The Long and Winding Words

writingbear

My last e-book “Con Fluff 1: 2012 Furry Convention Short Story Collection” was released seven months ago, and as the 2013 edition won’t be ready for a few months at the minimum, I feel the need to get another e-book out into the wild.  My (virtual) stack of unpublished short stories has been growing and I’m pretty sure that I have enough of them to assemble another e-book.

Since my stories are very short, I have to round up a few in order to assemble a collection of decent length.  One early lesson I learned in my Adventures in Self-Publishing is that five stories was not enough content for 99 cents, as evidenced by the thud that ‘One Sheet Stories’ and ‘FlipSide Stories’ made in their respective marketplaces.  Luckily, people are buying the longer collections I’ve produced since so I think I’ve figured out how much stuff is enough.

The stories themselves are another matter, though.  The longest anything I’ve ever written was about 12 pages.  It also took me a little while to get over my habit of keeping stories about a page long due to printing constraints back in the First Storm Manga days.  Even when I have a hard limit to work with, I try not to think about length, but even then I’m pretty sure that the thought of ‘is it long enough’ rattles around somewhere in my subconscious.

I don’t know that I have a Great American Novel in me but I’d like to write one eventually.  Time will tell!

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A Name On Paper

I do put BBQ sauce on my burgers…it’s like HE KNEW

I am old enough to remember when seeing your name in the newspaper was kind of a big deal.  I think it has something to do with the idea that lots of people are seeing your name, even if it is alongside a bunch of other kids’ names on the honor roll or the perfect attendance list of your small-town newspaper.  Or it could just be a small-town thing, who knows?

I still get a kick out of seeing my name in the newspaper and it has happened a few times since then.  I submitted an idea to the “Pluggers” newspaper comic that was used (at right), and made a ‘guest appearance’ in the “My Cage” newspaper comic strip after winning a writing contest on MySpace (remember them?) and was mentioned in an article about First Storm Manga that appeared in the San Antonio Express-News.

My Cage by Melissa DeJesus and Ed Power
We’re the ‘cool’ office

Every time it happened, I would buy a copy of the newspaper and cut out the article or comic in which my name appeared.  I even have the My Cage strip hanging in my living room.  I admit that it is a bit odd and probably the kind of thing that future generations won’t care much about as newspapers become less relevant in our increasingly connected world, but doggone it, its special to me.

I wrote a story named “San Japanic!” that became First Storm Manga’s first self-printed comic book.  I remember smiling when I opened up a copy for the first time and saw “Lead Writer/Editor: Eduardo Soliz” at the bottom of the inside cover.  While they weren’t my pictures, and not even many of my words, it was my story.

Furry Fiesta 2012 Conbook Cover
Art by Mary Mouse of micecomics.com

These days, as I try to get exposure as a writer, I have decided to send stories out to furry conventions in order to get my name out there.  I think its a good deal: they want the content for their conbooks, I like writing short stories, and unlike my usual lackadaisical writing schedule of finishing stuff whenever I feel like it, I have a set topic or theme and a deadline to work around.

The first one I wrote was “Bedtime” for SonicCon 2010, but I never heard back from them, so to this day I have no idea if it ever made it into the book…or if there even was a book for that matter.  The first one that I know was published was “All’s Well That Ends Well,” a short I wrote for Furry Fiesta that featured their mascot jackalopes. 

I remember being at Furry Fiesta and eagerly opening my copy of the conbook after receiving it.  I got that warm fuzzy feeling again as I saw my name near the top of page 28 in glorious black and white ink.  More recently, “The Hunter” made its way into the AnthroCon conbook, and I once again smiled as I saw my story in print.

It is impossible for me to know exactly how many of the folks that received those books actually opened them up and read my story, but knowing that thousands of folks have it in their possession feels much more real to me than anything I’ve ever put on a computer screen.

There’s just something about seeing your name on paper.

Second Storm

I believe that every creative person has, in their head somewhere, their masterpiece.  The Big One, the Magnum Opus, that one work that they believe will knock everyone’s socks off and change the world, or at the least, make them rich and/or famous.  One concept that we always preached in First Storm Manga was the idea that your Big One should never, ever, be your first project.

Why not?  As eager as you may be to unleash your book, song or artwork onto an unsuspecting world, the fact of the matter is that when you undertake your first major project, you are more than likely going to make mistakes. Thus, you should undertake a similar smaller project that you aren’t quite as emotionally invested in, so when things go wrong, you won’t be discouraged from having borked up your masterpiece.

Thus, “The Rules of Tech Support” is actually my second ebook.  My first one was “One Sheet Stories” which was a collection of five of my one-page stories.  Nobody bought it, and I also encountered a few slip-ups along the way.  I tried using a service called Smashwords which ended up not working as well as I had hoped.  Their touted ‘Meatgrinder’ conversion program didn’t quite spit out my e-book the way that I wanted it to look, which was frustrating.  I did some research and found a spiffy program called eCub that I could use to convert my text properly to e-book format then upload it directly to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

That was just one of the lessons I learned while working on “One Sheet Stories” that I was able to apply to the production of “The Rules of Tech Support.”  The process went much smoother because I was doing it the second time around and I didn’t make as many mistakes.  Time will tell whether it “The Rules of Tech Support” will be successful or not, but on a technical level, I am happy with the result.

Its not that you can’t strike gold on your first try, but the unfortunate reality is that most folks will not, and who knows, that small project just could be the one that makes it big!

RealmsCon 2011 : Can Less Be More?

As far as I know, RealmsCon is the only anime event that goes on in Corpus Christi.  I remember going to the first one way back when, and have had tables there these last two years.  With First Storm Manga done with, I was now free to just enjoy the show.  Having been underwhelmed with RealmsCon in the past, I decided to drive down and check it out for one day as opposed to the whole weekend.

I got to the American Bank Center at about one in the afternoon, and the setup was very similar to what they had last year; artists and panels were on the first floor and big events and guests were on the second.  It was different in that the number of artists and dealers had been reduced from 2010.  The same amount of space was being used, but things were a little more spread out.  They did things like use only one side of a hallway instead of both.  While it made the space looked a little more empty (particularly the dealer’s room) I think it was the right thing to do.  Here’s why:

I don’t know what the attendance numbers are for RealmsCon, but it would appear that they overdid it last year when they held their first show at the American Bank Center last year.  Back then, they packed as many artists and dealers as they could into the space, but it appears that they didn’t have the numbers to support all those attendees.  I overheard that both attendees and artists were pretty unhappy with that situation.

It looks like they found the sweet spot this year, because nearly all of the folks that I spoke with said that things were going well for them, sales-wise, at least.  Ideally, fewer artists and dealers meant more money for the ones that were there.

I really didn’t do much there beyond hang out with friends so I attend any of the events.  While they do have just a little bit of repetition in terms of their guests, it is nice to see familiar faces.  Of course, I have to mention that their big guest Tom Felton cancelled, which was unfortunate.

I didn’t attend any of the panels, so I don’t have anything to say about them except that Airship Isabella appeared to be running a significant chunk of them, according to the schedule.  That makes me wonder about the anime community in Corpus Christi, are there not enough folks down there that want to do panels?  Realms always seems to have issues getting enough panels to fill the event’s three days.  Last year, each presenter was given two hours, and this year there were 15-30 minute gaps in between events.

That minor quibble aside, I had a fun time at RealmsCon and there was a good crowd there.  While they had to take a step back in some ways, it was a step forward for the most part, and I look forward to coming back next year, maybe for the whole weekend instead.

Twelve Mezasu mini-con 2 Observations

As Hannibal would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Our second Mezasu mini-con is over, and despite feeling really really tired, I’m feeling pretty good about how the whole thing went.  Some things I noticed:

  1. The old “can’t have fun when you work at a con” rule isn’t that big of a deal when you see everyone having a good time and have the opportunity to occasionally walk around and talk to people.
  2. I guess it was easier to notice this because this was a smaller event, but serious cosplayers tend to travel in packs…I don’t think I’ve ever just seen just ONE wandering about.
  3. The art auction was a huge bust, I think we need to do a better job of explaining how it works next time.  😦
  4. I believe you should always give your all whether 3, 30 or 300 people show up to your gig, which is fortunate for the 3 people that showed up to my podcasting panel.
  5. I am just not used to hearing my voice amplified; when making announcements or announcing raffle numbers over the PA speakers, I was worried about blowing out the speakers whenever I raised my voice.
  6. From the “beware of what you wish for” department: we asked, prayed and begged for rain,  got it…and a brief power outage.
  7. Thanks to Madame Jaqueline’s Apothecary, I now know what a ‘bath bomb’ is and does. Freaky.
  8. I bought an Android mascot figure in a “blind box,” from Bean Pot Toiz but I have yet to actually OPEN it to see which one is in there.  The anticipation is eating at me yet I don’t want it to end!!
  9. Considering how many times I was asked “How did you find this place?” I’m glad that we were able to make people aware of the nice facility and folks at Tripoint.
  10. At the same time, how can one not notice a building the size of a grocery store with a YMCA and a coffee shop?
  11. I forgot to pack cough drops and now my voice is a little hoarse.  Hopefully it recovers by the time work starts on Monday.
  12. I don’t want to go back to work on Monday…then again, do I ever?

RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComiCon 2011

Two Supermen and Lex Luthor in his powersuit
Looking SUPER!

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon (TCC) this year. At the 2010 event (see my write-up here) I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well.

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my 2010 write up, you can see lots of empty space in the background. This was not the case this year; the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also some bigger issues. Nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, though, so if you were at TCC 2011 as an attendee, then it rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If TCC is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt that they will) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at TCC.  I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the WalMart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, so yeah, it hasn’t gotten much better since last year. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the event.  I can only imagine they would have raised a pretty big stink  if I hadn’t.  According to the TCC webpage, WiFi was supposed to be available.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at these events (see also: Mizuumi-Con). I don’t mind paying for juice (if the cost is reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring a 25-foot cord just to get access.

The second electrical problem had to do with the video game tournament. The Original-Gamer.com guys bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated.  Even the game tournament guys should have known that many machines was too much.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time because smokers were constantly running out to get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Except for perhaps the staff issue, the stuff I mentioned are mostly minor nitpicks, because Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like lots of other folks did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and look forward to seeing it come back even bigger and better.  Great job, guys!

 

RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComicCon 2011

 

TCC 2010 Review: http://www.randomizer9.com/?p=342

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

 

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

 

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

 

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

 

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

 

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

 

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

 

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

 

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

 

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mizuumi-Con 2011

UPDATE: The president of the Mizuumi-con sponsoring organization “Patrick “Enzan” Lloyd” replied below, and apparently the empty tables were the result of no-shows.

Mizuumi-Con is special for me because it is where this crazy trip called “creativity” began.  I first attended Mizuumi-Con back in 2009, where I attended two panels.  The first was with Kevin M. Connolly, who discussed voice acting.  The second was Chris Holm’s panel which talked about ‘inspiring artists.’  Kevin provided insight on doing voiceovers, and the message of Chris’ panel was…well, “get off your ass and do something.

A few days later, I was flipping through old notes, trying to figure out what old ideas might be worth dusting off.  A few weeks later, I would meet with Chris and a couple of other guys to form what would eventually become First Storm Manga.

This would actually be my second Mizuumi-Con behind the First Storm Manga table in the dealer/artist area.  Unlike other cons, Mizuumi puts both artists and dealers in the same space.  Last year, it was a madhouse; the space was packed to the gills with artists, dealers, and more importantly, customers.  In an effort to ease the congestion, and I presume, get more dealers and artists involved, it was decided that a second room, dubbed the “Annex,” would contain the spillover.

It was a good idea on paper, but a few things kept it from working as well as it should have:

  1. Distance – The two artist/dealer areas were at opposite ends of the OLLU campus from each other, so if you wanted to check both of them out, it was a decent hike.
  2. Layout – The layout of the tables at the Annex was awful.  They had the tables start at the walls and go in towards the middle of the room.  This is great if you get a good spot in the middle of the room, but sucks if you are by the wall.  Even if you are an attendee, having to constantly double-back is annoying and it didn’t take very many people to make things crowded.
  3. Planning – In the main artist/dealer area we had at least a dozen tables that went unused.
  4. Organization – Some of those people in the Annex could have been moved over to those empty tables but nobody in charge figured it out.

I went by the Annex a few times to say hi to friends and check up on them.  It was crowded, hot and quite a few of my artist friends did not do as well sales-wise as they would have liked to.  In contrast, the artists I knew that were in the original location did fairly well and things never got too hot or too crowded there.

Despite the Annex goof-up, I had fun talking to people about First Storm Manga and our own upcoming September event, the Mezasu mini-con. Mizuumi appeared to draw a good crowd and it looked like folks were having a good time.    Mizuumi is a fun one-day event, and I try to encourage folks new to the anime scene to attend it as a starting point.  I look forward to coming back next year; hopefully they will have worked out the kinks in the artist/dealer area.

A final note: If it sounds like I’m harping about the artist/dealer room thing it’s because I personally know just over half a dozen people that had tables there and I feel bad for the ones that got shafted.  Hopefully things will be better next time.