I attended ConCarolinas yesterday with my daughter. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to attend cons. We shoot for the smaller local cons because they are typically more intimate than some of the bigger ones. We started years ago with MarsCon out of Williamsburg, VA; tried out RavenCon in Richmond, VA; StellarCon in Greensboro, NC; and now have zoned in on ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC. Now that we live in Charlotte, ConCarolinas is definitely the most convenient to attend.
My daughter likes to cosplay at times and likes to talk to people at the convention, where I am the proverbial stick in the mud. Yes, I’m the author. Yes, I’m supposed to mingle, and meet other authors, and promote my books. Yes, I suck at it.
I always make the rounds and talk to the authors hawking their wares. I typically buy a handful of books from said authors, not the bookstores in the dealer room. I hope they will do the same for me, in the future—next year.
I will be releasing the third book in my trilogy this winter (in time for Christmas), and next year will be the big marketing push to promote the series. I plan to attend as many conventions as possible in 2018. I’ll be the one sitting behind the table watching people walk by and hoping they’ll stop and talk. I won’t lie—I’m a bit apprehensive about it, but excited at the same time.
Stop by and say hi. It won’t matter if you buy a book, I’ll be happy to see you.
My new favorite protagonist is Cullen Bohannan from the Television show Hell on Wheels. I just finished watching the show on Netflix.
Wow, great writing, and great acting by Anson Mount. The character is flawed, and yet you can’t help but cheer him on. Throughout the show, the complexity of his character is revealed in measured doses, and the growth from a single-minded killer to a more complex character, but still a killer, is awesome.
I was planning to go into detail and talk about archetypes and flawed protagonists, and such, but decided that it is better to just recommend the show. Why try to explain when seeing it would put my words to shame anyway? Can I say “wow” again?
A couple of recent season finales have made me think about how to do a cliffhanger right. To be honest, the last season finale of The Walking Dead pissed me off enough to stop watching the show, and it made me think about how they did it wrong.
To do a cliffhanger correctly, you have to entice your audience to want to see the next scene without pissing them off. It is about building anticipation in the audience to the right degree that they will come back for more. It is also a way to build tension in your story. This is often done through some type of revelation or twist to the storyline that happens as part of the cliffhanger or at the beginning of the next scene.
An example of a good cliffhanger was the end of the season 5 of The Game of Thrones. Jon Snow is stabbed multiple times, and the season ends with him lying in the snow, but is Jon Snow really “dead” dead? The way the scene ends with Jon lying alone in the snow leaves the option open that he survives. Also, there were enough hints in the story to that point (people brought back to life) that he could possibly be revived from the dead. This is enough to leave the audience guessing and to build the tension for the next season without alienating the audience through the use of a “cheap trick.” The reveal comes later, early in season 6, when the audience finds out if Jon Snow lives.
In contrast, the end of season 6 of The Walking Dead was a cheap trick. The Walking Dead crew is lined up on their knees with no possibility of escape. Negan is counting out with his nasty baseball bat, and the audience knows one of their beloved characters is going to die—then the scene ends and the audience has to wait until next season to find out who gets it. Yes, there is tension. Yes, there is anticipation for what comes next. But unfortunately, the audience is left gnashing their teeth in frustration. I call this artificial tension, where the writer withholds information to create tension with the audience. Unfortunately, this type of tension creation causes the audience to feel like they are being tricked somehow.
To me this is a cheap trick that turns me off from a story. The Walking Dead is one of those shows that goes hot and cold from season to season as it is. This artificial tension season finale was the last straw to make me lose interest in the story. It was not the zombies or the characters that killed the most popular zombie show for me—it was the writing, and the improper use of a cliffhanger.
Do you like bagpipes, kilts, Celtic dancing, and brawny men throwing heavy objects? If so, you need to attend the Highland games. You can find highland games worldwide, but one of the largest clan gatherings takes place just a hop, skip, and a jump from my home.
The Highland games are held at Grandfather Mountain in the North Carolina Smokey Mountains every year in July. If you ever wondered why they are called the Smokey Mountains, check out the picture from my condo balcony.
Attending the Highland Games is a fun weekend—actually it is a four day weekend event. There is music, athletic competitions, shopping, food, and everything Scottish. If you have a Scottish ancestor, you can find out to which clan you belong, visit their tent, and learn about your family history. If you don’t have a drop of Scottish blood, it’s still a great time.
My favorite event to watch is the caber toss. I’m not sure who came up with the idea that tossing a 175 pound tree was a sport, but there are quite a few Scotsmen willing to give it a try. My stomach hurts just watching it.
Aside from watching the events, I probably enjoy the music the most. If you love bagpipes then come out to one of these gatherings. Maybe I’ll see you there.