ConDFW 2013 After Action Report

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“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
-W. E. B. Du Bois

Another year of ConDFW has come and gone. I had a great time as always, meeting with old friends, and making new ones. I think I picked up a few new fans of my writing as well. I also got to hang out with someone who is arguably my biggest fan so far, Jenn M. who I met at last year’s ConDFW. She writes a blog called Brewed Bohemian and she is also gracious enough to repost my blogs on her twitter feed @BrewedBohemian. She’s a writer who has been doing flash fiction and short fiction for awhile. I am going to have her on a couple of panels with me at All-Con this year. It was great hanging out with her and her friends and my friends over dinner Saturday night talking about our current projects. Check out her blog and follow her on twitter.

I didn’t get to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Addison where ConDFW is held until about 7:30 Friday because I had to work until 6:30. I met up with friend and fellow author, Ethan Nahte in the dealers room, where we were sharing a table to sell our books. Ethan is a great guy, and a real force of creativity. He has experience in writing, journalism, music, photography, film making, screenwriting, radio, as well as environmental and wildlife conservation. I don’t think there’s much that he can’t do, or hasn’t tried. He has stories published with Yard Dog Press, Twit Publishing, 4 Star Stories, and Hall Brothers Entertainment. Go check out their web sites for some of the anthologies he’s in. His friend Bonnie helped us watch the table when Ethan and I had to be at panels, signings, and readings. She also bought a copy of Lawyers in Hell. Thanks Bonnie, for being a fan and also a new friend.  Here’s a photo I took of Ethan at our table:

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And one of us together:

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Someone else I was really glad to spend time with was John Manning, who is a writer, editor, and owner of Fantom Enterprises which recently produced the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? which is published by Perseid Press. John is also a fellow Hellion Author with stories in Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell, from the Heroes in Hell series created by Janet Morris, with Persied Publishing,  in which I have stories published as well. John also wrote the horror novel Black Stump Ridge with co-author Forrest Heddrick which was published by iUniverse in 2011. He’s one of my best friends and we have collaborated on story ideas a lot and we are working together on several current projects. Here’s a great photo of us together:

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Someone else who I always enjoy seeing at conventions is Bev Hale, author, artist, maker of fine hats and clothes and jewelry and accesories. Check out her web site at BevHale.com and her artistic designs page at Otherwhen Oddities. Here’s Bev with her table and hat stand in the dealers room:

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Bev also has a story published in the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? created and edited by John Manning that she did a reading from at ConDFW.

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Another person I run into at the various conventions I attend is Patricia Ash. She is a playwright, novelist, poet, model, actor, and associate editor of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamor review magazine. So she stays pretty busy. Here’s a photo of her in one of her lovely outfits. Check out the boots!

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Two more friends I have made attending conventions like ConDFW are author/editor Kevin Hosey, and author Tracy S. Morris who are in this photo at their book signing.

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Someone else who I got to know online, but met in person for the first time that weekend is Stormy Stogner, who is one of the editors for Fantom Enterprises and the book What Scares the Boogey Man?  I also got to meet Thony Medina who is working for Fantom Enterprises as V.P. of game development for their line of Role Playing Games soon to be unleashed upon the world. I hung out with them on and off for the whole weekend but somehow never got a single photo of either of them. Wow. How did that happen? Well, I forgot to take photos of a few people apparantly, like Jenn M. and her friends, Bonnie, and a few other people I’m sure. Oh well. Better luck next time I guess. I did however, manage to get a photo of these two Cthulhu chicks who were walking through the dealers room:

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And I got a photo of the Roll2Play game store table with Allison Gabby and the Roll2Play employee whose name I always forget. Sorry man.

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I got to talk to a lot more great people, authors, artists, creative folks of all types, like Selina Rosen, author, and owner of Yard Dog Press, authors Julia Mandala, Dusty Rainbolt, Linda Donahue, Rhonda Eudaley, C. Dean Andersson, Lou Antonelli, Teresa Patterson, Rie Sheridan Rose, and Michelle Muenzler. If I’ve fotgotten to mention anyone, sorry, but it was a whirlwind of a weekend as cons always are and I can’t remember everyone’s names.

I was on a panel called Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance with Kevin Hosey, Rachel Caine,  Dusty Rainbolt and Stina Leicht in which we each took one side to argue the merits of either genre of writing. Here’s a photo from the panel that John Husisian in the audience took and sent to me after the con. Thanks John!

Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance

I had a great time, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next time. For now, this is a wrap. See you all at All-Con in Dallas March 8,9, 10th.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost here already.

“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” -Albert Camus

 

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The Short Pale Writer Appearing at ConDFW This Weekend

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.” – Stephen Leacock

I will be attending ConDFW in Dallas, Texas this weekend. I am scheduled for five discussion panels, a reading, and a book signing session over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be hanging out with friends and fellow authors Friday, and attending the opening ceremonies, and some panels. Come out and join me for a fun and informative weekend. Below is my schedule, but be sure to check out the ConDFW website for all the panels and events going on all weekend.

SATURDAY

Panel Room 3 – Canterbury-1pm –Horror without Focus: Writing the Apocalypse in Horror

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, Larry Atchley Jr., Gabrielle Faust (M), K. Hutson, Dusty Rainbolt, Brad Sinor

It is moderately easy to create a horror story where you have an obvious villain. But in this year of disaster and

apocalypse, we see the other side of Horror – where the villain is nature itself, whether by fire, flood or plague.

Our panelists discuss the Apocalyptic Horror genre and its future in a time where the future is never certain.

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-4pm –Horror vs. Urban Fantasy: Where is the Line?

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, A. Lee Martinez (M), Larry Atchley Jr., Stina Leicht, Gabrielle Faust, Sue Sinor

Sometimes it is difficult to find what section a particular Urban Fantasy book belongs to. It is sometimes found in

the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, but sometimes it is found in the Horror section. And to be honest, some

Horror has been Urban Fantasy before the genre really came about, like Anne Rice’s vampire series. But what

is the line between the darkness of Horror and the lightness of SF/Fantasy? Our panelists debate this dark topic

and perhaps find out what Urban Fantasy really is.

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-5pm –Ragnarok and You: Using Norse Mythology

 Panelist: Frances May (M), K.B. Bogen, Katharine Kimbriel, Ren Hobt, Larry Atchley Jr.

No discussion on the upcoming apocalypse would be complete without covering Norse mythology and

Ragnarok. What you may not know is that Ragnarok does not mean destruction at all, but means “the final

destiny of the gods”. Learn more about the classics from our experts on myth and legend, and try to forget about

comic book movies based on the same topic.

Readings: 6 pm – Shanna Swendson, Larry Atchley Jr., Ethan Nahte

SUNDAY

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-12pm –Body Language: Writing Martial Arts

 Panelists: K. Hutson (M), Larry Atchley Jr., A.P. Stephens, Stina Leicht

Sure, it’s easy to describe a punch to the stomach, and a sweep to the legs. But is it anatomically possible?

And what are some moves that are legit to use? We bring some martial artists to the table and let’s see if we

can describe what they do – without a video camera.

Signings: 1 pm – Larry Atchley Jr., Anthony Brownrigg

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-2pm –Apocalypse Later? What will be Our Doom?

 Panelists: Cherie Priest, Larry Atchley Jr., Linda Donahue (M), Selina Rosen, Gloria Oliver

With all the talk of Apocalypse this year (and the past few days), one thing hasn’t been covered. What do our panelists think WILL destroy the world? Let conspiracies abound, and if the government is watching I was never here.

Also, I’m a bit behind on blogging about the last couple of conventions I’ve attended, so I’ll cover some highlights of the most recent events.

The Difference Engine was a Steampunk themed convention held New Years  Eve weekend, complete with a fancy dress ball. Musical acts for the ball included Darwin Prophet & The Chronus Mirror which upon hearing them for the first time instantly became one of my new favorite bands.

Also there was Donna the Bard, who brought many instruments with her and let audience members join her in playing some traditional folk music. Thanks Donna, for making it an interactive show, I had a lot of fun! Also performing that weekend was tribal Heidi Wunder with violinist Jennifer Sanders providing musical backing for the show. Both were excellent entertainers, and a pleasure to meet. Action, comedy performing was provided by Cut, Thrust, and Run who are always a blast to watch with their swordplay, quarterstaff whirling, and jokes. Lest I forget, the Master of Ceremonies  for the con was Peter Pixie, who was  fun and energetic to be around.

I had a good time attending the promotions table for the Irredeemable Order of Hellions selling copies of Lawyers in Hell, and Forrest Hedrick and John Manning’s  horror novel Black Stump Ridge. I met a lot of great people that weekend. The guys from geek culture website Nerdvana Inc. stopped by, and they included John and I in their write-up about the convention on their website. So our fame is spreading ! Ha ha!

Last weekend I attended the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo strictly as a patron and not as a guest. As I always seem to do at any event I go to, I met some great people and made some new friends. Particulatly artist Kathryn Crenshaw who correctly identified my costume of radio show and pulp classic character, The Shadow.  She said that her dad raised her on the old pulp classic books and comics, and that’s how she recognized my obscure outfit. She also told me that he had a vendor table at the convention, and that I should go talk to him because we probably had a lot of interests in common. It turns out that we did, and he also had the two Thieves’ World graphic novels that I had been looking for to complete my collection. He also had a lot of really great Robert E. Howard books, and much more stuff from the classic age of fantasy and science fiction. There were also dozens of tables full of collectable toys, action figures, shirts, patches, costumes, and anything else you can imagine to do with Sci-Fi/Fantasy fandom.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for the blog this time. I hope you will come see me, and all the other guests at ConDFW this weekend. I know it will be a lot of fun.

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!

Fun at FenCon VIII for The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat

Last weekend I attended FenCon VIII, a fan-operated science fiction and fantasy literary and filk convention in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Metroplex. They were hosting DeepSouthCon 49 this year, which added to the attendance and guest appearances. Guests of Honor included: Gail Carriger, Joe Bethancourt, Steven H. Silver, Les Johnson, Vincent Di Fate (who actually had to attend via video conference due to other commitments). Also there were Bradley Denton as Toastmaster, and Special Guests Lou Anders, who held a writers workshop during FenCon, and Stephan Martiniere.

My friend and fellow author, John Manning, had reserved space at a table in the main hallway right outside the dealer’s room, for us to sell and sign copies of the shared world anthology Lawyers in Hell, in which we both have stories published. He was also selling his novel Black Stump Ridge, that he co-wrote with Forrest Hedrick, who couldn’t attend FenCon, but who I had met at AllCon earlier this year. We had a lot of fun promoting the books, selling a few, and meeting fans and potential fans who we hope will buy the books later. We handed out a lot of promotional cards for both books, which are available online at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com and Lawyers in Hell is also available from our printing publisher Kerlak Enterprises.

I only started attending literary fan conventions earlier this year, but so far my experiences have been very favorable. FenCon was no exception. There were a lot of really interesting discussion panels. Some of my favorites were the Small Press Roundtable, and Still Not Panicking: Douglas Adams Remembered. I have been reading Douglas Adams’ books since I was about 13, and I have everything he has written. I brought along a rare book,The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, to show the panelists and audience. Hearing other fans talk about his work was really enjoyable, and brought back a lot of memories, as he is one of my favorite authors. He died in 2001 and his wit and humour is sorely missed but his work in books, radio, television, and video games, will not be forgotten.

Another fun thing that I got to do was audition and rehearsal panel for a radio play that Generic Radio Workshop was performing live on stage Saturday night after the awards ceremony. I was selected to play Richard Hammond, in an 1899 steampunk version of the BBC show Top Gear. Myself and the other three performers had a great time reading our lines before the packed room at the convention. Afterwards, I had a lot of people, who I don’t even know, come up to me and say that I and the others had done a great job! Being able to perform in front of an audience, and actually pulling it off pretty well, really made my day special. And it wasn’t any old ordinary day either. Saturday was my 40th birthday, and I had a wonderful time!

I got to meet with friends I’d made at previous conventions and through online networking. Great folks like fellow Lawyers in Hell author Brad Sinor, and his wife and author, Sue Sinor, both who I had met in person earlier this year at ConDFW. Also Amanda Green, author and Senior Executive Editor at Naked Reader Press, who was in the Small Press Roundtable panel, who I know from being a member of her Bedford Library Friends Writers Circle critique group. Author Sarah Hoyt, who I met last year when I attended her writers workshop, which I will be attending again, this weekend. Matt Sims, who ran the Gaming Room at FenCon, who I had met at another convention earlier this year. 

I also made a lot of new friends, like Stacey Irish-Keffer who was in the radio play with me, Tiffany Franzoni, owner and founder of online game store Roll2Play,  author Ric Locke, and author Michele Bardsley. If I met you and you didn’t get a mention here in my blog, please don’t hold it against me. I met many, many great people, most of whom I’m sorry to say I either didn’t get their names or can’t remember what their names were. I’m sure I’ll see most of you at the next convention, and hopefully take down names better next time.

I also met some editors in the Small Press Roundtable  panel, like Kevin Hosey, author and editor at Cliffhanger Books, Maggie Bonham, with Sky Warrior Book Publishing, and Elizabeth Burton, with Zumaya Publications. One of the most important things a writer can do at literary conventions is meet with editors and publishers, to develop a relationship with them, and potentially open the door to being able to publish your work with them in the future. Maggie Bonham went as far as to declare that she wouldn’t take an unsolicited story submission from a writer she hadn’t first met in person. Even in this digital age of online social networking, person to person contact is still very important in the publishing industry.

Another goal I had in mind while at FenCon was to talk to the organizers of other local area literary conventions and try to get on the roster as a guest and be included in discussion panels at their next events. This is not only to become more officially involved with the conventions but also a great way to promote myself as an author, and my published works. I made some good  contacts with a couple of Texas conventions, ConDFW and AggieCon, so we;ll see if they decide they want me or not as a guest. Otherwise I’ll just attend as a patron and promote myself as best as I can. One of the cool things about conventions is the promotions tables set up in high traffic areas. These include cards, posters, flyers, and even free magazines, and books. It’s a great place to find out about authors, publishers, conventions, and events. This year there was a copy of Realms of Fantasy magazine’s 100th issue that published in March this year on the table for the taking. I had bought this magazine’s first issue back sometime around 1994, when I was working in an independently owned bookstore. I used to subscribe to it back in the 1990’s, but hadn’t read one in years. I was glad to see it was still in publication and had hit its century issue mark. As soon as I have a full-time job again, other than writing, bringing in regular income, I will subscribe to it once more.

Another cool event at FenCon VIII was a viewing of the Japanese live action movie Space Battleship Yamato which was released in 2010. For those of you not familiar with, or too young to know about it, this movie is based on the anime show, Starblazers which aired in the early to mid 1980’s. It was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. The movie was pretty awesome, and although the character names had changed, the premise of the story hadn’t. Even watching the movie in Japanese with English subtitles didn’t deter me from liking this movie. I watch a fair amount of independent foreign films so subtitles don’t really bother me.

The whole FenCon experience was fun, energizing and tiring all at the same time. There was always plenty of good food and drinks in the Con Suite available free of charge, to patrons and guests alike. All the organizers and volunteer staff were friendly and helpful. The art room was amazing and the dealer’s room with all the books, t-shirts, pins, costumes games, and other stuff was great. The gaming room was incredible, with  a lot of games running almost the whole time. There was a really cool table-top strategy war game of Axis & Allies that was set up with beautiful maps and miniatures. There were all kinds of board games and role-playing games, and card games going on all weekend. The gaming room ran pretty much 24 hours a day during the three days of the convention.  I didn’t get to spend much time in there unfortunately, because of attending panels, selling and signing books, meeting with people, listening to the bands play filk music (fantasy/sci-fi fan folk music), and wandering in and out of the many party rooms Saturday night. Meeting so many new people and walking around the convention all day for pretty much three days straight, staying late Saturday night for the parties.  It wore me out and by Sunday afternoon I was ready for some rest at home, even though I hated to see it all come to an end.

Well there is always FenCon IX to look forward to next year, and I will definitely not miss it for anything. I hope I will see the same friends next year, and meet a lot of new ones. I hope all of you reading this blog will be there too, to share in the fun! I’ll be the short pale writer wearing my long black coat again, so look for me and say hello!