Category Archives: Conventions

Honor Con 2016

Hey everyone, just a quick reminder that I’ll be at Honor Con 28-30 October, 2016.  If you’re in Raleigh, NC for the weekend and are up for a Military SF Convention, come see me!

I’ll have a table for the whole weekend and you can find my events listed below.  For more about the convention, check here.

Friday:

3 PM: Ebooks vs Print

4 PM: Publicity for Newbies

Saturday:

9 AM: Building an Alternate History World

2 PM: Ow, My Spleen!

Sunday:

9 AM: More than Swords: Military and Fantasy

This is my initial schedule.  It may change.  I’ll also be at my author table when I’m not on panels/finding sustenance/trying to sleep, so feel free to find me there!

Writer’s Toolbag: Attending Conventions Part 2

In part one I discussed a bit about attending a convention and some of the things to look for when selecting whether to attend or not.  Here in Part 2, I’ll discuss how to go about attending as a panelist.

Getting into a convention as a panelist is quite a bit more difficult than merely attending.  For some conventions (looking at you Dragon Con) they’re very selective and you may never hear back.  For others, as long as you present yourself as a benefit to their convention, they’ll be happy to have you.

The first part of that is to be professional.  For most of these conventions you can browse their websites and find out who will be running the panels or programming for the convention.  That’s the person you want to contact.

When you do email them, write a professional introduction.  Tell them who you are and what you write.  Tell them what you’ve heard about their convention and why you want to participate.  If you bring ideas to the table, that’s generally a good thing, especially if you have an idea for a panel that would be fun and won’t require any additional effort on their parts.

The second part of this is remembering that the people running conventions are volunteers and they volunteer their time and effort because they like conventions and they enjoy getting people together to enjoy their genre of fandom.  If you present them with ways make a convention more enjoyable, then generally the people running the convention will be happy to have you.

The next part of that is how you behave at the convention.  Remember, this is about presenting yourself in a good manner.  If you’re participating in a panel, be sure to give other people time to talk.  If you are moderating, try to keep the panelists roughly on track, try to have some topics of conversation prepared, and most importantly be friendly and personable to everyone you meet.   Having dealt with rude panelists and audience members, it’s the quickest way to alienate a potential reader or connection.

As far as what to say, generally if you’re an author you’re passionate about things in the genre.  Talk about the things you find interesting, but gauge your audience.  If people are yawning, checking their watches or phones, or worst of all filing out of the room… well, that’s a bit of a sign.  Try to be entertaining, intelligent, and charming.  Basically you’re trying to establish yourself as someone who has something interesting to say.  That way they’ll remember you and maybe look at what you have to write.

Lastly, remember that bad impressions are more likely to stay with people.  The unfortunate truth is that most of the people you encounter won’t remember you at a convention, especially not the other professionals.  They meet so many people at so many conventions, that everyone sort of blurs together.  What they will remember, though, is if you’re the jerk who snapped at people or said derogatory things about other authors.  Good behavior may not get you a book deal or gain you lots of readers, but bad behavior will gain you notoriety and not  in a good way.

Writer’s Toolbag: Attending Conventions Part 1

It is possible to have a career in writing and never attend a convention.  That said, conventions provide a wealth of opportunities for an author.  Conventions are gatherings of like-minded people.  Genre conventions, especially science fiction and fantasy conventions, are where you’ll be able to find lots of potential readers in one spot.  They’re also excellent places to network, to build relationships with other authors, to pitch ideas to editors,  and in general, get your name out there.

So, what’s the key to going to a convention and being a success?  Well, there’s two parts of this.  Assuming you’re just getting started, I highly recommend going as an attendee just to get your feet wet.  Study what other people do, learn what’s acceptable and unacceptable con behavior.   This last one is a key part.  Nine times out of ten, most of the professionals won’t remember your name or face from one convention.  They see too many people, interact with too many people, at too many conventions.  But if you’re a jerk, or annoying, they’re probably going to remember that.  So, as I said, learn what’s acceptable.  Don’t go charging in.  Take the time to get a feel for the place.

The next part is selecting an appropriate convention.  Small cons are perfect for getting your feet wet, and there’s an important part on this in that you can get some time with authors and editors without having to get pushy.

Also, know what a convention is about.  Gaming and anime conventions aren’t the best place to go for trying to network as an author or to pitch your book to potential readers.  Read up on what a convention is about before you go.  Learn who will be there.  If you don’t recognize any of the names of the guests, it probably means you don’t read their stuff and therefore what you write may not be what the readers there will be interested in.

Lastly, panels.  Panels are the main content at a lot of conventions.  These are discussions by the panelists… so if you aren’t one, don’t interrupt.  They’ll have time at the end of the panel for questions.  One of the big irritations to panelists is when someone in the audience hijacks the panel.  Do some research here, too, and pick topics and panelists you want to learn more about.

Conventions are tons of fun.  Take a friend, meet people, and enjoy yourself.  Don’t forget to keep receipts because all of this is tax deductible as an author.  Next week I’ll talk a bit about strategies on how to participate in conventions rather than attending.

 

MALCon 2016 In Review

I enjoy all of the Colorado SF & Fantasy conventions very much, but Myths and Legends Con is by far my favorite.  I think it’s the fact that there’s no drama, everyone is there to have fun, things are extremely well organized, and it’s just all around a good time.

Jim Butcher was the guest of honor this year.  I really enjoy the Dresden Files series (in many ways I think he has redefined the urban fantasy genre).  It was fantastic to listen to him talk about what he has coming next and being on a panel with him was fantastic (standing room only, too, I wish they’d put us in a bigger room).  I know that panel in particular was recorded, I’ll have to see if I can find the link.

In all, I was on eight panels, so it was a very busy schedule for me.  The nice thing was that the venue for MALCon means there’s no fighting through long corridors to get to your panel room, everything is centrally located around the hotel lobby.  So I never had any problems getting from one panel to the next, and trust me, removing that bit of stress is something that can’t be overrated.

I enjoyed every panel and even the ones without official moderators went smoothly enough, all the panelists were professional enough to talk through the subject.

MALCon is also family friendly and they had plenty of kids activities to keep children interested and having fun.  I highly recommend it for just about anyone who is a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Better yet, they’re hosting Westercon next year, so it should be a blast.

Kal’s MALCon 2016 Schedule

Here’s my schedule for Myths and Legends Con 2016:

Kal Spriggs (7 panels):
Fri, 9:00 PM-9:50 PM, Writing Combat in Science Fiction & Fantasy (Lawrence, KS)
Sat, 12:00 PM-12:50 PM, Get’r done: Fighting the Day Job (Helms Deep)
Sat, 1:00 PM-1:50 PM, Sympathetic Villains (Helms Deep)
Sat, 4:00 PM-4:50 PM, How to Kill Your Best Friends (And Get Away With It) (Lawrence, KS)
Sat, 8:00 PM-8:50 PM, Ow, My Spleen! (The Shire)
Sun, 9:00 AM-9:50 AM, Mixed Genre Authors and Writing (Kings Landing)
Sun, 1:00 PM-1:50 PM, Humor in the Modern Action Story (The Shire)

It’s going to be a busy convention, should be a great time!

Free Short Stories

Because of Myths and Legends Con in Denver this weekend I’ll have Look to the Stars and The Freeport Mutineers available for free.

Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs
Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs

Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.

Look to the Stars is a short story in the Shadow Space Universe

The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs
The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs

Young Midshipman Wachter is about to face the rope.

Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.

Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing. Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.

Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.

 

Kal’s Convention Schedule Update

A quick update to my convention schedule.

I’ll still be attending MALCon here in Denver from 12-14 August.  It’s right around the corner so if you’re in Colorado, I highly recommend attending!

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend Dragon Con this year.  The expense of travel and hotels is too much.

I’ll now be attending Honor Con in Raleigh, NC from 28-30 October.  I’m really looking forward to that one and I’m excited to attend.  It’s a military science fiction convention, so if you’re in the area you should check it out.

Because Honor Con is the same weekend as Mile Hi Con, I won’t be able to be at both places at once.  I will no longer be attending Mile Hi Con.

That’s all for now, I’ll keep you posted on further changes to my schedule.

 

2016 Liberty Con in Review

Liberty Con is here and gone, so fast that I only now realized I forgot to take pictures.  I took notes, but I’ll apologize in advance if I leave out someone’s name or forget who said what, as I said, it was a busy weekend.

The first day was a bit of a blur to me, meeting new people and seeing friends again.  I was on an excellent Fantasy panel with Rob Howell, Jeremy Hicks, S Andrew Swann, and Michael Ault.  While a lot of the focus was on what each author wrote, there was also a lot of discussion about what we like to read and the trends we’re seeing in Fantasy.  There were a lot of great perspectives, especially since we had a variety of writers there who write everything from humor to grim fantasy.  It was interesting to note that those authors focused more on humor don’t feel the need to “ground” their fantasy (sort of in a Prachett style of writing) versus those writing epic fantasy at least want a developed system of rules for internal consistency.

Saturday was a very busy day for me.  I was on a Military Science Fiction panel with Doug Dandridge, Charles Gannon, Peter Grant, and James Young.  We had a hard backstop of the Baen travelling slideshow, so we knew we’d be run over if we ran over on time.  It was a fun discussion, which started out on the topic of whether you need to be an actual combat veteran to write combat in books.  Peter Grant made a good point in that it’s essential to fully understand it, but I felt (and I still do), that it’s not necessary to write good military science fiction.   I think we have plenty of examples of excellent authors who don’t have that experience, but they do talk with those who do and they draw on research to do it well.

After that I had a Space Opera panel with Doug Dandridge, Julie Cochrane, Daniel Hoyt, and Mark Wandrey.  This was a panel that went off the rails a bit as we ended up discussing topics like Game of Thrones.  I’ve got to give props to Dan Hoyt because he did a fantastic job herding cats to try to keep us on topic (especially since he didn’t know he was moderator until he got there).  Special thanks goes to the audience, since we were scheduled opposite to the Baen Travelling Slideshow, thanks all of you for showing up!

I attended a couple of panels Saturday, one on the Noir genre with Larry Correia and several other authors.  I came in a bit late but it was a fun discussion, particularly as they went into cross-genre blending such as in Dresden Files and Grimnoir Chronicles.

The last part of Saturday I was at the Mad Scientist panel.  It was fun, though I think we needed a bit more mad science!  There were a few people there who seemed too limited in their scope, if you ask me.  Dream big, right?

Sunday I didn’t have any panels, but I got to meet several people, both readers and authors, and got a chance to pitch the idea for my YA novel to Toni Weisskopf (Much kudos to Toni, she’s an amazing woman with the patience of a saint and the business acumen of a railroad tycoon).  I was scheduled for a reading in the afternoon, but unfortunately with the time of my flight and the drive to Atlanta, I wasn’t able to do that.

All in all, it was a great convention.  I’m already missing it and I’m preregistered for it next year!

 

Kal’s Liberty Con 2016 Schedule

I’ll be at Liberty Con this year.  Here’s my schedule:

Day Time Name of Event
Fri 03:00PM Swords and Sorcery: From Light to Epic Fantasy and All Things In-Between
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
Fri 07:00PM Author’s Alley (Cordova, Monroe, Spriggs, Weyand)
Sat 11:00AM Autograph Session (Buettner, Clemmer, Hicks, Spriggs)
Sat 01:00PM Perspectives on Military SF
Sat 02:00PM What’s defines Space Opera?
Sat 09:00PM Author’s Alley (Antonelli, Braker, Carpenter, Spriggs)
Sun 10:00AM Kaffeeklatsch
Sun 11:00AM Author’s Alley (Braker, Hicks, Spriggs, Weston)
Sun 02:00PM Reading: Julie Cochrane & Kal Spriggs

Since I’ll have a 3 hr drive from the airport and I’ll need to get a rental car, I’m really hoping I don’t have any delays flying in on Friday morning.

Starfest 2016 in Review

Eshka Jedi at Starfest
Eshka Jedi at Starfest

Starfest is come and gone, gee that was quick!

They held it at the Crown Plaza Hotel near DIA this year, which was a new venue.  The new location was sort of a mixed bag, while I felt there was plenty more room for vendors, artists, and media, there was a bit less room for panels (which is a big part of why I attend!)

That said, it was a fun convention.  I was supposed to have three panels: Ow! My Spleen, Where Did This Chocolate Come From?,  and Combat in SF and Fantasy.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the panel on Chocolate, though I heard it went well.

The Ow! My Spleen panel discussed injuries of characters, always a fun topic.   While I didn’t get everyone’s name from the panel, I was moderating, also participating was Sam Knight and  Chaz Kemp.  Both of them had some great contributions about what horrible things to inflict upon characters (all in the name of plot, story, and character growth, of course).

The Combat in SF and Fantasy panel went excellent as well.  We had Johnny Woodard, Betsy Dornbush, Chaz Kemp, and Courtney Farrel and one other author whose name I couldn’t remember (I think I have his business card, he had great things to say).  We had a very full room, with great discussions and I really want to thank Johnny Woodard and Courtney Farrel for their excellent expertise that they brought to the subject and it was awesome to have Chaz Kemp with an artist’s perspective.

All in all, I really enjoyed Starfest and I hope to be back next year!

Costumes at Starfest
Costumes at Starfest