MystiCon 2016 trip report

Officially recovering from MystiCon 2016. It was a whirlwind of a convention and came and went in a blur. It was fantastic catching up with so many friends and acquaintances and getting to meet several new people who I’d enjoy hanging out with in the future. It seemed like I was constantly running from panel to conversation with someone to another panel to yet another conversation and so on. I know I saw a whole lot of people that I really, really wish I could have spent more time visiting with and I apologize if it feels like I slighted any of you.

The World Building panel was a blast. All my fellow panelists brought some good thoughts that I’m going to have to steal … I mean consider when I’m working on my next columns for Black Gate.

The Comic Books to the Screen panel went very well also. Even though we didn’t cover all the topics the moderator hoped to get to, there was no question the panel (and the audience) had a passion for the topic about what’s been done right and what could be improved.

Got invited to a couple of new conventions and promoted my Kickstarter (politely), and have several people interested in buying books at my signing tonight. So, along with having fun, the business-side of the convention is going well also.

Saturday started with the Beginning Roleplaying panel which went incredibly well. All of the panelists were well versed in either tabletop or live-action roleplaying and we did briefly touch on on-line roleplaying. The best part was a young man who we let know about the game demos going on upstairs – his mother let me know later that evening that he’d basically planted himself at the demos and was loving every minute of it. Now, that’s a great con memory both for that kid and me.

After that, I caught up with a few friends and then did the Mr. Adventure Podcast, where I got to play Doctor Richards, who was a scientist helping out the superheroes. However, the gentleman playing Atomik Fist flat out stole the show! What a phenomenal performance. I apologize for not remembering your name, but my hat is off to you, sir. And Rich Sigfrit, thank you again for inviting me to contribute to this podcast. I can’t wait for it to be released (and I don’t envy your producer trying to splice all the asides and laughter out).

I went from that to “Them’s Fighting Words”. We talked about different styles of fighting, where to do research on weapons, fighting techniques, etc., how to make fight scenes believable, how much is too much detail and so on. It was really an interesting panel and we had a great audience who asked really good questions, so that always is a pleasure.

I went back to the room to collapse a bit and then did the How Much Worldbuilding Does an RPG Need? panel. For a panel going on against the Masquerade, we had quite a decent crowd – in fact, one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever had when I wasn’t on a panel with the GoH. I was the fill-in moderator, but we quickly opened the floor up to questions, which considering we’d already done a world-building panel the day before was probably wisest. There was well over 100 years of gaming experience among the panelists, so we could not only give good suggestions, but we all admitted a few times when things had gone wrong, so they could avoid our mistakes.

After that panel, I had my reading and read from Shades of Blue, part of my For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter. Got a good reaction from the crowd and we talked about the Kickstarter more afterward. From there I went down and did my signing. It was in the hallway near the concert, but with the doors shut, the music was much more manageable for my poor ears. Since no one was following me, I just lounged out at the signing area and actually made more sales after my signing was over than during it. Go figure, right? I’ll attribute it to the music. *grin*

Finally had time to dump my gear and spend sometime visiting with friends and crawled into bed way too late. The Sunday morning alarm and i did not agree it was time for me to get up, but it eventually won.

My first Sunday panel was Writing a Successful Query Letter and the panelists talked about what had and hadn’t worked for us and then took more questions from the audience. I made sure to plug Query Letter Hell on Absolute Write, Writer Beware, Query Shark, Evil Editor and the Miss Snark archives. There were a lot of follow-up questions afterward with audience members who had more personalized questions, but I think (hope) we answered them as best we could.

I took a short break to sit in on the Valentine Wolfe concert. I met the members of Valentine Wolf Friday evening and had a blast visting with them. I heard them at the Saturday night concert, but their ambient performance on Sunday sealed the deal for me. Wow! What an experience.

I had to run from the concert to get to my last panel, Beyond Western Europe. I had hoped it would be more of a “here are some myths and legends that get overlooked and you should really check them out”, but there was a certain amount of “how to avoid cultural appropriation” that sidetracked the panel. Not that it is/wasn’t an important topic, but that’s not what I thought the panel was supposed to be about – I generally try to avoid panels that look like they’re going to get political one way or the other – but in the end, I was able to promote Folktexts at the University of Pittsburgh’s web site and “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” by Amos Tutuola as things the audience should definitely look into.

I’d love to list everyone I had a ball talking too and meeting for the first time (or maybe for the fortieth time), but I’m sure I’m going to miss someone. Still here goes – thanks to Mark Macdicken, April MacDicken, Meredith Lydia Thoroughman, Davey Beauchamp, Michael Ventrella, Gail Martin, Mike Allen, Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit, The gang from Skeleton Key, Valentine Wolfe, Christopher Axlthem, Caroline Axlthem, Peter Prellwitz, Allen Wold, John L. French, Tiffany Trent, Ashley Chappell-Peeples, Steven Peeples, RS Belcher, John Watts, and a host of others that I blame a definite lack of coffee and a mind like a steel sieve on.

Believe me, after a great convention like this, it was tough to go back to the real world this morning.

Farpoint 2016 and a Kickstarter update

Home from Farpoint 2016. Had a great time visiting with old friends and making new ones. It’s always fun to catch up and swap some new stories and think about old times.

I was on a number of really cool panels this year – Publishing on a Budget (Hmm, that sounds really familiar), Hero vs. Anti-hero (that also sounds like a certain rogue I know), Holy 50th Anniversary, Batman!, Enter the Hobbit (about writing fighting scenes and tactics), Writing for the Gaming Industry, Collaboration, and Writer Beware! I shared the podium with some incredibly talented and knowledgeable panelists and I learned as much from them as I hope the audiences did.

Also did some of the requisite schmoozing and may have a few nibbles for projects down the road.

I also had a blast Saturday night after the convention. I’d hoped to do my internet radio broadcast from the convention but, let’s just say, the hotel wifi left much to be desired. So, I meandered home and took advantage of a more stable environment and wound up rocking the airwaves from 10:30pm to 2:30am. Honestly, when I first logged in, the audience was dwindling, so I thought it might be an early night, but they started piling into the game and we were having a great time in Guild Wars. Then the requests started coming in for music I actually had (for once – these guys are good at stump the DJ), and the next thing I knew while I have enjoying myself, I was about to faceplant on my computer from falling asleep. So, we wrapped it up in time for me to get some sleep.

But, now that the convention is over, it’s time to get back on the Kickstarter grind. For a Few Gold Pieces More isn’t going to fund itself. It’s going to take getting the word out to friends, family, and aficionados of smart-alek protagonists, twisted folktales, and dark fantasy. We’ve just past the five day mark and while we’re making good progress, it’s slowing down a bit. So, every little tweet, share, or word-of-mouth recommendation is going to make a big difference here. Let’s see if we can’t push this over the top!

Thanks for your help so far. It’s appreciated more than you know.

Shane Braithwaite's poster of Yuki for the upcoming Kickstarter

Shane Braithwaite’s poster of Yuki for the upcoming Kickstarter

Shore Leave 2015 is in the books

Back and (semi-)recovered from Shore Leave this past weekend. It was a fantastic time and it was good to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while as well as making new ones.

Wound up getting there late Friday but still plenty of time to set up before the Meet the Pros. Had fun talking to the people coming by about my stuff (both old and new), but they were showing Guardians of the Galaxy in the ballroom, so the crowd for the Pros was a lot lighter than usual. Unfortunate, but I guess tight schedules are tight. *sigh*

Enjoyed visiting with everyone after the gathering (even if they do close the bar at the Hunt Valley Wyndham way too darn early. *sigh*). Hung around the lobby until almost 2:30 and then drove home just in time for the alarm to go off to start the next day.

(Well, it felt like I had just laid down before the alarm yelled at me.)

The Saturday panels were well worth dragging myself out of bed for. I was on the Alternate History panel where we discussed steampunk, gaslight, secret history, alternative history, dieselpunk and why the heck we write in any of those genres, where we get info, and how do we choose what we want to warp.

That was followed by Writing Tips for Aspiring Writers. We had a varied group on the panel. If the audience got anything out of that panel (and there was a LOT of good advice given out) is that there is no magical button. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. You have to experiment to see what you’re most comfortable with. Also, you must “write” to be a writer. Thinking about writing doesn’t count. Research doesn’t count (although it’s fun), Plotting doesn’t count. Only writing counts, so get your computer/tablet/pen and paper/papyrus/stone and chisel and get to work!

The Crowdfunding panel was VERY useful for me (and hopefully for the audience too *grin*). Everyone on the panel, but me, had run one or multiple successful Kickstarters or Indygogo’s. I felt like I was in the Shark Tank because all of them started asking me about my planning, how I was going to advertise, etc., etc., etc.. Yikes! However, I now think I’m ready to start moving on this once I get finished getting Terra Incognito out there and can concentrate on For a Few Gold Pieces More.

Last panel of the day was the Writer Beware panel. Good audience with good questions. I have to thank Kathleen David for helping me out on that panel. Her experience as a former editor really helped the new(ish) authors in the audience see how the “other side” of the business sees things.

I didn’t go to the masquerade because I was doing my radio broadcast for the Gaming World Entertainment Network. It was amazing. People would come by and talk to me, but as soon as I asked if they wanted to talk about SF or the con to my audience … poof. It was like watching the Roadrunner vanishing with just that little puff of smoke left behind. Still, the show went well and I had fun visiting with all the off-air people.

Sunday didn’t quite go as planned, but the Writing Short Stories panel was well attended for a Sunday and I hope we answered most of the questions people had. I had hoped to get to do the Historical Fiction Writing Workshop, but it was scheduled against the Short Story panel. *sigh again*

Still, all in all, it was a a fun convention. Of course, the best part about Shore Leave is it’s a fantastic chance to catch up with everyone. Had a fantastic visit with Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, David Mack, Scott Pearson, Allyn Gibson, William Leisner, Jim Johnson before the panels got going on Sunday. Also enjoyed speaking with Rigel Ailur, Glenn Hauman, Christopher Bennett, Peter and Kathleen David at breakfast that morning. Got to hang out with Kelly Meding, Phil Giunta, Steven H. Wilson, Steve Lesnik and Renfield at Meet the Pros, and Dave Galanter, Keith DeCandido, Mark MacDicken, Howard Weinstein, Marco Palmieri Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-Mcphail and Mike McPhail, John Jackson Miller, Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman, Joshua B. Palmatier, Amy Griswold, and a host of others to whom I apologize for not remembering your names.

Can’t wait to do this again next year.

Shore Leave 2015

All right, along with trying to write and trying to coordinate a book release and trying to coordinate a Kickstarter campaign, I’m also still doing conventions this year. Soooo . . .

Here’s my current schedule for Shore Leave 2015:

Friday

10pm-12am Meet the Pros (mass signing by the authors in attendance. I will have my latest books if you haven’t picked them up by now.)

Saturday

10 am Steampunk and Alternate History Salon A
11 am Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors Derby
1pm Show Me the Money Derby
3pm Writer Beware Derby

Sunday

12pm Writing Historical Fiction Workshop* Concierge
1pm Writing Short Stories Salon B

*Unfortunately, there was a scheduling conflict, so I will not be attending the Etiquette and Netiquette panel at 12pm. Also, I will have to leave the workshop early to make it to my 1pm panel. However, I have no doubt in my mind that Howie Weinstein, Steve Wilson, and (I believe) Robert Greenberger can handle the last half of the workshop without me.

Also, if I can get a good wireless signal, (Hey, you! Stop snickering!), I will do my shift as a DJ for gw-en.com at Shore Leave Saturday evening from 7-10pm and with any luck, I’m going to try and get a few of the authors or guests to swing by and say “Hi” and talk a bit about their latest work with my listening audience and me. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just have to zip home after my last panel on Saturday to pull my shift for the station. Ah, the sacrifices one makes for the adoring fans. (Look, you. I said, stop snickering.)

Weekend? That’s just another day for writing.

Been an interesting Saturday.

Had a nice lunch with friends today, spent a lot of time catching up and just having a great time hanging out.

Then went over to the local B&N and picked up a few books for the family. I know many people buy their books on-line these days, but I still like holding them and flipping through some pages before I make a decision.

The big news was getting the edits back from Joni on the secret project. She caught a few areas I thought were a bit rough, and after I polished them up, I dropped it into an email and zapped it off to the editor. Keep your fingers crossed for No Rest for the Wicked.

Then I spend a big chunk of this evening downloading cd’s into the proper format and building a brand new playlist for gw-en.com. Looks like I’ll be broadcasting this Tuesday from 7-10, EST. Each time I’ve been on-air, it feels like it’s getting easier, but then again, I always seem to find something new to mess up on. But, maybe in ten or so years, I’ll get this thing down.

And tomorrow, time to start a new story. (It’s always time to start a new story . . . )

Score: Technology 1, Me 0

And for something completely different, I had my first turn as an on-line disc jockey tonight for the Gaming World Entertainment Network. It was fun, frustrating, and a bit nerve-wracking.

Now, mind you, I haven’t DJ’d since college which was more than a few years ago (aka, who here still remembers how to queue up a 45 so it ‘s up to speed as you go on air with it?). I’m more used to dealing with mixer boards and slider bars in real life, not in a virtual studio, but luckily, the gw-en DJ’s were more than patient with me and helped me get set up for my show tonight.

The biggest problem I had tonight was I purchased a really good microphone and pre-amp set up years ago. At the time, they were not necessarily top of the line, but about as close as I could afford. Unfortunately, as we learned this evening, WIN7 doesn’t play well with them. And, it reads the microphone as a mono system when it’s definitely not.

So, needless to say, this drove the DJ on duty with me crazy as he was trying to fix things mid-stream. Finally, we just decided to punt back to my good ol’ Logitech headphones/microphone and voila, the issues cleared up. Why? Don’t ask.

Luckily, the in-game audience seemed to appreciate the playlist I had put together and I got some encouraging words from other former DJs who happened to be there. So, while tonight’s performance wasn’t going to win any awards, at least I didn’t completely fall on my face.

It looks like I may be doing this one evening a week for three hours. I think once I get my feet back underneath me (and get some patter down for the audience), it’ll be a lot of fun. And heck, since it’s a volunteer position, if it’s not fun, why am I doing it? *grin*

Once I know what my actual schedule is, I’ll let you know when to find me if you like “classic rock with a twist.”