Archive for the ‘ Conventions ’ Category

On Convolution 2016


I mentioned this on Twitter, but now I’m making it official: I am once again a guest at Con-Volution! I’m very pleased to be joining the convention again. My panel schedule is as follows:

Friday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Classic Scary Stories: Shelley, Poe, and Others

Looking back on some of the classics of literary monster-makers and scary storytellers

Saturday, 12:0opm – 1:30pm: BOF: Marvel Universe

There’s SO much to love about the Marvel Universe, both in Comics, and in Cinematics — so come join other fans to chat about what you think has been done well, could have been done differently — and even better — what’s next! (I’ll be moderating this birds of a feather meetup; I’ll be the one in the Avengers t-shirt. You know, the one.)

Saturday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm: Building a Better Monster: The Nuts and Bolts of Monster Physiology

It may seem like the more tentacles and claws, the scarier the monster, but when it comes to writing a monster worth its scales, sometimes less is more. Or is it? We’ll discuss!

Sunday, 12:00pm – 1:30pm: How Far is Too Far? Introducing Change to Established Characters

Just three words: Captain. America. Hydra. When does an evolving, long-time character get driven too far off its original basis, and is that a good thing, or ultimately bad, no matter what?

Sunday, 2:00pm – 3:30pm: We Love the Scare

Discussing the need for horror in pop culture, modern media, and fiction. Why it works for us, and why we need to keep it working.


In and around all that, I’ll be attending some of the other programming (I’m not only a panelist at Con-Volution, I’m also a member!), and I’ll be around and available to chat as much as anxiety allows. I’ll probably also camp out in the gaming room for some Sentinels of the Multiverse at some juncture, though I’m going to have to schedule that on the fly. If you’re looking to see me, I’m going to be most available on Saturday; I am commuting to and from the con this year, so it’s very likely that on Friday and Sunday I will be leaving soon after my panels, probably after having dinner with friends and performing some of the (pleasant) duties that come with being a convention guest.

Also, my now-usual disclaimer: I suffer from society anxiety. I’m medicated for it, but it does mean that sometimes, talking to people is very difficult for me, and it is likely to be even harder after a day of public speaking and answering questions. I won’t blow anyone off, and I encourage people to talk to me, but if I need to make a hasty exit, I am not being trite when I say it’s me, not you.

I hope to see you there!

On Convolution 2012 (Again)

Here I am, back in the real world.

You may have noticed I did not post a Progress Thursday last week. Honestly, that was partially an oversight due to needing to have laser-like focus at my day job and so not being attentive to my writing career; but it was also me saving up a little excess blogging pressure to use on this post, wherein I discuss my attendance at the first-ever iteration of Convolution.

(For those who need the overarching details of Convolution, go here.)

Friday was my usual working-stiff con Friday; we rushed up there after we finished our day jobs, checked in to the hotel, hauled in our stuff, and went and grabbed some dinner with friends before settling in to whatever late-night Friday stuff we might decide to do. This time around it was a little different, in that the friend I was off with for dinner was a local budding game designer who was at the con doing a demo of his new miniatures game (he’s working on building the web site, once that’s up I’ll give you all contact info). Further proof that my friends and I are growing up, in our particular way. Once that was done I mostly spent Friday playing Cards Against Humanity with the head of the con’s gaming department, her boyfriend, some of our good friends, and a whole hell of a lot of people on staff and off. I swear, we dragged a good portion of the staff bigwigs into that game at one point; I think we were the after-hours gaming for most of that night.

Then, Saturday/technically Sunday, there was the live taping of Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks. Matt and Other Tyler nailed it out of the park, once again, with their guests also contributing to their usual mix of snarky, explicit, erudite, and drunk. I highly recommend the episode once it’s available on their site – I’m curious to see how much of the latter-middle part of the podcast gets left on the cutting-room floor, as the booze was flowing at the flow rate that is just past “free” and slightly before “Biblical.” The ‘cast ended a lot later than expected, on everyone’s part, so Sonya and I didn’t get back to our hotel room until about 2:30.

Saturday was waking up early with that kid-on-Christmas feeling, the idea that something amazing is happening that you can’t quite hear and if you don’t get up right now you’re going to miss it. I did the hygiene thing and the breakfast thing, checked my messages, and headed on down to the con floor to attend some panels. I had planned on four, but I wound up only doing three; my mental note to myself is that I just cannot shotgun panels like I was planning to and really need to leave some portion of my evenings open for dinner and decompression with friends (possibly also drinking).

The first panel of the day was about fairy tales, and was excellent, with a lot of good discussion; at the end of it I got a chance to say hello briefly to my oft-times editor, Jennifer Brozek, who is seriously just a wonderful human being and took a minute to let me awkwardly thank her for her multifaceted help getting my as-yet-budding writing career started. I cannot articulate how lucky I am to work with editors like her.

The second panel of the day was about urban fantasy, which I exited with a lot of good thoughts in my head and also a great book recommendation I need to jump on right away. It was really excellent and I left feeling all intellectually warm and fuzzy.

Third one up was Publicity for Writers, which was…invaluable. Jennifer made another appearance at this one, along with Jaym Gates; the pair of them both informed me, helped steer me away from a couple of cliffs I was teetering on, and made me feel like maybe I had half a clue how this whole business is supposed to work, though it was embarrassing to admit that I forgot my business cards and showed up in super-casual wear after they spent time telling us we need to not do either of those things. You’ll be seeing me changing a few things as I implement their advice over the next couple of weeks; I won’t specifically say what it is because it’s done out of a genuine desire to connect better with my readers and potential colleagues, and I don’t want it to seem like anyone is an item on a checklist.

After that, it was slightly overpriced dinner at the hotel sports bar, then games for the rest of the evening. Contrary to my original plan, I was coaxed into unboxing Sentinels of the Multiverse. I will spare my writing-blog readers the details, but say that we triumphed against some ugly odds. We also played We Didn’t Playtest This At All, which is an excellent palate cleanser between more cerebral games and/or a method of driving obnoxious, rules-obsessed players away from your gaming table. I am a little sad I didn’t try more new games, but then, I was really busy with panels instead and I host a monthly board game night, so it’s not as though there aren’t other vectors for exposure.

Thanks to a particularly hardy villain in Sentinels-land, I did not get to bed until around 2:00AM (the first one, not the second one) on Sunday. I did my best to sleep in, but once more, I just plain couldn’t.  Too excited. So it was a big breakfast, and a shower, and into my formal black t-shirt and Batman hat for a trip down to the gaming room and my semi-official demo of Sentinels of the Multiverse.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. Getting there and only having one person waiting was somehow worse (but I put up signs! Colorful ones!). But then another person came by; and another person; and another…and then I had more than fit into the game. People asked to watch, and the players I had seemed like they had fun. We played three games in a row, ramping up the difficulty each time, until on the third run, we had to stop the game not because we had very definitely lost but because we couldn’t finish before the gaming room closed. When I had a player pull up the ongoing Kickstarter for the game’s third expansion,

That sort of ended my Convolution experience; I was fried and did not have any spoons left with which to go to the Feedback panel, so a couple friends and I decided to do our own private dead-dog party at a burger joint near the hotel. Meat was eaten, discussion was had, and through the medium of political discussion mixed with talking about the con and Dexter, we eased our way into heading home, setting our things on the living room floor, and zoning out in preparation for work.

I cannot stress how great this con was. In addition to having good panels, it had good structure; it was clear the staff had prepared the con well and were working with a professional hotel staff that was used to conventions. And more than that, it had good people. The atmosphere was very fun, casual, welcoming, and respectful. I am absolutely going to go next year, and I’m so very grateful to the con’s board of directors for making such a superlative con happen and making it accessible to me. It was my first con with Sonya (the first of many), and to have it go so well will be a bright, shining memory for both of us. I can’t wait to do it again.

And now…real life.

On Convolution 2012

In case you all did not know, I will be at Convolution 2012, here in the Bay Area. I’m not on any panels (I feel I’m too far below the radar right now), but I will be wearing my gamer hat as I demo, as promised, Sentinels of the Multiverse in the gaming room. And while that’s awesome, I will stop just short of sounding like a commercial and say that my little contribution is utterly eclipsed by the legion of awesome things they have going on during the con.

Everything you could hope to know about the con is on their website; in specific I can tell you that I’ll be there all three days, beginning Friday evening and ending shortly after my Sentinels demo on Sunday afternoon.  I’m easy to stop, being huge, and you can identify me by my con badge with my Twitter handle on it.  If you come around and you see me, please do feel free to say hi, it would be great to meet the folks visiting my blag.  But really, even if you don’t say hi to me, you should check out the con; the people running it are excellent folks with a real devotion to fandom, and I want this first year of the con to be a success.

I hope to see you there!

On Superheroes, Part the Second

I will keep this brief, for my lunch breaks are short and full of terrors.

I, through the power of Asking and the incredible kindness and generosity of the con’s Head of Gaming and the folks at Greater than Games, will be running game demos of Sentinels of the Multiverse at the inaugural session of Convolution!

I’m really very excited about this. The staff for Convolution includes several friends of mine, their guest list and programming look awesome, and the whole thing seems overall like it’ll be a really positive thing for the Bay Area. And having a chance to show up and demo something I love as much as Sentinels instead of “just” checking out the programming and doing some networking just makes it that much better.

The info for the con and the hotel is in that link up there. tl;dr: It’s in Burlingame (near San Francisco, California for out-of-towners) from November 2nd to November 4th. I’ll say more about the subject closer to the actual date of the convention, but for now, if you’re going to be there or have some free time that weekend, come by and say hi and maybe play a little Sentinels with me!

And now…I lunch.

On Conventions

This was supposed to be “Next” two posts ago, but the passing of a legend is sort of a priority in my book.

As I mentioned two Progress Wednesdays prior, Memorial Day weekend saw Sonya and I hosting what we called CottageCon. This started out as us planning to go to one of two conventions  in the Bay Area that weekend, BayCon or KublaCon (Fanime/Clockwork Alchemy are also Memorial Day weekend, but the particular fandoms they target are not fandoms we are either one really a big part of). We were saving up money for those cons and debating our plan of attack, only to realize a couple key things:

1. KublaCon was a little too far away for us to drive every single day of the con, and we did not want to take the train (and thus be restricted by the train schedule) nor pay for a hotel room (as we had not saved up the money to afford that in advance);

2. BayCon was of interest because of the professional panels available to me as a writer, and as of the last week I could get a discount on our badges, the con still had not released a list of panels, so for all I knew everything would be a retread of my last BayCon appearance;

3. I had enough money to pay for the cheaper price on our badges for Convolution 2012, but not enough to pay for that and badges to either BayCon or KublaCon;

4. Convolution is run by friends of mine, has Guests of Honor I know and am excited to meet, and is occurring on a different weekend much later in the year that we can target saving up for.

So, we decided to take a third option: We would pay for our Convolution badges, and we would do something else with our Memorial Day weekend. And born from that base idea: CottageCon!

The conceit was about like you’d expect: The distilled convention experience of Memorial Day weekend, hosted out of our very own home. We invited about 30 of our closest personal friends and told them they could come by any time after noon and before midnight every day of Memorial Day weekend, with a loose schedule of what we wanted to play board-game-wise or RPG-wise so they knew when to try and come around.

Friday night we played Android, which is one of those games I wish could be sped up, because it’s so much darn fun. I love simple games, but I also love complicated games that tell a particular kind of story with their rules, and Android is very much the latter.

Saturday we played Dominion and Betrayal at House on the Hill (the revised version, for you hardcore board game types who remember the terrors of the original). We were up a bit too late, courtesy of discovering Archer Season 2 had made it to YouTube (people quoting Season 3 during the game may have egged us on, too), and crashed out like we’d been sapped, trying hard to sleep in so we would be ready for a possibly mad Sunday.

Sunday was not mad. Sunday was in fact Sonya and I cleaning up the house and sitting around watching Archer for most of the day, until a friend I do not see often enough, as well as his girlfriend, a friend I am glad to be getting to know, came by and played Arkham Horror with us. Arkham Horror fits into a similar mold to Android, and Sonya and I both love it, so it’s great to get a chance to play it again and introduce new people to the game.

And then came Monday, when another recently-acquired friend, his wife, and their two lovely tiny adorable daughters came by for a playtest of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (excuse me, D&D Next), as well as the friends from Sunday.  5e was surprisingly fun and surprisingly fluid, even if it was a bit abortive with the little ones running about and Real Life in general attempting to intervene. We got through a couple short encounters before everyone had to pack up and go; then the couple from Sunday came back by, bearing blueberry soda and stuffed mushrooms; and when they left, and the house fell quiet, CottageCon came to a close.

Playing games was wonderful, and getting to host events with Sonya was superlative; every day we act like we have a home together, I realize a little more that it’s not an act and how great it feels to be adults, even though we pay a heavy toll to be in that club. But more than that, getting to see so many people I don’t see often enough was incredible. Our closest, most-visited friends visited, but we also had newcomers, including many people that I like a great deal and just never see except at LARPs or other situations where we are very busy, or only talk to online. Seeing them up close and personal and getting to sit, and talk, and hang out, and play a game with a lot of table-talk (read: not a roleplaying game) was beyond ideal, even if in some cases the interaction was horribly brief. Seeing the Facebook post from the friend who came by on Monday, about how much he enjoyed seeing us and playing D&D (and how much his daughter enjoyed our cat, Yoshi) was the perfect capper to a perfect weekend.

In all, I would say CottageCon was exactly what I wanted out of a con experience; that it was wonderful and stupendous and relaxing and exhilarating, and that it was, most importantly, uniquely and completely itself, untainted by any expectation except what we created for it. I was so grateful for a chance to do this, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Less Conventional

So, I’m back from BayCon. Sadly, I have no pictures to share; my phone was dying for part of Sunday thanks to bad planning and, well, I have no excuse for the rest of the time. I do assure you, though, that it was both exciting and colorful.

Overall, it was a successful con for me; there was a dash of networking, which I needed (names of those networked with redacted so I don’t look too shameless), and I got a lot of great advice for this growing career of mine and a lot of reinforcement that some of what I’m doing is exactly the right thing. Short of miracles, there is not a lot else an author can ask of a convention.  And as an attendee, the gaming room seemed well-attended, the staff was friendly, the dealer’s room was nice, and I was able to reconnect with someone I don’t see often and hear some wonderful news (who doesn’t love hearing “How are you?” answered with “I’m pregnant!”).

I will say that BayCon 2010 was more threadbare than 2009’s convention; I saw a lot fewer familiar faces, and a lot less of those faces than I have at previous conventions.  The panels were successful for me, but I am told that not all of them were so (again, not naming names), so it sounds like it may have just been that I got lucky.  I suspect a lot of this was about the economy, and of course the brief rumors that BayCon might not happen this year contributed as well; however, I do hope that attendance, accessibility, and energy are up next year.

However, I’m not here to rate the con (I did that on Twitter and Facebook instead).  My biggest lesson at this con was that, though lacking a publishing contract for my long-form work, I am further along in this writing career thing than I realized.  I am doing a lot of things right, which is great since some of it was through guesswork, and I am starting to feel more confident about the process as a whole, which is a wonderful step up from the lamenting I was doing not a couple months ago.  It was nice to have the convention be an ego boost instead of a source of drama (which it was the first time I went…long, uninteresting, typical story) and to see that this convention scene is something I can enjoy.

Next year, I think I may take a crack at being a guest, though of course that’s not entirely up to me; but, it can’t hurt to ask around about it, and maybe I’ll see something new from the other side.  I’m also looking at attending a few other local cons (I don’t want to rove too far afield until there a book deal is picking up–my budget will not allow it) and trying to get that networking mojo running–and maybe try for a guest spot when that seems appropriate there, as well.

For now, though, it’s time to get back to the real world–with its regular hours, its lack of costuming, and its necessity for sleep.  I will leave you with this singular thought: this weekend, I saw Silk Spectre I talking to a Klingon hockey team, and cheered the Giants with a woman who had a day previous been explaining the proper biological basis for a griffon.  If that isn’t a perfect way to spend a Sunday, I’m out of ideas.


Just a quick update to make sure I say it somewhere: for the curious, this Memorial Day weekend I will be attending BayCon 2010.  I don’t have anything like a booth, I’m not on any panels, and I certainly don’t claim to be a guest of any sort–that’s the province of the much more successful than I–but if you read this blog and feel like saying hello, I suspect I will be the only Tyler Hayes in the vicinity of the convention, so just look for the ice giant with that name on his badge and I assure you I’ll be happy to talk to you, especially if we’ve never met or it’s been a very long time since we have.