I’m a proud author with Seventh Star Press, and Imaginarium is, in great part, the brainchild of SSP Editor-In-Chief Stephen Zimmer. And so, I was there for Imaginarium’s first and second year and saw the convention grow from a great idea to an expanding community where readers and writers meet, joke, party, and exchange ideas in a nurturing environment all weekend long. Imaginarium 2016, year three, looks to be the best year yet, and you can be sure I’m not missing out on this one.
Imaginarium is the weekend of Oct 7-9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville, KY (near the airport). It’s about a two hour drive from Indianapolis, perfect for a day trip or for staying the weekend. The programming requires a membership badge, but the vending room is free and open to the public. Genres include but are not limited to science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, and graphic novels.
If seeing me isn’t enough reason to go (and that’s fine, just don’t tell me to my face, we writers have tender egos), there’s a film festival, masquerade ball, panels, and workshops for readers and writers of all levels and interests.
Imaginarium 2015 at Crown Plaza Hotel in Louisville, KY called a wrap on its second year this past weekend, and in a nutshell, the event is going in the right direction. It strives to be a full experience reader-writer weekend seminar and offer guests an array of lessons and memories (not to mention reading material), and in that goal, the organizers pushed forward in several ways.
More attendance (check). More book sales (check). More panels on more topics with higher participation (check-check-check). More publisher and author interactions (check-check). I personally had a panel Friday night that kept me from attending two other events that looked very cool, but that’s what ya’ call a good problem.
What didn’t change was the interactions between authors and the conversations and opportunities to network. People I had met briefly the first year I got to know better in year two. The seeds of future collaborations and business followups were planted and will continue throughout the year. And I met some new readers. What more can one ask for?
I met author peeps John F. Allen and Chris Garrison for breakfast, carpooled with John Friday morning, and we met back up a bit after noon which gave us plenty of time to eat and set up before the vendor room opened at 4. (The hotel burger rocks–I had it again on Saturday). I sold a copy of Haunting Blue to a new reader (more on this later). My evening panel on comic books and the silver screen had a small but enthusiastic group, and we discussed the topic from many angles in that hour.
Then there was hard rock bands in the ballroom Friday night and an active room party hosted by Elizabeth Donald where many of the writers hobnobbed.
Saturday was a very busy day. The vendor hall was pretty hustle-bustle for awhile, and in my area we all moved a few books, met some readers, and had some great times. The noon panel on Space Opera was pretty packed. If there is any question if people are excited about the genre making a comeback, the excitement in the room put it to rest for me. Kat French did a great job moderating and keeping the panel on track. (sidebar, read her Belle Starr Books, they rock, yes this is a link to order them, now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)
Saturday evening in the ballroom down the hall was, I think, a 40 year high school reunion, so since the vendor hall was open to the public, several of them came over to find out what was going on, and more books were sold. (Much later, author peep Jessica McHugh and I happened to be walking by the ballroom at the same moment while an “in memory of” slideshow was playing to the music of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel. We were at the same time torn between tears and an inappropriate giggle fit while ours heads were conflicted over the loss of people we never met, not to mention dogs and cats because of unofortunate connections)
My 9 pm panel on writing as series, although scheduled during the awards banquet, was very well attended by another enthusiastic crowd. I was slotted to moderate, not the easiest thing two days into a convention but it all turned out just fine. The masquerade started at 10:30 pm and I spent the evening going back and forth between that and the room party, night two. Some great costumes were out on display.
The workshop taught by Michael Knost was slotted for 1:30 in which he discussed the various ways and reasons that a writer can and should stay “invisible” to the reader, including, yes, using a chicken hat to demonstrate deep third point of view.
Oh, and about the woman who bought Haunting Blue Friday night? She returned to my booth Sunday morning to say how much she enjoyed it and purchased Haunting Obsession. What author doesn’t love that?
Overall, Imaginarium is growing in all the right ways and is the place where we should all plan to be next year. Everyone involved in the planning and execution can take a big bow (and a couple day nap) for their accomplishments. Already looking forward to next year!
Here’s where I brag about what an awesome time I had, that you didn’t have, because you chose to do something other than go to Imaginarium in Louisville, KY, last weekend. Ready, here we go.
With perfect weather and essentially a one highway route, the drive from Indy to Louisville could not have gone better. John F. Allen and I made the drive in a tad over two hours. The hotel was easy access off the highway exit.
Speaking of easy access, I need to praise the layout of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. As someone restricted to walking short distances, the public accessible doors next to the showroom were terrific, and the elevator access to the rooms was great. Very compact and convenient all around. These things are a concern for me, and the floor plan was definitely created with convenience in mind.
Registration was fast and smooth. We were given immediate access to our tables to set up. Con buddy Eric Garrison (AKA E. Chris Garrison) joined us and we were set up before con start with time to mingle.
At any convention, something has to go wrong, and at least this time it happened early with0ut serious consequences. I was never clear if what happened was a planned fire drill, a prank, or perhaps a lit cigarette, but whatever happened, the fire alarm went off, and the room full of vendors found themselves herded out the back doors into the parking lot for the next several minutes. I tucked up by the loading dock doors and waited it out.
I displayed my paranormal trilogy, plus my Lost Soles and Akira Lacquers‘ Virtual Blue nail polish. Everything received some love and attention, but the Lost Soles–the hand-stitched stuffed ghosts created by Mrs RJ and our three nerds in the making–were the big winner for my sales. How awesome is that?
Food, like other services, was easy and convenient. The hotel served an exceptionally large and yummy burger, dressed for a night out. Next to it was a nice grab-n-go kiosk. Friday night a group of us gathered at the local favorite Troll Under the Bridge Pub, and we even found a McDonald’s and Taco Bell for a convenient bite.
I had two other special moments I need to mention: I was also reunited with Ms. Ash Roland, an author buddy who goes back early in my publishing journey. Ash was instrumental in securing my first publishing deal, created the first cover, the book trailer, and who I shadowed at Context in 2010 to learn the whole vending process. She’s a talented horror writer, artist, and friend, and it was terrific to see her again after a four year gap.
Also, through a happy coincidence, my brother and his wife traveled from Indy to Louisville to accompany my niece to visit a nearby college. They just happened to make reservations at the Crowne Plaza, and we had dinner together Saturday night.
I met a LOT LOT LOT of new people….so many, that if I attempted to name them, I would embarrass myself, so let’s just leave it at, you know who you are.
I did my best to impart whatever wisdom I could at my panels, and I know I learned a lot at the workshop.
What followed after was the masquerade dance, a room party, more at the dance, more at the room party, Otters were mentioned in inappropriate conversation, things got late, things got fuzzy. During the dance, Jordan Bell requested Cyndi Lauper (Goonies R Good Enough, whoop-whoop) on my behalf and several people chanted “Oh Awjay.”
Bottom Line: Imaginarium was a blast!! For a first year event, organization and efficiency far above expectations–perhaps the most well-run con I’ve been to. Kudos to Stephen Zimmer and Susan Roddey for that. Imaginarium was well worth the trip. It was an amazing networking and educational experience. They threw a great party. Sales were low, but that’s normal with any first year event. Make your plans now. This is the place to be next year.