I’m not the best at these After-Action Reports, mostly because I’ve only been to a few writer’s conferences, but also because so much happens during them that I’m not sure what to focus on. And with my usual habit of digressing, well, you see where that can lead.
This is the third LibertyCon that I’ve been to (2017, 2018, and 2019). The only other one I’ve attended was World Fantasy Con back in 2016, where I spent the majority of that opening Friday helping first set up the art exhibit since they needed volunteers, and then sitting and listening to Larry Dixon regale me with stories of, well, everything from his wife Mercedes Lackey’s writing career to his artistic and authorial pursuits to the various jobs he’s held over the years. Basically, I let him talk my ear off to the point that he was probably wondering what he got himself into by inviting me to sit. But, hey, I’m the kind of guy who loves a good story, and Larry reminds me of a friend from church who always has a story about everything, and the story is always worth the hearing, even if it’s the fourth or fifth time he’s told it.
I don’t remember much else about World Fantasy Con, other than the panels that Mercedes Lackey and L.E. Modesitt (Both fantastic authors, and both guests of honor that year) sat on. Many of the other panels were about how to make a book as politically correct as possible and filling out character and setting quotas and what kinds of authors publishers want and don’t want.
Back to LibertyCon 2019. (See, there’s that digression thing I told you about…) This was the absolute best LibertyCon I’ve been to, to date. 2017 was great, 2018 was awesome, and 2019 was infinitely better than the first two combined. Back when I attended World Fantasy Con a number of the pros I spoke to who had been attending regularly for years all said it took about three or four consecutive convention visits before you started to feel like you fit in. I can say that seems to hold true for LibertyCon, though I would argue that LibertyCon is much more welcoming on the face of it. They make it a point to mark down first-time visitors and first-time pros, and everyone does their best to engage with the newcomers, from pros like Larry Correia to publishers like Toni Weisskopf to the men and women running the con. So, while I definitely felt like a dish out of water at the first con, I didn’t feel isolated or alone.
2019 was a culmination of the previous two years’ worth of visits. In 2017 I became good friends with my online writing partners William Joseph Roberts and RJ Ladon, both of whom introduced me to Ed McKeown and Michael Hanson and helped me get into a fantasy horror anthology Ed and Michael published in 2018. In 2018 I sat on my first pair of panels ever, discussing the aforementioned anthology (Sha’Daa: Toys, part of the Sha’Daa mythos), and I also met Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey, Kacey Ezell, Marisa Wolf, and several other authors published by Chris Kennedy Publishing in the Four Horsemen military sci-fi mecha action universe. I pitched a short story idea to Chris for an upcoming anthology, and that was how “Return to Sender” was born (Available in Tales from the Lyon’s Den). I am still working out a novel idea for arms dealer Jackie Warren and her tough crew of bodyguards, but that has been sidelined for now while I work on something that came up at this year’s LibertyCon.
Aside from getting to meet friends from past years and getting to make new friends and acquaintances, the biggest deal of the con was solidifying an idea I had for Christopher Woods’ Fallen World universe. It started as a pitch for a short story and Chris liked it so much he sent it over to Chris Kennedy, who liked it so much he wanted to turn it into a book. So, there we go. I’ve got a couple short stories to work on, and then it’s on to plotting out and drafting this book! It’s gonna be great.
Can’t wait to finish this book, and can’t wait for LibertyCon 2020! And maybe even FantaSci 2020.