Idaho is one of those states that always seems to be stereotyped as a state that is populated by psychotic, shot gun toting, potato farmer rednecks. Which is probably why ComicCon is in San Diego, and not in a state with a small nerd population. Since we Idaho nerds have no convention, in 2003 a group of fellow nerds started their own convention: Fandemonium, and meet August 2nd through the 4th.
The last time I went, I think I was 16. Back then, all my friend and I really did was play video games, and go to one of the events. That’s it. Since I did that, I missed a lot of the convention. My friend felt the same way. So we did a ton of stuff I wouldn’t have done when I was 16. Let’s start with the first thing we did.
I’m not the kind of nerd that dresses in costume. And I’m not really into anime or manga. At least not since I was in 7th grade. (One time I liked Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, Naruto etc.) But I was happy to see people dressed as other characters. I saw a Klingon, and a Vulcan, which made the Trekkie inside me happy. Star Wars cosplayers were oddly absent.
And there were people in character the WHOLE TIME. This all was surprising to me. I would rather get to know the person under the costume, rather than someone that thinks they’re a ninja, or are in a stuffed animal suit. You don’t see me wearing a costume to cover my body. I may not be an actor, or a Calvin Klein model, but I’m not ashamed about my appearance or how I speak.
To each their own.
We did a ton of exploring. There were people selling their art. (The coolest thing I saw was a guy using a 3D printer, and making figurines for people.) A few local comic book, game stores, book publishers, and other small businesses were selling some cool stuff. I was surprised to see old school Advanced D&D books from the 70s in immaculate condition. (I was afraid to touch them, and only looked at the covers.)
And there was a huge video gaming area, where old and new systems were set up for all to play. The first system Javier and I were drawn to was the Super Nintendo. I have fond memories of playing that system with my cousins, and friends I had as a 6 year old. We played Mortal Kombat II. And I got my butt kicked: virtually, 🙂
Every year, like most conventions, there are writing seminars. The first one was supposed to be about writing comic books, but the teacher ran like a bat out of hell to the bathroom right when the class started. My friend and I were kinda surprised. It was crazy, and a little sad someone who had signed up to teach a class runs out right when it was time to teach.
So we skipped that seminar, and went to a seminar called “10 Steps to Becoming an Overnight Success”, and the teacher was some guy called Michaelbrent Collings. (A bestselling self-published author of Horror and Fantasy.) By the title, I was worried it might be some sort of scam, because writing success is never right away. Ever. And the people usually running these seminars are usually Literary-snobby-pantses. (Putting it nicely.)
Thankfully, Michael wasn’t like this.
The first thing he said was the title was just to get people in the seminar. And it’s taken him 10 years to be where he is selling wise. The room was deathly silent, as people’s dreams of becoming a famous overnight publishing sensation were crushed. I smiled inwardly: I had learned that lesson long ago, sending out stories to magazines and getting constant rejections. And most recently, my Kindle short story hasn’t been doing well financially.
I knew this was no feel good session; it was going to be brutally honest. Just how I like it.
The one thing that was most reassuring about his seminar for me was about what success is. Success is never giving up, and never stopping writing. You can be a success, and not make any money at all. Just write. (When my novel Blade of the Broken is published, heck I’ll be happy selling even just 6 books.)
And for all you newbies at writing, Mr. Collings had this to say; everyone is a writer. If you use Facebook, write emails, blog, Tweet, etcetera, you are a writer. Ignore the BS of Literary-snobby-pants writers telling you that writers are born. Anyone can write a book. Just keep at it, and never give up on your dreams.
After Michael crushed the hearts and souls of the get rich quick dreamers, he said he would be willing to speak to people at his table. I drove to his table as fast as I could go. When he saw me, he smiled and asked, “Do you want to be a writer?”
“No. I already am a writer,” I said.
After that, we hit it off. I asked him more questions about self-publishing, told him about my book and he in turn told me about his. I also bought his haunted house novel fittingly called The Haunted, and he signed it for me.
I will definitely return to Fandemonium in 2014! And I don’t know, I might go as Professor X, or make my wheelchair look like R2-D2. 🙂