Gathering Steam: Steamcon II Report

Back from Seattle after a weekend of steam+punk! Here’s a clean and dirty rundown of the experience, my first ever convention as an author.

Day 0 (Thursday) – Caught the plane, with a stopover in Vegas. Got put in the back of the plane with a couple of ladies on their way to a 40th birthday celebration and already in the ‘spirit,’ if you understand. They got a lot of disapproving glances from everybody around them, but whatever, that’s the human experience. They were nice enough, and just looking to have a good time.  The stewardess surreptitiously slipped me a free beer for being a sport I guess. Good times!

Landed in Seattle in 32 degree weather. Big change from Southern California! Checked into the Rodeway Inn and cranked the thermostat, possibly for the first time in my life. I usually love the cold, but I was a bit underdressed.

Zombie on the left!

Day 1 (Friday) – Breakfast at Denny’s, then hoofed it to the convention an hour before the vending room opened. Set up my little table spot. At the advice of fellow author Greg Mitchell (check out his series The Coming Evil here –, I didn’t put out my whole stock, just five copies of ‘Tales of a High Planes Drifter’ and five copies of ‘The Mensch With No Name’ at a time. Greg’s reasoning was, you put all your books out, it looks like nobody’s buying. I think, given my results, it was good advice. Also put out my laptop with the book trailer my good friend Ryan made for me. It drew a good amount of attention. Had a reading the first day, but not too great a turnout (read: one guy haha).

Also met my tablemates for the next two days, Steampunk author Nick Valentino, who was selling the first installment of his steam-themed aventure trilogy, ‘Thomas Riley’ as well as ‘Dreams of Steam,’ a steampunk anthology featuring a train robbery story by him.  Read more about Nick and his works here –

from L to R: Elizabeth Darvill, Nick Valentino and Your Humble Author

Beside Nick was his better half, Elizabeth Darvill, whose book unfortunately didn’t get to press on time, but still showed up in a supporting role – what a sport! Elizabeth’s got a lot of irons in the fire next year, including some paranormal and steampunk-erotic books, so watch out for her here (

Japanese for dinner (and sake).

Day 2 (Saturday)

My big day! The parade of costumes was amazing.

This guy had a fluttering fairy in his jar....I suspect it was real.

I was constantly impressed by the variety, and the total lack of repetition (though I do wonder, and maybe somebody can answer this for me, what’s with the proliferation of magnifying goggles? Is it just a fashion trope?). There were some extremely creative individuals in attendance – and they had good taste too, because this is the day I sold out of all my copies of ‘Tales of a High Planes Drifter.‘  Thanks to everybody who picked up a copy, and to the lady who said I didn’t look M.O.T., as I got to learn what that meant.  Also moderated my first ever panel, a look at the career and influences of the great William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody. Thanks to my fellow panelists, the very knowledgeable SASS member Tom Fritter and Richard Stephens for getting a novice through that.

It was a two mile walk (one way), but I came across a place advertising ‘Afro-Caribbean food.’ Turned out to be Somalian. Had goat and shwarma chicken  – excellent!

That's a brain in the green dome on her back.

Day 3 (Sunday)

Indian for breakfast. Palak paneer and goat curry. Yeah, I was on a goat kick all weekend. Eating like a troll.

After an hour of selling copies of ‘The Mensch With No Name’ (all but four, in the end), I was off to a three-hour marathon of panels, beginning with a look at American Hoodoo with the much-appreciated assistance of fellow author MK Hobson (check out her awesome site, and Suzanne Jachim.  Then it was a lively discourse on the myth and reality of Western gunfights with Tom Fritter again – a real blast-  and finally an examination of the pros and cons of the Wild Wild West movie and TV Show (almost turned into a movie bashing session) with Garth Stubbs.

One more hour of selling, and then I had to trudge through the newly falling snow to the SeaTac airport. Was blessed with pleasant seatmates the whole way home, including a pair of affable mothers whom I could ‘talk shop’ with about the kids.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I sold a lot of books, made some friends, and hopefully some fans. Thanks to organizers extraordinnaire Alisa Green and Diana Vick for the opportunity.

To top it all off, this masterpiece was waiting for me from my darling daughter when I got home.