This weekend, I’m sorry I’m missing Phoenix Comicon, an event I’ve enjoyed attending as an author for the last few years. My schedule at the observatory just didn’t allow it to happen. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to return next year. However, I am grateful my schedule allowed me to attend Balticon 50 in Baltimore, Maryland last weekend. Balticon was special for me because I’d worked with several of the attending authors and editors over the years, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to meet them face to face!
Ostensibly, the reason I went to Balticon was for the release of the anthology Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine. Indeed, just about the first thing that happened upon my arrival at Balticon was a wonderful, warm welcome from Danielle, promptly followed by instructions to sit down and sign 150 copies of the anthology. Dani’s husband Mike and author Chris Hiles helped by pulling out boxes and handing them to me one by one until we got the job done. It was a fun way to start the convention and made me grateful for my arthritis being in remission!
My first official event was a pirate reading on Saturday night. I joined Jack Campbell, Laura Nicole and Misty Massey to read selections from our pirate stories. I shared the story “Calamari Rodeo” which features Captain Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy. The story is scheduled to appear in the Hadrosaur Productions anthology Kepler’s Cowboys. Writers can read the guidelines to learn how to submit. Readers can stay up to date about the anthology by following this blog or by signing up for my mailing list. Of course, you can read about Captain Firebrandt’s later adventures in The Pirates of Sufiro, available for free from my publisher. Not only were there fine readings, but there were prizes and even rum! These little touches made for a memorable evening.
The next day, I was on a panel discussing mistakes beginning writers make. On the panel with me were Mike McPhail, Chris Hiles, and Michael Ventralla. Among the mistakes we discussed included being paranoid about editors stealing your idea, falling for writing scams (remember money flows to the writer not from the writer!), and standing out to editors in bad ways. Examples of that last include sending your submission in such a way that it forces the editor to stand in a long post office line to pick it up, sending it on perfumed paper, or emailing it in a format the editor can’t work with.
As I mentioned at the outset, a real thrill of Balticon was getting to meet people I’ve worked with over the years. This includes Danielle Ackley-McPhail who I published in Space Pirates, Space Horrors, and Tales of the Talisman. I also got to meet Christine Norris, whose Talisman of Zandria I edited for LBF Books and Patrick Thomas who appeared in Space Horrors and whose “Dear Cthulhu” column ran in Tales of the Talisman. Patrick also recommended me for the anthology Apocalypse 13. All of these were people I’d only really worked with via email or in internet chat sessions, so it was wonderful to finally meet them in person and not only better cement our business relationship, but now honestly think of them as friends.
Of course, the reason I was invited to Baltimore was to be on hand for the release of Gaslight and Grimm. Here you see with me with most the authors of eSpec books at the release party. I’m wearing a very nice clockwork dragon scarf my wife knitted for me. The party was great with good food, a raffle for great prizes and good conversation. At the party, I got to meet another Tales of the Talisman contributor, Vonnie Winslow Crist, which was a real treat.
Although I didn’t have any events scheduled on Monday of the convention, I did stay around and spent time in the dealer’s room. I had pleasant conversations with Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books, who published Uncle River’s collection The Mogollon News, which features a photograph I took on the cover.
Before I wrap things up, I have to give a shout-out to two friends I knew before attending Balticon. I met Missy Gunnels Katano through my friends Marsheila Rockwell and Gini Koch. Missy graciously met me at the airport and took me to the convention. Nicki Fatherly, who once lived down the hall from me in college, kindly shuttled me around during the convention. They did a lot to make my first Balticon all the more fun by keeping it very stress free.
I hope I’ll get a chance to return to Baltimore before too many more years go by. In the meantime, I look forward to keeping you posted about the ongoing collaborations with many of the fine folks I finally met in person at Balticon.