Monday, September 28, 2015

Thoughts From A Couple Of Friends...On The Con

I've been involved in a few of these crazy Comic Cons that crop up from time to time. And I have always had an amazing time. In the past, I've written SO much about these events, that even I get kind of tired of seeing so many pictures and links and comments about it.

And I love going to them!

This year I wrote a blog post about two individuals that I met at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con, Ron Simmons and Alan Tudyk, and I shared a few pictures. That's it, so far.

I have read some thoughts published by friends about their experiences and a couple were nice enough to mention me, so I thought I'd let you know what they wrote, because I share many of their thoughts and feelings. Plus, these guys are two awesome writers and both examples of class mixed with intellect.


Salt Lake Comic Con

I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing con reports, because I go to too many cons to really do that.  I mean, I can write detailed con reports or I can write books, you know?

But I want to say a few things about Salt Lake.

First, Blake Casselman and Ryan Call do great work.  I know a few panelists were disappointed with how some things turned out this year.  It’s okay to be disappointed — this is a fallen world, and stuff ain’t perfect.  But Blake and Ryan work really hard, and deserve thanks.

Second, holy WordFire Press, Batman!  Did you SEE those lines?  And the press of readers?  And the precision control around crowd management?  And the awesomeness of those books?  I have to say, I feel like I make a great call in jumping for that wagon.  Props to Kevin, Rebecca, Peter, Alexi, Quincy, and the rest of the team.

Third, Jim Butcher.  That dude is an unassuming, cool cat.

Fourth, Larry Correia.  You might not agree with his politics or his views on the Hugos and you might not enjoy being in a debate with him.  But NOBODY is more accessible to his fans.  Larry is SUPER friendly, available, generous, and as loyal to his fans as they are to him.  Color me impressed.
Fifth, also, Larry ran me over like a freight train Friday night at Choose Your Own Apocalypse as the partying Reavers.  To be clear, Jason King as the revivalist Borg ALSO ran me over, like a slightly smaller freight train.  This is a game I have won before, but man, not this time.  I think I had ten different audience members come up to me on Saturday and say “CYOA is our favorite thing.  We need one of those every night!”  Because yes, I lost, but it was HILARIOUS.

This is an ALLCAPS kind of post.  It was an ALLCAPS kind of con.

Sixth, many people are awesome.  Nathan Shumate (The Last Christmas Gift, go buy it now for stocking stuffers), Jason and Sariah, Michaelbrent Collings, Judy Collings, Kendra and Matt Santa Cruz, Jared Garrett, Kevin Nielsen, David Young et familia, Justin McBride, the Terrells, Peter Orullian (because MUSIC!), Julie Frost, M. Todd Gallowglass, Scott Tayler, S.A. Butler, David J. West, Holli Anderson, Nathan Croft, Scott Tarbet, Tyler Jolley, Jacob Gowans, Celeste Hansen, Joy Johnson, Daniel Braithwaite, Jason Mocer, and MANY OTHERS I AM FORGETTING AT THIS MOMENT AND TO WHOM I OWE AN APOLOGY.

Seventh, I LOVE doing cons at the table.  The green room is cool, that’s a place to meet writers, and Bob Defendi has written a lovely meditation on the greatness of the green room.  But at the table I got to chat with Chris the electric ukulelist who build his own instruments and amps, and Terrie the forest ranger who read Hellhound on My Trail up in the Uintas, and other people who bought books before from me and came back for more.  How cool is that?

Eight, congratulations to Josh Vogt.  Even bigger congratulations to Paizo.
Nine, I met Chuck Gannon.  He’s a cool guy, and I’m excited to read his first book.
Ten, I was on some sweet panels.  To my surprise, the sweetest was the end-of-con panel on writing sex and gore.  People had serious questions, and we attempted serious answers, with a great deal of laughter and more than a little colorful metaphor.

And all that BEFORE the supermoon eclipse.

Oh and hey, look… the world hasn’t ended.

I hope your weekends were as good as mine.

From Dave Butler's blog. You can read it: HERE
Salt Lake Comic Con. The 2015 edition.
I think I'm going to do a blog post on this, but there are thoughts that I want to get down while there are still fresh. It's about the Party Table. There might be feelings. I apologize in advance.
I spend a lot of time in the Green Room at one of these cons. There I get a sense of family I rarely experience elsewhere in my life. It's just been me and my mother for a very long time. I never had siblings. Big family dinners are relatively unknown to me. All the close family died many years ago.
I usually find some place to set up at a con, where a group of writers and fans and other professionals can come and go. We don't talk about craft. We get enough of that in the panels. We just spend time in the presence of people who've shared the same experiences. The people who have stayed up late on a book deadline. The people who have known rejection and despair and delight and crushing defeat in the same profession we have. Most of us aren't anywhere near the same point in our careers. It doesn't matter.
In the past, at Comic Con, I've set up on the couches. I realized this con what a mistake that was. Couches can't hold enough people and they are often positioned all wrong. Without the couches set up for People Watching, I set up at a table with a view of the door and the food. I was there more than 10 hours most days. I usually had only three hours away on the floor or at a panel. So the rest of the time I spent at what we called "The Party Table."
I don't want you to think that I take credit for the party table. The only thing I really contributed to the party table was a sense of continuity. I set up there the first thing when I arrived (or when they opened the doors), and I would just hang out and see who wanted to talk. When people came in who I knew, I'd try to catch their eye and wave, because everyone likes to feel like Norm at Cheers.
And one or two people would sit down eventually. Sometimes I'd know them, like Julie Julie Peterson Wright or Scott Taylor or James Dashner. Sometimes they'd stay long. Sometimes they'd leave quickly. Sometimes new people would come. I met Dan Schaefer and Andrew Mayne and Kevin Hearne this con. (When I first sat down at the table, I was actually crashing the conversation of Kevin and Brian McClellan).
Conversations and groups would form. Julie would attract friends, then they would attract friends, and then Julie would leave but the little microcosm relationships would remain. The Hello, Sweetie! Podcast would do a fly by.Kevin J. Anderson would insist that I was a lazy bum that lived in the green room. Larry Correia would eat dinner and sometimes stay, sometimes leave. We'd joke and we'd laugh and we'd tell stories. I met radio personalities MiShell Livio and Cate Allen. At one point Jessica Day Georgesat down, turned to me, and basically did a twenty minute, spot-on improv comedy routine. Then she left. Many others came and went. On Friday, at one point, a giant collection of chairs had bulged out to the side of the table, as if another table was about to spontaneously appear through asexual fission.
I took part of many of these conversations, but at times, all the people would dissolve on my side of the table to the point where I could barely even hear the conversations. At others five conversations would happen at once and I'd realize I was trying to take part in three of them.
People will probably think that I'm going to say the highlight of the weekend was when Scott Taylor drew PJ Haarsma into a conversation on producing Con Man, and then Alan Tudyk did a fly by. I made two jokes. Alan laughed at one and shook my hand when offered.
But that isn't it. The magic happened the first time on Friday, and again twice on Saturday. The magic came when I was suddenly alone, and yet the table was full. When every conversation had shifted away from me and I just sat and watched. Two people laughed to my left. Two more were in serious consultation to my right. Across from me, five awesome women has a conversation that I can only assume involved how to handle the tremendous burden of awesomeness.
There was no pressure. No conversation to track. No need to be funny or to be actively listening or to commiserate over a botched panel. There was just the conversations, organic and living, the relationships shifting and merging and breaking and reforming around me. I was completely apart. And I watched old friends and new. People I liked or loved or barely knew. I watched the interactions live and breathe, and I realized it had happened.
The table had taken on a life of its own. I watched, and I took it in, and I knew a profound contentment and a boundless joy.
Those three moments were the height of comic con.
But when the smoke had cleared and the last person had left. When the soda cans sat empty and forlorn and the last cries on the floor started to echo, we took a deep breath and we smiled upon the day and we rechristened it the Alan Tudyk Commemorative Party Table.
Because: Alan Tudyk.

From Rob's Facebook post.

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