Podcamp Halifax 2012
The sky was the color of anvils and the cold hammered into my bones. The coffee I’d brewed showed absolutely no sign of kicking in.
On what had to have been one of the coldest Sundays of the 2012 winter I stumbled blearily onto a bus bound for the Alderney Gate Library.
I was bound for Podcamp, with a banjo on my knee.
All right, so I am lying about the banjo.
* * *
This was the third year for Halifax Podcamp – and I hear that it was bigger than ever. I had been invited to attend the first two Podcamps but my dayjob had got in the way.
Yes, I have a day job. Let’s just clear that up for those of you who prefer to imagine that being a writer means that the bank drops a dump truck load full of money on my front lawn once a month.
I keep waiting – but so far that has not happened.
The place was jammed with people. Signs were sporadic and traffic flow was as unlawfully incorrect as could ever be imagined. This was a gathering of virtual people, gurus of the internet, outlaws of the digital wilderlands – we did not need any stinking traffic cop.
I found my way to the sign-in desk by way of the coffee urn. Strategically placed next to the coffee urn were something that looked like bacon biscuits. Greasy yummy bacon biscuits. I am sure that they had a very wonderful name like Pork Ala Conte or some-such thing but to my eye they were bacon wrapped in pastry and they were awfully good.
The day was off to a fine start.
I made my way around the site before things got started, scoping out the various talk-locations. In the crowd I bumped into Kimberly Walsh – my publicity guru from Nimbus. She gave me her copy of the program. She had an i-phone and could just look at the schedule online.
In fact, everyone I saw had some sort of gadget in their hand or pocket. I felt entirely unmanned and somewhat misguided, having nothing but a wallet, a key chain and a few random pieces of change in my pocket. The only thing in my hand was the program, now smeared with bacon biscuit grease.
I decided what talk I wanted to listen to first. If I’d had an i-phone or i-pad or smart-giggly-widget of some sort I would have been able to have studied the descriptions of each talk – but I am hopelessly stuck in caveman mode. I stood there in that crowded library – hoping for smoke signals, or interesting spoor or maybe the sound of jungle drums.
Nothing but the smell of pastry and bacon grease.
So I settled on Lounge Area Number One, because that’s about all I could count to until the coffee kicked in. I chose a chair and laid me gear out to claim the chair. I’m fifty-three years old – having a chair to sit down in is awfully important to my feet and back.
I listened to the introductions and Podcamp was officially underway – fifteen minutes behind schedule.
My first talk was Stephen Smith who gave an interesting talk about the wonders of the Google Optimizer – which is kind of way that website designers could run blind taste-tests of their webpage ideas before they settled on one particular plan. It was interesting and kind of cool but in hindsight I wished I’d caught another talk.
Here is the first lesson for all of you folks who want to go to an event like this. Plan yourself out an agenda before you get there. If I had possessed half-a-brain-cell I would have planned out my attendance a little more carefully than I had. I could claim that I was busy – and I am a lot busier these days – but the fact of the matter was I let stupid get in the way of good common sense. A fellow ought to have the foresight to look at the map and study it before he heads off down the road.
Which I didn’t.
Following that talk I made my way past the bacon table but unfortunately the bacon biscuits had been all chewed up. So instead of upping my cholesterol level I made my way to the next talk. I had wanted to catch the WordPress Workshop – because I’ve been blogging on WordPress and did not know a whole lot about what I had been doing – like always.
Unfortunately, the WordPress Workshop was going on at the Theatre – and the Theatre was still running a documentary from the first session. Here I ran into one of my one main problems with the event. Because they started late everything was set off-schedule. Being still stuck on dumb – (the coffee still hadn’t kicked in) – I found it hard to adapt to the off-kilter timing of things. My anal-retentive brain cells had firmly clamped their bacon-biscuit-greasy-grip upon the orange printed program sheet – and while I should have adapted and evolved my poor old primordial self. kept wondering why nothing was happening according to the schedule.
In fact, I felt a little like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory – wondering why everything wasn’t performing according to theory – rather than actual reality.
But I did my best to cope.
I did not stay at the Theatre, because there was a very important talk that I needed to catch in the third time slot.
Namely, my talk.
I know, I hadn’t bothered mentioned to you in the beginning of this article – but I had decided to take part in a big way in Halifax Podcamp 2012. Why not? My day job might get in the way again in 2013 – so I figured I would step up and take part.
For those of you who are curious – here is my talk description.
Why Fred Flintstone Hates George Jetson’s E-Guts!
Steve Vernon – First Floor Lounge Area 2
Steve Vernon has released over twenty traditional-style books of fiction and folklore during a writing career of over thirty years – yet in 2011 he released ten e-books and one audio book in a single year. In 2012 his latest e-book – SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME: A STORY OF HOCKEY AND VAMPIRISM will be released as a part of the KDP Select program in a true display of come-over-to-the-dark-side-Luke enthusiasm.
Find out why this Kirk-is-my-icon caveman writer who wrote five drafts of his very first novel in longhand has totally embraced the 21st century Picard-will-talk-you-through-this technology. Armed with a what-the-heck-am-I-doing attitude and a truckload of other-people-told-me-this answers Steve Vernon will open up a can of unproven experience on how to successfully surf the digital wave for all of you who want to become the next successful e-book writer.
Okay, so I didn’t realize I was actually supposed to host the talk. If I’d realized that I might have grabbed a few more of those bacon biscuits and tucked them into my ditty bag – (what, don’t you have a ditty bag? I thought everybody and their great uncle Wilfred had themselves a ditty bag) – and saved them to share with the spectators to my talk. I mean, a good host is supposed to feed his guests, isn’t he?
So I fed them on bafflegab, hooraw, and gut-gas. I had determined to talk about the transitions I had gone through in deciding to get involved with writing e-books. I told them about the differences between an e-book and a traditionally—published book. I told them what mistakes they ought to avoid. I told them my sales figures and my current and future strategy and everything else I felt would be of use to anyone who had any sort of an ambition or plan to turn themselves into a writer of e-books.
I felt the talk went well. It helped that I was situated directly before dinnertime. It helps a lot if you have to talk and you can tell yourself – okay, I only need to talk until dinner and then I get to go.
Everybody listened and everybody clapped and several people asked me questions and only three people left during the talk and if I had thought to take down their names and addresses before the talk had begun I could hunt them down and cry at their door but unfortunately I forgot to gather names, addresses, phone numbers or necessary DNA samples – so I’ll just have to settle for thinking real hard “You-don’t-know-what-you-missed” thoughts in their general direction. Hell, maybe someone had just served out another platter full of bacon biscuits.
I’d even leave my talk for a bacon biscuit.
I don’t know who served the preliminary munchies but they were awfully good.
Talking about food, it was time for dinner – which was provided by Local Source and was awfully good.
Here’s what I had.
•Roasted Baby Portobello on LS bread w/ extra old cheddar, roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onion & Mesclun greens
Plus: a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad (in a cup) w/ sweet potato, blue potato, onion, garlic, spinach, feta & extra virgin olive oil
•Raspberry Mini Molten Cakes w/ FT Org. dark chocolate, rice flour & butter
•Sweet Apple Cider – 500ml
Okay, so I just cut-and-pasted that from the menu – but I’m running out of time. I have to get to my day job this morning – but I am determined to get this all down into blog format.
This is one of the things I learned at Podcamp. All right, so I knew it already, but I had it reinforced by several of the sessions I intended. If you’re going to keep up a blog or a Twitter or a Facebook or a webpage you have got to be consistent and regular. Don’t poke it out there on the side of the internet highway and forget about it. Blog, Twitter, Facebook your face off regular.
Eat your All-Bran, dammit.
After dinner I found myself a seat in the Theatre to listen to the guest speaker Julian Smith. This is one event I did not want to miss and I was glad that I caught it. His talk was entertaining, exciting and enlightening. I learned a lot and would tell you more if I didn’t have to get to work soon – but for now why don’t you just go and check out his own blog.
Or download a copy of The Flinch – a very entertaining and inspiring work.
Finally I caught a talk with Allison Garber and Jill Mader – two local bloggers who shared all of their hard-earned experiences at running a blog.
Check out their blog here.
That’s all for now. I’ve got to get to work.
Yours in storytelling,
PS: I should mention that I had a great time, learned a lot and heard from about a dozen local folks through Twitter afterwards. I even managed to sell an e-book or two. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone interested in the way that our world is changing electronically.