Well, I made it into the country and back without renegade aliens trying to swipe my precious organs. There were no drooling cannibals or crazed truck drivers. Not a single stereotype created by the Hollywood horror tropes was living on those jade hills between ruby farmhouses. Just awesome people wanting to support a local writer.
This weekend was my first trip outside the Twin Cities to a convention to sell my books. The journey was long overdue, in fact I’ve been selling my books at cons since 2013 and this was the first time I ventured out of the cities. I loved it. Seeing unfamiliar places, meeting new people who love a good monster, and bringing my unique voice to smaller communities was ultra-rewarding. I feel like I should be a Killer Instinct character whenever I say the world “ultra” in a sentence. Anyways, I left for Chapel Con in Albert Lea, Minnesota early in the morning on Saturday. The car I’m using doesn’t run the best, in fact it had been sitting derelict in our driveway all winter because the heating system was down. My father helped me get the automobile going. There is still a hole or loose part in the exhaust system, which made my Stratus sound beefier than it was. Thankfully it made it back and forth for the 250-mile round trip each day this weekend. There were a few concerning rattles and gurgles from the engine, but overall it went well. I kept thinking my car was this powerful, gear-beast from some sort of overused cinematic storyline featuring cars, but really it was just a worn-out muffler.
I was a little concerned when my GPS took me through a backroad detour complete with abandoned houses and popping gravel. I was looking for the Albert Lea convention center and civilization seemed to be decaying the further my directions went. Then the building appeared out of nowhere with a packed parking lot and a few volunteers ready to help me. It felt like some supernatural oasis from a Twilight Zone episode.
This was the first year for Chapel Con, but the volunteers and organizers did an excellent job setting the place up. They were friendly, supportive, and eager to help make you comfortable in their venue, which was the Albert Lea City Arena. My only complaint was that we were in a section of the former ice rink without any air conditioning. It made you feel like you were locked inside a fallout shelter, or you were being sealed in a concrete jar after two days. Still, it wasn’t too bad, and I think I lost a few pounds from the sauna-like conditions. The attendees, who were clearly happy to have a convention of their own, were eager to support my books and learn more about me. I had a ton of thoughtful conversations with people about writing and selling my books. I should have started doing cons in the wider world years ago.
So, I’ll be back next year for more of Chapel Con, unless the extraterrestrials know I’ve eluded them and want vengeance. I loved the event. I met some awesome people like Jason Longstreet, and saw some old friends like Sean Spinks, John Hoban, and Scott Burtness. Overall, the con was excellent for a first try, and I’m eager to be part of this growing event. Thank you for having me!