HallowCon 2015 Convention Report

I wish I could say I had lots of pictures to share but I managed to accidentally delete about half the pictures I took at HallowCon.  Two attempts to root my Galaxy S6 failed (different software each time) so I think those pictures are gone forever.  Meanwhile, Google, Android did not delete the pictures we wanted to delete.  You still have some awful bugs in your mobile operating system.

HallowCon was started a few years ago by a friend of mine, Dutch Stacy.  Dutch and I met in 1993 when I volunteered to help with Magic Carpet Con.  So I guess we have been friends for a while now.  He is without a doubt one of the smartest people I have ever known.  And most people won’t realize that because Dutch comes across like a … well, let me not digress.  Let’s just say he’s a really smart guy who loves to let people leap to whatever assumptions they’ll leap to.

Dutch Stacy chatting with scifi fans at HallowCon 2015.

Dutch Stacy chatting with scifi fans at HallowCon 2015.  He is the guy in the red shirt and black vest.  He moved around so much I could not get a good picture of him.  I wanted an “action” shot an this was the best that survived the accidental deletion fiasco.

HallowCon started out as a big Halloween party, as I recall it.  Just tons and tons of people would show up in costume and have a great time.  Whether Dutch intended it to become a “real” convention from the start or just let it transform into anything by itself, I don’t remember.  In fact, Dutch has been involved with so many conventions (including two with me, MCC and Galacticon) that I cannot keep them straight any more.

Before this year I last saw Dutch at a Dragon*Con a few years ago.  He used to throw wild Klingon parties complete with blood wine and head butting contests.  I can only imagine what it was like to wake up for those big guys the next day.

Dutch contacted me earlier this year to let me know that Clara Miller, founder of Magic Carpet Con and co-founder of Galacticon, had passed away.  I wish I had found the time to drive up to north Georgia to see Clara one more time.  Clara was a dear friend who put her heart into everything she did.  She had her stubborn streak, like all of us, but people warmed to her and she loved people.

Dutch and I got to talking about old times and I admitted I should have gone up to visit him and everyone else still in the Dalton area by now, but I have been working hard with my search engine optimization consulting.   So I just put it off until too late.  But I promised him I would try to get up to HallowCon this year.  I also gave him some free advertising on a few of my Websites.  Dutch told me then he was going to announce at this HallowCon that 2016 would be the last year he does the convention.  Maybe someone will step up to take over the convention, but I can tell you right now that running a small con is not easy.

But let’s talk about HallowCon 2015.

The Guest List at HallowCon 2015 included artist/illustrator Robert E. Brown, authors HallowCon 2015: Richard Fierce, Richard Groller, Jeremy Hicks, K.T. Hunter, D. Alan Lewis, Doug McKittrick, A.G. Porter, Bryan Powell, and Walter Rice.  I met most of these folks and had at least two conversations with many of them.  I promised I would talk them up on my blog.  I thought about trying to do some Periscope broadcasts from the convention but I’m not ready to do that.  I think Periscope’s video quality is just awful (maybe it’s people’s phones — I don’t know).  So I took lots of pictures and got nearly everyone.

And most of the good pictures were accidentally deleted.  I’m sorry about that.  I should not have waited so long to copy my image gallery from my phone.  And, no, I don’t backup my pictures to any damn “cloud”.  You people who do that have no idea of what — well, never mind.

I don’t remember if I got to talk much with Rob E. Brown.  He has worked in a lot of projects but is probably best known to Marvel Comics fans for his work on The Inhumans, The Savage Sword of Conan, Spider-man, Excalibur, Iron Fist, and Ghost Rider.  He has also worked with Chaos Comics and don some cover work for magazines and books.

You can find out more about Rob at his Website, DungeonComics, than I will be able to tell you.

Rob did a couple of panels for HallowCon.  Unfortunately I missed both.  He lives in Dalton, GA so if I ever get up there to visit Dutch again maybe I’ll run into him.  I’d be curious to see what he thinks of the physical depiction of the Inhumans on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

HallowCon 2015: Richard Fierce

HallowCon 2015: Richard Fierce

Richard Fierce read a research paper on magic systems in fantasy literature.  It was one of those sessions where the audience did almost as much talking as the panelist.  And I thought he did a pretty good job of summarizing some of the rules of magic from people’s favorite fictional worlds.  Of course there are so many authors and fictional worlds he only just barely scratched the surface.

I have not read any of Richard’s fiction (or any of the books from the other authors at the con) but you can check out his titles on this Amazon page.

Richard has lived in Japan and also owned his own store for a couple of years.  He has a sense of adventure and seems willing to try new challenges.  I thought he put far more work into his paper than a single session at a convention deserved.  Maybe he’ll find a way to publish it, even if only as a blog post, so that everyone can enjoy it.

Richard is also an ordained minister, so for those of you who think all Christians are supposed to stay away from Fantasy, that’s not what we all believe.  I hope I get to run into Richard again.  I spent far too little time getting to know these folks at HallowCon.  Check out his Website at http://www.richardfierce.com/.

I did not meet Richard Groller, or if I did I lost his business card.  He was not on any of the panels I watched.  I would have loved to spoken with him given his background in military intelligence non-fiction books and articles, and related topics.  He has Facebook page but hasn’t updated it much.

HallowCon 2015: Amanda Porter, Jeremy Hicks, and D. Alan Lewis.

HallowCon 2015: Amanda Porter, Jeremy Hicks, and D. Alan Lewis on the panel “Navigating the Path to Publication”.

Jeremy Hicks is officially a Cool Guy, in my book.  He is just as friendly and outgoing as you could ask for in someone working a con (and that must sound crazy to anyone who has sat at an author table at a convention — of course you’re trying to be friendly and outgoing).

I have met a lot of authors and illustrators in my time and the majority of them have a sort of humble spirit, almost like they feel out of place, especially when they suddenly find themselves the center of fan attention.  A few, like Marion Zimmer Bradley, have an intensity that is just unbelievable.  I got to spend an hour with her where as we say in authorspeak “she ripped my story to shreds”.  I loved it.

Jeremy sat on a couple of panels.  I saw the first panel, “Navigating the Path to Publication” with Amanda Porter and D. Alan Lewis.  The second panel was “The Supernatural and the Sands of Sorrow” with Rob Brown and D. Alan Lewis.  I am pretty sure I was lost somewhere on the outskirts of Dalton during most of that panel.  I think I came into the room toward the end.

Display for Jeremy Hicks & Barry Hayes' Cycle of Ages Saga.

Display for Jeremy Hicks & Barry Hayes’ Cycle of Ages Saga.

So what makes Jeremy Hicks cool in my book?  He’s a bona fide real life archaeologist who regaled me with horror stories of how our American heritage is being paved over by civilization.  And I mean that literally in the saddest way possible.  I got the impression that archaeologists sort of hope most of the ruins and remains waiting to be found wait until we no longer need roads and parking lots because the pressure to get the project under way is just immense.  His team was called in to investigate one Native American burial ground that they estimated ran for a long, long way on both sides of a river; but all they could do was move some graves so that a bridge could be finished.

Somewhere along the way Jeremy and his partner Barry Hayes got into writing fantasy horror stories.  You can see Jeremy’s fiction on this Amazon page.

Jeremy and Barry passed through the world of Small Press Publishing with some of the usual experiences.  It gives you a great feeling to be chosen by a publisher because, frankly, that is a sign of vindication that you have done something correctly as a writer.  But small press publishers struggle to compete with the big companies and one morning you wake up to realize, “I’m not an A-list author for a New York City Big Five publisher”.

I wish all the small presses in the world the best of luck, but Jeremy and Barry did what a lot of authors have done: they turned to self-publishing.   Let me just say, as a self-published author, that if you want to publish books you have to really work hard to get people to buy them.  And let me just say, as someone who has been published by a small press publisher, that if you want to publish books you have to work really hard to get people to buy them.

Small press has advantages over self publishing and self publishing has advantages over small press.  I will leave it at that.

Jeremy has a blog at https://jjeremyhicks.wordpress.com/ so drop by and check him out.

I spoke with K.T. Hunter at her author’s table.  I remember being fascinated with the concept behind her book, 20 Million Leagues Over the Sea.  If you’re thinking, “Gee, that sounds like a Jules Verne story,” then, yeah, you’re right.  She spent some time discussing the plot with me.  I thought it was pretty cool.  This book is the first in a trilogy of Verne-inspired science fiction stories.  I hope it does well.

I did not see KT on any panels and unfortunately hers is one of the pictures that we accidentally deleted.  I did not get to meet her husband, T.D. Raufson, or if we did chat it was only very briefly.  However, KT told me about one of his books, The Queen’s Yeoman, which is a young adult novel that I thought sounded very appealing.  He is also the author of Legacy of Dragons, which is a trilogy in production.

Check out K.T. Hunter’s Tumblr here and T.D. Raufson’s Tumblr here.

D. Alan Lewis

D. Alan Lewis. I stole this picture from Amanda Porter’s blog.

D. Alan Lewis is an author, editor, and all-round interesting guy.  Wish I could have spent an hour just talking with him.  He lives in Nashville, TN these days and during one of the panels he and Jeremy mentioned a 1700-member writers group based in Nashville that published an anthology.   Alan volunteered to become the CreateSpace guru to make sure the anthology was published.  He writes steampunk and edits fiction and just has this intense look about him.  Maybe in 20 years he’ll be one of those people that younger writers aspire to meet.  You never know.

You can check out his many titles on this Amazon page.

I know I spoke to Alan at his table because I have his business card.  It was one of those conversations where when you ask, “What do you do?” the answer comes back with so many details you think, “I have to have this conversation again … like THREE TIMES.”  Wish I could have managed that, but I was only at the convention for part of one day.

I believe the anthology that Alan and Jeremy discussed was Nashville Noir. And you can check out this anthology he edited: Capes and Clockwork. Gosh, I’m not linking to any of Alan’s own titles. I think he’ll do a better job of introducing you to his fiction through his own Website, Snowflake Garden.

Alan writes steampunk, noir, and pulp fiction.    He was a top ten finalist for a Claymore Award in 2010.

HallwCon 2015: Doug McKittrick, aka PDMAC.

HallwCon 2015: Doug McKittrick, aka PDMAC.

Doug McKittrick is also officially a Cool Guy because his latest book is a western steampunk novel called Fools’ Gold.  Think of the original Wild, Wild West (the television show with Robert Conrad).  I grew up on that show.  So did Doug.  Well, maybe we can’t say that because it only ran for four seasons, but what a great show it was.  Steampunk is already pretty cool but most of what I have seen of steampunk is set in alternate worlds and fantastic futures.  Doug just set his story down in the real wild west.  He strove for some plausibility with his inventionism.

Oh, yeah.  I should mention he writes under the name PDMAC.   Doug/PD’s earlier books include the Wolf 359 series, in which stranded space travelers find themselves immersed in a primitive world’s politics.  You can learn more about Doug’s books on this Amazon page.

Doug teaches literature, has edited an archaeology magazine, and he has also sung backup for Broadway plays.  We had a couple of pretty long discussions about literature, steampunk, science fiction, and stuff I have already forgotten.  I can’t really do justice to his biography but I thought the plot for Fool’s Gold was pretty interesting.  Check out Doug’s Website, http://pdmactheauthor.com/.

A.G. Porter, author of the Darkness Trilogy

A.G. Porter, author of the Darkness Trilogy

Amanda (A.G.) Porter is young adult author.  Her first novel was The Shadow, the first of a young adult/paranormal thriller trilogy.  I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of paranormal literature.  Just never got into it.  So I’m afraid I did not learn much about the trilogy but it has good reviews on Amazon.  Meanwhile, Amanda shared her experiences self-publishing with HallowCon attendees on the “Navigating the Path to Publication” panel.

As someone who has walked both sides of that path I appreciated what she has learned from her experience.  And I think I am glad that companies like Amazon make it easier for people to self-publish with a reasonable chance of success these days.  I remember sending off query letters in the 1980s and 1990s and receiving all manner of polite rejections (although most of the responses consisted of nothing).  Big publishers may have more submissions than they can deal with but they really have stood in the way of a lot of good literature that was eventually self-published, despite the mountains of dreck that have been self-published through the years.

At least now you can self-publish without having to fall into the “pay us $5000 to publish your book” trap.  But as Amanda and other small press authors realize, you have to get out there and meet the readers.  Working the science fiction convention circuit is not easy.  I applaud them for making the effort.

You can learn more about AG Porter at her blog, https://agporter.wordpress.com/.  You’ll also find a list of her books (and links to reader reviews) on this Amazon page.

HallowCon2015: Bryan Powell.

HallowCon2015: Bryan Powell.

Bryan Powell is a bookstore owner, author, and choral composer/arranger.   That introduction is insufficient to describe this man’s modest accomplishments in life.  He’s not running for President, nor the star of big movies or television shows, but he has a strong spirit.  I was able to talk to him a couple of times.  He was not just promoting his own works but also other people’s books.  That is what book dealers do, of course, but Bryan was multitasking at the convention.

Bryan’s panel was the last one I attended at HallowCon.  I had intended to stay later but a massive storm was blowing through the state and my wife asked me to drive home early before it hit the highway.

Bryan’s presentation was based on the Biblical story of King Saul, the witch of Endor, and the spirit of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28:3-24).  By this point in the day I was getting tired and I had trouble following the presentation.

You can read more about Bryan on his website, https://authorbryanpowell.wordpress.com/.

Bryan writes Christian fiction and he is active in several writers’ organizations including American Christian Fiction Writers, The Christian Authors’ Guild, the Paulding County Writers Guild, and the New Life Writers Group.  He has been traditionally published and independently published.  He’s just a fun guy to talk to and I wish I could have spent more time getting to know him.

And I met several other people at the convention too.  I’m not sure what pictures I took, but they are all gone.  HallowCon is a small convention but the fans there are just as fannish as at any of the larger cons (and I’ve been to plenty of big conventions on both the east coast and west coast).  I had a great time meeting and mingling with people.  Wish I could have spent more time there.