CoastCon — The Lowdown

Friday marked the opening day for CoastCon 32. Mark and I arrived in Biloxi around 11:00 AM and made our way to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum’s convention center. We met with Leanne, one of the guest coordinators for CoastCon and received our badges, panel info, and all that fun stuff. Mark and I then set up the promo table for CRIMSON SWAN in the Merchant Room and waited for the doors to officially open.

As usual, the first day was a bit slow. I did have time to meet and talk with some of the other guests, including Chris Roberson (END OF THE CENTURY) and Diana Rowland (MARK OF THE DEMON). As the afternoon progressed, the traffic picked up, but not drastically. Mark and I attended Diana’s reading of the first chapter of her debut novel. (As an aside, MARK OF THE DEMON is available for pre-order through Amazon.com and will be released in June from Bantam Spectra. If you like urban fantasy with a Southern flair, you’re going to love Diana Rowland.)

I was scheduled to read from CRIMSON SWAN immediately after Diana’s reading. Unfortunately, Michael Moorcock (THE ELRIC SEQUENCE), David Weber (HONOR HARRINGTON SERIES), and Mark Van Name (OVERTHROWING HEAVEN) — the three biggest names in sci-fi fiction in attendance — were conducting a panel at the same time as my reading. Yep, you guessed it — Mark and Diana were the only people to stick around for my (non)reading. However, I didn’t mind. I had a lovely time talking to Diana and getting to know her better, which was great since she and I were presenting a panel on urban fantasy the following morning.

Saturday was much better for attendance. It gradually picked up throughout the day. Diana and I had about half a dozen people sit in for our urban fantasy panel. She and I both talked about our books as well as the trends within UF and answered questions — and asked questions to the readers — regarding likes, dislikes, and where we see the genre heading. Even though my reading on Friday was a bit of a flop, after the UF panel, I began having more and more people approach me and ask about CRIMSON SWAN, which was awesome.

Later I participated in a panel on Breaking into Writing with Chris Roberson, Glenda Finklestein (NEMESIS RISING), and Laurel Anne Hill (HEROES ARISE). It was a popular panel with an estimated 20-30 people sitting in and asking lots of really good questions regarding writing and how to get their voices heard.

The next panel I was scheduled to sit on again united me with Diana and added Michael Moorcock to the mix. The three of us discussed the pros and cons of writing science fiction set in the South. We probably had about the same number of people as the Writing panel, maybe a few more. It was very interesting to have such a diverse group of Southerners talking about this subject. (Mr. Moorcock is from south London but divides his time between Texas and France, and his wife is from Biloxi. Diana is from southern Louisiana, and I’m a Mississippi native living in Alabama.) It certainly was a fun (and informative) time.

Then came the charity auction. Lots of great stuff sold for a good cause. Although, I did scare the crap out of Mark when I bid on an item. He wasn’t expecting it. It was funny.

Sunday brought illness. I wasn’t feeling well on Sunday (It actually started Saturday morning, but I managed to survive the day on sheer stubbornness.) so Mark and I skipped the final day of CoastCon.

Overall, my CoastCon 32 experience was awesome. As a Mississippi native, I’ve long dreamt of appearing at CoastCon as a guest. Thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, and fans for being there and showing support to all the guests, including me. I hope I can return to CoastCon in the future and so some love for my home state.

This coming weekend, Mark and I will be in Birmingham, Alabama at ImagiCon. Another reading and even more panels are scheduled. I’ll be posting on Twitter from ImagiCon, so be sure to check it out for updates on all the events.

TTFN JKH



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