Fandom Fest/Fright Night Film Fest Report

I know, all you’ve gotten out of me for a couple weeks now is a bunch of guest posts and my whining on Facebook about rehearsals and edits. So strap in, kids, there’s an honest-to-God blog post, written by me, coming. This may even be it.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to weasel my way onto a couple of panels at Fandom Fest 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the first year Fandom Fest has had a literary track, and I met up with Stephen Zimmer at ConCarolinas back in June. He told me about the show, and I pestered him until he put me on a couple of panels. While I was there I met some great folks and wormed my way in as an impromptu moderator for a couple of panels that didn’t have one assigned, which was good practice for RoundCon 2011.1, coming up in October, which I’m heading up the literary track for.

Yes I know the grammar in that sentence was awful. But if you hold your head just right, it sounds better.

So, Fandom Fest. This is a fantasy/sci-fi con attached to a horror film fest, which made for some disturbing cosplay, but AWESOME t-shirt vendors. I picked up a couple of t-shirts from old movie posters, including the Texas Chainsaw Massacre shirt (in French) and the Fast Pussycat, Kill Kill shirt. I also got one that says “Quint’s Shark Fishing Tours, Amity’s Favorite since 1976,” which I kinda love. So I spent too much money on t-shirts. But I managed to avoid buying any books. Mostly because I just don’t read in print anymore. Everything I read nowadays is on my kindle or iPad, so I only buy print books when I really want the author’s autograph. And I’m not much of an autograph hound, so I don’t buy many print books.

Anyway, moving on. There were a TON of writers and publishers there, Stephen really did an awesome job in organizing things, bringing together a great lineup of talent and setting up some awesome panels. But he got boned by the con organizers, and being the nice guy that he is, Stephen stepped in to run a bunch of other stuff on top of what he was already slated to do, so he couldn’t really enjoy the weekend like he should have. And he had to bear the ire of any writer who didn’t have their stuff go perfectly. I didn’t see this happen, but it always does when you let humans get involved. He did the best job he possibly could have, but he was doing the work of four people, and it almost killed him.

And the hotel almost killed all of us. If you’re ever planning an event in Louisville, I strongly suggest you avoid the Fern Valley Hotel and Conference Center. It wasn’t really worth the $69 con rate. Not by a long stretch. The air crapped out on Friday, and the facility never recovered. There weren’t enough bartenders, and they weren’t particularly pleasant. The banquet services food was abysmal, and I actually walked out of the restaurant after waiting almost ten minutes for someone to bring me a menu and a glass of water. All the hotel facilities were terrible. The place felt, and smelled, like a Comfort Inn from circa 1980, and all they’d done was glass in the exterior entrances. The doors barely worked, and the hallway outside the room was hotter than anyplace I’ve ever been. And I’ve been to Vegas in July. One afternoon I went back to my room for an hour or so between panels, and when I left my room, the door handle was so hot I used a towel to open the door!

All that said, the con was still a good time, and I’d go back if it were in a decent hotel. At least something on the level of a Courtyard or Holiday Inn Express. All the people were nice, and I learned a TON. Not so much about the craft of writing, but that’s not what I was there to learn. I learned a lot about small press publishing, how it works and who some of the players are. I learned that just like everything else, there are major and minor players in the small press market, and I started to identify who was who. I’ve been thinking of shopping The Chosen around to small presses, because it could use a little editorial love, and I’d like to see what we could do with print sales if I had just a little better exposure. The book has decent e-book sales, so I’d like to keep those rights if possible, and the small press world is the only place I can find anyone willing to do that for me. But if the right offer came along, with the right developmental and promotional package, I’d sell all the rights.

Most of the writers there were published with small presses, and typically small presses that were exhibiting. There were a couple of folks who had New York publishing deals, or had them in the past, and a few self-pub folks like me. It was a good mix of writers, and I had a lot of fun hanging out with them in bars. Now I’m really looking forward to Dragon Con, where I can reconnect with these guys, as well as my other writer pals that I’ve made over the last year.

That’s enough drivel for today, I’ve got to go work on edits for Knight Moves. The hopeful release date of August 14 is looking better, but a lot depends on my proofreaders and my cover guy. I did knock together a temporary cover that I can live with if I have to, but I’d really like to relaunch the back stories with new covers and drop them all three at the same time. We’ll see. But it’s written, and I’m almost through with the first round of edits, so I have high hopes for getting it into people’s hands in the next two weeks!

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