Oh man, where to start!? We arrived at the Queen Mary at about 11 am and checked in. Our room was on the B level and was literally the last room on that level. We were right next to the electrical room. It also seemed that we didn't have any neighbors so even though that was a good thing, lugging luggage and coming back after a few drinks in heels late at night was not the best. On Thursday Kyle and I had our poetry reading at 4:30 pm. I was surprised to see only one person I knew in the crowd! That means that all those people I didn't know, knew us! Or just wanted to hear poetry. Either is good! After the reading I got some awesome autographs and met cool new people and mingled with old ones.
Opening ceremonies was a blast. I made a new friend, Johnny Worthen, who was kind enough to buy me a drink and discuss poetry! It was also good seeing Lindsey Barlow again. She encouraged me to go up and see George R. R. Martin. Without her push, this picture would never have existed.
(George R. R. Martin)
I asked him if he liked poetry and he said he liked older stuff like Kipling and wasn't so much into contemporary poetry. I told him I write formal, dark poetry and he's like oh okay, like Fungi from Yuggoth? Yes! Like Fungi from Yuggoth. I was excited that I could actually make a connection like that with him.
Friday started at 11 am with us as we slept in a bit before I got some more books signed. One author I needed signatures from was Mercedes M. Yardley. She asked my name and when I told her, she got excited and said that she knew who I was! Incredible!
After that, Kyle and I attended Nicole Cushing's workshop, How to Give a Great Interview. It was a ticketed class and Nicole had two free virtual 'tickets' to give out and she was kind enough to give them to us. Her workshop was incredibly fascinating and I definitely felt like I learned a lot. We have only been interviewed twice before and I definitely checked off some things I did on the 'Don't Do' check list!
I continued to get more autographs, talked to people, and looked at books before we took our free ghost tour!
(These are all random pictures I took.)
The Writer's Guide to the Occult: Craft Convincing Magick, Possession and Paranormal Threats panel, presented by Michelle Belanger was next. Oh man, what a panel!! I've been a fan of Michelle for years and died when I saw that she was going to be at StokerCon this year. Unfortunately, I had to quickly get her autograph and couldn't stay to chat because I would've been late to my ow panel!
(Michelle Belanger, also a singer for Nox Arcana.)
Dark Poets Face to Face was next which included Marge Simon as moderator, John Reinhart, Terrie Leigh Relf, Kyle, and myself. We each had two poems, one from a different co-panelist, to read and discuss why you liked it. I read Dark Poetry by Kyle and Springtime by John Reinhart. Everyone in the audience took home a packet with each poem to follow along with. I wish I had pictures but obviously I couldn't take any myself. I hope some people did and maybe they will spring up on social media.
After the panel, we headed for the Observation Bar! Drinks and merriment were had! I got to speak with other poets, G. O. Clark and Denise Dumars as well and had a great time relaxing.
(Denise Dumars and John Reinhart)
(Me, G. O. Clark, and Denise Dumars)
(Marge Simon and Linda D. Addison)
After that, we had a dinner and had some time to kill before our paranormal investigation tour. Yes, we just had the ghost tour earlier that day. No, they were not the same! The ghost told the history of ghosts on this ship. The paranormal investigation is investigating the paranormal! In other words, I got to hold an EMF reader the whole time. Hell yes! Even though it never spiked but that is so not the point.
(Oooooh yeah, EMF reader)
I know what you're going to ask, well did you see any ghosts on your 5 freakin hour (yes, 5 hours, 11 pm to 4 am) paranormal investigation?? My answer would be...no. Now if you were to ask me, well did you feel any ghosts?? My answer would be freakin hell yes I did!
John Pedder, an 18 year old ghost said to haunt the area we were in, has a track record of playing with women's hair. As I was going through a door, it felt as if someone had cupped their hand around my hair, as if moving my hair out of my face. It didn't get caught on anything and it was not a strand of hair that blew. It was a chunk of my hair moving away from my neck and face. Kyle was behind me but he was using dowsing rods and therefore both of his hands were occupied. That was touch number one!
(Mike, paranormal investigator)
Touch number two happened while we were in the women's locker room. In pairs, the group went into these open booths. The tour guide, Mike, was talking to us about the little girl, Jackie who was said to reside there. As he was talking, I felt something soft, almost like fur, brush against my ankle. I didn't think anything of it really, I thought it was maybe Kyle's pant leg or a spider web until Mike mentioned that there is also a ghost cat that likes to brush against people's legs.
(Door number 13, where John Pedder was found crushed between)
Touch number three happened toward the end of the tour when we were at the bow of the ship. We were all listening to a spirit box when it felt like someone patted the back of my head. Kyle was next to me and no one was behind me.
Now if you were to ask me if I heard a ghost, I would also say...yes! While in the women's locker room, Mike asked a yes or no question, I forgot what exactly, and I and a few others, including Angela Y. Smith, heard a prominent whispered 'no'. But, it was so clear and prominent that we actually thought that other people in our group whispered it. Mike asked us which direction we heard the 'no', he was the one who brought it up, and we both indicated the same area, which was by where he was standing. He said that no one by him whispered anything, he could clearly see the booths by him, and we, Angela, Kyle, and I, were in the next booths over.
Kyle and I took many recordings to see if we recorded any EVP and we are still listening to them. If we do hear anything, we will be sure to post them. I'm curious to see if I caught that 'no' in my recording.
Saturday started off with much caffeine and relaxing in the two hour line for George R. R. Martin's signature. During that time I was able to read his story The Pear Shaped Man in my copy of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror Vol. One. I just finished it by the time I got up to him. I could then tell him I liked that story when he signed it. That's also the only thing I've read of his.
(Waiting in line)
After the signing. Kyle and I raced to make the Thomas Ligotti and the Nightmare of Living panel with moderator John Palasano and panelists S. T. Joshi, Nicole Cushing, and T. E. Grau. I have heard non-stop amazing things on Thomas Ligotti but have not had the pleasure of reading his work. This panel convinced me that I need to fix that as soon as possible. I know what I'm buying with my next paycheck.
(S. T. Joshi, John Palasano, Nicole Cushing, and T. E. Grau)
Acquired more autographs before our own signing. We signed a few books while chatting with Chad Stroup and James Knouse a bit.
(Signed a wine bottle with my poem on the label.)
(Mines in a fancy crate!)
More autographs were acquired, then dinner, and then we went back to our room to get all dolled up for the awards ceremony! Before it actually started, Robert Payne Cabeen gave out certificates to the winners and finalists of the Halloween Recipe Contest Kyle and I participated in last year. So I can revel in the fact that my name was announced at the Stoker ceremony!
Now, the moment you have all been waiting for! The reason for the title of this blog entry!
Well you see, the Bram Stoker award ceremony was not the only party going on on this ship. There was also a junior prom happening at the same time. I had a glass of wine and so a little ways into the ceremony I had to use the restroom. Well, the restroom was all the way at the end of the deck and down a hallway. In the hallway, there is a flight of descending stairs with a sign that read Junior Prom. A few fancy dressed teenagers were mingling in this hallway because this is where their restrooms were as well. Anyway, went to the restroom, came out, and started heading back to the deck. Well, there was a security guard standing guard between the hallway and the deck. I'm assuming to stop prom goers from sneaking away and getting into mischief as teenagers are wont to do. As I'm heading out, the security guard kind of steps in my way and asks if I'm with the prom. The junior prom. I started laughing and asked if he was joking as I looked at the sign. He shook his head and said no. I laughed again and freakin dared him to block my exit as I went around him.
Now I know I'm young, okay. I'm usually the youngest person at these cons and book festivals and whatnot but I'm not junior high school young! It's not even a senior prom! Juniors are, what?, 16, 17 year olds?! I'm fucking 26! A ten year difference and I swear, the next person to tell me I should take that as a compliment will die in my next written piece. I'm participating at a con where I did a reading, a signing, and a panel. Confusing me with someone's junior prom date is absurd.
Anyway, I finally made it back to the ceremony and mostly enjoyed the rest of the evening. At the after party, I met this woman who sat between me and S. T. Joshi, no matter that I was talking to him, and eventually asked me if I was a writer or just a spouse. After answering, she asked what I wrote. When I said mostly poetry, she patted me on the arm and exclaimed 'Oh! Someone who doesn't want to make money writing! I admire that!' (wtf) I then told her about how I compiled this pro-paying speculative genre market list you see to your right. Then she introduced me to S. T. Joshi and said some interesting things that made it sound like I haven't accomplished anything or that I was extremely new to the scene, I don't know. She kind of just said things back handedly.
(Mary and S. T. Joshi)
(Jason V Brock and S. T.)
(Lois H. Gresh and Mary)
(William F. Nolan and Kyle)
Mary and Lois gave me each a glass of wine in addition to wine I was already drinking because of a free drink ticket someone was passing around. That was awesome. After midnight, we were all kicked out of the room because they had to clean, so a bunch of us headed to the Observation Bar. Double fisting it at this point, I asked Kyle to grab some free snacks that were at a table. We would be needing them with these drinks we were having. We headed to the bar and hung out with people. I was sitting next to Jason, Kyle was in front of me, and then there was this guy sitting in front of Jason and next to Kyle.
(Linda D. Addison won the Mentor of the Year award and she is currently my mentor!)
I was listening to a few different conversations and participating in them while enjoying my two glasses of wine and these cheese Ritz crackers. I was listening to this guy and Jason talking and Jason was saying how he'll introduce this guy to Bill Nolan and Dennis Etchison and this person and that person, and as a joke, I said and me! Now this guy has interrupted me when I was talking to Jason and this guy is sitting at our little table, saying nothing to Kyle and me. So that was kind of my way and trying to, you know, say hi to him and introduce myself since we've been sitting together for awhile now. Jason kind of smiles but this guy just gives me this death stare because oh, I guess he can interrupt people but no one can interrupt him. He doesn't say anything, doesn't introduce himself, but he suddenly sees my Ritz crackers that are clearly in front of me and that are clearly being eaten by me and decides he wants some. So does this fucking guy ask if he can have some? No. He reaches for a cracker and then ignores me. He starts talking to Jason again and every now and then takes more of my crackers without ever batting an eye at me. I was could not believe how ballsy this guy was! I was just so stunned that he thought he could eat someone else's food without asking that I was unable to do anything. My brain just couldn't comprehend what I was seeing and being less than sober, I thought it was hilarious in a I-can't-believe-this-is-really-happening kind of way.
Sunday, as we waited in line to check out, Cracker-Stealing man was two people ahead of us. We checked out and headed toward the elevators to put our stuff away before coming back to watch the closing ceremony. Cracker-Stealing man was the last to go into the elevator. As the elevator doors shut, the father of this family ahead of us pushed the button too fast and the doors opened again. Well Cracker-Stealing gave this guy the same death stare he gave me the night before and continued to stare at this man before the doors closed. As a joke, the father leaped toward the button to pretend to push it again. I so wanted him to do it.
After unloading all our stuff, we headed back up to pick up the rest of my books that didn't get sold. I happy to say that half my books were sold. Then we enjoyed a free brunch while we watched the closing ceremonies. And then it was all over.
(Rob from Mysterious Galaxy was very helpful and had a great taste in shirts!)
(Denni Etchison was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award)
(Kyle and Eric Guignard)
Congrats to all the Stoker award winners!!