Texas Frightmare Weekend was awesome, as usual!

I can highly recommend the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas, Texas to all horror and genre fans, and especially to those who love autograph hunting and amazing shopping in two huge dealer rooms. This is primarily a horror media convention, so I haven’t seen many authors represented, but the celebrity panels are excellent and the film screenings are worth a watch at all hours, too. In addition, the staff was helpful and friendly, and the lines were organized to keep moving and were managed very well. The Hyatt Regency at the airport was a great venue with sufficient food available; the only drawback was having no walk-to-the-corner places to try as well. There is a plan afoot to for next year to see if we can walk to the airport complex and access the restaurants there. The object is to leave the car in the great parking space we nabbed at the hotel. Over all, this is an A+ convention!

Alas, no plans to attend Spooky Empire this year….

I am keeping my convention plans in Texas this year, sort of a re-grouping; so I do not intend to go to Spooky Empire in Orlando this year. It is still my favorite convention, and will be missed. Perhaps next year. This means I’ll have to miss Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, too. For all of my friends who are going to Spooky Empire, have fun there for me. I will miss you all!

Spooky Empire is Coming!

Mark your calendars for the fantastic Spooky Empire Convention coming to Orlando, Florida the weekend of October 7, 8, and 9, 2011. Yours truly will be putting together and running the Author Track of writers and creators discussion panels for the second year. Spooky Empire is one of the largest horror conventions in the United States, family friendly, and plenty to see and do for all. I hope to see you there!

If you are a horror author, Young Adult included, and you would be interested in being a panelist at this convention, please email me at: auntiemaim@auntiemaim.com for more information.

Ancient City Con III Wraps Up

Jacksonville, Florida’s Hyatt (the one on the river) was once again host to the Ancient City Con for their third annual show. With more space (and hopefully more for next year) it was easy to move around and see and do many things. I don’t get into the table gaming or the video game contests, but many others did, and I know the panels were successful. They also had “Make and Take” projects going on, which are like classes that teach you to make a specific item.

I had some wonderful success with book sales, and most of the dealers I spoke to on one of my shopping rounds reported that they were making good sales, too. I wasn’t surprised, since last year this was the most successful convention for sales as well. However, after the dismal outcome (sales-wise, anyway) of one of my 2009 cons in Orlando, dismal for all of the dealers that is, it was nice to see all that happy commerce going on in Jacksonville.

My panels, “The Pillars of Writing” and “How to Beat Writer’s Block” were very well received, and I had book agent Gary Roen and author William Hatfield on those with me, as well as a few other esteemed authors for either one or both topics.

For the late night panels, we had MovieCrypt.com putting on both the “Vampires, Vampires, Vampires” panel, and the infamous “Occult Showdown” panel, in which the audience picks sides in versus-style match ups and helps “make the case” for how/why their pick would win over their opponent. The coup de grace was the last match: the Blob Vs. the Stuff. As a member of the audience, I was leaning toward favoring the Blob to win. In the end, it came down to a deciding factor of body count: the Blob had wracked up more bodies than the edible Stuff. Another popular one, early on, was Buffy Vs. Anita Blake. Naturally, Buffy won. It’s hard to beat someone who has already died twice and come back swinging both times! As Buffy herself said in one episode while comparing “stuff happens” with her ex, “Did you die?” When he says no, she replies, “I’m gonna win.”

The weather was a bit soggy, the hotel managed to have two waitresses in the bar area at lunch with two conventions in the building, and the Mongolian BBQ place I wanted to revisit is now a Gold’s Gym, but hey – the little Mexican food place at the Landing, Cinco De Mayo, made up for a lot of that. We were three tables worth of people, but it was great having about three waiters hovering and ready to fetch stuff and freshen drinks at any moment. Plus, their food was amazing!

For next year, our suggestion of a separate room for the panels is in the planning. They also want another separate room for showing a schedule of films. I think these plans will greatly enhance the whole experience for Ancient City Con IV.

And to some friends of mine who live in Jacksonville, I’ll call them “The Muses”, it was wonderful to hang out with you all again, ladies, and great to meet those of you who I didn’t know already on Saturday morning. Along with my other friends from Florida, you all made the weekend even better with fun conversation and excellent stories told. I look forward to doing it again next year!

Spooky Empire Convention: A Smashing Success!

I’ve had a few weekends to recouperate (not that I’ve slowed down much since) but I am happy to report that the Spooky Empire Convention went stunningly well. I manned three panel discussions, with my book agent and friend Gary Roen being the official moderator for the first two, and yours truly taking the reins for the last panel on Sunday. We had very good audience turn out for all of the panels, and I always love seeing more people who are interested in writing.

The Zombie Walk went well on Friday, and while I never heard an official count, it looked to me like fewer zombies than last year, but the quality was better, including the “in character” shuffle back to the hotel from TGI Fridays.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get to everything that went on, and I missed the undoubtedly excellent Hellraiser panel, due to them being too close to one of my own. I did catch most of the Phantasm panel with Angus Scrimm and Michael Baldwin, and it was a lot of fun. Mr. Scrimm was a hoot! They were both gracious enough later to grant me interviews, as well.

Two groups I had not heard of before and now can recommend heartily are the Ghouligans (video surfer-monsters humor) and the southern rock band with a twist known as Ghoultown. Ghoultown are from Texas, too, which amused me. I think I was the only person from Texas on their mailing list.

The dealer’s room was jumping and full of awesome goodies, many of which I dragged home with me, and the convention as a whole was primely put together. Hats off to Pete M. and his staff for a job well done!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful all of the guests were. I’m already devoted to the Cenobites and the lovely Ashley Laurence, and it was an honor to finally meet Angus Scrimm, Malcolm McDowell, Elvira, Michael Berryman, and all of the others, too.

The VIP party on Saturday night was a lot of fun, as it was last year. I met some great folks, and got to see my friends from last year, as well. Hanging out with friends, snapping some photos, and listening to some entertaining karoke numbers for a bit, made for a splendid evening.

I didn’t get to see Voltaire’s concert (I’m not sure it happened at all) but I did catch Ghoultown’s show, even though they got delayed at first from the time they were scheduled to start. The concerts seemed to be the only part with a little bit of trouble, especially in the arc lighting during the band ahead of Ghoultown. Someone kept sending the arc lighting right into the eyes of the crowd, and the sound wasn’t as clear all the way through as it could have been. Ghoultown and especially their trumpet player more than made up for it, though. I promply bought three of their CDs the next morning.

Overall, this is still my favorite convention, and the best horror convention I’ve been to yet. High marks!

October Cometh!

It’s the story of my life, folks: every year, since about the age of fourteen, when July/August rolls around, I begin to ritually ignore some important stuff (such as my birthday in September) because I am preparing for October. Why, you ask? Halloween has been the main reason, from the start. Then when I turned sixteen, the Texas Renaissance Festival was added to the mix, and finally, more recently, the blow-out “end of the season” convention, Spooky Empire (formerly known as Screamfest).

The Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) is a massive eight weekends event. It is largely (for me) an excuse to dress up in costumes. Sort of an extension of Halloween all month long that also leaks into November. It’s also a family reunion, since my large extended family consists of all of my wonderful “Rennie” friends. We come from all over Texas, and Texas is BIG, so TRF is often the only time we see each other. We all camp, too, so for a smattering of weekends a year we’re all neighbors; add in the drum circle jams, chainmail fashion shows, and sampling of homemade liquid goodies, and it shapes up to be not a bad sort of family reunion at all.

I used to try to attend every single one, back when there were only six of them. This year, I may only get to four of them. Spooky Empire will take up the weekend of October 17 – 19, and the Zombie Walk in Houston and the big Ellington Field Airshow will take up October 25 & 26 (any excuse to dress up like zombie is not to be missed, and I never miss an opportunity to walk through a C5 or gawk at WW2 warbirds, either).

Some of those weekends not at TRF will have to be reserved for working on my other projects; namely, the zine, Arrhythmic Souls, and the radio show, Fiends Radio with Auntie Maim. Oh, and sleep. Sleep helps.

I still love to go trick or treating now and then, too, when I have kids around to make it look legit. My friends in the Heights have their twins, who are five now, and when I attend their Halloween party, we go around the block with the wee ones. I have to switch out my serious costumes for that, though, as the wee ones would faint if I showed up in the outfits I wear to conventions or a Zombie Walk. For their sakes, I usually go in my pirate costume, which, thanks to the shops at TRF, has gotten pretty cool these days.

For this year’s Zombie Walks (now that I’ll be involved in two of them, Orlando & Houston) I’m stealing my vampire bride idea and turning her into “zombie bride”. The dress can pull double duty later once I get new vamp custom fangs made and new perscription vamp contacts again (my current vamp contacts are about ten years old, and make me a blind vampire). I also acquired a new dress (no more need to take an hour suiting up into the corsetry of the former) and I will be destroying it over the next few weeks in preparation for Spooky Empire. (For the curious, you find a wedding dress in a resale shop to make it a more affordable costume. I found my new one on sale and it ended up costing me $21.95). It is also HEAVY, so I will be suffering for my art, as usual; nothing new there!

Needless to say, October is my busiest month, seconded by November. It’s frantic, balls-to-the-wall insanity to get it all ready and then get it all done, but I love every hectic minute of it. Viva October!