A couple of things that seem related but probably aren’t

I’ve been sick all week. I spent one damn day at C2E2 and I’ve had a sore throat for a week as a result; I stayed home from work yesterday (and did not get paid for it, as I’m out of sick days) because when I woke up I found myself completely unable to talk. My voice is still not remotely normal today, and I lost it a couple of times at work today, but not quite as bad as yesterday morning. I did not factor being out a day’s pay into the cost of C2E2, and that loss combined with not being able to swallow for a week has pushed the trip well into “not worth it” territory.

As of this afternoon, I have cancelled my one existing convention commitment for the rest of the year; I was going to go to IndyPopCon in July and have reconsidered those plans. I’ve been doing Kokomo-Con every year for three or four years now; I’m not signed up this year and I think I’m going to skip that as well. While I could probably mumble a bit about coronavirus or something like that and, Jesus, I’m absolutely certain I’ll have that the second it hits Indiana, the simple fact is that these cons have gotten very samey over the last few years and, unfortunately, I’ve started to lose interest in pushing books to strangers. I’m not really working on anything at the moment, I haven’t been in a while, and while that will probably change eventually it’s not gonna change soon. I need to hit reset on a lot of things, and stepping away from cons for at least the rest of 2020 seems like a good idea even without a global pandemic fucking things up during an election year. I just don’t need it.

(I have been sick every two weeks, if not more frequently, since August, to the point where I’m starting to wonder if there’s something in my classroom making me sick, or something going on with my immune system that I need to have looked at. I have never, ever been this consistently sick in seventeen years of teaching. Not close.)

(The blog is not going anywhere. The blog is essential to my mental health. I will keep writing here even if literally no one is reading it.)

My Patreon is probably not long for this world either, as I don’t pay enough attention to it to feel good about charging people, and I basically forgot it existed in February and then charged everyone anyway. If I can’t come up with a use for it in March that I’m actually going to stick to I’m going to pack it up at the end of the month. I don’t mind the extra little piece of change that I get from it every month (and it’s a little piece of change; don’t get me wrong) but I’m not going to take it from people if I’m not giving them something useful in return, and right now that’s not happening.

Anyway. I’m okay, don’t worry about it; I just need to do some reassessing and reprioritizing, and the simple fact is it’s been going on for a while now, I’m just admitting it and making it official. I’m gonna lie low for most of the rest of this year. We’ll see what happens in 2021.

#C2E2 Roundup

We had a good time! Other than having to park a full 27-minute walk away from the venue, that is. That’s a decent length for a walk in the cold, and my watch asked me on the way to and from my car if I was working out or not. No! I’m just trying not to die.

Also, when we got there, there was absolutely no signage that there was a security line or a bag check to go through? Just literally a few thousand people all milling around being confused, because no one knew why they were there but everyone stood in the huge mob because they felt like they ought to?

We had our badges already, and they were already activated, so I literally moved a barrier aside and the three of us went in. Somebody tried to follow us and got sent back, and tried to get security to go get us too, but they didn’t. For some reason I found that hilarious. I didn’t find out until after the show that we’d actually dodged the security line; as I said, no signs at all, just a lot of confused people in a herd. I wouldn’t have jumped out of line if I’d have known that, but … whatever, I guess. I thought it was will call, I swear. ūüėÄ

I feel like there were a ton more people at the show than the last time, but more on that in a few minutes. I had goals! Nerd goals! First one: meet Gail Simone and Al Ewing. Well, Al wasn’t at his booth at all on Saturday, which was a bummer. But I met Gail!

So, interesting detail: Gail follows me on Twitter. And the account belongs to Luther, which, remember, isn’t my real name. So the fact that I automatically went into “I’m at a con” mode and told her to sign my graphic novel to Luther took me by surprise. Then I found out she was selling scripts and snapped one of those up too– that issue of Tony Stark: Iron Man contains what might honestly be my favorite single-panel joke in all of comic book history:

Gail’s husband accidentally told me something VERY COOL that might be coming out and I was immediately sworn to silence, but I wasn’t told not to tell you that I know something cool now. Which I do.

Authors! We ended up leaving before Robert Jackson Bennett’s signing, but my wife got Sam Sykes to sign a book, and I got autographs from John Scalzi and S.L. Huang:

By this point, I’d set precedent that books were signed to Luther, so I decided to roll with it. John was nice enough to let me take a picture with him, too:

On the Charizard: the boy put it on the table, and John immediately volunteered to sign it if he wanted, which he declined, not knowing who the hell John was. We only talked for a minute or two but he was very nice– in general, everyone was, unsurprisingly.

Also, I bought stuff:

New leather dice bag! Forgive the vast amounts of cat hair on the piano bench, there; it’s one of Jonesy’s favorite spots and I’m not about to retake the pictures somewhere cleaner.

Leather dice tray! It was either this or a tower, and I went with this instead, because of…

…the super fuckin’ cool obsidian dice I bought, which the salesperson made sure to point out are made of glass, and thus, honestly, are probably not the best choice to make dice out of? The price of the set, plus the box and the tray was frankly ridiculous, but much more reasonable compared to the first set I looked at, which were made of Damascus steel and priced at four hundred dollars. But fuck it: twelfth/third anniversary and we both saved up to buy cool shit at this show and I was ferdamnsure going to buy cool shit.

Oh, and I ran into my friend Verna Vendetta, who I met at Starbase Indy a million years ago:

The only real fail of the show, at least for me, was the sparse number of cosplayer pictures I took. Turns out that 1) it’s way easier to get people to let them photograph you when you’re at a booth, and 2) it really was hugely crowded, so most of the time if I saw somebody I might have tried to get a picture of in other contexts, the ridiculous number of people in between us made stopping to do so practically impossible. So I missed out on, say, the guy in the 12-foot-tall Bumblebee costume, because despite being near him there was no way I was going to get him to stop. So I didn’t get nearly as many pictures as I thought I was going to, but I did get a handful of them:

So, yeah: didn’t get arrested, spent lots of money, met cool people, walked seven miles, Achilles tendons currently really painful. I’ll call that victory! If you’d told me at fifteen that I’d not only eventually attend a nerd convention with a hundred thousand people there but that I’d have my wife and son with me and we’d be doing it on our anniversary, I’d have called you a liar. It’s good to be a geek.

In which I’m planning my nerdery and also I’m stupid

We’re heading to Chicago for C2E2 tomorrow; we only bought tickets for the Saturday part of the show, but we’re going to stay with my brother on Friday night so that we don’t have as long or complicated a drive to deal with on Saturday morning. I spent some time tonight looking around at who was planning on being there and trying to wargame out who I wanted to see and how much standing in lines I thought my eight-year-old might be willing to tolerate. Which is … probably not too much, honestly.

I have a handful of people on my list: two comics writers, Gail Simone and Al Ewing, both of whom should be easy enough to find at their Artist’s Alley tables, Noelle Stevenson, who my wife also wants to meet and who is responsible for the excellent Netflix She-Ra program, and a few science fiction authors: John Scalzi, Sam Sykes, Robert Jackson Bennett and S.L. Huang. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how difficult it will be to get autographs from these people, and I’m not about to subject my kid to lengthy lines, but is Sam Sykes gonna have a long line? I mean, probably not, right? Who the hell knows. There’s also the minor decision needed about whether I’m gonna bring stuff with me for autographing, which takes up space and requires me to carry said stuff around, or if I’m going to plan on buying things for signatures, which, okay, it’s our anniversary so I’m gonna splurge a bit, but I don’t know how many extra books I need just for signatory purposes. I mostly want to just meet these folks; the signatures are frankly all sorts of secondary to that purpose.

Now, take all that, whip up a bunch of unnecessary COVID-19 related paranoia, and pour said paranoia all over my plans like some sort of infection-based gravy. There have been sixty damn cases of the novel coronavirus in America, and I know how to wash my damn hands, which is the best way to avoid it. I’m just not super eager to be northern Indiana’s patient zero when I contract this shit and then spread it all over a damn middle school. Am I going to let this change my plans? Hell no, although I’m probably going to spend a smidge more time with my hands in my pockets than I might otherwise, and there’s definitely going to be more hand-washing than usual. But it’s in the back of my brain anyway, because stupid, and because oh right I have an actual anxiety disorder and anxiety disorders love this shit. Like, there’s nothing an anxiety disorder loves more than going to a 100,000-person-strong nerd convention during the opening weeks of a pandemic. Loves it.

Unrelated to anything: I am listening to a Kesha album right now, on purpose, and I’m rather enjoying it.

Anyway, I’ll post tons of pictures– pretty sure I can’t be infected with anything through my camera– and the usual end-of-month posts will be happening as usual. Whee!

It is decided

For our 12th anniversary, my wife and son and I will be attending C2E2, which is a huge show that I attended once as a vendor several years ago. This will be the first nerd convention that I have been to in years where I will actually get to be a fan and an attendee and not trying to hawk books, so it ought to be a lot of fun, although I’ll probably need all of Sunday to recover afterwards. I have important decisions to make during next week now, mostly along the lines of how much money am I going to allow myself to blow at this thing and when I find a giant sword that I want, should I consider buying it, or am I past the point where I should be buying giant swords?

I mean, realistically I know the answer to that, but still.

There will be tons of pictures of cosplayers, of course, and there may be pictures of me taken with a handful of my favorite authors, as John Scalzi, Sam Sykes, and Gail Simone are all going to be in attendance. I will absolutely go meet Gail; Scalzi and Sykes will depend on the length of lines, as we’ll have the boy with us and I feel like C2E2 is not an optimal place to “meet” people who I might want to talk to for more than ten seconds. We’ll see, though.

Finally! A plan!

#C2E2 wrapup, for real

IMG_3493Okay. ¬†I’m out of bed and have no intention of returning, so maybe I’ll post a blog thing longer than 200 words.

You may recall that I attended a convention last weekend.

I said this yesterday, but not everybody read that so I’ll say it again: the real short version of this post is “I had a lot of fun at C2E2 and I have absolutely no intention of doing it again.” ¬†C2E2 is a hell of a con, guys. ¬†You should absolutely find time to go to C2E2 as a fan. ¬†I’d love to go again just to soak the place up and hit a panel or two, which I wasn’t able to do since I spent the entire weekend at my booth. ¬†But I don’t see how anybody other than the big vendors is able to make money at this thing. ¬†I lost a¬†shitton of money doing this convention, and had I had to stay at a hotel rather than with a friend, it would have been much, much worse. ¬†Now, again: I had fun, I met a lot of people, and I’m pretty sure I created a few fans, so it’s not like the weekend was a total loss. ¬†But I’m pretty damn sure there’s no way for a small vendor to make any real money at this thing.

Good stuff: ¬†I got to see the Goldens again, who swung by and bought another book. ¬†It’s amazing how something as simple as saying hi to¬†one person who you met on Twitter or through blogging can make your day, and this is the second convention we’ve overlapped at.

On Saturday, I had a lady come by and immediately ask to buy¬†all of my books. ¬†One of each, I mean, not my entire stash. ¬†I gleefully agreed but raised an eyebrow at it, and she said that she was a librarian and had a patron who had specifically requested that she look for me. ¬†Hopefully that person reveals themselves, because I let the name of the library fall out of my head and I’d love to know where the books ended up.

I had two different people buy books on Friday or Saturday and come back on Sunday for more.  That, also, was awesome.

Cosplayers are just about my favorite people.  The first day there was a million Deadpools; the second day was heavy on Harley Quinn.  Both were represented well on all three days, of courseРand, in fact, the first cosplayer I saw was a Harley (a male, Asian Harley, which was especially awesome) but it was interesting the way they seemed to cluster.

In general, moving in and out was well-organized, although the wait to get back out was kind of long. ¬†You can tell the folks running this convention are pros. ¬†I still can’t believe everything got set up on time.

Not as good stuff: ¬†You are¬†invisible at C2E2 in a small booth unless you are forcibly and deliberately interacting with everyone who walks by. ¬†There’s too much to see, and people¬†have to have some specific reason to look at you or they literally won’t even see you. ¬†Which means that my traditionally somewhat passive small-convention method of interaction wasn’t going to work, and we figured out quickly that we needed to directly hand bookmarks to people. ¬†Some of them would stop and talk about books, and some of¬†those would buy, but without that initial “Hey, I’m right here” moment, it just wasn’t going to happen. ¬†The fact that the booths on either side of me were kind of vertical didn’t help. ¬†I handed out over a thousand bookmarks in three days. ¬†Traditionally after a con I’ve seen a bump in online sales, which hasn’t happened with C2E2, so I’m kind of begrudging that money, but if I hadn’t had the bookmarks it’s entirely possible that I would have only made five or six sales the entire weekend.

Speaking of, if I hand you a bookmark, and later I find that bookmark on the floor, you can be damned sure I’m going to pick that bookmark up and give it to someone else. ¬†That’s my money you just dropped on the floor. ¬†It only happened twice, though. ¬†ūüôā

Day Three was Kids’ Day. ¬†Honestly, had I realized that and thought about it, I might have reconsidered the entire thing, because that meant that Sunday was probably 75% kids in Halloween costumes being shepherded along by stressed-out parents worried about losing their anklebiters in the crowd, and by noon it was 75% exhausted and tantrumy kids in Halloween costumes being either pushed or¬†carried by those parents. ¬†Either way, that’s not a crowd that is interested in buying science fiction for adults. ¬†Somebody selling YA books might have had better luck, but that’s not what I write. ¬†Sunday was my worst day of the convention by a long shot; I sold¬†three times as many books on Friday as I did on Sunday, and nearly five times as many on Saturday. ¬†Still fun, but the crowd that was nearly entirely my people on Friday and Saturday really turned on me on Sunday. ¬†Be prepared for this shift if you’re going to be a vendor at this thing.

So, yeah. ¬†I need to find some actual¬†book festivals in the Midwest, actual readers’ conventions, because I can’t afford to keep losing money at these things. ¬†I can only say “It was fun and worth it for the networking and the experience” so many times before I’m just being stupid. ¬†I can afford to lose a couple hundred dollars at an InConJunction or Starbase, but the outlay necessary for C2E2 just wasn’t worth it.