By Jason Harris
Smales has two stories in Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear.
Smales has two stories in Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear.
There will be a second post with pictures from Rock & Shock 2015 coming in a few days.
Rock & Shock begins this coming Friday. I have always enjoyed going to and taking pictures at conventions. This year I’m looking forward to seeing authors Jack Ketchum, Joe Knetter, and Stacey Longo again. They have all attended the convention in the past.
The celebrity, who hasn’t been to Rock & Shock in the past and the one I’m looking forward, is Samantha Mathis. I have been a fan since her first movie, Pump Up the Volume.
Lately, Mathis can be seen on the television series The Strain or the now canceled Under the Dome. You can find out about the other celebrities and events happening at Rock & Shock here.
Another Rock & Shock has come and gone, the 10th one to be exact. It was another good one with even more vendors this year. The one thing that was lacking was attendees in costume. There just wasn’t a lot of people in costume. Here are pictures from the event.
The 10th anniversary of Rock & Shock seems to have been the year for booksellers having a presence at the convention. In previous years, there were only Shock Totem, Sideshow Press, and the New England Horror Writers at the event. Only the NEHW has been consistently representing its members there year after year for more than five years.
This year saw the NEHW joined by the returning representatives of Sideshow Press and Shock Totem, who both haven’t been at the convention in a couple years. The new booksellers at the event were Fenham Publishing and Living Dead Press. Click here to read a previous article on Fenham Publishing. There were also two authors, Jack Ketchum and Joe Knetter, in the celebrity area of Rock and Shock selling their books.
For writers, the process of actually writing a book is one of the most painfully brutal tasks imaginable. It’s a meticulous, painstaking, heart-stopping (and often heartbreaking) procedure that truly changes a person.
See, once the plucky creative-minded person decides that he or she has aspirations to become (of all the things in the world) a writer … and once that foolish, foolish person decides to embark on the god-awful, painful task of writing a book, well … that creative person quickly becomes wrapped up in his or her own world. And inside that world, it often seems like the only thing you’re working toward is that last page, that final period.
Once you finish the book, you’ll be done, right? The world will just end, won’t it? Everything will be complete! Your life is finished!
No, not quite.
As it turns out, completing your book isn’t the end of the story. No, not by a long shot. Now that your work is out there – now that this collection of inner demons that you’ve been carrying around in your head is finally out in the world, and it’s available for people to read — now, it’s time to get YOURSELF out there. It’s time to meet people, form new friendships and make new connections. You’ve done the introverted part, and you did it well — but now, it’s time to gather up your extroverted energies and, uh … mingle.
But … mingling? How are a bunch of socially awkward WRITERS suppose to MINGLE?
See, this is why going to fiction/horror/comic etc. conventions can be difficult, but it’s also why the good conventions are so much fun. Conventions force all of us introverted writers, artists and other creative types to get to know each other and interact. Above all else, these conventions force us to get out of our writing shells.
This is also why NECON (short for the Northeastern Writers Conference) is by far the most entertaining, lively and just plain entertaining convention I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend. Yes, it certainly features a smorgasbord of genre authors, artists and publishers, as well as plenty of enthusiastic genre fiction fans. But what makes NECON unique is that, really, it’s a surprisingly small, personal con; within a few hours, it’s as if you’ve known everyone there for years.
At NECON, the walls are down. It’s a highly casual affair, wherein all the big names (for example: Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Christopher Golden, Brian Keene, etc.), small names and middling names are all on equal ground, and everyone freely interacts with one another. Everybody shares beers, trades corny jokes and gets to discuss their passions. Throughout my NECON experience, if there was one thing I heard quoted over and over again, it was this:
“Necon isn’t just a con, it’s a family.”
Yes, that’s definitely the feeling that one gets from attending. It doesn’t feel like a conference at all. Really, it just feels like a family reunion – the good kind, the kind where everyone cheerfully pokes fun at each other and catches up on what they’ve been doing for the last year.
For genre writers, the Northeastern Writers Conference in Rhode Island is something you hear a lot about, and always in highly enthusiastic tones. Put on every year by the Booth family, including founder Bob Booth (who is affectionately referred to as Papa Necon). Booth is a truly inspirational figure; currently battling lung cancer. Bob and his family’s perseverance is absolutely amazing to see.
NECON is the Booth family’s baby, and what a creation it is; most people I’ve spoken to refer to NECON as “the best con,” or “the only con I go to every year,” and now that I’ve attended, I can definitely understand why.
(Before we move on, allow me to insert an embarrassing side note and a tip: Yes, NECON is pronounced Knee-Con, not En-E-Con, Neck-on and definitely not Neeh-Cone. This seems obvious, but I’ll admit I actually made sure not to say Knee-Con out loud until I’d heard someone else say it first. Oh, the shame, the shame…)
Now, how did my weekend get started?
Okay, so I made the two-hour drive down from New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon. Immediately upon opening the doors, the welcoming nature of the whole event was made extraordinarily apparent. Once I got my badge, collected my bearings and started emptying all the empty candy/chips/highly-stereotypical-road-snack wrappers out of my bag, I was immediately greeted by Mark Angevine and artist Duncan Eagleson, both of whom did a terrific job at explaining everything, telling me the history of Camp Necon and showing me around. Seriously, I really can’t emphasize enough how great these guys were; I enjoyed many intriguing conversations with both of them throughout the weekend. From there, Mark offered me a cup of coffee – very, very strong coffee. I got the pleasure of enjoying a brief demonstration of his talented musical abilities, in particular his undeniable skill at playing the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese end-blown flute.
From there, I met up with Scott Goudsward of the New England Horror Writers, a great guy who really does an admirable job at organizing all of these group events. There was a whole slew of NEHW members all over NECON, so all of us got to freely navigate throughout the convention. Sometimes at the table, sometimes at the panels or sometimes just walking around, you could always spot an NEHW member somewhere. Among those in attendance were Charles Day (The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief), Bracken McLeod (Mountain Home), Tracy L. Carbone (Restitution), David Price (Dead in the USA), Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Bad Apple), Michael Arruda (In the Spooklight), Eric Dimbleby (The Klinik) and Scott and Trisha Wooldrige (UnCONventional), as well as Jason Harris and Stacey Longo Harris, owners of the horror-themed Connecticut bookstore Books and Boos, which I’ll be doing a reading at on August 24.
Now, NECON is a four-day event , so naturally, there’s an enormous amount of great moments to talk about. However, since I’m far too aware of my own tendency to turn every article into a novel-length work (yes, I’m one of those guys, ugh), I’m going to force myself to whittle this down into a neat, tidy, manageable length. To accomplish this daunting task, I’m going to write out a concise list of highlights:
1. The Rick Hautala memorial. Rick, who was famously known as “Maine’s other horror writer,” was the author of over 30 novels and short stories; his recent death this past March was an enormous shock to many in the literary community. As a regular attendee of NECON – an event that was, according to his close friends, “Rick’s Christmas,” – most of the first night of NECON 33 was devoted to a moving tribute of the man and his work. Touching speeches were given by many of Rick’s friends and loved ones, including Christopher Golden and Rick’s wife, Holly Newstein Hautala. I’m sorry to say that I only had the opportunity to meet Rick once, back at Anthocon 2012. However, even in my limited interactions with him, Rick’s kindness and generosity were truly remarkable, especially for someone who so many young horror writers (myself included!) have looked up to for so many years; he was truly one of a kind. Rest in peace, Rick.
2. For the next highlight, going back to speeches; I can’t go without mentioning that every speech given by Mike Myers and Rio Youers was absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious. Great job, guys.
3. The Hawaiian shirt contest! Ridiculous as it might sound, this was totally one of my most anticipated events of the weekend. Since I consider myself to be something of a Hawaiian shirt connoisseur (and with that, the crowd groans), I was excited to give this a whirl. As it was, my shirt – a white and red number – placed in third, winning me a set of googly eyes. I was happy with third place, since my fellow top fivers (including the winner, Barry Dejasu) had some really terrific shirts. My personal favorite was probably Errick Nunnally’s Spider-Man number, which displayed almost all of the major Amazing Spider-Man issues of the last fifty years.
4. “That Damn Game Show,” hosted by Craig Shaw Gardner and Doug Winter. This is the sort of event that could only happen at NECON; a relentlessly silly “game show” with a head-smacking number of “simple rules.” Truly, an enormous amount of fun.
5. The artists’ reception – complete with coffee! – where everyone got to chance to spend some time exploring all of the amazing art pieces at the show, and discussing them with the artists themselves. Artists in attendance included Jill Bauman, Caniglia, Stephen Gervais and the aforementioned Duncan Eagleson. Overall, I probably spent the most time speaking with him. Duncan is an exceptionally interesting guy with a lot of great insights, as well as being a truly remarkable artistic talent; his Lovecraftian “Homo Avis” piece was absolutely fascinating.
6. …and finally, the courtyard! Why the courtyard? Because when it comes down to it, those nights in the courtyard – the long, late nights spent drinking an ocean of alcoholic beverages, chatting with friends and eating saugies – are truly where the warm, beating heart of NECON becomes most alive. The friendly, even affectionate atmosphere of the whole event is truly something special.
Special. That’s what NECON is, really — special.
And this, right here – right when I’m beginning to really, really enjoy reminiscing about what an amazing time NECON 33 was – is where I’m going to cut myself off, before I go into the aforementioned novel length territory. I’m already sailing ahead at almost 2,000 words, so I’d say it’s time to call it a night.
But in all seriousness, I just want to thank everyone who organized, contributed and attended NECON this year for creating an absolutely extraordinary event, one which even a “NECON newbie” like myself will never forget. Necon doesn’t just live up the hype, it surpasses it. There’s no other con like it, and I guarantee that I’m going to make a point to come back.
Rock and Shock is lining up the celebrities for this year’s convention and it seems a new one is added every day. In the last two days, Heather Langenkamp (Nightmare on Elm Street)and Danny Trejo (From Dusk till Dawn, Machete) were added to the line-up. They join Doug Bradley, who portrayed Pinhead in eight Hellraiser movies and Lylesberg in Nightbreed, Sig Haig and Bill Moseley, who both appeared in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil Rejects, Brian o’Halloran who portrayed Dante Hicks in the two Clerks movies and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight), who has been in the John Hughes’ classics The Breakfast Club and Weird Science and in The Dead Zone television series. These are just a few of the celebrities appearing at Rock and Shock.
If you are not into the movie celebs, there are also a star of the written word appearing at the convention. Author Jack Ketchum will once again bring his talent to Worcester. The writer of such novels as Red, Offspring, The Woman and The Girl Next Door, which all have been made into movies.
Wrestling star turned actor Diamond Dallas Page (The Devil’s Rejects) will be at Rock and Shock too.
It seems like the organizers of Rock and Shock can’t get enough of the music group, Kiss. They invited Ace Frehley, former lead guitarist of KISS, to last year’s convention. This year Peter Criss, the former drummer of the band, will be on hand signing autographs.
For a list of the other guests appearing at Rock and Shock, click here.
Rock and Shock takes place at the DCU Center, located at 40 Foster St., in Worcester, MA.
I have been going to the Northeastern Writers’ Conference (Necon) for over 13 years. I can’t believe it’s been over a decade since my first one. Since I started going in the late 90s, I haven’t missed a year. I have been going to this convention longer than I have known my wife, who I have gotten hooked on Necon as well. It’s funny that it took a friend from Florida to introduced me to Necon since this convention is based in New England; a place I have lived my entire life.
1. The first reason to become a Necon camper is to meet fellow writers or fellow readers if you are not a writer. Here are a few writers that have attended the convention in the past: Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson, Peter Straub, Rick Hautala, Christopher Golden, Neil Gaiman, Craig Shaw Gardner, Tracy L. Carbone, Stacey Longo, Dan Keohane, Wraith James White, Brian Keene, Simon Clark, James A. Moore, Weston Ochse, and Jack Ketchum.
2. The second reason is to learn about the publishing industry and upcoming trends. Every Necon, there are always panels with varying topics such as e-books, young adult horror, trends in horror, vampires, zombies, and movies to name a few that have been held at this convention. The e-book topic is fitting since Necon E-Books was announced at Necon 30. Check out the selection of e-books here.
3. The third reason is to pick up more books and have the authors sign it. On Friday night during Necon, there is a “Meet the Authors” event. This is the time where you can get books that you brought signed. Or you can buy a book direct from the author. There is no better way to potentially meet the next Stephen King. And when they do become famous, you can tell your friends that you met and talked with the author at Necon. Your friends will be very jealous.
There are more reasons to attend Necon, but the main three are found above. Once you attend, you will find out the other reasons why this convention is so great. When you decide to go, just write on the registration form that Jason Harris referred you. You won’t regret it.
Necon happens in Rhode Island every July. For more information, click here.
Since there has been a number of entries this week with pictures from Necon, I thought it would be nice to read an author’s blog entry written while they attended Necon 32. Author and Co-Chair of the NEHW Stacey Longo wrote such a blog. Author Jeff Strand (Pressure) even stopped by and commented on her blog.
Please enjoy this author’s current blog entry.