Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Been One Hell of a Ride...

...and it's not over yet! And as usual I've been terribly neglectful of this dusty cobweb-covered shamble of a blog. So, I figure, why not sweep in with an epic update to end all updates. Well, not really all updates, but a ton's happened in the past few weeks. So much that the need to tell about it is bursting from my every pore. So here goes talky... or well, texty--bloggy? Whatever.

World Horror Convention 2012

I really had no idea what to expect when we started planning our trip to Salt Lake City late last year. Here I was, a convention super virgin about to cut my teeth at my first one. And not just cut my teeth so much as maybe saw myself in half more like it. Sure, most people go to their first horror convention as a fan, as an author looking to make connections... Mark Scioneaux, Jennifer Wilson, and myself... we go to our first convention to run the table for Horror For Good: A Charitable Anthology. We go to our first convention representing our own new publishing company Nightscape Press. Wait... let me back up here. I just need to get this out there so everyone knows and understands this:

(And it's coming soon to Kindle as well!)

Anyway, back to what I was saying--what's this about a new publishing company you ask? Nightscape Press has been in the works for some time (especially if you count the time it spent bouncing around in my head...). Nightscape Press is the result of everything I've learned as a self-published author, everything Mark and I learned putting Horror For Good together, everything I've learned over the years about the writing and editing process, all the experience and Honors English Jennifer Wilson has accumulated since before high school, and all of the marketing experimentation I've done in the past year or so all rolled up into a brand new dark fiction publishing company that focuses on variety in the genre and quality over quantity. Was that a sales pitch? Well, it wasn't meant to be. In fact, I should have posted about NSP over a month ago and as usual total blog fail is my default state. But not today. Today I make up for all that. Besides, I figured you folks at home would appreciate knowing what the hell I'm talking about when I start blabbing about NSP.

Da Plane! Da Plane!

So, to acquaint you with some history from my boring life, before WHC, I had only ever flown once. Well, twice if you count that it was a round trip and who really does, so never-effing-mind me--anyway... That was over 11 years ago. December 2000 was the one and only time I've been on a plane. Pre-911, Jacob hadn't even been born yet, Elexus was only a few years old, and Jen and I had only just met earlier that year. So, needless to say, I was a little nervous at the idea of flying. It wasn't exactly a terrible experience the first time or anything. Uncomfortable, yes. A little nerve wrecking and nauseating, yes. But not really horrifying or anything. 

I suppose the whole 911 thing adds a degree of anxiety, but if anything it's more in a symbolic way. From what I know of airport security from reading on the internet, a terrorist would be lucky if he could get on a plane in someone else's body with nothing even remotely weapon-like on his person. No, I had seen enough to know that terrorism was highly unlikely, especially when you consider I was going to Salt Lake City... (you can't terrorize that which is already terrorized...)

Mostly it's the whole going-way-the-fuck-up-into-the-sky thing. 

That pretty much sums it up. The idea that when you're up there, the ground is all the way down here and if the plane was to go down, grab all the floatation devices you like, hold on for dear life to that silly little seatbelt that might as well have come from a 1950's model Chevy, breathe in that pressure bag thingy as much as you like, put your head between your legs, kiss your ass goodbye, because nothing you can do will stop you from completely disintegrating into millions of tiny ashes and being put in a clumped-together list of names on a news report that most everyone will forget within a week. Yes, I'm always this filled with rays upon rays of sunshine up my ass just waiting to be released into the world.

So, I was a tad nervous on the flight. But there was a rainbow beyond the horrifying, flesh-melting, sky-toppling storm: Jennifer and myself would be meeting our business partner, my fellow editor of Horror For Good, and real and very genuine friend, Mark Scioneaux, for the very first time mid-flight. Now life can be strange sometimes. And other times it can get even stranger. But Mark and I have probably talked on the phone during the process of working on Horror For Good as well as the building of Nightscape Press more than a truckload of teenage girls, each with unlimited phone plans. We had honestly had an entire shitload of conversations on the phone and had we not Horror For Good and Nightscape Press wouldn't exist today. Quite frankly I'm a telephobe myself (aka I avoid answering my cell phone like the plague), but it quickly proved far more efficient for us to talk on the phone to get things done. 

Anyway, I digress... You talk to someone that much on the goddamn phone and you really get to know them. Is that a true substitution for getting to know someone in person? No, but Mark and I certainly became very close friends throughout our extensive phone and Facebook conversations. So, when you meet someone in person who you've been talking to that much, who you've accomplished that much with, in person, it's a truly surreal experience. I have to admit the plane ride from there was a little awkward at first. But it didn't last. You get a distorted perception of what someone's really like in the really-real world when you've only known them online and over the phone. So it takes a short bit for reality to obliterate and replace what was in your head all that time. 

Not to mention that motherfucker is TALL! Like nearly-bumping-his-head-on-the-ceiling-of-the-goddamn-airplane tall.

So the ride from Denver to Salt Lake City was a little bumpy, but we made it just fine. We got off the plane, got our bags (one got a little banged up), and we were outside and ready to smoke (Jen and I anyway). And who do we happen to see about to get into a cab, but none other than Horror For Good contributor, (then) future stoker-winning author, and our personal friend Joe McKinney! Yet another amazing moment getting to finally shake Joe's hand and meet him in person. He truly is an incredible and humble guy. But apparently the cabbie wasn't a fan of us introducing ourselves right then and was in a rush to head off so we had to say goodbye for the time being. 

It wasn't until we were in the cab that we got to see the mountains. You hear people talk about how beautiful the mountains are and you're like, "Yeah, yeah, large chunks of earth higher than everything else... blah, blah, blah," and then you see them and you're like, "Dear Christ!" (A statement I'm pretty sure comes with a penalty of death in Salt Lake City.)

So, we get to the hotel and of course it wouldn't be the World Horror Convention if you didn't run into the HWA President himself, Mr. Rocky Wood! Rocky actually contributed a very well-written foreword for Horror For Good that touched on the history of the horror story and the natural combination of charity and horror fiction.

After that we went to our room, took a load off for a while, and unveiled the cover to Trent Zelazny's amazing upcoming novella, Butterfly Potion on Facebook. Coming soon from none other than Nightscape Press. (I'm really honestly not trying to sell NSP to anyone here. Honest!)
We were also excited to find that our postcards for World's Collider (yes, another upcoming Nightscape Press title, an apocalyptic anthology edited by Richard Salter) had made it into the World Horror Convention goodie bags!

With that done, we were off to try out the local cuisine at a place called The Red Iguana which had been recommended by my old friend Marvin and Mark had found it in a list of places that had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.. It was a bit of a walk but one of the most unique Mexican restaurants I've ever eaten at (and here in Tennessee there's a Mexican restaurant on every block, Mexican restaurants across the street from Mexican restaurants--they're apparently Tennessee's equivalent to Starbucks. Yes we have lots of those here too, but still more Mexican restaurants.) 

I'm honestly not going to go over every last little thing that happened at the World Horror Convention or I would never finish this blog post, so I'll just recap the highlights as they come to mind and go from there. That is... if you're still awake... or even still reading this page... hello? You still there?

Day one was a Thursday so it was pretty uneventful. Very few tables were set up yet and Boyd and R.J. (from Cutting Block Press the publisher for Horror For Good, R.J.'s also the other editor for Horror For Good in case you've been living in a box or happened upon this post while searching for examples of ridiculously long parenthetic asides) hadn't arrived. Later that night was the Cutting Block Press party which went pretty well. Save for the fact that I woke up late that night with the biggest headache ever and couldn't stay asleep most of the night (the excuse I'm sticking with is the combination of altitude sickness and trying Tequila for the first time). So, I ended up sleeping through a chunk of Friday. 

Then Jen and I went to eat lunch at a local burger joint and happened upon Joe McKinney again and this time we had lunch with him. (Again, Joe, I'm sorry I wasn't very sociable, I was still pretty hungover/sick/whatever from whatever hit me the night before.) Meanwhile, Mark ran the HFG table and apparently all the really cool stuff happened throughout that whole chunk of time. Go figure. We had several proof copies of Horror For Good at the convention and were able to get all the authors that were at WHC who had contributed works to the anthology as well as us three editors to sign them and raffled one of them off over the weekend. The other copies will be going to future conventions to be raffled as well and to get any more authors' signatures that we don't already have. 

Later that night there were actually three separate parties. We stopped by each and when we arrived at the Evil Jester Press party we managed to make it just in time for it to be closed down by the hotel due to hallway traffic. Apparently this happened with the other parties at some point throughout the night and the party kept moving. I wouldn't know. Still feeling like my stomach had been pulled through my brain, I went to bed early that night. Yes, I'm old. Please stop laughing at me.

Saturday Jen and I ran the HFG table for most of the day. It was much slower than Friday, but we sold some raffle tickets, heard a couple of pitches for Nightscape Press, and met lots of interesting people. That afternoon we managed to get into the only panel we were able to attend during the weekend with Marc Ciccarone. The panel was about music in horror. Then we ran the table for a while longer and waited to do our interview for Horror Library Radio. We also stopped by the mass signing and had Joe McKinney sign a couple of books for us and C.W. LaSart too. When the time came to do the interview, we had very little time before the Bram Stoker Awards and I managed to completely screw up my part. Again, go figure. 

We sat out of the Stokers. I would have liked to have gone, but I didn't have a suit and with all the other last minute arrangements we had to make before the convention we decided not to take the extra time to get one, so we passed on it for this year. Instead, the three of us and Andy Taylor went out to see the Temple, Mark had a long philosophical discussion with strangers, and then we had a nice meal at the mall.

The Stoker after party was pretty cool. Lots of people. We ended up hanging out with some new friends like Marc Ciccarone, Theresa Dillon, C.W. and Louis LaSart, David Hayes, Rena Mason (one of the authors in Horror For Good), Charles Day of Evil Jester Press, Andy Taylor and a ton of others.

I was especially happy to learn that Joe McKinney, Rocky Wood, and Richard Matheson each won a Bram Stoker Award that night. Having met Joe and Rocky in person I can say that they are both fantastic individuals and of course Matheson is one of my favorite writers of all time. His short novel I am Legend of which the feature film is (supposedly) based on won for Vampire novel of the Century, a new award given out for the first time this year. 
A lot of people left during Sunday. There weren't many tables open including ours. Turns out that night had the most interesting party (in my opinion). I'll just leave that one at that. All in all a lot of cool networking was done and a lot of interesting future prospects were set in motion for both Horror For Good, Nightscape Press, and Cutting Block Press. We also raised $223 for amfAR from the raffle tickets sold. And lots of new friends were made.

Long story short, on Tuesday we had a very long and frightening flight back to Nashville. But we made it safely and it was nice to be back home with the kids. 

And since we've been home: 
For those of you who don't know, Jen's mother has Multiple Sclerosis and every year we try to do our local chapter's MS Walk. The MS Walk raises money for the MS Society. This year we're going to be giving away a free signed paperback copy of Shining in Crimson to anyone who donates $15 or more through our team link. We have a total of 8 copies left. So, please consider donating to this very needy cause by clicking here.

(Oh and I'll also throw in a World's Collider and a Horror For Good postcard with each copy.)

Well, I think that's it for now. If I write anymore I think my fingers might fall off... All in all it's been one hell of a ride and like I said before, it's not over yet.

The Mid South Chapter of the National MS Society is a community of individuals who are committed to achieving a world free of MS. The Chapter helps over 8,800 individuals throughout Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas impacted by MS to move their lives forward. We provide comprehensive support services and educational programs to people with MS, their family and friends, and raise funds locally to support the National MS Society’s research initiatives.

Horror For Good is a charitable anthology. All revenues, less direct costs for production, marketing and distribution (net profits of each purchase, estimated to be at least 10% to 15%) will be donated to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. For more information on amfAR, please visit: