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Taken Out of Context

September 30th, 2014

Context 27 LogoContext always ends too soon. Three amazing days of panels, readings, special events, and networking — and suddenly it’s over for another year. Alas!

I’ve been attending since 2007, and in that time Context has become one of my favorite regional SF cons. It’s a small affair with big ambitions, and it always manages to attract some of the top names in the field (this year’s GoHs included Jonathan Maberry and Betsy Mitchell) as well as a healthy contingent of readers, fans, and aspiring writers.

It’s been said that the people make a great convention . . . and that certainly applies to Context.

My first event was a panel on MFA writing programs where I expected to be joined by my good friends Lucy A. Snyder and Tom Waggoner.

Upon arriving, I learned that Tim couldn’t make the panel, so Lucy and I convinced Chris Phillips, one of our Seton Hill MFA students (who also happens to be managing editor of Flash Fiction Online), to take his place. It was Chris’s first panel, and he proved to be a knowledgeable conversationalist. It was good having him onboard.

Greg Hall and MauriceOther highlights included a live podcast of Gregory Hall’s The Funky Werepig Show, where I joined guests Maurice Broaddus, Michael West, Matt Betts, Gerry Gordon, and others talking about writing, publishing, and pork donuts (not necessarily in that order). An archive edition of the podcast will soon be available at the TMV Cafe. Watch this blog for a link as soon as one is available.

photo (14)I also got the change to join some amazing storytellers at The Beatnik Cafe, where the event’s host Gery L. Deer awarded me with a button that made me an honorary member of The Western Ohio Writers Association — a button that I wore with pride for the rest of the convention.

I understand that WOWA holds readings all over the Western Ohio area. If you ever get a chance to catch one of them, be sure to do so.

Performing at Context (2)My final event was performing some songs at a party hosted by R. Scott McCoy and Stygian Publications. The highlight of the event was backing up Gregory Hall in a resounding vocal performance of “Tequila.” He assured me before we started that he knew all the words, and he did.

The next morning, it was all over. Or so I thought. I walked to my car, preparing for a lonely drive back home, and there — resting on my windshield — was an autographed photo of the Funky Werepig himself. The inscription read: “You are my very best friend, Greg Hall.” I took that baby off my windshield, put it in the passenger seat, and sang “Tequila” all the way.

Greg HallYeah — you can take the scop out of Context, but you can’t take Context out of the scop.

Until next time . . . scop on!

Photos:
The Context 27 logo.
Gregory Hall interviews Maurice Broaddus on The Funky Werepig Show.
The only credentials a man needs.
The 21st-Century Scop at the Stygian Publications party.
A one-of-a-kind autographed portrait of The Funky Werepig.

Book Miles

July 10th, 2011
Book Signing at Seton Hill University

Signing for Many Genres, One Craft at Seton Hill University.

So here’s a question: how important are live events in the marketing of books? I trust everyone reading this blog is a book reader and buyer, and many of you are writers as well. So what do you think? Do the wonders of Social Media make is possible for a writer to rely on virtual touring? Or is it still necessary to do in-person events?

I’ve just returned home from a string of appearances, starting with a couple of book-launch event for Many Genres, One Craft — one event at the Stoker Weekend in New York, the other part of the In Your Write Mind Writers Retreat at Seton Hill University. The events were successful, providing opportunity to sign books, meet with readers, and network (often long into the night) with fellow writers. Those are important things, but ones that need to be balanced with travel expenses and time away from writing.

With First Writes at Borders, Wilmington, DE

Following the NY and SHU events, I had a week at home to work on two books (editing one for a fall release, drafting another for an early-winter deadline) before heading east again for events at a Borders in Delaware and Garden State Horror Writers in New Jersey. Now, back from those, I am once again endeavoring to make more progress on the forthcoming books while simultaneously getting ready for events at Confluence, GenCon, and Context.

Wordsworth wrote of “the bliss of solitude,” and I wonder how many writers (who are by nature an introspective lot) begin their careers with the intention of plying their trade in peaceful isolation only to find that the writing life does not exist apart from the world at large.

To me, the biggest challenge is shifting gears. This morning, when I should be devoting time to the characters in my next next book, I find myself wishing I were still enjoying to company of the people I met during my swing through the east.

Consider all of this the challenge facing the 21st century scop, for whereas the storytellers of an earlier time plied their fiction in public, the modern writer needs to balance both worlds – the world of public performance and that of solitary creation.

Or am I overthinking this?

I’ll look forward to reading your comments. For now . . . back to the books.