Castle Rock, WA to Rapid City, SD
Three days of driving. If you’ve ever taking a long road trip there wasn’t anything you haven’t seen. Uneventful. The only unusual thing is that I prepared for hot summer weather and it rarely broached 70 degrees F. Mostly it stayed in the 50s and overcast. Occasionally, I was rewarded with some light rain.
Made it to a friend’s house in Spearfish, SD, about 40 minutes from my destination. Here I stopped and played LOTS of games with him and his wife.
Friday was day 1 of BLACK HILLS CON. Unfortunately for attendance, the storms (yes, plural) that I’d been traveling under finally pushed over the mountains and descended on the Black Hills and poured rain, and hail, and spawned tornadoes all over. I did meet a lot of nice folks including a book vendor that I first met at MisCon.
I did my first seminar for the convention, “Making Characters of Your Characters,” with an interesting snafu, the first of several regarding my seminars here. I arrived about 5 minutes before my appointed time to find a young lady behind the “panelist” table. I remarked that I didn’t know this was going to be a panel and asked who was leading it. She claimed she was despite being massively nervous. Whatever. I’ll go with the flow.
We had about ten audience members (amazing for a con of this size). Without introducing me, this young woman (whose name escapes me but I have a picture!) starts talking about scare acting… that is being a member of a haunted house or the like. I’m trying to figure out what this has to do with characters. A number of the audience is looking at me in confusion as well. To make a long story short, she was scheduled for 5PM and it was only 4PM.
Soooooooo, we all talked it over and let her continue. I didn’t get to start my seminar until just shy of 5. I got many kudos AND several people from this seminar came to see ALL of my talks. Being out of my booth for two hours was hard.
Saturday started bright but by the time the convention started, we had another storm cell overhead. Marginally better than Friday, allowing me to cover my booth and cost of books and well into starting to defray the significant expense of driving out here.
Seminar snafu #2. Somehow, I was scheduled to give the same seminar “Believable World Building” both at noon and 1. Apparently, he thought I was going to do some interactive with the audience and would need more than an hour. NOPE. So, I gave my seminar. Somehow, the Q&A got partially hijacked about my favorite version of D&D and what RPG systems I’ve played. We got back on track but it was a weird diatribe. The seminar ended 10 minutes to 1, just in time for several people who wanted the seminar but weren’t available at noon. Not wanting to disappoint, I gave it again. Out of my booth again for two hrs.
Sunday, like many cons, was all but dead for us dealers. I had my last seminar, the biggest snafu of them all at noon. The problem was that I wasn’t supposed to give another seminar. When I’d talked to the folks about seminars they had me fill out a form. It was pretty typical. Name of seminars, brief descriptions, name of presenter, a brief description of the presenter, how much time for each, special needs.
Somehow, the brief description of myself got turned into a seminar: “10+ book published novelist and graduate of SDSM&T.” SDSM&T is the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, my alma mater. Five people attended—two from my other seminars. And I talked about all manner of things from how I got into the business of being an author/publisher, to the basic outline of steps to publish, to colleges, to … We were all over the place.
Before we wrapped up, I got an evil surprise. The con people delivered SD state tax forms. That I had to pay tax, I didn’t have a problem with. I charge it when I take a CC payment and I eat it when I take cash. Like most shows, I google the tax rate for the city I’m doing. I was told, on the .gov site, that the tax rate was 4.5%. This form said that was only the state tax and I had to pay an additional 1.5% for tourism tax (really?), and a 2% city tax. I had to pay 3.5% in addition to what I’d ferreted out. Ack!
Loud out was simple, but most of the vendors started tearing down an hour before the room closed. At most conventions I go to, that is a MASSIVE no-no. It will get you blacklisted. Oh, well.
Next leg of the Roadtrip – Leg 2