And definitely not having your bag given the wrong tag and sent off to Baltimore.
Oh well, at least my ride was there. My Cousin-in-law and her son Alex (Hi Alex!) came to pick me up to take me to lunch and then to Target to get some duds. It was a two-story Target, with its own little escalators for the shopping carts. No pictures handy, but after I was done shopping I felt like Jules and Vincent after the Marvin situation from Pulp Fiction.
After getting settled into my hotel in the cheap seats (it was paid for, I’m not going to complain too loudly), I finally made it downtown to the convention center. Where do I go? Door D, the home of Industry professionals!
NB: The Pro Suite wasn’t nearly as cool as it sounds. It was mostly a place for all the no-names to hang out…the really famous people must have had their own place. I felt like I was in the clubhouse for the sidekicks from The Tick. Speaking of which, the costumes are one of the coolest things to see out there.
The place was a zoo. People everywhere, and lines all over the place. Within moments my Czech heritage kicked in and I was standing in line. For what? I had no idea. But whatever it was, I was sure it was worth it so I jumped right in (It wasn’t. Oh well). The best part about getting freebie crap? Easy souvenirs for the kids. Shh...no one tell Christopher that I didn't actually buy him that key chain. It was also consistently in the 80s, so by the end of the second day I felt like I'd been beaten by a stick, or that I could even fit in with all of these guys (I wonder, does Sean Bean keep getting royalties after all this time?). I'm not going to post the picture of my poor feet soaking in the bath tub. Use your imagination. One awesome treat: A friend of mine invited me out to Donovan's as a guest of one of the owners. As far as freebies go, that beat the crap out of that key chain. Thanks Erin and Devan (visible in the Holy Wow. photo above)!
Of course I didn't go out to gawk and spend far too much money on pretzels. I went out for business. I was lucky enough to participate in two panels during the weekend, as well as conduct an interview for Nerdophiles. The first panel was on Saturday night, within the very confines of Comic Con itself, and had great placement between the Evolution of Geek Culture and Bronies (we definitely had a better turnout than the Bronies). On the panel were some pretty impressive names in LARPing, plus me. Our moderator was Aaron Vanek, Editor in Chief of LARPworld Magazine, and some of the other panelists were Cheyenne Rain, host of Larp House, Kristin Brumley of Basic Adventuring 101, and Ford Ivey, a guy who's been involved in LARP for close to 40 years and was the developer of NERO. He's currently working on the Legacy system, which I can only describe as a high-tech merging of LARP and Laser Tag powered by an Android app. We got to see a promo video, and this stuff is COOL.
High point of the night was the giveaway for the best questions of the night. We had three copies of my book, a severed head for some reason, and a pair of gift certificates for Ford's legacy technology (roughly a $500 value). The best question was by a 12 year old named Ollie (hi, Ollie!) from Florida, who wanted to know how old you had to be to participate in LARPing. This kid was enthralled the whole time. Anyway, Aaron offered him a choice - my book, the SEVERED HEAD, or the gift certificates. After a few moments of indecision, he says, "I'll take the book!" My natural reaction was to stand up, double barrel point at Ford (he's the bearded guy on the end), and shout, "BOOM! TAKE THAT OLD MAN!" Not me at my most professional best, but then again, I'm not necessarily the most professional person at the best of times. Comic Con asked to video the panel for marketing purposes, and promised us a copy when they've got it all done. I fully expect to make a GIF out of myself getting all up in Ford's face.
Sunday morning I had a second panel, over at Camp Conival, the parallel event at Petco Park organized by Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. It had fun camp stuff like Archery, Laser Tag, and board games, as well as autographs, burritos, and, of course, panels. When I first got there, the Rachels (Heine, EIC of Nerdist, Romero, Director of Marketing...Hi you two! <3) got me all set up in the Green Room so I could hang out, get free snacks, and avail myself of the open bar. And, as it happens, embarrass myself in front of real celebrities. Upon first discovering my internet geek-crush Felicia Day sitting next to me, the best I could do was wheeze at her, and even after getting the courage to go up and introduce myself I didn't get much beyond "You're so awesome." I did, however, manage to get a selfie with her.
I didn't do much better with Matthew Mercer, though we did carry on a little bit of a conversation before wracking self-doubt convinced me he didn't really want to talk to me after all. And these guys? I didn't even approach them. Cue Wayne and Garth "We're not worthy!"
The Inkshares panel was awesome. Rachel Heine moderated it, and along with me there was Adam Gomolin, CEO of Inkshares and fellow author Zac Linville, author of Welcome to Deadland (which recently received a Starred review from Publisher's Weekly). We talked about the contest, about writing, about the Inkshares model (which I'll probably blog about at some point in the future), and so on.
Sunday night it was back on the airplane. I got about an hour of sleep overnight before arriving in Boston at 7. Evidence suggests that one hour was plenty for me to make the four hour trip back north up to Maine, where I promptly ignored my manic dogs and passed out.
All in all, it was a great four days out in San Diego, and I want to thank everyone that made it so special. Now to just write a sequel so I can get invited back for 2017!