The Much Delayed Post Con Post

Hear that? Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of me breathing easy for the first time in a couple of months.

The Spring Con season is fun, but it can be a little exhausting. It’s also hectic. If you need an example of how hectic, I haven’t even had a chance to post about
Penguicon yet.

Don’t worry, that’s all about to change.

First, however, I need to at least mention the fun that I had at
Motor City Nightmares. I haven’t been able to operate as a vendor at MCN with the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers because the convention fell on the same weekend as Penguicon. The GLAHW would be there, but I would be unavailable due to responsibilities at the the other con. I would try to block out a chunk of time to run over to MCN and do some whirlwind shopping and grab a few autographs.

After a few years of this conflict, the two conventions finally fell on different weekends this year. Unfortunately the GLAHW did not have a table this year, so I was still unable to be there all weekend as a vendor.

This actually worked in my favor, as I did not feel the need to rush back to the table. I was able to take my time walking around (with a few other fellow GLAHWers). I even took in a special effects make-up workshop. I managed to get away without spending too much money. In fact, the majority of my purchases were presents for other people. The only thing which I purchased for myself was some make-up for my Halloween kit.

The following weekend was Penguicon weekend. I started everything off early by attending the Guest of Honor introduction dinner on Thursday night. The meal was quite yummy and I got to spend some time with my fellow conventioneers before the craziness started.

I had two panels to present on Friday night. The first was Sequels and Series in Genre Fiction which was surprisingly well attended given that it was one of the first panels of the convention and people were still checking in to their hotel rooms and getting their registration packets. It was great to see
Mary Lynne Gibbs1. Also on the panel was Robert Kroese, an author I had not yet met. We had a lively discussion with a lot of audience participation. My second panel of the evening was Plotters vs Pantsers, a discussion of how different writers prepare before sitting down to write.

It turns out that almost all of the panel (
Ferrett Steinmetz, Robert Kroese, Jim Leach, and myself) fell on the pantsers side of the equation. How stories go from random synaptic firings to full fledged narratives is actually one of my favorite writing topics to talk about.

In between these two panels I attended the Opening Ceremonies. Despite having attended Penguicon for years, I had never attended the Opening Ceremonies. It was quite moving to hear the people who worked so hard to put together the convention explain why, then hear the guests say why they were so happy to be there. I will admit, when the ConChair said “Welcome Home” I started bawling.

I had the rest of the evening free, so I wandered around a bit. I checked out the Vendor’s Room, saying “hi” to the good people at
Source Point Press and purchasing a book or two. I hit the Con Suite for some food, my room for some libations3, watched part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Mary, and checked out a panel on getting rid of paranormal parasites. I rounded out the evening by taking in a couple of room parties.

I was on three panels on Saturday. The first was not until two, but it was the big one for me. When Did We Get Cool? with Guest of Honor
Ernest Cline and John Scalzi as well as GLAHW compatriots Nicole Castle, Sean Davis, and Jim Leach. This was one of the best panels I have ever been on. Under the watchful moderation of Mr. Scalzi, we discussed the rise of geek culture, how it happened, and our responsibilities as content creators and representatives of all things nerdy.

It wouldn’t be Penguicon without me talking about zombies at some point, so naturally I was on the Obligatory Undead Panel (with Mary Lynne Gibbs, Sean M. Davis, and Ken MacGregor). I always enjoy talking about the undead and this was the group to do it with. My final panel as a presenter was The Importance of Editing with Mary Lynne Gibbs and Rosemary Van Deuren. This was another fun topic with plenty of audience participation.

Since most of my Saturday was free, I got to get my geek on, attending panels on the flow of information featuring
Cory Doctorow, Copyright v Free Information, the EFF4,, hot sauces, foraging for food in Michigan, and of course the Smithee Awards. I swung by the bar to engage in a multiple birthday celebration (with cake!) and even made it outside to do some telescopic stargazing. The evening also featured room parties and a particularly lively conversation in the Con Suite about Cthulhu and kilts.

I had Sunday completely free, but unfortunately, I am not as young as I once was.
5 I didn’t quite get up as early as one might have expected. I was, however, able to take in panels on the future of virtual reality (and try out the GameFace system), fighting in the movies, and a monster make-up demo. I did not attend closing ceremonies because I was at the GLAHW meeting, preparing for Motor City Comic Con.

Which, as you might have guessed, is my segue into that convention. I busted my butt trying to get my costumes ready in time and was (mostly) successful. As most of you know, we usually do themed dress days. This year Friday’s dress was 50s pin-up style for the ladies while
David Hayes and I came as Booth Buffaloes6. Special thanks to the great people at Exit 57 Graphics for the pink shirts.7 Saturday was creepy fairy tale day. I was The Big Bad Wolf. Unfortunately, I could not get the jaw on my wolf mask to look the way I wanted it to, so I cheated and used a store bought mask. The gloves came out great and I think the necklace of real pigs ears was a nice touch. Sunday was obscure movie day. I went as Santi from The Devil’s Backbone.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We did quite well as far as sales were concerned. I sold quite a few copies of
Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails. Even more important was the time I got to spend not only with my horror writer friends, but with all of the other vendors and patrons we see at conventions. I still find it amazing that we have fans who come back every year, just looking for us.

I also go to see a lot of amazing costuming. Some of my favorites included a family of Ghostbusters with a baby dressed as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, a woman who had crocheted a Facehugger from
Alien, and the guy dressed as Lego Boba Fett.

1 Who I dragged back up to Michigan just for Penguicon.

2 I’m actually tearing up just writing about it.

3 Honestly, my only complaint was that the hotel bar was a little pricey.

4 If you are not familiar with the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I urge you to take a look at the work that they are doing. They are in the forefront of protecting your privacy rights and making sure the internet does not get co-opted by corporations.

5 Not that any of us are. What a ridiculous statement.

6 A play on the popular term “booth bunny.”

7 I’ll get the pictures up some day.