It has taken me longer than I’d like to type this all out, cobbled together from notes taken while at the con, pictures, posts of friends, and even a podcast recap but here we are at last.
This year I attended my very first BizarroCon and it felt like coming home, like meeting a family I never knew I had, like being part of something that I just naturally fit in to without trying… and it was such a wonderful experience.
Several months back, I posted on Facebook wishing that there was a horror convention in the Pacific Northwest. A few of my friends immediately responded with enthusiastic shouts of “BIZARROCON!” , which I had not previously heard of. So I looked into it. I hadn’t made it public yet, but I had just had a manuscript accepted by Eraserhead Press, which I was (and am!) insanely excited about… so when I saw that BizarroCon was theirs, my decision was made.
Now I should mention that I can be really awkward sometimes… I have a tendency to get flustered in social situations which inevitably leads to me saying or doing the wrong thing…. that tendency often makes me even MORE nervous because I’m so worried about making the wrong impression. For that reason, cons can sometimes freak/stress me out a bit… but that is ESPECIALLY true when I care a lot about making a good impression… and in a situation where there were so many awesome people in one place I was beyond worried about it… But my fears proved to be unfounded (for the most part… I did fangirl at John Skipp and Carlton Mellick III… the latter of which I’m sure thinks I’m a blathering idiot…) The environment was so welcoming, so friendly, so just… right that my awkwardness and fear were a distant memory before I really had much time to think about it. For that, I have to thank Danger Slater, who first noticed me kind of hiding in a corner and pulled me out of it, Rose O’Keefe herself who took the time to make sure I felt comfortable and pull me just a bit more out of my shell, and Tiffany Scandal, who was friendly, fun, and awesome and shared a conversation with me while I waited for my food at the Power Station bar. Jeff Burk gave me a full set of Dinosaurs Attack! Cards, which I proceeded to dig through gleefully filled with nostalgia and giggles.
There were way too many awesome things that happened and wonderful people I met to list, so please excuse me if I forget anything or anyone… but here are some of my favorite moments:
There was a creepy jester on my door! I absolutely loved the art all over the hotel where the con was held (The historic McMenamin’s Edgefield) but this little guy was one of my absolute favorites. Luckily for me, he was in my room!
The PICKLE PARTY! That was so much fun and such a great way to connect with people over food! Thankfully my favorite brand (local to my home near Boston) is available in Portland! So I grabbed a container and was able to participate!
The Eraserhead Press Party! I was so sad that I kept nodding off at the Eraserhead Press party! Truth be told I’ve never been a night owl, but add in jetlag and a loooong plane ride with a connection on a tiny little prop plane and… I was ready to hit the hay almost as soon as the fun began. I made it long enough to buy books (YES!) and catch a few readings before I decided that falling asleep at the party might become a real possibility, so I regretfully headed back to my room to sleep under the watchful eyes of that creepy jester fellow.
ART! I got to see some really awesome people creating some really incredible art! The legendary Alan Clark painted a beautiful portrait, Andrew Goldfarb worked his velvet magic, and the incredibly talented Liv Rainey-Smith carved one of her beautiful and insanely detailed woodcuts. Liv was really wonderful and answered all of my questions about her work.
Workshops! I attended two different workshops, one on writing like a scenarist taught by John Skipp and one on writing visually taught by Brian Keene. Both workshops were very informative and both instructors are masters of their craft and imparted their wisdom to a group of diverse people with varying career paths. It was really wonderful to be able to learn from two people I really admire and respect. As a bonus, John Skipp said that I “aced” the homework assignment! I was glowing!
Readings! Reading is always an activity I enjoy and I try to do it as often as I can. My reading at BizarroCon was awesome. I shared the slot with the AMAZING Christine Morgan (more on her later!) and she read from her upcoming Deadite Press book Spermjackers From Hell. A tough act to follow, to be sure. I read my favorite scene from The Terminal and received many compliments. Josh Spicoli said he enjoyed my reading so much, he bought the book from Amazon on the spot! Thanks, Josh! I also saw some really amazing readings. Jeff Burk and Kevin L. Donihe shared a slot and it was one of my all time favorites. First Jeff read a selection of classic and original Crappy Pastas. He read one of the most famous examples and deadpanned the final line in such a way that I was struggling not to choke with laughter. Then Kevin L. Donihe read a disturbing tale of a particularly unfortunate rag followed by the world’s greatest dramatic reading of the novelization of The Cable Guy (thanks to a generous raffle prize from CV Hunt).
The FOOD! Everything I consumed at BizarroCon was amazing! From those delicious pickles and zucchini bread from Ross Lockhart to the breakfasts at the Black Rabbit, to the beers (and cider) I sampled at the party, the fajitas at the Wonderland Book Awards… everything was fantastic.
My favorite moment of the con has to go to Christine Morgan. She made me a doll based on Captain Axe (the villain from my novella, The Terminal). There are no words for how I felt when I saw him. It’s one of the coolest things anyone has done for me and one of the most kind, welcoming, amazing gestures ever. Thank you, Christine! Captain Axe now graces a very special spot in my writing nook!
I will DEFINITELY be back for BizarroCon 2017!