What a week! The month leading up to it was a real rollercoaster, but I had a tremendously fun time at PortConMaine all the same! By the end of it, I was exhausted –conventions and back to back gaming and game-mastering are rarely restful– but it was a good kind of exhausted as I came home late Sunday night. I was really glad that I had Monday off to recover… I slept until 8 am, and I haven’t done that in ages! ;-)
This was my second year as convention RPG staff and my wife Kimberly’s first after being regular attendees for several years. One wouldn’t think that working as a volunteers (PortCon is all volunteer staff) for half of your long weekend and vacation would be such a fantastic time. And yet it is. It’s not only great fun, but an honor to be active parts of an event that provides so much to so many.
In a world that seems to go out of its way lately to beat our spirits down, we created an oasis for others and ourselves in which those same spirits could find shelter and renewal. That’s worthy and good work, and I’m proud to be part of it.
So what went down? Things actually started last Wednesday night before the start of the con, when my friend Ian came down to my house and spent the night with fellow staffer Patrick. Ian is the Staff Chair of the RPG section of the convention, and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. This was the second year we were able to entertain him as a guest and the first where we got to do the same for Patrick. We all sat around and had some great conversations about games old and new, and quite a bit of talk was given to my upcoming novel, Vivian’s Last Cigarette.
Thursday morning came, and our guests departed early to attend to the last preparations for PortCon’s 4 pm opening. Kim and I got ourselves packed for the three night stay in a staff room in the hotel, then stopped at the local copy shop to print off colored game handouts. We got to the event, registered, checked into the hotel and had just enough time to settle in before I ran my Toys Against Darkness game at 6 pm.
Toys went really well, and the players were able achieve the best possible ending. Everyone left the table satisfied. :-) A pair of players I had from last year joined in, and would return for two more of the games I would run that weekend. They said I ran some of the best games at the con, and that really meant a lot to me. :-)
After that, the game arena closed, and Kim and I returned to the hotel room we were sharing with Ian and another staffer named CJ whom we became friends with over the course of this year’s convention. Ian was in a bit of a jam as he had forgotten to bring the player characters needed to run his RPG session the next morning, so we assembled a group of RPG staffers in our room and helped him create a worthy batch! This was a great exercise in collaborative creation and storytelling, as we didn’t just create characters but also their relationships to one another and even the story setting and scenario. I loved it, and was up far too late enjoying the process. ;-)
Friday morning began the first full day of the convention. I took in a panel at 11 am called “So You Want to be an Author?” being given by a trio of experienced writers from the Quantum Muse eZine. This was an excellent “101” writing-publishing talk with very practical, sound and no-nonsense advice. These guys have decades of experience and know their stuff. I can’t say that I learned much from the panel I didn’t already know, but I did get a lot of affirmation that what I’m currently doing are tactics they’ve employed and recommend.
What was most instructive for me was getting to talk to the presenters afterwards. I thanked them for their talk, and asked them some more “202” type writing questions about critiquing and editing that they were more than happy to answer. I took note of their advice, and it really put me at ease with what I’m doing so far with the editing of my novel. I bought a few of their printed anthologies, and I’m thinking about submitting some work to Quantum Muse in the future. :-)
Not long after that conversation, I met indie author Melissa Walshe selling her books Autumn’s Daughter and Autumn’s Sister. Her back cover blurb immediately sold me on Autumn’s Daughter, and I ended up having a lovely fifteen minute chat with her and her husband after buying a copy of that first book of her trilogy. Really nice folks. I’m looking forward to getting into her story once I find a moment to start enjoying it!
I finished my shopping with a stop at artist Melissa McCommon’s booth. Melissa is the creator of the Epic Chaos! webomic, and we had a nice conversation. She’s really talented, and had come all the way from California to Maine to vend at PortCon while visiting family… on her birthday! And she also had these awesome fantasy, RPG-ish buttons that I just had to add to my collection!
This one in particular I wore for the rest of the convention:
These were all really cool people to run into, and that’s one of my favorite things that happens regularly at PortCon. :-)
This blog is getting long, so I’m breaking it into two-parts. Tune in tomorrow for part two! Take care!