Friday, June 25, 2010

The Road Trip- Duckon, Des Moines, and back home again

Logged quite a few miles last week, as I headed out for my first Duckon in Chicago, followed by a trip to Des Moines for a book signing at Beaverdale Books.

I really like Chicago, and it serves as the inspiration for a certain city in the Rising Dawn Saga! This trip did not take me into the heart of the city, but rather to Naperville on the outskirts, which is where Duckon took place.

It is nice when the convention is located right on the interstate, though there were toll booths about every 3 miles. Even worse, they had some unattended ones, where if you didn't have exact coin change or the special pass you literally were forced to go through and have your picture taken, so you could go online later, inconveniently, to pay the whopping 80 cent toll. Government on display in all of its "excellence", if you ask me! LOL

Anyhow, be that as it may, I did get to Duckon just fine. It is a convention with a history of over 20 years, so it is well established. Excellent Green Room, for the panelist guests, and good hospitality in the dealer's room. The staff was very friendly, and I didn't have too many problems over the weekend except for a little difficulty in finding a few things due to the spread out nature of the Con through the large hotel complex.

I was part of a screenwriting panel on Friday with Matthew Duhan and Christopher Morgan. Matthew is a screenwriter, and also a game designer, and Christopher is a DP (cinematographer). They were great guys, and knew their stuff. We got off to a little bit of a hesitant start as none of us wanted to run rough-shod over the others on the panel, but once we got a sense of things, it flowed better.

I was also on a panel on screenplay adaptations, and then another on trends in Sci Fi Cinema. More great co-panelists, and good panels.

I met a few new readers, though things were a little subdued in the dealer's room. TammyJo Eckhart and her husband were sharing the space with me, so I had little to worry about. They are wonderful folks, and I was very glad that they were at the Con.

Another fine fellow I spent quite a bit of time with was Jon Klement, the man behind the Smerdiverse and DragonTalk Radio. Yes, the man with the purple ears. In fact, purple ears were beginning to infect the convention by the end of the weekend. Some day I will find myself at a Con surrounded by a sea of people wearing these long purple ears!

In addition to everything, Duckon offered me the position of head of the Writer's Track for 2011. I have accepted and look forward to working with them to make a great track. They have given me a second, Patt, who is local in Chicago and will be of great help in organizing the track and interfacing with the local meetings there. I really am looking forward to working with her as well.

After Chicago I headed on to Des Moines, where I was hosted by none other than fantasy author Lettie Prell and her husband, a literary author named John Domini. They were wonderful to me, and it was great to catch up on things. I got copies of two of John's books and am going to be diving into them right away.

Shirley Damsgaard, another good friend of mine, came into Des Moines and took me around during the day. Shirley, for those of you that don't know, is on Avon (an imprint of HarperCollins) and is the author of the Ophelia and Aby Mystery Series, which stands at an impressive seven books. Shirley is a rock star, and a blast to hang out with, and she really went out of her way to make my day a great one. She took me personally to meet the head of the Des Moines public library system, where I was able to make a donation of some of my books on behalf of my publisher.

Shirley also took me to visit the main Borders there, where I got to speak with the management regarding getting the books carried there as well. She took me to a great lunch at a place called The Machine Shed, where the servers dress in overalls, and it has a decidedly country-cooking flavor. She convinced me to go for the turkey rueben, which used cole slaw instead of sauer kraut, and it turned out to be excellent advice.

Shirley's got some amazing things on the near horizon. Keep a close eye on her, and visit her thursday posts at the Wicked Authors blog on blogspot, which features some other excellent major press authors such as Angie Fox.

That night I did my signing at Beaverdale Books, a bookstore that will always have a special place with me. They carried The Exodus Gate from when it was first released, and made it possible for this signing, which was a makeup visit as I had to cancel my appearance at DemiCon due to my mother's health emergency in early May.

Lettie and Shirley made it, as well as some new faces, and Rachelle, one of the staff at DemiCon. I did a reading and we had a great Q and A, and then finished things up. Very enjoyable, and someday I hope I can reach a point where I can bring Alice a huge turnout, as she is very kind, and runs a very good independent bookstore. It is bookstores like hers that help authors like myself get untracked. I don't forget about individuals like Alice or stores like hers.

I managed to squeeze in a breakfast with Steven L. Shrewsbury on the way back from Des Moines, in Bloomington IL. Steven, of course, is the newest author on Seventh Star Press, and his novel Thrall is going to be released this fall. Steven had some funny stories of his adventures at Cons, and we had a really good visit before I had to continue back to Lexington.

It was a really nice trip, and I managed to do a lot during the four days. Of course, there was no rest upon my return, as this week I had online events (which actually kicked off with a guest blog I did at Fantasy Book Critic), including a big one on Bitten By Books (who gave The Storm Guardians 5 tombstones, like 5 stars, in the first published review of the new book), and a podcast visit with Kim Smith on the great Introducing WRITERS! show. We also had a production meeting on the upcoming Swordbearer short film (the one based on a segment of H. David Blalock's novel Ascendant), and I had to gear up for the big Joseph-Beth Bookseller homecoming night here in Lexington, where we go all out. (exclusive print, door prizes, an after party, and more).

Busy, but I like to be busy. Still need to upload some pics, and hope to do that this weekend! LOL I'll be sure to report on the homecoming event as well!

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