E. Chris Garrison's Tipsy Fairy Tales Blog Tour featuring the novels Blue Spirit and Restless Spirit!
September 21-28, 2016
Please Welcome E. Chris Garrison to the blog today!
E. Chris Garrison's Top Ten Game Convention Essentials
I've been going to nerdy conventions for a long time. One in particular, Gen Con, stands out above the rest, as I have been going since 1987, having missed only a couple of years in all that time. It is no coincidence that my my latest book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales series, Restless Spirit, takes place in a huge gaming convention not unlike Gen Con. The series' main character, Skye MacLeod, is an avid gamer herself, though her con experience includes all-too-real trolls and zombies, as well as an ancient horror.
And I'm not talking about the grognard who hasn't showered in a week.
So let's count it down from start to finish, my favorite things about game conventions!
#10 - Stalking the Convention Center Beforehand
Okay, so maybe this is just me, but I love the feel of anticipation the day before the convention starts, as con-goers and vendors roll in from out of town and begin to get settled for days of geeky abandon. The halls aren't empty, but the people wandering about have little purpose, no real hurry, just clusters of friends walking around, waiting for it all to begin.
#9 - Pre-Con Bash!
Many large cons will have a band, a beer tent, and food trucks out to celebrate the start of this year's convention. I was so mad at myself the year I showed up a day late and had missed my favorite band, They Might Be Giants kicking off Gen Con one year when it was still held in Milwaukee. This event heightens the anticipation of the convention starting, and is a focal point for early arrivals to gather and party.
#8 - Will Call
Okay, this is no one's favorite thing, waiting in line. Careful planners can avoid it, but many years, I've had last minute changes, and to be honest, the USPS is why I have trust issues, having sent my tickets back to Seattle instead of delivering them one year. The line goes ever on, they say, but some cons are better organized (and staffed) than others, and even a half mile long line can proceed at walking speed for most of the wait on a good day.
#7 - Roaming the Halls
I've heard of people "auditing" a con before, not actually getting a badge, skipping events, but wandering around the hallways of the convention center and surrounding hotels for the pure spectacle, and of course, people-watching. Especially on days that there's a costume parade or a zombie walk. Braaaaainsss!
(Note, some cons do crack down on this practice, so do not count on being able to do this)
#6 - The Dealer Room
I'll admit, this is the part I love and hate the most. I love wandering among the booths of various vendors, selling wares wondrous and surprising. I even like being a vendor, selling my books to passers-by; it's actually a good way to see the con, it will all come to you eventually. This past Indiana Comic Con, John Rhys Davies walked up and shook my hand, and I got to fist bump Brent Spiner, all without leaving my table!
Why do I hate it? I'll tell you a secret. I've got crowd issues. And the place that's most crowded at cons is usually the dealer room. When enough people bump into me, when the noise level gets on my last nerve, then it is time for this girl to get out of there.
#5 - Tabletop Games!
So, this is the heart of a game con. Sitting down with friends and strangers alike to play Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: the Gathering, war games, card games, board games, role-playing games and more. Snack on snacks, gulp your Mountain Dew, and tell each other about your character in your home campaign. Bond with people you haven't met over shared love for these bits of paper, cardboard, and plastic polyhedral dice. Later, you can tell war stories with your roommates, friends, and folks back home, because this is where the action is!
#4 - LARPs
I am not much of a Live-Action Roleplayer, but I have had more of an interest recently due to an introduction through friends. LARPs are games that play out socially, mostly standing up, usually without dice, often with few hard and fast rules. They're a combination of role-playing, improv theater, and shared storytelling. There's a wonderful alchemy that happens when a good group of players gets together to LARP, belief is suspended for awhile, and you can lose yourself in a character for awhile, getting to be someone else in shared imagination. I'll be doing some more of this in the future, though I am not at all good at it so far.
#3 - Con Food
The aforementioned Mountain Dew and snacks are just the beginning. Cons often have overpriced, mediocre vended food, but the food trucks know where a party is, and will cluster nearby. Also, local restaurants, if they're wise, will open their doors and welcome gamers, often with amusing menus with gamer themes. Gamers also smuggle in packed meals, hide out with a hot pot and Easy Mac in their rooms, or grill cheese sandwiches with an iron. One of my first Gen Cons, I forgot to eat all day, wandered the streets of Milwaukee until I found a greasy spoon diner that served the best cheeseburger I've ever eaten. Hunger makes the sweetest sauce, they say. I have since learned to pack granola bars and pop tarts for utter emergencies, and I'll pay extortion rates for the convention center fare if need be.
#2 - Utter Exhaustion
Conventions are a ton of fun packed into only a few days. Even at smaller conventions, it is utterly impossible to do every event, and it would take several lifetimes to do so at a large con. Still, many people try, packing their days and nights with wall to wall events to make the most of the 3 or 4 days they have. Myself, I can get worn out even without having many events, and I usually stay late enough to get poor sleep. Younger gamers often get no sleep at all. I can not count how many times I've been to tears with exhaustion overdoing it, swearing I won't go back next year, or if I do, I'll dial it back. And almost every year, I've started counting down until the next year's con only a couple of months later. Pretty much, if you don't wear yourself out, you're probably doing it wrong.
#1 - Old Friends and New
This is the real reason for a convention. We can play games with our friends at home. We can play video games online in our pajamas. We can go shopping for games online or at a local games store. But a convention is to meet up with hundreds or thousands of other gamers, many of whom love what we love in their fandoms and game preferences. In 1987, at Gen Con, I saw so many geeky guys in trenchcoats and/or fedoras, all used to being the weirdest person in the room, suddenly encountering dozens of others who looked and acted just like them. That's disturbing, at first, to seem to lose that thing that makes you special. But something wonderful happens; you discover that you're not so weird, that no matter your interest, someone else at the con likes something you do. Lots of someones, actually. And suddenly, a convention becomes more than a place to game, it becomes a community.
All of these elements are why I chose to set Restless Spirit at Big Con. There is no better home for Skye and her friends, and no better place for them to defend against supernatural threats than this gathering of people to share their love for games and other geeky endeavors
Meet the Author:
E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded. Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and the Tipsy Fairy Tales published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk. Her novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.
About Blue Spirit:
Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships. With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot? Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2cHlx0L
About Restless Spirit:
When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly. Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice! Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it. Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up? Book Two of the Tipsy Fairy Tales Trilogy.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2cHluCp
Tour Schedule and Activities:
9/21 Novel-ties Review
9/21 RJ Sullivan Fiction Guest Post
9/21 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top Ten's List
9/22 Green Gates Entertainment Review
9/23 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! Top Ten's List
9/24 Sheila's Reviews Guest Post
9/25 Deal Sharing Aunt Author Interview
9/26 Jorie Loves A Story Review
9/26 Magic of books Review
9/26 Cabin Goddess Top Ten's List
9/27 Jordan Hirsch Review
9/27 The Seventh Star Author Interview
9/28 Jorie Loves A Story Guest Post