Marscon 2019 AAR

I had an absolute BLAST at my first ever Marscon, which is held in Williamsburg, VA, this weekend. It’s Sunday evening so technically still the weekend of Marscon but you get the idea.

The best part about this con is that I didn’t know I was going until Thursday night. I only got to go because two of my author friends (Kacey Ezell (Minds of Men, Assassin) and Philip “Docfather” Wohlrab (website here)) kidnapped me and forced me to go. Sort of.

Let us rewind to Thursday, shall we?

I’ve been… stressed lately, with personal and professional stuff going on around Casa de Cordova to make me just want to throw my hands up in the air and move to a foreign location where I can live without people. I’ve oftentimes joked that I would be quite happy living in some mountain cabin away from people for long periods of time because I really just don’t have the patience for most people. Especially when my ADHD is running forty miles a second and everyone else can’t keep up.

Thursday night I was talking with Kacey and, well, complaining is probably the best and politest way to describe what I was doing. Kacey basically then told me that I was going to Marscon that weekend since I had nothing else going on. I protested a little but after checking with the girlfriend it was decided that sure, I could go. Better still, Philip was shanghaied into this shenanigan-filled excursion as well (HE didn’t know he was going until five minutes after I found out I was going) and picked me up Friday noon for some fun times of cheering Jason up while at a con.

FRIDAY — There wasn’t that much traffic on the way up through Virginia to get to Williamsburg, except around Richmond, so we made good time. We pulled into our hotel, check in at the con down the street (host hotel was sold out), and then with Kacey (who had found us the moment we got there) followed her to her first panel, which was about writing combat. My publisher, Chris Kennedy, was on it, as well as “Cal” (I forget his real name but everyone knew him as “Cal’, so “Cal” it is). Chris had been given the head’s up that I was going to be there but we had, ah, kinda forgotten to mention that Doc would be there as well. It was all fine and dandy though, and we had a good time listening to pros talk about the vagaries of combat as well discovering that Chris Kennedy liked Starship Troopers (The Veerhoven Movie). Granted, I did too, but still… call it “Bug Hunt 2220” and be done with it, geez.

From there it became a mission to “Cordova Chill”, which meant an alcohol run right after dinner. Once again Kacey and Doc decided to be superheroes and picked me up two bottles of “the good stuff”. We went back to the con, hung out in the bar for a bit with Chris Kennedy and his wife Sheellah, before they decided I needed to get “white girl wasted” and proceeded to do just that.

I am ashamed to admit that I blacked out. I don’t remember anything about what happened after we left the bar. I do know I ended up in bed some how, fully clothed but shoes off, because that was how I woke up the next day… with no hangover (it’s a superpower).

Saturday — I woke up without a hangover, per the norm, which made everyone hate me just a little. Of all the superpowers I could have gotten, no hangovers seems rather pithy. Ah well, needs must and all. We quickly ate some breakfast and went to the con, where we sat in on the Baen Traveling Road Show. This time it was hosted by Gray Reinhart, who is super cool and the Baen Books’ Slushmaster General. We all helped setup and basically got to see all the cool stuff that Baen had coming out in the near future, including the new cover for Kacey’s latest anthology she’s editing with Larry Correia. Lots of fun.

From there (for me, at least) it was hanging out at Chris Kennedy Publishing’s dealer table to get a little writing done. Homeguard is currently over 75,000 words complete, and I only have two more chapters to write. However, both are highly detailed battles and so it might take me another week, or ten days, to finish. But the coolest thing happened to me while I was at the booth…

I’d been told by Sheellah that a young boy by the name of “T” (to protect his identity) had been allowed to purchase my YA books from The Warp (Corruptor and Devastator) by his mom. However, he really wanted them signed, so he kept coming back while I was at the panel looking for me. I decided to hang out and write until he got back again.

It took a little while but eventually he and his “handler” (person who helps him out, nice lady) swung back around. “T” is a brilliant kid who was diagnosed with Asperger’s (I think that’s what it was) and doesn’t do human interaction well. I noticed it immediately that he didn’t really want to engage, didn’t look at me, etc. All the classic signs. But since I’m me, I push right on through and talk to him because I know that just because he isn’t looking at me doesn’t mean he’s ignoring me. Suddenly this awesome kid is chatting away about some things I could do in the third book of the series. Highly creative stuff, so I mention that I would like to write him into the final novel in The Warp series. Judging by his excitement I took it as a yes, so I went ahead and made some notes while he told me all of the things that his gaming character should be able to do.

Sorry “T”, but I don’t know about the bazooka that shoots giant robots out of it. On the other hand, your chicken idea with the occasional “feathers? where’s the chicken?” was utterly brilliant.

I don’t get a lot of younger fans because not many people look at the covers of the books in The Warp and recognize it as YA. But after talking with “T” for almost 20 minutes I realized that my writing can make a difference. It made me feel good, and suddenly my mood improved by a thousand percent.

After that it was dinner with Chris and his wife Sheellah, Doc, and Kacey. I cheated on my diet a little (that piece of German chocolate cake was asking for it, man!) but overall stayed pretty healthy. We went to the TRMN room party where we made the Andermani presence known and hung out and made new friends. After that, since we were all tired from the previous night, we crashed out.

Sunday we had plans for breakfast with superfan Yvonne and her husband Greg but since I was the only one up and feeling vaguely human (I think Kacey and Doc both were feeling the effects of a cold coming on, but I hope I’m wrong) we called off and instead showed up on time to sit in on the Chris Kennedy Publishing Presents… 2019 panel. We got to talk about our upcoming releases as well as hand out free books (Yes, CKP hands out free books at these panels, it’s why you should come!). I got to mention the estimated release date for Homeguard (end of March/early April) and let the others in the room know the title of the next two books. Kacey talked about all the projects she has going on, and Doc got to talk about his “Squidverse” series, with the first one, From Darkness: Death, and when it’ll be coming out (soon).

From there it was lunch with… people (arrghhh I forgot their names! Nice couple though.) and then Doc and I hit the road so we could make it back to the other side of the state before the high winds kicked in (judging by the howling outside, it’s kicked in). Got back, said hi to girlfriend, and am ready to rack out. But I wanted to get this out first before I go to bed because if I try to do this tomorrow I’ll probably forget something (like I already have).

Overall, Marscon is a terrific con. It had quite a few people but it never felt “insane” or overcrowded. There were a good mix of different vendors in the dealer’s room (a nice bonus) and I didn’t see any problems. The con hotel is a solid place and I can’t wait to go back in the future (if they’ll have me lol).

One thought on “Marscon 2019 AAR

  1. I had a great time meeting you and hearing about your books. You have a new reader. It was my wife Rebekah and I who had lunch with you, Kacey, and Doc on Sunday. I’m terrible with names too… I look forward to crossing paths with you in the future.

    Tom Black

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