Category Archives: Gaming

CoastCon AAR

Greetings all

I attended CoastCon in Biloxi, MS this weekend as part of my longer Gulf Wars trip. I’m now spending the week in Biloxi, looking out over the Gulf coast. Today the Gulf is restless with a 23mph wind out of the southeast. It’s 72, but it feels much chillier as the wind picks up water from the Gulf and carries in onshore.

Quite nice in a brisk way, actually, but it’s going to be a rainy week. My sunny days here I spent inside at the con. Ah well.

The con was quite enjoyable, if not terribly productive. It was fairly small, and I only had two panels. Hence, I had a lot of free time.

Fortunately, a couple of days ago, I read an article on Passive Voice about the difference in bookstores as opposed to comic book stores. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are dying while comic stores are often thriving. The reason, according to the writer, is the sense of community that comic stores create. Whether it’s a gaming event, or simply just to hang out and talk to other fans, people go to comic stores to just be there with friends far more than bookstores.

This struck a chord with me, in part because I totally agree with her assessment. I have not done enough to be a part of the science fiction and fantasy gaming community. This is especially silly on my part given the influence of D&D on my writing. I’m not saying only gamers will enjoy my stuff, only that gamers are likely to be some of my strongest readers, if they know I exist.

So, I’m resolved to fix that. Yes, mom, I did just find an excuse to game more often. Especially when I go to a convention and there are people I can hang out with for hours and talk about my books periodically. If I’m not on a panel, gaming is a place for me to meet people.

I know it’s obvious that gaming is a place to meet people. Oddly, it’s because gaming is something I always want to do that has held me back. I go to conventions to work, after all. So, it’s been a bit of an oversight on my part.

But this weekend convinced me I need to be more active in the gaming community, whether in KC or at a con. I spent virtually all of the weekend playing Pathfinder Society games. Pathfinder Society is just that, a society of people playing essentially D&D at cons. In other words, many times it’s the same people at a table, meaning I have a chance to make more meaningful connections. It helps that Pathfinder is one of my favorite games to play and I rarely get the opportunity.

In any case, I had a good time, but more importantly, made some connections and even sold some books immediately.

And I have some potential ideas to do some crossover things in the future.

When I wasn’t gaming, I did have two panels. Now, I must say that the way CoastCon set up their panels seemed odd to me. They consisted of one speaker, not three or four. In other words, it was me talking for an hour. More teaching a class than a collection of ideas.

Fortunately, I’ve taught a class or two here and there.

The first panel was about Blending Noir in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve talked about this before and will again, but this time I had to structure it a little more precisely. I only had three attendees, which actually turned out pretty good as I pulled them close and I led them in a discussion. I think it went well.

The second panel involved adding history to fiction. I really enjoyed this one and all of the seven attendees said it worked well. What I decided to do was recount the Martin Koszta Affair of 1853 and, as I did so, look for things that could inspire plot points or worldbuilding. I’d like to do this one again, even though it does require me to be the lone panelist, or at least just me and maybe a moderator to prime the audience’s pump for questions or comments here or there.

Overall, the con itself was very small and the venue was too large. It was at the Gulf Coast Convention Center and CoastCon was only one of four events happening there this weekend. There was the Everything Embroidery convention. I’ll wait a moment for all the embroiders out there to catch their breath. Yes, there was a time when a huge embroidery convention happened in the same building as a SF/F/gaming convention happened. Yes, you could have done both, or dropped the significant other off at CoastCon.

In any case, on Saturday there was also a Monster Truck thing in the Arena, and in the end of the convention center was the Seabee Ball.

Yes, parking on Saturday sucked, why do you ask?

Not only was the parking on Saturday inconvenient, I suspect that hurt attendance at the con. I can absolutely envision some people who wanted to get a Saturday-only pass to the con coming to the parking lot, finding there’s a parking fee (which was waived for people with weekend passes to CoastCon), and deciding not to attend after all.

I don’t know that I’ll ever come back to CoastCon. I only came this year because it was the week before Gulf Wars, meaning I could drive here, stay here, and then go an hour north to the event. I used Airbnb for the first time and found a condo across from the beach for $433 for 9 days, which is even better when you factor in it has a real kitchen and a washer/dryer. It’s small, but no smaller than a hotel room and I’ve saved some money by eating in.

The schedule might work again next year, so it’s not out of the question, but it’s also true that the weekend after Gulf Wars is MidSouthCon in Memphis. I might be able to find a place in Memphis for the week or possibly crash space.

I will say I’ve enjoyed the condo here. Part of it is the idea of staying in the same place for 9 straight days. If I’m calculating correctly, this is only the second such stretch in 2017.

We’ll see how productive I am this week. Early returns are very productive, given what I’ve done since the end of the con yesterday. I think I’ve got a good shot at finishing Where Now the Rider this week. If I do, then this week has been worth the price.

I think it’s time for me to take a nap so I can write again this evening. Have a great day.