Tag Archives: MidSouthCon

Marathon Mann (or a Mann of extremes)

I seem to have become a man of extremes; at least the past couple of weeks and it appears for the next few weeks. Yes, I know I told you last time I wrote in this space that I’d talk about my upcoming experiences.

I lied.

Not intentionally, of course. I’ll make good on my word next time because I’ve got some cool things to talk about. One of them can’t wait, though. I’ll be appearing all day at MidSouthCon this coming Saturday. Bring stuff for me to sign, or pick them up while you’re there, but come out and see me. I’m scheduled for 4 events, but will be around the convention most of the day: 11 a.m. Playing in Other People’s Sandboxes: How to write and publish media tie-in novels; 1 p.m. Pro-Row: autograph sessions; 3 p.m. Marketing for Authors: How to get your name out there and get people reading your work; 5 p.m. Indie Comics: IDW, Dark Horse, Atlas, Dynamite, etc. Good products from smaller publishers.

Back to extremes…It really began last week when the kids were out of school for Spring Break (hint here as to why there was no blog last week!). First extreme: We spent 13 hours driving to Orlando. All three of us crammed in to the cab of my truck!

Next extreme: Brittany’s new bikini was extremely…valuable! I mean the threads must have been dipped in gold. It’s not that we spent an incredible amount of money on it, but that the prices per yard…nay, foot, is extremely high!

Next: We had an extremely fun and long day at Universal thanks to Phil Mitchem and our wonderful tour guide (and my work colleague) Jennie Jarvis. What was planned as a 9 hour day turned in to a 12 hour day thanks—in part—to a two hour wait in the Harry Potter ride line. It was supposed to have a picture here, but my extremely busy daughter extremely forgot to send it to me.

The next extreme was a beach day where the kids got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. I didn’t realize when I took them that New Smyrna Beach is the shark bite capital of the East Coast. And no, no extreme pictures exist of the great white flesh!

Next: the 13 hour drive back to Oxpatch. ‘Nuff said.

Next: the Honey-do list waiting on me upon my return. I got extreme with the lawn, a copperhead (dead now, he is), and a flat tire on my riding mower—still flat unless BJ has extremely remedied the problem. Yeah, still flat.

Not quite so extreme, but close, the Sunday return to Orlando via jet plane cutting short an extremely short stay home.

Next extreme was the near 15 hours I spent in the office yesterday playing catch-up to last week (I still haven’t figured out how to grade papers while driving for 13 hours, but I will take any and all suggestions).

And…sigh…it looks to be like that again today.

And for the forthcoming extremes…well, you’ll have to wait an extremely shot 7 days for that!

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MidSouthCon 2010 report

I mentioned in this space several weeks ago that 2010 was shaping up to be a busy year. On March 12-14, I was a “comic industry guest” at MidSouthCon, held in Olive Branch, Mississippi. (Though I understand the Federal Government is requiring them to move back to Tennessee next year). While I attended ShadowCon in January, this was the first full Sci-Fi/Comics Convention I’d attended as a guest in nearly a decade. Yes, it feels weird to say that as it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.

My stay was made possible by my sister Angie who lives nearby. She put me up and gave me a soft bed to sleep in, even if I wasn’t there to visit too terribly often. I was able, though, to talk her into coming out and visiting a real geek-convention for the first time ever. She has remained oddly silent about the entire experience. This was also Brittany’s first time to visit a convention—she even got the shirt!

I was seated next to a couple of guys I used to hire during my Malibu days. They happen to be some pretty talented artists, as well. Dean Zachary, Mitch Foust, Jim Hall, all shared a joint booth space and practically didn’t move the entire three days, steadily drawing whatever was requested by fans. And the Star Wars fans were out in droves. They came to see Star Wars comic writer John Jackson Miller, and Kevin J. Anderson, who was the Guest of Honor. Though I’ve known John for some 15+ years, I guess it’s been more peripherally than directly. To my knowledge (and his as well, he claimed), this was the first time I’d met him in person. John was just as nice as I expected, and novelist Anderson—of whom I had no expectations—was equally nice. Anderson sat to my left when he wasn’t on panels.

Some of my new acquaintances were there as well: Imagicopter founder David Blalock was there, but I regrettably didn’t get to speak much with him. Novelist Bryan Davis came for the banquet on Saturday. I spoke with him briefly and met his wife. I even had the chance to try to recruit him a little for Imagicopter (Yes, I’ll blog about that a little later).

I met some other new folks as well. Musician Chris Brown manned Anderson’s table most of the time while Anderson was away. An incredible guitarist, I anticipate he will be performing as the music guest at cons to come in the very near future. Lin Workman has been working in comics for a while, and I find it odd that he’s located so close in Memphis yet I’d never had the opportunity to meet him.

A surprise visit by Mississippi 4H leader (don’t know her official title) Linda Mitchell surprised me a bit. But I tell you, she is always on the lookout for events that her incredibly talented group of 4H kids might like. She and husband Dean were all smiles as they made their way around the convention. It’s highly likely she’ll bring a group of 4H kids there next year…and I suspect they’ll have the time of their lives!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention MidSouthCon Committee member Carlin Stuart. Carlin was my liaison and the entire reason I attended and was able to attend. He took good care of me! I’m hoping to hear from Carlin in the coming months with an invitation to do it all again next year!

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Attending Cons, Conferences and Workshops

Today and tomorrow I will attend the Fourth Annual American Christian Writers Conference in Memphis, TN. Although I will be a GF (General Flunkie) at this year’s conference, I’ll still get to be in a creative environment and am betting I’ll be chomping at the bits to get to my keyboard. So, it seemed like the perfect time to reflect on Conferences, Conventions and workshops.

One of the things I’ve had to learn to do is tell the difference in Conferences, Conventions and Workshops. In the comic industry, just about everything professionals attend is called a “convention,” or “con” for short. For instance, the Mid-South Con is a comic/science fiction gathering in Memphis. Generally, it’s a place where fans and readers can go to meet their favorite authors and artists, have their books signed by them, chat with them, and sit in on panel discussions with them. Game designers and publishers are also often found at “cons.” Mid-South Con even has a Writer’s Conference scheduled to take place at the same time. That part of the Mid-South Con will be devoted to workshops with writers and such, although that’s a bit of a rarity in science-fiction and comic conventions. Not a rarity at these kinds of shows is usually a pretty large “dealer’s room” where fans can buy up all sorts of collectible goodies.

A Writer’s Conference is only slightly different. Generally they are geared specifically to writers, or more specifically, to wannabe writers. The guest list at a conference usually includes well known authors, editors and agents. Wannabe writers then vie for their attention to show them they’re the next greatest thing since white bread. Often, it’s the one place where writers can actually meet editors and agents face to face…that is, if they’re not hiding out. Writer conferences usually have a wide variety of sessions intended to help the fledgling writers improve their craft. They often cover such basic things as plot and character, and they also get into more developed ideas such as police procedural in fiction. I sat in on one of the latter ones which was led/taught by a policeman who also happened to be a writer. And no, I’ve never seen a session on comic storytelling or scripting. And yes, I’ve offered to lead them here and there. Most of the responses have been the organizers don’t see a “need” for that kind of session. They may be right…but I’d still like to lead one.

Workshops are geared to the very specific development of writers. Essentially, “workshops” is the writing industry’s way of saying “class,” because that’s essentially what the sessions are. And they run the gamut, too, from very short 50 minute sessions to all day sessions, to those that take place over longer periods.

A writers retreat is also a slightly different beast. These are intended to get the writer away from all the disturbances of the regular work environment and isolate them in such a way that their main focus is simply…to write! After all, that’s what writers should be doing…writing!


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