Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Victoria Steam Exposition

I've never been to Canada. I love hockey so that helps right? When offered the opportunity to go to Victoria British Columbia for the Victoria Steam Exposition I jumped at the chance. Not only was I going to get to meet Cherie Priest and see the very talented Unwoman perform but I was going to get to meet an entire new demographic of people.

The trip there was rough. I had three stops (yeah bad planning on my part.)and when I finally arrived at the Seattle airport I missed the 30 minute flight to Victoria because the airport posted the wrong gate on the ticker board. Soooo, I had to wait six more hours until the next flight.

So I finally arrive and get the fifty dollar cab ride to the hotel... Um I mean to the palace. I can't tell you how awesome this hotel was but I can show you. Not only did I get to stay here but the Exposition was actually held here as well. This is from Wikipedia: "The Empress (as it was known then) played hostess to kings, queens, movie stars and many famous people. In 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales waltzed into the dawn in its Crystal Ballroom - an event considered by Victorians to be of such importance that almost 50 years later, the obituaries of elderly ladies would appear under headlines such as, 'Mrs. Thornley-Hall Dies. Prince of Wales Singled Her Out.' In the 1930s, Shirley Temple arrived accompanied by her parents amid rumours that she had fled from California because of kidnapping threats.On May 30, 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended a luncheon at the Empress, as guests of the Provincial Government."

The Expo itself was nothing short of wonderful. Lot's of steampunk goodness everywhere you looked. The entire con basically happened in one big area which was a nice change. Even the vendors were placed in a room where the panels were held so it was basically the epicenter of activity. Not to mention this was seriously the perfect location for a steampunk con. Probably the best you could get on this side of the world. I even got to hear a bit from Cherie Priest's new novel, Dreadnought.

The amazing thing was that I sold out of books. Something that's never happened to me before at a con. Part of it is that I'm limited to what I can bring or ship due to costs but still, that's a lot of books! So I ended up taking orders with free shipping for people that wanted signed and stamped copies. I also have to point out how great Victoria is as a city. This place is beautiful. Harbors and waterways around every corner, European styled buildings everywhere, and lots of pubs with shockingly good food. These places mean it when they say the serve local fresh food. Wow I had some good meals. I need to also say how nice Canadians are. I come from the South so I southern hospitality is the norm for me but these people, everyone, was as nice as can be. From the performer on the street to the locals at the pubs, everyone was super polite and accommodating in every way.

Just before I left I got to catch a tiny part of the Victoria Day celebration which is a big deal in Victoria. Go figure. Part of the festivities included a wonderful parade which I only got to watch for 10 minutes or so but it still seemed that I was missing something pretty special. Here's a shot of a little tank that was roaming the streets.

When the con was over I originally had plans to do a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Seattle but that got all messed up, after the travel plans were booked of course. I was in luck though. My friends Robby and Meagan were entertained me for the entire day. I took the clipper ship (highly recommended by the way) from Victoria to Seattle and met them. They took me around to the touristy spots (which was really nice to get a quick rundown of the city since I was only really there for about 14 hours total. We also went to Pike's Fish Market which I loved and envied in every way. Really Seattle, I know this is commonplace for you but I would seriously shop there every day if we had anything like this.

Next up I'll be blogging about The World Steam Expo held in Dearborn MI this last weekend.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For the Dogs

This week marks the end of my two week break from book traveling. The insanity starts up this Friday with a trip to the first ever Victoria Steam Exposition in Victoria British Columbia. Not only is this my first time in Canada but it's my first time to get out of the country for the novel. I have a panel which is listed as a Q&A on Saturday at 4PM so anyone that's coming, please drop by and ask some questions. I'll be sharing the expo with the amazing author of Boneshaker, Cherie Priest and the ethereal musical stylings of Unwoman. (I'm positively giddy about this.)So off I go, look for updates on Twitter, facebook etc. By the way, how awesome is this poster?

For the dogs
I felt like I needed to volunteer more around town so on Friday Brad and I went to the Humane Society and Volunteered in the dog and cat food donation bank. We walked in and there was a mountain of bags of food. Literally, thousands of bags piled almost to the ceiling filled the bank. One lady ran it, taking donations and dispensing whatever needy people required. Almost quite literally, Brad and I jumped in head first, cleaning and organizing the cliff of pet food for a good four hours. Lifting hundreds of bags of food in a muggy food bank is tough work but was also one of the most rewarding things I've done in a long time. There's nothing like standing up for our four legged friends that don't have a voice.
Here's me rocking my flood beard. (A symbol of community unification because of the water shortage that still is going on...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flood Busters

I really wanted to get down and dirty on Monday, the day after the flood but things I can't control got in the way of me helping during the week. Very frustrating. Anyway, some friends and I met up on Saturday to help some good citizens of Nashville clean their houses up.

Keep in mind, a lot of people lost everything. I mean that literally. Like they have nothing. No clothes, tv, furniture, bed... everything is gone and while it looked ok as we carted it out to the street, you have to keep in mind that everything is contaminated. Flood waters rip through sewers, gas lines, garages, chemical plants and every other nasty thing you don't want to be sleeping on or eating out of.

We spent the morning canvasing areas which meant we were assigned streets and sent out to knock on people's doors to see if there was any immediate needs. We did our few hours and we thought it kind of silly that you have a bunch of able bodied and willing to get dirty people canvassing the streets. Surely someone that didn't want to clean could do that right? So next up we joined with a team of people going to do some heavy lifting and cleaning on a badly hit street. Upon arrival, the street looked like a bomb exploded. After 4 hours in a poor gentleman's house we actually made a dent in the destruction. The smell is horrendous. Think of an open sewer mixed with mold and mud. Yeah that's what it smelled like. It's a nice feeling to get something done for someone that has nothing. I mean, I had to think of it this way, what if it was me?

So off I go this Friday to help someone else. Not sure who or where but I know I'm going. Here are the few photos taken from the excursion:

Me with buckets of cleaning kits.

Friends pitching in.

Brad in the back of the canvasing truck.

Even in the ugliest times it's best to try to make someone laugh.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finally it's not all book stuff

So maybe you enjoy hearing about my travels and adventures. I enjoy writing about them but I know that's pretty much all you've gotten in the past few months. So, we're going to mix it up with a state of the union update.

Being out of town for the last 3 months straight has been amazing. If you know me, you know I don't like to over use the word amazing because so rarely are we truly amazed. But this leg of the adventure from Myrtle Beach, SC to San Diego, CA and many places in between has been nothing short of that... Amazing. While I'll give you a brief book update below here is what's up:

Wow. If you watch TV at all you know that Nashville had biblical sized flooding last weekend. Things are pretty messed up around here. While some people weren't effected at all, many lost well, everything. The surge of volunteerism in The Volunteer State is overwhelming and... I'll say it again. Amazing. People are coming out of the woodwork to help others, in most cases complete strangers mind you. Inspired by my city's work ethic and care for others, the Thomas Riley Crew will be hitting the hot streets tomorrow,(Saturday)to go help people we've never met. I'm quite excited about it really. Here is a picture that should give you an idea of what happened:

Also I was just sent this picture of Ke$ha (yes the pop star who sings the sickly addictive hit song TiK ToK) bringing massive amounts of dog food to animal shelters around town. I don't care what you sing, the respect points just went through the roof.

Two Weeks
I have two wonderful weeks to get my life back in order. You'd be shocked how little things get neglected when away so often. My yard looked like Cambodia just a few days ago and surely something exploded in the house as well... and that's not talking about the minor flooding in my house. So things have been a mad scramble to get everything done that I can before I leave again. Maybe just maybe I can find some time for some R&R with friends too. It feels like my pub outings happened two years ago. Think we're going to remedy that tonight with a visit to the wonderful microbrew makers Yazoo.

Ok the book stuff
My next trip is on May 21 to the Victoria Steam Expo where I'll be signing all weekend as well as doing an entire panel on Thomas Riley.

After that here's what my schedule looks like. Keep in mind there are wayyyy too many open dates for my comfort level so I'll be filling those in shortly.

-5/21-5/23 The Victoria Steam Expo (Victoria British Columbia, Canada)
-5/24 Barnes & Noble signing (Seattle, WA)
-5/28-5/31 The World Steam Expo (Dearborn, MI)
-6/12-6/13 Printer's Row (Chicago, IL)
-6/25-6/27 ApolloCon (Houston,TX)
-7/1-7/4 CONvergence (Bloomington, WI)
-7/21-7/25 San Diego Comic Con (San Diego, CA)
-8/27-8/29 ArmadilloCon (Austin, TX)
-9/2-9/5 DragonCon (Atlanta, GA)
-9/11 Bookmarks Book Fest (Winston-Salem, NC)
9/24-9/26 Baltimore Book Fest (Baltimore, MD)
10/2 Books By the Banks (Cincinnati, OH)
10/8-10-10 Southern Festival of Books (Nashville, TN)
10/22-10/23 Georgia Lit Fest (Statesboro, GA)
10/30 Louisiana Book Fest (Baton Rouge, LA)
11/7 New Orleans Book Fair (New Orleans, LA)
11/13 The Kentucky Book Fair (Frankfort, KY)
11/19-11/20 SteamCon (Seattle, WA)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Anachrocon in Atlanta GA

Anachrocon is a steampunk event (Con) that I heard about last year. Apparently it was so popular last year that it was extended from 1 day to 3 days. I originally met most of the Atlanta based steampunk crews at The Mechanical Masquerade (which is an every other month 1 night dance, vending, burlesque, all around good time event held in Avalon Estates GA which is right outside of Atlanta.) So I can't tell you how good it was to show up at Anachrocon and see a bunch of familiar faces and uber friendly people. I can't tell you how pleased I am about the friends I made and the awesome relationships I now have with these people. I'm sorry I say that a lot but it's true. I really feel like I have family all over the country now.

On to the con...
Anachrocon was held at the Wellesly Inn in Atlanta, I showed up Thursday evening and settled in. Friday the entire thing started up at 1:30ish and off we went. William and Cindy MacLeod (the chief organizers, con planning gurus and generally amazing people) asked me to to a reading and a full hour on Thomas Riley. I'll just come out and admit that I've never done a reading and I've never had a full hour to talk about the book before. Needless to say, I was nervous. That afternoon, I went to the Spirit of St. Louis Room, sat down and did it. The room was not only pretty full but it was a blast! Through immersion, my nervousness disappeared.

(Photo by Paul Tod Rieger. Thanks Paul!)

That night began the room parties. The one on Friday is the ever popular and often wildest "Pirate Party" Basically people set up large but low cost to consumer bars in their rooms and have private parties. The result: everyone has a darn good time. Here's a quick behind the scenes look into the pirate party on Friday.

Saturday was a big day filled with panels and long vending hours. 9AM-8PM I think. I took off to attend Emilie Bush's reading of her steampunk novel Chenda and The Airship Brofman and I took an hour to attend a reading by Kimberly Richardson of Tales of a Goth Librarian. Both were wonderful panels!!!
Here's Emilie Reading:

Here's Kimberly Reading: (Heyyyy I didn't get a nice fluffy chair.)

Saturday evening was even crazier when it comes to parties. At least three major room parties were going on and everyone was enjoying the festivities that night. Here's some pictures:
The band, The Extraordinary Contraptions:

Burlesque by The Syrens of The South:

Regrettably I didn't get this gentleman's name but he had an amazing costume with moving parts!!

Here's me hanging with Steampunk Boba Fett:

And here's a shot of a Saturday evening room party. People always seem to take picture's of me and it looks like I'm angry. I promise I'm not. This was a great Mad Hatter Party!

(Photo by: Paige Gardner Smith)

You can't bring me down
So I have this thing for Suicidal Tendencies. (Yes, the old thrash band.)Sunday I woke to news that Nashville was having biblical storms. Not thinking much of it, I get a call that my house is flooding. So fresh out of bed, I'm running around like a mad man trying to collect my things and regrettably I was forced to leave early. After the insane drive back home we spent the day shoveling brown water out of the basement and trying to get things in order... what was destroyed etc... So once again thing's conspired against me but that's ok because you really can't bring me down.

To Canada and Beyond!
I have two weeks off. I'm actually quite excited about it. I have some writing to do and a a TON of catch-up with my Sky Pirates and emails for the book. So look for new stuff very soon. Next up is The Victoria Steam Exposition in Victoria British Columbia, Then The World Steam Expo in Dearborn MI then... the massive, the scary, the wonderfully chaotic Printer's Row in Chicago. So be happy fellow readers, you may just get a blog that's not just about my travels.

T0 all my Atlanta and Anachrocon friends: THANK YOU! I had a blast and I can't wait to see you all at Dragon Con and Anachrocon next year!

What? You don;t have your copy of Thomas Riley? Or did you miss me on Sunday? Pick up a copy (on sale at Amazon) HERE.