My Next Convention: MultiverseCon (Plus Panels I Wish I Could Attend)
In my admittedly limited experience as an author, I make more money from going to events and signing books than from royalties, much like how musicians make more money from going on tours and concerts than from selling records. Consequently, I go to a lot of events--this past year's adventures included the Decatur Book Festival, Hypericon in Murfreesboro (where I was a panelist), various bookstore appearances, a gun show, and the new Next Chapter Con in Ringgold where I sold a bunch of books and definitely plan to come back.
At most book events I have two books to sell, The Thing in the Woods and The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2, which contains my short Viking monster story "Nicor." In November I will have a new book coming out, Little People, Big Guns from Deadite Press, but there's one more big fandom convention in Atlanta between now and then and that's MultiverseCon. It seems to be a relatively new event at the Hilton Atlanta Airport 10/18-20 and not only was the author table price relatively cheap but it's pretty close to my day job, so off I'm going.
Not only will there probably be a lot of vendors at the event (the vendors are sold out this year), but MultiverseCon's schedule shows a lot of really interesting panels. Given my table responsibilities I would only be able to attend the ones after the dealers' room closes, but here are some I find particularly interesting:
Where Horror Lives (2:30 PM)-As a teen and then an adult there's not a lot in horror movies or books that really scares me, although there is stuff I do find really depressing (the unnecessarily bleak ending of the film The Mist that I have no interest in seeing comes to mind). I think the only time I've ever gotten straight-up nightmares from something was James Tuck's (as Levi Black's) first Mythos War novel Red Right Hand and my own short story "I am the Wendigo," and that's having been interested in the scary stuff since preschool (I wasn't allowed to see Arachnophobia and Gremlins 2, which was for the best). So looking for ways to crank up the fear would be a wise use of time.
Flash Your Fiction: How Short Can You Go? (5:30 PM)-I've heard that flash is hard to write but easy to sell and my first paying sale, "I am the Wendigo," isn't that much longer than flash. This might help me churn out salable material in a relatively short time.
Meetup: Podcasters and YouTubers (5:30 PM)-I'm a regular on the podcast Myopia: Defend Your Childhood and an occasional contributor to The Geekly Oddcast. I've also considered starting my own YouTube channel as an additional income stream and as an additional marketing mechanism. I've also appeared on podcasts to promote my work and have promotional appearances lined up for Little People, Big Guns, so this would be a good place to network too.
Pub Pitch (10 PM)-Various writers help each other refine their elevator pitches.
The Virtue of Villains (10 PM)-The villains that inspire the most discussion (and thus money-generating word of mouth) are often at least some degree sympathetic. A lot of people sympathized with Killmonger from Black Panther for example, while I've repeatedly defended Magneto from The X-Men and been very critical of his unnecessarily-evil portrayal ("Kill all humans") in the second X-Men film. I've worked hard to make the Big Bad Grendel and his son and heir Falki in my upcoming "Dark Tower meets Game of Thrones" novel Battle for the Wastelands deeper and more developed characters with understandable and even sympathetic motivations, even when they do really bad things like execute people trying to surrender, keeping defeated enemies' teen daughters as concubines, etc. This panel is noted for featuring Falstaff Books overlord John G. Hartness, whom I've met at DragonCon several times.
Beyond Ghosts and Goblins (10 AM)-Creating new and innovative monsters, especially ones that tap into current fears.
From Smaller to Baller: What Technological Advances Can Help Build Galactic Empires? (10 AM)-How to conquer defended planets, build interstellar polities, etc. This could be really helpful for my Federated Worlds universe, which features interstellar warfare and governance.
Publishing Q&A (10 AM)-Also featuring Mr. Hartness and writer Terry Maggert, whom I met at Hypericon over the summer.
Girls Rule (11:30 AM)-Female writers on how to write female characters. This could be useful for improving my personal writing.
Beyond Vampires and Werewolves (11:30 AM)-This is like the earlier "Ghosts and Goblins" panel, but with a focus on urban fantasy rather than horror. I don't think I've written a lot of (if any) UF, but I have written across many genres and what's one more? The more varied one's product, the more successful one is.
Teaching Speculative Elements (11:30 AM)-As you might've seen on Twitter, my day job is a high school teacher. This is something that could help me improve in that area.
Beyond the European Paradigm: Creating Fantasy Worlds for your TTRPG that Aren't Anglo-Saxon (1 PM)-I'm not a gamer, but this could be a good place to learn some interesting world-building elements.
Social Media For Writers (1 PM)-Social media is a pretty big time sink and I need to learn how to use it more effectively.
Let's Do the Mash! The Genre Mash! (10 AM)-As the panel write-up points out, mixing sci-fi and horror created the wonder that was the Alien franchise and I explicitly describe Battle for the Wastelands as "Dark Tower (Weird Western) meets Game of Thrones (deliberately subversive high fantasy)." I've also supported the idea that horror is an aesthetic more than it's own genre--Alien, Terminator, and the works of Lovecraft are sci-fi, Hellraiser is fantasy, etc.
ASK ME ANYTHING: How to Get Into Working on Licensed Properties (11:30 AM)-I've written for the BattleTech fictional universe before with my short story "Skirmish at the Vale's Edge," but that was a very long time ago. Scoring a gig in an established property like Star Wars or V-Wars like Delilah S. Dawson and James Tuck (whom I knew when we all lived in the general Atlanta area) would be awesome.
Craft of Writing: Characterization (11:30 AM)-Although I've gotten better at it, I remember writing-group critiques of "make us care about them before you kill them" and this would be a big help.
The Many-Faced God: Unraveling Sub-Genres in Fantasy (11:30 AM)-Lots of potential market research here.
Advanced Craft: Characterization: Writing the Anti-Hero(ine) (1 PM)-This ties in with my desire to improve my characterization--flawed heroes and sympathetic villains are more interesting characters. Some of my favorite fictional characters (Magneto, Snape) would fit in this category. Hell, in my Harry Potter fan-fic "Lord of the Werewolves" I took the kindly Remus Lupin of all people in this direction.
Pushing the Envelope: Religion, Politics, and More in Horror Fiction (1 PM)-Although I don't buy the adage that "all art is political," a lot of time the arts are more political than you think. Hell, my novel The Thing in the Woods deals with "retro vs. metro," religion, racial and class prejudice, etc. I've even written an article about it. And Little People, Big Guns deals with religion, disability, etc. These days when there's an increased awareness of that sort of thing, this could be useful.
Unless the vendor's room is truly dead I'm not likely to abandon my post to check these out, but the rest of you might find this interesting. So if you're in the Atlanta area 10/18-10/20 or are able to come down for the weekend, definitely check out MultiverseCon.