Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

My DragonCon and Decatur Book Fest Wrapup

I got Attending Professional entry into DragonCon by asking for a high five.

In the grand pageant of DragonCon authors, artists, and celebrities, I’m . . . well, let’s say I’m still building my audience. I applied anyway. Why not? I wrote a science fiction novel. I’ve just finished a fantasy series. I know who the hairy weirdos in the red underpants and crossed suspenders are.

giphyAt the end of my application, in the special requests box, where actual famous people are allowed to put outlandish demands, I put “At some point during the weekend, I would like one (1) high five from Dragon Con staff.” A few months later, I heard from the programming director, who said I was accepted on the strength of that request. Score.

I learned that trick from my buddy Bob. He requests high fives from hotel staff via their online registration forms. The front desk is asked to administer them, and, he reports, usually does.

Day One: The Dark Horse

I was scheduled for a single DragonCon panel, on Friday afternoon, for which I arrived early. I picked up my credentials and this red folder containing all the information about my panel schedule.


I feel bad that they used a whole folder and piece of paper for that, but I’m pleased that they felt me worthy of same.

After a bit of preparation at the Hyatt lobby bar with my buddy Curzio, we proceeded to the meeting room. The panel moderator had my name on her list, but didn’t have a cool printed placard for me. Here’s the cool printed placard of Milton Davis, who was on the panel before mine.


Since they didn’t have one for me, they just flipped Mr. Davis’s placard over and wrote my name on the back. I put quotes around “Jim” because I thought it might be amusing.


But then I realized that no one knows — or, let’s be honest, cares — who I am. I could put anything I wanted on the placard. Anything at all! I had complete freedom! Literally carte blanche!

PHOTO: Christopher Curzio
PHOTO: Christopher Curzio

The panel got underway. Our moderator handed out gag nose-and-glasses to the panelists and some members of the attending public. I immediately ran afoul of the moderator by calling attention to what I called the “Hitlery-ness” of the mustache attached to said glasses. But, I mean, come on:


Once underway, fellow panelist Peter David drew my ire by espousing the belief that people are either funny or not. Ah, that old chestnut. I called him out on it, pointed out that it was like saying people were either strong or not. I went into one of my favorite rants about the danger of the idea of “talent,” which is a word people use to discount others’ hard work and excuse their own lack thereof.

Then I realized I was ranting, pumped the brakes, and offered sexual congress to third panelist Keith R.A. DeCandido instead, who lamented my lack of discretion . . . but did not say no.

Day Two: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Day Two of Dragon Con began with the parade, which started inauspiciously.


It got a lot better from there. Afterward, I ate some lunch with friends Mike and Mellie, then joined them at a packed-to-the-rafters panel about an upcoming manned mission to Europa. The panel was terribly interesting to me, but the room was also quite warm, and I was sitting down, so I began to doze off. I realized I was occupying a seat much better left to someone who could appreciate it, and so I excused myself.

That left me at loose ends until Mike and Mellie were let out, so I traveled across the hotels to catch the tail end of Chuck Wending reading his new novel Zer0es (lol, same WordPress theme).

I’ve tweeted with Chuck before about his Mookie Pearl series, and I’m nearly finished with his Heartland trilogy, which features a class of people called the “Empyrean,” but when I shook his hand I told him I’d been reading his “hyperion” trilogy. Oops. That’s not a thing.

Day Three: Book Fest Forgetfulness

Sweetie and the kids and I rolled down to the Decatur Book Fest on Sunday so that I could display, and ideally sell, some books at the Atlanta Writer’s Club tent. I thought it was odd that no one was around at 10:30AM since my signing was supposed to begin at 11:00. I checked the information sheet I’d been given and realized I was indeed supposed to be there at 11:00AM … on Saturday. Not Sunday.


I sent off an apology email, then explained in person what a colossal idiot I am to the people in charge of said tent. They said it was no big deal and that I could set up my wares anyway. So I did.


I stood there for an hour or so next to fellow AWC member pet expert Tim Link, who is awesome. He’s a dog and cat expert. Both his books have dogs on them. I saw dozens of people stop in their tracks as they passed to pick up his books and talk to him. I heard him give a litany of pet advice for free and he sold a book too.


Two people picked up my book Dangerous Dan, but I couldn’t offer them any advice besides, “Write non fiction and put a dog on the cover.”

But lo, who should I see striding up the street but Chuck Wendig? I flagged him down and said I felt like an ass for misnaming his work. He accepted my apology for being a buffoon, and we chatted a bit.

I and my crew wrapped up the weekend with a lunch at Chai Pani, which was delicious, then crossed the street to inspect the free library outside Dancing Goats coffee. I wanted to see if the copy of Dangerous Dan I put in there on my Little Free Library book tour was still inside, but it wasn’t.

Someone might be reading it. So I got that going for me, which is nice.