Spartacon 3 – A Spartacus Convention

Or The Review No One Asked For And Still Got

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I have been making attempt to find a word or phrase to fully convey my emotion for the weekend. I believe Fuck The Gods works pretty well, in this regard.

It probably works better than my brain did at the after-party whilst trying to convey the depth of the characters in Spartacus, to Mr. Merrells. And the best I could do (thanks to a Fuzzy Navel and two Jack-n-Cokes making my brain into a lovely mush that made rational thought take a fucking vacation in the Bermuda Triangle), was contrast them with cartoon characters.

How, you ask? Because, in my head, they had that depth and development that made them human. There were aspects of light and dark that made you both love and hate the Romans and Rebels equally. The scene in WoTD where Caesar sets Fabia free fucks me up every damned time, because you’ve spent each season rooting the Rebels on and you don’t want the Romans to be good. Except they are. To a degree. There’s respect and dignity given (something discussed in the Roman Celeb Panel that was really well done) toward their enemy that wasn’t, in previous seasons.

And the best I could do, in my drunk-potato state, was tell him they were better than cartoon characters.

Yeah… I mentally face-palmed, even drunk. But I digress. (This is why I don’t drink often).

Anyway, you came for the review not my lamenting the fact that I couldn’t prod my brain into something more intelligent when faced with the prospect of an actual conversation with an actor I admire for his talent and skill.

Our weekend (because it was more than just the convention) was a weekend of firsts. At least, for me. I drove, because it just made the most sense (and, let’s face it, this was a weekend more for me than anything else) and arrived ridiculously early on Friday. Yes, I drove through the night. In West Virginia. In the fog. Through the mountains. (Yes, I’m probably a little touched in the head. Don’t judge me).

After we rested some, we got to visit DC (because one doesn’t get THAT CLOSE to the Nation’s Capital, and not visit.

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And, of course, being the amateur photographer I am I had to get pictures. It was glorious. The weather could not have been better for the walk from the National Gallery of Art to the Lincoln Memorial. And back. And, while my feet were reminding me that the boots I’d chosen for the trip were not actually made for that kind of walk, it was well worth it. Only thing I’d do different would be take sneakers for it.

But, Sam, why aren’t you talking about Spartacon yet? That’s the whole reason I started reading your review.

Yes, yes we know. But I’m taking you on a ride through my brain. Just don’t veer off the path or the rabid wombats might eat you.

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This is what you wanted to see, isn’t it? This is, technically, the second photo taken. The first was of another banner. Ooh.. exciting. I didn’t get a chance to actually see any of the guests prior to our being let in to the gates. But, the weather was perfect and when we were finally admitted, my dream became reality.

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I saw Caesar first. Mr. Todd Lasance. I’d gotten my fundraiser perk (the cold steel gladius) and damned near clocked him in the face when we hugged. Yes, I apologized profusely. And yes, he laughed and seemed to think it was pretty funny (much to my great relief). Caesar was one of those characters you loved to hate, though the depth of the hate was not quite as prolific as that for Ashur.

Fucking Ashur

As an aside, one day I will meet the amazing Nick Tarabay. To be completely honest, I am floored with his skill and talent. Making fans hate someone that intensely takes a metric fuckton of skill.

Also, I should probably have added a warning at the top that I tend to ramble. It’s the curse of the writer. Get me in person and I will clam the fuck up and stand there like the awkward human being I am. Behind a computer? I can be eloquent and say the things that actually go through my head. It’s truly a curse.

I had, thankfully, met the amazing Barry Duffield the night before at the pre-party. It made going to his table for the selfie and autograph (because I’d pre-ordered his book before coming so I could read it and know what I was having him sign. Also… werewolves and Nazis, does it get any more awesome? I think not) so much easier and more awesome. The greeting hug (and subsequent apology for nearly clocking him in the face with my sword hilt) was absolutely perfect. See, I’m a huge fan of hugs. Hugs are awesome.

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I mean, look at this picture. What’s not to love? He enjoys these as much as we do (I hope) and it shows.

Next, I went to visit the gracious Mr. Dan Feuerriegel. I knew he was on a bit of a time crunch as he had a private meet and greet, but I had to say hello before he left. See, I’d gotten it in my head I wanted to do something nice. So.. I made a bracelet. A chainmaille bracelet. In the colors of the Brisbane Broncos. Why? Because I can. It’s why I do most things. I challenge myself to see if I can do it. And then do a little dance when it’s done.

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The only curse to making something, sight unseen, is that you don’t know if it’s going to be too big or too small. My fear? Too small. It was such an intricate piece that I was afraid I’d have to ship it to his agent if it didn’t fit. Thankfully, the opposite seemed to be the case. I’d had cause to bring my itty-bitty tools to the convention and I was able to measure and correct so that it fit. Color me relieved. The fact that it looked damned good when finally given and worn made every bit of cursing at the rings (when they didn’t cooperate) worthwhile. And yes, I saged the bracelet when I was done. Didn’t want my having cursed at the rings to carry on when the gift was given.

And the end result?

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That’s right after I had placed it about his wrist. It was later brought to my attention that it was, in fact, ON HIS INSTAGRAM (which I had not anticipated or expected). So I did a dance and made dying pterodactyl noises in the car on the way home.

Scared the shit out of my husband…

Anyway, I had just enough time for that before he was gone and I was able to venture off to find an ATM and meet both Christian Antidormi and Simon Merrells. Not gonna lie, I was intimidated as all get-out. I mean, Crassus and Tiberius. They were both so intense and driven in the show itself. But they were both so lovely. I found, after the initial burst of nerves, that I knew I was going to look forward to the Meet & Greet with the three (Simon, Todd and Christian) on Sunday.

The guest list was a bit smaller, as compared to last year (though I didn’t attend and lived vicariously through everyone’s posts), but that did not diminish the venue in the slightest. If anything, it gave the whole convention an almost more intimate air. There were fewer con-goers, so there as more time to stop and chat. And more time to be spent on panels and such.

And, let’s face it.. the panels are worth their weight in gold.

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This was taken just before Christian showed up to visit. Mind you, this particular panel was only supposed to be between Dan and Simon. We were gifted with both Todd and Christian who made the panel even more interesting. And, it made the group photo taken even more awesome. I’ve not sought permission to share that photo, so it won’t be included here. If, however, you do want to see it – here’s the link. Absolutely glorious. And Mr. Crosland deserves all the recognition he can get.

As I get further into this review, I know I’m rambling. But, as I type I remember bits and pieces that were jumbled around in the blender that my brain became while all this was going on. I’d been waiting a year to see this to fruition. And yes, I know it just happened last August. But I found out about the convention about this time last year – maybe a little earlier. I knew I would not be able to attend 2016’s convention, so we began plotting and planning for this year.

And will I be attending next year? You bet your ass I will.

Ha! I’ll bet you thought I was done. Nope. I hadn’t even truly touched on the panels. Each and every one was created and headed by a fan. How fucking awesome is that? These panels were all very good! And, not gonna even try to lie, I was really looking forward to the Roman Food panel. And not because I’m another fat kid who loves food. I mean, I am, let’s be real. But I’d been curious to try mulsum since watching Gods of the Arena. Titus Batiatus drinking his mulsum gave me a wild bout of curiosity toward it. And, while we could not imbibe in the alcoholic version, the non-alcoholic treat was really damned good. Being a fan of history, it was nice to hear about how they lived and chose to eat during a time so very, very long ago.

And it was funny listening to both Barry Duffield and Tyrone Bell being silly behind Mike Baker while he was trying to be serious.

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Was it my favorite panel? Wrong question. They all were. I loved each of the panels, because they were all unique and informative. And, truly, what wasn’t to love? I enjoyed that the panel between Simon and Dan wound up becoming a panel with Simon, Dan, Christian and Todd.

And I think I need to touch on the fact (and applaud) that even after several years away from the show, they were able to answer questions. Did they remember every single detail? No, but that wasn’t the point. The gents were gracious enough to answer questions pertaining to their characters (as well as possible hints toward future endeavors).

Of everything, though, I think my favorite moment was during the Trio Meet & Greet with Simon, Todd and Christian. There were four of us to speak with the three of them and the atmosphere was just so intimate and relaxed. Pretty sure I broke Todd’s brain a little when I told him that I hadn’t ever seen the ocean. And then, to see them just moments later for the group photo and to see Todd light up like a Christmas tree… If I hadn’t been a fan before, I certainly would have been after. Because it melted me. It really did. That reaction just made everything perfection.

All in all, I think I’ve rambled enough. Just over 2000 words to tell you that Spartacon was epic. Glorious. Perfection in a weekend that did not last nearly long enough. But then, does it ever? So thank you to Kelly and Meg and their crew of magicians for giving us this amazing gift.

And thank you to Barry Duffield, Simon Merrells, Todd Lasance, Christian Antidormi, Tyrone Bell and Dan Feuerriegel. You gents truly outdid yourselves. Thanks for putting up with random hugs, odd pauses, awkward silences and just the random fangasms from those who admire you all so damned much. I sincerely hope there is another convention. I sincerely hope that I get to see these lovely souls once more. And I sincerely hope that I get to share the sands with my fellow fans.

Because…

WHAT IS BENEATH YOUR FEET? SACRED GROUND, DOCTORE! WATERED WITH TEARS OF BLOOD!

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When Nothing’s Wrong..But Nothing’s Right

Or, The Adventures of a Hermit, Searching For a BlanketFort

Ever have one of those days?

Better yet, ever have one of those years?

Yeah, I feel your pain. Not a damned thing is wrong. There’s no reason for that funk to lay its funk-y ass on you. And yet here you are.

Everything takes on that tone of emptiness. Nothing tastes good. Nothing looks good on TV. You eat too much anyway. You sleep too much. You don’t sleep enough. You’ve slept more than a cat or koala combined and you still haven’t had enough sleep. Your bed is both your best friend and your worst enemy.

Even your dreams suck.

You strive to be a productive, functional adult and can barely remember to put pants on. You’ve forgotten what the sun feels like. You don’t remember the sound of wind through the trees…

Oh, wait, wrong story. Sorry.

Everything annoys you and you just want everything to be quiet. The worst part is that you want to reach out to others and talk to them, maybe see if they can help. But the anxiety then flares up and you’re reminded that no one gives a good goddamn and it wouldn’t matter, anyway. It’s not true. You know it’s not true. But that doesn’t stop the voices from reminding you that you’re worthless and a waste of time to everyone around you.

Sound familiar?

Everyone around you seems to have their shit together and you’re eating cereal out of a cup with a fork because you don’t want to admit that you really don’t know what you’re doing. Did they get a manual for adulting and you missed that class? I find myself asking these pertinent questions.

Where the fuck is my manual??

I keep asking myself these questions, but it only exacerbates the situation. That, and wishing I was more interesting. Or able to approach people without freezing and freaking the fuck out (hello and thank you mild social phobia! can we get an AMEN). Or able to function like a normal, fucking adult in social situations (thanks again, anxiety. Couldn’t’a done it without you!)

Am I the only one? I know I keep reading those meme things where they talk about how you can’t blame you childhood after the age of 30. But is that really true? We are all a product of our upbringing. And when shit wasn’t sunshine and roses, how the fuck are we supposed to cope? What happens when we don’t have functional coping methods? What, we just live in a box somewhere and scream at people while wearing saran wrap and tin foil?

FYI, both saran wrap and tin foil are fucking expensive. Making an entire outfit out of such things would be really silly.

I should be writing. Technically, I AM writing, but you know what I mean. Deadlines, publishers, ideas await.. but instead, I’m “researching” cats on the internet and contemplating what color combination my next bracelet should be.

I went green and brown, for the record.

Suffice it to say depression sucks. Depression and Anxiety together are fucking horrible. And tossing in mild social phobia and you got a serious trio of terror. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

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I am I

I have depression.  I have anxiety.  Amazingly, I am still a functional and (mostly) productive adult. Mostly. I mean, I have days where it’s enough to drag my ass out of bed and actually do things.  And then there are other days when I can’t sit still. I can’t focus. I can’t calm the mania in my head.

I write.

I try to write.

I really, really try to write.  Sometimes I even succeed.  I’m neither the best, nor the worst at my craft, which is both a blessing and a curse. To be the best invites critics. To be the worst demands critics. When you’re neither, you’re largely ignored by the mass populace. You’re another starving artist hawking your wares. Another voice in the vast cacophony.

And, reading the media reports on authors, even were I to become moderately successful in my craft, I would still be making far below the top echelon. I suppose that’s true no matter how you look at it. Because one must continue working until they reach that precipice.

So I keep writing. Or trying to. Really, really trying to.  Some days are easier than others. There are days when the muse sits on my shoulder and just laughs and laughs. And others, it’s enough to keep up with the proverbial voices in my head.

I have depression. I am not letting it stop me. I am not letting it keep me down. I fight it daily. Am I medicated? Yes, actually I am. It’s not what I wanted, ultimately, but it is what it is. I take medication so that I can function properly and find the motivation to keep moving. To keep on keeping on. To keep writing and telling my stories.

I have anxiety. It does not limit or change who I am.  My illnesses do not define me. I am not my illnesses. And I will keep fighting the good fight until I can no longer draw breath into my lungs.

I have a mental illness. The mental illness does not have me.

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This Is The End

The title of my novella.  Did I get your attention?  I am so proud.  Yes, I had it out at the beginning of the year, and had been very excited to be able to work with a legitimate publisher, but alas, that fell through.

No bad words, no slander.  Just didn’t work out.

So I went back through the publishing route. Right now, more than sales, I’m looking for brave souls who will read the story and leave feedback on my Amazon page.  I’m willing to send – FOR FREE – a copy of my book via email so they can read it and leave love on the page.

Even negative reviews are better than nothing.

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This Is The End

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This Is The End

Ebook, Paperback copy, take your pick!  Come, my lovelies, read my wares!

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First Update of the New Year

New year, new goals, new words to be written.

And what have I done?  I’ve gone by way of the Self Publisher.  It doesn’t mean I’ve given up the dream of seeing a big-name publisher with my works, but I wanted to get my work out and available for the public eye.

This Is The End

I give you “This Is The End.”  A novella.  My first piece available in paperback form.  It’s available on both the host site as well as Amazon.  And it’s available on ebook, if you’d prefer.

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Reviews are always love – even the negative ones.  I’d like to know what people think.  We writers write to be seen.  We write to be read.  We write to get our work out there.

My next goal?

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I’m going back to my roots.  I’m embracing what I know.  And I’m going to deliver something completely epic.  Nothing like a little girl power, right?  Right?  Add to that a little Golden Apple mischief, and we have a recipe for disaster.  Keep a weathered eye on the horizon, my friends… it’s coming.

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NaNoWriMo2014

I am so terrible when it comes to updates on here. I need to kick my own behind and do something at least once a month. I think it was the dash to my spirit with the novelette that knocked my confidence, but it was temporary.

Everything is temporary. Everything is fleeting.

It’s November. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. And guess who’s signed up? This girl. Yup. Signed up, and six days in I’m at just over 10k. The ultimate goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. Not too shabby, that I’m already to that point. Day six was a day of rest, to gather my brain and thoughts. I’ll get back at it again Friday.

3,000 words a day, Monday through Friday. That really isn’t that bad. The bare minimum to reach 50k is 1,667 words a day. Either way, it’s really not that bad. One night, I wrote 12k in one sitting. And I’ve seen those die-hard NaNo’ers who did the 50k in 24 hours.

That’s coming. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.

My big goal, and big motivator are two of a kind. One of last year’s NaNo’ers had her book published, only to see it hit the shelves during the beginning of NaNo. How epic is that? That’s what I’m aiming for. To see my book make the shelves of a bookstore. To know that I’m actually out there.

We’ll see.

Regardless, I know I can’t let one set-back hold me back. Gotta keep on keepin’ on..

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Reviews, Sales (or lack thereof) and feeling like I need to hide

So I’m learning the hard way that 90% of a writer’s time is actually spent marketing themselves. Reviews (be they good or bad), word of mouth, sales, other people buying… what have you…

And here, I thought it was just writing.

How woefully wrong was I?

So now I’m on the hunt for reviewers. Whether they rip my book apart or not, I don’t care at this point. I sold two copies in the last quarter. That’s right, you read that correctly.

Two. Dos. Deux. 2.

They’re going to roll what royalties I might have earned over into the next quarter, but now it’ll be after Xmas before I see anything (if at all).

And on top of that, I’m frustrated because I could have done SO MUCH BETTER with that damned novelette had I known that the publisher wasn’t even going to put it in the anthology. It’s shorter than I would like, it’s faster on the draw, and it’s not as well-developed.

Why? Word Limit. That’s the only reason. I fully intend, when the contact expires, to rewrite the damned thing and make it bigger, better, more.

So now I submit my manuscript to reviewers on the outside hope that they don’t sit back and laugh their asses off at me. The ONE THING I want in life is to be a writer. That’s it. Nothing more. And I feel like I can’t even do that…

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