As some of you may recall, last year was the first time I attended NECON, the North Eastern Writers' Conference. In last year's report, I mentioned that NECON, aka Camp NECON, is a cross between a convention and a family reunion. It's a place where writers, celebrities, and readers are all on equal footing. No egos allowed.
This year I returned for more fun and saugies and I had a wonderful time. Things started off a little shaky though, as Delta Airlines experienced some mechanical difficulties in a plane and my original flight was overbooked and I was one of the 17 unlucky people who got bumped from the flight. So was my pal and co-author James A. Moore, so we got put on a later flight and had to hang out for six hours in the Atlanta airport. (Delta did give me a $900 travel voucher for my trouble, so I can fly pretty much anywhere in the US for free now.) We arrived at the T.F. Green airport in Warwick RI about dinner time and the intrepid Dan Foley picked us up, along with a couple of other NECONers, and we stopped by Legal Seafood, where I had a stuffed shrimp casserole, filled with crab meat. I'm not a huge seafood fan, but when in New England, you want the seafood.
We made it to the convention center and hotel just in time to hurry to the inner courtyard and catch the opening concert by the amazingly talented and drop dead gorgeous Kasey Lansdale. Kasey sang some songs off her new album RESTLESS and did some cover versions of songs by others, and she and writer/actress Amber Benson did a duet of SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, which was great. So travel snafus notwithstanding, the con got off to a great start. Kasey is the daughter of Joe Lansdale and is a writer and editor herself. And boy, can she sing.
On Friday, my pal Paul McNamee made it to the con. I've been chatting with Paul online for several years and it was great to finally meet him in person. Last year I was asked to be on a panel at the last minute, but this year, no longer being the new guy, I was assigned a panel on crime and horror fiction and spent a fun hour chatting with fellow panelists James A. More, Jan Kozlowski, Chris Irvin, Michael Koryta, and moderator Bracken MacLeod. I really thought the panel went well and I learned some stuff which is always a plus. Spent the afternoon wandering the dealer's room and art show, then went out for terrific Chinese dinner with folks. That evening was the 'meet the authors' party and I got some books signed and even signed a couple, so that was a blast.
Saturday morning Jim, Dan Foley, and I went out for breakfast at a little mom and pop Polish place for more great food. When we got back we headed out to Providence with some other campers to see the Lovecraft sights. That turned into such a cool day trip that I'm going to devote a separate post to it. Saturday evening was the Artists Reception followed by the Infamous NECON Roast, about which my lips are sealed. What happens at NECON stays at NECON.
After that we had another saugie roast in the courtyard where I ended up in a fascinating discussion about non-genre books and Ray Bradbury with Jim Moore, Amber Benson, and some other folks. And after that I went to bed.
Sunday morning I barely had time for breakfast before Bev Vincent and I had to head for the airport to catch our planes home. I had one last glimpse of Shadow-Haunted Providence and then put in a grueling travel day beset with storm delays and traffic jams, but I finally made it home. My cat Bruce was very glad to see me and hasn't left my side since I got home.
On a personal note, I mentioned above that NECON is like a family reunion. Everyone went out of their way last year to make me welcome but I still felt like a distant cousin. This year I felt more like one of the family. There are some fine folks at NECON and I already miss them. And I made many new friends as well.
PS. The attached pic is just some of the swag I picked up at NECON.