LibertyCon28 Report, Contests, and Squirrels

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“Let’s Bitch at Brandy” closing ceremonies for LibertyCon

I want to thank the wonderful staff of LibertyCon for yet another fantastic convention. Liberty is, by far, my favorite of the three conventions I make sure to attend every year. It has become family over the past five years for me. I regret that I didn’t even discover this convention existed until 2009, when I saw an article in the local paper AFTER the convention had wrapped up. (I’ve noticed that about our local paper where scifi or multifandom conventions are concerned: they only get mentioned, maybe, in the Sunday edition on the last day of the con. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any kind of advance notice story on them like I have for festivals like Riverbend or Bonaroo. That makes it very hard for fans new to the area, or, in my case, returning home to the area after a two decade absence, to find out that there is a community for us.) LibertyCon was founded in the mid-1980s, a few years before I left Chattanooga.

This was the busiest convention I’ve had since I started attending as an author and panelist rather than only a fan. I’m used to being scheduled to be on maybe three events over the course of a convention. For LibertyCon28 I was scheduled for three events EACH DAY. Thank you to Rich Groller for doing the bulk of the programming groundwork and to Kevin “Fritz” Fotovich for taking up the torch when Rich and Tish had to leave town before the convention for a family emergency. My personal experience was a very smoothly run convention.

My deepest condolences to the Groller’s on the loss of Rich’s mother.

On a brighter note, I had a Friday book sale for the first time since my books became available in hardcopy. Over the course of the convention, I only sold three copies of Blood Curse, but that counts as three new readers. Hopefully, they will continue to follow the series. I also met new people and made new friends.

My Red Shirt contest was a success. I had 16 entries gathered from Facebook and Plurk. The lucky(?) winners are Myfanwy Davies and Susan Fox. The will have their last names applied to two unfortunate pirates from the crew of the Incubus, and will receive free .pdf copies of Black Venom, the fourth book in the series. Their names will appear in The Daedalus Enigma, the sixth book in the series, due for release from Gypsy Shadow Publishing Fall 2016. I shanghaied Jacob and Heather Holo to draw the names when they got too close to the autograph table in the dealer room during my first autograph session Friday.

I also learned the hard way to take the card reader OUT of the headphone jack of my phone if I want SOUND on the video.

Red Shirt Contest video on YouTube

I am still trying to get mailing information for the winner of my convention-members-only drawing for a signed copy of Black Venom. If anyone knows Dawn Paris, please tell her to check and ANSWER her gmail. I have the copy of the book made out to her, and will mail it to her as soon as I get an address, since she was not present at the noon drawing on Sunday. I know several people had to leave Sunday before the convention finished because of flight and travel schedules. She may have been one of them.

If she has not responded by Wednesday, July 1, I will email Brandy Spraker, chair of LibertyCon, to find her in their database. I take my duty to my contestants very seriously.

The above picture refers to the “Let’s Bitch at Brandy” panel. This is the traditional closing ceremonies of LibertyCon every year. It started as the “Let’s Bitch at Uncle Timmy” panel. Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo founded LibertyCon when his daughter Brandy was still in elementary school. The “bitch” session gives everyone a chance to give feedback, both positive and negative, about the convention and recognition to the staff members that helped pull it off for another year. I will say that the folks at Liberty take all suggestions and complaints seriously and do everything within their power to make it a better convention every year.

There was talk of relocating the computer gaming room next year. It seems the room used this year was too small to handle three days of teenage boy sweat. Someone in the audience shared a most dire threat they overheard during the convention: “If you don’t knock it off, I WILL roll you in Cheeto dust and throw you in the gaming room.” (This makes me want to break into gales of maniacal laughter. A most excellent threat, indeed!)

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(I apologize for the blurriness. My camera does not have a stabilizer, and flash photography is not allowed during the show.)

Atlanta Radio Theatre Company put on a fantastic show, as they do every year. This year’s main feature was The Passion of Frankenstein by Thomas E. Fuller. It was very well done. I plan to contact them about doing adaptions of my books rather than pursuing a straight narration version of audio book. I want to at least get an idea of what it would involve. ARTC has been doing radio theater for three decades. They made mention of upcoming auditions, if anyone in the Atlanta area reading this is interested, by the way. (My publisher does not do audio books, so I retain the audio rights.)

The Mad Scientists Roundtable was successfully moved to the Roosevelt Room this year. It was nice to have AC and a banquet hall rather than an over-crowded hotel suite and noisy shop fans. Next year, there should be more than one microphone, too. Subjects of conversation this year ranged from medical and military implementations of neural stimulators, entomology and the more than doubling of documented genetic variations of Springtails, current laser weaponry technology, and what can be done to increase the number of students entering the scientific and technical fields. A high school teacher stated that most teenagers see no use for science studies in their lives, their priorities being more socially and hormonally driven (my words, not his). One elementary school aged attendee lamented that science curriculums at the elementary level are usually made fun, but are not made challenging. More focus is on reading levels and test scores than on feeding the desire to LEARN. (This just makes me glad I am childless. Seriously.)

All in all, it was a fantastic con this year.

Now, about those squirrels…..

There is an abundance of blackberry brambles in the brushy area between my yard and that of the house behind me, up the hill. They are much thicker this year than I’ve seen them since moving here, and they bloomed quite heavily. Surprisingly, most of the berries are making and have begun to ripen. These are wild blackberries, so they aren’t huge like the ones you’ll find in the produce section. The largest of these are about the size of my thumb nail. I’ve watched the past two evenings as one of the squirrels has picked berries. He hasn’t limited himself to the low-hanging fruit, either. This evening, he jumped up in the bushes to get at the higher growing fruit, too.

Can’t blame the critter. I picked and ate a handful Sunday night. Some are very sweet, but most are that mean, tart I remember from childhood, picking berries with various adults, and Granny’s blackberry cobbler. I think my blood sugar went up a few points just thinking about that cobbler. Yum!

And on that sweet note, I will close out this blog entry. See you next week. If you’re in the USA, have a safe and happy 4th!

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