Tag Archives: conventions

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 www.milehicon.org.  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 www.kevinikenberry.com 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  www.dragoncon.org . 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!”

Getting Your Book on the Table at a Big Con

Fan Expo Dallas

Fan Expo Dallas – (Dallas Comicon) – May 29 – 31

Flying down to Dallas for the Comic con felt like a bit of a gamble, at first.  I was investing hundreds of dollars in flights and hotel, with the prospect of selling maybe a handful of my own books.  So it was never going to be a money-making venture.  The Scrooge side of me winced to think of the expense.

It was an investment, and it paid off in so many other ways.

Dallas was my second-ever comicon, and a wonderful learning experience.  As a writer, I wanted to learn how to attend big conventions from a vendor perspective even more than as a fan or a geek of all things sci-fi and fantasy.

The challenge for new writers like myself, with no experience at cons, and with only a small number of books self-published to-date, is daunting.  The solution was to volunteer at the Wordfire Press vendor booth.  My experience is similar to Kristin’s excellent post on September 2nd – Volunteering at an Author’s Booth.  Some of what I’m going to say will overlap, but I feel the topic is important enough to merit a second account.

A lot of people go to comic cons, and after attending two of them now, I can see why.  They are a lot of fun.  About 60,000 people attended Dallas Comic con, and I was impressed by how enthusiastic and polite they were.  We sold a ton of books, met a ton of fans, and saw tons of cool cosplay costumes.

Dallas Comicon

Check out this awesome booth!  Sorry it’s just a bit blurry, but it offers a glimpse of what things looked like as we were kicking off the con.  Within three days, a majority of those books were gone.

The con paid off huge in networking, pure fun, and in deep immersion into the world of con vendors.  Volunteering at such a well-run booth was a professional-grade learning experience.  Here are a few benefits of choosing this route to explore cons:

  • Learn from the experts.  Quincy J. Allen, Alexi Vandenberg, Peter Wacks, and of course, Kevin J Anderson, have many cons under their belts and years of experience.
  • Yes, I helped them sell a lot of books, but I feel I benefited at least as much.  I learned how to:
  1. Set up the display, which was far more involved than I had ever considered.  Making all those pretty stacks of books is not as easy as one might think.
  2. Pitch other authors’ books.  What a great chance to learn about hundreds of books I may or may not have ever seen before.
  3. Initiate conversations with the eager, often distracted, con goers to encourage them to pause and consider buying books.
  4. Prepare the fundamentals, like having cash for change and sufficient numbers of credit-card-ready devices to process the many sales.
  5. Sell a LOT of books.  The Wordfire Press booth was 20×20 in size, and packed with so many books, that photo of me above was one of the few times I actually fit behind the table.  Much of the con, I was stationed in the aisle because there wasn’t enough room for all of us behind the tables.  We sold boxes and boxes of books.
  • I spent long days with other volunteers, most of them other authors, discussing books, publishing, and getting to know them as people.  I made new friends and added a number of books to my I-have-to-read-this list.
  • AND – I got my book on the table.  I have to admit, Set in Stone looked right at home among all of those other books.  Made me feel like a peer, like a player in the game, not just a hopeful onlooker, still waiting on the bench.  I even sold seven copies.
  • I didn’t need to fork out hundreds of dollars for my own tiny booth that would only have my own, tiny inventory.  And I didn’t have to man the booth alone for the entire time.  We worked as a team, which offered flexibility in everyone’s schedule.  Nor did I have to pay for my ticket to attend the con.  As a volunteer, WFP provided the pass.
  • Sometimes as writers, we tend toward becoming introverts.  Can’t do that at a con.  Since I often couldn’t fit inside the booth, I planted myself outside and talked with everyone scurrying past, asking them what kind of books they liked, and suggesting other titles that might appeal from the offerings on the table.
  • I joined the group that worked the long lines of waiting, eager con-goers prior to the opening bell, handing out postcards from Wordfire Press with the booth number written in large numbers in bright marker, repeating that yes, Kevin Anderson would be at the booth, yes he would sign books, and no, he never charged for his signature.

I also learned a number of things NOT to do at a con.

  • Don’t, under any circumstance, sneak copies of your business card, flyers, or other materials onto other vendors’ booths.  Really, it happens, and it’s incredibly annoying.  Several times, we discovered other peoples’ materials on our table.  It’s a form of stealing, and it’s always in bad taste.  Those materials always went straight into the trash.
  • Don’t forget to eat or take a break when you need it.  The booth was so busy, with so much going on, I hated to leave, even when I really needed to.  Find a balance.  Take care of yourself.  Especially at a booth like WFP, there are others to cover while you’re gone.
  • Don’t hold back.  People who attend cons are there because they love sci-fi and fantasy, and they’re enthusiastic.  They may not buy something, they may not have time to talk while rushing to a panel or to get in line for a celebrity signature, but otherwise, I found people happy to discuss their favorite books, and open to the idea of finding new ones.  Be outgoing, and people respond.  The day passes so much faster, and it’s so much more fun.
  • Don’t forget to take photos of the great costumes.  I enjoyed seeing hundreds of quality cosplay outfits, but only remembered to take photos of a few.  Most of those turned out blurry, so I kick myself for not being more aggressive with the camera.  Cosplayers love getting their pictures taken.  That’s one of the reasons they’re at the con.

Cosplay Dallas ComiconThanks to my volunteer experience with WFP, I’ve developed a pretty solid understanding of how a successful booth works.  I’ll be attending the SLC Comic con in just a couple of weeks, again with the WFP team.  There, I’ll take the next step in expanding my con experience by participating on a couple of panels.  I’m very excited to be involved, although the process of getting onto a panel at a big con can be tricky, and needs its own dedicated post.

There are so many reasons to go to conventions, and volunteering at another vendor’s booth is a great way to test the waters and start learning how it all works.

The specifics:

Dallas Fan Expo:

Located at the Dallas Convention Center

Hotels weren’t clustered around the convention center as closely as they are in some other cities.  I ended up having to walk about ½ mile, but weather wasn’t too hot.  In fact, Texas was in the middle of their record-breaking rainy spell, and I was lucky I wasn’t drenched.

I actually had trouble finding the dates for next year’s con, but I believe it will be the first weekend in June, 2016

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinFrank Morin loves good stories in every form.  When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities.  For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers alternate history fantasy series, check his website:  www.frankmorin.org