Denver Comic Con 2018 Recap and General Update

My first Denver Comic Con as a panelist has come and gone, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Thanks to the efforts of superwoman Shannon Lawrence, I was able to participate in five panels over the three days of the convention. Here are some personal highlights.

Art

I picked up this beautiful piece of artwork by Chaz Kemp, one of my favorite local artists. Nearly every aspect of this piece has personal meaning to me, and I’m honored to own it.

 

"Insight" by Chaz Kemp

“Insight” by Chaz Kemp

 

I also stopped by the VisiColors booth and picked up some very cute stickers for my girlfriend.

 

VisiColors Stickers

VisiColors Stickers

 

Inspiration

I was lucky enough to get in the front row for Frank Miller’s Q&A session, though I couldn’t afford an autograph. Miller is by far my favorite comic book writer thanks to his incredible “Born Again” run in Daredevil. His economy of language and ability to tell a gripping story in so few words is inspirational to me. It’s no secret to people who have known me for a while that even though I haven’t collected comics for a long time, Daredevil is my favorite superhero, and seeing the man behind The Man Without Fear speak is a bucket list item I can now check off.

 

Comic book legend Frank Miller

Comic book legend Frank Miller

 

Also, after fighting my way through the throngs of people in the exhibitor hall, I finally found Connie Willis‘s signing table and she signed my personal copy of Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence. I’m honored to have a story in the same book as her, especially since it’s my first fiction sale. (I also got a free copy of Crosstalk, which she also personalized for me!)

 

Connie Willis personalization on the Prologue page of Edward Bryant's Sphere of Influence

Connie Willis personalization on the Prologue page of Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence

 

Artistic Growth and Exposure

After fighting through a writing slump in recent months, I feel like I’m finally moving again. With another recent sale to Martian Magazine (to be published online the week of July 23rd), I’m feeling motivated again, and event submitted a piece of flash fiction to Postcard Poems and Prose from my phone while at Comic Con. There’s a lot of my dad in that story, so it’s fitting that I submitted it over Father’s Day weekend, and I hope it does well in their “Clutch” contest.

I attended a panel on geeky songwriting (“I Sing and I Know Things”) featuring my friends Losing Lara and Seth Phillips, and Lara was kind enough to give me a shoutout about my upcoming Westercon 71 / MALCon 6 concert on Sunday, July 8th at 2 PM. Watch this space for a more detailed announcement about that con appearance, coming soon.

 

Seth Phillips, Will Plumb, and Losing Lara

Seth Phillips, Will Plumb, and Losing Lara

 

Big Audiences without Anxiety

I’ve been participating on panels at SF conventions for over 15 years, and I’ve helped organize them as far back as 1987. But Denver Comic Con is an order of magnitude larger than any other convention where I’ve appeared, so the panel attendees were an order of magnitude larger, as well. Here’s a shot of the audience for my final panel, on “Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology.” DeAnna Knippling did a masterful job moderating the panel, and the time flew by.

Audience for "Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology"

Audience for “Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology”

Even better, when I saw the size of the line before the panel and the number of people streaming in, I barely got nervous at all. The only time this introvert’s social anxiety really kicked in was when I was trying to thread my way through the exhibit hall during its busiest times. For me, that’s a major win.

 

General Update

My life has become very busy lately, between convention appearances, musical gigs, stories published, and everyday work and relationships. Add to that the fact that I’m currently displaced from the room I rent and living out of boxes because the owners of my home are renovating the basement where I live, and I would normally be freaking out. But I’ve realized that I’ve changed a lot in the last couple of years, and the positive changes are mostly due to things I have put in place myself. I told a colleague last September that I really wanted to focus on my writing and music, and good things are coming from that. Even the displacement has had positive effects; it has disrupted my normal routine enough that I’ve broken out of some habits that were taking too much of my time and reducing the quality of my sleep.

However, there have also been some challenges because of these positive changes. I’ve had to erect some boundaries in order to stay on track and not get behind. One of these is in the area of computer consulting. I’ve done consulting on the side for years, but I’ve never done it with a monetary focus; it’s always been about helping people resolve problems inexpensively. But if I want to keep up the momentum on my creative endeavors, I can’t accept any new clients, and I have to be judicious about helping existing clients. That means I’ve had to say “No” to some people who have wanted my help recently, and that’s a new — and difficult — thing for me.

Sometimes I wish I could clone myself so that I could have WriterStace, PoetStace, MusicStace, FriendStace, and ConsultingStace for various tasks. When it comes down to it, though, MeStace is my default setting; I don’t need to create him, and he takes precedent over all others, perhaps for the first time in my life.

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This just in … (Updated 5/31/2018)

DCC Logo

In addition to the appearance at Denver Comic Con that I wrote about a few days ago, I am now going to be on a total of five panels! Please see below for my appearance schedule. DCC takes place at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, June 15-17, 2018.

I’m excited to be on my first Comic Con panels! HUGE thanks to Shannon Lawrence for including me.

Friday, June 15, 2018
Favorite Horror Tropes
Horror is full of common tropes, for good or ill. Let’s talk favorites. Which tropes are the best, the ones that stand out and make us beg for more? Which ones do we revisit over and over in books, television shows, and movies? We’ll discuss the horror tropes that make us shriek, shudder, and shake in fear. And the ones that make us think long into the night, while we peer into the shadows … and our own psyches.
Coast City – Mile High Ballroom DCCP4, 4:00 pm – 4:50 pm
Panelists: Melissa Sauer Locy (Moderator), Veronica R. Calisto, DeAnna Knippling, Emily GodhandShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Saturday, June 16, 2018
Creating Believable Monstors
The more believable the monster, the more frightening it’ll be. But how do you take creatures of fantasy and make them real to the reader? What about when the monster is human? What details must be addressed to form a fully realized creature to creep and slash its way through your fiction?
Room 405, 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm
Panelists: Matt Bille (Moderator), Veronica R. Calisto, DeAnna KnipplingShannon LawrenceFleur BradleyStace Johnson

Not Just Novels — Writing Different Lengths
You frequently hear about novels, but writing comes in many lengths, from one sentence stories to flash fiction, short stories to novellas, and everything in between. Do some genres work better in short form? Are there some genres that don’t work in short form? What are some of the benefits of writing shorter works? Is the dynamic different?
Room 405, 5:30 pm – 6:20 pm
Panelists: DeAnna Knippling (Moderator), Jason Dias, Fleur Bradley, Carolyn Kemp, and Shannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Sunday, June 17, 2018
First Steps in Self Publishing
More authors are taking their careers into their own hands, whether going exclusively indie or going forward as hybrid authors. But what does it take to self-publish? What are the first steps? We’ll go over the initial elements that need to be addressed in order to get started with self-publishing.
Room 405, 10:30 am – 11:20 am
Panelists: Marla Newbrough Bell (Moderator), Patrick Hester, Melissa Sauer Locy, Andy BurnsShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology
Black Mirror addresses the dark aspects of technological advancement in a time where technology is rapidly taking over our lives, from our bank accounts to our social and online presence. Why should we be afraid of technology? Where does it end? What topics haven’t they discussed yet?
Room 605, 4:30 pm – 5:20 pm
Panelists: DeAnna Knippling (Moderator), David R. Slayton, Veronica R. CalistoShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

w00t!

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MileHiCon 44

As promised, here is my schedule for MileHiCon 44.  The convention is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center from Friday, October 19th through Sunday, October 21st.

Saturday

Online Alphabet Soup, Grand Mesa B-C, 11:00 AM
This promises to be a fun panel about SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, and various other attempts to control the Internet. I’ll be in the esteemed company of Andrew Burt (former SFWA vice president, notorious Critter Captain, founder of the world’s first ISP, and e-publisher of out-of-print works by Ben Bova, among others), Marie DesJardin (technical writer and author of For the Time Being), Arlen Feldman (software developer, computer book author, and recovering costumer), and Doris Beetem (a longtime fixture of MileHiCon and short story author.)

Playing with Participants, Atrium, Table 2, 2 PM
This is an opportunity to sit down for an hour or so and play a game of … something … with me.  Assuming I can find them in the sea of boxes that materialized after my recent move, I’m likely to bring along some of my old Magic: The Gathering decks or my Car Wars boxed edition.  Any takers?

Sunday

Falling Skies, Terra Nova, and Primeval, Mesa Verde A, 12 PM
Join me, Daniel Dvorkin (the writer, not the Chicagoan who hired a hitman to kill a rival businessman), Patrick Hester (from the Hugo nominated Functional Nerds podcast), Christopher M. Salas (Colorado Springs author and martial arts expert), and SFWA Grand Master Connie Willis (!!!) as we discuss the above television shows.  I followed Terra Nova all the way through its short run, and enjoyed it quite a bit, but I’m going to have to brush up on the other two a bit.

Poetry Fantastique, Wind River A, 3 PM
I have the honor of moderating the poetry panel this year, and with guests like Gail R. Barton (who read some wonderful poetry last year), Daniel Landes (Westword writer), Dr. Rob S. Rice (historian specializing in ancient and military history, poet, fiction writer, non-fiction writer, and steampunk fan), and anyone else who happens to show up (Owen Allen and Laura Deal, I’m looking your way), it should be a great hour of poetry. I may even get up the guts to read the steampunk rewrite of “The Windhover” that’s been rolling around in my brain.  (Imagine if Gerard Manley Hopkins had never entered the priesthood, and instead became an early Vorticist or Pre-Raphaelite.  Does your brain hurt yet?)

When I’m not on panels, I’ll probably be checking out other people’s panels, getting books signed, or wandering around with my lovely steampunk-bedecked wife.  I’m looking forward to it!

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