Wednesday, May 25, 2022

May Media Roundup & Conference Updates

I had a busy few weeks, with Pikes Peak Writers Conference at the end of April and StokerCon two weeks later. Funnily, I was anxious about attending each, though for different reasons, but both went well, and I had a lot of fun. Those of you who also suffer from fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome know well what I'm going through after attending two conferences back to back, but I'm glad I went.

I already posted a bit of a recap of PPWC in my May IWSG post, but I didn't post pictures, so figured I'd share some of those here. Our long-time photographer, and the person who did my headshots, which I still use, Jared Hagan, did a fun photo studio for the Saturday dinner, which was prom-themed. I chose not to go prommy, but I did dress up. 

Me with a couple friends: MB and Kim

MB and I pimping a friend's book (David R. Slayton, Deadbeat Druid)

Hiding in my room to get some downtime

With friends Charise and Pete

With friends (and now my publisher) Sam and MB

Friday horror clothes for a Friday horror workshop (look closely at the jacket lining--I'm not flashing you just for fun)

Me psyching myself up to do my last workshop of the weekend (number five) before folks showed up

Kameron and I in a goofy pose

StokerCon only lasted two days for me. Since I had a reading Thursday night, a panel Friday morning (EARLY), and then the book signing Friday night, I switched my hotel nights to Thursday and Friday, and headed home Saturday. By that time, I was also incredibly sick with vertigo, because I had to use the elevator, as the hotel had the stairwells locked from the inside to keep homeless folks out of the hotel. The hotel, The Curtis, was in the middle of downtown, or what's referred to as LoDo--Lower Downtown. I try not to take elevators when I can help it, which, yes, has meant using the stairs in some insanely tall buildings. For SC, I was on the 16th floor, in a beautiful corner room with a view of the city. I learned the stairwell doors were locked AFTER descending from the 16th floor to the second floor and having to climb back up, trying doors as I went, until I found an unlocked door on the tenth floor. 

My reading went well, with a nice turnout, including several friends. We walked a few blocks to grab dinner afterward, then went to a social with an open bar. There, I made a point of introducing myself to some folks I've only "met" on Facebook before. Everyone was very friendly. Then I went to a fun panel that was split into two teams. Each team was given a famous horror villain and had to make their case for why their villain would beat the other villain. Then a panel of three judges decided who had won. It was a lot of fun, and there were some major horror authors all together on one panel.

Monster Mash panel, with Brian Keene, Jennifer McMahon, Nancy Holder, Sephera Giron, Jeff Strand, Marc Abbott, John Skipp, (and some folks whose names are not popping up in my head right now...sorry!)

The next day, I got up super early and waited at the elevator. And waited. And waited. When you're on the 16th floor during a busy convention, the elevator comes to you quite sparingly, as it turns out. Of course, I normally would have just TAKEN THE STAIRS. Since I couldn't, I was late to my one and only panel, which I wasn't happy about, but I couldn't do anything about it at that point. The panel was about podcasts, audiobooks, and audio adaptations, and the room was packed. My fellow panelists were Wendy Wagner, Tonia Ransom, James Sabata, Alex Hofelich, and the moderator was Marc Abbott. They were a great group, and no one gave me crap for being late, which was nice.

The signing was insane. There were so many people crammed into the room. I don't think I've ever been in a busier signing before, and I've been in plenty. I sold a few books, and some more folks bought them online. I was lucky to be seated near some folks I knew.

Random funny story: a previous editor and current friend had asked if she could ship a couple contributor copies to me, so I could hand them off to two authors, one coming from New Zealand, one from Australia. (And I got a free copy for my troubles!). We were in touch via Messenger and text, trying to set up a meeting time. Well, you know that morning I was late to my panel? When I was stuck waiting for the elevator, a couple from New Zealand showed up, as well, and we waited together. We even introduced each other while standing there. Then I'm sitting at the Denver Horror Collective table later and it hits me that the Lee I was meeting with was the very same Lee I'd been standing at the elevator with, which I confirmed later. I did successfully get them their books, and both women ended up winning Stokers on Saturday evening! Not only that, but after chatting and trying to arrange meeting up to give them the books, we ended up at signing tables right next to each other. The world's a small place, don't you think?

With Lee and Gene at the signing, books handed off!

Before I jump into this month's media, which is pretty sparse since I was doing a lot of prep for conferences, I'll leave you with some pictures of the 13th floor of the Curtis, which is horror-themed. In fact, each floor was themed, and I believe there were themed rooms, as well. 

Down one hallway, the girl from Poltergeist

The wallpaper!

On the wall by the elevators

The Grady twins from The Shining down another hallway

Okay, media! These are some of the media I enjoyed in May and late April.


60 Ways to Die in South America, by Tracy Ashworth

A silly romance with adventure and humorous foibles. A journalist gets sent to South America to cover adventurous travel, something she is definitely not suited for, but money talks. The photographer sent to work with her knows what he's doing, and spends a lot of time saving her from herself on their adventure spree across South America. 

I can sometimes be irritated by the type of main character in these books, because they're a little too stupid for my liking and are frequently constant victims, but I felt like this character held her own a bit better than usual. The romance is sweet and the situation was a unique one.

How Beautiful We Were, by Imbolo Mbue

This book is gorgeous, soulful, and heartbreaking. It traces the line of a family in a small, African village, as they deal with the trouble western civilization (mainly Americans) and their own government and people bring to bear. From people kidnapped as slaves to oil companies destroying the land and the people who must live on it. 

The story is told from different points-of-view, including a collective group called "The Children." It is fascinating how well Mbue weaved their stories together so that there was nothing whatsoever awkward about a group of people speaking as one in those chapters. It's hard for me to explain, but I feel writers should read this for that mechanism alone.

The standout character is Thula, a young woman who starts out as a child at the beginning (her age-mates are "The Children"), watching first her father and then her uncle be destroyed by His Excellency to keep the villagers quiet. But she gets an opportunity to travel to the U.S. and attend a college there. She learns how to fight back for civil rights, and brings her knowledge back to help those villagers still remaining. Her determination makes you want to believe she can overcome her powerful government; the bad decisions of her age-mates, fellow villagers, and patriarchal countrymen; and  and the legal power of an American oil company. Her passion is contagious.

Not a fast read, but definitely worthwhile. Stunning.


The Lost City

I was all in as soon as I saw Sandra Bullock and a preview that told me this was deeply inspired by Romancing the Stone. It very similar to RtS, but updated, with some important changes. Bullock is always funny, and Radcliffe makes for a great villain. Entertaining, funny, and action packed.

Ritual (Shudder)

This Indonesian horror film was horrifying, but then it threw a bizarre twist that made it all that much more horrifying. The twist is well done, the dread palpable, and the horror...well, horrifying. A man wakes up buried under a pile of dirt. He must find his way to safety and try to find his family, who are also being hunted in the woods. And that's all I can say without giving anything away. Seriously, though, this one will stick with me, both for the abject horror of what came before the twist and the dread that followed it.

Senior Year (Netflix)

This could have failed hard and been stupid, but it was both funny and full of heart. A popular senior gets knocked out during a cheerleading exhibition, going into a coma for twenty years. When she wakes up, she's stuck with the mentality of a senior in high school, even though her body is twenty years older. Determined to get prom queen, which she was destined for before her coma, she goes back to school to finish her senior year and get popular all over again.

Jamie Marks is Dead (Shudder)

A fairly quiet film that follows the death of a boy. A different take on the afterlife and the undead. There's little violence and no real gore.

A fellow student happens across the dead body of Jamie Marks by the river. Jamie was bullied while alive, yet people now come out to grieve his death. But when the girl who found him and a boy who never bullied him start seeing Jamie walking around as if he were living, they each handle it differently.

TV Shows

LOL: Last One Laughing - Canada (Amazon)

A group of well known comedians is locked in a room, armed with humor and plenty of props. The last one to laugh wins. 

Hysterical. I guarantee you're going to recognize some of these comedians. Hosted by Jay Baruchel, you'll have a whole new appreciation for comedians after watching this. Absolutely addictive. I also recommend the Australian version, hosted by Rebel Wilson. There are a ton in other countries, including Germany and Mexico, but I haven't tried watching them yet. Not sure how well humor translates with subtitles. I'm hoping they'll do a U.S. one soon, but if not, I'll be happy with new seasons of Australia and Canada.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Hulu) (originally BBC America)

This show is so weird! But incredibly twisty and entertaining. Elijah Wood plays a bit of a sad sack, who works at a hotel and gets sucked into the maelstrom that is Dirk Gently, a detective who is constantly mixed up in bizarre things, such as a the mind of a teenage girl being put into a dog, and vice versa. There's time travel, action, danger, and more. And so. much. weirdness.

The Baby (HBO)

This horror comedy is only four episodes in, but it's made a splash, so far. An unlucky woman who has retreated to a private house on the beach at the base of a sheer cliff happens to be having a smoke outside when, first, a woman plummets to her death right in front of her, and then a baby falls into her arms. 

It turns out that everywhere the baby goes, horrible things happen to people. Deadly things. While the first three episodes were darkly comical, the fourth episode had me seething in rage, so maybe a little too relevant to current affairs. I'm looking forward to the return to dark comedy next week. The serious episode was a bit of an origin story.


I've only just started then, so I'm two episodes in, but it's a good one. Jean Smart is a famous enough comedian to have a nightly show in Vegas and a ridiculously oversized mansion in the desert. A "cancelled" comedian ends up writing for her, and the show is about their relationship.

I love Jean Smart, and have since "Designing Women," though I much prefer her in her savvier roles. She's in full savvy Jean Smart mode in this one. There are some funny elements and some dramatic elements, and it makes for a good watch.

What have you been watching? Any good shows, movies, or books you'd recommend? Attended any conferences or conventions lately?

May you find your Muse.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like the conference was awesome. That's great the book signing was so busy. Sorry about your ordeal with the elevators.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Sounds like StokerCon went well overall! I did the virtual version and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Lost City was a hoot! And making a note of Ritual.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon - it does sound an eventful conference - with some interesting aspects ... but yet you fulfilled your goals - good for you. I'm into more 'serious' movies - but no doubt anon will get to these, but not the horror ones. Cheers and congratulations - Hilary