Reflections on 4th Street Fantasy Convention 2015

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention 2015

Photo by Sean Berry

I’ve attended the 4th Street Fantasy Convention several times over the last five years, and I have to say, this year was the best year yet.

Topping the list of what makes 4th Street awesome is Janet Grouchy, (who actually only gets grouchy if you don’t pick up after yourself.) With several hundred people attending 4th Street, I don’t know how she manages to make me feel special every time I go, but she does. 4th Street is lucky to have such an awesome dose of Southern Hospitality in human form.

But there are many other things which make the 4th Street Fantasy Convention a must-go for writers of all types. [Read more…]

Reflections on AWP 2015

The ‘Largest Literary Conference in North America’ comes to Minneapolis

AWP Conference 2015The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (or AWP) holds a conference each year in a different city. Minneapolis, MN was lucky enough to be chosen this year to host the ‘largest literary conference in North America.’ Approximately 13,000 people attended.

What’s the AWP you ask? Good question. From their website: [Read more…]

2013 Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Showcase

2013_MNSpec_Writers_ShowcaseDo You Like Fiction?

Then you’ll want to mark this event on your calendar:

On Sunday, November 17th, members of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group (aka: MNSpec) will be reading stories at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis.

Come and enjoy Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Steampunk, Paranormal Romance, and much more. All Fiction. All Speculative.

The fun starts at 12PM, and each writer will have approximately ten minutes to read from their current material.

Fiction Fans, this is your opportunity to experience a large number of local writers in a short period of time. Find a new local author to add to your “must read” list!

Here’s just some of the talented folks who will be entertaining us with tales of the un-real:

  • Joel Arnold
  • Kelly Barnhill
  • Rob Callahan
  • Eli Effinger-Weintraub
  • Terry Faust
  • Catherine Lundoff
  • Michael Merriam
  • Margaret Taylor
  • …and more!

All hosted by yours darkly.

How, you may ask, did I ever get such talented folks to volunteer to read their works?  Let’s just say I know people who know people who run S&M clubs, and leave it at that.

Why, you may ask, did I ever agree to host an event like this? Let’s just say I paid a lot for my cool steampunk hat and goggles, and if there’s an event where I can wear them… then I’m wearing them.

Hope to see you there! And if you want to help share this event with others, feel free to download the jpg graphic above, or here is a link to the pdf version of the event flyer:

2013_MNSpec_Showcase Flyer

Mystery Writers Police Academy – 7 Sept 2013

Four crime scene specialists give authors valuable insider info in this one-day workshop.

What do these four people have in common?

  • A Bloomington MN Police officer
  • A Retired FBI agent
  • A Licensed Private Investigator
  • A BCA Forensic Scientist

They will all be presenting at this year’s Mystery Writers Police Academy on 7 Sept 2013. Topics will include crime scene investigation, first responders, fingerprinting techniques, and… well, more things than Dan Brown could fit in a novel.

This sounds like a great opportunity to feed your inner writer all kinds of great ideas to make your thriller novel more realistic.

The 9AM to 4PM workshop includes coffee, lunch and snacks for $89.

Download Details Here  (pdf)

Click here for website with more info, directions and registration info –

Neil Gaiman Live!

Neil Gaiman 2013 Book Signing In MinnesotaNeil Gaiman has been a writing inspiration to me for years. But he isn’t just a good writer. He’s smart. He’s humble. He’s well-spoken.  He is grateful and respectful to his audience.

And he wears black.

He’s become more than just a writing inspiration for me. He’s someone to look up to in many different ways.  I gave Neil Gaiman the Ubercool Seal Of Approval back in 2007, so you can imagine my excitement when…

I met Neil Gaiman for the first time today. [Read more…]

Voltage 2013

Voltage Fashion show 2013After a hiatus, Voltage: Fashion Amplified returned to First Avenue, Minneapolis. The combo of up-and-coming local bands crossed with up-and-coming local fashion designers was the brainchild of Minneapolis fashion maven, Anna Lee. While Anna is no longer involved with this project, the fashion committee she gave birth to,, hopes to carry on the 8th installment in the tradition of runway fashion show crossed with a rock concert. [Read more…]

Arts of Darkness – The Shadow of Approval Award

Arts of Darkness Shadow of Approval Award for Dark Arts and Artists from Since 2003 I’ve been writing blog-reviews here about dark and beautiful things. I’ve used the category Ubercool to reference arts, artists, events and things that I think are glorious. And I never once worried that anyone would read them.

But now, my site traffic and ranking have increased to astonishing levels. My inbox is filled with requests for reviews and offers for paid advertising. You read that right. Paid. Advertising.

“You should have an award. You know, like a seal of approval!”

Ten years ago, I felt like the weird kid sitting by himself and reading Lovecraft while listening to Marilyn Manson.  Now I feel like some kind of Dark Fiction Authority. The Goth Guru? The Hipster of Darkness? [Read more…]

Review of the 2013 Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair

Conrad Zero and Author Friends at 2013 Bloomington Writers Festival

From Left To Right: Terry Faust, Michael Merriam, Jason D Wittman, Conrad Zero

Last Saturday I attended the 2013 Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair  along with fellow Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group members: Terry Faust, Michael Merriam, Jason D Wittman and Joel Arnold.

We attended the writers festival last year, and we learned that this is not a large event, nor an awesome event for sales of spec fic. “Low maintenance, Low payoff,” is how I reported it to the other MNSpec group organizers. We decided to get a table anyway, and use this event as a practice for developing our marketing/promotional clout for larger events coming this summer.

Some numbers: [Read more…]

2013 Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair

This Saturday, 23 March 2013, myself and many other authors from the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group are attending the  Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair. We’ll be celebrating stories, the authors who write them, and the readers who enjoy them.

This event is FREE and open to the public, although the seminars and workshops require registration. There will be plenty of freebees handed out. You’ll be able to buy books directly from the authors and have them signed.

See below for more details. I hope to see you there! [Read more…]

Conrad Zero On KFAI Radio This Sunday!

radio_wavesNo seriously. My voice will be riding the radio waves this Sunday!

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 at 10 a.m. –  KFAI’s Wave Project will host the Writers Reject Sack with guests: Abra Staffin Wiebe, Joel Arnold, Dana Baird, and myself.

Not sure which I like less: the word “reject” or the word “sack”. Nevertheless, I’ll be there.  We’ll be talking about writer stuff, traditional publishing, self-publishing, podcasting and the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group.

Tune in to:

  • 90.3 FM Minneapolis, MN
  • 106.7 FM West St. Paul, MN

The show should be recorded and listed on the KFAI website, I’ll be sure to link back to it when the recording is posted!