Greetings all! I’ll be at a special event next Saturday, 18 May! If you missed me at Planet and want to get a signed hard copy of Those In Peril or any of my novels, come on by! There will be several other KC local authors there as well, so it should be a good time for all.
Just received my table location for Planet Comic Con, which will be held 29-31 March 2019 in Kansas City at Bartle Hall. Anita C. Young and I are at tables 2338 / 2340 in the main hall. Come on down and see us to pick up a book and grab some art!
Coming on 15 February to an Amazon near you! The anthology includes my new alternative history short story “Fate of the Falklands” along with original short stories by Sarah Hoyt, Kacey Ezell, and William Stroock!
So I’ve just gone over 400 audiobook sales. While I’m sure there are some folks who pull this off in an afternoon, I’m super stoked at this milestone. Next month I’ll be running a couple of promos, plus a promotion service just let me know they’re getting ready to start an audiobook-specific email list. So, hey, maybe Aries’ Red Sky won’t be the only book I try to simultaneously release across print-ebook-audio in the first 30 days.
In other news, I am officially putting together an alternative history anthology for Chris Kennedy Publishing. The working title is Those In Peril…, and it will be a naval-themed series of stories. There are several authors in flux, but confirmed folks include 2018 Dragon Award Winner for Alternative History Sarah Hoyt and 2018 Best Military and Adventure Winner Kacey Ezell. Not bad for an effort that got started like this:
Me: “So Chris, when are you doing an alternative history anthology.”
Chris: “When you organize it.”
Me: “Hold my beer.” (I think it was something more pithy than that, but you get the idea…) Needless to say, I don’t think Chris will ever write me a blank check again. If he does, I’ve got this great idea for an aerial warfare oriented sequel entitled To Slip the Surly Bonds…
Last but not least, I’ll be at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival in the Author’s Tent at the end of the month. If you’re in the area, feel free to swing by and catch a great festival plus buy some books from myself and several other great KS authors. The next convention I will be at will be Archon in Collinsville, IL from 12-14 October, followed by Air Capital in Wichita, KS in November.
Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to do this AAR is that I was having trouble trying to put the experience into words. It’s been two weeks since I loaded out of Indianapolis and began the long trip home…and I still find myself having a goofy smile for no good reason. If you crossed Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Walk on the Ocean with some goth synth metal fantasy power ballad all over a rolling dice track, that would probably be what my homage to “The Best Four Days in Gaming” would probably be. Which is ironic, because I didn’t do a whole lot (read none) of gaming.
So what was so great about it? More on that later.
TL:DR for those here for the “Go or not go…” from the author’s perspective: That hall is wait listed for a reason, and I did great fiscal murder there. With only books, my books, as in I couldn’t even take any anthologies there. No prints either. So, if you want a chance to hand out your swag at a con that has (conservatively) to 75,000 rabid gamers and can get into the author alley, go.
NOTE: I was wait listed and got into Author’s Alley late.
I will add this caveat, however: Lodging is going to eat you alive. If you are comfortable with Air BnB, several vendors had success with that. However, if you’re not comfortable with Air BnB, expect to spend upwards of $600 on lodging, and that’s if you don’t stay downtown. Which, for the love of God, stay downtown if you can. Technically, according to the hotel I was staying at and Mapquest, it should have taken 25 minutes to get downtown. Yeaaah, that’s not counting weekday rush hour my friends. Time is money, and in this case it’s worth that extra $10-$15 a night to be able to walk back to your hotel if necessary.
The tables in Author’s Alley were your standard 6-foot con table. As originally set up, the grey walls behind were angled in order to make them slightly more stable. This…this was a problem, as it sharply constricted the back area space, meaning I had to empty two of my book crates:
Despite the booth shock, load in (and load out) went really well. This was a con that took security seriously, and woe be unto you as a vendor or help if you did not have your badge during setup. Park in Parking Lot A if you go–it’s not that much further than the “Marshalling Yard” behind the building, and you won’t have to wait for a pass to park.
The crowd, as to be expected from the gaming community, was mostly (high and epic) fantasy fans, then about 75% of those sci-fi as well. The Butcher’s Blade print, as always, was a life saver. As my neighbors all observed, it made people stop and look, I could engage them in conversation, and at that point the magic usually happened. Again, if only I had apparently talked to the right person and been told “book related merchandise” was safe to sell.
Speaking of fantasy, it also helped that I had great neighbors. To my right was fellow sci-fi author Hans Cummings:
To my left was Fantasy Author J.J. Sherwood (here with your humble host and her hubs, Michael):
Good neighbors make any Con go well, and J.J. and Hans were awesome. Since J.J. did not do sci-fi, she sent folks over to me. As I lacked fantasy, I sent folks over to her. It went really well.
So, again, if you have a chance to do GENCON as an author, do it.
If you have a chance to go to GENCON as a guest? Well, now we get to where I talk about “tribe.” For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge role playing game fan. (“Wait, wait…you dropped DnD references and names throughout An Unproven Concept.”) Being around 75,000 other people who shared the same passion was amazing. I spent most of the weekend talking to people with whom I didn’t have to explain phrases like, “Oh, so you’re a World War II buff as well? I shall now make my persuasion roll with advantage…” (and yes, she bought the alternate history anthology). Even better when you see familiar faces from the Kansas City area and do a mutual “Wait, what? Why are you here?!” Plus, there were cool books like this:
And a truly impressive charity set up:
In addition, there’s Critical Role Live (if you get your tickets early enough):
I was in a theater with over 2,000 fellow crazies when this brought the house down:
For those of you who don’t know who that is or why we were all ecstatic about a man in a pink suit on roller skates coming out with a headlight in his crotch, I can only point you here, then point you here, and say this has been one of the best stories I’ve ever consumed.
Finally, I got to see old friends after several years. To include my friend Quiltoni (“Queen of the Quilts” as I’ve been known to call her) and her merry band of booth helpers.
So to recap: Go to GENCON for the sales, stay for the community. It’ll probably be the best 4 days of your life, the people were awesome, and I have zero regrets about taking the plunge into Author’s Avenue (even with the spinning wheel of doom). I don’t know if I’ll do it next year (I have my sights set on a couple of other shows that might eat the leave), but it was worth it this year.
On the transitory nature of things: So I’ve mentioned Project Wonderful on here a couple of times. Well, after over a decade of great adverts at low prices, they’re closing their doors. It’s like going in to check on a great restaurant you used to frequent…only to find that they’ve been closed for several weeks. Yes, feelings of guilt may be involved. However, it sounds like the advertisement market is just going through some serious change.
On eternal arguments: I work in a building with several other air enthusiasts. This includes a gentleman who has been in the Commemorative Air Force almost as long as I’ve been alive. Well, if there’s one discussion you can expect to have with a fellow flight fiend, it’s “What do you think is the best fighter of World War II?”
I think I threw him for a loop when I came back immediately with, “Where am I flying and what’s my mission?”
“That’s overcomplicating things, don’t you think?”
“Not really. If I don’t have to go above 10,000 feet and ground fire isn’t that much of a problem…”
“Fine, what’s your favorite fighter of World War II.”
“So you don’t think it’s the best fighter of World War II?”
“There I was over the Philippines when my only engine conked out.”
“Okay, good point.”
On nerves: No matter how many cons I do, I still have those moments where I’m afraid the whole thing is going to be like the scene from Carrie, i.e., “They’re all going to laugh at you!” (Except, you know, hopefully I don’t get that homicidal surge to go with my previously largely nascent telekinesis.) It’s silliness–I actually like going to cons and getting to meet new fans. Plus the dealer room closes early at GENCON so vendors can game.
Speaking of gaming, I’ve been playing a lot of D&D 5th Edition. While I grew up with 2nd Edition and played a bit of 3.5, I think 5e has hit the sweet spot between “Having a d20 system that keeps folks honest…” yet being simple enough that you can teach someone to play well in a matter of hours. Even better: The Better Half has started to apply her talents to preparing game sets:
Anyway, enough musing for the night. Time to take Mama Shark her copy of Aries’ Red Sky in the AM.