MidSouthCon 29

MidSouthCon 29 was held March 25-27, 2011, in the Hilton in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. This year marked my first year at MSC, and I will definitely be going back. I’ve been to many cons and every at MSC was awesome! But before I launch into the full details of the weekend, I need to set the stage.

Michelle at one of the many caffeine breaks along the way.

Accompanying me were Mark, my OMG (Official Market Genius) and trophy husband, and fellow Ninja Pea, Michelle Ladner. To say the drive from Mobile to Memphis is long and boring is an understatement. It’s very long and very boring, even with Michelle on a sugar and caffiene high in the backseat. When she spotted the six-foot “rooster,” the trip took a sharp left turn straight to the gutter. (More on the “rooster” in a bit.)

Michelle and me at Waffle House in Horn Lake, MS

Driving to Memphis offered us a chance to visit an authentic BLOOD LAW  location. Yes, the town of Jefferson, Mississippi is fictional, but if you carefully read chapter two (pages 25-32) you’ll find a scene involving Varik Baudelaire, Reyes Cott, and Freddy Haver at a Waffle House in Horn Lake, Mississippi. This is a real location and since we were passing through, we stopped for coffee. It seemed appropriate.

After a quick coffee break and short photo op, we were on the road again and headed to Memphis. Naturally we hit town in time for the 4:30-5:00 pm rush but we made it to the hotel and only had to made one questionably legal U-turn. By the time we checked in, parked the truck, and found our rooms (which were on the 17th floor and reached by loud and somewhat creaky glass elevators), it was time to check-in at registration and go to work. By the way, here is the view from our room, which overlooked the pool. (Unfortunately, the picture was taken on Saturday and it was raining.)

View from the Memphis Hilton's 17th floor

My first panel discussion didn’t start until 10:00 pm (Ghosts in the Machine: How the paranormal manifests in real life and fiction.) So we all registered, familiarized ourselves with the location, checked out a few early discussions, and grabbed dinner. Then it was time for my first panel, and it was a lot of fun. My fellow panelists, Allan Gilbreath, Joy Ward, Kalila Smith, Leslie Gray, and Mallory Kane, were lively, humorous, and experienced with both writing and the paranormal. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to MidSouthCon.

The following day, Saturday, brought more people to the con and the costumes were out in full force. Michelle rode the elevator down from the 14th floor in the company of Darth Vader. I really wish I’d been there to get a picture of her Luke Skywalker moment. Alas, I was off paneling or something.

An Imperial Stormtrooper succumbs to the cute side. No one can resist the call of the balloon animal.

I had two afternoon panels and a signing on Saturday. The first discussion, Different Flavors of Fantasy, discussed the various subgenres of fantasy and why we write the ones we do. My fellow panelists Ruth Souther, Stephen Zimmer, and Violette Reid were awesome and we had a great discussion with lots of audience questions. I had a chance to talk with Ruth and Stephen, separately, in greater detail later and hope I see them again on the con circuit. I also wish I’d had an opportunity to speak with Violette again but our schedules unfortunately didn’t mesh. My schedule panel, Guide To Writers’ Organizations, with J. F. Lewis, Jason Sizemore, and Mary Robinette Kowal, also had tons of audience participation. I’ve been to some cons where audience interaction was difficult to obtain, but MSC wasn’t one of them. Great questions, polite debate, and outstanding discussions made my experience with MSC among the best.

Next on my agenda was the signing. I gave away copies of BLOOD LAW and met a lot of wonderful readers. Once my time at the table was over, it was time to regroup with Mark, Michelle, and Katie (a reader and pre-published author from Mississippi) for dinner. My official obligations were over for this year’s MSC but the Dealer’s Room had yet to be conquered…

Six-foot "rooster" along Highway 49, north of Hattiesburg, MS

And conquer it I did on Sunday. New dice and two new T-shirts later, it was time to hit on final panel discussion and then we were on the road for home. Remember the six-foot “rooster” Michelle saw? We found it on the way back — big yellow and red “thing” on the right side of the photo. We don’t know what it is, what it’s intended use may be, but it provided hours of entertainment during an otherwise boring drive.

MidSouthCon 29 was anything but boring and if you haven’t been, you really should go. I know I’ll be back.

Thanks to all who came to the panels, to the organizers and volunteers who made the whole thing run, and to my fellow panelists for the lively discussions. Thanks to Katie for braving the weather to show your support. Special thanks to Mark and Michelle for their support, entertainment, and keeping me on schedule. I couldn’t do what I do without you. Much (Ninja Pea) love!

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