Wednesday, July 28, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010

I'm a six year veteran of the San Diego Comic Con. We originally went on kind of a whim to see some weird new media things and wow, who would have ever expected that it would have turned out to basically be the new red carpet?

So this year the Good Ensign and I trekked off to San Diego, checked into the 500 West and lived out five days of "do whatever the hell we want" while being surrounded by every new scrap of movies, tv, art, comics, fandom, media and insanity that dares to show it's face in 2011. As per tradition, we went directly to Fred's (A chain tex-mex place) for celebratory beer and Chicken Chingaderas. That night, we were into preview night, roaming the seemingly endless yet familiar exhibitor hall in search of new goodies. Put it this way, the street signs outside of the convention center were written in Klingon. Really:

Despite going every year, it's hard to accurately describe how massive and crazy Comic Con is. Think 150 thousand people and all of them are trying to get your attention. Then think it's somehow even crazier than that. This is not a place for those with Agoraphobia or Enochlophobia.

So Thursday we hit the exhibit hall again with fleeting plans to attend any panels that day. That's how it usually goes down. We plan to do a bunch of stuff but it never happens because we're doing something else. That evening we attended the art toy company Munkey King's party at Bar Basic which is always a fun event featuring pop artists doing live paintings and beer. Can't forget the beer. Here's a lame picture of Joe Ledbetter doing the live painting.

The amount of stars on the floor this year blew away previous years. Sure you may bump into Glenn Danzig or Seth Green but this year there were tons of people signing in the exhibitor hall. Here are just a few I could get pictures of:

Danny DiVito

Chevy Chase

Seth Green

Bill and Sookie from True Blood

Michael MacDowell

Warehouse 13

We also caught Penn & Teller's panel on performing together for 35 years. Pretty awesome. The level of general fandom is off the charts. People camped out just to get into panels and I don't mean just super big panels like Big Bang Theory and True Blood, I mean like for everything. Here's people at 1AM camped out for the Supernatural panel and Smallville Panel. As for us, we waited 3 hours for the always amazing Mythbusters panel. Great stuff as usual. Funny, exciting and brilliant!

Of course there were the fun crazy people in costume. If you can think of a costume, it was probably there. Here's a VERY small sampling of what was there:
Captain America (With a goat for some reason) was protesting the idea that Comic Con might move to Anaheim. I didn;t have the heart to tell him that I think I heard that San Diego already signed an extension to keep the con there...

Kitana (Mortal Cobat)

Cobra Comander (Now with 200% more henchmen!)

So we're already looking forward to Comic Con 2011 (Hopefully no one will get stabbed in the eye next year.) Until then, thank you San Diego!

Next Up:
I'll be at Gencon selling Thomas Riley at the Frenzy Universe Booth and as an added bonus I'll have the first copies of the Steampunk Anthology "Dreams of Steam" in which I have a steampunk story called Engine 316. See you in Indianapolis!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I know way too many people here right now that I didn't know last year.

I'll be in San Diego for The San Diego Comic Con for the rest of the week and I wanted to give you another fun filled post before I go back in to travel mode. I thought what a better idea to give you a nice list of friends and awesome writers to look through while I'm gone. Whithout further adieu:

This is a unique summer. I've never traveled this much in my life and I've never met so many awesome people. In tribute to that, I felt the need to pimp some of them. And it's only been seven months. Holy cow! Thank you everyone! Keep in mind it's taken me a week to write this so if you're not on this list it's not because I dont love you, it's because this is taking forever and I'll put you on the next list in a few months. (In no particular order)

O.M. Grey
The wonderfully mysterious O.M. Grey wrote a wonderful paranormal steampunk novel called Avalon Revisited. She's in some secret talks right now so the only way to get a paperback copy of Avalon Revisited is to see her at an event. If anyone in Texas would like to meet her, Ms. Grey and I will be sharing a table at the Texas Book Festival this year.

David Blalock
I met Mr. Blalock at the first con I ever attended as a guest. (Shadowcon in Memphis TN) He was part of a regional writers travel group called Imagicopter which I joined up with the following week. Look for his fantasy adventure novel, Ascendant and his new book soon to come out entitled "Emperor". Speaking of Shadowcon which I have a soft place in my heart for, I'll be the Writer GoH next year. *Stoked*

Elizabeth Donald
Author of the super freaky "The Cold Ones". I highly recommend this novella. I met Elizabeth at MidSouthCon in Memphis TN and later again at Steamposium in St. Louis. She's an awesome person to be on a panel with! She's also a driving force in The Literary Underworld. Buy lot's of books from them! Buy lot's of books from them!

Daniele Serra
This amazing Italian artist did a promo piece for my horror novel, "Fallon" and has been cranking out ultra dark art for comics, books, and a million other forms of media. Think Darkhorse Comics style illustrations and Clive Barker. Yeah, it doesn't get much better than that. I originally met Dani through myspace... does that age me? See his work at

Teresa Burrell
The day I met my publisher in February of 2009 was the day I met Teresa Burrell. She radiates inspiration and is literally an unstoppable force in everything she does. I seriously look up to Teresa and can only hope to see her on the road again soon. She writes awesome Legal Suspense Mysteries and her second book, The Advocate's Betrayal just came out. Take a look.

Kimberly Richardson
I heard about Kimberly since day one. Author of "Tales from a Goth Librarian" Kimberly is a must see at a reading. I was lucky enough to see her read at Anachrocon in Atlanta and I've never seen anyone get into there readings like she does. She uses character voices and pauses like no one else. Really, you need to see this. She's also the engineer of Kerlak Publishing's Dreams Of Steam anthology coming out... really soon. (I need to mention that I have a story in that anthology called, Engine 316)

Ensign Sparklebunny
Let me introduce the super secret brain trust, workhorse, Consigliere, marketing master, pin-point smart bomb of Thomas Riley. The Good Ensign and I have been on many adventures together, so you may see him out at some events. Just know that the entire adventures of this humble author would not have been possible without Ensign Sparklebunny.

Emilie P. Bush
The author of "Chenda and the Airship Brofman", Emilie invited a very nervous Nick Valentino to be on some panels at Chattacon including a fabulous Tesla vs. Watt Debate that I somehow won! Anyway, she provided me with a lot of great opportunities and a great friend! I'll be speaking with her at The New Voices in Steampunk Panel at Dragon Con this year.

Elizabeth Darvill
As per my interview with her, I met Liz at The World Steam Expo. I have a lot in common with grassroots aggressive authors and Liz not only goes EVERYWHERE but she just released a new e-book called "Love In The Time Of Steam" on Tease Publishing and she just signed a two book deal with Harlequin! I totally can't wait for that. You don't want to miss out on her... very steamy goodness! I'll be at Gencon as well as Steamcon this year with her.

Stephen Zimmer
Back in the day I used to play in a band and our manager was none other than Stephen Zimmer. When that all went to hell, I lost touch only to be sitting next to him at MidSouthCon years later. Check out his epic fantasy books Crown of Vengeance, Storm Guardians and The Exodus Gate. Awesome fantasy that you don't want to miss!

Geek Details
Amanda was vending tables of wonderfully crazy stuff at Steamposium and was super nice. We met up again at Origins and she made some limited edition "I heart Thomas Riley" buttons, which was freaking awesome. We handed them out to the most rabid fans at Origins and at CONvergence. You must check out Geek Details for some really awesome prints, buttons, luggage, and other goods that you WILL NOT find anywhere else.

Frenzy Universe
Another Steamposium friendship (Good place to meet great people by the way.)the Frenzy Gals have become really good friends. Not only are they amazing people but they seriously have some of the best steampunk/victorian clothes and goodies out there. Come see them at Gencon in Indianapolis (I'll be at their booth all weekend) and at Steamcon in Seattle this year. Click their name to go to their website. Awesome! Yeah Detroit!

Sara Harvey
Sara is a highly praised author writing with Apex Books See: The Labyrinth of the Dead and The Convent of the Pure. She has tons of amazing material coming out so definitely take a moment and check out her work. Sara and I originally met at the first Mechanical Masquerade in Atlanta GA. I sat next to her and had no idea she was from my home town. I vended next to her again at Divergence II in Nashville several months later. I'm really looking forward to her new material! Click here!

Syrens of the South
These ladies were awesome enough to have me to their first steampunk event in Atlanta called, The Mechanical Masquerade. Even through the pouring rain over 200 people showed up for the premier of this one night event. Burlesque, vendors, dancing, contests, photos, costumes... You name it it was there. If you're in Atlanta make sure you go to one of these bi-monthly events.

Angelia Sparrow
I met Angelia at MidSouthCon where I was on a few panels with her. She's the author of a bunch of wonderful books, my favorite being "Alive on the Inside". Watch out, she writes incredibly scary, twisted and shocking, romance stories that may have you literally hiding under your covers.

Bethany Greenier
Bethany is the author of the YA steampunk novel "Sings With Stars". We met at the World Steam Expo and her enthusiasm was contagious. Check out Sings With Stars to find out about the extraordinary life of Gigi and her super natural adventures.

Karen Syed
Last but definitely not least is Karen Syed. Please note that none of this... and I mean none of this would be possible without Karen. literally, Thomas Riley would be sitting on my self, this blog would not be here and you would not be reading it without Karen. She's the first person to take a risk with me and by doing so my life and the lives of plenty of others has changed. Friends, family, readers, fans, haters, con goers, etc... Their lives would be at least slightly different without Mrs. Syed. We met at The Southern California Writers Conference and if you're a writer I suggest you check that out for yourself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dreams of Steam

I'm happy to announce that Dreams of Steam, a steampunk anthology published by Kerlak Publishing is available now at Barnes & Noble! Get it online HERE or come see me at an event. (I should have copies to sign.) My Steampunk Weird West story, "Engine 316" is included.

Also: Thomas Riley is on sale at get it for $11.19 before it goes up again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Origins Columbus OH

Sorry, this is a late post about a con that happened the last weekend of June. I got caught up in preparations and travel to CONvergence and didn't have time to properly report on Origins.

My last minute move to Origins was facilitated by the wonderful ladies at Frenzy Universe. This may seem a bit like a Frenzy Universe commercial but that's ok because they are that awesome. I'll explain later.

I've never been to a primarily gaming conference before and I've never been to Columbus, OH before either so off I went. Let me tell you gaming cons are long. Four days of vending is a really long time. The Frenzy Gals gave me a section of their booth which was absolutely perfect. I was on a corner and hopefully helped draw people in to the area. Does this sound like I'm complaining? I promise I'm not at all. The entire con was really great. I met a whole new demographic of people and sold quite a lot of books!

The Frenzy Gals and I made it extra fun by gathering people at the booth for a candy toss and then a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament for all that attended. It's actually a pretty amazing sight to see 60 people all playing Rock-Paper-Scissors at the same time. We were also assited by musician Kara Markley. Here we are posing infront of the TR banner. Check out her band/modeling facebook here.

Being in Columbus was also great because I got to visit my friends Laura and Scott at the Rivet Gallery. They were awesome as usual and took me out to the Surly Girl Saloon which I totally dug because of their quirky food and wonderfully varied beer selection. Speaking of friends, I was surprised when old friend from the band days and bad ass artist, Jacob Walker showed up at my table. So it was super great to catch up with him over a few beers as well. If you're into gaming I met some nifty game makers Justin and Anne Marie from Fireside Games who were there selling and nominated for an Origins Award for their game Castle Panic.
Also, you have to love the fandom and random kookiness... Me with the doctors. I guess I looked like I needed medical help.

So Origins was a huge success and I hope I can go back next year as it was a blast all the way through. I'm going to take the rest of this paragraph to fill you in about the Frenzy Universe. First off this company has the coolest, quirkiest and most unique steampunk and Victorian clothes, accessories, novelties, and artifacts that I've seen in a long time. Secondly, the women that run it are amazing people in every way. They're kind, straight shooting and a lot of fun. I encourage you to check out their website HERE. If you'd rather see them in person, I'll be at Gencon in Indianapolis with them the first weekend of August.
I have to give a bunch of love to everyone at Geek Details as well. I met the owners in St. Louis and they've been such fun friends. Check out their site for handmade geeky goodnes. I ended up buying a lot of prints from them.
Here are "I Love Thomas Riley" Buttons they made as a surprise and below is the owner, Amanda with her son.

I can't leave you with out this little gem. I was going to the bar when I saw a strange sight. Well, it may not be a strange sight for some cons but this was unexpected nd funny. Click on the picture of the hotel hallway below and look closely. I guess someone had too much to drink.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CONvergence 2010... Ka'pla!!!!

I've been hearing about this con for a while now. Ever since research started, the word on the street is that CONvergece in Minneapolis MN, (technically Bloomington, MN) is an amazing con to attend. I heard it's full of nightlife, room parties, and endless panels, all encapsulated in one Sheraton Hotel. So, with the help of some wonderful people, we were able to get in and get a table in the dealers room.

Simply put, CONvergence stands at the top of the mountain of medium sized cons and is poised to become the next big con on the circuit. First off, the whole thing is wonderfully organized. Some of the volunteers may disagree with me but from a outsider's view that's just coming in and from someone that has been to dozens of different cons now, this was high in the rankings of organization and presentation.

So basically it breaks down like this. Thursday we arrived, set up the table and sold books until 6:00. After a quick meal at Fridays (one of the few restaurants around) we were eager to hit up the famous CONvergence room parties. Let me tell you, even on a Thursday they did not disappoint. It's hard to describe. Picture a large open area, half of which is contains an indoor pool. Surrounding this open area were two stories of hotel rooms with open cabanas looking out onto the courtyard. Each room had a themed party. The Bearded Gnome Tavern, Vice City, Harry Potter, Mos Icee Cantina, Jews in Space, and Minicon to name a very few. My favorite and a favorite of the entire con was the room simply named TOAST. This is the house of toast where you can get (for free mind you... everything was free)toast with an array of odd and normal toppings from 8PM-11PM. Yes, there were things like smoked oysters, cumin, blue icing, sprinkles, nutella... well, take a look for yourself. These two pictures are the menu. The two I had the entire con were: Wheat Toast with Chili and Cheese Slices and Wheat Toast with Spagetti-O's and Parmesan. Hey! Don't make a choking noise, kep in mind those were VERY conservative choices compared to what I could have had. Here's half the menu for Thursday night (go on, click on it, I dare ya):

Here's 1/3 of the party area before any of the parties actually happened from a bird's eye view:

I participated in a panel at 11:30 at night called "The Seedy Side of Steampunk" with Clay Lamkin and Mariah Fryer which is odd for a panel time but hey, it IS the seedy side of steampunk... I'm not complaining. In fact it was a really great panel.

Friday we awoke and sold books from 10-6 and things were picking up. The sales were enough to get pretty excited about the rest of the weekend. Things looked promising and the weekend didn't disappoint. I was part of the "Steampunk on The Page" panel at 7:00 with Roy C. Booth, Michael Mirriam and Michael Levy which was a fun almost totally literary panel. That night we hit Friday's (yes again) recouped for a few minutes in the hotel room and ran down to the room party extravaganza which, being Friday, had ramped up in intensity. The alcohol was flowing (need I remind you that all room party alcohol is free?) and people jammed the flyer covered hallways dressed in all types of fandom and insanity. We retired about 2AM and after being given extraordinarily strong drinks at some unknown party because we were from Tennessee, it was time for bed.

Saturday morning was a slow morning... not sales wise... mentally. With coffee in hand and the inspiration that Saturday was going to be even crazier, I perked up and soldiered to the vending hall. Yes Saturday kicked butt then had a panel on "The Popularity of Steampunk" which kicked even more butt with at least 200 people in attendance. That evening we ate at the hotel bar "Navigator" and kept close to the craziness that was brewing just down the hall. We literally sat feet away from Jeremy Bullock (The actor that played Boba Fett.) Yeah, that was pretty bad ass. The party floor was nuts. We witnessed a Jesus on Jesus on Jesus LARP fighting match. Guess what? Jesus won. We also had cherry Icees at Mos Icee Cantina and lots of local beer at the Minicon room party. This picture is one of my favorites as Hagrid's Monster book eats Thomas Riley. I actually missed this as I was in a panel but it still rules:

Sunday came and we broke the book sales record for any Con for the whole year. Shortly, we broke the entire record for sales for eny event. Imagine that... More books sold to 4500 people than at Printers Row in Chicago with 90,000 people... Minnesota Reads! I was part of the Steampunk Costuming panel which was totally amazing! The room was packed! So packed that it was standing room only and there were people behind the table! After being quite happy with ourselves, we had a celebratory drink (yes at Fridays again) and went out to Pizza Luce with some new friends, which was a really nice getaway for a few hours. (Oh and more local beer!)AND this is where I learned the Klingon word for SUCCESS! or Ka'pla! Upon returning to the con, which was winding down at this point, we decided to forgo any 4th of July fireworks and watch Sherlock Holmes at the in house theater at the con which was cool,especially since I never really watch movies.
My phone never seems to capture the enormity of anything but here's the best I can show you of the Costuming Panel:

By one something AM we hit they hay and had to be up for the brutal 4:15AM wake up call. We did it and we made it home without a hitch. (finally)I have to say CONvergence was unexpectedly perfect in every way. There was something for everyone and plenty of it. Panels up the ying yang, tons of vendors, authors, artists, fans, drinks, food, general craziness, gaming... oh I could go on forever. Point being it's a destination that I will not miss for as long as I write and I promise you this con will get even bigger every year.