Brian, who ran the Doctor Who tabletop miniatures game that I played in, on Saturday night with Wil, Daniel, and a young woman whose name I forgot, (sorry) but who was on my team for the game. Brian had designed and built the scale buildings and painted the miniatures for the game which was set in the ruins of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. My team was the Daleks who, if you’ve never seen the TV show, are basically intergalactic bad guys, robots that want to take over the universe by exterminating mankind. The Doctor’s job in this game, along with help from his team of soldiers, was to stop them from setting off a nuclear bomb. The game really got rolling when the woman on my team asked Brian if she can have one of her soldiers can use his grenade launcher to blow up one of the ruined remains of a building that eleven of our opponents are hiding inside. He said that no one had ever asked him if they could do that before, but he would check the rules. Sure enough, he said she could try. She rolls the dice, and succeeds in blowing up the building, collapsing it on the enemy and killing ten of their soldiers. We were off to a good start! Later in the game a mobile artillery piece overheats and explodes, stunning the Doctor, preventing him from interceding in our plan to detonate the bomb which we can attempt to do on our tenth turn. The rest of the game does not go well for us however, as our soldiers get picked off one by one until we are down to only two left, one dalek, and a mercenary, against a dozen or more opponents. It’s looking more and more like we will lose pretty soon. The tenth turn comes up, however, and we have a chance to detonate the bomb if we can just roll a six on the die. My team member rolls, and behold, a six!  The nuclear bomb was detonated, everything was destroyed in the blast, and we won the game! Viva Las Daleks! Ah the sweet taste of victory.

After the game I wandered around the convention hotel checking out the various events that were going on. They were showing anime films in some rooms, holding discussion panels in others, and there was a rave party going on. I walked into the rave amidst the sounds of fast techno music, flashing lights, and glowsticks being waved around. I thought to myself that everyone in this room is half my age or younger, and damn they were moving fast. I think I remember being able to move that fast. I hung out for awhile and watched all the kids have fun and then decided it really wasn’t my scene, so I left to see what else might be going on. It was almost midnight, and I should have headed home so I could get some sleep for attending the con on Sunday, but some intuition kept telling me to hang around.

Sure enough, I run into Renee and Shannon, from the Dealers’ Room.  They hadn’t slept much the night before because a fire sprinkler had been damaged by someone in the room above them which caused water to start pouring from the ceiling and walls of their room in the middle of the night. This led to them having to change rooms and move all of their belongings with them. They were both worn to a frazzle, I could tell. They had just gotten out of a discussion panel, but couldn’t get up to thier room on the second floor, because the elevators weren’t working due to some electrical problem. They both have  health issues that prevent them from being able to get up and down stairs safely, so this was a real problem. The hotel restaurant had already closed and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet because they had been so busy with the panels. There were no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, and both of them had recently taken medication that kept them from being able to drive. So naturally I offered to take them in my SUV to Denny’s for a late dinner. We had a good meal, and talked about stuff like conventions we had been to, and other fun things, and later that night I dropped them off back at the hotel and headed home for the night.

The next day at YuleCon was a good one as well. One of our fans, Sherry, who bought John’s novel, Black Stump Ridge,  way back in March at All-Con,  stopped by our table and picked up a hardcover copy of Lawyers in Hell. We talked about all kinds of things from books to music, and writing, to funny and scary things we’ve had happen to us over the years. We sold a few more books, met a lot more cool people, and had a really good time.

All in all it was a really great weekend and a really fun convention. Sorry if I missed mentioning anyone, but there were so many great people it was hard to keep track, especially all the names. I’ve added a few email addresses and friends on Facebook though so I’m hoping I can keep in touch with at least some of you. I’ve decided I really need to have business cards made so I can hand out to people. Not only to promote myself as an author, but to maybe make it easier for people to connect with me in the social media and stay in touch. That’s my next project anyway, and I know there are some places like VistaPrint that will print cards for free if you pay the shipping & handling.

Thanks everyone for making it a fun, great YuleCon, and hope to see you all online and at the next Con!

Depression, Deadlines, & Determination

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people” – Thomas Mann

Sorry I haven’t posted a blog entry in so long. So many things in my life, both positive and negative have conspired to keep me from writing as much as I’d like. The really big negative factor was losing the job I had for nine years and the subsequent depression that followed. Also time and energy spent in looking for another job has whittled away at my available hours as well. The lack of finding another job and the financial woes that entails led to yet more depression. You can start to see the vicious cycle my life has been in for the last four months.

One positive thing has been that I have been invited to submit short stories to several anthologies during this time. I have been trying to get these stories written, but the bouts of depression have often left me mentally defeated and feeling like I was unable to write anything, good, bad or otherwise. I have broken through these frustrating periods now and again, and made some progress at least, on the stories. I am coming up on impending deadlines however, so it is crunch-time now to get these finished, but I am determined to get them done, and done right.

Another good thing that has happened while all this has been going on, is that my wife started her own freelance photography business specializing in portrait photography. She does her shoots outdoors on location wherever the clients want the photos taken. I have been helping her with these shoots as her assistant, whenever I am available, and it has been hard, but fun work. Normally a photographer would take on an intern as an unpaid assistant, but she got so busy, so fast, having booked so many clients in a short period of time,  that she didn’t have time to find someone. So while I’m not working at a regularly scheduled job during the day, It was only natural that I should be the one to help out. If there is anyone in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Texas  looking to become a photographer’s intern and is available both weekdays and weekends, contact Sussie at Photography by Sussie Atchley at info@sussieatchley.com and she will be more than happy to interview you for the position.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working with my wife, but at some point I hope to have a full-time day job again and then I won’t be availabile to help her out. Plus, the extra time at home writing and doing research for my stories is always good to have, as I have to schedule that around job hunting, keeping up the house and yards, eating, and staying in shape by riding my bicycle, and practicing Qi-Gong Kung Fu. I also need the occasional break to read, and watch a movie or TV show recorded on the DVR to clear my head from the writing process. Oh yeah, and sleep too.

Anyway, I hope to get back to posting here more often, probably after I get stories done for these upcoming deadlines, or when I need a break from writing my stories but feel compelled to write something meaningful here in my blog. I hope you are all having a wonderful November so far. I know many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month and so I hope you all will have a very productive output of words on your novels. I am focusing all of my time on these short stories so I won’t be working on a novel anytime soon, but I have a couple of unfinished ones that I will get back to eventually.

Until next time, everyone keep writing, and don’t let depression derail your determination.