Phyllis Appleby and I spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the local Hilton Hotel for the first day of MidSouthCon35, the local fantasy/sci/fy convention. She and I were both nominated as finalists in their contest for the Darrell award in the short story category, and as such were on a panel with the other finalists for novels and novellas. The con was orderly chaos, although the panel went really well. Those who attended seemed to enjoy it.
I worried about what to wear since we would be going from doing the con stuff during the day to the awards banquet at night. I needn’t have worried. Half the people there were in costume as everything from Jedi knights to vampires to fairies and elves to you-name-it because–I-have-no idea-what-you-represent. It is a giant con that runs from Friday night through Sunday afternoon with merchandise that runs from very expensive art to very inexpensive chochkes. Everyone seemed to be having a blast.
I have never been to one before. I’ve been to a bunch of writers’ conventions, of course, but nothing like this. I have never before had to duck under lit light sabers to reach the ladies’ room, nor narrowly miss stepping on the White Rabbit’s paws. I’ve never seen so many BatMans—or Bat Men—in one place, and all wearing what looked like real Hollywood quality costumes. I decided not to buy a set of elf ears. You have to attach them with spirit gum which a. smells, and b. hurts when you pull it off.
Anyway, it was great fun. It’s always fun to talk about writing. It’s also good to know that whether through Kindle or Nooks or through printed books, there are still plenty of people out there reading.
I do not normally read sify or Steam Punk. I simply don’t know much about it. I do, however, like witches and magic and vampires. I do not do zombies—except for Sean of the Dead, which hardly counts. I think I’m going to be forced to broaden my horizons since the books of the other Darrell finalists on our panel sounded truly interesting.
Phyllis Appleby and I were the two finalists in the short story category. Both stories came from the Malice in Memphis Ghost Story anthology. We didn’t even know our publisher, Dark Oak Press, had submitted them to the contest. It really is extremely cool to be nominated whatever the outcome. In this case, however, the outcome was great. Phyllis took second place, and I won. I hope that Dark Oak Press is pleased with us.
Small presses are really doing wonderful work keeping new authors and new topics out there for the reading public. Large publishers tend to stick to publishing safe books that they hope are slam dunks for the New York Times bestseller lists. That’s pretty limiting. And it doesn’t work. A whole lot of publishers turned down the Harry Potter books, and there are a bunch of other books that almost never saw the light of day except for a gutsy publisher who took a chance.
Anyway, I am grateful to Dark Oak Press for backing our Malice in Memphis anthologies, and to the other small and large presses who continue to take chances. Long may they print.