“Now how is it that conventions are not just big parties of you hanging out with your friends? And how does this constitute ‘work’?” –Sally Broaddus
Okay, I can see the confusion to the untrained eye.
There’s a lot I can say about why and how I do Mo*Con. It is a convention that I intentionally keep fairly small and built around two things: being relational and food (with helps with the opportunity for folks to be around one another). I started it with one goal: I want to love on and spoil writers.
Each year I try to have a theme that the conversations/panels revolve around. Spirituality is a constant theme, mixing in various social issues from race to gender to love. This year’s theme was family. I felt like we had a warm up to the convention the weekend before when I had the honor of performing the wedding of Bill Lindblad and Jenny Orosel.
It’s also why we had so much cake at Mo*Con. Friday we celebrated the birthdays of me and John C. Hay (and Brian Knight). Saturday we celebrated Wrath James White’s anniversary. Sunday we celebrated the birthday of Lucy Snyder (and previous Mo*Conners, Mark Rainey and Douglass F. Warrick, in abstentia).
“Things happen here- that aren’t to be spoken of. But the pictures sure are fun!” –Gregory Hall
Here’s the formal breakdown of a con:
Since nothing creates a sense of family like enjoying meals together—and since I had guests arriving Thursday, and since SOMEONE announced this on my blog—then you know that Mo*Con began unofficially with midnight (Jack Daniel’s) steaks.
I like to take the guests to an interesting local restaurant for lunch, in this case, Yats, a Cajun restaurant. The cooking at 3:00 p.m. with the doors opening at 6:00 p.m. and our traditional opening meal (fettucine alfredo and chicken marsala) which we might as well call our tribute dinner to Alethea Kontis. At 9:00 p.m. we had our open mic of poetry and flash fiction (we won’t speak of the appearance of the bionic cow pope).
“I don’t twitter because I can’t punch you.” – Wrath James White
We jammed a lot into our day. Because of how late folks stay up Friday night, it is at this point in the convention schedule that we fully function on an “ish” schedule, as in the doors opened at 10-ish. The first panel “blogging dos and don’ts” began a conversation that became a running one during the course of the convention about how much of an artist’s life is free game to write about vs. privacy issues. At noon (ish) we brok for lunch (Sara Larson’s marvelous lasagna). This was followed by Steve Gilberts’ art seminar for the kids who were present. Brian Keene’s incredible reading of his story from Dark Faith, “I Sing a New Song” which led into our spirituality panel, a broad mix of atheists, Christians, agnostics, Jews, Odinists, and Hindu practitioners. The stories shared were thoughtful, heart-breaking, and I know impacted several people.
“I sat down to make monsters and butterflies came out.” –Alethea Kontis
Next up, our art gallery celebrated the work of Emma Overman, Steve Gilberts, Kristin Fuller, Alethea Kontis, and Jim Leach. Adding to the mix, the Funky Werepig did a live broadcast from amidst the chaos. Then Alethea Kontis gave a reading of her book, H is for Halloween, for the kids (which included a rapt Gary Braunbeck). And we debuted Dark Faith with a massive signing.
Lastly came dinner (chicken enchiladas and a taco bar) right before we had a panel conversation on sex and literature.
“I hate arguing with people who are obviously so wrong.” –Wrath James White
So yeah, Mo*Con has the feel of part family reunion and part convention. As with any con report, we can’t help but leave out all of the magical moments that always seem to happen that make the event so special:
-the late night spiritual discussions
-watching the Moseley fight while Wrath broke it down with commentary
-my boys, in the throes of their entrepreneurial spirit, setting up a lemonade stand
-Alex McVey, who was unable to physically make it to the convention, managed to be there in spirit
-the Funky Werepig folks bringing me candy after they heard about Wrath stealing my Sweet Tarts last year.
But here are some other con reports:
“It’s a story, but it’s a great f&*#@n’ story.” –Geoffrey Girard
Mo*Con is far from a one man show. It couldn’t be done without the hard work of Sally Broaddus, the welcome of Trinity Church, and the efforts of the Indiana Horror Writers, especially the indefatigable Sara Larson. Thanks so much to all those who helped. And to our guests who never fail to make it so memorable! (This means you, Kelli Dunlap Owen!)
By the way, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year (Bob Freeman wins teh interwebz for today with this one):