My first Comic Con!

Yes, I know Jim Butcher looks naked. He wasn’t. A pity, really.

Up until this past weekend, I had never been to a Comic Con or writer’s convention of any sort. I’d always meant to, just as a general fan of most things geeky, but I just never got around to it, you know? There was always so much else going on, and I was trying to be responsible about focusing on my research as a psychologist, and it costs money, and, and, and…

Well, screw that noise. Turns out that I really hate doing psych research, and I really like hanging out with people dressed in awesome costumes while listening to my favorite authors and creatives talk about their industry. So I ponied up the (relatively small amount) of dough and bought a three-day pass to Salt Lake City Comic Con.

It was roughly 12,000,000,000,000,000 times more enjoyable and motivating than any of the psychology conferences I’ve dragged myself to in the last decade. (What’s that number up there… twelve quadrillion? Better add a few more zeroes.)

Not a single undergraduate research poster in sight.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is my tribe. I can’t really express just what a relief it is to feel like I understand the people around me — that we care about the same things — that we have shared background — after such a long slog through a foreign domain. (Psych research folks, I’m sure you’re awesome too, but I just could. Not. Hack it.) There was such an easy, happy excitement all around, and I dug the whole scene in a way I haven’t dug anything in a very long time.

The thing that finally got me off the fence and going was my recent decision to go all in and swing for the fences as a writer rather than putting all my energy into pursuing a tenure-track job at the university where I work. And boy howdy, I was not disappointed on that front. There were a shocking number of panels dedicated to aspiring writers, and many of them were led by top SFF folks: Brandon Sanderson, V. E. Schwab, David Farland, and lots of others. Pat Rothfuss was supposed to be there, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a serious illness in the family, which made me sad both for him and for me. There were discussions on world building, how to navigate the tropes of the genre, how to pursue representation… I must have sat through twelve hours or more of excellent panels, and I came away with copious pages of notes. Even more importantly, I came away having felt a deep surge of ambition and motivation to make this thing happen! I was able to have one-on-one chats with several of the panelists afterwards, and was gratified that they treated me with respect and seriousness. There was no pat-on-the-head, oh you wrote a book aren’t you cute condescension. They treated me like I was for real and gave me good advice. A huge thank you to them, even though they’ll never read this.

These conversations helped me think more clearly about the path I have to take for A Gathering of Chaos. That’s my book that I’ve got finished that I talk about here. The thing is, I wrote that book under contract to an RPG company, meaning they own the rights to it. As such, I can’t really seek an agent for it, because they’d have to ink a deal with the company, not with me, and as far as I can tell, literary agents want to rep a person. It’s an odd situation, because I’m the one with the most vested interest in getting the book out to publishers, but I’m not the one who can make that happen. It seems most likely that I’ll need to just let that situation develop however it’s going to, and in the meantime get cracking on my next book. This time it’ll be one I own the IP for so I don’t get stuck in this spot again. Live and learn, right? I’m very proud of Gathering and there are some cool things slated to happen when the Asunder RPG launches, so patience is the name of the game. I think it will do well when it all comes together, but I’m not going to put all my eggs in that basket.

And NOW. I’m gonna be a frickin’ writer, y’all. I want it, like, hard. I’m a low-key guy, and I’m not used to feeling so, I don’t know… adamant about something. I guess it’s just taken me a while to really figure out what I really wanted out of life. So, thanks, Comic Con! I’ll be seeing you next year! And I have the goal of attending three cons or conferences this year, so there’ll be others before then. I know I’ll be doing LTUE, a fun little local conference, but I have yet to decide what’s my third. David Farland suggested World Fantasy Convention this November in Austin, but I’m still weighing my options. If any of you writerly folks have ideas, I’d love to hear them.

And now, the best part of the weekend:

My daughters (and their boyfriends) at the Con.

My family came for part of the day on Friday, and my oldest two daughters spent MANY hours on their costumes. Wonder Woman and her man Supes, especially, were mobbed for photos the whole time they were there. She’s just obsessive enough to be a cosplayer.  Seriously, though, my family is the best and I love them. They made the weekend perfect.

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