Category Archives: Professional Behavior

MileHiCon: A Denver Gem

A Guest Post by Kevin Ikenberry


After I seriously took up writing, the very first con I attended was MileHiCon in 2012.  I’d moved to Colorado a couple of years before and while I’d attended the local Pikes Peak Writers Conference, my first foray into science fiction fandom couldn’t have been more wonderful.  Billed as “the largest science fiction and fantasy literary convention in Colorado,” MileHiCon did not disappoint.  My memories of that first con are great.  I found the panels I crutched in and out of inspiring and the people pleasant and approachable.  (Yes, I was on crutches, and no it was not fun!)  I knew from the first day that I wanted to be involved in any way that I could.  At MileHiCon, I knew I’d found a home.

A year later, I had an invitation to be a program participant.  Unfortunately, a second foot surgery put me on my rear end that weekend, so I had to delay my MileHiCon debut until 2014.  As it turns out, MileHiCon was my very first convention as a program participant.  Can you say nervous?  Well, that nervousness did not last long.  Many of the friends I’ve made in the Denver area were there as well as a ton of new friends.  From the moment I walked into the lobby and ran into my good friend Patrick Hester (SFSignal / Functional Nerds), I felt even more at home than I did the first year.

Now that I’ve been to WorldCon and several other local/regional cons, I can honestly say that MileHiCon is in my top three cons, maybe even top two.  Over the past few years, the con has increased in membership and offerings to include costuming, gaming, art, and media tracks.  What makes this con special are the people.  Last year, a group of us aptly named “The Handsome Authors Society” sponsored a networking event.  There were more than a hundred folks who dropped by and had a drink with other authors and editors.  Making new friends has never been easier.

The MileHiCon committee are a group of wonderful and hardworking volunteers who have always made me feel like I was part of the family.  And from my very first panel, the audiences were fun and engaging.  Mentioning my first novel sale, that had happened less than a week before the 2014 con, earned very nice rounds of applause and several “Good luck!” or “Let us know when it’s released!” calls that left me beaming.

(NOTE: Sleeper  Protocol is slated for release by Red Adept Publishing in winter 2015-16)

What’s more?  Last year, I took my wife to MileHiCon, her very first con experience.  We decided that MileHiCon was a perfect con to bring our kids to.  There were a lot of young fans and cosplayers in the crowd last year, and a great time was had by all.  For our young superheroes-to-be, it will be a perfect place to start.  I can’t wait to share MileHiCon with them.

MileHiCon 47 takes place October 23-25, 2015 at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt.  For more information on the convention, please check out  This year’s Guests of Honor include authors Kevin Hearne and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, artist Ursula Vernon, and toastmaster James Van Pelt.  The list of confirmed participants is fantastic with over ninety confirmed authors.

In short, MileHiCon is a wonderful convention put on by amazing folks.  It’s growing every year and is family friendly.  Most importantly, it’s a great chance for fans to get to know their favorite authors and meet emerging authors, too.  There is something for everyone at MileHiCon.  Hope to see you there.

Guest Bio

Kevin Ikenberry is a Colorado based science fiction and horror author.  His debut novel, Sleeper Protocol, will be released from Red Adept Publishing tentatively in January 2016.  A lifelong space fanatic, Kevin continues to work with space every day.  He can be found online at and on Twitter (at)TheWriter Ike.

DragonCon – A Mardis Gras for Geeks

Guest Post by Wayland Smith


DragonCon was roughly a week ago, and I’m still elatedly exhausted. It is a truly amazing experience on many levels. DragonCon offers a lot of unique opportunities for writers, from the obvious to ones you need to work at a little. While it has a reputation as “Mardi Gras for geeks,” there’s so much going on there that’s really a matter of what you make of it.

There is a Writer’s Track at DragonCon. This means that there are panels about writing from 10 AM to 11:30 PM from Friday through Sunday, and a few more panels on Monday until about 2. That, in and of itself, is enough to make it worth-while for writers to come in my opinion. But there’s a lot more.

Jody Lynn Nye runs a two day intensive writer’s workshop. There’s an extra fee for it, but you get a lot of attention from someone who is a best-selling writer and very good at what she does. Michael Stackpoole runs a series of hour-long seminars. The topics are listed, and you can go to and pay for the ones of interest.

There’s an entirely separate track for Urban Fantasy. These panels let you hear about different aspects of various writers’ processes, and there’s almost always a chance to ask them questions at the end of the presentations. It’s a great way to potentially meet fellow writers and make contacts.

But it’s not just writers that speak at the panels. There are presentations that include agents, editors, and publishers. This year, an anthology called “Legends of the Dragon” debuted at the Con. I had a story in it, and I got that chance because of a panel I went to two years ago on the Writers’ Track.

The next DragonCon is September 2-5, 2016. It’s in Atlanta, Georgia, spread out over five different host hotels. For more information on the Con itself, check it out at . The site has a lot of information about how to get memberships for next year, and the application process if you want to try to go as a guest. Another option is applying with the individual track directors to speak on the various panels. And, if you want to try going as a vendor, there are applications for that, too.

DragonCon is the high point of my year. In addition to a lot of fun, it’s a unique chance to learn from many different writers and get to speak with them. Among the many writers I’ve spoken with or gone to listen to are Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Laurell K Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Diana Gabaldon, Sherilyn Kenyon, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Stackpoole, Timothy Zahn,, Myke Cole, Faith Hunter, Gail Martin, and Jean Marie Ward,  the late Aaron Allston as well as so many others.

Guest Bio

Wayland Smith is the pen name for a native Texan who has lived in Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, and presently makes his home in Virginia. His rather unlikely list of jobs includes private investigator, comic book shop owner, ring crew for a circus (then he ran away from the circus and joined home), deputy sheriff, writer, and freelance stagehand. Wayland has one novel out so far, In My Brother’s Name, about a terrorist attack on Washington DC, and appears in various anthologies including HeroNet Files Book 1, SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, and Legends of the Dragon, as well as several others. A black belt in shao lin kung fu, he is also a fan of comic books, reading, writing, and various computer games (“I’ll shut Civ down in more turn. Really!”)


A Gust A Guest Post by Lissa Woodbury Jensen



“Mmmmm, apples are the best fruit on the planet,” my eleven year-old son announced one morning.




“No way!” His twin brother gave him an incredulous look. “Bananas are waaaay better. Apples are boring, just like you!”


The fight was on and they disappeared, squealing, into the living room.  I was left pondering my own preference for the tangy perfection of ruby red grapefruit.

I can’t help but remember their argument as I prepare to leave for Salt Lake City Comic Con in a few weeks. I have been to several different cons and am always amazed at how alike they are, and yet different at the same time. I find it intriguing to learn peoples’ preferences and to witness their declared vehemence toward one con or another. Like fruit, cons are generally born from the same ideation, yet vary in popularity from one attendee to the next.

Having lived in the Salt Lake area during my adolescent years, I enjoy attending SLCCC. I stay with family, renew friendships, and immerse myself into promoting my favorite publishing company, WordFire Press. I remember when I attended my first SLCCC. I had participated in smaller cons, but was ill prepared for the suffocating crush of fans, cosplayers, and celebrities that descended on SLC like an R-5 tornado.

Earlier in the summer, I had participated in both FantasyCon and WesterCon. WesterCon was civilized, organized and, at times, a bit “high-brow.” I sensed an elitism that made me uncomfortable. It was nicely done, though somewhat sterile in my opinion. As I moved from venue to venue, I felt insignificant and out of place. For me, it was an interesting, yet “empty” experience.

FantasyCon, on the other hand, was everything I could dream of for “my” perfect Con. It was passionate and artsy with spacious halls filled with enormous dragons (fake, of course), mythical creatures, fairy kingdoms and fire-wielding warriors. In spite of its magnificence, everyone kept saying how “slow” it was. I chalked it up to the Con being rather new on the scene. I didn’t mind. In fact, I preferred it.  The pace was leisurely and enjoyable. I had plenty of time to talk with other vendors, stroll through the eclectic displays, and soak in genius at every turn. The organizers outdid themselves in fantastical ambience.

Imagine the contrast when I arrived at SLCCC a month later and could barely navigate my way from one aisle to another. There were myriads of booths, vendors, panels, and special guests. One had to shout just to be heard in conversation.  Long wait times to get a good seat for panels were inevitable.  I will never forget the afternoons when I felt like the proverbial salmon trying to swim upstream, yet not moving at all. I stood in the aisle next to the booth I was working and felt crushed on all sides. It stayed that way for hours. I went home each night, dazed and bedraggled.

This past spring, I experienced the delightful WonderCon in Anaheim, California. It was busy, yet held enough space for one to meander through the displays without being pressed into a human pancake. There were booths galore, clever artwork, displays and entertainment. The ambience was fun and clever.

Of course, there are many more Cons, but I think I’ve illustrated my point.  It is next to impossible to compare them. As with my twins’ apples and bananas, we all have different tastes and preferences. My boys still quarrel over which fruit is better. Con attendees will argue into the night over “which Con is best.”

There are small cons, medium cons, political cons, overseas cons, gaming cons, and the list goes on. Ask fellow writers and fans which con is their favorite and you will get a long list of different choices. In fact, therein lays the appeal. Fruit salad would be boring if it were all apple slices. One con would be the same as the next and the appeal of attending would be almost non-existent. Even the same con will vary from year to year.

This year’s WorldCon, which I had planned to attend, had a divisive agenda and set some important precedents. I doubt the organizers knew of its political importance when originally scheduling this con. In the end, I was unable to go but watched the proceedings with great interest.

SLCCC will be the first of many cons I attend this year and I eagerly await the opportunity  for new adventures. As always, it is fun to compare each con because you never know what’s going to happen. I will always have my favorites, though.

Excuse me while I go have some grapefruit.

Guest Bio:

Lissa Woodbury Jensen lives in Alaska and loves imagining the impossible. Her initial career was in theatre arts. She did some filming in Los Angeles, but her primary love was the stage. In addition to performing, Lissa directed and choreographed many Broadway hits. She began her writing career by authoring short plays, dramatic presentations and original musical productions. She now concentrates solely on fiction. She loves to write about flawed characters that redeem themselves. Her favorite quote is from the movie Chariots of Fire: “God made me fast; and when I run, I feel His Pleasure!”

The Wonder of Cons

Guest Post by Eva Eldridge

I attended my first convention, TusCon 39, a mere three years ago. It was a small convention held in Tucson and I had no idea what it was about. Some friends encouraged me to come because they knew I was writing science fiction. They said there were writers at the convention and they weren’t kidding.

Not only were there writers, there were scientists from NASA, costumers, music, gamers, and movies. I listened to professional writers talk about their experiences and offer advice on the writing life. I could learn how to use a 3-D printer, put together my zombie attire, or watch movies all day. Scientist expounded theories about how life might have begun on Earth and if that might be happening in other places. It wasn’t science fiction, it was science.

TusCon 39 led to the 2013 WorldCon in San Antonio and the Phoenix Comicon in 2014. I’ve been to three Cons in 2015 and haven’t even mentioned the Tucson Festival of Books. Why do I keep going and what can a writer get out of Cons? Information and connections. I am a panel junkie.

I love to listen to people talk about a variety of things. Some of the fascination has to do with seeing my favorite authors like Connie Willis, Gini Koch, J. A. Jance, Dave Berry, David Weber and a whole list of others. I want to know what they have to say on the future of publishing or how it takes dedication and hard work to write a novel. I listened to a panel that discussed forensic investigation and they debunked some of what we see on television. For a writer, that is good information—information I can use to make my story more believable.

Another thing that Cons can do for you is expose you to writers or artists that you’ve never heard of. I’ve discovered several writers by listening to panel discussions on one topic or the other. I went to a panel on dragons because Naomi Novik was on it. Through that panel discussion I learned about James A. Owen. James made an impression and I now own several of his books and art pieces. Another panel about food in space introduced me to more authors I’d never heard of. Turns out some of the writers have blogs discussing their baking experiences. Now, not only do I read about their fabulous sounding appetizers, I want to read their fiction.

Some of the Cons, like this year’s WorldCon have pitch sessions. This is an opportunity for you to get your work in front of an agent or editor. The sessions are quick, but if you are prepared you might impress someone and you’ll be off writing the next book in your series. Honestly, I find the networking one of best parts of the convention scene. I almost prefer to call friendship building because sometimes you meet a person, then you go to lunch, or share a panel session, or urge them to buy another book.

Networking is important. Meeting people, sharing ideas, preferences, discussing the latest whatever, lets people get to know you and what you do. Pass out your business card. Tell people what you’re working on. Ask them about their projects. Perhaps you’re looking for a cover artist. Walk through the art section and see who and what’s out there. Viewing the various works will help you define your preference for the type of cover art you need. Art can be inspiration for new material.

Not all Cons are created equal. Some, like the Comic Cons have famous actors and are filled with people in costume. I love the Comic Cons because I love the costuming or cosplay. Look at the details in some of the outfits—details that can enhance a description in a story. Cruise around the vendor area and see the wonders in clothing, gadgets, jewelry, and of course, books. Comic Cons are about the comics, the art, the stories, but there is so much more.

Other Cons are more about the writers. They don’t offer as much in the dealer area, but have a full and interesting panel schedule with big name authors that are willing to sign their books and talk to you. A couple of the Cons are all about the merchandizing and that is important to a writer as well. In the end we need to sell our books. The Cons give writers exposure and an opportunity to talk to future readers.

You can find a Con somewhere in your area. They’re out there and if you write and haven’t attended one, it is time you did. Start out small like I did or jump in with both feet and find the biggest one in your area. Both can be rewarding and you never know, one day one of my books will be displayed at a vendor table and I’ll be there to sign it for you.

Guest Bio:

In 2010 Eva Eldridge decided thirty four years at the same company was enough and embarked on a new adventure as a writer and to explore what else life has to offer. After a trip to Argentina and a month long adventure on Amtrak she returned to Tucson to begin another phase as a communications engineer and to continue writing. Through the writing program at Pima Community College she has learned that words can be magic. Every day reveals new and interesting aspects of the writing and publishing field. Eva has been published in SandScript and is a contributing writer with