Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing – MidsouthCon Report: Why Do All Hall Costumes Try To Shoot Me?

Written By: Tracy - Mar• 28•11

Elizabeth Donald entitled her blog reports of Midsouth Con as “Shambling in Memphis.” That seems like a good place to start.  I followed the crew from Yard Dog Press across a gray, cold and dreary Arkansas to find a warm spot of warmth, light and fun in Memphis. It was time for the annual MidsouthCon fan convention.

This year, the folks at Midsouthcon had once again moved hotels. They are no longer staying in the hotel that looks like Escher designed it. Instead the hotel is at a Hilton that is designed like the core of the Death Star (The one Obi Wan had to shut down in A New Hope).  It is big and round and made of glass. Each room is shaped like a giant wedge.

When I got there, the fen already had a line to check in. The convention volunteers set up check in tables in front of a statue of Louie Armstrong. They put a Tina Turner wig on his head. In case mundanes didn’t know: something weird this way comes.

The crew at Yard Dog Press set up their table, and we all got to work. Normally I would not be happy with my schedule (My panels are at 5:00 on a Friday and 1:00 on a Sunday) but Midsouth con is not just any convention. The panels usually start late and continue well into the evening. It’s not unusual to be giving a talk on self-promotion at 9:00 at night to a full room at Midsouth Con.

My first panel wasn’t on self-promotion. Instead it was Writing to your Demographic along with fellow Broaduniverse member Kathryn Sullivan, Kirk Stevens, M.B. Weston, M Keaton (a wonderful writer from up in Siloam Springs) and Stanley Friedman. The basic consensus is that authors should write what they want and let editors worry about what market to put it in, because if they write to the market, by the time their work actually comes out in print, the market will have changed.

Next up, I sat in on the 6:00 panel on Humor and Horror, on which Angelia Sparrow, Bran Hatcher, J. F. Lewis, Jason Sizemore and Selina Rosen spoke. The basic consensus of that panel was that people in horror movies don’ t know that they’re in horror movies, and that in real life, people really do act that stupid. (Ever go into a dark room, even if you’re afraid, just to prove to yourself that there is nothing in the dark? Yeah. Me too.  I would last 5 minutes in a horror movie).

After that, I returned to the dealer’s room in time to say hello to fellow Yard Dog Press writers Ethan Nathe and Laura J. Underwood. Laura was at the con to promote her newest book, Wandering Lark. Wandering Lark is the long-awaited sequel to Dragon’s Tongue, which Misha Merlin put out before the company went belly-up. Yard Dog Press put out Wandering Lark, so now fans can finish the adventure started in Dragon’s Tongue.

Laura also brought along some of the results of her newest hobby: creating beaded dragons. she had several tiny dragons, some smaller ones and even two that were the right size for riding on your shoulder.

One thing that is fun about visiting a convention like Midsouth Con is that there are several very enthusiastic costumers who attend. Although quite a few of the costumes are the type of things that shoot at me when I am in the process of shooting them – with my camera. This year I saw the plastic green army men from toy story, Master Chief from the Halo series and some of the Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion.

There were not as many steampunk costumes this year as I have seen previously. The Apparition Abolishers had a table in the hall, and they were representing in high style.

Although I bought a beautiful Steampunk skirt from Leah D’Andrea (On a side note, Leah looks enough like Carrie Fisher that when she dressed in the Princess Leia Hoth outfit, people on the floor were doing double and triple takes). She has an etsy store at and I think she also does one of a kind commissions. I’ll wear my new steampunk outfit for the first time at ConQuesT, and be sure to post pictures here so you can see them.

Saturday I had a street corner reading followed by a signing. I normally don’t ask for readings or signings. #1 I land at the Yard Dog Press table between panels, where anyone can find me to sign my work. and #2, I can usually do a reading at the Yard Dog Press traveling road show. and #3, Midsouth does their readings in the “street corner performance” format. Which means that they put up a prop lamp post, a pair of speakers and a microphone. and we are expected to dance, monkey dance! Last year, we were down the hall from a Klingon rock group, and I couldn’t hear myself think, much less read.

But this year there was no traveling road show, and the con was all: You will have a reading whether you want It or not and will learn to like it little missy! So when no one showed up, I made my own fun by harassing people who were on their way to the con suite. First someone stopped, then I started to read from my short story “Yumbies of the Carribbean,” which was in International House of Bubbas. That’s the story where I have to switch between doing a southern accent and an Aussie accent. By the end, I had a crowd around me.

The signing was a great time to people watch, since everyone in a costume wandered by and did not buy or sign a book. So in the time I sat there, I saw R2D2, Stormtroopers, zombie versions of D*sney princesses, a kid with a tardis balloon hat, more stormtroopers, ghostbusters and much more.

I skipped the masquerade because by that point, I needed sustenance. The hotel had a decent restaurant with good, not-too-pricey hamburgers.

A side note: I won’t say his name to protect his identity, but I met a very nice young man at one of the parties who made the mistake of publishing his first book through XLibris.

Let me say this again to anyone who hasn’t heard it: Money flows to the author. If you want to self-publish, learn how to put your book up on Kindle, have a good editor look at it, get some decent, professional cover art and do it yourself. Do not go through a company that charges you your life savings and gives you 30 copies of a book.

Or better yet, take a little time, polish it up a little more and send it to an agent or a publisher. Reputable Publishers and Agents do not charge you for their services. They typically take a portion of the profits, instead  But if someone is charging you for their “services,” run the other way!

Saturday Night was the Darrell awards banquet. Yard Dog Press’s very own vickie malone kennedy (lower case is correct here) won the short story competition for her short story Bobbie Sue Almost Got Married in the Yard Dog Press anthology A Bubba In Time Saves None.

On Sunday, things seemed a bit slower. Even the statue of Louie in the Tina Turner wig looked tired. Sales at the Yard Dog Press table came in drips and drabs.

My last panel of the convention was Say What? A panel on slang, which degenerated into a panel on Cursing. I was on the panel because I’ve done research into Hawaiian and Australian slang for the aforementioned Yumbies of the Caribbean, as well as hobo slang for my short story The Hobos, The Devil and James Dean’s Car. My fellow panelists were David Blalock, Julia Rios, Kathryn Sullivan and Stephanie Osborn.

I got out of the panel just in time to rush back over to the Yard Dog Press table and put back my borrowed books before the Dealer’s room closed. At that point there was nothing left to do but pack up and go home. It was a good convention, and a great chance to interact with folks that I rarely see at any other time of the year.

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  1. Michael Kingsley says:

    I attended only one Street Corner reading this year. Others that I would have been interested in were opposite panels that i wanted to attend, and MSC 29 had many panels that I wanted to attend.

    No traveling road show? Is this part of some underground conspiracy?

  2. Tracy says:

    There weren’t as many of the Yard Dog Feral Chihuahuas in attendance this year, which may have had something to do with it. But I have sat in on traveling road shows with just 3 people at previous Midsouthcons, so that may not have anything to do with it.

  3. Frank Tuttle says:

    I really enjoyed the Humor in Horror panel!

  4. Julia Rios says:

    My last panel of the convention was Say What? A panel on slang, which degenerated into a panel on Cursing.

    To be fair, that panel description did mention expletives right in the blurb…. I did try to get everyone talking about other things, too, though. I really liked the bit you mentioned about the written picture codes hobos used, like a cat to show that a nice lady lived at a particular house.

    In any case, I thought you were quite fun to listen to both there and on the Humor in Horror panel.

    • Tracy says:

      It wasn’t totally a cursing panel. We did talk about slang and sub-culture and how one grows from the other. I had fun bringing up BFG, Frag and Hit Points. But when I mentioned the panel to my publisher, she said that the same thing happened last year on a panel with the same topic. I guess that’s where the mind naturally drifts.

  5. M. Keaton says:

    Tracy, I just makes me happy to see you every year and having a panel together (especially about writing for younger folks) was just icing on the cake. You made a 5pm Friday panel a highlight of the weekend.


    • Tracy says:

      I appreciate all of the good company. The other members of the panel provided information that I had not heard before.