Fantasci 2023: From “Hmm?” to “Wow!”

Last weekend, we attended the Fantasci conference in Durham, NC. Summer has come early and it is ready to go! Boy was it a pollen-y hot first day of the con. Made me really glad to come back to WV and get up in the mountains where the air is clear for now.

No worries, that’s just plants having sex with your nose. Not an alien invasion.

Being it was our first time at the conference we weren’t sure what to expect. Unfortunately only one of the 3 lifetime guests, Mark Wandrey was able to make it. David Weber was detained by deadlines and Chris Kennedy had some other last minute issue show up, but that didn’t lessen the experience for us at all.

It is a much smaller, informal conference, mostly of panels a vending room and tons of networking and cosplay. I did what I normally do and threw myself in, head first to the social scene despite my inner introvert wailing and gnashing his teeth. Don’t waste the time, you’re paying for this, is my motto.

We also had a good last few hours selling books there and talking with some of the guests like the GOH, Richard A. Knaak. Great guy. I feel bad I’ve not read his books before, but I now has a trilogy of his that seems right up my alley so… Away we go!

But at first, when I didn’t realize quite the vibe of it all, I really was a tad nervous. I’m used to bigger conferences with a lot more classroom like stuff going on. This wasn’t that at all. It was more like a professional hangout retreat at times where they talked a little shop and enjoyed each other’s company. That was cool and all, but there’s where the “hmm?” came in Was I going to get my money’s worth in the form of networking and learning.

Apparently I was a little hasty in my assessment. The panels I attended were very good. All accomplished pros talking about things like writing in a shared universe, some ideas on how one launched a shared universe which is of interest to me because of what Dream Nebula is doing. But then I had huge holes in my schedule and not sure who to talk to.

The Mil Sci Fi was strong with all the Honorverse and 4 Horsemen universe cosplay… plus the Phoenix Feast.

Lo and behold on a whim we went to a seminar on a new craft tool called “The Story Code” from Ignite Story Labs. Doors were blown off! It turned out to be a wonderful data driven system on how to determine whether or not your story is hitting the mark with your audience. After all, you want to do something important to you but also entertaining and profitable, right? Well, the Story Code is going to be a huge help to people. Amy White was a wonderful presenter and did a great job helping me realize that with a few tweaks, I can get my stories to the next level, and hopefully commercial success too. This unto itself upped Fantasci from “Hmm?” to a “Well now!”

The next big thing for us was we had a great time hanging out with the reps for Clarion Games who ran the gaming room. It was a lot of fun to watch them play Return to the Dark Tower (I believe that was the name). I never saw a board game with such an interactive prop as the Bluetooth driven centerpiece. It spun and lit up and taunted with music and sound then spit skulls everywhere. So cool, but that price point… oof! Of course they had many other games there produced by Clarion that were neat and fun to play. Had a great pitch with them, and so we’ll see if that goes anywhere in the future. Here’s hoping. This took the con from “Well now!” to “Oh yeah…”

But the last thing which made Fantasci a “Wow!” for us was Katie Cross doing a seminar on saying goodbye to Amazon. Now for us, the takeaways weren’t so much the taking back control of selling our books, and depending on Amazon less, it was more a realization we’re doing things wrong. Katie is an indie author who publishes ONE BOOK A MONTH! And that’s not just a little story, we’re talking 70k words or more! Not only that, she publishes them with audio, print and ebook simultaneously. She’s just a machine, but she’s also BUILT a machine and had some fantastic advice for us. and the future of Resonant Media Arts.

But alas, Sunday came and we drove home again, which became an adventure of driving the back roads of NC and Virginia. The interstates were a snarled mess, and Google Maps fought tooth and nail to get us lost, on a toll road or just plain bunged up somewhere. I felt like it was trying to take us to SOUTH Carolina before it’d take us to Raleigh-Durham. Going home was just as bad. We gave up and enjoyed a leisurely drive through the country roads… yes, yes… take me home.

So get ready for some changes. Don’t worry, if you’re in to my writing, you’re going to love what’s coming. We’re going to have to start a mailing list. Yes I know, bane of my existence, but the key point there is that I can offer you freebies! Uh huh… free stories to read and others to download. We’re also going to look at setting up a new production schedule for books and increasing the amount of content being put out. Let’s just say things are going to be pretty cool once we get there, but it may be a little rough in how it gets there.

Bear with us. It’s gonna be worth it.

Till next time, vaya con Dios!

Goin home ASAP. Lots of work waiting on me.

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