Summer Convention Season Is Here!

Although 2017 is the year that I personally decided to take a break from attending conventions, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an in-person look at the latest novel in the City of the Gods Universe. Our beloved interior and cover designer Steve Crompton will be bringing a very special sneak preview to Phoenix ComicCon May 25 – 28th.

This 32-page chapbook contains several chapters from the third and final novel, Ambassador. You’ll catch up with our heroes, get a peek at the villains’ new plans, and meet two new troublesome characters in these excerpts. The chapbook is illustrated with the adapted masterworks you are used to seeing in all our books.

Visit the Carnal Comics table for all the City of the Gods swag. Pick up a print or some beautiful canvas art from our world. You may even meet some City of the Gods cosplayers! And if you can’t make it to Phoenix, make sure you sign up for my newsletter. The June issue will have photos from the convention.

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Dragon Con, A Fall Update, & Twitch Debut

I'm ready for battle at Dragon Con 2016! Photo By Hacklight Photography

Ready for battle at Dragon Con 2016! Photo By Hacklight Photography

Another Dragon Con has come and gone, and it remains the best (and only) convention I always try to attend. Recently I was asked what makes it different from any of the other big events such as San Diego Comic Con, NYCC, PAX, Wizard’s World, etc. The easiest way to answer this is to look at the structure. While other large conventions are built around the guests, the products (movies, comics, etc.), and a centralized mass gathering place (convention hall), Dragon Con is a widespread “Winchester House” of creative people whose contributions to the event spill out into the streets of Atlanta, all day and night, for almost a week of wonder. For many who attend, the questions aren’t “what star am I going to see?” or “what am I going to buy?” They’re “what crazy event will I run for my fellow (insert media) fans?” or “what cosplay photo shoot will I organize” or “what can I teach new fans who are interested in the same things as me?”

These are the building blocks of Dragon Con: the attending fans. Fans drive the programming tracks. Fans host gatherings for hundreds of specialized interests. Fans march in the biggest parade the city of Atlanta hosts each year. The event schedule for this year’s con was 112 pages long. There were panels, parties, costume contests, meet-ups, autographs, shopping, gaming, concerts, wrestling, robot battles, stage performances, puppetry, films, and that’s just scratching the surface. To sum up, Dragon Con is a 24/7 event that has the music and revelry of Mardi Gras, the crazed creativity of Burning Man, every elective class you ever wanted to take in college, and the joy and sometimes awkwardness of a huge, happy family reunion.

There are a ton of great videos about Dragon Con 2016 circulating on YouTube already, so check them out. I am working on one of my own and will update this post with the link when it is available. And I’ll try to stop thinking about Dragon Con (only 350 days to the next one!) and get back to work.

Project updates:

  • Writing of City of the Gods Ambassador is still cranking along.
  • The audio book of City of the Gods: Forgotten has been recorded through Chapter 20.
  • The Kickstarter for Awkward Compliments ran throughout August. Unfortunately, it did not succeed.

Goal Attained!
One of my goals for 2016 was to begin streaming live video gameplay on Twitch TV. There was a big learning curve to achieve this. I had to figure out how to livestream and even buy a better computer to make it happen. Broadcasting “on the fly” is exciting and fun. If you would like to check out my channel you can find out all about it here. Or search for the user talkingtowhee if you’re viewing on your Roku. I’d love it if you would follow my channel and hang out in the chat room with me. As I gain a viewer base I’ll be doing giveaways and posting lots of fun creative content.

Another Kind of World-Building

Fantasy writers spend considerable time visualizing the way their fictional worlds look and work. We think about environments, social customs, what people (or creatures) eat and what they wear. As I was putting together costumes for Dragon Con 2015, I realized that actually building a helmet or a weapon was teaching me as much as researching similar items. Reading about these pieces and looking at reference photos only gave me a taste of what it might really be like to own, wear, carry and use such things. Once my builds were complete, I knew for sure what advantages and disadvantages a character would incur by possessing an object. I could immediately see if it would be hot to wear, heavy to carry, restrictive to vision or mobility, or just a bulky nuisance to deal with.

For Dragon Con 2015, I am participating in the parade with a group celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. I built, from the boots up, a full ceremonial Amazon costume. While I obviously used tech and materials that Amazons never had (chiefly EVA foam and welding helmet parts), I still had to face the same engineering challenges: how do I secure this mask to my head? — how will my tall boots stay up? — what’s the optimum length for my weapon? The process gave me new insight into equipping characters in City of the Gods.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.

Amazon ceremonial mask inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.


Speaking of City of the Gods, I’m not doing any official events at Dragon Con this year. But, if you run into me be sure to say hello. I’d love to chat with you and you may even get some spoilers about book three, Ambassador. Photos from the con will be posted here in mid-September.

Upcoming Appearance At RavenCon

RavenCon
April 24 – 26, 2015
Richmond VA

ravencon

Come visit me at my table at RavenCon’s Artist and Author’s Alley in April. I’ll have special deals on all the City of the Gods Universe books, stationery card sets, and other surprises in store. Stop by and chat about writing, monetizing your creative work, and learn about the cyptrocurrency called bitcoin. I will also have exclusive giveaways for anyone who comes by my table while cosplaying any character from mythology!

This is my first visit to RavenCon — I can’t wait!

Dragon Con 2014 Mini-Report

If I were only permitted to say one thing about Dragon Con 2014, I’d remark that it went by the quickest of any Dragon Con I’ve attended — and 2014 was my 12th time. Most of my convention shenanigans are not appropriate topics for this book blog so I’ll stick to more genteel stories. You’ll have to find me at Dragon Con 2015 and buy me a Bucket of Rum if you want to hear other epic tales.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who came out for the City of the Gods giveaway. Be sure to let us know what you thought of Mythic Tales. The second volume will be out later this year. I still have a few souvenir ORIGINS card decks with the collectible COG card inside. If you would like one, just post a review of one of our books somewhere and send me the link. Now, on to the con report:

I’m not terribly interested in getting autographs from actors or going to panels about TV shows and movies. I’d much prefer to spend my time checking out what other creators are making and selling. There is always something new to discover in the art show, at the comic creators’ tables or in the dealer room. Check out this cute sketch by Accidental Centaurs artist and writer John Lotshaw:
dc2014art

 

We also stopped to chat with Bill Holbrook, creator of the popular Kevin & Kell books and discovered Brian Defferding’s School: A Ghost Story series. Jennie Breeden’s What Not to Say in the Bedroom book also found its way into our shopping bag (ahem). Several book publishing imprints had special promotions for their label’s authors and I hit a few of those events to investigate their advertising giveaways and reader swag. I really enjoyed learning about how other authors and artists promote and monetize their work. Now that convention season is over, it’s back to work for me as well.

The Link Between Superheroes and Gods

The City of the Gods Universe embraces many forms of expression: novels, short stories, games, art and comics. M. Scott Verne and I love conventions. With our world represented in so many different types of media, we can always offer an angle of interest to sci-fi, fantasy or gaming con-goers. At San Diego Comic Con 2014, M. Scott Verne appeared on the “Spiritual Themes in Comics” panel presented by the Christian Comic Arts Society. Here’s a photo courtesy of fellow panelist John J. Schafer (producer of the animated series Superbook).

atsdcc2014 SDCC 2014 “Spiritual Themes in Comics” panel: John J. Schafer (left), M. Scott Verne (center), B. Dave Walters (right)

Back in the mid-90s, the seeds for the City of the Gods Universe were planted with the three-issue comic series Pantheon (published by Debora Kerr’s old company Archer Books and Games). The tagline for the books was “They’re Not Superheroes, They’re Gods!” But is there really such a difference? At the panel, M. Scott discussed the design similarity between popular comic characters and mythological ones. Most follow the archetype of the flawed uber-man. Parallels can be drawn between the Hulk and Gilgamesh, or Tony Stark and Icarus. Pride, anger, addiction and other foibles disadvantage otherwise perfect beings and help us “normals” deal with our own failings. The topic is a rich one for discussion and we hope to explore it on other panels in the future.

Invite us to your convention and we’ll tell you more!