Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Video Interview on Space Gypsies

I wanted to share a brand new video interview I did for Becca at Space Gypsies during the MidSouthCon 30 weekend in Memphis.

This one is balanced between my film and book work, and features a very entertaining cameo by ConNooga Literary Track Director Robby Hilliard at about the 5:40 mark of the interview, LOL

Hope you enjoy this!

Friday, March 30, 2012

MidSouthCon 30 and a Big April Looms

MidSouthCon 30 and a Big April Looms!

Jackie Gamber at the SSP Booth on Friday of MidSouthCon 30
MidSouthCon 30 went fantastic.  As a whole, the SSP camp had its biggest convention of the year, bolstered by the release of Jackie Gamber's 2nd Leland Dragon series book, Sela.  H. David Blalock and myself also had really good conventions, making the weekend a very strong one overall.

I ended up staying with the Gambers over the weekend after I blundered in not reserving my hotel early enough to get the convention rate.  Yes, even though I do lots of events, I forget the basics from time to time.  But I had a really time with Jackie, Dan, Ben, Ellen, their two four-legged family members, a big bulldog named Ursula and a very talkative cat named Katie.

Jackie Gamber and Ursula
Ursula came to visit the convention on the first day, in fact.  Jackie had to assist Ursula with the escalator, as this picture can attest!

As often happens on these sorts of excursions, the first day involved a nice 4am wakeup and subsequent 6 1/2 hour drive to Memphis, straight to the Convention site where I immediately set up the SSP Booth.  Banners, stands, posters, buttons, a ton of books, signage, and a billion other things are integrated into these displays, to the point that Jackie wondered how I manage to get so much worked into a 6 foot table display, LOL

Georgia Jones and me at MidSouthCon 30
Georgia Jones, whose new book Legends of Darkness just came out last week, helped me get things in order and had some great decorative touches on the booth.  She's with Blackwyrm Publishing and is also a good friend of mine who was part of our booth for the weekend (incidentally, she met Dave Mattingly of Blackwyrm at the Pitch the Publisher panel we hosted at Fandom Fest last summer!).   Georgia's got an excellent book and is really hitting the ground running, so be expecting to hear alot more about her in the near future.

The weekend involved quite a bit of booth time, along with some panels, and a nice visit to the Literary Underworld Party on Saturday night.  My neighbors in the dealer room were the Literary Underworld to my left, Yard Dog Press to my right, and Kerlak Publishing across the aisle from me.  Talk about a fun sector of the dealer room!  We definitely were not the most quiet area either!  LOL

Elizabeth Donald with Jimmy Gillentine and Angelia Sparrow
just to the back of them
It is a blast getting to hang out with the likes of Allan Gilbreath, Selina Rosen, Elizabeth Donald, Jimmy "Popcorn King" Gillentine, Angelia Sparrow, Kimberly Richardson, and the others that were about the booths over the weekend.  Shorty, an icon on the convention circuit, runs a great dealer room and this was no exception.  Many kudos to the staff that helped us get carts, load in, come by and bring drinks throughout the weekend, and more.

Me with Amanda Trowbridge at MidSouthCon 30

I also got to meet some folks in person that I had only known through Facebook interaction and the like.  As I've always said, nothing beats meeting someone in person, such as happened when I ran into Amanda Trowbridge, someone I had known from Facbook for a couple of years, but had never met in person before this event.

MidSouthCon is truly a first rate, well-run Con.  The literary track was fantastic, from the marketing panel I was on, to one on author's co-ops, to another on Faith in Speculative Fiction, and one on convention etiquette. The Faith in Speculative Fiction panel was particularly fun, as it was moderated by Kirk Stevens, who is possibly one of the best moderators out there, and included Herika Raymer, Robert Krog, and Stephen Dorning, three authors that I think very highly of, and who also happen to be friends I have a lot of fun being around at these events.

These weekend events tend to speed by in a whirlwind, and this was no exception.  Before I knew it, it was time to break down the booth, pack up, and make the drive back to Lexington.

A big April is looming.  Matt will be doing artwork for the third Fires in Eden book, and we'll be putting the final polish on! :)  I will also be heavily involved with a number of activities involving fellow SSP authors' Jackie Gamber, Michael West, and Steven Shrewsbury's new books.  Keep your eyes on the SSP blog, SSP Facebook and Twitter pages, and Google + for a lot of contests, articles, and more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Author's Fair and MidSouth Con Looms!

Last weekend's Author's Fair in Madison, Indiana was wonderful, and the week has sped by as I prepare for MidSouthCon in Memphis this weekend.

First of all, I want to salute Frank and Kim Hall, and their wonderful group of volunteers, for a great experience at the 2nd Annual Author's Fair. Frank, as readers of my blog know, is the owner of That Book Place and is also the proprietor of Hydra Publications, a rising small press publisher that has seen some wonderful success this year. Frank also blogs for the Seventh Star Press blog site. (Yes, that is a rare photo of Frank that I took at the Author's Fair! LOL)

He is one of the best people I've encountered in the book business, and the Author's Fair reflects what Frank is all about. It was well-run, a sense of hospitality was everywhere, and it brought together a group of very wonderful people from all around the region. The tone was set right from the beginning when Kim Hall came to my table space with a nice cold Monster Energy, a perfect way to start the day!

Fortunately, we had some great weather for the outdoor event. I was at a two-table space with Michael West and RJ Sullivan. We were joined by Rodney Carlstrom, one of the Seventh Star Saints, a blog reviewer, and writer from Indiana, who brought along John F. Allen, another writer, who was subsequently absorbed into our wacky world! LOL

Madison is a smaller town, and the public turnout was modest, but the people that came definitely came to talk to authors and buy books. Michael had a book launch party for Poseidon's Children, which came complete with his sons in fish garb as well as a pair of themed cakes (Photo shown also features the great authors Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder, who stopped by for a visit at Mike's launch). Michael usually goes all out for these kinds of events, an the Author's Fair was no exception. Michael has been awesome to work with since he came aboard Seventh Star Press, and it is really enjoyable for me to be at an event that he is attending as well.

RJ Sullivan was making his first appearance as an SSP author. His first novel with SSP won't be out until August, but he sold copies of his book Haunting Blue and gave out a new bookmark featuring one of his iconic characters. I can already tell that RJ will be great to work with at events

Rodney, John, and I had a blast talking books and other topics throughout the day, during which time we were often joined by our neighbor on the other side, Ren Garcia, a great author and friend from Ohio. We even had a guest star visit by another Seventh Star Saint, Nikki Howard, who unknowingly came dressed as one of RJ Sullivan's characters in her blue wig! (Nikki shown here with Rodney Carlstrom)

It was simply a very enjoyable experience, and I can't wait to go back to the third Author's Fair in 2013!

MidSouthCon in Memphis is one of my favorite conventions, and I am looking forward to returning and seeing a lot of great folks again. I will have a booth in the dealer's room, where author Georgia Jones will be hanging out with her new book Legends of Darkness. I will be participating in a launch party for Jackie Gamber's Sela, Book 2 of the Leland Dragon Series.

My schedule throughout the MidSouthCon weekend, panel-wise, is as follows:

Friday, 3/23 6:00 PM Con Etiquette How to interact with editors, publishers and writers in a professional manner, and still have fun.

Friday, 3/23 7:00 PM Author Co-ops What is an author co-op and how can
you use it to promote yourself and your work?

Saturday, 3/24 3:00 PM Marketing for Authors How to get your name out
there and get people reading your work.

Sunday, 3/25 11:00 AM Faith in Speculative Fiction How do faith and
religion fit into science fiction and fantasy and where can readers go
to find good stories with faith-based themes?

Should be a fun weekend during which I will get to visit with a lot of reader-friends, authors, publishers, and editors I know. I'll be sure to grab some nice pics to share when I get back!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Metropolis Supercon Roundup

Had an enjoyable weekend at Metropolis Supercon 2012, held in the town of Metropolis IL, which is perched on the border of Kentucky right across from Paducah.

Metropolis, as you might guess, takes pride in all things Superman. Big statue in the town square, a Superman museum, and even a Superman festival. The Con itself has been around for five years, and this was my second trip in.

It is about a four hour drive for me, so my day started quite early, about 4:30 am. I drove into town and went straight to the venue where I had two tables to set up on. I don't have a problem at this point filling two tables with all of the items I bring along with me! LOL

I was across from actor John Wells, director Zach Schuyler, and actor and MMA champion Dale Miller, all good friends of mine (John and Dale were in Swordbearer, as some of you might recall.) They were situated next to John Wesley Shipp, who fans might recognize as the actor who portrayed The Flash.

I did get to meet John Wesley Shipp. He came across and visited my table, where we talked for a little bit. Very nice guy, very approachable and engaging with his fans. I would totally recommend him to any event looking to bring in a very friendly celebrity guest.

The crowd this year was, admittedly, down a bit from last year, but the people were fantastic. Jeff Yonosick, an author that I know, showed up as The Joker, and even posed with a copy of Crown of Vengeance after he had purchased it. Very nice endorsement, wouldn't you say? :)

Saturday night we got a nice bonus in the way of an invite from Brandon, Joshua, and Ben, three guys who are huge movie buffs with a great memorabilia collection. They are a blast to hang out with and I'm glad we got to visit with them again this year. Joshua is an AMAZING cook, and he went all out again with a great dinner.

Last year's Metropolis I mentioned the weird phenomenon surrounding Myra's Magic Hot Dogs. Whenever myself or anyone else ate one, they would make a sale within minutes at their tables. Guess what? They worked again, and it was eerie! Three separate occasions for me, and Michael Gordon and Bobby Nash can also attest to the strange powers that these seemingly normal hot dogs have. Myra Daniels, a co-chair of Fandom Fest and the Fright Night Film Festival, got a real kick out of seeing the magic hot dogs demonstrate their powers again! LOL

Sunday was a bit on the slow side, so things shut down a little earlier, and I was able to get a jump on the road trip back to Lexington. I think the Con would be a great one day event and I hope they consolidate it next year to a longer single day schedule. Overall, though, it was very enjoyable, and I got to catch up with some good friends. I do hope to go back in 2012.

Next up this weekend is the Author's Fair in Madison, IN, where Michael West will be launching Poseidon's Children, and then on to MidSouthCon in Memphis the following weekend!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Off to Metropolis SuperCon!

Heading off to Metrpolis Supercon today for a return to an event that I did for the first time last year. Metropolis IL is known for all things Superman, from the statue in the town to the museum, to a festival it holds every year. The Metropolis Supercon is held at the Metropolis Community Center, and will feature a range of guests, including comic book artists, authors, filmmakers, and more. I had a great time last year and made some new friends that I've kept in touch with, so it will be nice to return to the town. The hours are 10-5 on Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday.

The week went by fast. The highlight was without question a pair of fantasy writing workshops I did at Washington County High School, for the classes of Danielle Burke. I worked with a group of sophomores in one class and a group of juniors in the other.

With the help of Danielle, I had given them a small creative writing assignment prior to the workshop, so before I even arrived I had already critiqued the assignments handed in from the class. I talked about the value of the fantasy genre and my own path in becoming a writer, which led into individualized critiques of the assignments done by the students, followed by a period of open Q and A afterwards. The students were really attentive, engaged, and fun to work with.

There were definitely some promising writers in the group, but my goal of showing them that every single one of them could come up with original ideas and concepts for a fantasy-genre story was accomplished without question. Really loved the range of ideas and sub-genres that were reflected in the assignments. Some very creative approaches, interesting plot devices, character concepts, and settings were contained in the writing exercises. Definitely a workshop that I would like to do again with high school students in the future.

The week had a lot of activity, and Fandom Fest announced some great new guests such as John Rhys-Davies, the legendary actor, and Ernest Cline, one of the bright new stars of the literary realms whose Ready Player One was one of the biggest debut novels of all of 2011.

It seemed that the week rushed by with all of the activity and the workshops, as when I looked up the weekend was already upon me and it was time to prepare for Metropolis. So off I go to my second Metropolis Supercon. Friends of mine like actor John Wells, actor and 5 time MMA champion Dale Miller, filmmaker Zach Schuyler, Fandom Fest leaders Ken Daniels and Myra Daniels, author Bobby Nash, and many others will be on hand for what promises to be a fun weekend event. I'll try to remember to get some pictures!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Piner Kentucky Relief Fund-Important, Please Read

Piner Kentucky Relief Fund

As you know, the storms last weekend really hit a lot of communities hard in the USA, and one in particular was Piner Kenucky, a small town in an area where one of our Fandom Fest panelists, and a member of the fantasy blogging community, lives.

They suffered tremendous damage, and lost some lives. I got the information today that a relief fun has been set up through The Bank of Kentucky or The Red Cross. You can donate to a Bank of Kentucky in care of the Piner Kentucky Relief Fund, or the Red Cross with a designation of Piner Kentucky/Northern Kentucky. If you have a few dollars you can spare, this community could really use some help.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, March 2, 2012

ConNooga, MystiCon, Blog Tours, and Fandom Fest Progress!

Where do I start? LOL

Convention season is underway, and the year has begun with two excellent ones.

ConNooga in, you guessed it, Chattanooga TN, and MystiCon in Roanoke VA.

ConNooga is a convention I have really enjoyed going to the past 2 years. Robby Hilliard has built a wonderful literary track, bringing together a really nice mix of authors, editors, and publishers. Had some great panel discussions, ranging from publishing topics to screenplays. Met some wonderful authors like James Tuck, and finally caught up with M.B. Weston, who I had wanted to meet but missed at a couple of previous conventions.

The convention is held at a hotel that is a former train station site. They've made use of some of the old train cars, turning them into restaurants and even meeting space rooms. Of course, there are loads of standard hotel facilities and I've always had a pleasant time at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Friday did start out with a little bit of a surprise, as I found out that I was one of a small group of authors that were relocated from the exhibition hall to the other side of the property, in the building housing the theater and several of the meeting/panel rooms. Evidently, some remodeling in the exhibition hall building, to use it as a nightclub, knocked out a significant amount of floor space. We were out in the hallway, which eventually led to some nice flows of traffic going by our area, and we got to see a lot of cool sights, such as the gathering of Sith Lords pictured to the left.

D.A. Adams, my good friend and fellow SSP author, was a guest at the convention and we worked the booth space together. We agreed to run it into the night past the normal dealer room hours, which turned out to be a pretty good decision. We even got a shout out from Andy Deane of Bella Morte during their live show. Andy was there participating on the literary track in addition to performing with the band.

Over the course of the weekend we had good book sales. D.A. sold a bunch of his Brotherhood of Dwarves books, and I met a lot of new readers as well as current readers who were getting their book 2's or 3's, such as Mary B. and Tom H., who is pictured with me here! We sold titles from every SSP author too, which I was really happy about.

MystiCon was also a very successful and enjoyable convention. Alex Wright(Pictured with me), Keith Stanley, Barbara Debary-Kesner, Tina Vargo, Carla Brindle, and everyone on the staff did such a superb job with the 2012 event. The attendance grew a lot from last year, but the Con flowed wonderfully all throughout.

I was neighbors with a great web comic fellow named Travis Surber and his wife Jennifer on one side, Dan from Walt's Games in Baltimore on the other, and across from the Imagicopter gang, including H. David Blalock(Pictured), Herika Raymer, and J.L. Mulvihill.

It was great having David there, as this was the second convention where we were able to show off his new book Angelkiller, a fantastic urban fantasy novel that blends supernatural elements with a virtual reality theme.

Catching up and hanging out with artist Mark Davis was a blast as well! He's one of the great characters on the circuit, and I hear he's got a really cool new comic-related project in the works. :)

It was the second straight convention seeing the amazing Andy Deane, who did not have to go too far from home at this convention. Andy, as usual, was engaging with his fans and put on a fantastic rock show with Bella Morte that was packed out.

Also got to visit again with filmmaker Johnny Johnson, the man behind the remake of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Johnny's a first-class guy, a great filmmaker, and it is aways cool seeing him out on the Con circuit.

Panels went very well, including one on Steampunk, one on why geeks are cool now, and another on monsters and what kinds of monsters may be the next trends. The latter was moderated by Alexandra Christian, a talented author and friend who also writes for Fandom Scene. Her husband, Tally Johnson, is a blast to hang around. We need to get him and Bruce Campbell together at Fandom Fest as they would look like brothers standing together.

Sharon Stogner, the founder of the I Smell Sheep blog review site, came to MystiCon on Saturday and brought me a 20 oz. Cheerwine and a moonpie. Cheerwine has cult status where I live, so I got to lord it over some friends of mine like Rodney Carlstrom, who may be one of the biggest Cheerwine fantatics out there. The moonpie, according to Sharon, is what Cheerwine best goes with! LOL I really enjoyed visiting with Sharon and her daughters, one of whom was making quite the splash at the convention in her zombie costume.

Got to catch up with epic fantasy author Gail Z Martin, who writes for Orbit and Solaris (she recently had me visit on her Ghost in the Machine Podcast). Gail had a nice release party for her new book The Dread, from The Fallen Kings Cycle. Really looking forward to having Gail on our track at Fandom Fest this coming year.

Sales were really good for the second straight week, including my books, David's, and other titles from SSP. I got to see a number of loyal readers and meet some new ones.

On the way back I got to visit and stay at Andy Haught's home. Andy's the lead singer of Zeroking, a fantastic hard rock/metal band, and he's been a friend of mine for many years. The band's new release, Kings of Self-Destruction, is getting more and more airplay everyday. Doesn't surprise me, as there is not a bad track on the 13 song release. Was really great to just kick back, visit with him and Carla, and relax after such a busy weekend.

The ensuing week turned into a maelstrom of activity, as we had to work to set up SSP's first ever formal blog tour for Jackie Gamber. We worked with Babs from Babs Book Bistro, and our camp was able to arrange a 36 day blog tour, all dates filled, in 48 hours. Whew! LOL Yes, we put in quite an effort over those couple of days, but I have to say the blogging community was so helpful and enthusiastic about Jackie's new book. Special appreciation to Babs for all her help. Big thank you to Evie from Evie Bookish for assisting with the beautiful tour badges. It was exciting and we will be doing more blog tours in the future. Sela is a fantastic novel, and with Redheart is building a wonderful YA Fantasy Series.

Last, but not least, we announced the additions of Robin Hobb, Richard Kadrey, and Julie Kagaway for Fandom Fest, NY Times best sellers in fantasy, urban fantasy, and YA Fantasy respectively. I'm just thrilled with how the track is coming together, as these three wonderful authors will be joining others such as Timothy Zahn, Angie Fox, Jim C Hines, Gail Z Martin, Laura Resnick, and so many more fantastic authors on this track.

This is a fairly long report, but as you can tell, I have not been idea. I will save my progress report on the writing side for another post, as I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on how the conventions have been going.