Well maties, another LibertyCon has come and gone. Once again, this has proven my favorite convention (and best selling, too). Even though my first panel, Whats’ New in Pirate Fantasy? (with Michael H. Hanson and Rocky Perry) was at ONE on Friday (a time when many cons are still a few hours away from even starting) it had a decent turn-out (10 or so, not bad for early Friday afternoon).
While my book sales were not as good as last year’s, they were still better than the other cons I’ve done this year. I sold nine books, and at least one of every title available. Three of my sales were to repeat customers either completing or at least continuing their collection of the series. The Maelstrom of Fate signed copy pre-order sale was a bust, however. I promise to work on figuring out how to run it through Paypal and re-opening it in September online.
My scheduled reading didn’t pan out. Late events on a Sunday are always lightly or unattended as many con-goers check out from the hotel and depart for home early. I had no attendees, not even the other author scheduled to share the time slot. Still, I managed to get in a brief impromptu reading at the Kaffeeklatsch Sunday morning. I was joking with one of my table mates about the lack of rum at the breakfast (I was in my pirate garb, of course), then mentioned one of my characters (Jon-Jon) who would complain about being entirely too sober. This led to reading a short excerpt from Blood Curse (book 1) with a scene between him and Viktor which was well received.
Some of the panels I attended but didn’t sit on were How to Approach a Publisher; Practical Linguistics in the Development of Voice; Indie Publishing Workshop; and the Mad Scientists Roundtable. While there were a few space related panels, we didn’t get the Space Update this year. Les Johnson was away in Italy at a Space Conference. Rob Hampson (aka Speaker to Lab Animals, formerly aka Tedd Roberts) hosted the Roundtable.
How to Approach a Publisher: This panel was run by Gray Rinehart, Gary Poole aka Kelly Lockhart, Dan Hollifield, and Michael H. Hanson. STICK TO SUBMISSION GUIDELINES! Be nice and keep it professional. Tell a GOOD story and WRITE WELL (you know, properly spelled used correctly with correct punctuation). Network! This is what lit cons are for: get to know the pros you meet; have conversation with them; ask questions/advice; DO NOT HAND THEM A MANUSCRIPT AT A CON (see first point)! If you handle this correctly, they will be familiar with your name and it might help move you PROPERLY SUBMITTED manuscript to the top of the pile. Be willing to accept critical review.
Practical Linguistics in the Development of Voice was a workshop run by Kevin Hearne, this year’s Literary Guest of Honor. I wish it could have been a two hour workshop instead of one, I still haven’t finished my writing exercise. I guess flash fiction just isn’t my forte. (My brain goes much faster than my hands, which makes it tricky to keep up.) Still, I found this workshop very useful and plan to hang onto my notes from it. I may do a separate blog post just on this at a later date. It’s a lot to cover. Suffice to say for now that Those People who say, “Voice can’t be taught; you either have it or you don’t,” are WRONG.
The Indie Publishing Workshop was supposed to have been run by Peter Grant and Dorothy Klapp, but they were double booked for the time slot. (A panel in another room got cancelled and everything in that room was bumped up an hour, hence the unintentional double booking.) Therefore, Jim Curtis, Tom Rogneby, and John Van Stry (none of whom were listed as attending pros but ARE indie/self published authors) stood in for them. This was another event which will require its own blog post to cover everything, but they covered everything from pre-publication to marketing for those who wish to go the indie/self-pub route. Even audiobooks were mentioned.
Speaking of, I got the same referral from two different authors/publishers who dabble in audiobook editions of their books: ACX.com. “Artistic Creative Exchange” is Amazon/Audibel’s self-pub arm and something I plan to look into for Waves of Darkness. I hold the audio rights to my books, and I’ve had at least five people in the past month ask me if I have them available on audio. I’ve been wanting to take Viktor to audio for several years now, but always thought it was something I couldn’t afford. What I learned at this con tells me the time is right to finally take that leap.
The Mad Scientists Roundtable, a LibertyCon tradition, covered several interesting topics this year. We started with the Kepler project, which has discovered aver 2300 exo-planets thus far. This led to discussion of the TESS mission to try to find Earth-like planets and life-markers. The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop was mentioned along with questions such as should we be looking? and how far out should we try to go? It was agreed that even though we may not have the tech to REACH an exo-planet, finding one which meets the life-sustainability criteria would give us the impetus to DEVELOP the tech. The question was also raised on whether we should focus on trying to reach Mars or to shoot for one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, such as Enceladus (which has water). This was debated without a general consensus; in fact aiming for some of the larger asteroids was mentioned as yet another option. Of course, any such mission would require more study of the long-term effects of radiation exposure and micro-gravity on human life and longevity.
The next subject was quantum computing. Someone wondered if it was the “next cold fusion” in that they keep promising it but never quite delivering. Questions raised were: what will we use it for; is it the next step to true artificial intelligence; and can we make it commercially viable? It seemed generally agreed that this was totally unknown and some scary $#!t.
Of course, this discussion led to the news Elon Musk has launched a company called Neuro-Link seeking to find ways to create a brain/computer interface. Currently, this ONLY exists in science fiction, although experimental medical electronic implants exist to treat certain brain disorders/injuries (with varying success; and they aren’t computer linked). The possibilities of using this tech once it finally manifests to reprogram one’s body to self-correct medical issues came up. The questions discussed were: would you want a biomedical implant; and when should we allow people to elect to have one as opposed to it being a medical necessity? Many agreed this should not go forward until there is some way to protect against hackers. Still, many saw a commercial potential for such implants (especially among gamers who could use one to improve and augment reaction times). One this was certain: this kind of tech will raise all sorts of ethics questions along the way, especially with the potential for abuse (read: mind control). Also the question came up of could you be forced to have one, say by the government or even your employer?
The Roundtable ended with the question of when will we have fusion.
As was pointed out by one wag, we already have a fusion generator… 92,955,807 miles away.
I realize I’m jumping about, chronologically speaking, in this report. I also wanted to share this recording of Gray Rinehart performing the filk song he specifically wrote for LibertyCon last year when he was MC.
Then, it was a tribute to fandom and the late David Bowie; now, it is a tribute to LibertyCon’s longevity and last year at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Exactly when and where the next LibertyCon will be depends on what sort of contract Brandy Spraker and the board of directors can work out with another venue.
Once this is settled and the information available, you can bet I will be buying my membership for next year.
Also, look forward to an expanded cosplay/costuming track at LibertyCon. I’ll post more on that as the info becomes available.