Recovering from Phoenix Comicon

Phoenix Comicon was nothing short of an exciting and fun weekend. Okay, exhausting, too; but all the best conventions are. The last Phoenix Comicon had been out in Mesa, and it had outgrown its site. It moved downtown to the Phoenix Civic Center, more than doubling the floor space. It seemed pretty clear that it doubled the folks attending, too. (That’s not a British Petroleum guesstimate, either, we’re talking real numbers.)

I had a table next to Brian Pulido. I marvel when I see him at conventions. He is completely engaged with the fans, and they love him and all of his work, from Lady Death on down. The convention even put on a screening of The Graves, Brian’s feature movie. (I am in the picture, a small part, but I have lines.) I wasn’t able to attend, but I heard the screening went very well and folks commented on it throughout the weekend.

I got to meet and reacquaint myself with lots of people. That’s one of the joys of conventions. You get to reconnect or catch up with folks. Jeff Mariotte and I each had our Chain Story tales there in limited edition chapbooks, which was fun because the idea for the project had sprung from a conversation he and I had at the last Comicon. I got to sign a lot of books. One set as a Father’s Day present, and a copy of I, Jedi as a wedding present. It’s very cool to be able to be part of peoples’ lives like that.

I ran a 2.5 hour seminar of my 21 Days to a Novel program. The convention website had noted that there was a $20 to take the class, but that fact wasn’t in the onsite program book. That surprised a number of folks and, I suspect, angered a few who chose not to attend. A couple of folks who did pay grumbled, “I hope this will be worth it.” To a man they told me afterward that it was. I love teaching the program live because I get to field questions and let everyone that while writing a book may be hard work, it’s not rocket science. If you don’t sweat making every word perfect in the first draft, and just concentrate on getting the story out, you will succeed. Perfect is the product of later drafts.

Going into the show I was quite mindful that the last bit of work I did in the Star Wars universe was a decade ago. Three things blew me away this weekend in regards to Star Wars. The first was the number of people who told me that Corran Horn was their favorite extended universe character. With all the wonderful characters folks have created, to have Corran singled out is a great honor. Not having children of my own, I can only guess this is how a parent feels when they hear someone say something nice about one of their kids. If it’s only a fraction of that I am envious of parents everywhere.

On Sunday I was on a panel to talk about the Star Wars Extended Universe. I was figuring that I’d be there and mostly listen because I’m hopelessly out of the loop on Star Wars. I was completely amazed, therefore, when folks started asking questions about the X-wing books and comics and I, Jedi and the New Jedi Order novels. It’s not as if I’ve forgotten that I wrote them, though what I wrote is kind of buried under a decade’s worth of other work. Still, with folks asking questions and making comments, I got to rekindle the sense of fun I had in doing those novels and comics. It might be a bit self-indulgent, but after I finish the edits on At the Queen’s Command, I might just take a day or two and do some rereading.

Another great thrill came on Sunday when the Mos Eisley Base of the Rebel Legion inducted me into the Womp Rat Squadron as an honorary member. To have folks who so enjoy Star Wars include you because of things that you have done which have touched them—and touched them in ways that you have no way of knowing—is overwhelming. They gave me a plaque and two patches. I’ll get a frame for the patches, and they’ll go onto the wall in my house’s upper hallway—which is becoming my Star Wars gallery. Every time I head to my office, I pass through it and can’t help but smile.

The thing I like about conventions like this is the happiness and enthusiasm that infects everyone. Sure, some folks here and there got a bit testy as exhaustion set in, but they were the exceptions. Most folks were having a ton of fun, even when they had to wait in lines. And, heck, would it have been a true Comicon if there were no lines? Nope, just part of the experience. Just seeing that much joy is one heck of a tonic.

If there was a down side, it was spending most of the weekend standing on concrete. I tore the meniscus in my left knee a couple years ago. Weird injury. Doesn’t bother me biking, playing soccer or dancing, but just walking and standing can irritate it. Sitting down helps, which was another blessing of the panels on Sunday. Even so, it’s still sore today. If it’s like that tomorrow, I likely won’t go dancing. Stil, if that’s the only bad I can come up with for the weekend, you can see why I rate it as a great time.

And I can’t wait for next year.

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9 Responses to “Recovering from Phoenix Comicon”

  1. Good to see you this weekend, Michael. Thanks for all of the good info on writing, publishing and promoting. I posted a recap of the Sci-Fi Social Media panel at my blog. 🙂 All the best to you!

  2. You are correct…most ot the people that came to the workshop were suprised by the additional charge…I know I was and cam to comicon just for this and one other workshop…I did not eat that day as I did not bring a debt or extra money other tah what I gave you. I have not attempting any of your suggestions but will get back to writing my book here soon using the techinques you set forth in your handy 21 day forcast. Thank you …although I was not happy to pay I did learn.

  3. I enjoyed the workshop and was happy to lay down my Andrew Jackson. One question I neglected to ask though: Do you tend to begin the 21 Days process after you have your primary idea in mind (if only vaguely), or do you use the 21 Days as part of the idea-generation process?

  4. Great question. You can really use it as both. I think it’s easier if you have a general idea in mind, but the initial process of generating characters can lead to growth arcs that will let you build out a novel pretty handily.

  5. I enjoyed your lecture at Comic Con. I remember your mentioning your love of Scotch and dream of someday being able to afford to drink one that was older than you are, so I thought you might find this News story interesting. [link clipped because it wasn’t working…]

  6. Richard,

    I’ll assume that story relates to the case of scotch they pulled out of Antarctica? I’d read it, and, yes, drooled a bit. I think the oldest Scotch I’ve tried to date was 25 years old, which was about half my age at the time. I guess I’ll have to settle, right now, for drinking a triple of 18 year old. That’s the same, right?

  7. Caleb Friesen 30. Aug, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Mike
    I attended CV and was talking to Aaron Allston after his Character Seminar.
    He mentioned that I could find more info on your guy’s plot development stuff on your web page.
    I live in Vancouver and we do not get a lot of Con’s up here. Will you guy’s be working on a way to provide the information in your seminars in perhaps a internet video download or a E-book download?

  8. I have a bunch of how to write material in my store here at, including a lot on plot development.

    I’m sure Aaron and I will be on the road again. Watch this space for more information on that.

  9. Caleb Friesen 26. Sep, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks Mike
    Ya I see that you have some stuff here. I just had to look harder. lol
    I have found out that Vancouver has a con called VCon but it seems to be orientated around steam punk sci-fi. I am going to try and get involved with them and see if I can influence the organizers to extend their target audience. I heard that the 501st badlands Garrison will be attending.
    I hope maybe I can get them invite some higher profile writers like yourself and Arron Allston. I am huge fan of your work in Star Wars. Arron said he will be returning to the X-wing series. Do you also plan to join him with another book in that series? Thanks for your time