Hello, True Believers! It’s October, and the nip in the air signals the oncoming end of 2017. But it also signals Halloween and the holiday season. This is one of my favorite times of the year.
My book signings have been a bit sparser this year, but I do have two more coming up in the next few months. One I’ve been committed to for several months and another that I just applied for. Here’s all the pertinent info.
Fantasticon Fort Wayne, Oct. 28-29
I’m returning to my new “hometown” comic-con! Once again, I’ll be joined by my co-authors/collaborators Nick Hayden and Eric Anderson. Nick and I will hopefully have copies of our new book, Zorsam and the God Who Devours, which we co-wrote with Aaron Brosman, available for purchase. The guest list will include several actors from The Walking Dead, a few comic book artists, and a replica of the Optimus Prime truck from the Transformers movies (if you can call that a “guest.”
The venue will be the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. Admission is cheap, so don’t miss it!
Fantasticon is a mid-size show created for true comic book and pop culture collectors and fans. The fans that come to our shows are true collectors that are looking for those rare items for their personal collections. Most leave very satisfied as we pride ourselves on having great dealers and artists at our shows. If you collect it, you will find it at a Fantasticon Show.
It’ll be a great way to your Halloween weekend!
Seventh Annual Allen County Public Library Author Fair, Nov. 11
Another returning favorite. I’ll be one of 70 local authors attending this event at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. There will also be author-led panel discussions (fingers crossed that I get in one) on various subjects. Best of all, admission is free!
You can learn more about the event and the library here.
My friend/co-author Eric Anderson, founder of Nerd Chapel, tabled at a convention last weekend, though it wasn’t a comic-con. No, it was the Michigan Statewide Youth Convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Eric got a table there to promote Nerd Chapel, part of which was selling our devotional, 42: DiscoveringFaith Through Fandom. He asked to attend to help him out. I was only able to make it Saturday (the event ran from Friday to Sunday), but Saturday was when most of the action happened.
It took me a little longer than I expected to arrive (closer to two hours instead of 90 minutes), but that gave me extra time to listen to the audiobook of That Hideous Strengthby C.S. Lewis, which I’d been meaning to read for a while. I arrived at the Radisson Hotel in downtown, and after fighting with way too many one-way streets (and I thought downtown Fort Wayne had too many), I barely stepped out of my car before an older black woman came up to me begging me to give her money for gas so she could get back to Gary, Indiana, going on about loving Jesus and thanking Him like a southern Baptist. Against my better judgment, I gave her some money. She said she’d pay me back through the mail the following Monday, so I wrote my address on one of my bookmarks and gave it to her. Honestly, I feel like I got suckered. I’m going soft.
Anyway, I walked inside and connected with Eric. Since it was lunchtime, we explored the area looking for a place to eat. We had a short time because he was holding a session at 2pm about using your passions missionally. We tried Subway, but the line was too long. Then we walked a few blocks to a local McDonald’s.
I watched the table for a bit while Eric was downstairs for the session. He asked me to join him a little later because he wanted me to talk a bit about the work I’d done as a Christian in the publishing industry. I mostly stood to the side while Eric did most of the talking, which is a switch for us, usually. I spoke about meeting a young would-be writer at Gen-Con a few years ago at my table and talking with him for almost 45 minutes. Then a bit later he gave me the floor to talk about working in the publishing industry. Eric closed the session with a Q&A. First, he asked if anyone had any serious questions, of which there were few, and then he opened it up to “nerd” questions, of which there were many. A few students even specifically asked me questions about writing. I spent a half-hour talking with several students about comics, Star Wars, and anime afterward.
The rest of the afternoon was relatively quiet. I spoke with some of the people from the other ministries around us. Eric and I had dinner at the fancy bar and grill in the hotel (courtesy of the convention). When the main session was about to start at 7pm, lots of students and youth leaders came to us wanting to learn more about Nerd Chapel or buy books. They said they loved what we were doing and that they’d never heard of ministries like this. Eric and I were encouraged to hear that.
It was once again quiet during the main session. Eric ran lights during it, while I stayed outside the auditorium to watch the table and do some writing. Then for about 30 minutes afterward at 9pm, I was talking with people and selling books. I even met a teenage girl who was once part of a nerd ministry/club/Facebook group with us. She had pink hair to boot.
With that, I joined Eric downstairs in the game room where teens could play video games—include Nintendo 64(!)—and board games. I brought my copies of Star Wars: Epic Duels and Sentinels of the Multiverse. As you’d expect, Epic Duels was a big hit. I played with several teen boys who’d seen me earlier in the day at Eric’s session. We geeked out and had a great time. One of their mothers watched for a few minutes, knowing her son would probably want the game. He did. I told him, “Good luck. The game usually sells for a hundred dollars now.” He seemed determined, though.
I departed for home after that.
All in all, it was a good weekend. Eric and I sold many books and made ourselves known to more people.
I’m getting into a bad habit of not blogging in a timely fashion. Or on time. My friend/co-author Eric Anderson definitely kicked my butt on this one since he blogged about it two weeks ago!Hence why you’re getting this and another blog today.
Anyway, Eric asked me to join him at Alma-Con, a small but growing anime/fandom convention held at Alma College in Alma, Michigan (seeing a pattern here?) 😛 He purchased a table to promote his nerd/geek outreach ministry, Nerd Chapel, but he was selling copies of our devotional book, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom, so he wanted me present. He’d asked me to attend other cons with him, but I wasn’t able to make it, so this was exciting.
What follows will be similar to write Eric wrote about, but we did have some different experiences.
I arrived an hour or so after the con began. The vendors’ hall—at least the one we were in—was only open for a few more hours. Not much happened while I was there except we met a panelist (whose name escapes me) who saw the title of our book and said, “That sounds like something Vic would say.”
Quoting Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy, I said, “Who?”
He explained he was friends with Vic Mignogna, a popular anime voice actor (among other things). I was surprised to (re)learn that Vic was a Christian and went to panels to discuss faith in anime. This gentleman, Eric and I learned, was a practitioner of sect of Buddhism strangely similar to Christianity. He shared his story of how he came to this faith. He said he’d come back later to talk with us, but sadly, he never came. (If you’re reading this, please contact Eric and/or I!)
Saturday was the long day. Eric and I cosplayed. He was Martian Manhunter and I was Superman. I enjoyed wearing the costume because I’ve gotten into better shape since the last time I wore it, and given that it’s, well, spandex, I was glad for that. The most interesting stories that came from that day was meeting a young man who was a member of the “Church of Satan,” yet they didn’t worship Satan or even believe he existed, which was interesting. While Eric was gone, though, a belligerent cosplayer dressed as some blue-haired anime mad scientist (or something) came over and proceeded to insult me and denigrate Christianity while in character. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, so I just ran with it and smiled.
Two Alma College students were kind enough to give Eric and I their lunches from their meal plans, so we got some food from the college diner, Joe’s.
I, too, wandered around. It was then I learned one of my few gripes with the con: the buildings it was held in were too far apart. It was a Michigan winter, so obviously it was cold, and tights provide little protection against such weather. I did go check out the other artists and vendors, and as usual, I had to refrain from buying a bunch of stuff (including a book self-publishing comic books). I did purchase a replica of the fob watch used by David Tenant in two episodes of Doctor Who, though. It went great with my cosplay.
Speaking of which, once the vendor hall closed for the day, I changed into my 10th Doctor cosplay. Eric and I got dinner at Joe’s, where we met a fellow Whovian/cosplayer.
We then went to see MacSith, a play performed by a traveling theatre troupe from Chicago. It is Shakespeare’s MacBeth if it took place in the Star Wars universe. It. Was. FANTASTIC! It combined two of my favorite things—Shakespeare and Star Wars—in a seamless and wonderful fashion. Thankfully, I don’t have to describe it all to you since, unlike most theatre, they allowed (non-flash) photography and video to be taken. The costumes, the fight choreography, the little Star Wars flavoring to the original dialogue—it was amazing.
Sadly, I couldn’t say the same for the next event Eric and I attended. It was billed as a “masquerade ball.” Since we’ve had ballroom dance training, we were interested in going to this unlike the rave that was held the night before. The con program even said there was a dress code, and the organizers reserved the right to turn people away if they didn’t abide by it (hence my 10th Doctor cosplay). But when we arrived, this “ball” was essentially a rave with fancier clothes and no glow sticks. Seriously. The attendees broke off into a few cliques like this was a school cafeteria and gyrate to the music…sometimes. The liveliest they got was during a line dance I didn’t know. I asked the DJs to play “Tank!” by the Seatbelts, which is the theme song to Cowboy Bebop, since the Pokemon theme song was played earlier—and almost nobody got excited! “Haven’t they seen this show?” I wondered. The kicker, though, was every girl Eric and I asked to dance either didn’t know how or flat-out turned us down. The best I could get was doing a line dance when “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show played, and even then people didn’t seem that excited and even fewer knew the line dance, so I wasn’t able to learn it. Eric and I left after an hour.
Seriously, Alma-Con. If you say it’s a “masquerade ball,” make it a masquerade ball! You have a swing dance group on campus: try appealing to them a bit better to run this event.
::steps down from soapbox::
The next day was gonna feature our big event: the Nerd Chapel worship service…
…and nobody came. L
So Eric and I shared communion and I recorded his sermon (which, come to think of it, I need to send to him to post online…).
I left soon afterward so I could return in time to go to work that evening.
Just a quick blog today since I’m busier than a workaholic. At least that’s how it feels. But that’s a story for another time.
First, I want to announce that I plan, schedule permitting, to attend Alma-Con in Alma, Michigan, February 5-7. My friend/co-author Eric Anderson will be running a table for his ministry Nerd Chapel in the vendor’s hall, where he will also be selling our devotional, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom. I’ll be there helping him with his table and a worship service he plans to have that Sunday. Feel free to come see us.
Now on to the main thrust of this blog.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I need to manage my writing time better, especially when I keep getting projects thrown at me and/or I bite off more than I can chew. So, in light of this, I wanted to share with you what I think should be a reasonable amount of material you can expect from me. It may take me a bit of time to get used to this new schedule, so don’t expect me to get into the rhythm immediately. I also reserve the right to change my output at any time.
Regardless, here it is:
-one (maybe two) articles a week for Examiner.
-at least two articles a month for GigaGeek Magazine.
-one (maybe two) blogs a week on my website.
-one “But I Digress…” video a month (with intermittent “Digression” videos as they come to me).
These are the things I want to do with regularity. I’m seeking other freelance opportunities while also writing books, among other things.
Saturday at Gen-Con is always the busiest. Lots of people come in just for that day, so I decided I would minimize my time away from my table to maximize my presence. With 61,000 people attending the convention this year, Saturday, I thought, would be the best day to meet potential readers.
However, Eric and I did split on a ticket for one event the day before: meeting Summer Glau.
Mrs. Glau is primarily a TV actress. She’s been in many things (which never seem to last long, sadly), but she’s best known for playing River Tam in the short-lived but much-beloved series Firefly and its film sequel Serenity. Admittedly, I hadn’t seen the show in years. I was more interested in meeting Marina Sirtis (more on that later) than her, but figured I’d take the opportunity to meet her anyway.
What’s crazy, though, is she walked past my table on her way to the autograph area, which wasn’t far from Authors Avenue. I kinda flipped out since I wasn’t sure if that really was her. She didn’t have an entourage; there was only one guy escorting her. I knew when I walked over to get in line that it was her who walked by. (Squee!)
Eric and I—cosplaying Obi-Wan Kenobi and the 10th Doctor, respectively—stood in line for a much shorter time than expected since we had a ticket. I tried looking Ms. Glau up on Twitter to see if she’d tweeted anything about the con or to find something I could ask her about that didn’t have to do with her work. I found at an account that I learned later was fake, but it said she was an avid reader. I told Eric to hold our place in line and ran back to my table to get a copy of my first novel, Pandora’s Box. I chose that because I figured she might enjoy that one the most out of the books I’ve published (though I wonder if she’d like Children of the Wells…). Now, you must understand: I’ve given books as gifts to celebrities at cons before, and I’d thought about giving her one, but I realized she might not necessarily want it. That’s why I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.
I always knew Summer Glau was beautiful, but what struck me as we got closer was how kind and happy she was. She was gracious with fans and always smiled. When Eric and I came up to take pictures, she said we were dressed nice and offered to put her hands on our backs. With that, I said it was an honor to meet her. Then I said I was an author from Authors Avenue and mentioned that she walked by my booth and that I’d heard she was an avid reader. So, as a thank you for coming to Gen-Con, I wanted to give her one of my books. She was ecstatic and said, “I’m honored!” I signed it for her, leaving a note that said, “To Summer Glau: Thanks for coming!”
Eric joked afterward that after reading it maybe she’ll want to make it into a movie and star as the heroine. I scoffed at the idea, but a guy can dream, right? (But only if Joss Whedon is involved!) :p
(I was a bit smitten with Mrs. Glau the rest of the day. I suddenly want to re-watch Firefly).
(EDIT: I just read on Wikipedia that Mrs. Glau was homeschooled! I wish I knew that at the con!)
The rest of the day was busy but typical in the vendors hall.
Afterward, I attended a live recording of the “Writing Excuses” podcast. I didn’t realize they were recording five episodes in two hours, so I had to leave early, but it was great to see the show since I listen to it frequently.
Then I went to the Five Year Mission concert, as is my Gen-Con tradition. I got to hear songs from their newest album, “Spock’s Brain.” Yes, these guys wrote 11 songs about arguably the worst episode of the original Star Trek! It was a great show, and I bought the album. (Expect a review soon!) Yes, I still had my 10th Doctor costume, so I wasn’t quite dressed right, but nobody said anything.
I went back to my hotel room and changed into some summer-y clothes to go to the annual Gen-Con dance since the theme was “summer bash.” It was a bit more night club/rave than I expected, but it was entertaining for a while.
I want to write about the last day of the convention, but this post has already gone long, so I’ll save it for tomorrow. Until then, feel free to leave comments!
Next Time in Part 4:
Marina Sirtis, the Geekpreacher, and lots of cosplay!
A Man from Another Time Exploring Another Universe