Convention Hangover

On my flight from Austin to Minneapolis-St. Paul on my way home from the World Horror Convention, I had the good fortune to sit next to Laura Marshall, the marketing manager for ChiZine Publications. I met her at the ChiZine table, where I loaded up on books. We got to chatting on the plane and she said, “Horror people are the nicest, most well-adjusted, friendliest people in the world.”

So true, Laura. So true.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first WHC, but if you had asked me, I would not have said smiles. I wouldn’t have said hugs. I would have said drinking (which there was plenty of) but I wouldn’t have said Texas Chainsaw Massacre pizza (all kinds of meat, yum!).

I’m not sure what I expected, but what I got was a great time with good people who I can’t wait to hang out with again. If I gave you a blow by blow, we’d be here all night, so let me hit the high points.

On Thursday night, I met Jack Ketchum, who was the Grand Master of the Convention. I shook his hand and gushed as minimally as could be expected of me. He was all smiles, far different from the rather intense pictures of him in the souvenir book. Saturday night, I ended up standing next to him at the Cutting Block Press Book Launch Party. You’d think I was going somewhere with that, but I’m not. But that was exciting enough.

Also on Thursday night, I was at a reading given by Joel Sutherland, which was the best reading of the Convention. He gave us a very animated reading of “Blood Red Greens,” a truly engaging story about a pair of friends’ weekly golf game which is interrupted by the Zombie Apocalypse. Go to his site, read his stuff, but be careful complimenting him (he’s the aforementioned hugger).

Friday morning at breakfast, I met Gene O’Neill, who was perhaps the friendliest guy I met. Seriously, every time I ran into him, he always had a smile and a firm handshake for me. He clued me in on the Horror Writer’s Association’s Mentor Program, and the new category of membership in the HWA that would allow me to join. Just an out and out sweet man. And a damn fine writer. I went to the Bad Moon Books Launch Party on Saturday afternoon and heard him and Joe McKinney read from their new books. Again, read them.

Friday, I met R.J. Cavender, horror editor and reviewer extrodanaire. He’s one of those guys I just kept running into. A good ol’ Michigan boy, he has fled the cold in favor of Arizona. We talked about writing, tattoos and I forget what all. A good guy who I hope I get the good fortune to work with someday soon.

Speaking of working with people, a huge shout out to Rhodi Hawk, who organized everything relating to the pitch sessions. She was so nice and helpful. She also wrote a book called Twisted Ladder. Find it, read it and tell your friends.

When Rhodi was escorting me outside to my first pitch appointment with Brett Savory of ChiZine Publications, she said, “Oh I have good news: Helen Marshall, the managing editor is here too, so you get to pitch to both her and Brett.” My response was of the soft and meek variety. Luckily, I didn’t have much time to be nervous. Brett and Helen were awesome catchers. It went well, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Even with my confidence boosted, I was still nervous to meet with Don D’Auria from Samhain on Saturday. When I sat down at the table, my ears turned bright red (which is how I blush), which was quite distracting. Don and I chatted about Clean Freak and then I asked him some questions about the publishing world, which was really cool. I wish I’d run into him again and gotten a chance to talk with him a little more informally. Among other things, he writes a regular column in Cemetery Dance, which I read religiously.

At the Cutting Block Press Book Launch party on Saturday night, I met Boyd E. Harris, the submissions’ manager, who was also the Margarita Master. And let me tell you, the man makes a damn fine margarita! It was also at this party that I was one of the first to taste the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre pizza.

And I said we wouldn’t be here all night.

I also was fortunate enough to meet several other authors who, like me, are just starting out. Brian Francis has written a novel, The Trail,which he pitched with some success, so I can’t wait to see it in print. Paul Braus pitched his second novel while at the convention, but he generously gave me a copy of his first novel, The Creature’s Curse, which I can’t wait to dig into. I also met Jeff Burk, the editor and of Deadite Press, and  bought and read his book, Shatnerquake, before I even left the convention, it was just that fun! Look for a full review soon. And Gardener, who was probably the friendliest guy that I met, I haven’t forgotten you! Unfortunately, I don’t have any contact info, otherwise, I’d drop you a line or two.

Okay, time to wrap this up, since I’ve been working on this for the last couple days and I’m already so far behind on my reviews, not to mention the fact that I’ve read three more books in the last four weeks.

Bottom line: the Word Horror Convention was an amazing time, a pivotal time in my life. Thanks to everyone I met, laughed with, talked with, drank with, and everyone on the Austin crew for making it happen and making it such a blast! See you in Salt Lake City in 2012!

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