Last weekend, I attended ConCarolinas, held in the fine city of Charlotte NC along with my friends and ScareFest staffers Susan Rummel and Lori Baker.
It was my first time doing an exhibition table, so I really did not know what to expect from that angle at a fantasy/sci-fi con. As luck would have it, I had a major summer cold that kicked in on the way down that Friday.
The drive itself wasn't bad, though we got a slow start with bad foggy/drizzly weather in Kentucky and a traffic accident on the highway that really set things back. The sun finally peeked out when we neared North Carolina, and just in time as we got to wind our way through the mountains surrounded by all kinds of vibrant little meadows rife with color. Crimsons, violets, reds, yellows, whites...it was pretty nice scenery to say the least, and mountains always evoke the fantasy genre in me anyway! lol
I would say that ConCarolinas is pretty close in size to MidSouthCon, in terms of numbers, dealers, etc. (at least to my eye). It is a Con that has a solid track record, and the organization was evident upon arrival, as Janet got us fixed up right away with a folder filled with badges, information and everything we needed.
We had a pretty nice little table to use as a base, as we put up an Exodus Gate Banner and an Indie Movie Masters banner on stands behind, and Lori and Susan were awesome with the layout of the table itself (and we had a ScareFest banner draped in front.)
We were joined by Pete Bullock, the electronic editions editor for the British Sci-Fi magazine Interzone. Interzone is, in fact, the longest running Sci-Fi mag in the UK and it really is nice. Great artwork, writers...very impressive. Pete was a super nice guy, and very helpful all weekend. As we had four people involved, we did do some rotating so that we could get around, attend a few panels, and that sort of thing.
I met some very friendly and talented authors. Michael J. Sullivan and his wife Robin had a table just opposite us. He is the author of the fantasy novels The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha, which are in his series The Riyria Revelations. Michael was a very popular author over the weekend, as I watched him sell and sign a ton of books. I was a buyer of one myself, and am going to start on it very shortly. I can vouch for the genuine friendliness of Michael and Robin, as they were great to talk to all three days.
I finally caught up with Gail Z Martin, author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series. I had exchanged a few emails with Gail, but it was super to meet her in person. I did get to attend one panel that she was on involving podcasting, as well as a book reading that she did on that Saturday evening. Gail was kind enough to record a video blog tag of both myself, for The Exodus Gate, and Lori and Susan for ScareFest.
Crymsyn Hart ended up being the writer that benefited greatly from the Lexington, Kentucky gang, at least in terms of sales! Crymsyn has about 20 books in print and ebook editions, which is amazing! Lori, Susan, and myself all bought books from Crymsyn, who writes darker urban fantasy/paranormal type stories. She is a very good writer, as I read a few pages of one of the books that Lori brought back before I had gotten a chance to buy one myself. Needless to say, there were many Crymsyn Hart books traveling back to Kentucky in the car!
I ended up fighting the summer cold/sinus attack all weekend, and thanks to Theraflu I made it through. Not easy at all!
We got a chance on Sunday to go out and visit two bookstores that are carrying The Exodus Gate in Charlotte.
First up was Joseph-Beth Booksellers. As Lexington's Joseph-Beth is near and dear to me (and where I did my first ever store signing), it was really cool getting to visit another Joseph-Beth Location. It "felt" like Joseph-Beth the second I walked into it. Very large, 2 level store, but very different in layout from the Lexington store. The general manager Cheryl was kind enough to talk for a few minutes and show me the sci-fi/fantasy section.
Second was Park Road Books, which very recently stocked the title. We got to meet Frank, who also happens to be the resident sci-fi/fantasy expert. The store is very nice and well-laid out, nestled into a shopping center not too far away from JB.
I was in for a big surprise, as when I went to their fantasy section, I was arranged on the shelf directly below J.R.R. Tolkien, who happens to be numero uno in my world of authors! As my last name begins with a Z, I do not often see chances where I am in such an aligned proximity, so I just had to get a picture of this as it was personally amazing!
Park Road Books also had my book at the front in new releases with an author-signed sticker affixed. I was really flattered by their presentation, and they even took the time to place bookmarks in all the copies.
Charlotte definitely has two excellent independent bookstores, and I wish both of them much success. They certainly have my gratitude!
The ride back went much quicker, though we were all pretty worn out by the time that we got back to Lexington a little after 11pm.
ConCarolinas gets a thumbs up. Organized, excellent guests, good layout. I will look to return to this one.
Up next...Hypericon! (as in this weekend!)