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LibertyCon AAR!!

For those few of you who don't know what LibertyCon is, it's only the most amazing literary science fiction and fantasy convention ever!! Held annually in Chattanooga, Tennessee, it's a chance for fans, authors, and publishing professionals to get together and geek out for three days of nerdy awesomeness. There are panels, dealers and artists, BarCon (AKA hanging out in the lobby/bar of the hotel with all your friends), and, of course, book sales!!

Honestly, I was so busy, I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I thought I did. I'll have to ask my friends to share what they got, as well as haunt the official LibertyCon website so I can check out the official photos when they're posted (Kenny did an amazing job getting shots of everything). Now, on to the After Action Report!

BLUFF: I did all the things, hung out with all the people, and simultaneously ate way too much and not nearly enough!! (there, now if you don't want all the deets, you can just skip to the end LOL)

Thursday stared with a five hour drive, and ended with spending six hours hanging out at the hotel bar with my publisher, Chris Kennedy, and fellow CKP authors Mark Wandrey, Jon R. Osbourne, Casey Moores, Hailey Gregor, David "Shady" Shadoin, and a whole bunch of other authors and fans. Much laughter was had, stories were shared, and drinks were, well, drunk. Even though I was rehydrating with just water, it still counts as drinking LOL.

I also got to hang out with my friends Jason and Melanie Cordova!! Mel made me a gorgeous stone pendent and you absolutely must check out her Facebook page Made by Mel:

Friday was a slow start for various reasons. One, the con wasn't officially open yet, so no morning panels. Two, many of us stayed up waaaaay too late the night before. Breakfast at the City Cafe Diner helped. My morning mocha helped more. Kacey Ezell, Marisa Wolf, and Leah Brandtner arriving helped the BEST!! Going to cons are expensive, so splitting hotel room costs is a great way to save. Getting to have sleepovers all weekend with three of my favorite people - priceless. TBH, I just really met Leah this weekend, but we're already besties (we read the same books, are both AF vets, randomly break out into song with the slightest provocation, and share the same birthday month. . .I'm so damn happy to have shared a room with her). Nick Steverson and I had our first Author's Alley block, where we had a blast pretending to be pirates and talking to folks about our books, and then we got to sit on a panel about PIRATES!! So. Much. Fun. I did abandon Nick in Author's Alley at one point to listen to Kacey Ezell's reading from the upcoming sequel to the Romanov Rescue (the delightful Tom Kratman and Justin Watson also read passages and I literally cannot get my grubby little hands on this book soon enough). The last big event was CKP Year Ahead, and holy crap, that was such a blast. The personal highlight for me was Kacey doing a spot-on impersonation of Rob Howell when he was delayed and couldn't speak to the New Mythology Press section. We got to talk to all the books coming out from CKP, and had a great time doing it (soooo to speak lol). To round out the day, we had our first LIVE episode of CKP Last Call, where drunk authors got to babble about all the things. It was epic and hilarious. Kudos to our fabulous host Jeremy Comeaux for putting up with our ridiculousness. You can watch it here:

Saturday was THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE FOR REASONS!! Ehem. . .I mean, yeah, it was a pretty freaking fantastic day all around. I had a career counseling session with none other than Bill Fawcett. We had an incredible conversation, both about writing and the military. After that, I had just enough time to get to the Salvage Title Universe panel. Nick and I got to talk space hyenas, as well as our future plans and the many, many trilogies I owe Kevin Steverson (AKA Space Dad). Marisa Wolf and Casey Moores had their reading next, and we got a sneak peak to two excellent upcoming novels. There might have been lunch, unclear as there was no such thing as regular meals last weekend lol, and then there was the Fallen World panel. Marisa Wolf and I have decided to team up for world domination - uh, I mean to cowrite a Fallen World novel with her mad scientist's daughter and my sharpshooting goat girl. I promise mad cackling, shenanigans, and all the goat puns we can jam in there. Because sometimes you've got to grab your goats in this fallen world LOL. There was BAEN roadshow awesomeness where Marisa Wolf got to show off her BADASS cover for her upcoming BAEN novel. Did I mention BAEN?! So damn excited for her, because that story broke my brain in the best way possible. Yes, I've read it. Yes, I'm all the smug about it. Yes, it will absolutely break your brain too when it comes out February 2024.

AHHHHHHH!!!! Look at that pretty cover - also, Marisa looks gorgeous and I love her so much. I'm blessed with amazing friends, and Marisa is at the level where if she ever needed to hide an unalived body, I'd ask how many shovels she needed me to bring LOL. Seriously, writing is all the fun, being an author is super cool, but it wouldn't be nearly as amazing without the friends I've made in the past three years. Speaking of awesome friends and amazing things, we had an after dark 10PM panel for Valkyries!!

That was hands down the most fun I've ever had on a panel. Kacey continued her impersonation of Rob Howell, who was also on the panel. Joelle Presby also introduced herself as Rob Howell, and I literally couldn't resist jumping on the tease Rob bandwagon. Without missing a beat, Rob introduced himself as Kacey Joelle Olthoff. I nearly fell out of my chair cackling like a swamp witch. On a slightly more serious note, we all got to talk about our Valkyries characters, our short stories in the Valkyries Initiative anthology, AND the novels we have coming out next year.

Shadows May Fall is the full length novel for Athena and Sebastian, and I can't wait for you guys to read it. Also, Nick will NOT stop bragging that he got to read it first, while Marisa happily counters that she got to read the improved version. I'm just happy they both loved it LOL. 2024 is the year of the Valkyries, and I'm so looking forward to it! Huge hat tip to Casey Moores for being our crab-walking water boy. And yes, this is an accurate representation of how he got water for everyone - just picture him in a kilt and you've got the idea.

Saturday night was, like all nights, BarCon shenanigans!! Honestly, time math is banned, and the nights somewhat blurred together. It's probably enough to say that we all had a blast hanging out together.

Sunday was the close out of the con, but there were a few things left to do. The Four Horsemen Universe panel was great fun, and we got to talk about the Phoenix Initiative: First Missions anthology, which is available here:

We also got to talk about upcoming novels, one of which is mine! I'll be continuing the story of Rebel and Ducky that begins in Duck Me. Working title is Companions in Chains, and it will be one of the Depik Companion novels. If you want a taste of that series, check out Casey Moores Depik Companion novel, Companion to Darkness (AKA Cocain Crabs in Outer Space. . .don't ask). You can find it here:

I got to read it first, and I am also all the smug about it. After that, we attended the Three Ravens Press panel and got to hear about all the awesome books they've got coming out in the next year or so. Then it was time for closing ceremonies. We attended at the specific request of Kacey Ezell for REASONS. I had a few guesses, but DAMN I was so freaking happy when the special guests for next year were announced. . .

KACEY IS MASTER OF CEREMONIES next year!!!!!! (The fact that I found a gif with a blue-haired chick is HIGHLY appropriate, don't you think?) I'm so freaking proud and excited for her, she's going to kill it!!

For those of you who've actually read this massive AAR, congrats! It's almost over. The rest of the day was spent hanging out at BarCon, eating a lunch so late it was, in fact, dinner, drinking various beverages of choice, and making plans for the rest of the year. Many people left that day, but some of us stuck around until Monday morning. After a quick brunch with friends, I hit the road. Five hours later, I was home. I've got the date marked on my calendar for when 2024 LibertyCon tickets go live, and I will ABSOLUTELY be entering the hunger games in order to secure a ticket and go again next year. This isn't really a con, it's a family reunion, and I intend to go every year I can!!

Whelp, now that I've word vomited out a ridiculously long AAR (and trust me, I barely scratched the surface of all the things that happened at Liberty), I've got to go play catch up with daily life, not to mention get back to writing Salvage Bunny 3. Hope ya'll have a great week!!

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James Young
James Young
Jun 28, 2023

Glad to finally meet in person! LC is indeed a wonderful family reunion!

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