Romantic Times from the Eyes of Cupcake Man

So it seems that some from Romantic Times have decided to rename me. Don’t worry, I have no intention of rebranding my blog, my social networking or the reviews. That said, when passing me one morning, an author whose name is escaping (and whose card I haven’t come across yet in unpacking) said she was going to be calling me Cupcake Man from now on. I thought Zombie Joe was pretty memorable, but for convention purposes… sure. Not to mention, though the numbers are starting to swing more our direction we men were sorely the minority at the con. They rebranded a couple of our restrooms as women’s restrooms.

the view from our room at RT

the view from our room at RT

The same morning I was called Cupcake Man, I had also tweeted about being incognito. I was wearing my Wayland tour shirt and denim. Not a piece of zombie identification on me. Of course by the end of the tweet I was entering in the epiphany that I was one of twenty dudes at the convention, so there was no hiding. That said, I still found it the same as my first one in 2010 – helpful, inspiring and a lot of fun.

I would have more photos (and may once I collect them all), but during most of the costumed events my wife wasn’t bringing her camera. Hell, most of the time she wasn’t wearing her glasses, so it wouldn’t have mattered if she did. I will make it a point to collect up the photos from the camera and our phones. I am a bit more liberal with what I will call a decent picture.

Today I am going for a quick teaser of my week in Kansas City, so… some highlights:

  • Sarah Rees Brennan and Heather Brewer calling Rachel Caine a robot. Sarah even proceeded to pummel her with a holographic bookmark. (For the record, the bookmark is awesome.)
  • Nicole Peeler announcing on a panel that Jeaniene Frost is a “pinch hitter.” (Meaning she writes from both the male and female point of view.)
  • Nicole then telling the assembled attendees that Jackie Kessler goes from men to boys. (Meaning she writes male point of view in adult novels and YA.)
  • Seeing just how many people (honestly, mostly women due to the format of the con) will accept food from someone before they even know their name.
  • Getting to know a lot of new people due to reminding them they took food from someone who looks like me before they even knew who I was.
  • Steampunk Tea: Really, what more needs to be said here? Lots of awesome stuff given away. A lot of people cursing that they weren’t born closer to the same day as Nicola Tesla.
  • Met up with the other reviewers on Wicked Lil Pixie. Ironically I still haven’t met Sahara. It didn’t help that I have no idea what she looks like.
  • Seeing a lot of Karina Cooper. Really she is as effervescent as they come, and you can’t pass up saying hello when you pass by. And with her planning to attend TeslaCon whenever possible, it just makes sense to remain in contact with her.
  • Asking Diana Rowland to sign my copy of Carniepunk. (No, she didn’t write a story in that one.) I told her to just sign Mark Henry’s story. He wouldn’t mind.
  • Jaye Wells telling people her goals were to not cry and to not cuss. She didn’t cuss, and almost made it without crying. (Sorry to out you Jaye.)
  • Tiffany Reisz asking “who gives out awards for smut?” during her acceptance speech.
  • Diana Rowland thanking the inventor of Spanx during her acceptance speech.
  • Meljean Brooke announcing to the crowd she was a dork. (Really one of the most touching speeches of the night.)
  • Karina Cooper explaining how her husband sold his Magic cards to pay for her trip to accept her award. (Not to mention being one of the ten people there that likely got what that meant. Me, John Scalzi and like two to four other urban fantasy authors.)
  • Karina Cooper’s story of screaming when she found out she won. I won’t embarrass her or her husband by retelling the whole thing. Too bad nobody records all those speeches.
  • Getting seated randomly next to Andrew Schaffer during the anniversary dinner.
  • …and together they fight crime!
  • Discovering a preopening band for Necrospank5000 and Laser Vaginas. (Pew! Pew!)

More will follow later. Maybe some more expanded stories. Possibly some awesome new books I picked up. Who knows?

Attention RT People – Cupcakes at the Bar

Our 1st fully decorated Iron Druid batch.

Our 1st fully decorated Iron Druid batch.

I hope this gets the attention of anyone attending Romantic Times this coming week. There was discussion of cupcakes at the bar. I would call it cupcakes and coffee, but realistically it could very well be cupcakes and hooch. Or cupcakes with hooch in them. Or both. But it will be happening.

My plan is that we will be there by 5:00 on Wednesday. So realistically I am thinking between 6:00 and the disco party that night (or 9:00 for those keeping score) is a perfect time. And yes, we have costumes for the party so we are totally going to the disco event.

You'll have to ask Dakota the theme of that cupcake...

You’ll have to ask Dakota the theme of that cupcake…

What I am looking for is an approximate idea of who all would be showing up for some cupcakes, drinks and discussion. Our current cupcake tote carries 24 cupcakes (assuming we don’t go crazy with the decorations on them), so if I need to plan for a blister pack I need to know as soon as possible. So please comment below if you plan to join us.

Also, I am looking towards what to make. If you have any requests as to type, add that in to your comment. I will say that this early in the growing season Hornicorns would be tough to make. Fresh sweet corn isn’t an easy commodity to come by right now. (Sorry Phin.)

My list of current book-themed cupcakes are as follows:

  • Hornicorn – sweet corn cupcake with candied bacon topped with a maple cream cheese or white chocolate cream cheese frosting.
  • Trampire – a hard cider cupcake with a cider and apple compote filling and cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
  • Ryzkahl (spicy demon lord) – an ancho chili devils food cake with a cayenne ganache filling and a white chocolate cream cheese frosting.
  • Velveteen – a black velvet (grey really) cupcake with a white chocolate ganache filling topped with a grey cream cheese frosting.
  • Iron Druid – a stout chocolate cupcake filled with an Irish whiskey ganache and topped with a Baileys frosting.
  • Snugglepumpkin – a pumpkin cupcake made with honey and topped with a honey yogurt drizzle. (Safe for dogs and humans. When not making for dogs, replace drizzle with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.)
  • The True Cupcake – (nothing to do with the book, more to do with the author’s tastes) devils food cake with a peanut butter cup baked into it frosted with a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting and garnished with a couple of Reeces Pieces™.

I have a collection of other recipes as well. Those are just the book related ones. I think that is all of them anyhow. It’s tough to keep them all in my head.

Comment below and we’ll see you in Kansas City.

What I’m Reading, or The Reason I Have Been Silent Lately

According to the stats section of WordPress, not many of you have been checking out the 52 Weeks page. Towards the bottom of the page will explain somewhat why I have been vacant lately. Though it is a bit more involved than that. I have several new projects that add onto that particular one.

52 Weeks started out as a way for me to justify a book a week for a year. I aimed for 50 novels, giving myself a two week vacation. Realistically though, vacation would be a time when I would catch up on reading – unless we planned something that keep me moving too much to sit and read. You get the idea though.

In checking out the 52 Weeks page you’ll see that I am averaging just under two novels a week. Partially that is due to an overflowing TBR Mountain (seriously, I had to add shelves into Casa de Zombie), but also due to a couple of reading and reviewing projects. If you pop over to Beyond Her Book with Barbara Vey you’ll see my name pop up in the blurbs from her readers from time to time. The irony there is that my helping her with the reading she doesn’t have time for is having a similar affect on me, which lead to the project that affords me the motivation to read the books I from my usual pool of authors (for the most part).

wlpI have started all stealth-like as a blogger on Wicked Lil Pixie reviewing books. These are a different pool of books and are full reviews as opposed to blurbs. I think part of my stealth entry into it is that the page listing on the site for the reviewers is entitled “The Ladies.” I am holding firm to not taking a photo in drag to post to the page with my bio. No matter what my wife says. And even if she tricks me into it, I am not shaving off my beard!

Additionally I am working programming for Odyssey Con this year with Paul. I’ll even be on some panels this time. Not to mention we have a couple of my pool of go-to authors as guests this year. Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, and Alex Bledsoe, author of the Eddie Lacrosse series, Memphis Vampires, the Tufa books and more.

And finally there is the work for Festa Italia this year. I am organizing the Food Vendors this time around. That sounds a lot more time consuming than it is. With my father being the chair, I know this one will run smoothly. Not to mention my timeline and duties are solidly laid out.

Any Madison area folks (even Milwaukee area ones) should take a look at the pair of events listed above. Both should be pretty exciting events. And who can resist Italian food, music and games?

Looking at all of that, you might wonder when I have time for writing. So do I. Seriously last week was filled with 15 hour days. Without writing. This week is a little easier, but I am still looking at 1-2 days like that every week through June. I am shuffling things around as much as I can so that I can have Under the Hood up and available before Romantic Times as well as have a pair of polished manuscripts ready to go as soon as I hit Kansas City.

Eat. Sleep. Day Job. Review. Write.

That is pretty much what my life looks like until the end of the summer. Just about in time for NaNoWriMo. Though I may do a rewrite for Camp NaNoWriMo next month. Not sure.

Insanity, thy name be Zombie Joe. 😉

Things Gets Messy at Casa de Zombie

Well not literally. Okay, so yeah… literally. But that’s not the point. My life is collecting up a rather harsh amount of virtual clutter right now. I am getting more done each week than I ever did last year, but there is more piling up. I am working on a better form of organization to keep everything together. Or, as the cats on the interwebs machines say, “Time management. I haz it.”

Or at least I will.

An expanded explanation of the news in my corner of the world will help explain the virtual clutter I have been categorizing. It begins with Beyond Her Book with Barbara Vey. While in New Orleans for Authors After Dark, I ran into Barbara. Which is to say, while walking back to the hotel from a trip to Cafe du Monde I told my wife, “I think that was Barbara Vey walking the other way with some of the authors from the con.” I noted this one Twitter, and she answered me back that she made a last minute trip down there and we should meet up for coffee or such. Since then I have taken on the task of being one of her readers. I read books and audiobooks and give her a blurb for her Publishers Weekly blog. This gives her someone to read the stuff that is outside of the genres her normal readers take on, and really aren’t you all interested in what a guy thinks about paranormal romance novels?

As a side note, while this particular gig is awesome, it had brought me to a new realization. (Listen up here Audible and other audiobook publishers.) Sending reviewers CDs is nice, don’t get me wrong. But honestly it is difficult to load those onto my iPod in such a way to make it easy for me to go from my condo, to my truck to my office while seamlessly listening to the piece. You’d think there would be a way to provide us with a download code that we could plug into audible and add the book to our library that way. Plus, you know, less shipping costs. Realistically I do know that programming that into their system will cost money, but it will save money each and every year after that. Just a suggestion.

Also I have taken on submitting full reviews to Wicked Lil Pixie. I’m not listed on the web site, but aside from the fact that I was just offered a chance to do reviews, their list of reviewers is literally “The Ladies.” No way I fit into that listing. Not even if I shaved my beard off. That said, there will be one or two a month going up live there soon. Which is to say that I have a couple of books heading my way, otherwise known as even more books than are already sitting on my blurb pile. Though I have to say, I do like getting a bit more into the review of the book. And maybe opening up a little snark here and there.

On the upside of things, I am well on my way to hitting 100 books this year. Over January I was at 7 or 8 by the end of the month. The downside of it is to meet that I spent less time writing. Which is where I am falling into line with honing my time management skills down to a razors edge.

I have Under the Hood, my charity novel, that I need to finish with the editing so that I can work on formatting it for ePub and print. I also have to sit down with my wife and her friend that pledged to do the cover art. This is where I have dropped off the map the most.

Additionally I have taken on a critique partner. (Don’t worry, I am going through the piece you sent me.) So I am putting aside time to read that. Which includes making comments and suggestions as well.

And finally there are the festivals/conventions. This doesn’t even cover the ones I am simply attending. Though I am bringing cupcakes to Romantic Times since we’re driving to that one. And catering cupcakes to a cookout in the area while I’m there. But that is an entirely different story. This one involves Festa Italia in Madison. As part of the Italian Workman’s Club, I am working on the committee planning the event. Specifically the food tables/vendors. Oh, and marketing (though that is with a number of other guys).

But wait! There’s more!

Odyssey Con 2013. April 12-14 this year. Our guests of honor (literary) are now set and confirmed. Alex Bledsoe (a local author) and Kevin Hearne are confirmed for this con. Both are in my short list of favorites. In addition to attending, I am helping the programming guy with panels as he moved “up north” this past year. To that end, I am organizing some local focused events and media for the convention. Hopefully it will work out as awesome as it is sounding in my head, but we’ll see.

wingedmonkeyNow between cooking, cleaning (though honestly my wife does more of the cleaning than I do), baking and making sure my dog gets his medication twice a day… that is a whole lot of work. And that is before you consider the full time job. I guess what I’m saying is I need to organize my clutter in my condo so I can virtually reduce my clutter to maximize my time management. And hope the whole deal doesn’t turn me into a social media version of the flying monkeys from Oz. Though, to be honest, that last part was simply to attract the people looking for bits on monkeys. And so I can justify the graphic because… y’know… monkeys. 🙂

Post-Convention/Pre-Camp NaNo

Coming out of the long weekend of events with WisCon, I am looking ahead to a month of Camp NaNoWriMo. Starting in June I’ll be trying to post daily with updates on the story. This will give people more chances to have themselves written into the story. If I am looking to name someone, I may give special rush orders for people to bid lower amounts to sponsor characters. But that will wait for at least another day or two.

For now I am looking back to the panels from the weekend and realizing the things I want to plan for in the next year or two, including a retreat to Taos Toolbox. Honestly I would love to go to Clarion, but six weeks is a little long for me. The kicker will be the tuition (of course), so we’ll see.

I also took a serious look at my books. I probably picked up eight arcs from the charity table choosing only those that I really wanted to read. I also picked up about four or five books from the dealers table or the independent book stores downtown. In one case I used my iPad during a panel to purchase the ebook version as a print copy was not available in town. So probably 12-15 books total. I grabbed less than Scott did. By a lot.

The difference in our numbers of books taken home didn’t change the fact that even at a dozen books, that is at least two months worth of reading for me. Maybe a bit more for my week long camping trip – but I also need to be writing during that. With Change Write Now done, I am focusing on Writing Streaks. To that end I’m going to slot time in the morning for writing and time at night for reading. At least an hour a night. Writers have to read what they write, so I need to balance my strengths out more. This also means tagging what I read through Goodreads and the 52 Weeks section of this blog.

There were some definite highlights to the convention for me. I spotted two different dopplegangers during the course of the con. One turned out to be a hoax as Mary Robinette Kowal made a day trip to the con. The other was a true doppleganger as Lela Gwenn didn’t make a day trip to the con and her double was devoid of tattoos. Of course lately I’ve been seeing a number of doubles at local coffee shops and the like. Hell, one of the regulars at the coffee shop I write at looks like Victoria Dahl’s older sister. (In other words looks similar, but is definitely older.)

I did wind up skipping the Food as Fandom panel, for a craft related panel. It would have been interesting to see what examples they had. You know, being that I have four or five different cupcake recipes based on book series and The Snugglepumpkin in the works for Kevin Hearne’s character Oberon. I’m stating this now to hold myself accountable, but the Snugglepumpkin will be good for people and safe for dogs to eat as well. (Learning to cook without sugar is fun, kids!)

I attended some great panels on self publishing and crowdsourcing with some really excellent one liners. One of them that I remember (albeit not verbatim) is “Your book is your beautiful baby and editing it yourself is like killing your darling child. Then performing the autopsy. After a couple of weeks of letting it sit.” Obviously they were in strong support of having someone else give your work an editing pass. I tend to agree. In related news during that panel the “Contortionists” panel was next door recreating some of the cover art poses that Jim C. Hines did in his infamous blog posts. One of our panelists even tried one, after the panelist next to her said that they sounded like they were having a lot more fun than we were.

The Self Publishing panel mentioned above gave me two of my new books purchases from this weekend. One was Kater Cheek’s book Seeing Things. Although she was the panelist to attempt the spec fiction cover pose, her twisted sense of humor told me that her book would appeal to me no matter what the genre. Also, she was writing Young Adult Paranormal, so bonus. (Also, she signed my copy before leaving the con, which was great as she was not going to be at the sign out.) The other came from the moderator Allison Moon’s debut Lunatic Fringe. Again, a similar messed up sense of humor that reminded me a lot of the authors I really appreciate and enjoy reading no matter what genre. Also her lesbian werewolves should mesh pretty close to at least one of the characters I’m working with currently.

Another high point of the con happened after the con, but is related to the books above. I couldn’t find a copy of Lunatic Fringe anywhere in Madison, so during a panel I ordered the Nook version online. I waited around at the sign out to see if she’d show (after getting my Tiptree Award Winning book signed). When she did, I asked if she’d add her name to the signatures on the back of my Nook. We talked for a bit and I left to get lunch and go home to sleep. I woke to her tweeting how the highlight of the sign out was signing the back of my Nook. It’s good to not feel like quite so big a geek getting your hardware signed by authors when they’re as thrilled by it as you are.

I could go on for another day or so talking about the great time I had at the rest of the con, but the majority of it can be boiled down to getting together with people that have similar interests and gushing about books and writing. There’s truly something to be said for being able to Freak Out with Your Geek Out. Each an every person I interacted with, talked to, shared a meal with or simply listened to on a panel gave me something to take away from the con. Including a story that ranks right up there with the “funniest autopsy I ever saw” one. I leave you with a quote from Cassie Alexander, author of the debut novel Nightshifted and moderator of the Addiction in Fiction panel. “We had to amputate both of his legs. The gross part was…” (And yes, I totally bought a copy of that book as well. And yes, it is signed to Zombie Joe.)

Recharging the Batteries

Honestly I never really got the whole “recharging the batteries” thing. Catching up on sleep was another one that eluded me. It just doesn’t make sense. After this weekend, I may have changed over to Team Recharging the Batteries. I’m still fully against the whole catching up on sleep bit though.

To set the picture you need only look back at the blogs from the past month or so. Aside from the bleak number of them, you’ll see that most of them are about the political landscape of Wisconsin right now and my reactions to it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash it here and kick the long-dead horse. The single point I will add is the bit of gallows humor I have added to my conversations these past couple of weeks.

Not only did Governor Walker remove collective bargaining rights and introduce all sorts of programs that don’t really benefit Wisconsin, but he also publicly executed my muse during a press conference.

Fine, maybe not gallows humor to you, but I see my muse as a living breathing thing. And right now, if she’s still alive her mouth has been taped over with duct tape. Thus, I have lost the voices of the two characters I have been working with that are the least like me as any I have ever tried.

Furthermore, most of my reading time has been spent on newspaper articles, bills and legal statues. This is fine if you’re a lawyer or politician, but not so good if you are attempting to use your little free time to write stories. Hell it took me almost as much time to read Aftertime as it did the book before that one and I liked Aftertime!

So this past weekend I took a road trip to Missouri. Originally it was for a stop at Recruits Gaming Con in Lee’s Summit to compete in the Highlander TCG Regionals. So my friend Josh and I planned for the trip. With the weekend off, my son Nick came along as well – which lead to a much more packed truck.

So Highlander was the initial plan as Nick’s 40k army wasn’t fully painted yet. We included in a potential coffee meetup with some Twitter authors I had met at RT and at least 1 I had not. This being Kansas City area, apparently one cannot do coffee, one must do BBQ. There’s a whole set of statues on the books covering the regulations and sanctions.

Let me just say this… meeting for BBQ instead of coffee… best… idea… EVER! Which is to say that the light to turn into the restaurant’s parking lot was the longest light ever with the smoke smell reaching across the way to us. After 9+ hours in the truck it was damn tempting to just blow through the light. The second best thing about the plan for BBQ? The Starbucks that was in the same mall-area.

For the record, I damn near killed Josh as he kept up with me shot-to-shot on espresso.

After one hell of a dinner and some awesome conversation we grabbed the coffee and headed back to Lee’s Summit. Although I firmly believe there is some fae magic surrounding Independence, MO as we got lost both on the way to the BBQ place AND on the way back. With a map. And a GPS.

We checked in to the con (a small con held on the gym floor of the local high school), signed up for badges ($5 for all three of us as I was the only non-student) and picked up the single cards Josh had ordered from the guy running the event (who also is the only guy selling single cards for the game). A quick jaunt to the hotel and we were deck building until I was falling asleep in the cards.

Saturday was a blur of cards, coffee and three liters of water each. The highlights were winning the Sealed Championship and Nick ranking up in the prize pool (top eight) in Constructed. Between the events and the championships, Nick had plenty to talk about to his mother and our gaming group when we got home.

By the time we finally made it home (just in time for the Sunday Gaming Group’s field trip to go see Sucker Punch) I was tired, sore, but feeling more refreshed than I have all month long. Not even the stories of all hell breaking loose (politically) on the Friday I was en route to MO could get me down.

Honestly even though I didn’t have enough time to have a decent piece to share at tonight’s Writing Group, I am starting to hear the whispers in my ear again. Those pesky little characters are coming back out and convincing me to start telling lies on paper again. The plan is to do so Wednesday night (after Encounters) and get a good head of steam going so that I can make it out to the Zombie Protest March on Saturday without losing the will to finish the story.

In short, count me as a newly committed member of Team Recharging the Batteries.

Romantic Times 2010

I have made several attempts on blogging about Romantic Times so far. All of them seem too drawn out and not really to the point. In light of this what I am giving you now are the highlights – a bullet list of the event from my decaying eyes.

Tuesday Evening Tweetup

We had to really push through on the driving to make it in time for the Tweetup, and had to shuttle to the convention hotel early to be there in time, but it was worth it. Finally had the chance to meet the likes of Heather Osborn, Mark Henry, Dakota Cassidy, Jaye Wells and Michele Bardsley in person. We also were able to reveal Mark Henry’s special “Amanda and Wendy” cupcakes. And yes, there are photos of several authors doing wicked, wicked things with them.

Wednesday Morning Breakfast

I wound up playing Twitter-Tag (that’s right, we invented a new game) with Diana Rowland because we had both decided to sit down at the Big Bar on Two and as I did not want to disturb her when she was working, I sent a tweet stating I was two tables away. She tweeted she was going to meet me at the coffee place and took off. Basically it was like an Abbott and Costello bit – with coffee. Mark Henry came down saying he was watching the whole thing and claiming we were idiots. Of course he was the one enthralled with the show. Breakfast was well worth skipping the panel for RT virgins. I learned way more about the con and definitely had more fun.

Dinner Wednesday Night

I decided to skip the Caveman Stripper Show and shuttled back to the hotel to have dinner with my wife. The dinner was relaxing and I was in bed before 1am (unlike most of the League). I was however able to catch the various tweets and blurry pictures from the snarking that happened at the Ellora’s Cave event. Yet another reason not to go – even though I work for an Athletic Department whose colors are crimson and white, I had no red attire with me for the week.

Thursday Morning Shuttle

A young lady who was there as a reader was commenting on her biggest wish for the con was to get her book signed by Mario Acevedo. I was able to give her the schedule for the League at Club RT and pimp out the passports. I told her the passports would also give her a wonderful reading list if she liked the Felix Gomez series.

Thursday Lunch

I had decided I would sit down at the food court for lunch solo and enjoy some semi-quiet time. After finishing my lunch I was sitting in the food court when Diana Rowland walked up, plopped Creepy Doll in my lap and announced she was going to get food. If you have not encountered the legend of RT that is Creepy Doll, just know that she is creepy. On the upside I did get to meet and lunch with people like Diana, Jaye Wells, NK Jemisin and John Scalzi. We compared RT to the more standard scifi convention that John and I were familiar with and had a conversation that started with “the funniest autopsy I ever saw was…”

Friday Evening at “That $2 Vodka Place”

While the bar was called Brothers, it was from that point on being referred to as “That $2 Vodka Place.” Honestly I am surprised that this didn’t overtake the Char Bar as the League’s hangout of choice. That may be due to the fact that Diana brought the Creepy Doll out with her. There is photographic proof on Nicole Peeler’s blog! Additionally this trip was historic in that I almost made Jaye Wells cry, something not even Mario Acevedo was able to accomplish.

Friday Evening at the Big Bar

Sitting and talking with Diana Rowland, Heather Brewer, Kasey Mackenzie, Blake and Shannon Butcher. It was fun as these were the people I had things in common with. I was not the only gamer at the table. Additionally we had Creepy Doll shenanigans (Heather and Diana hid it in Jackie Kessler’s bed since she was scared of it). We even have a picture of Jim Butcher sitting with Creepy Doll on his lap looking very concerned. It was also cool as it was we started the evening by Heather, Diana and I taking a walk over to the Starbucks for coffee and then trying to make the people milling about the arena to look up at the imaginary thing in the sky we were pointing at. (Note: We got two people to do it.)

Saturday Book Fair

I managed to get in and head straight back to the corner where they had the tables set up for Charline Harris and Jim Butcher. I know, ironic I was about to wait in line to get a book signed by someone I was sitting at the bar with the night before. I made it into Charline’s line before they started handing out numbers. For Jim Butcher I was in fairly early, but not before Shannon had sold out of books. Which left me to get her books the old fashioned (and unsigned) way.

Saturday Book Fair Mrs. Zombie Edition

My wife’s high points to the day were not only getting my copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Dead Tossed Waves signed by Carrie Ryan, but also when I went to get a copy of Scent of Shadows from Vicki Pettersson. Having Carrie Ryan recognize Zombie Joe was pretty cool, but it was funny as hell when Vicki Pettersson thrust a camera at my wife and asked to take a picture for her. Keep in mind of the thousands of people in the book fair, most of them that I knew were behind tables. Which makes the odds of Liz Darvill walking up behind me to give me bunny ears at just that moment pretty damned astounding. I hear the photo is hilarious. (Note: I am about as photogenic as an autopsy table, so it was likely for the best it was funny.) 😉

Saturday Night

Rock Band, hooch and cake. Well at the late night literature reading. With how much they were talking about their love of cupcakes, I was surprised that Vicki Pettersson and Angela James were not there, but the entire thing was a blast. My wife was even threatened with physical violence by Michelle Rowen, aka Miss Sunshine.

Wrap Up

I really have to thank everyone I mentioned here as well as all of the others I met up with at the convention. Especially all of the League of Reluctant Adults – even the “honorary” ones. Even if I did not spend much time with every member of the League there, the group as a whole helped me to feel like that was where I was supposed to be.

I can’t promise I will have the time or the money to make next year, but if 2012 is really in NOLA, then you know that Mrs. Zombie and I will be there! And this time she will be getting a spouses badge so we can make all the parties. Cupcakes will have to wait until we figure out which is the next one we are making and how we are getting there.

Last Minute Add

Damn, how could I have forgotten this. Saturday night Michele Bardsley gave me and my wife the key to the suite so that we could get everything put away for the party that night and start setting up. Afterwards, we couldn’t find her, so I was joking about getting t-shirts made saying, “I went to RT and all I got was Michele Bardsley’s room key!”

The Duality of Zombies

This is the first in a couple of blogs I am going to write that give a glimpse of what it means to be Zombie Joe. A little peek of what is going on in my head, if you will. And yes, it can be a rather dark and scary place in there. Don’t worry, I keep the bits that hold all the intimate knowledge of the undead behind locked doors for everyone’s safety. It is kind of like The Forest of Hands and Teeth in there – minus the teenage girl… and the breaks in the fences from time to time.

See what I mean? A little dark and scary? But all that aside, let’s start the look inside my noggin with the events from this past weekend at C2E2, shall we?

Cons for me are some of the best times but also some of the worst. Cons are when I am in my element. Gaming and comic conventions are things I have been working for over 15 years. I know how they work. Ironically, I am also not comfortable around large groups of people normally. It is sort of like being claustrophobic, but it is the crush of people that gets me. At the same time, even when I am there as a fan I feel a need to act like I did when I was working there – professional and nearly invisible. At least until such time as I was needed and then I would become visible. This also explains why I do not have the autographs or photos with people like Adrian Paul or James Doohan. Confused yet? Welcome to the first view of the hurricane that is my thought process.

An example would be at C2E2 this weekend. I was standing and waiting to talk to Ben Templesmith. I had spent a lot of time hanging out with him when I was working for a friend at the last Wizard World Texas. Partially this was due to the fact that he is a social guy and likes to talk while he works. More so though, he has a very similar personality to mine and paid me for filming the Art Jam that weekend in tequila shots. I was not sure if I had facial hair at that con, so I was not sure if he would recognize me. Thus, I had to swallow the socially awkward feeling of walking up and saying, “Hey Ben, remember me at all?” Comically the fact that I wasn’t wearing a baseball cap is what threw him. I think he may have believed I was balding since I never really took it off.

A bit more along the lines of being invisible though was during the chunk of time when I had arranged to meet up with Marjorie M Liu at the Marvel booth. I follow her on Twitter and “grandfathered” her in as a local author due to the fact she studied her undergrad in Appleton and law school at the UW Madison. She offered to let me bug her between seminars and get my books signed since she was not doing a formal signing on Saturday. When I walked up she was talking with some people. My wife didn’t understand why I was standing there quietly waiting for them to be done. I had noticed that all of them were wearing either guest passes, exhibitor or press passes. My instincts told me to be invisible until the professionals were done talking. Again, I had to press back the socially awkward thoughts when she was no longer around other people and introduce myself. Worse yet, try introducing yourself to a published author with, “Hi, Zombie Joe.” (Remind me to thank Aaron for introducing me to everyone at Wizard World Texas as Zombie Joe…)

Speaking of Texas, anyone remember the story that ended with me telling a security guy with “the wand” at Midway airport, “Sir, I am a gamer. I could carry this tub over to the x-ray machine singing zipadeedoodah and not be embarassed.” Here is a touch of irony for you. I totally could do that. And yet still live in fear of making an ass of myself in front of published authors and artists. Welcome to the duality of being Zombie Joe – the freedom to stand in the middle of a busy exhibit hall at GenCon yelling “Scooby Doobie Doo” at the top of my lungs three times, but the hindsight to think, “Don’t fuck up your chances at becoming published.”

I really should end this with giving a word of thanks to a few people. Ben Templesmith for being snarky as hell to me once he recognized me reminding me why I liked him in the first place and for personalizing a couple of prints for me. That made a friend of mine very happy this week. Marjorie Liu for agreeing to take a chunk of time in between panels to meet with someone named Zombie Joe she had never met in person to sign some books at chat – and for saying I would do just fine at Romantic Times. Also for saying, “You’re Zombie Joe, everyone knows Zombie Joe” while we were talking. That alone gives me ammo to make my wife roll her eyes at me for at least a week! And finally to the aforementioned wife – Mrs. Zombie (or Robin if you prefer). She took the trip with me to C2E2 even though she is not into comic books and is always trying to convince me to stop being that guy sitting on the sidelines pretending to be invisible. As if I guy my size can be missed – ignored, yes – missed, hardly.

Making the List and checking it twice…

So the general consensus that I am getting from people is that they are showing up to Columbus on the Tuesday (night) before Romantic Times opens. My reasoning for this was to determine if I go to the Monday-Tuesday writing track. With everyone else showing up later, I see less reason to spend the money. Besides, I want the cupcakes to be fresh when everyone gets there.

This particular blog I have set up to keep a running packing list. Here are the things I have to pick up and pack for the convention…

  • Rock Band (actually I just picked up the Band Hero kit for my Wii. Will rent/pick up Rock Band before I leave)
  • Grey Goose (Stacia and Mark’s all-time fave apparently)
  • Cupcakes (Zombie Cakes, RHSC Cakes, Reeces Pieces Cakes…)
  • Birthday Cake (if James comes with me)
  • Beer (for the lighter drinkers)
  • Several flats of water

If there is anything else you can think of that you want to have, I can pick it up if I can pack it in the QuinJetta (my Jetta wagon). Snacks for the Rock Band party, a particular type of booze. Let me know in the comments below.