Saturday, March 27, 2010

Millennicon, New T-Shirts, New Signing Dates, and more!

Did 3 convention weekends in a row, which is definitely an adventure with everything that has to be packed in on the shortened weeks. Rounding things off was Millennicon in Cincinnati, which turned out to be a great finish to the run.

Millennicon is a smaller convention, in the 500 attendee range. I had an exhibition table there, right next to TammyJo Eckhart, Travis Clemmons, and Tracy Chowdhury and Ted Crim...all of whom are authors! Behind us was William Levy, who is one of the more fascinating individuals that I have encountered in some time. It made for a great neighborhood to pass the time with, as there are inevitably ebbs and flows when exhibiting at a smaller convention.

I was on a few panels, took part in some signing sessions, and did a reading. I think things went largely well...I was on an economics in publishing panel, another focusing on books versus movies (a topic I love to discuss, being both an author and filmmaker), and one on folklore. The convention was very smoothly run, and I can definitely endorse Millennicon as an event that has quality guests, programming, and organization.

For me, it was really great to spend some time with TammyJo Eckhart...she's incredibly smart and a very skilled writer, and she debuted a fascinating new vampire novel that is in the works. The chapter that she read from, by itself, could have made a tight, hard-hitting short film all by itself. She's got a great approach to vampires in this one too, which is not easy, given the great mass of books out there involving vampires. Suffice it to say that she has drawn upon her very erudite background (which got her a PHD in ancient history) to give a nice fresh twist to a vampire story.

Travis Clemmons turned out to be the "small world" story of my weekend. He actually lived in Lexington not long ago (he married and moved to Chicago), and was part of a Lexington Science Fiction and Fantasy Group that I was not aware of, which just happened to be having dinner that night. Travis invited me to join the group, who were a very boisterous lot, though we did not get ejected from Max and Erma's thankfully! I got to reunite with Susan Baugh, who I was on a panel with at Archon last October. We got to share a few laughs about that one, which featured Laurell K. Hamilton, who 99.9% of the audience was there to see (and I must say that Laurell was very gracious to the other panelists, and made sure we were included in the discussion, which I thought was first class, given the makeup of the audience).

Interestingly, Travis also has a very intruiging new vampire novel in the works that he read some chapters from.

All in all, the weekend went very well, and I definitely would like to visit Millennicon in the future.

Debuted at Millennicon was our 2 new t-shirt designs from the novels...the shirts turned out very nice. Joe Garcia of Fast Custom Shirts did a great job in bringing the illustration images from the book over to a t-shirt, and they were screenprinted on 100% preshrunk cotton. Very quality! One is of Arianna, in the Exodus Gate, during her first encounter with the An-Ki. The other is of a Trogen warrior on a flying Harrak steed, from Crown of Vengeance.

Stephen Kendall, one of the individuals involved with the great InConJunction convention in Indianapolis, was the first person to get one of the new shirts (he got the Arianna and An-Ki design). I "forced" him to take a picture, which I will share with you here.

The shirts are now available in my online store at my website, and also at the Seventh Star Press online store, and at Fast Custom Shirts' web site. They are just $9.95 for L or XL, and you can get both for $18. Warm weather is rolling around, so pick up a t-shirt or two! Matthew Perry, the illustrator/cover artist on both The Exodus Gate and Crown of Vengeance, gets a royalty on every shirt sold.

Lastly, we added 5 new signing dates, in the time when the 2nd Book of the Rising Dawn Saga will be out.

One is a mini-tour of sorts...June 11th at Empire Books and News in Huntington, June 12th at Borders in Louisville (South 4th street location), June 13th at Borders in Cincinnati (Eastgate location). Beyond that, we added a date at Borders Downtown Indianapolis on August 7th, during Gen Con time there, and August 14th at Borders in Columbus Ohio (Kenny Rd. location).

Like I have often said, I will make every effort to make myself available in person to my readers, who are the ones that make this journey possible. I have the utmost appreciation for them, and will always work to be accessible in person through events and signings.

Last but not least, I was invited this past Wednesday to visit as a guest to a high school reading group at Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Five of the six that were in the group attended, one of many groups involved in the Reading Extravaganza program at the high school. The volunteer coordinator for the group was Karen Leet, who is a very talented writer. The students in the group had picked The Exodus Gate to read, for which I felt really honored. They had great insights and questions, and we had a very good hour-long discussion on the novel. It seemed as if at least four of them would be likely to read the 2nd book in the series when it comes out, which I feel was a great ratio. I had a very good experience and am appreciative of Dunbar High School for this opportunity. I think they have an outstanding program going on there.

That's a bit of a long post for today, but there was a bit to report!

Friday, March 19, 2010

DarkWoods Con and MidSouth Con...a Report!

Been on the road quite a bit the past couple of weeks, and still not quite done yet. Coming up this weekend is Millennicon, but I figured that I would give a report on DarkWoods Con and MidSouthCon before heading up there.

Dark Woods Con took place the first weekend in March. This was the first year for the convention, which is located in Pikeville Kentucky. I think that the organizers chose a great location and time to hold the convention, as it fits a great gap in the Kentucky schedule, and does not rub up against some of the larger events in the state such as the Fright Night Film Fest and ScareFest. Smart planning, and it met with good results.

My hat is off to the staff of DarkWoods Con. Cherokee and Chris Hall, Billy and Denise Blackwell, and everyone involved did a great job, as the event went very smoothly. The dealer's room had a lot of exhibitors and the attendance was strong. Plus Billy has been growing a great new beard, for his role in ZP International's Santa vs. Zombies movie. I got a pic of Billy B with the new beard, and have posted it here to share with all of you Billy B fans!

I did two panels over the weekend. One was a screenwriting/author's panel. My friend Jeffrey Reddick, who is a VERY talented screenwriter (his credits include Final Destination, the LionsGate film Tamara, the Day of the Dead remake, and others) was in from LA. Jeffrey is from Kentucky, and I really respect the fact that Jeffrey has come to the state to support the independent film community on several occasions, dating back to when I was involved in organizing music/film conference events. It was a blast to be with him on the panel, which also featured horror authors Elizadeth Hetherington and the incomparable Nic Brown (author of Blood Curse: Werewolf for Hire, and the head honcho of the B-Movie Man site).

The community really seemed to embrace the convention, which leads to interesting photo opportunities such as the one posted here, where Michael Berryman of the original Hills Have Eyes movies is talking with myself, and two of the local police officers. The officer standing to my right expressed that he hoped that this event happens again, and even suggested some other area events that the organizers might be able to align with or promote with.

I also got to catch up with some of the folks that I see regularly out on the Con circuit. Artist Sam Flegal was there, with his friend Matthew, running a table in the dealer's room. We didn't realize we were staying at the same hotel until the last day, which was a bummer as it would have been good to hang out a bit more. Sam's a very hard-working artist who is really pushing hard with a thorough appearance schedule, and I advise anyone that encounters him to check out his prints and artwork.

DarkWoods Con has the potential to become a very big event, and I'm hoping that the staff moves forward full throttle in 2011.

MidSouthCon in Memphis is a wonderful, well-established convention, and for me it was a homecoming. As you can see from my website's appearance schedule, it was the first event I did for The Exodus Gate last year. For me it was a homecoming, and I had no less than six panels to do over the weekend and shared space with D.A. Adams in the dealers room (he's the author of the highly recommended Brotherhood of Dwarves series).

This year, it felt so good to walk in and know so many people from Memphis and the convention circuit. I was glad that D.A. Adams was willing to put up with me, as he is a great guy to team up with at a convention. His girlfriend, Rene, is a blast as well, and the two of them help to keep me sane during the course of an event!

Lo and behold, Nick Valentino had a table right next to ours. This is amazing, as Nick and I go back to when I was doing some independent music activity, and he was in a very solid metal band called Fall With Me. Nick is now a fast-rising author, whose Steampunk novel Thomas Riley was flying off the table all weekend. David Gates, a graphic artist who was helping Nick out, was also there (and he hails back to the Fall With Me days as well!), and I have to say he has one of the best "self help" business cards around...the back of it has a sketch of Dave's face and the words 'I Can Do It'. I told Dave that whenever I feel shaky, I will pull that card out and read the slogan again and again! LOL

I got interviewed by Kimberly Richardson, the Goth Librarian herself, for a video interview series being hosted by Kerlak Publishing. Kimberly has a really good vibe and instinct for video interviews, and I feel that the interview turned out really well. It was great to spend more time with Kimberly in person...and we also got to share a panel together.

Other highlights included getting zinged by Dan Gamber, the Creative Executive Director (I hope I got that title right) of Meadowhawk Press. Meadowhawk Press is one of only 4 small press publishers to win the Philip K. Dick award, and also features Jackie Gamber, the author of Redheart, who is piling up awards faster than that guy Apollo could skate at the recent Winter Olympics.

It didn't matter whether I was on a panel or in the audience...Dan found a way to zing me good, and turn every head in the audience in my direction. I noticed that he had a certain look when he was about to do this, so I was able to brace for it before the weekend was out. I feel honored, as out of 1500 attendees, he selected me for this distinction. Maybe I should find a way to list this honor in my promotional blurbs! Seriously, though, keep an eye on Meadowhawk...they have some really great things in the works, as Dan is an out-of-the-box thinker when it comes to the publishing world.

Spending time with friends like Kirk Stevens, H. David Blalock (and his nephew William), Angelia Sparrow, Elizabeth Donald and Haley Elizabeth Garwood was wonderful as well. I can say that there is a very wonderful camraderie amongst many small press authors who are regularly out on the Con circuit, and it really does make a difference when you arrive at an event like this.

Between the 6 panels and the dealer's room, I had a very full weekend, but it was a very good one. Major salute to Dan, Jackie, Kirk, and Kat Hibpshman for an outstanding literary track.

I'm already looking forward to MidSouthCon 2011 and DarkWoods Con 2011...two very pleasant weekends, one featuring the debut of a very promising new Con, and the other another triumph of a Con with an excellent legacy already in place.

Now on to Millennicon in Cincinnati!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Headin' Back to Memphis, and Dark Woods Con Report!

Had to take a break from working all day on a spec-script, for a potentially very large project. Figured I would hop on here and weigh in a little on the past weekend, and the weekend coming up, at MidSouthCon.

First of all, the verdict is in...DarkWoods Con is a winner. I think that Cherokee Hall, the Blackwells, and everyone involved did a fantastic job with organizing the show. The attendence was solid, there was a nice variety of exhibitors, and excellent guests.

Jeffrey Reddick, as usual, was fantastic to visit with, and we finally got to be on a panel together. Myself, writer Elizadeth Hetherington, the incomparable Nic Brown, and Jeffrey headed up a screenwriter/author panel that didn't seem to have any pauses. We had a great conversation with the audience, and the range of experience on the panel was where it needed to be to respond well to the inquiries. Jeffrey also indicated that he has a lot of irons in the fire now, and I can't wait to see how everything turns out with him in the near future. He's a great fellow and is one that anyone would want to root for.

I spent a lot of time in the dealer's room, talking to other guests, exhibitors, con attendees, and even a few that will hopefully become new readers of my work! My table was next to Schaeffer Tolliver and Justin Powell, who were manning a table for the Cineline guys. Worked out very nicely, and we had a front seat position for all the sideshow stuff from the Pickled Brothers. They are fantastic, if you haven't seen them, though it does make me queasy to watch swords being drawn out of mouths by audience participants and light bulbs being eaten.

Sam Flegal and his friend Matthew were on hand, and it turned out that we were both staying at the same hotel (though we didn't figure this out until the end of the con). Sam is a very talented artist, and is part of that extended Nashville and Tennessee family of authors and artists that have been very kind to me as I've gotten underway with the books in the past year. I was glad to see that business was brisk at his table.

And then there's Jacob Ennis, the mastermind behind Stash and the upcoming Red River. Jacob is a first rate moviemaker, and a good guy to boot, and I hope that he and I find a project to work together on one day. We discussed a couple of possibilities, so we'll see, but definitely keep your eye on him.

I had a few moments to talk with Michael Berryman, the guy who was in the original The Hills Have Eyes movie. Very nice, cordial guy, I must say!

Jerry Williams and Pat Bowling were there as well, bringing their craziness, as well as many others, such as the Infernal Dreams fellows, TJ Moreschi of Feathered Italian Films, Lee Vorvoort of the movie Gun Town, George Bonilla and the ZP International crew, and Vance and Elizadeth Hetherington (I got Elizadeth's book and am reading it, she's a very talented horror writer).

I also met Joe Garcia of the Fast Custom Shirts guys, and it looks like I have FINALLY found an artist-friendly source for t-shirts. (we're already preparing a few designs, so keep an eye on the blog)

Lots of new friends, a very good overall experience, and even a couple of Stacey Gillespie sightings (Kentucky's legendary indie film actor). Plus I got to see Billy Blackwell in his fancy new beard that he grew for his role in a new George Bonilla film...very nice!

Mark down DarkWoods Con on your calendar in 2011. Well worth it. Great Con and I think that they have something going that can really excel.

This weekend I'm back in Tennessee, in Memphis, for MidSouthCon. I'm on no less than 6 panels over the weekend, and I will be stationed at D.A. Adams table in the exhibition hall, so I'll be pretty easy to find. There are so many wonderful people in Memphis... H. David Blalock (The Jarl Himself), Herika Raymer, Kirk Stevens, Dan and Jackie Gamber, Kim Smith, Debra Parmley, Kimberly Richardson, and several others are based in Memphis who I have come to know and like a whole lot. The Con is very well run, and features some big names like Sherrylin Kenyon and Kevin J. Anderson. It will be great to catch up with a bunch of author and artist friends while I'm there. I hope to get to stop in and get some Memphis BBQ at a place recommended by author Angelia Sparrow...we'll see what happens! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Stroll Through the DarkWoods, and Some Updates...

I am looking forward to DarkWoods Con this weekend. Held in Pikeville, KY, this is the first year for this Con and it is being hosted and run by some very good guys and friends from the Kentucky film scene. I interviewed the main instigator, actor/director/producer Cherokee Hall on a recent Indie Movie Masters blog, and I can say that this is definitely going to be a great addition to the convention scene, especially in the region.

One of the highlights for me personally is that my pal Jeffrey Reddick is going to be there, and we are both on a screenwriter/author panel together on Saturday. Jeffrey is a fantastic screenwriter, and one of the things I've always admired about him is that he's come back to Kentucky (where he is from) to support the burgeoning independent film community here at events and conferences. It will be great to catch up with him and find out what kind of Hollywood shenanigans he's getting into next.

Other than that, I'll be exhibting and doing one other panel on independent filmmaking. Rumor has it that I'm next to the legendary Schaeffer Tolliver in the exhibit hall (as you may recall, among Schaef's many acting credits is his role as Hasan in Shadows Light), who will be hosting a table with Justin Powell, another good friend.

I've been working hard lately, readying two new short stories for editors of new anthologies, as well as turning in a couple of others to Amanda for an anthology she is putting together at Seventh Star Press. I've also been doing a bunch of work on the spec-script that is coming due in a couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed! I'm still itching to tell everyone what this script/movie project is about, but I'm muzzled for the moment! :)

I have been working on breakdowns and analysis of the "Viking Age" original screenplay I've mentioned before, and we hope to move forward strongly with that project very soon, once we have it analyzed through and through.

April will see the SantaBoy shoot, the new short comedy from award-winning writer-director Scott Sullivan. Production meetings are going on later this month, with a late April shooting weekend. We've got some excellent people pulled together for this project, which is being shot by cinematographer Aaron Champion, who is one of the biggest talents I've come across in the region.

Well, that's it for now...but I will be sure to give a report early next week on DarkWoods Con, especially regarding any crazy stuff that cult-film director and icon Jerry Williams does if he shows up in Pikeville!