PHX CC 14: A Recap

Oh, my darling Interwebz... My brain is still mush and my body continues to protest all that I did to it and with it during the course of Phoenix Comic Con. But I have to tell you all about this amazing event before it all disappears in a puff of neural fog. Let's do this!


photo by Django Wexler

Thursday started off with a line from hell for guests to get their badges. One person reported 2 hours! And that's a guest, not an attendee. Whilst in line I met Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Colleen Lindsay and Anne Sowards.

During lunch, I had an awkward encounter with the creator of one of my all-time favorite pieces of comic literature. EVAR. You see, Kiara needed to run to the bathroom, so I took her. While I'm waiting in the hall for her, I saw my friend Zen. She was working with a guest, so I just put my head on her shoulder rather than interrupt her.

"I'll deal with you later," she said sternly. Then her eyes just kinda lit up with realization. "Wait! You're a guest, you can help this man."

I looked to see she was helping an older man with a growing bald spot and a distinct lack of amusement on his face. I stretched out my hand, "Hi, I'm Jamie."

"Chris," he said, shaking my hand.

Gears started to click. Was that... was this Chris Claremont? Creator of the Dark Phoenix Saga?!?! I asked how I could help and sent him on his way. Then quickly Googled him... Yup. Chris Claremont. Just shook his hand in the hotel lobby. FUCK YES!

And as if that wasn't cool enough, I ran into Jim Butcher while helping Olivia check into the hotel. Said hi, and wished him a good Con.

photo by Priscilla Spencer

Finally met Mike R. Underwood and Lee Harris (of Angry Robot Books), too. Long time coming on that one.

That night I met a slew of other people and joined the Taco Council for dinner at local eatery The Taco Guild. (Holy fuck, it was amazeballs.) Had a great time at dinner with Beth Cato, Leanna Renee Heiber, Rachel Thompson, Olivia Kelly, Wes Chu, Lela Gwenn, Django Wexler, Myke Cole, Priscilla Spencer, Kevin Hearne, Sam Sykes, Delilah S. Dawson, Chuck, Stephen...and I'm really sorry if I'm forgetting people. It's a bit of a blur because I had an AMAZING tequila at the Taco Guild.

Hung out for a bit Thursday night after dinner, but went home with the family, gearing up for a busy Friday.

I did the shilling stuff at my table for a while Friday. Now, directly in front of me was John Barrowman's booth, so I got to stare at him all day. But then he left to do other things, and my life got a little depressing and lonely-making. So I went to see Jim Butcher, Wes Chu, Seanan McGuire, Gini Koch and John Scalzi give a panel on writing comedy. It was fabulous and as funny as you would expect with those names on board. This also achieved several victory conditions of my Con as I got to see Seanan, Jim and John on ONE PANEL! SCORE!

Then I went to watch Kevin Hearne and the rest of the Taco Council hold court for a fun panel that turned into the Council of Nicea for the Holy Taco Church. After that, it was go time for me and the panel of Debut Authors. Really well run by our moderator, Ivy. And a spectacular turnout. The room was mostly full of writers at various points of their careers, and they asked amazing questions of the panel. Myself, Austin Aslan, Amy K. Nichols, Beth Cato and Shonna Slayton were blessed with a fabulous hour of sharing our stories and meeting could-be fans. (If you were there, say hi!)

Friday night I went on a nice date with my husband, then returned to the hotel bar to hang out with some of the other authors. Patrick Rothfuss even put in an appearance and recounted the "Parp!" story from Hyperbole and a Half. This was also my first real chance to hang out with GOVNEH! I was ecstatic to be in her awesome presence, and uber grateful that she shared her room with my husband and I.

Saturday:  More booth time. I also managed to get Chris Claremont to sign my copy of the Dark Phoenix Saga, and James O'Barr to sign my copy of The Crow. Both of them were exceedingly gracious men and I am pleased to say I met them. While at my booth Saturday, I had the pleasure of talking to so many fans of Wild Card and also those who were at the Debut Author panel. Also, Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer himself!) passed my table looking a little lost, so I said hi. He came over and we chatted for a few minutes, even taking a card for Wild Card to take home to his wife. (Mrs. Bad Astronomer, I hope you read and enjoy it.)

Saturday also saw me get into a bit of a thing with John Scalzi. To preface, you have to understand that this happened at the Author Batsu game where Mr. Scalzi was under some duress. You see, Sam Sykes had levied a challenge to his panel: Don't laugh. The audience could laugh but Chuck Wendig, John Scalzi, Aprilynne Pike, Patrick Rothfuss, Myke Cole, Delilah S. Dawson and Leanna Renee Heiber were prohibited from laughing. If one of them let loose with the slightest of chuckles, they were obliged to take a shot of salsa. Hot. Habanero Salsa.

Well, Mr. Scalzi laughed a lot. He was already having some issues. Well, Leanna's face broke its stone composure, but she didn't laugh. Scalzi took issue and asked Sam, "Why does she get special treatment?"

Sam: Do you have something to say about sexism, Mr. Scalzi? John just wrinkled his face at this. He may have commented but the audience was rather loud. Delilah said, "That's just what a man would say." Then the audience got quiet. I shouted, "Not all men!"

...and Scalzi laughed, thus earning yet another spoonful of salsa.

"Who was that?!" he asked. I waved. "I don't like you." I cheekily blew a kiss and the panel continued.

I hung out more with Beth Cato, Rachel and Govneh after that. We all went to the Drinks With Authors event. This was... odd. It was fun, don't get me wrong. But I question the sanity of anyone who puts 200 people in a room with individuals known for their introversion. At least there was booze. Said hi to Jim Butcher again. Talked with Django Wexler. Met up with some of the people who had been at the Debut Panel. My brother-in-law won 3 of Chuck's books in the raffle. And I had one of the best Long-Island-Iced Teas I've ever had. While there, Scalzi walked by me and said, "YOU! I am still pissed at you!"

I giggled.

But it was a sweaty, crowded mess and I couldn't keep up the happy, so we hoofed it to they Hyatt to meet up with our real-life friends for some gaming. I faded quickly after that and shambled to the Sheraton for sleeps. On our way out of the Hyatt, Scalzi saw me and again expressed his dislike for me. I apologized again and we proceeded to hug it out.

I am now planning on showing him my feelings by sending him a membership to a Salsa of the Month Club.


Chuck and "Booth Bane". Photo courtesy of Govneh.

Similar to Saturday in most respects. A lot of action at my table. Didn't hit any panels. Husband got Jim Butcher to sign our copy of Storm Front to me. :) Husband also took notes at the Writing Rogues panel. (My husband is amazing and I might not have made it through this con without him.) Talked with Storm (of Paul and Storm). Shared a moment with Mark Sheppard as he walked by my booth. Govneh hung out as my "Booth Bane" for a bit.

Sunday is always a weird day because you're exhausted, you're having fun, but you know it's almost over. Last day of camp feeling. You'll be glad to get home, but sorry to leave the awesomeness that is hanging out and geeking.

me and chuck

Hugs were given. Pictures were taken. Bags were packed and it was time to call it done for another year.

All told, the rumor mill says that Phoenix Comic Con saw upwards of 75,000 attendees. I feel like I talked to each of them. My voice is shredded. My body is weary. (Not helped by the fact that I had gluten and dairy while at the convention. Out of necessity. As Rachel Thompson said, "you wouldn't like me when I'm hangry.")

There were very few down moments of the Con. One of them was the fact that the Con got my name wrong on my banner. They, for some reason, used my married name. I took it upon myself and a pair of sharpies to fix it thusly:

booth sign

I kinda got snubbed by someone I was looking forward to meeting. All because of the form my books take. *shrugs* Whatever, right? You can't please everyone.

The only other thing that sucked... the guy I shared a booth with wasn't at his table for more than five minutes the whole Con. People kept coming up to me and treating me like his receptionist. Seriously. One guy got mad at me for not having the dude's number. I didn't know this author, I just got assigned a table with him.

But if those 3 things are the only things I have to complain about, it was a successful Phoenix Comic Con. And I'm already looking forward to next year.

So yeah. Start planning now. I expect to see you there.

Phoenix Comic Con - Pre-Game

phxcc14Hey, kids! So next week is the really big show. My home away from chai, PHOENIX COMIC CON! I'm so fucking excited for this year. I've gone for years as an attendee, but this year I'm there in a professional capacity. And I get to meet people that I've talked to online for years. Some since 2008! I'm so jazzed I think Louis Armstrong and Buddy Rich might explode out of my hair follicles. Not only do I get to hang out with my friends and Twitter peeps, I get to see YOU! (Assuming you're there. If you're not then you will need a floating iPad with Facetime or something.)

I'm only on one panel this year:

The Secret Lives of Debut Authors - Friday, 4:30pm - 5:30pm (North, 127c) Join some  new authors as they talk about what it's really like to be a debut author and the release of the first book. With: Beth Cato, Amy K. Nichols, Austin Aslan, myself and fellow Entangled author Shonna Slayton.

I will also have a table in Author's Alley in the Exhibitor Hall! Come see me at booth #2432. I will have poker chips (Eris AND Loki editions) and Backup Ribbons for sale as well as free WILD CARD bookmarks and a way that you can buy the ebook. (You'll need a smartphone that can scan QR codes.) This is also where you can deliver chai (iced soy chai latte, 2 pumps of hazelnut, a pump of mocha, please). Or we can just hang out. :) I'll be sharing my table with local author Zachary Jernigan.

by emacartoon

Because I've never met Mr. Jernigan, I cannot speak for him. However, while I am at my table THIS BOOTH IS A SAFE PLACE. If you are feeling harassed, unsafe or otherwise in need some form of assistance, my booth is a place you can go.

Also, Emma Lysyk's booth is up the aisle (a few rows) and one block over from mine at #1838. Her booth is also a Safe Place. (And she has amazing things that she's made. Go see her anyway.)

Other booths you should know about: (NOTE: I am not telling you about them because they are "Safe Places", but because they're wicked awesome people and you should say hi to them.) In no particular order these wicked awesome people are....

Steam Crow - (Fine steampunk art and accessories) #779 Kids Need To Read - #459 Paul & Storm - #2512 (not too far from me) James O'Barr (creator of The Crow) - #2328 (I'm so getting my copy signed) Stephen Blackmoore & Chuck Wendig - #2412 John Scalzi - #2411 Delilah S. Dawson & Leanna Renee Heiber - #2417 Sam Sykes #2515 Kevin Hearne & Jaye Wells  - #2413 Marcy Rockwell & Jordan Summers - (right across the aisle from me) #2428 Angry Robot Books, Mike R. Underwood and Lee Harris - #2410 and #2412 Sharon Skinner (at the Brick Cave booth) - #1601 & #1603

And tons more. Seriously...there will be more awesome than can possibly be contained in one square mile of Phoenix. It's going to be so much fun!

Also, go see my friends (and possibly my husband) in the game area of the Hyatt.

I'm still putting together the list of panels I'm going to go see throughout the weekend. I know I need to see Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris. I need to get my copy of the Dark Phoenix Saga signed by Chris Claremont. I'd like to see Nathan Fillion.

992856_588564477849817_946136430_nOH! That reminds me... Our mission--should you choose to help me complete it--is to get any or all of the following people to sport (with photographic evidence) a #Backup Ribbon and help spread awareness of keeping Cons safe:

John Barrowman Bruce Campbell Nathan Fillion Eliza Dushku Richard Dean Anderson (because MacGyver, that's why) Stan Lee Adam West (because Batman) Julie Newmar (because fucking Catwoman, that's why) Mark Sheppard John Rhys-Davies Cary Elwes Paul & Storm One or All of the AZ Avengers or AZ Justice Leauge

If you get one, tweet the picture to #PHXBackup. Hell, ANYONE wearing a Backup ribbon should selfie that and post the pic.

I'm so freaking stoked. This con is going to be AMAZEBALLS! Hope to see you there!

I've Got Your Back

992856_588564477849817_946136430_nCon season is upon us, and unfortunately, that means an uptick in horrific stories of people being harassed. People are made to feel unsafe at an event they paid to attend because they have a passion. That, frankly, sucks. Being that I'm trying to decrease some of the suck output of the world, I would like to tell you about the Backup Ribbon Project.

So, I heard about this from Karina Cooper last year. (Oddly enough, I met Tina, the woman who started the Backup Ribbon Project, at a New Year's party. Small world.) The Backup Ribbon is a purple ribbon you add to your Con badge to let people know that you are willing to help. If you see someone being harassed, you will step in. You will listen. You won't judge or say, "Well look what you're wearing. What did you expect?" I think this is amazing.

Anywho, I'd been talking with Emma Lysyk about it and we were going to do this, but in light of the recent tragedy at UCSB, it seems this is even more important. Next week, at Phoenix Comic Con, I am teaming up with Emma Lysyk to offer Backup badge ribbons.

The Backup Ribbon Project site (link above) says it like this:

If you take a Backup ribbon or you wear a Backup t-shirt, you are promising one very simple thing: You WILL help out anybody being harassed. Gender, orientation, presentation is irrelevant. You WILL find a way to help, whether by directly intervening, getting help from elsewhere, or simply listening the person being harassed. You WILL be there for them. You WILL accept that they believe they have been harassed. You WILL NOT question them or doubt them, You WILL give them whatever help they wish.

No judgement. No exceptions. We got your back.

And that's what we mean. Emma's booth (#1838) will not only have her awesome swag for sale, but it is also a Safe Place. If you need help, she or a likewise helpful person will be there. If you are being harassed or do not feel safe, if you need a ride or escort because you had too much to drink, if you are in danger... we want to be your backup. And if we can't help you, we will make sure you get to the people who can and we will back you up.

1170745_621996504506614_689080441_nSo yeah... Emma will be at her booth. I'll be at my table (#2432) when I'm not at panels, or gaming at night.  I am a safe place. I'm an ear if you need it. And I've got enough friends on the PHX CC staff that I can get you to Security or whatever you need. We'll have ribbons on us for $1 each (to cover the printing/shipping costs). If you choose to donate extra it will go directly to the Backup Ribbon Project. Supplies are limited to 250 ribbons. (I will have 125, Emma will have the other half.)

Also, this is not gender specific. Men, women, gay, straight, bi, cis, trans or Siamese... doesn't matter. We'll back you up if you need help. Everyone has the right to enjoy their con without being harassed or made to feel afraid.

EDITED TO ADD: When you get your ribbon, selfie that and post it to Twitter with the hashtag #PHXBackup!