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The Return Of What’s Up Wednesday: SoDakCon, My First Book Signing, And Giving My First Interview

Hey Guys. Long time no see.

As always, life is still crazy, but at least this time it’s been in a good way.

I may have mentioned a little event known as SoDakCon before. If I haven’t or you’ve forgotten, SoDakCon is the biggest anime/nerd convention in the black hills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still small comparatively, but it’s growing every year. This year’s theme was Pirates versus ninjas. (Yes, the choice of capitalization was intentional.)

Having identified as a pirate for many years, I of course had to finish my cosplay. Still, there’s a long tradition among cosplayers and being new to the scene, who am I to break it? In keeping with tradition, I waited to finish my costume until the last minute. Still, I think it turned out pretty well and I got a lot of compliments on it. I was even stopped by the event photographer and asked to pose for several pictures. They haven’t been posted yet, but when they are I’ll post them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For now, here are a couple of shots Shannon took of me.

File Jun 28, 4 58 01 AM

What do you think?

File Jun 28, 4 57 18 AM

I just had to stop by the green-screen booth and have a professional picture taken.


Check my Instagram for more of me and a few of the other amazing cosplayers who put me to shame.

So anyway, while I love going to con every year as a spectator and mingling with my kind,


this year was somewhat special. Thanks to my friend and fellow author Adrian Ludens, I was able to set up at his table to sell some of my own books. While I can’t say I sold as many as I’d hoped I would, I did sell a lot more than I’d feared I might.

I was hoping that I’d have something professionally printed in time, but yet again, I dropped the ball so at the last minute, I had to come up with what I could. I ended up designing a cover for my short story “Blood Moon” that translated to black and white. I was shooting for something reminiscent of the old dime store novels.

I think they turned out nicely. I still have plenty of copies. If anyone is interested, I’ll be selling them on my website. www.JustinMKelly.com.

One of the most thrilling moments of the weekend was being interviewed for public radio about being a writer. I have to admit, I got tongue-tied and stumbled a bit, but I made it through even though my heart was beating like crazy.

Then of course came THE moment. The moment when I sold my first copy and got to sign my first autograph. I wish I could say I did it smoothly, but the combination of it being such a momentous occasion and the fact that I honestly hardly ever write longhand, especially in cursive anymore, made me even more awkward than normal. I actually had to stop and try to remember how to make the letters I needed. Luckily, my first sale was to a friend who didn’t mind so much.

After that, things went a lot more smoothly.

All in all, it was an amazing, if exhausting weekend.

And that’s where I think I’ll stop. I could tell you more, but if I told you about every amazing thing that happened over the weekend, this post would be a mile long and I wouldn’t finish writing it until next Wednesday.

I’ll see you all on Friday with a fresh piece of flash fiction.

As always, you can find me all these places online.


Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest


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Filed under Uncategorized, What's Up Wednesday, Writing

A Weekend Amongst My People

Over the wekend I attended the South Dakota festival of books. I had a wonderful time. Imagine Comicon for book nerds. The city of Deadwood was overrun with writers of all types, teachers, librarians, and all sorts of people who just love a good book. There were wonderful seminars on all aspects of writing. I just wish I could have gone to them all but choices had to be made.

My favorite part was mingling and getting one on one time with authors at all stages of their careers and really talking with them about what I can expect as my own progresses. This is why I love the literary world. Unlike hollywood, most authors don’t look at you as a threat or competition. They’re more than willing to give a struggling writer as much helpful advice as possible. There’s a camaraderie as if they’re taking you into the fold.

It was great talking to successful writers such as Craig Johnson, the Author of the Walt Longmire mysteries. The series of books on which the T.V. show Longmire is based. If anyone has a right to be a bit cocky right now it’s him, yet he’s never too busy to shake your hand and chat with you a bit. He seems to love to encourage fledgling writers and was quick to tell me how terrible his first draft was.

I also met with Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mystery series. She gave a wonderful early morning talk on writing great villains that really got me thinking. Imagine my surprise when later that day, while sitting having a pipe and digesting everything I had learned, someone taps me on the shoulder to say hello and I look up to see Mrs. Brannan. It was a great feeling to be recognized by a successful author. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of her work yet but you can bet I’ll be rectifying that soon.

I hadn’t heard of Rhiannon Frater, but the topics of her talks combined with the fact that she’s quite an attractive woman certainly had me intrigued. The first talk I attended was called, “Zombies & Vampires: The Lure of Fantasy”. Later she was on a panel called, “It’s the End of The World As We Know It”. Both talks were awesome and she had some great theories on the appeal of zombies, vampires, and things that go bump in the night. I picked up the first book in her, “As the World Dies” trilogy, read the first page, and had a hard time putting it down long enough to pay for it.

I also enjoyed wandering the exhibition hall and talking to writers who weren’t quite as famous but seem to be well on their way. In particular, I enjoyed talking to Thomas Gondolfi. He is downright hilarious and just the back cover of his book “Toy Wars” had me laughing so hard I had to buy it. Also, any man in a kilt has got to be a good guy.

I am eagerly looking forward to next time. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to set up a table of my own. I suppose the only way for that to happen is for me to get off here and do some writing.


Craig Johnson
Sandra Brannan
Rhiannon Frater



Filed under Writing