There and Back Again
(A WebMaster's Tale of EPICon 2004)
EPICon 2004 has come and gone, and I finally have some breathing room to do a report on the nefarious goings-on. I will smatter a few pictures throughout to share the ambience with those unfortunate absentees.
First, Bob and I drove to Oklahoma City from Cincinnati (almost 10 hours counting rest stops) and the only thing of interest was the truck stop where they displayed miniature Bambi's stuffed and mounted in glass cases at the entrance to the restaurant. "All of these baby deer died of natural causes," read the sign. I guess shoving that much taxidermy stuffing down their little throats tended to not be in their best interests. But at least the steaks were good, if not a little gamey.
We also made a startling discovery on our road trip. The only thing between St. Louis and Oklahoma City are caves, wineries, and porn shops. Talk about living! Get juiced at the winery, get excited at the porn shops, and then head to the caves to ... dang! I lost my train of thought here—never mind.
We arrived at the hotel around 9 pm only to be told that there were no rooms at the inn. However, after much blasphemy and invoking the Lord's name in vain, a room magically appeared. Wow, a suite on the 15th floor where you had to use your little room card thingy on the elevator for access. Cool beans. "Um, it does have two beds, correct?" "Um, no, is that a problem?" Well, Bob is like a brother, but I do draw the line sometimes. Voila! A common room, with double beds, appeared on the third floor. Sigh...
I unpacked while Bob walked up and down every floor attempting to get a signal on his cell phone. Mine worked best when seated on the john. I added that feature to my plan before I left home.
Thursday morning came bright and early and we headed down to breakfast. We met several authors who arrived the night before as well. Unfortunately, some of those same-said authors accidentally mentioned to our waiter that we were publishers and he promptly dropped off copies of his poetry submission at our table. Sigh...
We proceeded to the bookstore and to watch The-Blur-That-Is-Named-Terri. As a side note, I spent most of the week attempting to take The-Blur-That-Is-Named-Terri's picture, but the shots always came out empty-I'm just not fast enough! Terri never stood still longer than a hummingbird takes to sneeze.
We set up our nifty book display, and proceeded to spend two hours putting little price stickers on each book because we were to lazy/stupid to follow Terri's instructions about sending in the book information so she could print labels. Sigh... But at least we had fun at the goodies table.
We met up with Janice and Jeff Strand and bunches of other authors, sharing hugs all around. It was really great to see everyone again and to meet new people for the first time.
Bob and I decided to tag along to the book signing at the Full Circle Bookstore Thursday evening. It was a blast and everyone had a fun time. Too bad there weren't any customers. Hey, I bought some books!
After the book signing, Bob and I took Janice and Jeff out to dinner. It was the least we could do since their royalty checks were so small. Janice also helped us load up on goodies for Mundania's after-EPPIES party.
Back up at the crack of 8 am, I headed down for breakfast and tried to write out my vice president's presentation so I would be ready when Dusty called on me during the opening session. Alas, the same waiter regaled me with song and dance and more submissions.
At 9 am, Dusty Rhodes, our tireless President for the past year, called the EPIC business meeting to order. Luckily, during the five minutes he spoke I was able to jot a few notes down. When Dusty called on me to say a few words, I managed to talk for a half hour on websites and vice presidencies, which managed to make the entire conference 15 minutes late for the rest of the week. Damn that time continuum effect.
Secretary Linda Slater, Treasurer Eloise Barton Miller (see, I remembered), EPPIE Chair Betty K, and Publishers Coalition Chair Bob Sanders all gave excellent reports, albeit rushed because of my microphone-hogging tendencies. Also The-Blur-That-Is-Named-Terri presented last year's EPICon Chair, Janice Strand, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
After that we were off to the various programs and sessions. I attended Janice Strand's "Book Me! Plan a Rejection-Proof Booksigning Event." Janice is one of the most creative organizers I have ever met and her ideas to get people interested in her books are mind-boggling!
Our publishers' luncheon was great as we got to sit around and chat with all the authors while eating things from boxes. We had the following publishers represented: Bob Sanders, CEO and Daniel J. Reitz, Senior Editor, Mundania Press. LLC (www.mundania.com); Janice Strand, Senior Editor, Hard Shell Word Factory (www.HardShell.com); Linda Eberharter, owner/publisher Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books (www.atlanticbridge.net and www.liquidsilverbooks.com); Bev Haynes, owner/publisher Whiskey Creek Press (www.whiskeycreekpress.com); Lee Emory, owner/publisher Treble Heart Books (www.trebleheartbooks.com); Linda Voth of Wings ePress (http://www.wings-press.com); and Chris Wasshuber of zLybrary (www.zlybrary.com).
I had a great black-market operation going at our table with my extra cookies and chips for a while, but it was time to get back to work. I'll just have to save them until next year.
In the afternoon I managed to get volunteered for the "How to Annoy Your Editor" panel, hosted by Janice Strand, where I learned to my horror that we were going to discuss grammar. Unfortunately, my participle hasn't dangled in many years. Maybe that's too much information. But I managed to fake my way through it by using em dashes as misdirection.
2nd Annual Treble Hearts Book Awards
Lee Emory held her 2nd Annual Treble Hearts Book Awards, with scrumptious ice cream treats.
The winners included:
The EPIC Buffet/Mixer was great. Lots of people chatting and consuming mass quantities of pasta salads and adult beverages. The beverages were an "E" ticket ride. Sorry—you had to be there.
After-hours was spent in the lounge with Bob and lots of beautiful women. I've always marveled at Bob's ability to do 8 tequila body shots per hour. Call it an inborn talent. I know I'm just jealous, because all I can down is a couple of diet Cokes in the same timeframe.
Bob made me erase the photos.
Backups are available at reasonable rates.
Let's see. It's 12:30 am. I'm in my room. Bob's still doing body shots in the lounge. I have two back-to-back presentations at 9 and 10 am and my shirt for tomorrow is missing the top three buttons. Now I know where those strange olives came from. Well, I managed to track down a bellboy and $5 got me a nifty little sewing kit. Nothing like threading a skinny needle at 1 am with eyes that stopped focusing at 8 pm. At least my fingers didn't bleed too much, but the neighbors kept banging on the wall because of my screams. Sigh...
9 am—I actually made it to my "Distribution" Table Topic and we had a great conversation. Steven Pendergrast, CEO of FictionWise (and EPICon's Keynote Speaker) attended and there was a lot of talk about print books and eBooks and the impact of POD technology patents.
At 10 am I did a solo presentation entitled "Publishing 101" where I went through some of the basics that publishers handle. ISBNs and BarCodes and Copyrights, oh my! Naturally, I was able to stretch my one-hour session well into the next break. I have that talent, you see. At least I ended with a magic trick so that everyone got at least some entertainment out of it.
Keynote Address Luncheon
Next came our delicious luncheon followed by the Keynote Address from Steven Pendergrast. Wow! Talk about a brilliant man and a fantastic company. I was so thoroughly blown away by him and his ideas that I came away thinking eBooks, eBooks, eBooks! I highly recommend that you view Steve's presentation from the links on the front page (available in HTML or as a PDF download). Thanks are due to Steve and FictionWise for coming out and really energizing the e-publishing attitude again.
More sessions followed throughout the afternoon, including the special snack break provided by Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver.
We mixed it up at the Pre-Banquet Mixer (how appropriate)! Everyone was sporting his or her Sunday-dress up duds. Jeff—resembling a headwaiter in his tux—managed to arrange a five-drink minimum per person to make sure everyone was liquored up so as to laugh loudly at his jokes (that's the real secret to his success).
We all piled into the banquet room and were treated to another wonderful meal.
Then it happened...
The EPPIES Ceremony
Ah, yes. The highlight of the week. How could Jeff Strand possibly outdo setting himself on fire last year? We almost didn't find out because Matt Schoonover diverted Jeff with handcuffs, duct tape, and a broom closet. Turns out Matt has long harbored a secret desire to host the EPPIES. Unfortunately, Jeff managed to kick the door open and hobbled back out to the microphone.
It was particularly interesting to see the effect on Jeff's moustache when the duct tape was ripped off his face. Ouch!
Alas, Jeff got his revenge on EPIC-at-large with his harpooning wit and perfectly-timed punch lines. Some of the photos might be blurred due to my laughing.
I was delighted to give out the QUASAR. With all the fantastic covers, the voting was very close. I am particularly pleased that medallions were available for the "Best in Category" winners. And to top it off, Jeff didn't even make too much fun of me during my introduction. I guess my threatening to drop a zero or two off the end of his royalty check works.
Okay, I almost totally lost it when it came time for the presentation of the EPPIE for the new EROTICA category. Michele Bardsley was originally supposed to present, but she couldn't make it to the conference. Then Connie Crow was tapped, and she couldn't make it either. So, Jeff looked around for someone else worthy enough to present the award at its maiden (if you'll excuse the expression) presentation. Ah! By virtue of his superior brain, magnificent heart, and the fact that he could do eight tequila body shots per hour, Bob Sanders was escorted to the podium...where Jeff proceeded to lock him in place with handcuffs. How apropos. How kinky!
Well, Bob rattled his handcuffs throughout his presentation and managed to present the winner. Luckily the winner was not present to join Bob handcuffed on the stage. Anyway, Jeff waited a perfectly timed theatrical heartbeat before releasing Bob and sending him back to his seat. Jeff might have been overheard to call Bob a "whiny submissive," but that is probably just a viciously true rumor.
So my whiny submissive partner and I enjoyed the rest of the ceremony. Wait a minute. Never mind.
Jeff did call upon my expertise one more time to refer to my vast blackmail notes to ensure that he told no falsehoods while introducing Lee Emory for her presentation. I was quite dashing standing up on stage shaking my head and nodding with such confidence. EPIC is very lucky that the talent scout that attended the banquet had unfortunately taken a restroom break at that moment or I would be off to Hollywood.
And the person who reported that it was a restroom emergency brought on by cheesy performances could not be found for comment.
Mundania Press hosted an after-EPPIES party. We set up a room with Amber Quill Press and another publisher. Lots of good munchies and music provided by Bob's iPod.
Sunday morning found everyone packing up and breaking down the bookstore while tearfully saying goodbyes until next year.
Bob and I drove up to St. Louis and spent some time with Max Overton Sunday night to deliver copies of his books, the QUASAR "Best in Category" medallions that Ariana won, and a beautiful vase of flowers that Terri gave us from the EPIC members.
And after only 11 wrong exits on the expressways (yes, I counted them), Bob got us home Monday afternoon.
Next year I'm flying!
I'd like to thank Terri for all her hard work. It really showed when everything at the conference came off without a hitch.
I'd like to also thank my fellow officers Dusty, Linda, and Eloise for making 2003-2005 a great year for EPIC. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA next year.
"Write with passion, write e-mails with common sense, read e-mails and list postings with a grain of salt" —Daniel Reitz, March 25, 2004.
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