Thursday, March 16, 2017

Birthday Surprises at Cleveland ConCoction 2017

Last weekend I had a great time at Cleveland ConCoction 2017. It was the first year where I stepped down from the department head position and Melissa took over. I must say, she did phenomenal. Wey, who was co-seconding the department this year with me, and a buddy I've known since college by the name of Tavis helped out in Authors Alley over the entire weekend, making a tremendous difference for me and the other 25 authors in attendance.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
The weekend started off Friday with a chance meeting in the Vendors Hall with Glen Cook, the Literary Track's guest of honor best known for his Black Company series. He and his wife were wonderful to chat with, a down to earth guy whose fantastic writing career has spanned more than 40 years.

A reading showcase with three other authors followed. I chose chapter 4 of To Kill a Priest from my Priors series. You may be wondering why. I chose it because chapter 4 is when Jedd, Madelin's godfather, astrally projects into the hospital room where she's been restrained. Once there, he helps Madelin escape the clutches of the government black-ops agency that killed her parents and abducted her, known as PASTOR. The people who attended seemed to receive it well along with the other authors' books, and the discussion that commenced afterward was quite good. The rest of the night was spent in Authors Alley, followed by dinner at the Sheraton hotel's restaurant with S. Andrew Swann, a phenomenal fantasy and sci-fi writer with 20+ books out. We discussed everything from writing to publishing, gaming, and even programming. Then Tavis, Melissa, a fellow volunteer, and I made a quick pit stop at some of the convention parties. They were entertaining and a bit loud. Afterward we settled down to chat over a drink in the upstairs lobby where it was a bit more quiet.

Saturday began slowly, after a late night, with a variety of birthday wishes interspersed from friends and strangers alike. At first it caught me off guard until I was informed that not only did I share my birthday with famed writer Douglas Adams, but an announcement had been posted on Facebook by con staff. It was quite touching that they cared so much.

Later on, the birthday surprises continued when I was called down to the con suite immediately. I showed up to more than 80 con-goers singing happy birthday and two enormous birthday cakes for everyone to partake, all during a Geek Watch One podcast. After cake was cut and handed out, I was pulled into a great interview with the Geek Watch One hosts and had a lot of fun discussing books, writing, gaming, and Cleveland ConCoction's Authors Alley. It was tons of fun. Listen for yourself. The interview itself starts 23 minutes in, but the entire event occurs throughout and it's a lot of fun to listen to. Even Aberon, head of Operations for Cleveland ConCoction, got in on the action.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
The evening continued with a 9:00 pm panel on Why Villains Matter that was well attended. All of us authors had great fun discussing Darth Vader, Voldemort, and tons of other villains you often see in books and movies, and the attendees really got in on the discussion too. Following it, Tavis, Swann, and I got a bite to eat before Swann had to attend his next late night panel, then visited the Game Hall with Melissa. It was the first time I'd actually made it down to the Game Hall in my 4 years of attending/working Cleveland ConCoction. As a gamer, it was a pleasant reprieve to finally get the chance. We tried out High Noon Saloon, one of Slug Fest Games's products, in the Play to Win opportunities ConCoction's Game Hall offers. Slug Fest Games is best known for the game Red Dragon Inn, which I can attest is great fun. High Noon Saloon didn't disappoint. My character was thrown out a window, shot from a guy hanging off a chandelier, and ultimately killed at the same time as one of our new gaming friends Rob. High Noon is good and certainly a game I would recommend.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
Sunday turned out to be one of my busiest. It started off with two back to back panels, Favorite Characters: Why Did They Have to Die? where I was moderating and Post Apocalypse-How will it End? Both were earlier in the morning but they were pretty well attended. Attendees had tons of questions and the discussions were quite good, especially since those were two of my favorite panel topics from the weekend. Afterward I returned to Authors Alley, signed quite a few books, talked with readers, and said farewell to the authors as they headed home.

Over the weekend I also got to sit down with gaming guest of honor Lee Garvin, who you might know from his work writing the Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 manual The Noble Wild and his latest incarnation, Tales From the Floating Vagabond. He is a wonderful guy, a fan of animals and sitcoms. It was great having him at ConCoction 2017 and wonderful to sit down and talk over a drink.

Until next year, everyone. I look forward to it.

See also:

Author J. L. Gribble's take on Cleveland ConCoction 2017

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death trilogy, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances