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!

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