Conventions in a Time of COVID

Just popping in here briefly to inform everyone of another postponement.  Soonercon, originally scheduled for June, is now postponing to June 25-27, 2021.  As I’ve been doing to help ease the pain for most conventions, I’ve merely asked to have my vendor space passed forward to 2021.  I figure it’s the least I can do.  At the moment, this makes my next event to be Libertycon where I’ll be going as a professional and a couple of small engagements in St. Louis, MO and Lawrence, KS in the summer. Given how things are going, I’ll put those dates out once they’re reconfirmed.

Against the backdrop of a pandemic, this is not a back breaker for me.  I still have the day gig and *knocks on wood* haven’t had a brush with the virus yet.  Others are not so lucky.  A lot of artists, authors, and other entertainers I know are hurting horribly from the ripple effects of this pandemic, and it’s going to take awhile for the “Con Familia” to recover.  So I implore you, if  you know someone whose primary business is being a vendor at a convention or artist, please “toss a coin to your painter / writer, etc.”  If you’re not able to see them in person this year, I encourage you to go to their internet, Etsy, etc. and buy something.

Don’t want to risk dealing with germs possibly being carried on packages?  Well, if you have the change to spare, become a Patreon for a little bit at their lowest level of contribution.  Yes, it’s probably only a buck…but if 400 friends each donate a buck, that’s a car payment, groceries, utility bill, etc..  “1000 people, sufficiently motivated, can kill a hostile lion armed only with ice picks”-definitely applies in these times of economic stress.  To be clear–by no means should you put yourself at economic risk (unlike the hunters in the analogy), but every little bit would help artists who may literally be worrying about keeping the lights on.

(For those who like Anita C. Young’s art, her Patreon is here.  I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d go to the proverbial “Special Hell” if I didn’t promote my favorite artist and booth babe.  In that same vein, if you like fantasy art, I also recommend my regular con neighbor and  DnD player, Chelsea Mann.)

Failing direct economic action, promote your favorite authors / artists on social media.  Quarantine is a great time to dive into a new book series or recommend something for a group read along.  Or if you’re so inclined, buy a book to donate to your local nursing home, cancer ward, or assisted living library.  With a lot of the restrictions in place, the inhabitants of those facilities are not getting to see visitors.  You can both help an author and put a smile on people’s face.

Things are bad, but I’m convinced that we will all collectively make it through this.  Yes, it is grim when multiple friends are not able to hold funerals, weddings, or graduations due to this. I don’t even think we’re into the worst of it yet.  But at heart I’m an optimist, and so far Humanity has managed to pull through all sorts of calamity to get to this point.  Hug your loved ones close and check up on friends who may have been suffering from mental illness previously.  Try to get outside as the restrictions of your area permits.  Take this time to reconnect with someone you might have lost touch with.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of you later this year when all this is behind us, and hopefully with more books than you saw me with last time.

The Cosmic Chuckling Continues

So the original version of this event was announcing my location and attendance at Planet Comic Con 2020, 20-22 March at Bartle Hall in Kansas City.  As usual, I was going to be in attendance with Anita C. Young with her artwork and books.

Well, as you can see if you go to the Planet Comic Con website link above, the Con has been postponed (full statement here).

 

KCPCC 2020 Location

Alas, right now the dates they’re talking about for the postponement take place in September 2020.  Given that I have a couple commitments in that month already (see Cincy Comic Con), this means I’m going to take the option to have my tables this year rolled over to 2021.

This is going to be a crazy time due to the Covid-19 virus.  I hope everyone stays safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you guys on the Con circuit when (and I do think it will be when) this pandemic is past us.

You can order Anita’s new magnets at our Etsy store.

Some News…and Joining the 400 Club

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

So if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the HMS Conqueror did not sink the General Belgrano (thus putting the fear of Davy Jones in the Argentinean Navy), what it’d be like to have psychics aboard search and rescue sea planes during World War II, or what an amphibious assault on Norway during World War III would look like, have we got a deal for you in the 1st QTR of 2019.

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.

Four Days With My People (GENCON 2018)

GENCON.

Man.

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:

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“I think we’re going to need a bigger booth…”
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“It’s also going to be super awkward if I don’t sell anything…”

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.

 

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All done!

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:

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To my left was Fantasy Author J.J. Sherwood (here with your humble host and her hubs, Michael):

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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:

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And a truly impressive charity set up:

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In addition, there’s Critical Role Live (if you get your tickets early enough):

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I was in a theater with over 2,000 fellow crazies when this brought the house down:
Sam on Skates

Courtesy of Leigh 574

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.

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(No, there’s not a quilter in there…we all forgot to take pics the whole weekend)

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.

 

Planet Comic Con

Just got through with Planet Comic Con.  Good show, lots of new and old fans.  If you’re just checking in from a panel or having grabbed my business card, feel free to poke around.  The tags below should let you find things fairly easily with regards to writing, promoting, and other thing of interest to independent authors.  Happy reading!