Tag Archives: LibertyCon

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Fistful of Credits, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.

Rob’s Update: Drawn Like Moths

Week of 18 June – 1 July

Greetings all

It’s been a weird week here (I suppose I should say a normal week for my current norm). I apologize for not getting last week’s email out on time, but I’m going to just take advantage of the delay to do this post for both weeks.

I returned last Sunday night from Salina Comicon. I had almost no expectation of any kind of success there because it was the first one and Salina is not particularly large. I went because I had a free place to stay and it’s not far away, so expenses would be relatively low. However, the con was much better attended than anticipated and I sold far more than I hoped. It was also pretty well run, with things going smoothly throughout. I’m likely to be back, depending on schedules.

Next week is, of course, LibertyCon. I’m really excited. I have quite a schedule, thanks to the hard work of the LibertyCon staff. I’ve been to about 20-30 different cons now, and I can say without a doubt that Brandy and her staff at LibertyCon are the best con staff around. I have waited months for responses from many cons. Rich Groller responds in 30 minutes, even if I send an email at 11pm his time. Amazing job.

They cap LibertyCon at 750 attendees. And they sell most of the next year out before the weekend’s over. I’ll be buying my 2018 membership before I leave Chattanooga a week from tomorrow. The light at LibertyCon draws me in like a moth every year.

Anyway, enough gushing, what’s my schedule this year, you ask? Here’s my page on the LibertyCon website: http://libertycon.org/index.php/pros?pid=326&refer=1, but here’s a summation.

Friday
8pm – 11pm, Author’s Alley. Buy my books and I’ll sign them, of course rolling on the Wandering Signature Chart.

Saturday
11am, Overcoming Writer’s Block
2pm, The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy
6pm, Reading
9pm, Joint Release Party with the Four Horsemen Universe guys

Sunday
10am, Kaffeeklatsch
11am, Autograph session
2pm, Cooking Out of this World

As you can see, Sunday night I’m going to be one tired puppy. This is why I pay for an extra night and drive back on Monday. Also, I get to hang out at the Dead Dog Party, which is always fun.

Hope to see many of you there. Gonna be a lot of fun.

Quote of the Week

This week, three capybara babies at a Toronto zoo have been named Alex, Neil, and Geddy. They chose the names of the members of Rush by creating an internet poll, and apparently people from across the world voted in the contest. I daresay that those who voted from places such as Argentina, South Africa, and Olathe, KS were probably Rush fans.

Not that I need an excuse to use a Rush quote, it seems too fun not to take advantage of the opportunity. The zoo in question is in not really in one of Toronto’s subdivisions, but Toronto is a city that draws people in. Now with extra Rush-named capybaras!

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

– Rush, Subdivisions

News and Works in Progress

  • Short stories, but not much progress because of packing

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Again, not much, but I’ll do some posting from LibertyCon


Upcoming Events

Spotlight

One of the people I am looking forward to spending time with this week is Chris Kennedy, who is an impressive guy along with being a fun writer to read. You can find his work at: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Kennedy/e/B00E4MIJA8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1498574841&sr=8-2-ent
.
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Leaving Port

Week of 11-17 June

Greetings all

I apologize this is a little late this week. I shoot for Wednesday every week, but clearly that doesn’t always happen. This week it’s because my life is discombobulated. It is likely to get less combobulated before getting more. Much of that is because of lots of traveling. I leave for Salina in a few hours to take part in their Comicon. I don’t expect it to be huge, but I have lots of friends there. In two weeks, I’ll be at LibertyCon, which promises to be hugely busy and a lot of fun. Then Calontir Coronation. Then Pennsic. Then the fall.

Some of the discombobulation is because of an accident we had at the house a couple of weeks ago. It’s nothing huge, but it involves a lot of doing stuff. My house insurance was paid up, so I’ll actually do fine money-wise, but it’s just extra work and part of the house is awaiting repair. While that’s happening, I’m packing to move. Things will be nicer in a week or so, as I’ll have a POD container take a bunch of stuff and get it out of my hair.

So I haven’t been terribly productive this week. I worked on a couple of short stories I want to have finished by LibertyCon. That’s about it, writing-wise.

I’ve also started revamping my website. Part of this is doing some research into the most effective things I can do on a website. If you have ideas of what you like to see, and what you don’t, please send me an email at  rob@robhowell.org.

Despite all of this, I expect to have made a ton of progress on Brief Is My Flame by the end of Pennsic, which is about 2 months away. I have a lot of driving to do, which is convenient idea-generation time. The voice recorder on my phone is excellent, especially in my car where it’s Bluetooth connected.

Have a great week everyone.

Quote of the Week

I was looking up stuff about Admiral Grace Hopper recently. She was a hero to me because both my parents were involved in computers essentially all my life, and I thought it cool that this US Navy admiral was involved in computers too. What a fascinating, smart, tough, impressive woman she was.

Anyway, she didn’t actually coin this, but it was something she quoted often. In this time of discombobulation, it bears repeating.

“A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

– John Augustus Shedd

News and Works in Progress

  • Several short stories
  • Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing this week. My apologies.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

As we roll towards my fourth LibertyCon, I’m going to spotlight people I’ve met there. LibertyCon advertises that it is as much of a family as it is a con, and I have absolutely found that to be true. These last few years, many people there have taken the time to help me along the process, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’ll start with Jason Cordova, who helped me with blurbs, introduced me to people, shared beverages, and helped my find my audiobook reader (yes, those are coming, recording starting in August or September). I really enjoyed his book Wraithkin and am waiting for the sequel. He also writes excellent Kaiju-fiction. You can find him at: https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Cordova/e/B004CZHHPU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1497634523&sr=8-1
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works
If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

ChattaCon 2017 AAR

I attended ChattaCon as part of my trip to Birka. A very productive con, enhanced by getting to participate on a bunch of panels.

My first panel was on Friday at 5pm about what makes the well-rounded character. I believe a well-rounded character has to have a little bad to go with the good and a little good to go with the bad. Protagonists have to be appealing to the reader in some way, so that the reader wants them to succeed (compare how much people wanted Anakin Skywalker to succeed vs. Darth Vader). I also add to my characters by having them like, or not like, food or other normal things around them. The scratch of rough linen on their skin, for example. There weren’t a ton of people at this panel (nor at any panel, really) but those that were there said they got something from it.

That was my last official thing on Friday, though I believe that if I’m a professional on panels at a convention that it is my responsibility to be at opening ceremonies. I went, they were ceremonial, and then I went to the Meet the Pros ceremony, which again I feel is part of my responsibility. I had a good chat there with a number of people, including a couple that had come to the first panel.

More importantly, I got a few minutes with Mike Resnick, the Guest of Honor. One of my favorite books is Birthright: The Book of Man, which is a collection of short stories that are tied together to tell a future story of mankind. Brilliant stuff. More importantly right now, Resnick wants to promote new authors so I’ve a new venue to submit some short stories.

Guess I’d better write some.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the LibertyCon room party. LibertyCon has been very good to me, and I will attend and help as long as they’ll let me. Had great conversations with a bunch of people, and Melissa Gay and I had a great idea for a panel, which I’ll talk about more when things get firmed up.

I might have stayed up late on Friday night, so I was a little slow Saturday morning, but made it to my panel at 11am. Unfortunately, no one else did. It was my panel on Moana, humorously enough. Ah well.

At 4pm, I had my chance at the Author signing booth. In real terms, I only had 4-5 people chat with me, but in all honesty that was more than I expected. Every reader matters and that was a well-spent hour.

Immediately afterwards, I went into a panel talking about using non-European mythologies in fantasy. While I haven’t done this a ton yet, this is actually something I’ve been planning for a while. The Secret History of the Mongols and the Mahabharata are major parts of my world-building, even if I haven’t revealed those sections of the world yet. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit.

At 7pm was a panel on Gaslighting. This was an odd panel topic, in my mind, since to a certain extent at a meta level, my job is to gaslight the reader. Of course, we were talking about things like 1984. I moderated the panel, and I think we served a difficult topic well.

Given my activities the previous night and the fact that most of the socializing was at Track 29, which is a goodly distance from my hotel room, I ended up wandering about for a bit after dinner but not really doing much. I went to bed early and read.

On Sunday morning, my first panel was on Futuristic Visions of the Locked Room Mystery. This panel seemed a little disjointed to me, in part because I don’t know if it’s a topic that really needs an hour. Maybe a better topic would be a discussion of the traditional mystery types and using them in science fiction instead of limiting it to one particular type. Still, any panel with Stephanie Osborn on it is fun.

Right after that was to be a discussion of the best and worst science fiction films. Many thanks to Mark Wandrey for inviting me to join him. Unfortunately, I really don’t remember what we talked about because it was during this panel that I received mom’s call about dad passing.

Anyway, I had one more panel, the power of storytelling. It was a good discussion, and I lost myself in the topic, which was nice. We roamed far afield on our important aspects of storytelling, which included the kinds of challenges characters overcome and the importance of those challenges making characters grow. Again, Stephanie Osborn and I riffed off of each other. It was nice.

Louise Herring-Jones was at that panel, and she and I ended up having a great discussion afterwards about books and philosophies. Smart woman, lotta fun to talk to, look forward to chatting again in the future.

All in all it was a productive con. The attendance was low, but in all honesty, that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I got to actually talk to a number of other professionals like A.R. Cook, Mark Wandrey, Dave Schroeder, Melissa Gay, Louise Herring-Jones, and a bunch of others. There was also time to spend with readers, and I enjoyed that most of all. A good time.

I’m hoping that I do well at Birka, because it would be nice to make this swing a normal trip. We’ll see this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in bars in Frederick, MD working. Maybe do some sight-seeing afterwards.

WorldCon AAR

What a tiring week. WorldCon stretched from noon on Tuesday for dealer setup to Sunday evening. I’m ready for a beer. In this case, my last Nickelbrook Headstock from Pennsic.

I got to the South Dock at Bartle Hall on time. There really was no organization for checking in dealers, but I found my table easily. And setup was a dream. They provided pallets and forklifted the pallets by our tables. I was arranged and nested by 2pm.

The rest of Tuesday was helping Kate Paulk set up. We went running hither and you and back to hither. Then we organized the room just as Jonathan and Betsy Lightfoot joined us. I’d never met them before, but they’re a wonderful couple I enjoyed chatting with throughout the con. We then went to Jack Stack’s for food and soon dropped Kate back off because she was “stick-a-fork-in-her-done-done-done.”

As a side note, Jonathan has Rhodri as his RenFest stage name, which caused a double-take when I saw his badge 🙂

In general, I spent the entire con at my booth. I had one quick pass mostly to look at how other people were doing their booth to learn how I can improve mine. I saw a few things I can improve upon, mostly notably something I’d already seen and that’s the creation of a mailing list. I don’t know why I had not thought about this two years ago, but I didn’t. Better late than never. Expect to hear about that this week.

Overall sales were slow. I heard that from a number of vendors that it was much slower than they expected. I attribute my own slower than hoped for sales to two main factors. One, WorldCon consisted of a high percentage of people who flew to the event and did not want to carry books back. I should have anticipated this and expected to have higher e-book requests. I handed out a ton of bookmarks and I’ve already seen increased e-book numbers. I’ll know more in the next few weeks.

The second reason is the expense of the con. Depending upon when you bought entry, it was something like $200 to get in. I think that hurt sales for two reasons. One, it reduced the number of attendees. Two, it reduced the ready cash for the attendees. From a financial perspective, I doubt I’ll ever sell at WorldCon again, unless by some chance I’m living in the same city it is being held at again or someone else pays for it.

From a publicizing perspective, I think it was worth the $420 I spent for table and entry fee. I made a large number of connections concerning a variety of topics. I also think I got my name out to quite a few fans who may not have bought anything now, but will remember me. We’ll see. It’s hard to tell, of course.

Overall, I’m glad I went, even though I barely saw the con. I did one pass prior to opening with Nic on Saturday. I never had any energy after the day’s work at the booth to do much with the things scheduled afterwards. Because of that, I’ll leave it to others to discuss the events of the WorldCon. I really only can tell you about the vendors around me 🙂

I will say I wish they had been more welcoming of indie authors on panels. They rejected my application to be on panels, so I had no other responsibilities besides the booth. I suppose I can understand their hesitation if only because none of the decision makers had ever heard of me. However, organizers at other cons have not known who I was and given me a chance. I’m actually really good on panels because of my stage training and herald experience in the SCA. If we want to grow SF/F as a genre, that means supporting new authors. LibertyCon people understand this. Ad Astra people understand this. Many other cons understand this. It’s disappointing that WorldCon decided to reject my application completely. Seems short-sighted to me, as I’m sure there were others much like me that they did not use.

Nevertheless, I got my name out. Handed out a bunch of bookmarks. Met a lot of people. Sold a few books. Ran myself ragged. I’ll take it. Now for bed.

 

 

More Than Three Toes

I’ve been a sloth since I got back from the trip. I’ve written hardly at all, though I’ve puttered through a number of projects for Pennsic. I think it’s a normal neap tide after a 25-day trip, though I know there are other factors.

My birthday was last week. I turned 48. I survived the day. That might sound sarcastic, but a good friend of mine turned 48 on June 22nd and did not survive the day. I also had a guy I’ve looked up to for over 30 years also pass away recently. The last day of LibertyCon held both of their memorials. What a strange day. Exciting in many ways, but hard. It might be that my sadness from their deaths has stripped me of motivation, but if so, that’s a horrible tribute to both of them.

The truth is that while there’s no major news in my world, things have been going generally well. I have some irons in the fire that might or might not pan out, but we’ll see. Just having these ideas is a great start.

I am starting to get excited about Pennsic. I’ll do a pre-Pennsic post next week. I am upgrading my SCA furniture, which has needed some refurbishing. In particular, I’m replacing a couple of 6-board chests that have seen better days.  At Trillium War I was pleased with how smoothly my setup went, and it will be getting better. I also have a couple of cool ceremonial things happening at Pennsic.

Football season is also on the horizon, as training camps start in about a week. I’ll review my predictions from last year and make my predictions for this year. Injuries killed my Cowboys last year, more than most of you know about, and if they return to simply average luck, the Cowboys will be better than many people think.

I’m also excited about some of my ideas for Where Now the Rider, which while I’ve not been writing it, I have been letting it percolate in my mind. By the end of this novel Edward will be settled in Achrida fully, but it won’t be easy.

I’ve got some SCA things happening, too. I’ve a project that I’ve wanted to start for some time that will commence after Pennsic. I’m sure I’ll talk about it more later on.

The other good news is that I see myself flowing back up from the ebb. Writing this blog post is a definite sign of that. When I’m down I tend to become a hermit crab. In fact, it’s time to get working on something else. Have a great day everyone.

 

 

LibertyCon 2016 AAR

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.

 

 

Strategy

I’m sitting in an Applebee’s* in Kennesaw, GA right now ready to go to LibertyCon. I almost wish I’d paid for my room for tonight, instead of starting tomorrow as I’m very much looking forward to it. I don’t need a room, Sam Davis has graciously let me crash at his house, but man I’m ready to go.

I’ll do a pre-LibertyCon post tomorrow, but I wanted to finally write about my strategy and goal of Shijuren. I’ve said for while I want to build a world, not simply write a few novels. This, then, is how I aim to do that.

First, I’ll be writing no less than two novels a year in Shijuren as long as I can afford it. One will be an Edward book set in Achrida that I will aim to finish over Thanksgiving each year. I will also write sequels to I Am a Wondrous Thing until I finish the series. Then I’ll write some different series. I might also write an online serial, based on different characters with different stories.

All of these threads will be essentially separate. There will some commonalities, of course, like the magic and occasional crossover characters, but there will be no need to read all of the threads to enjoy any one of them. You’ll get some benefit to reading them all, for if you learn the system of magic in one, you’ll understand it in all. Plus all of the other benefits of reading in the same world.

However, if you prefer the mystery style of the Edward novels over the fantasy style of the Kreisens series, then you can just read those without having any concern that you’re missing crucial aspects of the story by skipping the parts that are not as appealing to you. My ultimate goal is to tie all of the characters together in a later series, but I will endeavor to do so without requiring that you have to read the earlier novels to understand the final series.

When I described this at Planet Comicon, one of the people I talked to said it was something like the Marvel universe. That you could enjoy the Avengers without necessarily having read all the Ironman series, or the Captain America series, or whatever. I like that analogy. I’ve also heard that Robin Hobb has done something like that, but I’ve not read her books… yet. My original thought was to invert the Dragonlance series, which started with a party of D&D characters that as they got higher in level branched out to have separate stories.

The question remains whether I can execute my strategy to the level that these previous examples have done. I quite like what I’ve done so far in the Kreisens series, with Edward having a small role and with the geopolitics brushing along with both.

Now, it’s entirely possible that I won’t do this well, or even if I do, that the stories get so enmeshed that readers will want some information from the books. That’s where the wiki will come into play. One person’s spoiler might be another person’s TL:DR, allowing them to have the information without necessarily reading the books.

You might wonder why I’m structuring this so that people can avoid buying some of my books. I do so for a variety of reasons. One, I’m writing in multiple genres. My mother, for example, likes mysteries, but does not like epic fantasies. I have a number of friends who prefer the other way around. I want to write big scope stories eventually, without alienating people who prefer the different styles.

Two, I believe, as an entertainer it is my job to make you want to read my books. If I write good books and good stories, thereby making you want to read my books, then you’ll buy them and read them. If I don’t, or if I write some in a genre you don’t like, then that’s my fault, not yours, and I shouldn’t expect you to buy them.

Again, I can’t promise I’ll execute this vision well. I can promise I will do my best to write good stories and tie them together. I can also promise that I won’t stop writing in this world. Life might prevent me from writing in this world, but I won’t stop by choice.

I have a lot of stories to tell in Shijuren. I hope you join me as I find out what they all are.

* As a side note, I’ve grown to love Applebee’s. The food’s not great, but it’s not wretched. However, they all have internet and most have outlets available at some tables. And they’re everywhere, meaning I can always find an office to work in.

Pushing Through

One of the things I’ve been trying to do is post more often. I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I blog every day, or even every weekday, but I understand a blog that does not post regularly becomes irrelevant.

So, even though I don’t really have a topic to focus on, I’m going push through and blog anyway. I guess my best idea is to give you a preview of what you can see on the blog in July.

I’ll have a full, detailed preview of LibertyCon coming around Wednesday the 6th. I’ll have at least one post during the con, probably on Saturday the 9th as I talk about the book release party. Then, on the 12th or so, when I get home, I’ll write a full LibertyCon AAR.

One of my goals between LibertyCon and Pennsic is to lay out a general strategy and road map for my plans for Shijuren. These plans require enough time and enough readers to pay for me to live while I write, so if you’re interested in Shijuren and want to see all the secrets revealed, let people know about my stuff. This post will happen between the 12th and the 16th.

For now, you should know I’m not thinking small.

I also plan, between LibertyCon and Pennsic, to lay out my planned schedule for as far out in the future as makes sense. I’ll have a tentative list of appearances, and reached out to them. One spoiler, since I accidentally paid twice for LibertyCon this year, I’m already paid for LibertyCon 30 in 2017. You can expect a full post about this in the week between the 23rd and 30th.

I’ll also be looking at Patreon and Kickstarter stuff. Money is, not surprisingly, an issue for me, and I’ll be figuring out ways to use these two sources. One Kickstarter that will likely happen is one to pay for the creation of A Lake Most Deep on audiobook.

As a side note, my plan is to release everything in audiobook format eventually, but I need to figure out the process, which I will do as I’m doing the first one. In any case, I hope to have a full plan for that written and published in July.

For not having anything to really say, I sure said a lot. I have to say that this post may be a model for future posts, where I write a blog entry about what’s on tap for the next month. It will serve me as a checklist and provide a preview for you.

Thanks for letting me babble. I’m going to relax for a few days with friends and recharge at Trillium War. I’m sure I will see some of you there. For the rest, I’ll chat with you next week.

More Catching Up

I was going to post a bunch of stuff about SCA 50 Year, and I realized I myself wanted to find a TL:DR version, so clearly it wasn’t worth a whole blog post. Here it is:

I got the book done. I sold some. Met some new people. As land agent, everyone had a spot. We did have a few noise complaints. We warned them. Quite a bit of cool stuff, but there could have been more. Equestrians were definitely the star of the show.

Ok, enough of 50 Year, on to Trillium War. I’m looking forward to a bit of a break, as I probably won’t have a chance to write and won’t have much opportunity to sell, but I need a little down time because next week is very exciting for me.

I’ll be at LibertyCon with a book release party of I Am a Wondrous Thing. I’ll also be on a panel, a reading, and several shots at Author’s Alley. A big weekend for me.

As I say, I’m really excited. This is my third LibertyCon, along with a ChattaCon, and I’m starting to know and be known. Now I go there with 3 books instead of 1, and next year intend to have 5. Making progress.

I hope to maybe have some opportunities to take some of the small stories in my head and find some anthologies that match, and there’s one person in particular I want to chat with. I’ll be stalking him.

This has already been a long, tiring trip, but I have a week of friends and smiling and singing.

In terms of what’s next for me as a writer after LibertyCon. I will spend much of the time between then and Pennsic planning my fall and spring. I will also be doing Pennsic prep, of course. I will throw a few words at Where Now the Rider, and I plan on writing a lot of that at Pennsic. I’ll be sitting in Drix’s booth, writing, waiting for people to come by. By the end of Pennsic, I suspect I’ll be in the 30k range, with a goal to complete a draft by the end of September.

After Pennsic comes WorldCon. I’ll talk about that more later. For now, it’s time to order some bookmarks.