punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Balticon 45 in review

Balticon 45 book signingBalticon 19 was my first "away from home" con, way back in 1985. So what's changed in 26 years? Well, I have gotten fatter for one. I am older, maybe wiser, but I was also sleeping on a floor in a room packed with people because I was... poor.

That didn't change.

I had access to crash space because I was on their new media tract, did programming, knew the person in charge, and technically was the one loaning out the air mattresses. I don't recall giving Balticon permission to borrow Katsucon stuff, but if they asked, I would have said yes anyway, so don't consider that a complaint. But the first night, my air mattress deflated, and I slept on a floor the second night, which made people feel bad, so they put me in an air mattress that only mildly deflated. I think all in all, the floor was the better bet. Unless the air bed has supporting inner cells, it's a back killer. I will change some of this for Katsu staff.

If I ever do this again, I am buying a damn camping mattress. I am 340+ pounds, and air mattresses are better for children and in laws one does not care for. I don't mind sleeping on the floor, I mind not being able to turn over or have a decent back or head support, so maybe a camping blanket and pillow. And a travel coffee maker. Getting coffee from their con suite was a crapshoot that led me to believe there was a dog who would pop up from the bushes and snicker at me every time I went down there and was told, "There's a new pot brewing, should be ready in 20 minutes." The hotel restaurant was expensive and the portions were too small. I didn't want to leave the hotel for it, either. Myeh.

This, plus snoring roommates, and one who got drunk and had night terrors, led to me not sleeping. In fact, from Thursday to Monday I got maybe 10 hours sleep total, in small, 1/2-hour interrupted chunks. Yes, we should have gotten our own hotel room, but we're still poor.

Who was we? Well, ninjacooter and Scarlet, my publisher and assistant, of course! So things weren't really so bad. In fact, Balticon was GREAT! MY FIRST NOVEL WAS RELEASED, Y'ALL!

Of course, my novel release was the big thing. I have been covering the details in my Punkadyne Blog, which I keep separate from this personal blog so I won't muddle the two worlds. You can see the steps starting from last year there.

But this is about Balticon. So, prior to the con, we got crash space, which was AWESOME because otherwise we couldn't have afforded going. See, in March, I really thought I was going to lose the house. Luckily, my publisher moved in and paid rent, as she was also going through some terrible financial times as well. Then takayla got a promotion at work. So our finances went from swirling down the drain to maybe a steady trickle of new money flowing in. So now we can afford to pay for food, utilities, health care, and all that good stuff. It's going to take me probably 5-7 years to get out of the mountain of debt we have accumulated. But that's not about Balticon, either.

Scarlet is 12 going on 13 going on 25. She's not a typical tween or pre-teen. She's sharp as a tack, witty, caring, and full of energy. That's why she's my assistant. She took over from her big sister when she went off to do teen things, which is as it's supposed to be, I guess. Truth be told, I miss aksident a lot, but she is 17 and has her own life to deal with. She's in a happy and stable relationship, drives a sports car, is a commander in the JROTC, a volleyball champ, and planning for college. While she was a great and hard worker, her life comes first. I suppose Scarlet will do the same pretty soon, but she has a younger brother already chomping at the bit. So for right now, Scarlet carries stuff, fetches me water, and mans the tentacle under the table. She also helps me at roller derby.

I think we planned and re-planned Balticon weekend differently every week leading up to the con. What we ended up doing was the latest incarnation of plans finalized on Thursday. Scarlet slept over at our house, we drove takayla to work, and headed on down to the Hunt Valley Inn, home of Balticon since... 1976 when Isaac Asimov was GoH. My how time flies. And we flew, too, as we beat not only Memorial Day traffic but also a funeral procession that shut down the Baltimore beltway from 1-4pm, which screwed EVERYTHING up. Balticon warned us a day beforehand in a Tweet, but most people did not, or could, not heed the message.

Thus, Balticon was practically DEAD until about 6.

This marked the first time in many, many years I arrived at Balticon before dinnertime on a Friday night. In fact, we got there at like 10am. We got our table set up, and thanks SO much for Tristian at Art Alley for all his kind help. We had the table next to his, and we watched over each other's table. I am glad takayla and I worked so hard to get AA working better for Katsucon, because the Art Alley culture is so sweet and awesome. Drama? Maybe. But overall, the artists and authors are a cool bunch of people who will protect one another. We sat next to Barb and Chris from Unseen LLC, and across from Mark Rogers and a guy who did custom art after he took your photo. A real charmer, I invited him to come to Katsucon.

This was our station. We guarded UnseenLLC, they guarded us. It was at this time Barb asked if she could use me as a character for their comic SledgeBunny. I will be an upcoming derby announcer of a trio, the "sensible one" of the trio. HELL, YEAH! Barb and I drafted up the character, and it's pretty cool. I'll let you know when my mug gets plastered in their webcomic.

Chris Impink did "50 cent armadillos," which seemed to be their big seller.

My book did well, with 17 copies sold at the table, plus another 7 sold via Amazon.com. We're delaying an ad campaign for a weeks or so until we get the Kindle version situation sorted out. Rogue also sold a few of her books. But our big hits were some of our panels.

Rogue's big news was she won the Iron Chef Erotica a la Carte panel with her erotic piece on artichokes (NSFW link). She was instantly noticed and invited to parties, author get-togethers, and podcast heavies. Here's how my panels went:

Luddites of Fandom? - It was weird, I guess I was an anti-Luddite except when it came to tings like major appliances with, as I have stated before, I do NOT want computer chips in.

My Autograph session was okay, I guess. I did meet some fellow Arsians (people from Ars Technica), which was the high point. I sold two books, I think. One to my neighbor, Bud Sparhawk, who also attended my reading. The location was right in the middle of everything next to the merchant's room, which might have been its biggest downfall; the merchant's room eclipsed people at that table. I got to use my handmade pen, a gift from an Arsian who never revealed himself in a Secret Santa exchange last year.

Anime: Why Do We Love It? was in a weird, retrofitted hotel room. The attendance was decent, and one of our panelists was a girl who is majoring in Japanese manga. I had a good time.

My Reading was at 9am on a Saturday, when the drunks had gone to bed mere hours earlier. Albedo and Bud Sparhawk attended. ASt least it wasn't as bad as Michelle's at 2pm on Monday while the con was closing. Sheesh.

Children’s Books We Still Love as Adults, which I moderated, was played to a packed room. This was an immense success, and the subjects we discussed are self-explanatory to the title.

The Improv Comedy Jam was a mixed bag. First, the moderator had obviously never done this before, as his pacing was way off. But he did the best he could. The actors were a mixed bag, including myself, but we did score a few hits enough to be entertaining despite the room being vastly undercooled. I'd say we played to a packed room, but the room was so small, that was only about 20 people.

Science Fiction Title Chain was my biggest success of the weekend. The moderator, again, had no idea how anything worked, but neither did the authors or audience, so we sort of followed the description in the program book. The audience gave us 3-4 words, and we had roughly one minute to come up with a title using those words and a plot summary. I fucking nailed every last one, and won (bragging rights only) by a vast margin of approval from the audience and the panelists. Many were stunned and impressed how quickly I pulled shit out of my head. I will post some of my results later on in my writer's blog.

Zombie Survival Plan: Have You Got Yours? I did not attend because I lost my voice by Monday, and one of the med staff (well, theimp79) told me I needed to go home. My apologies if anyone missed me, but I wasn't entirely thrilled to be on a zombie panel because that subject is completely overdone in the media these days.

All in all? Success. Will OBVIOUSLY go back next year (hopefully with a second book and two short stories in anthologies under my belt by then). Some other random stuff:

  • Next year, I plan on sleeping late and staying up late as well. I missed too many parties. I may also nap more.
  • Rogue got new authors to sign up for "A Rush of Wings," an anthology I have a story in. I can't say who, but you've heard of them.
  • Putting in my schedule, "you swim here," and "you eat here," and "you spend time with Scarlet now" was a good idea. The iPhone calendar was a godsend, as I also had Michelle's and Rogue's schedules in as well.
  • I made author friends I will not name drop. Suffice to say, things might go well for me in the long run.
  • Balticon programming was a clusterfuck due to various (unavoidable and forgivable) personal tragedies on their staff. They did the best they could, but wow did a lot of stuff go awry. Yet, in the end, the programming SUBJECTS were some of the best they've had in a while.
  • I was asked on Friday to interview all the guests of honor (which included industry heavy, Ben Bova), and I nearly plotzed. I was not prepared at all. Luckily for everyone involved, they all got canceled because the podcasting room was double booked. Paul was not happy, but I am sure I would have had some really poor interviews, so that may have worked out.
Tags: balticon, book, cons, convention
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