I’m sitting in Brewbaker’s, a bar near my house that has WiFi, Diet Dr. Pepper, comfy chairs, good food, and the patience to put with a writer occupying a table for hours on end. They are very good to me, especially Tanya, my beautiful blonde server in whose section I normally sit. Damn, it’s good to be home.
But while I’m happy to see my cat, sleep in my own bed, lounge in my comfy chair, and write in my home bar, I am already looking forward to LibertyCon XXX next year. It is absolutely true that LibertyCon is not a con, it’s a family reunion, .
The weekend did not start auspiciously, however. I got there early on Thursday, as I stayed in Across, GA at Sam Davis’s house and the Choo Choo said my room was ready. I got there to find that they had put me in Building 3, which was a bad thing because I had planned a room party and they all had to be in Building 1. The hotel was sold out, so the hotel could not do anything, and I thought I was going to be screwed. I was tired, frustrated, worried, and very grumpy.
I contacted Rich Groller, who arranged all the programming including the room parties, and he fixed the problem. He basically came up, handed me a towel, said, “Don’t panic,” and it was fixed. I got a great room for a room party, and for the long weekend. That moment of worry is by far the lowlight of the weekend, and because of the LibertyCon staff the lowlight was dealt with smoothly and easily.
The rest of Thursday involved a goodly amount of planning for the party, including walking around the hotel putting up signs. As a side note, the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel occupies a goodly amount of area. My fit app on my phone was very pleased with me this weekend, as I hit every goal every day. I also dropped by Robert Hoyt’s birthday party, Con Suite, and some other places to chat. Not a huge evening, but I didn’t want one because I knew Friday would be a long, hard day.
I started the day making a few more preparations for the party and getting my con badge. I also made arrangements to put my cart in the dealer’s room with Michael Hanson. Opening Ceremonies was at 5pm, and I had a spot on the Author’s Alley at 6pm, and pre-positioning my books was necessary to the logistics.
At 3pm was my only panel, and that was on writing swords and sorcery. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit. S. Andrew Swann did a good job of moderating, especially since he had not gotten the memo that he was the moderator. There were four others of us on the panel, and we all had a different take on fantasy. I think I contributed some, but thought I could have done better. However, I must have done at least moderately well, given that there were several people who saw me on the panel and then bought my books.
I wish I had been on more panels, however, that’s my fault for not getting in on programming early enough. Rich said I’m already on the list for next year, though.
I had an hour break in which I moved my books. Books are heavy. I have a cart, but it’s 100 plus yards from my room to the main con area. I made that trek pushing my cart 4 times, I think. Selling books is likely to make me stronger, at least.
Opening Ceremonies were fun for me. Gray Rinehart was the MC, which was a bit of a disappointment for me, though that’s no slight on Gray. Marc Gunn was the original scheduled MC, and he and I have chatted online some and I was hoping to meet him face to face. However, he had to cancel. Gray, though, did a great job, starting with a filk of David Bowie’s Major Tom, “Ground control to LibertyCon.” The highlight was the moment when he said he was a “monster” then pulled out the Monster Hunters International coin saying he was exempt. Brilliant.
For me, the key moment was being in the list with people like David Weber, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, and all the other authors. Yes, I got to stand up and wave to the crowd. That was cool.
Then I set up for my first Author’s Alley hour. This is a really nice thing they offered us, a cheap table in the main walking area where we can sell books and interact with readers. While I struggled with the logistics, mostly because I did not think to ask Jonny Minion for help, and I did not sell a ton, I thought it went well. My three hours were not wasted.
After the Author’s Alley I hustled my books back to my room and made my final preparations for the party. One of the mistakes I made was not thinking to talk to other people about their release party plans. I should have joined forces. However, my party went very well. It’s like I’ve thrown parties and postrevels before, though I did forget bottled water. I did have cider, which turned out to be important, as I’ll mention later.
I credit Jonathan LaForce’s BBQ as a big reason for the party’s success. I gave him some money and said bring what you think is right. He brought a bunch of stuff. I’ve had a lot of brisket in my life. I’ve even made a few that were incredibly tasty. Jonathan’s might be the best I’ve ever had. If it isn’t, I can’t remember a better one. I hope to be able to do another release party next year, and if he can be there I’ll do it again. Plus, I’ll get myself a separate brisket just for me.
One other thing that is continuing to work well is my silly Wandering Signature Chart. I put it on the bottom of my party flyers and I had at least 5 people come in asking about it. Plus, a number of other authors are probably going to steal the idea. Not to mention the normal fun and whimsy it adds at dealer tables and other signing opportunities. One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was Steve Jackson reading it at the party.
The other person who helped was Jasmine DeGroot, who served as my bouncer. LibertyCon requires all room parties to be peanut free and have someone check IDs. Not surprisingly, no one under 21 tried to get booze, but Jasmine ensured I didn’t have to pay attention to that and could pay attention to the people that came to the party.
And man, did people come to the party. I had expected only about 10-15 all night, but I’m thinking over 50 cycled through. They overflowed out to the courtyard behind my room. I talked to a bunch of people, sold a few books, and I think we all had a great time. The last person left at 2:19am. I puttered around cleaning up and got to sleep at 3ish.
Fortunately, my first thing on Saturday started at 3pm. I was signing books in the Dealer’s Room. This ended up being essentially useless, because the Baen Roadshow was at the same time. Shockingly, I can’t compete with that… yet 🙂
Immediately after that was my reading. I had anticipated a 10 minute chunk, so when I found out I had 20-25 I was scrambling a bit. I combined the two chapters in I Am a Wondrous Thing where the husbands encourage Irina to step down and when the husbands all die to free her to live her life. It was a great choice in many ways, and had I really prepared for the crying that I would do as I was reading these parts, it would have been a fantastic reading. I care about my characters, and I cry when I kill them.
I had one more Author’s Alley hour for the day, starting at 8pm. Afterwards, I put my books away and socialized at the Con Suite where Mark Wandrey and Gail Z. Martin were having their book release parties. The best part of this was talking to a couple of people about some possible projects for the future.
Sunday started with the Koffeeklatsch, which was another opportunity for authors and readers to socialize. Another side note, LibertyCon really tries to create connections between authors and their readers. Last year I got the chance to chat with David Weber for a long time. This year was a number of other authors and readers. I did also initiate discussions on yet another project, something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.
At 1pm I got my final Author’s Alley slot. A few more sales and more chatting. Then I got to put my books away. Books are heavy, did I mention that? I was glad to get those back into the car.
Closing Ceremonies, also called the Bitch at Brandy session, started at 3pm. One of the best things about LibertyCon is their willingness and desire to improve and tweak things. It was nice to hear that something like $8500 was raised for the con charity, which will sound larger when you realize that the con is capped at 750 attendees. Over $10 per person was donated to the charity. Not shabby. For me, I donated a set of my books to the charity auction. I wonder how much they went for.
The Dead Dog party started at 6pm. This turned out to be wonderful. Basically staff, the pros, and those who can stay for Sunday night all hang out. I actually got to game some, which I had not had a chance to do despite the fact that the gaming room was open 24/7. I played Splendor with Melissa Gay, the artist guest of honor, her husband, and some others.
I mentioned before that providing cider was important. It turned out that Steve Jackson pretty much only drinks Angry Orchard cider, and I happened to be the only one that provided it. That’s why I got the selfie of Steve and I at the Dead Dog gaming.
From a business perspective, LibertyCon was a success, though not directly. Overall on the trip, I sold enough books to pay for the gas and some of the food, but not the hotel and such. Nevertheless, the residual effect will be strong, I think. In part because it’s my 3rd year at LibertyCon and I’m no longer a new face. The connection with the fans there is awesome, and I’ve seen it from both sides of the fence now.
And then there’s the connections made with other authors. Chris Kennedy has been a big help to me, and he really works to make life easier for other indie authors. Follow him on Twitter for constant and consistent articles about the industry. We did not have much chance to chat, as we were always busy opposite each other. His release party was also on Friday night, and I regret the missed opportunity to have shared a release with him.
Mark Wandrey and I met at ChattaCon. We had another chance to hang out and chat. He’s having some great success right now with his new book A Time to Die, which is gratifying for two reasons. One, I’m glad he’s having success because he’s a friend. Two, his success gives me hope that I will eventually succeed if I continue to plug away.
Got a chance for some small conversations with some people I’ve met but don’t get to talk to often. Jason Cordova and I met 2 years ago, and he has been wonderfully patient answering my questions. Also he has good scotch. James Young lives in the KC area and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better. I’ve liked what I’ve read of his so far. Peter and Dorothy Grant are charming people. I got a few words in with Sarah Hoyt, which if you’ve ever seen her at a con you’ll understand how nice that is. She’s always so busy and so many people, including me, admire her. I had a great conversation with Jim Beall that will make the magic of Shijuren stronger. Geoffrey Mandragora and I got to chat a bit while sitting next to each other in Author’s Alley. Nan Monroe and I shared a fun reading session. She wants to do YA Fantasy right. I found out Beth Patterson is a Rush fan. Dave Schroeder and I got to actually chat, and now I know how to talk about his books while people are looking at them at Drix’s booth. I had a couple of nice, albeit short, conversations with Brad and Sue Sinor. Kal Spriggs was on my panel, and he’s a very sharp guy. I also had nice conversations with David Weber, Toni Weisskopf, Tom Trumpinski, and Rich Weyand. I never actually got to run into Lou Antonelli, who was there but never where I was. Brad Cooksey has a podcast that I need to listen to and might get a chance to join someday.
I met a ton of other professionals. Jeremy Hicks, Chris Sommerkorn, S. Andrew Swann, Nick Braker, Brett Brooks, David Burkhead, David P. Coe / D.B. Jackson, Bobby Nash, Doug Dandridge, Michael H. Hanson, Thomas A. Mays, and Chuck Gannon. Between SCA 50 Year and quick moments at LibertyCon, I also got to know Mike Williamson.
Whew, what a list. And that’s just the professionals. There are a bunch of great fans at LibertyCon. I’m not going to list all that I talked to, but there were a bunch. Many thanks to all of them for coming and chatting.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how nice it was to see Paul Clithero and his wife, Sarah. I had seen his name on Facebook, and I knew that I knew him, but it’s been so long that I’d forgotten so much. We worked at Jimmie’s Diner and drank at the same watering holes around 1990. Sarah is extremely nice and I look forward to getting to know them. They also did their share to support indie authors, buying dozens of books. Many thanks to them.
Of course, none of this is possible without the LibertyCon team. Brandy Spraker, Derek Spraker, Uncle Timmy, Matthew Fanny, Rich Groller, Vonn Gants, and all the rest do a fantastic job. I know these sort of accolades get bandied about at the end of an event, but I’ve seen the sausage made at a lot of events, both SCA and SF/F, and that is probably the most efficient team I’ve ever seen.
I know I’m forgetting stuff, and people, and talking about stuff with those people. But this will do for now.
I am pre-registered for LibertyCon XXX and I have a room reservation. The con will sell out for the 3rd year in a row, and the hotel has *already* sold out. It really is an impressive con.