Waking up on a Monday morning (@#$%!) after a con is kind of like waking from an intense dream. Or, a nightmare if it was a horror con. Only a good type of nightmare. The kind where you fight real monsters and kick their ass. Which is what we did at the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, VA last week. First and foremost, the convention is a charitable one, put on by Scares That Care, a charitable organization that raises money for those who fight childhood illness, burns and breast cancer every day of their lives. Check out their website for more info… www.scaresthatcare.org. Do it. Do it now. (or after you read the rest of this. That would be fine.)
Waking up the Monday after a Scares That Care Weekend is not much different than waking up after any other con. You’re just a little more groggy and have a little less comprehension on whether or not it was all real. I mean did I actually see Oderus Urungus from Gwar singing 4 Non Blondes karaoke? The cannibalistic Pluto (Michael Berryman) from The Hills Have Eyes sitting at a bar sipping mixed drinks and chatting with people over a plate of wings? WWE’s The Boogeyman (dude is scary!) lifting up an elderly woman like he’s about to perform a BoogeySlam, only to set her back down with a hug and a kiss after the photo’s been snapped? (I’m not even getting into Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and his insistence on not knowing whose head Negan bashed in on The Walking Dead’s season finale. I have my doubts.) Like I said, it all seems unreal. But my wife assures me that it was, so I’ll go with it. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
One thing I know that positively happened was that I did a reading for three people. Yes, three. And technically one of them was my wife, Julie, so I did a reading for two people. Yes, two. And technically one of them was my publisher. So yes, I did a reading for one very interested and enthusiastic listener. ONE! The room was so empty it created an echo, but the show must go on, so it did. My last reading drew about fifteen listeners, so apparently I’m heading in the wrong direction. But, I will say the doors had just recently opened to kick off the festivities, and everyone was still excitedly rushing around to take photo ops with their favorite authors/actors/cosplayers. So let’s chalk the lack of audience up to that, shall we? Anyway, the one audience member is an aspiring author who listened intently and asked her questions enthusiastically. We still took up almost the entire allotment of time, so she didn’t complain.
Speaking of authors, there were many great ones at this event, including one of my all-time favorites, Mr. Joe R. Lansdale. (why we don’t celebrate this guy’s birthday as a national holiday is beyond me.) He was incredibly down to earth and very cool to talk to. A natural storyteller of both fiction and non. As much as I love his books, I could sit and listen to him talk for hours. And I told him so as I thanked him for still doing these types of events and sharing his experiences even though he doesn’t need to at this point in his career. But no, I didn’t fanboy. I kept it in check and had a very short, cordial conversation with the man. I also met and shook hands with a few other authors I read, follow and respect in the business…Jonathan Janz, David Bernstein, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi among a handful of others. All authors you should be reading if you like contemporary horror. I, myself picked up a crap ton of books. At one point it was almost an even swap…sell one, buy one. Which is why I rarely make money at these things and will probably always need a day job.
Speaking of the business end of things, overall, sales were pretty good considering we were located upstairs and quite a few people we spoke to downstairs didn’t even know there was upstairs vending. Probably did as well as most cons I’ve attended where I was right in the middle of things. (It’s amazing how much interest is piqued at a horror convention when you mention one of your books came in at #11 on Horror Underground’s Top Twenty list for 2015.) As well as we did, my goal for next year is to be in the thick of things. (note to self…it will mean getting over your damn insecurities and finally introducing yourself to Brian Keene!)
Anyway, it was a great weekend filled with charity, good will and all things horrific. And if you’re into that sort of thing, they’re doing it again next year. But you’ll have to book your room early, because the host hotel fills up quick. (And then it doesn’t. And then it does again. And then it doesn’t. But I digress.) A HUGE thank you to my publisher, PlotForge Ltd. Been trying to get to this con the past two years and it took their help to make it happen. I am grateful beyond words. Thanks also to fellow authors C. Bryan Brown and Terri-Lynn Smiles for hanging with me all weekend. I couldn’t ask for two better people to share table space with.
Now, back to work on the next book so I can keep attending these things!