Life, the Universe, and ConFusion

Posted on Posted in From the Front Lines

This past weekend, I made the trek out to Detroit, MI to attend Confusion, a literary/fannish science fiction convention. This year’s theme: Life, the Universe, and Confusion, because Confusion celebrated its 42nd annual gathering to celebrate all things nerdy. The last several years, I’ve heard such great things about this convention and thanks to the generosity of my good friend Patrick Tomlinson, for sharing his hotel room and my mom for providing air fare. the weekend got off to a terrifying start on Thursday morning. The flight attendants told us that all the passengers had to sit in certain places because of a weight/balance issue, and then…we had nasty turbulence all the way from Sacramento to Denver, the worst of it being as we made our decent. Denver to Detroit was not nearly as eventful. When I arrived in Detroit, an internet pal from /r/fantasy on Reddit picked me up and schlepped me to the convention hotel.

Thursday was all about barcon. For those of you unfamiliar to a fannish convention, “barcon” is basically where some of the convention attendees, a large percentage usually pros of some variety, descend on the bar and proceed to chat, schmooze, joke, network, and generally just enjoy being surrounded by their fellow lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Probably the coolest moment of Thursday night barcon was when I introduced myself to Dave Robison of The Roundtable Podcast. Not only had he heard of me, he told me that he gets my newsletter and considers himself a member of the #GallowglasArmy. He’s also had me on his radar to be a guest on The Round Table Podcast. That was absolutely bitchin. Dave also turned me onto Periscope, and later in the weekend I finally recorded my first periscope video. More on that at some other point, because I think it’s going to take me a while to figure that one out and get comfortable with it. I also met Jay Swanson, a fellow /r/fantasy author who I’ve been doing a little bantering with since we did a giveaway last October. He’s a heck of a guy and happy to have in my ever increasing circle of Writer Pals™. I’m really interested in his novel, Into the Nanten, which he told me you can read for free on his website.

During the day on Friday a group of us started a spontaneous writer work party in the hotel’s restaurant bar area. I got some good work done there, though progress on it was intermittent, because everyone was also being social along with working. I met Shana Dubois, when she volunteered to run off to Panera and grab lunch for everyone. Spent the rest of the weekend bantering with her off an on. Later, at Friday night barcon, she and I spent quite a while railing on the adversity academia seems to continue to have toward genre fiction.

Speaking of Friday night, I spent quite a bit of it at the Angry Robot Books party. Angry Robot is a small press that publishes quite a few of my writer pals. It was really fun handing with Patrick Tomlinson, Megan O’Keefe, Michael R. Underwood, and others, including my ride from the airport and her husband. They are fabulous people, and I’m glad to have met them. Throughout the evening, Michael Underwood did drawings for book giveaways. I won my buddy Patrick’s book, The Ark. I beta read for it, and you should check it out. It’s Murder on the Orient Express on a generation ship. Another coll moment at the party was meeting Kameron Hurley. Her book Mirror Empire has been on my radar for a while, but with my 2016 reading challenge, I thought I was going to have to postpone that until 2017. But now I don’t, and from what Michael and a couple other people whose opinions in matters of books I respect, I’m going to dive in as soon as I finish Megan O’Keefe’s, Steal the Sky. Though I may try something shorter in between, like the first Genrenaut story, The Shootout Solution, which Michael graciously gave me. Considering how much I enjoyed Geekomancy, I’m really looking forward to that one.

Saturday I went to a couple of panels and had a great time. I decided to leave two pretty quickly, because I was so passionate about the subject matter that I didn’t think I could have remained chill had I stayed. Look! This is me learning discretion. Again, I spent the majority of Saturday hanging out in the bar, because that’s where everyone hangs out when not at panels or in the dealer’s room. One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to chat extensively with Michael R Underwood, and not just all business. I’ve known Michael for a few years, but because we only see each other at conventions, it’s hard to connect with people outside of being fellow professionals. ConFusion has such a mellow vibe, and Michael is such a relaxed guy, that it felt perfectly natural chatting away getting to know each other on a personal level.

I’m condensing everything, so I’m leaving out people I met and liked very much. Not including them in this post isn’t intended as a slight, just that so much happened over the four days, I’m not able to put it all into this post. I did lots of networking and put the baby steps of projects into motion, I’ll be talking about the catalysts when those begin to come to fruition.

Sunday morning, I bumped into Patrick Nielson-Hayden of TOR publishing at a moment when he didn’t seem like he was on his way from point A to B or when he wasn’t surrounded by other people, so I made a point to thank him for some advice he gave me back in August of 2011. The interesting thing about our conversation was that back in 2011, Patrick very clearly stated that self-publishing and indie-publishing were not the same thing. In our brief conversation this time, he used the terms “indie-publishing” and “self-publishing” synonymously and interchangeably. I don’t know if it actually means anything, but it seems to be an indicator of how far things have changed about the industry view of self-publishing over the last five years.

Lastly, on my flight home, I noticed a lady wearing a shirt with the Twitch.tv logo on it. Since I just started live streaming some of my writing sessions to my Twitch channel (with more interactive content coming soon), I struck up a conversation. The shirt was to support her son’s Twitch channel. The young man, Hudson, was really cool. Gave me some pointers and even offered to help out my son, Mathew, when he starts live streaming his games and such. Since I had some books in my bag, I gave him a copy of First Chosen, Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate, and the audio of “Jaludin’s Road.”

And those are the highlights of reports #FromTheFrontLines. What shenanigans did the rest of you in the #GallowglasArmy get up to this last weekend? Anything good, bad, crazy? Let us know in the comments. Want to poke me for more details on the convention or ideas, ask in the comments.

Coming soon to live streaming:

A choose-your-own adventure type story where viewers get to help guide the story.

“Saturday Morning Cartoons.” On Saturday morning, I’ll be reading all the flash fiction pieces I wrote during the week. When I’m off at events, I’ll rope some people into reading along with me. First episode is going to be this Saturday. Pay attention to all my social media streams for the time.

Until next time, remember kids…

The first rule of the #GallowglasArmy is that you absolutely talk about the #GallowglasArmy!