Back in the groove after a great ConNooga weekend. This was my first trek down to Chattanooga, and it turned out to be a very pleasant trip as I got to spend a lot of time with my friend, author D.A. Adams, and Renee, as their table was right next to mine in the Exhibit Hall.
On the other side of D.A. was Mike D'Ambrosio, all the way from Philly, and a wonderful panelist and author. We go to a lot of the same conventions, so it felt like home to come in and be next to these guys. There was quite a Kentucky contingent there too. Across from me was the amazing artist Billy Tackett, a great guy who I am looking forward to visiting again at MidSouthCon (where he is the artist guest of honor), Imagicon, and others. One aisle over from me was quite a gang, starting with Jason Crowe and Roni Jonah of Feathered Italian Films. The Infernal Dreams camp was on hand, getting great interviews, footage, and mayhem as always. George Bonilla and ZP International, the amazing Nic Brown (a very good author, and head guy of B-Movie Man) and Tucky Williams (promoting the new project she's doing with the legendary Eric Butts, Girl/Girl Scene), and others from the Bluegrass state were there representing! ;)
I really enjoyed my co-panelists at this convention, and there were some amazing ones. Dan Jolley, Mary Kowal, Shane Berryhill, Joe Dickerson, Robert Freese, Bobby Nash, Christine Barber, and Andy Deane were some of the panelists involved with the topics I was on, and they were all so knowledgeable. What made it great for the audience was that there was a great nice balance between folks involved in major press, small press, and self-publishing, which made for some very useful insights and good discussion. Our moderator on all panels, Robby, did a fantastic job keeping things on course.
Andy Deane, who is with the international rock group Bella Morte, was both a great contributor, as well as incredibly entertaining. I referred to Andy as a "non-traditional" rock star, and he briefly stole my identify in one panel, which was fine by me, as Andy is in big demand by the ladies! I am reading his book "The Sticks", a horror novel/werewolf tale, which I will be posting a review on the SSP Blog Site sometime soon. Andy definitely rocks, and I hope to stay in touch with him for sure. Very good, genuine individual with a whole lotta talent.
I also wanted to give a shout out to Chris Bern, who runs the Fans of Christ group. A really super nice guy, who I enjoyed meeting very much. His group is not your typical church group, to say the least, and his table is definitely worth stopping by if you see him at a convention. I personally wish more religious organizations had the kind of approach and attitude that he embraces.
I was also very touched by the number of new readers that came aboard my crazy journey, and who took interest in my fantasy series. This was the first show that we had the new Exodus Gate hardcovers available, and they seemed to go over very well. I am looking forward to hearing from all of the folks that got either The Exodus Gate or Crown of Vengeance.
Whether new readers or panelists/guests like Chris Bern, Bobby Nash or Sean Taylor, I really love to make new friends at these conventions. For me that's the real highlight...as D.A. Adams says, it is a real "brotherhood" (and sisterhood, of course! LOL) out there on the convention circuit. Everyone is motivated and ambitious, but for the most part, most of the people you encounter regularly are the kind of people that are willing to give others help, a leg up, and support. That, to me, is what distinguishes this group in a big way. Everyone is rooting for each other, and tend to be self-competitive (I.E. Competing against oneself, as opposed to seeing others as "competition). Good things come out of a mentality like that, and I think there will be many individuals really making strides out of the Con circuit that I have been frequenting lately.
Now, it is time for March Madness...no, not the basketball tournament, but rather a 3 straight weekend run of conventions, starting with Dark Woods Con, in Pikeville, KY, MidSouthCon in Memphis, TN, and Millennicon, in Cincinnati, OH. It is going to be quite a run, but a very exciting one, and I will be reporting back on all of them. It will be my second visit to MidSouthCon, and my first to the other two (and the first one for everyone at Dark Woods Con, as this is the first year for that event!).