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This one time at Writer's Camp…

Holy Crap Jason Survived Another Con

Ah, time for the semi-annual “Holy Crap Jason Survived Another Con” After Action Review (henceforth to be called AAR because, well, I’m lazy). For past AAR’s, click here, here and here.

I rolled out of Lexington a little later than I thought I would (expected to be on the road by 0900, was really on the road at 1130) and had minimal problems on the road… until I reached Nashville. For some reason or another, the route into Nashville had massive traffic in the middle of the day. I stopped, started, stopped, fumed, started, stopped for about an hour, which put me behind schedule. I was not happy at this point, and I was hungry.

But then, I get hungry easily.

Picked up writer/editor/publisher Mandi Lynch in Nashville and quickly enough we were on our second leg to Memphis. This part of the trip was far smoother and soon enough we were checked into the 24th floor of the Hilton.

By the way, great hotel. Possibly the best one I’ve stayed in (outside of the Waldorf-Astoria, I mean) and I really owe my friend Kristina for hooking me up with a sweet hotel room at a fraction of the cost. The staff was good and (with the exception of the “mysterious” disabling of the escalators) there was nary a problem to be had.

Check in was smooth. MidSouthCon was ready for me and were very cool with my “Uh, yeah, I guess” typical response. I try not to be a demanding guest (hey, I want to be invited back at some point), so I’m usually just agreeing with everything that the concom asks. I said I’m easy, didn’t I?

I had a little time before my first panel so I explored some of the hotel. Really cool costumes were everywhere, and I began to wonder if I was slightly overdressed for this event. Needless to say, I made a mental vow to have a costume for next year.

I did feel bad at one point because sometimes, I zone off and stare out at nothing. One poor kid probably thought I was staring at him and planning all sorts of nasty demises when in reality I was merely thinking over some scenes in a story I’m currently working on. I realized that this poor kid was looking nervously at me and I had been staring, unblinking, at him for over five minutes.

Oops. Yeah, there’s something you don’t want to encounter at a con: that creepy guy who is staring.

Yeah, sorry dude.

So I went to my first panel After The Bomb, which was about how society rebuilds after the end of times occurs (or zombie apocalypse, or… insert random world disaster here). I recognized Stephanie Osborn (she edited Corruptor) and met some new friends (Selina Rosen is a riot). However, I made a tactical error in my seating selection and chose to sit between Selina and Stephanie. About 38.7 seconds into the panel I recognized my mistake. It was too late to change seats, though, and proceeded to sit through a panel in which every person whose name did not start with an “S” was run roughshod over by the Dynamic Duo. It was okay by me, though, because I didn’t have a lot to add to the conversation. Still, it was a bit overwhelming, sitting between two very strong-willed women of varying opinions.

Right after this panel I was over to my second panel, which was Friday Night Book Club: SF Books That Influenced (or something like that). Was only somewhat surprised to see that there was nobody in attendance and after a few minutes of hanging out and shooting the breeze with a few other writers, I called it a night and went to bed.I’d just driven over 7 hours with little sleep and I was done.

Saturday was strange. I had exactly one panel (Tweet This, Not That) but it wasn’t until 11:00PM that night, so I had a full day to explore the con, the Dealer’s Room, the hotel and more of the Dealer’s Room. I bought a few t-shirts (one of which I’m wearing right now… my former employer would be amused to see how this shirt mocks them so) and a few books (of which I might find time to read…. one day), and met some cool publishers (Yard Dog Press – awesome/crazy people I would love to work with one day). I also talked to Allan Gilbreath of Kerlak Enterprises (they published the hardcover version of Lawyers in Hell) and he reminded me about an anthology coming up that I have until May 31st to submit something for.

Oops. I forgot. But on the plus side, the story is coming along and will be done in plenty of time.

So the day crawled along. Lots of killer costumes, good panels and dragons! One of the vendors had a few shoulder-perched dragons that moved when controlled by a small joystick. Really cool concept which I immediately wondered how hard it would be for me to make one (and then Steampunk the hell out of it).

That night came around and instead of attending the masquerade, I had a panel to get to. I stroll into the room, take my seat at the table and look around. I see Cat Rambo (best name in the literary field, without a doubt), Selina Rosen, and a few others I wasn’t familiar with. They begin the panel with “Welcome to what editors are looking for…”

Me: “Wait, what? Aw crap, I’m on the wrong panel.”

General laughter.

Cat: “Were you supposed to be here, Jason?”

Me: “No, I’m here too early.”

Cat: “Well then, let’s introduce our surprise guest, Jason Cordova…”

Embarrassing, but a fun panel. I actually had more to contribute than I thought I would, and was surprised at just how many people don’t follow the manuscript guidelines when submitting to publishers. I also got to hear some horror stories from the editors (which are always good) and share my own experience (albeit brief) from my foray into editing.

Right after this panel was Tweet This, Not That, which featured a sleepy (but still awesome!) Janine Spendlove (she the owner of a Bond villainess name). I got a copy of her book (which is very good and completely hijacked my review schedule over at SBR) and we talked about Twitter and social media as a whole. Learned some new tricks and shared some of my own, which includes hashtag hijacking (of which I am a guilty jerk of doing). Got a few more books (which I’ll be giving away next week sometime) and was about to call it a night when I received this text message from Mandi:

Room Party 416

Well, who am I to deny a request to go to a room party?

Apparently I missed a good show because when I finally made it up there, not much was going on. A few publishers hanging out, a few writers talking. It was a pretty sedate scene, one which I thought that perhaps I had wandered into the wrong room party. But I recognized a few people and had a drink before finally crashing. The drive was still kicking my butt.

Sunday morning had me, zombie-like, crawling out of bed and wandering downstairs. I had a 10:00AM autograph session on Pro-Row, which meant that nobody was awake yet, including me. I talked to a retired Navy guy who had self-pubbed his series and listened to a few others complain about the positioning of Pro-Row compared to last year. Me? I was dozing and struggling to stay awake. I had another long drive before me, and I was not looking forward to it.

Plus I was worried about the cats. Who knew how much trouble they could get into within 24 hours of non-supervision.

So all in all, MidSouthCon was an enjoyable (though not very fruitful) convention. I had a good time, naturally. Hopefully next year I’ll have more books to sell there.

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