Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MidSouthCon 27 -First-Class Experience

What can I say? Other than that the MidSouthCon 27 staff, organizers, and event itself are simply first rate.

I just got back in from Memphis, and the trip reinforced why I like Tennesee so much. Everyone was extremely hospitable, from the staff members that checked me in to the Ops room to the individuals such as Dan Gamber that were involved in the panels and programming itself.

At a convention like this, there is so much to choose from. As a guest, I had two panels that I was scheduled on (Film and Editing, and another on Paranormal, Supernatural, and the New Gothika). I also was given a reading and an hour slot in the professional's row for signing The Exodus Gate.

Beyond my scheduled items, I tried to attend as many panels and workshops as I could, and there were indeed some fantastic ones.

Jeff VanderMeer and Matt Staggs had a workshop called Explore Your Book Life which centered around a new book they have coming out called Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers. With backgrounds in publishing, writing, and publicity, Jeff and Matt were the perfect duo as they delved into the things involved in developing a sustainable writing career. They covered a wide range of elements, from time management, to new media tools, and much more. This workshop had something for everyone from beginning writers, to newly published ones (like myself) and well-established writers.

Another fantastic panel was Folk Dance in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Dee Birnbaum, who is a world-traveling dance expert with a tremendous expertise in Middle Eastern cultures and dancing, was joined by Kirk Stevens (this guy is a renaissance guy if I ever met one. Conducted a very intruiging creativity panel that I had to miss due to schedule conflicts) and Sara M. Harvey (who is also a very talented writer and costume designer). They discussed the use of dance in science fiction and fantasy, and approaches for fictional settings. As someone who is not, to put it mildly, very skilled at dancing, I found this panel very informative and accessible.

My panels were really enjoyable. On the film panel I was joined by the great Luke Ski, a very outgoing and entertaining music and parody performer. Guest of Honor John Hudgens, creator of many Star Wars parody films, was on hand, following his screening of his new DVD documentary release American Scary (check out www.americanscary.com ). Paul Robinson, a producer and editor of numerous tv productions and a former Rolling Stone contributor, and Tim Brown, of Inked Monkey Productions (who are doing the online adult puppet show Them F#@%ing Puppets)rounded it out.

For the Paranormal/Supernatural/Gothika panel, I was joined by Angelia Sparrow, who writes GLBT romance/speculative fiction (you won't often see werewolves and vampires like hers in the mainstream too often!), Rickey Mallory, a very established Romance and speculative fiction writer, and Ruth A. Souther, author of Immortal Journey: The Death of Innocence. It made very a very interesting and diverse discussing of supernatural elements and trends in current fiction, filtering a little over into the movie/television side of things.

It was wonderful to see some faces I'd known before, such as Tyree Campbell of Sams Dot Publishing, Bill Snodgrass of Double-Edged Publishing, and writers such as Elizabeth Donald and the aforementioned Sara M. Harvey. Also got to visit for a few minutes with the legendary Glen Cook (of the Black Company series), one of fantasy's best writers ever. (and I also had the opportunity to attend some panels that had C.J. Cherryh on them. Wow!)

Among the bright new faces that I met were Dan and Jackie Gamber of Meadowhawk Press (I can't wait to dive into Jackie's new book Redheart), Windsong Levitch (Fascinating individual with a very courageous personal story), Kirk Stevens (who I harassed often throughout the weekend), publicist Matt Staggs, and many other wonderful individuals. I sat next to Haley Elizabeth Garwood during my signing hour and had a great visit with her, and got to meet author H. David Blalock as well.

The event itself was run very smoothly, with excellent organization, generous hospitality, and a very good layout for the size of it. The Con Suite was always stocked with Red Bull, Bawls soft drinks, and loads of food, the program was easy to follow, the staff were always polite, and the programming featured excellent topics and outstanding guests. Evidently, this was the first year that they had MidSouthCon at this facility, and I found it to be a very good and efficient location.

Yes, this is a rather long blog posting, but I wanted to give props to the MidSouthCon and the wonderful folks I got to meet and hang out with last weekend!

I now have lots of good new books to read (yes, I went over my intended budget!)

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