With all of the recent changes surrounding Ice & Fire Con and the many discussions I had with my new fellow organizer K-K about expanding that convention’s model to other fandoms, I think it was only a matter of time before I finally buckled down and started my own business: Saga Event Planning, LLC.
After four years of planning a successful small single-fandom convention, along with dozens of themed parties and events and even a charity bar crawl throughout the years, this was the most natural move for me to make right now. I’ve had a great job for a long time, but now I need to focus on the things I love – convention and event planning, and my writing.
So that’s what my June has been spent doing – figuring out ways to focus on those things. Saga Event Planning has already brought Ice & Fire Con under its umbrella, and we are also deep in the early planning stages of Beach City Con, a Steven Universe-themed convention scheduled for October 13-15, 2017.
The honest truth? Of course I’m scared. I know that I can plan successful events, I trust that I’m a good writer, but will those things sustain me? I think so, but I’ve been wrong before. (Many, many times.) That said…I’m 33 years old. I’m not getting any younger. ::Insert other cliches here:: If I don’t do it now, when will I? If I don’t take the leap now, when will I? Thanks to that great job and the fact that I’m the penny-pinching type, I have a few months to figure things out before I’d need to bow to the American corporate god(s) again. And if that happens, you know, I’m more than okay with it. Because at least I can say I tried.
But I’m going to do more than try. I think I can. I think I will. After all, as Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
The new Frozen ride opened in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT recently, and today I was seeing Facebook posts featuring pictures of wait times up to 300 minutes.
Three. Hundred. Minutes. That’s FIVE HOURS. These people are in a park that is essentially open from 9 AM to 9 PM (if you ignore the Magic Hours days), and they are waiting nearly half that time to go on this ride.
My friends and I used to joke around, calling Maelstrom – the original Norway pavilion ride – “Waitstrom”. But this was back when thirty minutes was the average wait, and an hour or more was one of those “This isn’t worth it, let’s go to China” decision makers.
But waiting thirty minutes or less for Maelstrom? Hey, it wasn’t an amazing ride, but it was fun. It wasn’t the best representation of the Norwegian people and their culture, but it was so EPCOT. They could have updated Maelstrom as it was, could have made it more palatable, but instead they replaced it with “Frozen Ever After”, which would be a great attraction for Magic Kingdom, but in EPCOT – particularly in the World Showcase – just reeks of bad taste.
Half-assed as it was, Maelstrom was still a story of Norway and the Norwegian people. Now that pavilion has succumbed to Disney’s Frozen cash cow, and Frozen is a fairy tale set in a non-existent place. On top of that, the fairy tale upon which Frozen is based – The Snow Queen – is a Danish fairy tale…and while Denmark is part of Scandinavia, it is not Norway, and on top of that, isn’t even much like Norway.
Will Disney be changing the pavilion to truly represent Scandinavia in general? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I for one would be surprised if they did. It certainly wouldn’t make sense for the World Showcase’s general theme – even the U.K. pavilion is decidedly British.
I suppose the problem is that as a former cast member, I understand changes but don’t care for ones that lessen the value of the things I love best about Walt Disney World (for instance, don’t even get me started about the dining plan and how it has lessened the food quality all over property). I get the desire for a Frozen-themed ride – I even get the need for one – but I don’t care for the execution.
And on top of that, I personally wouldn’t wait 300 minutes to ride Maelstrom with Frozen characters…and that’s exactly what this is.
No, I’ve never been to Pulse in Orlando. I moved away from the Orlando area nearly a decade ago, and when I visit, I rarely have time to visit downtown at all.
But I’ve heard good things about Pulse, and if I was back in Orlando and had a chance to go, I would. Not only because it sounded fun, but because, being part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I would have been a person who would have likely called Pulse a safe haven of sorts.
There, I’ve said it. Not that I’ve ever really hidden the fact that I am not straight…it’s just not something I often state in a public forum. Not for any bad reason, not because I’m trying to hide it, but rather because it’s a part of me, it’s who I am, and I don’t think I should have to constantly explain that. I believe that my general opinions (which I’m not shy about sharing) and even at times my writing show who I am well enough.
But right now, this is different. I woke up yesterday morning and the first thing I saw was a post from a friend in Orlando, someone who frequented Pulse, telling everyone he was okay. I saw that many of my friends had already used the safety check-in feature on Facebook, and seriously, I have never been happier that that feature exists, even if I don’t like that it has to exist in the first place.
Unfortunately, as yesterday wore on, it was impossible to ignore the articles, the cries for help from those who wanted to find missing friends or family members. Especially when one of those missing people is a friend of a friend. Not someone I’ve ever met, but a beautiful young woman who went to Pulse Saturday night and was confirmed dead early this morning. My heart goes out to those who know her, as it does to everyone who is missing or mourning a loved one after this truly horrific event.
Let me get this straight: I don’t care what the killer’s motives were. I don’t care whose name he is working under or apparently working under or whatever the newest news about that is. I care that this was a terrorist attack no matter WHO he was, and one that specifically targeted Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community. As an acquaintance of mine said, “These people are my people, and we are dying.” And then another person got pulled over on his way to the LA Pride parade with a car full of weapons. So that person got caught, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he existed, and it doesn’t make up for the fact that the terrorist in Orlando made it through our “gun control” system despite having been under FBI surveillance not once but twice, and it doesn’t make up for the fact that any citizen of this country is allowed to purchase a FUCKING ASSAULT RIFLE.
And it doesn’t make up for the fact that over a hundred people were killed or injured when that man burst into Pulse nightclub and committed an act so full of hate that it literally makes me sick to my stomach.
I wish I was in Orlando. I wish I could do more RIGHT NOW. I wish I didn’t have to make these wishes, because tragedies like this should not still be happening. Wake the fuck up, America. A large portion of your population was just directly attacked for who they are, whether they are LGBTQ+ or those who support their LGBTQ+ friends or family.
In the end, I don’t feel like anything I write about this will never be enough.
I’m a writer, and yet I somehow can’t find the right words to express how I feel about this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with anyone who was directly or indirectly harmed by these events.
May 26th, 2016 Steven Universe 3×4 Review: Barn Mates
Considering how much I loved the first three episodes of this “In Too Deep” series, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t all that fond of “Barn Mates”…that is, until I rewatched it.
June 3rd, 2016 Julia Vanishes Features Great Writing Marred by Average Storytelling I picked up an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan at C2E2 earlier this year because, while I don’t usually read YA, this novel sounded intriguing. I just wish that in the end the blurb on the back hadn’t turned out to be quite so misleading.
June 6th, 2016 Loot Pets May 2016: The POWER Collection I have to admit, May 2016’s Loot Pets box was the first one that I wasn’t really happy with. I liked the items that came in my Loot Crate Level Up POWER Collection package, but I don’t think Loot Pets was on par with May’s theme.
June 11th, 2016 Roses and Rot: Intrigue and Rambling It’s funny that when checking out other reviews for Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (before cracking it open myself), one person said “this book is actually a romance novel” – because that isn’t the impression I got at all. Yes, there are romantic aspects to it, but above all Roses and Rot is a Tale of Two Sisters, if you will.
Nearly four years ago (in September 2012), I sat down with two other A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones fans and put together a track proposal for Dragon Con – one that would entirely center around George R.R. Martin’s works, both television and writing, as well as HBO’s hit new series Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately, Dragon Con wasn’t accepting new tracks – in fact they were (understandably) combining a few things. Even as we submitted our proposal, we knew deep down that we had no chance. And so, while we were waiting, we started making plans for the first-ever Ice and Fire Con. We wanted a beautiful location, but we needed a place that would work with us in regards to money, because we were basing our future on possible ticket sales.
Thankfully, Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, Ohio went out of their way to accommodate us. The new owner (at the time, remember, this is 2012) was (and still is) an ASOIAF fan, and he was very excited to host Ice & Fire Con. That’s not to say that creating this convention wasn’t difficult at all – I even wrote an article about the 5 [not so] easy steps to organizing a convention after our first event – but from the moment we started selling tickets, it was like I’d said “Friend” and the doors of Durin opened for me.
Only, you know, without all the orcs and the cave troll and the Balrog. Just feasts and ale and treasure.
Wait, we’re not-for-profit, so no treasure. But hey, feasts and ale!
Seriously though, since that first year my life has been consumed by this event. Not every hour of every day, but enough that it has become part of my very being. Though there have been times when I’ve thought perhaps it would be better for me to step down as an organizer, in the end I never could do that, and so here I am – preparing for Ice & Fire Con 2017, which will be our 5th year anniversary. And this time I’m organizing this event with one of my closest, most trustworthy, and hardest-working friends.
But it’s not just that. As always, we have an amazing team of volunteers – people who started as friends and became volunteers, people who started as attendees and became friends and then volunteers. Regardless, now more than ever we are all a team, and the next ten months of planning are going to be amazing…but also too long.
Because when I am at Ice & Fire Con, I am home. Whether it’s Ravenwood or Mountain Lake, whether I see certain people several times a year or only at this one event, I am home.
And of course, the fact that we’re all ASOIAF/Game of Thrones fans, the reunion itself, the discussions, the games, the parties, and more…they all make everything that much better.
I love this convention. I love what it has done for my life. I love the people I’ve been able to spend time with, the people I’ve met, and I can’t imagine not loving the people I’ve yet to meet.
I premiered the paperback version of my novel The Way of Reckoning at MegaCon 2016, and as of this past Saturday (June 4th – right at one year, six months after it was published for Kindle) it is now available on Amazon and Createspace!
I’ve been busy setting it up for paperback sales as well as doing tons of work for Ice & Fire Con, hence my lack of updates here on my website. (Yes, I feel like I’m always explaining away my lack of posts because I am legitimately always busy and feel bad that I don’t have time to engage my website followers as much as I should.) But I have a lot of exciting things in the works, so hopefully life will settle down and I’ll have time to write about them soon 🙂 Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, please head head over to Amazon or Createspace and check out my novel!