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Category: conventions

Archon 45 is a smash!

We had so. much. fun. at Archon last weekend – so much fun, indeed, that it’s taken me six days to write it up because I’ve been recovering.

Archon is always one of the highlights of our year, and it’s our home con, so it’s also a family reunion. Literary Underworld authors were out in force, including Sela Carsen, T.W. Fendley, Nikki Lanahan and Michales Joy. At any given time you might have seen any of us at the booth, or our Minions, Cole and Ian – who have actual minion badges now. We’re very proud of that. Our good friends from Pro Se Publishing and Yard Dog Press were also there, and it was great to catch up with them in meatspace. We also launched preorders for A Woman Unbecoming, a charity anthology from our friends at Crone Girls Press to benefit reproductive healthcare advocacy. Click here to preorder your copy.

And, of course, there was the Traveling Bar. As is our custom, we opened our doors both nights to serve drinks and talk shop. Jim served as bouncer with backup from our good friend Scott Cousins, and Sela was our Social Butterfly keeping the conversation light and friendly and alerting either of us if there was a potential problem. At this point, we’ve got it down to a science.

On Friday, we opened the doors at 9 p.m. and I started serving drinks about 90 seconds later. My arm literally did not stop moving until I yelled union break at 11:45 so I could hide in the bathroom and stretch my poor arms for five minutes. Then I was back behind the bar until we yelled last call at 1:30 a.m. Saturday was almost as crazy – there were a couple of five-minute spells where I didn’t have anyone asking for a drink, which did not occur on Friday.

Oh, was I tired. I’m still tired just thinking about it, and I’ve slept since then. But everyone had a fantastic time, and that’s the important part. Well, that and making a living, of which Archon is always a major part. But there’s something really fun about being the bartender at a con party, and that’s the people. Most people are happy when they come in and happier with the drink in their hand, but some people are so happy, so grateful, and greet me so cheerfully, it creates this lovely positive energy that I absolutely love. It really felt like the vibe at Archon was back to normal, or as close to normal as we can get with the spectre of the Voldevirus still looming over us.

And around the corner were our friends at SausageFest, raising money once again for cancer research. Sadly I did not get over there to try this year’s snausages, but fortunately everyone else at the con did, or so it seemed. If you want to kick in a little toward their fundraising, click here. They are the bestest neighbors.

Many thanks to all our friends who greeted us so warmly, to our customers who bought books, to our guests who drank the booze and partied with us, to the Underlords and member presses who were there or who supported us from afar, and especially to Minions Ian and Cole, who hauled all the books and booze back to the van and to LitUnd’s dungeon until the next time. (Okay, it’s a storage unit we like to call the warehouse when we’re feeling grandiose, but “dungeon” suits, don’t you think?)

And what would Archon be without the costumes?

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On the road again…

This weekend I’m returning to Midsouthcon, one of the first cons I attended and where I was a GoH a few years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and to picking up some good Memphis barbecue while we’re in town. We always leap at an excuse to go to Memphis, my husband’s hometown and site of my college years. 

I’ll be simultaneously dialing in* to the national conference for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Next year it doesn’t seem that AWP will conflict with Midsouthcon, which will be an enormous relief for me. Fortunately we have at least four LitUnd authors and a henchman to help us work the booth this weekend.

My schedule is roughly as follows:

FRIDAY
• Booth Babe, followed by the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar!
SATURDAY
• Signing on Pro Row, noon, prefunction area.
• Reading, 2 p.m., Conf. Room 11
• Ghosts and Vampires and Ghouls, Oh My! 7 p.m., Conf. Room 6
• Literary Underworld Traveling Bar, Part Two!
SUNDAY
• The Importance of the Subgenre, noon, Conf. Room 6
• Epic Women in Epic Stories, 2 p.m., Conf. Room 7

I’m also happy to announce that I’ll be at the Smithton (Ill.) Public Library on May 7 for a signing; and celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on April 30 at Afterwords Bookstore in Edwardsville, Ill. I already had Wichita on the schedule for the SPJ Regional Conference on April 8-9, and I hope you will catch up with us at one of these events. 

I’m so delighted that the cons are back, and we are learning to travel and meet people safely. I’ve missed you all.

 

Dialing in = Zoom, of course. Isn’t it funny how phrases like “dialing” or “taping” things stick around long after the technology has surpassed them?

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Virtual Con Report: Conflation 2022

For the second year in a row, Conflation had to go to an online format. They made the decision when Omicron was looming over us, and I certainly couldn’t argue with their logic. It’s perhaps frustrating that the virus is now down to fairly low levels and restrictions are loosening up just as the con took place, but once again the organizers of Conflation came up with wildly creative alternatives to the dry Zoom-panel format.

There were, in fact, Zoom panels and activities, including a stitch-n-bitch, fashion show, freestyle discussion groups and my writing workshop, which was the first time I’ve tried to incorporate my MFA training into a con panel. The good people of Conflation were kind enough to be my experimental subjects, and I was very happy with how it came out. I think in the future I might shorten it a bit to allow more interaction, to let the writers talk a little bit about their experiments and how they came out, to give time for a Q&A – it would be perfect as a two-hour workshop, and I may propose that for the next round.

But what is unique about Conflation’s solution to the Voldevirus is Second Life. If you’re not familiar with it, I wrote a column about it last year. It was last year’s Conflation that introduced me to Second Life, and much of the programming this year took place in that virtual environment. I gave my writing workshop sitting in a lovely coffeehouse deep in a fairytale wood (with a cow and the Wendigo watching from the door – what’s surreal about that?). It was simultaneously broadcast on Zoom and on a live stream, so I might have achieved peak social media at that point.

Everybody is sick of Zoom, though it certainly provides a decent alternative to canceling events altogether. However, Second Life programming allowed us to “see” each other, to dance to fantastic music, to float in a pool and wax philosophic about surviving the pandemic, all those social interaction moments that make the difference between an online convention that is a progression of Zoom presentations and a true meeting-place for the mind. 

I had a delightful time at Conflation, even though I missed getting to see the good folks at the con. As much fun as we had dancing up a storm into the wee hours, I hope that next year we will be able to hug each other in real life, as some things simply can’t be replaced.

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Archon ahoy!

This weekend is Archon, our local con and a delightful return after last year’s cancellation. Many of our familiar faces won’t be there, unfortunately, but I understand the concerns. We share them, of course, but I made the decision a while ago to return to the con circuit and I am very pleased that Archon will be requiring vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours before the show. Masks will be required as well, and we will be taking extra precautions for our room party.

The Literary Underworld will be set up in our usual spot by the door of the dealer’s room, and I hope folks will come by and say hello!

Here’s my schedule, at least as of now:

“That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!” When your story goes in a different direction than you had planned.
Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)

“The Once and Future Kings” What are some of the best retellings or reimaginings of the King Arthur legends?
Friday 20:00 – 21:00, Marquette B (Gateway Center)

Author Reading with Elizabeth Donald, Sela Carsen, and Ryan Dalton
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Cahokian (Authorquarium) (Gateway Center)

“Editing: My Way or the Highway” You’ve scored a book contract with a major publisher, but they want changes. Editors can’t always be right, can they? Is there a ‘line in the sand’ you just won’t cross?
Saturday 14:00 – 15:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)

Autograph Session with Sela Carsen and Elizabeth Donald
Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, Cahokian (Authorquarium) (Gateway Center)

“Social Media and You: How to Make It Work For You” Want to utilize social media more to promote yourself or business but don’t know how to? Well, let’s help you!
Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Salon 4 (Gateway Center)

“Virtual Pros and Cons” During the shutdown, both individual authors and artists, vendors, and conventions attempted to operate virtually. Who did it well, and what flopped?
Saturday 20:00 – 21:00, Salon 2 (Gateway Center)

Sunday I have no panels, so you can find me at the booth! We are starting a new benefit, by the way: all Patreon subscribers get 10 percent off at the booth. So if you happen to be there, please do visit!

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Finally: the Edwardsville Author Fair!

I’m delighted to finally attend the Edwardsville Author Fair in person!

They’ve been holding this festival of the written word for a few years now, and each year it has conflicted with another major event: Dragoncon, the Society of Professional Journalists, etc. Then last year the event was virtual, of course, because the Voldevirus required all such things to be in Zoomland. Thus I was actually able to participate after a fashion!

I thought I was going to have to bow out this year again, because I am president of the St. Louis chapter of SPJ and will be representing them as delegate at the annual conference next weekend…. which was supposed to be in New Orleans. Sadly, the Voldevirus strikes again and I will not be chowing down on beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The SPJ conference will be entirely virtual. (Of course, it’s likely it would have struck a landmine anyway, since Hurricane Ida is aiming at the Gulf Coast with a fury.)

But that leaves me home and free-ish to finally participate in my hometown’s book festival! I’ll be stepping in and out of the festival to participate as needed in the SPJ conference events, but my husband will be on our booth selling our books and my art throughout the day. Look for us in the author section of City Park 9am-2pm Saturday, Sept. 4.

 

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