Tag Archives: convention

An Emerald City Comic Con 2018 Debriefing

An ECCC 2018 Debriefing

At the beginning of March (a few weekends ago, now) I joined ninety-five thousand others in attending Emerald City Comic Con in my hometown of Seattle, Washington. This year the convention was extended to four days—I skipped Thursday but visited Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday. As is the tradition around here, it’s time for a convention debriefing.


🌤 Friday

I had to get a picture of, Android Cosplay's amazing take on classic Nightcrawler
Android Cosplay’s classic take on Nightcrawler

Friday started oddly but finished great. I learned a valuable lesson about con-attendee me—I need to have things to do. The one panel I wanted to attend was full, so I spent a good portion of the day poking around the show floor and getting the lay of the land. I swung by the tables of a few author friends, Lee French had a table, as did Matt Youngmark (Go buy their books!) and I managed to get a few pictures of some great cosplayers. (Including Android Cosplay’s classic take on Nightcrawler in the image on the left.)

Around 2 PM, I took a break and went home to get some writing done. Later, I returned met up with Lars Brown. Lars is a talented comic creator. (His Penultimate Quest series was one of my favorite graphic novels from 2016. You should buy them.) Together, we stuck around the con for a bit, then went to dinner. All in all, it was a relaxing—if not somewhat quiet—first day.


☀ Saturday

On Saturday I was joined by my friend and fellow author Steve Toutonghi (his new book Side Life is coming out in April, you should preorder it.) Together we hit up a bunch of panels. My favorite was probably Books as Flint: Using Graphic Novels to Spark Political Activism. It was a discussion on the power of stories and how graphic novels (this was a comic convention after all) can often bridge the gap and open conversations on topics such as politics, race, religion, misogyny, and bigotry. The panelists were passionate and knowledgeable, and everyone had great thoughts about inclusion and activism in the comic space. Lessons that could easily be applied to novels as well.

My friend (and very talented woodworker) Steve Leroux and his daughter as the Weighted Companion Cube and Chell from Valve's Portal series
My friend (and very talented woodworker) Steve Leroux and his daughter as the Weighted Companion Cube and Chell from Valve’s Portal series

Steve and I also attended Family-friendly Fantasy: Keeping It PG in the Age of Grimdark & Game of Thrones and another on called 10 Points to Slytherin: Why Good Fans Love Evil Characters. Both were excellent and much better than I expected and both sparked some good conversation.

Oh! While waiting for one panel, we randomly slipped into a conversation with Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things, y’all)—it was fun. Lots of kids with questions and Purser was kind, articulate, open, and honest. I’m generally not one for celebrity panels like that, but I found myself enjoying it.


🌧 Sunday

Writing the Future Panel - [Left to Right] Sylvain Neuvel, Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland, Annalee Newitz, Chuck Wendig, Jason Hough
Writing the Future Panel – [Left to Right] Sylvain Neuvel, Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland, Annalee Newitz, Chuck Wendig, Jason Hough
I had only two panels Sunday, and once again Steve Toutonghi joined me. Our first panel was What Do I Read Now (and Where Do I Start)? hosted by a group of local librarians, and the premise was they’d recommended books based on other properties people liked. It was fun. I did take issue when one of the panelists mentioned recommending only finished series. I bring this up because I feel it’s an important topic. The best way you can support a series as a fan is to read it as its published. Waiting until it’s finished can often kill a series. Publishers make decisions based on sales. So even if you want to wait until you have them all, buy the books (or check them out from your library) as they come out. It’ll make a big difference.

Our final panel of the weekend was Writing the Future (pictured above), and it was interesting. The room filled up fast, there was loads of audience participation. Afterward, a friend asked me if I had any new takeaways. My honest answer was no—I didn’t hear anything new or revelatory. If anything it was nice to see veteran writers reaffirm my choices.


Leaving ECCC—for now.
Leaving ECCC

So, that was my ECCC! There was so much I missed, and I felt like I had my schedule pretty well planned. Overall ECCC is excellently run and well managed—I appreciated all the hard work keeping the crowds organized. It’s not simple with that many people, and the staff and volunteers excelled at keeping everything under control. It’ll be interesting to see how it changes as the Seattle Convention Center expands.

I was thrilled I spent the time I did—next year I’m hoping to go longer and actually sit on a few panels and making do some gaming. (Gaming was sorely missing from my ECCC 2018 experience. Would have liked to play Mansions of Madness or jumped into a Call of Cthulhu session.) I also want to extend a big thank you to my friends Steve and Lars for hanging out with me, having friends willing to pal around made a big difference.

Thanks for a great convention Emerald City—it was a lot of fun.


Have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and read previous convention debriefing over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

It’s time for a convention debriefing! A few weekends ago I attended OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It was the smallest convention I’ve attended since 2014’s SpoCon. That isn’t necessarily bad; there are a lot of things to like about smaller conventions. Like Norwescon 40, I attended as a panelist and skipped running a table. So for the OryCon highlights, I think it’d be best to follow in Norwescon 40’s footsteps and break it down day by day.


⛅️ Friday, Day 1

Readings moved to 216
OryCon 39 Readings moved to 216

I left Seattle early and arrived at the hotel around noon. I checked it and saw a fellow author and pal of mine, Elliot Kay. (Go buy his books.) I had a few panels that day. The highlight was the discussion on Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting. My fellow panelists—Elliot among them—were fantastic. The room was full. The conversation was lively. I thought it was great.

Afterward, Elliot and I sat in on Economics in Fantasy. It’s something I thought about a lot while working on Coal Belly, so I was pleased to see it as a topic for discussion. Due to its location near the lobby, the room was a bit noisy, but the panelists were knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the discussion and debate.

I did a reading from The Stars Were Right later that evening. It went well, but it was sparsely attended. Readings had been moved last minute and were in an offshoot room adjacent to a suite. It’s wasn’t ideal. I think it cut down on foot traffic. It was the smallest reading I’ve done. But those who sat in the room seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun.

Afterward, I sat in on another reading and then a reader of mine, and I chatted about the Bell Forging Cycle for a long while. (Thanks, Michael.) I’m always happy to talk about Lovat and the Territories. An excellent way to end the night.


🌤 Saturday, Day 2

Most of my programming was later that day. I grabbed brunch with some good friends and wrote a bit before heading to my panels. The highlight of the day was a tossup between Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not? and Fantasy with Non-European settings.

The Nanowrimo panel was lightly attended but was moderated by another friend and fellow author, Lee French. (Go buy her books.) The audience was engaged. I enjoyed everyone’s questions and hearing other’s perspectives. One audience member decided to answer their phone while a panelist was talking and I can’t believe I have to write this: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s rude, and it disrupts others enjoyment of the convention. If you get a phone call, excuse yourself and go outside. It’s respectful to other attendees and the panelists.

Yup it's me, sitting on a panel.
It’s me! Sitting on Fantasy with Non-European settings panel

Fellow author Fonda Lee expertly moderated Fantasy with Non-European settings (go buy her new book, Jade City, I’m reading it right now and quite enjoying it.) The room was full, and I loved the panel. It was the highlight of my convention. The discussion was stimulating, and my fellow panelists were whipsmart. I learned a lot. I also came away with a ton of great reading recommendations.

My pal Sky came north from Portland, and he spent most of the day with me. Together we hit up some panels, one on Audiobook Technique Presentation with Matt Haynes which was great, and another titled Why Urban Fantasy Matters. It’s always good to have someone to discuss panels with afterward, and I’m grateful Sky came out, his presence made the day better.


🌥 Sunday, Day 3

View from my office for three days
View from my OryCon office for three days

My last day was a quiet one. Not uncommon for most conventions, attendees are exhausted and hungover, and things tend to move a bit slower. I only had one panel, Overturning the Cart: Revolution in Fantasy, and it was one of the first for the day. When my fellow panelists and I arrived, we were worried few would show up. But people began to trickle in. While small, it ended up being a pretty damn fine panel. The audience was engaged. The questions towards the end were great. It was a robust way to end my three days at Orycon.


I arrived home tired but feeling pretty good about the convention and the people I met. It’s proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday delayed this post, and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. If I’m invited back to OryCon, I’d like to get more involved. I’d also like to spend some time gaming. The Call of Cthulhu sessions always clashed with panels, and I wanted to sit in on a game, it’s been far too long.

Smaller conventions are more intimate than their larger siblings, the pace is a bit slower, it’s easier to find parking, panels don’t fill as fast, and attendees are more willing to stop and chat. You don’t feel like flotsam adrift in a sea of SFF-loving bodies. Instead, it’s more akin to a large gathering of friends hanging out and celebrating the stuff they love. You should go next year.

Thanks for a great convention OryCon. I had a blast.


Want to read about my past con experiences from this year? Check out my debriefings from Norwescon 40 and Lilac City Comicon 2017. I’m still planning out my 2018 schedule; have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

A Norwescon 39 Debriefing

This past weekend I attended Norwescon 39 in SeaTac, Washington. This was my second year attending and like last year I had an outstanding time. As readers of my blog know with all my convention appearances, I like to do a debriefing wherein I recap the events, share photos, and talk about what I experienced during the con. (Check out my debriefing from last year.)

It was a wild weekend. I ran my table, sold a bunch of books, sat on six panels, and did a reading. Somewhere in there, I tried to get some sleep. Thankfully, unlike last year, I was not alone for the fours days; this time, I had assistance. My friend and fellow author, Steve Tontounghi came out on Friday and Saturday helped me out at my table and talked to people about his forthcoming novel, Join. And my wife Kari-Lise stepped up and pitched in Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was fun hanging out with them both. With their help, there weren’t any eleven-hours-on-my-feet days for me to deal with like last year. That alone made my time significantly more enjoyable.

Okay, let’s get to those highlights:

Books, Readings, Swag, and More

  • Once again, I sold a ton of books. Many were to new readers who seemed excited about stories set in a post-Lovecraftian world, and many were to my current readers who loved my books and wanted more. It was wonderful hearing directly from so many people and very encouraging.
  • I love when folks stop by and tell me how much they love my covers. I take a lot of time and effort to make sure they are something you’ll be proud of having on your bookshelf and knowing you notice means a lot.
  • This was the first year I handed out badge ribbons. I brought along three: Roader, Shambler, and Caravan Master (the rare one). I made a bet with my buddy Ace that he wouldn’t be able to collect all three. (I only allowed people to draw once.) He won. *grumble grumble* It was fun, and I think it might become a thing for everyone. Still trying to plot out how to make that work.
  • So many people came to my reading! As many of you know, I had the readers of this very blog choose what I read. As decided by the voters with 56.25% of the votes, I read the prologue from Red Litten World. People enjoyed it in all its grisly details. The next day quite a few attendees came to my table and bought a book because they liked what they heard. That made my con right there.

Friends & Fellow Authors


Oh, The Panels!NWC39_Set4

  • The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Battle Royale was easily the best panel I was on, I know I’m not alone in thinking this, here’s proof. It was hilarious, snarky, and a total blast. Big thanks to Matt Youngmark for putting it together and keeping things organized. The format was a bracket-style who-would-win-in-a-fight “discussion” in the end it came down to Rey from The Force Awakens and Marvel’s Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers. I was on team Rey in the final matchup, and sadly by popular vote, she lost. Maybe next year. #ReyWasRobbed. Agree? Feel different? Leave a comment and let me know why!
  • The horror track was really well put together. I was lucky enough to sit in on four different panels and had some incredible conversations about location, inspiration, and how horror is often a reflection of the time in which it is written. The first panel, expertly moderated by Logan Masterson, was about horror’s fantasy roots and stood out as the best of them, a lot of intelligent discussion.
  • The last panel I attended was ‘Level Up Your Self-Publishing Skills’ moderated by Elliot Kay. It was packed, and there was a lot of great questions from those in attendance. I wish it could have been more than an hour. There’s so much more all of us authors on that panel could have said, I wish we had more time. If you ever have a question about self/indie publishing you are always more than welcome to email me at hello@kmalexander.com. I’m happy to offer tips or advice where and when I can. As always, the best advice I can give is this: keep at it, write what you love, and never give up.

Cosplay & Norwesconners

  • Have I mentioned the incredible cosplay, yet? Well, as always it was fantastic, people put in a lot of time and effort, and it showed.
  • Tiny Rey was easily the most adorable cosplayer I saw. Let me go on record saying that I am so stoked to see another female character in Star Wars that young girls can emulate. Mad props to the writers for making that decision. It was needed.
  • Rorschach and I recreated out selfie photo from last year. Here was the photo from Norwescon 39 and the photo from last year, Norwescon 38. Kari-Lise pointed out that they are mirror images of each other. Not intentional and kind of funny.
  • I got a quest from an NPC. It was hilarious. That card is now pinned to my cork board above my desk. Someday I’ll find you drunken ghost.
  • I mentioned this last year, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s remarkable to see the diversity, openness, and acceptance between Norwesconners. The world outside of a convention can be mean. It’s nice to see a place where everyone is super considerate and goes out of their way to be encouraging and welcoming. Norwescon is unique like that.

Little Incidental Highlights

  • The Philip K. Dick Awards, I had a panel and was running a table, so I didn’t get to attend. But congratulations to Ramez Naam for his novel Apex winning the award. Also, congratulations to the special citation winner, Marguerite Reed for her novel Archangel.
  • Sunday’s cello accompaniment was lovely. Is this a regular thing? I remember there was music last year as well.
  • The green room staff, wonderful people there. They made the room a nice respite before and after panels.
  • The Norwescon staff were all really great. Thanks to everyone for making the event such a success. It’s a lot of hard work. Next time you see a volunteer, thank them.

It was a packed weekend, but so worth it. I’m already missing the whole buzz of the convention halls and the enthusiasm from my fellow attendees. There were a few times I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details of writing horror and time just didn’t allow it. It would have been great to have sat in on a panel that was specific to cosmic horror/weird fiction and Lovecraftian mythos, but that might be too narrow for a general sci-fi/fantasy convention like Norwescon.

Sunday night Kari-Lise and I came home exhausted but feeling accomplished. Monday morning, I rolled right from convention mode back into work mode. No rest for the wicked. I’ll see you again Norwescon, until then, it’s back to writing. Time is wasting, and I have many more stories to tell.