This week has sucked. Last weekend I got food poisoning while in Virginia Beach (I did not know that you are NOT supposed to eat a steamed mussel that had not opened, who knew…) and I’ve been battling all week to be remotely human for WyvaCon this weekend in Wytheville, Virginia. I’m not sure how long this convention has been around but it’s the second year I’ve attended and, as always, the little con that could shone like a diamond in the rough once more.
Despite it’s small size (or perhaps because of it) the staff are very attentive to the congoers needs, as well as to anything the guests might need. They had a “green room” of sorts for all professional guests to use which had little snacks and cold drinks inside, which was a godsend all things considered, and any time anybody needed anything a volunteer was on hand to answer the question or assist us in any way they could. Scott Martin, the current President of the concom with WyvaCon did an amazing job and my hat is off to him and all of his hard-working volunteers.
So… on to the After Action Review!
The con started early Saturday morning for me. I didn’t have anything planned on Friday and since they schedule the Literary Track events to go on Saturday and Sunday only, I didn’t need to be down there on Friday night. Naturally I was running behind because I never asked where check-in was and went to the wrong building. Wily E. Coyote Sooper Genius level author here, folks.
Once I got all checked in, I hustled off to get to my first panel, which was with NYT Bestselling author Jack Campbell. It was called Military Sci-fi: A Conversation & History, and I strolled in approximately 5 minutes late (a sadly recurring theme for the entire weekend on my part). Jack and the moderator were very gracious and good-natured at my tardiness, and it was a very interesting panel. It was also possibly our best attended panel of the weekend, since it allowed us to look into the history of MilSF as well as talk about who some of our early influences were. Jack and I are also both Navy veterans, though in two different generations, and that was interesting as well since it allowed us to explore the growing number of authors who are military vets.
I had a quick bite to eat of some bland quesadilla, since I figured that would be safe for my stomach (editor’s note: it was not) and after I sat down in the dealer’s room and checked out some of the vendors. Bought a cute little necklace for the girlfriend and a bunch of paintings for myself, as well as scoring a Tom Hardy autographed picture of him as Venom from the charity auction. That’s definitely going up in the office… somewhere. Dang, I’m running out of room in here.
Next, I was back on another panel with Jack. This time we were joined by author Tiffany Trent as we talked about the Science in Science Fiction. I must admit that I was a little out of my depth here, since I will be the first to admit that I will use handwavium whenever the science gets too crazy in any one of my novels. However, the audience had a good time and we got to talk about how science in every day life manages to work its way into novels, or how futuristic stuff we talk about in our books end up becoming a reality.
Then it was off to Getting Published, which had all four of the literary guests on hand to talk about how to get published in today’s crazy market. I said four because publisher and author Mike Allen joined us and all of us had good tips on what to do and, more importantly in my opinion, what not to do. I saw quite a few people taking notes and I think we were able to point some aspiring authors in the right direction.
I had an autograph session next, but since nobody showed up (so unloved…. *sigh*) I talked to one of the artists who was there selling his wares. He had some awesome digital paintings that made me really want to have him do some of my covers for the Kin Wars in the future. He understood combat armor and had some really cool designs. I’m hoping that I can get him for a few books in the near-future. I bought…. 3 pieces of his art? Need to go get some frames for them to hang up on the wall.
My final panel of the day was A Day in the Life of an Author, and featured all four of us scoundrels once more (well, Tiffany and Jack seem like reputable individuals. I could tell that Mike was a troublemaker just like me LOL). It became abundantly clear that we all lead surprisingly boring lives as authors, with none of us choosing the Hunter S. Thompson road to life and living. We were all pretty adamant about trying to keep a writing schedule, since it breeds continuity, though life has a way of throwing curveballs.
I was supposed to judge the Cards Against Humanity tournament afterwards but that plain, boring quesadilla I had earlier was not settling well, so I bailed and met up with Patty and Jay, where I was spending the night (there was no way I was driving all the way home). They suggested bison burgers and, since I’d been dying to try them, I threw caution to the wind and had one, praying to the Porcelain Gods that they would be gentle on me. It actually didn’t make me sick, which was a very nice change of pace considering it was the first real food I’d kept down in almost a week. We then hung out at their place in the hot tub, talked for a bit, and I… fell asleep before we could play Pandemonium. *sigh* Second year in a row I’ve done this, but at least this time I made it to the hot tub. Last year I fell asleep in the couch in the middle of a sentence.
Sunday morning we went to IHOP for breakfast and, sure enough, the moment I ate my stomach revolted. Granted, I was really giving the pancreas a workout, since I ordered the chocolate chocolate chip pancakes, but QUITTERS SUCK!
Stomach roiling and threatening to dump contents everywhere but I was actually NOT running late this time, my noon panel on Sunday was Short Fiction Workshop. Unfortunately, nobody brought anything for us to critique, so Mike, Jack, and I spoke with a bright young lady who was working on her first book and offered pointers. She’d been at every panel over the weekend and had a lot of good questions. Fortunately, Jack and Mike were far better at answering them than I was, so I think that we were able to help her out some.
Form there we did the wrap up, where we pretty much had an open Q&A session. It was actually a lot of fun, since I got to ask the others on the panel some technical questions that I had which none of the attendees had asked or even knew to ask. From there it was a short talk with Scott Martin, the con chair, before I headed out to go home.
Horrendous traffic along I-81, by the way. God I hate that freaking freeway. Why does the busiest route through the entire state only have TWO ROADS PER SIDE??? Ugh.
Once again, I left WyvaCon feeling great. I really enjoy the smaller cons that allow you to get more facetime with the fans and attendees. I gave them a huge shout out earlier, but the volunteers all deserve huge high fives because their commitment to making this con run shows. I’m super excited about helping it grow as well, and I know for a fact that if they’ll have me back next year, I’ll be going.
If you’re interested in a smaller con that has a lot of stuff for kids and adults to do (they had a NERF battle that I unfortunately couldn’t partake in because it interfered with a panel), give WyvaCon a try.