Anime Mid-Atlantic is one of my favorite conventions to attend. It was the first anime convention I attended as a guest, shortly after beginning my convention-speaking career. Since then, I’ve gotten to know many of the regulars and staffers at the con. It’s the perfect size of convention, where it’s big enough to always have something fun going on but small enough to still feel casual and not get overwhelmed.
AMA was at a new hotel this year, the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. I was a little dubious about the hotel at first, since downtown hotels tend to be problematic for conventions. To my surprise and delight, it proved to be an excellent locale, both in terms of accessibility of the convention events and to local amenities (like meal options).
Thanks to an ambitious schedule and Virginia traffic, I missed my first panel on Friday. Kaiju in Anime was one of my new panels for AMA and I’m sorry to everybody who showed up for it. While that event was planned, I was in gridlock.
Next was the Final Fantasy Retrospective. As this is the thirtieth anniversary of the legendary JRPG franchise, a look back on the games that helped define modern gaming seemed appropriate. Going from the original Final Fantasy through Fifteen and many of the related games like Final Fantasy Legends and Mobius, we talked about all the ways the franchise has grown and inspired the industries around it. Yes, we even talked about Spirits Within, because if you’re going to do a retrospective, you might as well go all in.
Saturday saw the Writing 101 panel, where I talk about everything from why a good editor isn’t just worth the money but absolutely necessary to how to delineate between being an author (a profession) and a writer (an artist), and what effects that has on your goals and aspirations.
That evening was the Beginner’s Martial Art class. Due to another miscommunication, the room wasn’t set up for a class and most of the attendees thought it was going to be a demonstration. A quick improvised demonstration and a Q-and-A with the audience quickly got dark, but honest. It definitely wasn’t the casual event that had been intended but I think most of the attendees walked away with some very important questions answered. Next time, though, let’s just go over how to punch.
Sunday was the much-vaunted Top Ten Episodes of Transformers panel. The origins of the franchise and what makes it great were discussed quickly, and then the criteria for episode selection. Then we dove right in. Covering everything from Gen-1 through Armada, including the Japanese series, the panel ran over (really got to pace it better) and seemed to be a big hit.
Outside the panels, I shared at able with the incomparable LG Ransom, who was promoting her book, Hollins’ Heir. A coming-of-age sentai story, its unlike anything you’ll find in literature and what was once solely the purview of anime and four-color TV series. LG and got to talk shop and gush over some of the new stuff coming out in the mecha scene and I even got to see some developing work for her next books.
All in all, it was a great weekend. Sales were good, attendance was great, and the fans were amazing. A lot of interest remains for RocKaiju which, sadly, has been delayed to the delightful world of publishing and all the politics associated with it. But Samifel and Rhest for the Wicked both were well-received and a good time seemed to be had by all.
I’m calling it a win.
I am in talks currently with a variety of conventions for the end of the Summer and Fall of 2017, but currently nothing is set. This is actually for the best because my publisher and I are going to go to war to get RocKaiju in print as well as tackle some new projects, including Rhest for the Wicked 2.
I also have some conventions for the day job. These are epidemiology/public health conventions, so it will be a totally different environment. I expect. I really don’t know. I’m very curious to see what cosplayers are like at a cancer conference.
Speaking of Rhest for the Wicked is available at Barnes & Noble, with Samifel soon to follow. Slowly (very slowly), we’re getting these kinks ironed out. The slothful process of getting through distributors is a nightmare and beyond infuriating but we’re getting at it. And evidence would suggest that once we’ve gotten something cleared, subsequent releases are easier. Samifel wasn’t the slog Rhest for the Wicked was, though admitted RocKaiju is practically turning into a tragedy all its own with how many nitpicky delays we’re dealing with. Still, I will keep you posted.
In the mean time, take it easy and enjoy the summer.