I saw Confluence as an opportunity for me to crawl out of my proverbial shell. I wanted to get out there and meet other authors face to face, as opposed to a text chat, held over the Internet. So I embraced the concept, forced my butt up from my cushy chair and walked right into a world I haven’t fully immersed myself in as of yet.
When posed with the questionnaire prior to attending Confluence, I had only one answer for most of the queries. “I’ll do anything.” I had no idea what that might look like in the end. I only hoped for the best.
As someone who enjoys the company of familiar faces, time alone in solitude talking to the dogs, and the confines of a little cockpit station where I tap-tap-tap away at my tiny keyboard that is too small for my fat fingers, this was quite disconcerting. I’ve never put myself so far out there in my writing career. I’d rather just sit here and work.
Upon walking into Confluence, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did anticipate things would be larger than they actually were, but to me they were already much grander than anything I had wanted to submerge myself within. I prefer the kiddie pool, where only I can fit; two beers locked into my plastic helmet and a feeding tube dangling down to my anxious mouth. This was a vast ocean for a man who does not fancy himself a strong swimmer.
I started off with a signing event, an act that simply humbles me. I am often surprised people want my signature. I feel guilty knowing they likely won’t be able to read it later, as I suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Perhaps the next day they might think it another language (Sanskrit maybe), or a listing of several elements from the periodic table, or maybe even confuse it with that of another writer. Regardless, it is always a pleasant request that I am most happy to oblige. While I only signed a handful at the actual event, I had plenty of excellent conversations. I also signed several more at the Post Mortem Press table and elsewhere, and even a shirt at one point.
My first panel came about later that night. As I approached the table, I could already feel my legs becoming wobbly. I was never good at public speaking. I often prefer to listen. Thanks to most of the other wonderful panelists I was able to walk away feeling as though I contributed. Sara Goslee was extremely kind. Tim Waggoner made sure to keep the apocalyptic panel heading in the right direction, including everyone, and making sure the conversation stayed on topic. It was good to see the audience become so involved.
I did have one panel I didn’t quite gel with, mostly because of the era the panel seemed to get stuck on. Still, I am thankful for that opportunity, as well. Sometimes you have to experience uneasiness to learn how to feel comfortable in your own skin. I listened, as the conversation was informative and interesting, but I didn’t want to steer them away from the direction it was heading.
On my third panel, a most gracious Sara Goslee moderated (sparing me of the task). Also on the panel were Chris Brown and Jonathan MaBerry. All of them made excellent points. I felt very comfortable on this panel. I was able to express my thoughts as we talked all things zombie. It was both engaging and entertaining.
I ended the weekend with a reading from the Post Mortem Press anthology Torn Realities. I listened to Paul Anderson read “Delta Pi,” Jamie Lackey read her tale “What Waits Out There,” and Kathryn Board read part of her story “The Troll That Jack Built.” Last, I read my story “In The Shadow of The Equine” in front of my family and a handful of talented authors, including the great Jonathan MaBerry (who was kind enough to step away from his busy schedule to listen).
It was difficult, but I made it through without enduring too much mental damage. I’ll have to work on better page turning in the future, as well as trying to get the editor out of my head as I read. Both are disruptive to the flow of a read. Also, it would be nice if I could somehow get rid of my “Seth Rogan-like” voice, but that is a different story. I have a short video at the bottom that shows a large part of this reading (quality not so great).
Over the weekend I took many notes of books I intend to read, places to check out, and people to friend on the various social media. I wanted to make sure to thank those who were kind, who took the time to speak with one of the new kid’s on the block, and even offer a helping hand to some degree. I think it is more than a little awesome when those who have already plowed their way through the thick fields take the time to look back and wave you on to the charge. They seem to appreciate what it takes to get to the top and that is a most admirable quality.
I attended several panels, most of which were stunning. Seeing Chris Brown, Lawrence C. Connolly, Jonathan MaBerry, and Gary Braunbeck discuss The Psychology of Horror was quite inspiring despite the woman whose stomach kept churning due to all the “gross” stuff.
So what do I take away from all of this? Well, I find myself with several new contacts, many books to seek out and read, ideas and concepts to write about, and this summary, which I hope is insightful. Yes, I am still a nervous wreck who prefers this greasy, slimy little box where I hide and work on my writing, but I think I might enjoy coming out once in a while to play. Maybe even some day it might come naturally. Until then, dear readers, pleasant nightmares to you all.
Here is a video of my reading. The quality is poor, but you can get a sampling. It starts late and ends with the wife dropping her iPhone and losing sound, but hey…if you want to hear the whole story, why not buy the book and read it? Check out the links all the way to the right of my website. They lead directly to the Amazon pages, but alternate links can be found on the Torn Realities page in my bibliography.