Thursday, November 17, 2011

VCON 2011, Day 1, Part 3: Reading!

Long time, no post! Sorry folks! My original plan was to get these VCON blogs out a lot quicker, as happened last year. This year, I blame a combination of a surge in writing, (The Serial Bleeder- working title..) coupled with something I didn't have last year- My 2nd kiddo. (who today, turns half a year old, wheee!) (note: this entry took 12 days to write.... so.... yeah. He didn't turn 6 months today anymore.)

But enough.. where was I? Right, I had just closed my table for the first day. With last year's 'new book launch event' being a bit of a flop for all, with (among other issues) no readings done, I was told that I could do a reading from 'Echoes of Erebus', despite it being no longer quite as new.

Awlright, Game on. Hey, I haven't thrown the title up in a while, EAT PITT MEADOWS SKY, AND MY COUSIN'S HAND, INTERNETS!
Cabling/fishing tackle supplied by photoshop.

The kicker was, the event started at the EXACT moment that the vendor room shut down. Making sure I wasn't first to read, I settled my table in for the night, then sped to check into my hotel room, (which was about a block away due to the convention's hotel telling me online, months ago that the wheelchair rooms were already booked,) to drop of a bunch of overnight crud.

I had planned to be shmoozing and chattin' it up late into the night, so ditching the luggage early was a minor investment in time that was well worth it. I made myself passingly familiar with the room I got, (a mirror image of the one from last year) and went back to the convention.

The event was well underway, and Sandra Wickham was half way through her reading. I learned from her reading that if you KNOW you're going to have a carnivorous demon-child, it is very wise to have sung to it during pregnancy. Bonding is important. Sandra's awesome. I know I've mentioned her before. Long story short, last year I encountered her a couple times at VCON, and when I got her as a friend later on facebook, I was stunned to find that she can look like this:That's her mode probably for competition or something. In 'pumped' condition, 'tanned' for the show. She doesn't really look anything like that most of the time. No, as she did her reading, she looked like this:

I was trying to get a closeup of her smile.. I had been chatting with her idly, when we turned to face each other. I had forgotten the fangs and red eyes, and found myself genuinely startled. But, she posed her costume. Who am I to say no? That turned out well, as it turned out I was the only one to get a decent shot of her outfit that night.

Anyway, once she was done, someone I didn't know came up to read, and I found it hard to pay attention, instead trying to get myself in the right mode to do a reading. I'd stayed away from the energy drinks for a while. I'm hyper enough at readings, and a shot of taurine results in mess ups galore, and reading too fast.

I made that effect work for me 2 years previous. I chose a scene in 'Watching Yute' where Jacob Kirison is asking a mob-boss for a favour, quite jittery and nervous about being fitted for cement shoes for showing disrespect. When interviewed later that night, I told one Mr. Lee Tockar that I felt pretty good about how the reading went. He corrected me, and told me that I had nailed it. I didn't complain. I didn't catch his name that night, and I spent a couple years wondering if he did anything with the footage he shot of me. Well, he did at least one thing, as google and youtube ended up telling me. It's not all about me, but I'm in it, so.. whee!!!!

Anyway, back to the present-The previous reader made a self-defacing comment about her height when the mic had to be lowered for her. When I rolled up after her, I peeked at her from around the edge of the podium, and said something like "and you think YOU'RE short!" Soon, if became apparent that the mic was going to have to be dislodged, and held-held.

I rambled for a moment about having to make my choice of passages for the moment. My decision was one that I had read a few times in smaller writer meets, so my mouth knew it well enough. Meetups are a great way to polish your public speaking, by the way, as long as you can learn from your blunders. My tip to prevent from reading too fast- imagine Johnny Cash. Ditch the accent, keep the pace.

Alright, read. "Chapter zero." Chuckles came from different spots in the room. Alright, an easy crowd! That wasn't even meant as a joke! Maybe I wasn't the only one who'd had a slug from a canteen or flask.

For the record, 'Echoes of Erebus' has a lot of central characters who have roots in the digital domains. Computers start counting at zero. This was the first chapter. Zero. AKA the prologue. In all reality, the chapter is labeled ":::C / [000000] [00] [prologue]" But that's a bit of a mouthful for reading out loud. It would have messed with the flow. So "Chapter Zero" did the job.

Oh, if you want to read it, (and the first half of the book) you can read a free sample at smashwords: . I like paper books better, and ebooks don't let me control the formatting as much, but it's hard to argue with the costs.

I continued on, acting my way through the split-personality monologue that was 'Jonathan Coll' at that point in his life. People chuckled at the right places, and I didn't fumble anywhere that I couldn't work it into his own confusion. I didn't have to be told, I nailed this reading. That didn't stop a few people giving me figurative and literal pats on the back now and then for the rest of the night.

I don't set out to write humour. But I'm a smartass. It's going to come out. Half my characters are various magnitudes of smartasses. Yet somehow they get by.

A few more people read after me, and somewhere in there, A Wild Gabe Appeared! Y'all remember Gabe? Last year, he bought my combat spatula, despite that I hadn't built it for selling. This year, he was similarly interested in my "Most useless robot ever" and my BBQ brush.... Pictured here leaning against the robot. See if you can identify the various features of the brush listed below!
World's First Telekinetically* Driven Recon B.B.Q.** Brush

*Brush is not inherently telekinetic. User telekinesic expertise is required.
**B.B.Q. Stands for 'Being of Best Quality***' Do not use the Brush on a barbecue grill, as the heat will interact with cheap Chinese plastic, and potentially emit harmful toxins.
***Not really of best quality, as reflecting the cheap Chinese plastic, and other quality-impairing factors.

- Optical Visual Precision Module
- Photonic-Based Night-Vision Assistant ('Normal' mode and 'Funk')
- Multi-Segment Secret Alloy.... thing.
- Forced-Air Sonic Navigation Tool with Thermal Sensor Array
- Synthetic Organic Compound Stabilizers
- Oscillating Dual Symmetrical Airfoil Propulsion Assist

Those are all on there!... give or take elaborations.

When when the readings were over, Gabe was disappointed in having missed my reading. So, I figured I'd do an encore, but Gabe quickly realized what I thought he knew, what I had told him before, indeed what I had been telling people since last year's VCON- No new book for the 2011 VCON! Alas, Alack. Gabe survived. I'd seen him more throughout the weekend, but he vanished, IIRC, to the games room. Memory fog here.. I may have went with him for a bit before returning to the area where the readings happened...

I'm writing this 2 months later, so some of the events are probably a little out of order, but somehow I ended up going in a group of four, consisting of myself, Sandra, and two of her friends. We were aiming for the hotel lounge/bar on the main floor.

One of these friends was Kristi Charish. She's a molecular biology biochemist. Or something. The other friend was... frig.. I forget her name. She's a dancer, from what I could gather, specializing in ballet. She had a fun story about taking a hiphop dance class. "Ballet is all 'up', feet together, tippy toes. Hiphop is all down, spread stance, flat feet. It was so weird, so opposite of what's usually natural for me." (...from my 2 month old memory)

I felt like I was in a setup for a bad joke. A female body builder, a ballerina, a biochemist, and a paraplegic walk into a bar. Well, except the paraplegic, who rolled..

Sandra's red contacts were driving her nuts, so she fled to get into something more comfortable, but when she returned, she rambled with glee about the new stuff she'd been doing in her martial arts class. "Weapons!!!" She's like a plaid belt now. Awww as if she'd need a weapon to crumple anyone in the hotel.

Being immersed in nerdiness for the weekend but stopping for a drink with the ladies, in mostly non-nerdy talk, reminded me of how relaxing it can be to just idly chat with the opposite gender, in roughly my age range. I'd first realized this in junior high, which had solidified me in the friend zone for pretty much every girl I knew. How bout that, huh?

So, the bar was closing. At midnight. On a friday night? I guess they don't want a mass of drunken behaviour in the main floor, but.. yeesh. Sandra had lured me along here (not too hard) by offering to buy me a drink. By the time I finished that one, we were told things were shutting down. Not having to pay, but also being evil, I asked the waitress to break a $20 bill into fives. Muahaha, little did she know, I needed the fives for my nearly-expended float at the dealer's table. I didn't come as prepared this year. My books are $15, and most people are carrying $20s. I don't wanna eff with coins, so I only sell anything in $5 increments. (.... mostly... other than candy)

Eventually driven from the bar, there was some mumblings about heading to a bar down the street, but the annoying responsibility thing tipped the scales in favour of everyone going to their rooms and sleeping. I had to be at my table the next morning at the wee hour of 10 AM. Ooh! and I had to be up a little earlier to see the day-old rerun season finale of Dr. Who! (nerdy, remember?)

If I ever get around to the next VCON entry, it'll be day 2.. Paper,rock,scissors(lizard,vulcan) for candy? The dance, Csffa party, gaming room? what else...