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 CONsequences of being a writer, or see me at ConDFW This Weekend

“Success comes to a writer as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.” – P.G. Wodehouse

The short pale writer in the long black coat (that’s me) will be a guest at ConDFW in Dallas, Texas this weekend.  I’ll be on a couple of discussion panels Saturday:

11 am: Writing and Publishing Anthologies

Panelists: Kevin Hosey (M), Larry Atchley Jr., Tom Knowles, Julie Barrett, Selina Rosen

Many of our guest authors have published in anthologies before.  They also have experienced what works and doesn’t work when writing for anthologies – and how to get them out to the public.  Our panelists go over tried and true methods for getting into anthologies and then getting those works out to everyone else.

 

12 pm: The Fight of the Century II: Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance!

 

Panelists: Urban Fantasy: Stina Leicht (M), Rachel Caine, Larry Atchley, Jr.

Paranormal Romance: Kevin Hosey (M), Dusty Rainbolt, Sabine Starr

Last year, this panel sparked quite a debate and proved that some basic rules were needed.  1) We’re assigning sides for our authors to defend – and perhaps we will actually find out where the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is!  2) You’re not allowed to switch sides until AFTER the panel.  3) You do not talk about Fight Club.  Bring your own popcorn.

Saturday at 2:00 PM I will be signing books.

Saturday at 5:00 PM I will be doing a reading from one of my stories. Which one will it be? Even I don’t know as I haven’t decided yet, so come and listen and we will both find out.

When I’m not at these events, I’ll either be wandering around attending various panels, or in the dealers room where I will be selling and signing copies of the anthologies I have stories published within: Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, Sha’Daa: Pawns, and What Scares the Boogeyman?

I’m looking forward to seeing my two biggest fans and friends there, Jenn Monty the Brewed Bohemian blogger and writer and Tiffany Franzoni, owner of game store Roll2Play who will have lots of game goodies on sale in the dealers room.

A good time will be had by all. I hope to see you there.

 

“Crackling fire in the fireplace, hot tea in an old mug, in the cold dead of Winter, telling tales no mortal man should ever tell.” –Larry Atchley Jr.

 

The Horrors of Writing, or An Author’s Personal Boogey Man

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I often struggle with writing because I am too critical of myself and my art and I tend to get in my own way too much, over thinking what I am doing. Trying to get my head into a particular story can sometimes be an effort in futility and madness. I can know exactly where I want to story to go, what is supposed to happen, but can’t seem to put myself into the setting or get enough into the characters’ minds to be able to feel like I can write the story effectively. I need to immerse myself in those worlds completely in order to write about them. So in these times I am stuck trying to finish a story and just cannot mentally or physically do it. It is a terrible feeling, and it puts me in a lousy mood. It also causes me the worst cases of stress induced  insomnia and restlessness. My wife will be the first to tell you that I am an irascible bastard to be around when I get like this. She also knows that once I get over it and finish whatever I’m working on that I will get back an even keel emotionally and be a much nicer person to live with. It has been that way for me lately as I have been wrapping up stories for submission to various anthologies. Janet Morris has been know to say, “When you’re writing for Hell, you’re going through hell” with regard to the Heroes in Hell series she created, and which I have had the privilege of having stories published in the latest two volumes, Lawyers in Hell, and Rogues in Hell. I have been writing my story for the next anthology in the series, Dreamers in Hell and had been having a rough time getting it done. Now that it is completed, with the exception of any re-writes or changes that it will need at the editor’s suggestions, I can at least feel some relief that it is finished. I put a lot of emotion into this story, dug deep into my heart and soul embracing my own torment to hopefully make the suffering of my characters more genuine. Whether I succeeded or not is up to others to judge. I hope I have done enough to make it a worthy contribution to the series.

On to other things, I did have a story, “Shadow of a Doubt” published earlier this week with the release of What Scares the Boogey Man? which is a horror anthology created and edited by John Manning and co-edited by Meghan Graham and Stormy Stogner. It is published by Perseid Publishing and is currently available as an eBook for Amazon Kindle here, and Barnes & Noble Nook here.  It will be available in trade paperback print form soon, from both Amazon and B&N and I will also have signed copies to sell with me at the various conventions and seminars that I will be a guest at this year. I am proud to share space with some of the most awesome and talented authors in the business in this anthology: Janet Morris, Nancy Asire, David Conyers, Robert M. Price, J.D. Fritz, Jason Cordova, Thomas Barczak, C. Dean Andersson, Beverly Hale, Chris Morris, Michael H. Hanson, Larry Atchley Jr, Richard Groller, Bill Snider, Wayne Borean, John Manning, Bettina Meister,  and Shirley Meier. Eighteen tales of spine chilling terror await within.

We have a book launch virtual party going on at Facebook here if you’d like to join. And there is a facebook “LIKE” page Here that you can visit and show your support. Last but not least, is the excellent book trailer that was created by Team Zombie Zak. Watch it on You Tube HERE.

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My next announcement is that I will be a guest author at ConDFW again this year, I will be on discussion panels and will be reading one of my stories, and signing and selling the books that I have stories in, including Sha’Daa: Pawns and hopefully if I get the copies in time, What Scares the Boogey Man? The tentative panel list so far includes one on Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance and one on  writing stories for anthologies. I’m really looking forward to the convention this year and I hope to see you there. It is always great to meet with fellow writers, and fans. ConDFW is February 15th-17th this year in Addison, Texas. Go to the website HERE for more info.

Also I wanted to mention that the student indie film, The Dark Man, created by Tim Stevens and that I had mentioned in a previous post, met its Kickstarter goal today. Thanks to everyone who contributed and promoted the project. I can’t wait to see the finished short film, as I know it will be awesome. Congrats to writer/director Tim Stevens, and his crew, producer Sarah Wagner, Dir. of Photography Tyler Burns, and editor Joey McCleskey. I’m glad I could be a part of making this happen and I wish you the best in completing the project.

That’s about all that’s going on right now. As always I’m working on the next stories that hopefully will make it into the next anthologies and at some point I’ll get back on track with writing my dark fantasy novel that my wife keeps pushing me to finish so she can read it. As always, I’ll leave you with a pithy quote.

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

-Junot Diaz

A Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…