Convention Etiquette

I spent a fabulous weekend at Denver Comic and arrived home Sunday night a weary-to-the-bone but happy fan girl.

This was the convention’s second year and it seemed twice as large with twice as many in attendance. Initially, I was a little disappointed because I really enjoyed last year’s small, homey con. However, bigger did mean better, with great guests like George Takei, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day and The Shat. The dealers’ room/artist alley space was huge and took hours to get through. There were some great panels on geek culture. I especially enjoyed the one on geek girls, which included a lively discussion on whether or not the label is still relevant.

I also enjoyed seeing lots of children. This was a kid friendly event and whole families turned out, some dressed in costume. One of my favorites was dad dressed as the fourth Doctor, mom dressed as his Time Lord companion, Romana, and their daughter costumed as a Dalek. Adorable!

Unfortunately, bigger also meant lengthy line for just about everything, particularly registration, where the lines were hours long.  Inside the convention center, lines to see the guests of honor and even some of the panels wound around the hallways. The dealers’ room/artist alley aisles were usually packed with people.

It was a saving grace that most people were polite. Since this is convention season, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over a few basics of con etiquette.

Do Not Cut in Line
Yes, the line is very long and you really want to get in, and you really shouldn’t have to wait for two-three hours. Suck it up. It’s first come, first served, and the people at the front of the line probably arrived at 5 a.m. and deserve their spot. Holding a place in line for up to five people is acceptable. More than that should go to the back of the line.

Ask Permission Before Taking a Photo
It may be assumed that all cosplayers are exhibitionists who want their pictures taken at any time. False! For example, if cosplayers are sitting down at a table and eating lunch, they don’t want to be bothered by every fool with a camera. Those who want their pictures taken usually make themselves available in some way. Catch them when they’re strolling around the concourse, not otherwise engaged, and always ask permission. This gives the cosplayer(s) time to stop and pose, and give you an awesome shot.

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

If you like a popular fandom, such as “Game of Thrones” and “Doctor Who,” chances are there will be a group photo shoot. In this case, you don’t need to ask permission, but you should wait until the cosplayers are posed before you start photographing.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you should ALWAYS ask a parent’s permission before photographing a young child. The one exception is a group photo shoot, when permission is implied.

Save a Reasonable Number of Seats
It is reasonable to save up to two seats on either side of you. Trying to save a whole row makes you a jackass and no one will respect that.

Respect the Artists and Dealers
You might not like all the art you see on Artist Alley. Keep those remarks to yourself until you are out of earshot of the artist. You might think a dealer booth is overpriced. Fair enough, but don’t haggle unless the vendor seems open to it. For example, you show an interest in a $20 item and the dealer offers to give you two for $30. Don’t place your stuff on their merchandise. Anything that damages their merchandise is their monetary loss and they are at the con to make money.

Last but Not Least: Hygiene!
You are going to be at close quarters with lots of people. It is a much more pleasant experience if everyone in the room bathed or showered and brushed their teeth that morning. Deodorant is a must, but lay off on the heavy scented colognes and perfumes.

In the end, at cons as well as regular life, it is always best to follow Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

Convention Season

Convention season is upon us and I hope all my fellow geeks out there have at least one fun con in which to romp. I am geeking out in a major way, spending two consecutive weekends at three conventions.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I headed to San Jose for the joint conventions, Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy. I have to shout this out to San Francisco Bay Area folks who aren’t in the know. For a $50 preregistration fee, you can spend four days at two conventions. It’s an incredible value and tons of fun.

Fanime is all things anime and manga, as well as a bit of Asian cinema thrown in. The attendees love to cosplay, i.e., dress in the costumes of their favorite characters. It’s like a four-day costume party that goes all day and all night. Just so you know, this is a very young crowd and the majority tends to be in their teen and twenties.

There’s a lot going on: video rooms, panel discussions, live bands, karaoke, swap meets and a 24-hour game room. There is a large dealers’ room where you can buy all kinds of anime-related paraphernalia. This year, the Artists’ Alley was enormous. This is where you can buy creative pieces by talented fan artists.

In the dealers' room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable?

In the dealers’ room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable? (Photo credit: Teacher Jennifer)

Clockwork Alchemy is all things steampunk. If you love Tesla and Jules Verne, this is where you want to be. The crowd is more mixed, with younger and middle-aged folks mingling equally. If you like the technical and/or historical side of the genre, there were plenty of informative panels as well as an art gallery and hands-on exhibit. There was an authors’ salon where writers could attend panels hosted by published genre authors. The convention also included a dealers’ room, a martial arts studio, dance lessons and three nights of live performances.

Steampunk fans love to cosplay, too. I got into the spirit and put on some steamy duds. Huge dioramas were placed around the con for posing purposes.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me. Photo credit: hostess with the mostest Susan.

This coming weekend, I will be attending Denver’s Comic Con. Can’t wait for that, though I’m glad I have a few days to rest up before I get my con on again.

Does this all look and sound like a lot of fun? Well, it is! And you can do it, too. Check out this website, Upcoming Cons, for current information on upcoming conventions.

Kindle Freebies – June 18, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

A handful of novels, a novella, a couple of fabulous looking cookbooks (Irish recipes! pie!), a nutrition guide, a word game, city guides you won’t want to miss (Tokyo! Toledo!), and a superhero reference guide.

Speaking of superheroes, yes, I had a fantastic time on Saturday at Denver Comic Con. It was nothing like the glorious monstrosities that are the New York and San Diego cons. No huge corporate booths, A-list stars or previews of upcoming movies and TV shows. The relatively small venue (just a portion of the convention center) was packed with a friendly,  enthusiastic and costumed crowd.

In case you need further proof of what a geek I really am…

Me at Denver Comic Con

No, the Doctor wasn’t home.

Lots of families showed up and there were plenty of activities for kids. I got a real kick out of seeing kids and their hero or villain swagger.

   

There was lots to see and a decent amount of panels to attend. Kudos to the organizers for getting a first year event off the ground so smoothly.

Onto to the freebies!

Fiction

What Zombies Fear by Kirk Allmond
When Victor Tookes went to work that beautiful spring day, he never expected to see a man eaten alive in the street in front of his office. After convincing himself that they really were zombies, he makes a trip from his house in Pennsylvania to his family home in Virginia, battling zombies all the way. His three and a half year old son was bitten on the leg, but doesn’t turn into a zombie. Instead, he turns into something more than human. Victor quickly discovers that everything he knew about zombies was wrong. Not all of them were mindless, uncoordinated, rotting ghouls; some of them were bigger, faster, stronger or smarter than when they were human.

Sacred Bloodlines by Wendy Owens
Tragedy has defined Gabe’s short existence in this world. An ominous darkness lurked on the edge of his existence until one day in a subway, strange things start happening. A series of events lead Gabe into a new and fascinating life filled with angels and demons, but he isn’t sure if he wants to be a part of it. Gabe is thrust into the middle of this exciting world that is full of things he has longed for in his life but it comes with a price. This new life also promises constant terrifying dangers that Gabe fears he may not be able to survive.

Homes for Gnomes by Stewart Thompson
‘Homes for Gnomes’ is a humorous novel that looks at how people and organisations try to cope with the discovery of real gnomes. Initially the gnomes are seen as a curiosity, a tourist attraction and an endangered species. This changes rapidly as the gnomes go thorough a population explosion and their underlying nature becomes apparent. Increasing conflict between Gnomes and Humans builds steadily until the Ratley family decides to eradicate the gnomes from their back garden. Meanwhile the Local Council decides to forcibly re-house them onto a purpose built “Homes for Gnomes” estate. They do this under the misguided belief that gnomes are really just like little humans. This turns out to be as sensible as moving badgers into bungalows.

The Prisoner (The Dark Elf of Syron, #1) by Laura Lond
Captain Torren, the warden of the Dormigan Prison, knows that the mysterious Prisoner 34 is much more dangerous than the authorities think. Torren does his best to guard him, going so far as to break some of his orders, but the new governor’s sudden wish to personally inspect the prison threatens to destroy the shaky balance the warden has achieved. Will the Prisoner comply and help Torren through the inspection? What will he ask in return? And will he keep his word?

Susanna and the Spy by Anna Elliott
Jobless and nearly destitute, Susanna Ward intends only to find work as a governess. She certainly has no intention of contacting her family, who cast off her father and scorned her mother years ago. But a chance encounter with a figure from her past suggests that her estranged grandfather was murdered, and that his death was connected to a local ring of smugglers, led by a mysterious figure who calls himself Captain Clark.

Nonfiction

Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture by William Irwin
Behind the cool costumes, special powers, and unflagging determination to fight evil you’ll find fascinating philosophical questions and concerns deep in the hearts and minds of your favorite comic book heroes. Why doesn’t Batman just kill the Joker and end everyone’s misery? Does Peter Parker have a good life? What can Iron Man teach us about the role of technology in society?

101 High Protein Foods by Cynthia K. Johnson
In this eBook you will discover what are the top high protein foods and be given important facts about each one of them.

Recipe Books

Irish Food, Irish Desserts, Irish Recipes and St Patrick’s Day Recipes by Jamie Mathis
With these Irish recipes you are sure to get not only the traditional Irish food that you crave like Irish soda bread, Lamb Stew and traditional Irish desserts; but you will also get some St Patrick’s day recipes and American Irish recipes just for fun. Traditional Irish food mixed with American Irish recipes to make for a great time at your next party.

My Pie Heaven – Easy, Fabulous Pie, Cobbler and Tart Recipes by Barbara Mack
Pie. Delicious pie. Is there anything more wonderful than homemade pie? I don’t think so. I love pie, and I love making them. I don’t, however, like to work so hard that I can’t enjoy the pie later. These recipes are all easy, don’t require a lot of skill in the kitchen, and they don’t take a great deal of time. They’re hardly any work at all, in fact, but they taste like you slaved over a hot stove all day long.

Travel

Top Sights Travel Guides

Games

Puzzlebook: 100 Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuk Family
This is Volume 1 of the Top Rated Puzzlebook: Puzzle Quizzes series. In this brand-new puzzle collection you will find 100 pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes in different themes: visual, spatial, counting, geometry, matchstick, coins, searching, and much more.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Kindle Freebies – June 15, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

I’ll be getting my geek on this weekend and attending Denver Comic Con. This got me interested in checking out what kind of graphic novels are available for the Kindle, particularly freebies, of course. It seemed to me that E ink display technology is perfect for a gray scale medium like comics, particularly manga.

My limited research led me to discover that E ink Kindles such as my Touch are great for manga. I downloaded a $0.99 cheapie, BUT I’M A MAID! Episode 1, and a freebie, Chapter 9: SIN. Both look good on the screen, though the fonts are a little small and can’t be re-sized.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that there aren’t many freebies available for E inkers like me. There are a number of free graphic novels, but these can only be viewed on the Fire, or through an iPad or Android app. They can also be viewed through Amazon’s cloud reader, but to me, that defeats the purpose of having an eReader.

If you’re interested in looking into graphic novels for the Kindle and apps, free or paid, you can find the Amazon bestsellers here.

I also picked up some fiction, travel guides, a graphic design magazine, and a guide to getting free software. I’m a bit dubious about this last one, so let the freebie buyer beware. By free, the author means alternatives to Microsoft and Adobe. Don’t know about that. It’s hard to believe there’s free software compatible and comparable with Photoshop, but I’ll take a look.

Whether you plan to geek out, get out or just relax with your Kindle and a cold drink, enjoy your weekend!

Fiction

Verita by Tracy Rozzlynn
Brett Bradbury’s parents are dead, her boyfriend’s a cheater, and her best friend essentially dumped her. Truly alone in the world, Brett agrees to help colonize the newly discovered planet, Verita. Now Brett’s on a strange new world. She quickly makes friends and starts her assigned job. Verita begins to feel like home, but it’s far from perfect. Brett has an overwhelming attraction to Brody, despite the fact that he’s entirely not her type. Her colleague, Ryan, utterly hates her for reasons out of her control. And there are creatures in the forest that would like nothing more than to devour everyone for dinner.

Cathedral of Dreams by Terry Persun
In Newcity, everyone is content. Bad feelings are not allowed, because your monitoring chip will alert the police to bring you in for treatment. Getting better is mandatory. Unchecked emotions made the world outside Newcity dangerous, unruly, and violent. At least that’s the official story in Newcity. Keith knows something is wrong. Strange visions lead him to become one of the few who escapes Newcity. He finds freedom and companionship outside, but pressure building to revolt against the city’s insidious regime of social control. Leadership is thrust upon him, with only his visions for guidance, only a small band of friends for support—and the fates of both Newcity and the outside world at stake.

Artifacts: A Faye Longchamp Mystery by Mary Anna Evans
Faye Longchamp has lost nearly everything except for her quick mind and a grim determination to hang onto her ancestral home, Joyeuse, a moldering plantation hidden along the Florida coast. No one knows how Faye’s great-great-grandmother Cally, a newly freed slave barely out of her teens, came to own Joyeuse in the aftermath of the Civil War. No one knows how her descendants hung onto it through Reconstruction, world wars, the Depression, and Jim Crow, but Faye has inherited the island plantation—and the family tenacity. When the property taxes rise beyond her means, she sets out to save Joyeuse by digging for artifacts on her property and the surrounding National Wildlife Refuge and selling them on the black market. A tiny bit of that dead glory would pay a year’s taxes. A big valuable chunk of the past would save her home forever. But instead of potsherds and arrowheads, she uncovers a woman’s shattered skull, a Jackie Kennedy-style earring nestled against its bony cheek.

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honorable Phryne Fisher—she of the gray-green eyes and diamant garters—is tiring of polite conversations with retired colonels and dances with weak-chinned men. When the opportunity presents itself, Phryne decides it might be amusing to try her hand at becoming a lady detective in Australia. Immediately upon settling into Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor, Phryne finds herself embroiled in mystery. From poisoned wives and cocaine smuggling, to police corruption and rampant communism—not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse—Cocaine Blues charts a crescendo of steamy intrigue, culminating in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

Nonfiction

Best of Smashing Magazine
This eBook is Smashing Magazine’s humble gift to all of your for your support, criticism and encouragement over all these years. It contains best — most useful, most interesting or most inspiring — articles that have been published on Smashing Magazine over the last five years. They have been carefully edited, proofread and updated for your convenience and a pleasing reading experience.

Free Software: How to Save $5000 on the Most Popular Software Titles by Bob Rankin
Most computer users need a variety of software to handle tasks such as word processing, crunching numbers in a spreadsheet, handling their email, or managing personal finances. Other common activities include creating presenations, editing digital photos, updating a website, or installing security software. In this ebook, 30 of the most popular commercial software packages are listed, along with the retail price of each. If you were to purchase all of them, it would cost over $5200. But most people don’t know the valuable secret you’re about to learn… there are excellent, FREE alternatives to ALL of these popular programs! If you’re still paying big bucks for your software, you absolutely need this information.

Travel

Bargain Travel Tips For Your Summer Vacation by Evelyn Trimborn and Carolyn Stone
Everyone looks forward to their summer vacation, but with the economy still in such a poor state, a lot of people may be asking if they can even afford one. The secret is to start planning early in order to get great bargains on summer travel destinations, package vacations and holidays.

Rome Top Ten by Mario Degu
Top ten itinerary in Rome. 10 sites not to miss.

The Most Vital Chinese by James McGlasson
This booklet gives you everything you need to get by for a short trip to China. It gives you all of the following: the 10 Most Useful Phrases for a Newcomer; In a Hotel – the language you will need to book and stay in a hotel; Days & Dates – absolutely everything necessary for booking (days, months, dates, numbers & counting).

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.