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Wrapup: Motor City Steam Con 2016

Your intepid writerthing was at Motor City Steam Con the weekend of July 22-24, 2016, both as a gawking fangirl and also as a guest writer and panelist.

The opening ceremonies were quite spectacular, with a theatrical dance number backed up by a choir. Then the airship crews (lots of them) paraded through, flags waving proudly. Finally, the Gabriel Brass Band entertained us for a good long while. I quite enjoyed it all. Oh and con organizer Salathiel Palland was given her very own handcrafted airship by her grateful con volunteers. That was neat!

I got my books arranged in the Writer’s Block, a cozy little bookshop run by con volunteers. Instead of writer’s tables, we all left our books on shelves in there – they kept an inventory of who’s books were there and the volunteer staff sold them for us! This way, writers were free to roam about and weren’t tethered to a table. We had the chance to do public readings and engage with our hopefully-future-readers. This took some getting used to, but after I realized ‘no, I don’t need to decorate a table!’, I grew to love the idea. And I did get a full shelf to myself, so I could do a little display (I have new cast iron book-props and wanted to use them!). A side table set up was for swag, so my bookmarks went there. Well thought out.

As a panelist, I lurked on “The Circus In the Age Of Steam” panel, making tiny approving squeaking noises as Patty Templeton and Thomas Gregory dazzled us with eye popping details of circus history.

I think my favorite event was the Character Creation Challenge. Too much fun! Four authors gang up on a costumed con-goer and together they make up a backstory for the character. We took turns giving the opening concept, then just handed the microphone back and forth to keep embellishing the story with more details. We’re a diverse enough bunch that the stories really took off. We had a great time and so did the audience. I’d love to do that again sometime. The authors were myself, Tee Morris, Patty Templeton and Kevin Steil. Emmy Jackson was our host/herder. Such great company.

My favorite Character Creating moment was when a small costumed girl volunteered to have her character created. We embellished her character and empowered all her accessories to have wonderful powers. She got into it – and through the rest of the session you could see her manipulating her new mechanics and powers. Her character turned out so cool that it actually made cameo appearances in other character creation stories that followed.

On Saturday, I arrived later than I wished due to a horrific storm I chose to wait out at home. But when the skies cleared, it was back to the con. I quite enjoyed reading 20 minutes worth of “The Flight To Brassbright” to an absurdly delightful full room tonight. It was a hard act to follow Patty Templeton who dazzled us with her current work in progress, a retro tale of books, music and the supernatural. Watch for it! And then I got down to my undercrackers (petticoat and peasant top with added mob cap and fuzzy slippers), as the MCSC writers threw a reading slumber party. Loved it! And Emmy Jackson brought pie!

Thank you so much, Salathiel Palland, for not being afraid to chase a dream, catch it, and share it with so many. Motor City Steam Con helped fulfill some of my dreams too, and I know others can say the same. Can you even imagine how many dreams grew to have shape and form over the past three days? Let’s do it again next year. I’d also like to give a very warm thank you to Emmy Jackson, who took such very good care of the authors, and did so with grace and (to our eyes) ease. Thank you to the other authors. I enjoyed each and every one of you. I’ve learned from your advise and experience. Your acceptance of me as one of you went a long way in squishing my sense of impostor syndrome. I’ve already started enjoying your work and am excited to browse your websites, too. 

Nearly forgot to mention the most important detail: Both my corsets needed to have their backlaces adjusted as they were TOO BIG. Wooo!

And an after-mention. Unfortunately, the Holiday Inn in Livonia is schedule for demolition, so we shall have to gather elsewhere next year. But, steampunks are makers. And it’s already being pondered what bits and pieces of the Holiday Inn might be salvaged to become part of our builds that carry over from year to year. I love that.

This is the full list of writers that participated this year.  I’m keeping it here in case the official website retires that page in preparation for next year’s con.  Please get to know these fine people, and their books.

R.S. Belcher

Pip Ballantine

Tee Morris

Leanna Renee Hieber

Cindy Spencer Pape

Christian Klaver

Patty Templeton

Lori Alden Holuta

Emmy Jackson

David Erik Nelson

Thomas Gregory

Crysta K. Coburn

Ashley Lauren Rogers

Sarah Hans

Zig Zag Claybourne

P. R. Chase