Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The MidSouthCon Report--At Last!

The MidSouthCon Report-for March 25-27, 2011

MidSouthCon is, without question, one of the elite conventions in the USA. It is large, but not too large to really enjoy, and the staff really does a great job of execution.

This was my third trek to MidSouthCon. Technically, my convention began at a small coffee shop on Thursday evening, March 24th, where Elizabeth Donald was having a meet and greet in regards to her release of Blackfire, the followup to The Cold Ones (about zombies, not beers, LOL)! Tyree Campbell of Sam's Dot Publishing was hanging out with David Blalock, who also had a new book out at MidSouthCon, the amazing Emperor, the followup to Ascendant, which is the book that the short film Swordbearer I directed is from. It was great to see Elizabeth and the rest of the gang, and kick things off right.

I stayed overnight at Thran Keep, also known as David Blalock's house. I always get incredible rest there. It is the ideal author's setting. I can totally picture Dave sketching character notes on his porch in the late afternoon with a Scotch at his side! LOL

The day began early on Friday, as I had to get down there to set up at the dealers room at the new Hilton location. The new hotel is fantastic, and has a great location right on the highway.

A lot of things loomed before us, most importantly the launch of the Seventh Star Press version of Redheart, Book One of the Leland Dragon Series, by Jackie Gamber. The Gambers are from Memphis, so it was very important that the book got unveiled there on their homefront. The SSP family couldn't have it any other way.

Shorty runs the dealer room at MidSouthCon, and is one of my favorite fellows at Cons. He is well-named, standing at a height much closer to seven feet tall than six, and pretty stout of build. Shorty is a benevolent giant though, and runs an organized dealer room, so everything went pretty smoothly on the setup.

(Me with Shorty and the renegade author Jimmy Gillentine...I'm about 5'11 in shoes, so that gives you an idea about Shorty's stature!)

My neighbor on one side was Kerlak Publishing, with all the madness of their plot bunnies, squirrels of mass distraction, and excellent books, and my neighbor on the other was Robert Krog...Robert ended up selling out of his single author collection, and I got a picture shortly after he sold the last copy.

(The lovely Herika Raymer, author, friend, and editor of Imagyro)

Following opening ceremonies we had a screening of Swordbearer, in the same room where the ceremonies took place. Had a brief scare as the place emptied out entirely following the conclusion of the opening ceremonies, but about ten minutes out from the screening time we got a nice surge.

I am happy to say that everyone stayed for the movie and for the Q and A afterwards that featured myself, David Blalock (who was the Executive Producer and did the screenplay adaptation), and Allan Gilbreath, our dashing fight coordinator.

I headed to the Literary Underworld party later that night, where I got to visit with some great friends like Jennifer Mulvihill, Angelia Sparrow, the incomparable Elizabeth Donald, Jimmy Gillentine, and Jason Sizemore, the genius behind Apex Book Company. Lots of new friends to meet too like Alex Brown, a fiesty fellow and author who knows how to have a good time!

( Jennifer Mulvihill, good friend and author...can you believe I get to hang out with gals as awesome and rockin' as Jen? :) )

We had a great visit and I stayed up a little later than usual, but got in a few hours of recharging the batteries for Saturday.

Saturday involved a lot of time in the dealers room, some panels, and the Redheart party in the Con Suite. There was also an ongoing scavenger hunt, a high tech version where people used smart phones to scan bar codes to get clues to locations that ultimately ended up at the Seventh Star Press booth.

The Con Suite party features custom dragon-shaped cookies, gourmet carmel corn, and these cool red velvet cupcake-like things on a stick. Jackie really seemed happy at the party, as many copies of Redheart were sold and there was a noticeable enthusiasm about Jackie's Leland Dragon Series.

(Here's Jackie signing one of the many copies of Redheart that sold over the weekend!)

(Dragon Cookies! They tasted as good as they looked too!)

I went to one of Jackie's cool BookTasting sessions afterwards. No, we do not actually eat books at one of these, but instead Jackie guides everyone through a tea tasting sequence where a particular tea is paired with a particular book due to specific qualities of each that Jackie feels match up well. Maura Heaphy, a senior lecturer in science fiction at Ohio State University and an author herself of non-fiction books on the genre, teamed up with Jackie for this panel. Everyone seemed to love it a lot, and I hated having to leave early, but Ben Gamber was kindly watching over my table for the Con Suite Party and so that I could catch the portion of the BookTasting where Jackie matched a tea with Crown of Vengeance.

(A BookTasting Event! )

There were activities everywhere, and there were many fan tables, podcasters, and others, such as DragonTalk Radio, whose host Jon Klement was interviewing many MidSouthCon guests. Jon's very passionate about his show, which has been growing and growing with loads of new guests and convention coverage.

(DragonTalk Radio's Jon Klement interviewing science fiction author Stephanie Osborn)

My panels included one on marketing/PR for small press authors, another one focusing on each panelists place on the publication map, another on Different Flavors of Fantasy, and another on building a hero.

All were excellent panels, with some great guests, such as Jason Sizemore, Debra Dixon, and Violette Reid, and many more very established authors.

The PR/Marketing one contained none other than Selina Rosen and Elizabeth Donald, both incredibly knowledgeable, and incredibly outgoing. Joy Ward and I anchored one side of the table, but our two other co-panelists did the most in terms of captivating the audience. Dan Gamber was on hand to moderate, but I don't think there is no way anyone could moderate Selina or Elizabeth, much less both of them on the same panel!

Saturday night I visited with Elizabeth, Jimmy, Angelia, and Jon Klement again. A little more low key and laid back than Friday, but no less enjoyable.

Sunday went well in the dealers room, wrapping up a strong weekend for Seventh Star Press titles. I had many returning reader-friends picking up new books, and many new ones. Redheart went over extremely well, and we sold some copies of Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall as well. It is always nice when the loadout is lighter at the end of a convention weekend.

Due to my workload, I had to head back after the dealer room closed on Sunday, as the drive is about six hours back to Lexington and I had quite a bit to do on Monday. Got back smoothly enough, I am happy to say.

It was a great end to a six week run of conventions and events, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

We'll end this post with a happy pic, one of my favorites from the weekend, of Dan and Jackie Gamber! :)

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