Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ancient City Con IV (Photo Heavy)

Ancient City Con IV badge

First and foremost, kudos and thanks to K.L. Nappier, who did all the driving in a car stuffed to the gills with our Author Stuff! And thanks to convention director Christopher Gabaldon, art director/webmaster Henry Livingston, and all the other volunteers who made Ancient City Con IV possible!


Kathy picked me up around 2:30 on Friday afternoon -- which means she picked me up, plus two wheeled plastic totes, suitcase, book bag, canvas tote-with-netbook, and canvas tote bag with whatever didn't fit into the rest. And camera and fanny pack, which joined me in the front seat.

We got to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in time for dinner at Jacksonville Landing, once all our gear was settled in Room 813 -- blessedly quiet for a convention hotel.

Ancient City Con IV, Jacksonville Hyatt Rm. 813

I hadn't stayed at a convention hotel in years -- usually I'm at a smaller lodging several miles or at the very least a good-sized walk away. Being an elevator ride from the action was sheer luxury, made cute by the mechanical frogs. Or migrating ducks. Sometimes they sounded like a noisy flock, sometimes like spring peepers, sometimes like green treefrogs: a bank of six (or was it eight?) elevators calling up and down the shafts every time one passed a floor level.

And that was before I had downed two glasses of Guinness with my chicken Caesar salad and my first taste of delicious conch fritters (recommended by Kathy).

Jacksonville Landing 3

Jacksonville Landing.

Jacksonville Landing 1

Above: "Last Band Standing" competition.

Jacksonville Landing 2

Balloon Artist at Jacksonville Landing

Bridge, Jacksonville

One of many bridges spanning the St. Johns River. At night this one shines in gorgeous blue lights.

Florida Theatre, Jacksonville

Seen across the parking lot beside the Hyatt.

Ancient City Con didn't begin until Saturday, bright and early at 8 a.m. We set up in Creator's Alley, a straight shot of craft and fine artists and writers.

Elissa Malcohn, Ancient City Con IV

The latest addition to my display is She Nailed A Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (Dybbuk Press, 2010), set for official release in October. It includes my story "Judgment at Naioth," which takes its cue from events in Samuel I and Samuel II. Pre-order here.

She Nailed A Stake Through His Head

My display also included:
1. Deviations: Covenant (paperback, Aisling Press).
2. Covenant and Appetite on CD (click here for more info and free downloads).
3. Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory (Scriblerus Press, IPPY Silver Medalist; contains my story "Arachne").
4. Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet (Dark Scribe Press, Bram Stoker Award winner; contains my story "Memento Mori").
5. Issue 14, Electric Velocipede (Hugo Award winner; contains my story "Hermit Crabs," which is on the recommended reading list in The Year's Best Science Fiction, 26th Annual Edition). I am now down to my display copy. "Copies will be available soon at Night Shade Books," according to the EV website.
6. Oct./Nov. 2009 Asimov's (Contains my novelette "Flotsam" and poem "Derivative Work").
7. Vampyr Verse (Popcorn Press; contains my poem "Neighbors").
8. My chapbook 30 Science Sonnets for April 2010.

My table bordered Kathy's.

K.L. Nappier, Ancient City Con IV

We each took a turn in the Dr. Who booth.

Ancient City Con IV, K.L. Nappier in Dr. Who Booth

Ancient City Con IV, Elissa Malcohn in Dr. Who Booth

Costumes around the con:

Steampunk, Ancient City Con IV

Zombie, Ancient City Con IV

Ancient City Con IV, Ghostbuster

501st Squad Seven, Ancient City Con IV

Storm Troopers come courtesy of the the 501st Squad Seven.

Ancient City Con IV

Ancient City Con IV

Ancient City Con IV

Ancient City Con IV, Star Wars Storm Troopers Meet King Leonidas of 300

Ancient City Con IV, R2D2 Builders Club

Droids from the R2D2 Builders Club swiveled their heads and beeped greetings at passers-by.

On Saturday I participated in the "Writing Industry Q&A" panel, where I recommended the blog written by Nathan Bransford, Jane Friedman's "There Are No Rules," and Eric's "Pimp My Novel," along with Victoria Strauss's "Writer Beware" and Preditors and Editors. (Kathy added the Absolute Write Water Cooler.) Moderator Gary Roen asked our audience where they thought the industry was heading, particularly concerning e-books. His informal poll indicated that the hardcopy book is still far from dead, and that predictions of its demise flare up every few decades. (I'd cited this article about how the phonograph was allegedly poised to kill the book back in 1894.)

From there I high-tailed it to a corner of a large, open-area pavilion set aside for workshops, to give a session in character and plot development. I'd been warned in advance that tables would be set in a circle (actually three sides of a square), with room for just a few people, so I retooled my large crowd version into something more intimate. The workshop area shared space with tables for gaming, registration, photos, and other activities, with all the ambient noises those entail. Given all that, we did well, combining a brainstorming session and writing craft Q&A. Joining my regular handout and a new worksheet was the URL to Patricia Wrede's awesome world-building questionnaire on the SFWA site.

From there it was back to my table, bordered on the other side by Movie Crypt. Those folks kept us well entertained with videos, from trailers to spoofs, until dinner time. Their music had people literally dancing in the aisle.

Ancient City Con IV, Storm Trooper and Ghostbuster

Ancient City Con IV, Dancing in the Aisle

Eleven of us descended on Jacksonville Landing and Cinco de Mayo for dinner. Our table included people representing Auntie Maim (Linda S. Cowden), Movie Crypt (including Kevin Ranson), Necronomicon (con chair Ann Morris), Oasis (con chair Juan Sanmiguel), Trinity Gateways (including Doris Ross and Lisa Mercado), and T-Shirt Bordello, along with K.L. Nappier, me, and literary guest of honor Richard Lee Byers.

Ancient City Con IV, Dinner at Cinco de Mayo

The "State of the Genre" panel on Sunday, moderated by Movie Crypt, focused more on movies and television. Here, too, we discussed ways in which the industry had changed. Several of us were old enough to remember the days before cable (never mind the days before the Internet), when each region boasted its own home-grown horror movie show. (I'd grown up watching Chiller Theater, Creature Features, and the myth-centered Sons of Hercules.) As with publishing, new technologies are making video creation and dissemination accessible to more and more people, lending even more importance to word of mouth.

I had a small but active group for my speculative poetry workshop, where I showed and distributed materials from the Science Fiction Poetry Association (including .pdf files Dragon Lust and The Universe in Three Lines) and elsewhere. My handout provided an overview, with prompts and space for drafting poems. Prompts took their cue from various subsets within speculative poetry -- science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, myth, etc. -- and could be used alone or in combination. Our discussion first focused on the different magazines publishing speculative poetry, both inside and outside genre markets -- including a Rhysling Award nominee from the Lyric, the oldest poetry magazine in North America. Discussion then broadened to talking about different poetic forms (one participant tried her hand at a cinquain) and to ways of getting students more interested in writing in general.

The Jacksonville Times-Union provided excellent coverage of the convention. Check out the paper's article, photos, and video.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Cover for Deviations: Covenant, Second Edition Cover for Deviations: Appetite
Cover for Deviations: Destiny Cover for Deviations: Bloodlines

Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.)
Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite
Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny
Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines
Free downloads at the Deviations website and on Smashwords.

Go to to access Covenant, Appetite, Destiny, and Bloodlines in even more formats!

Participant, Operation E-Book Drop. (Logo credit: K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman.)

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