Con Report: The Ghost Town Writer’s Retreat

The inaugural Ghost Town Writers Retreat. A… thing… that will live in infamy. I was there. This is what I saw. Actually, I didn’t see any of the clusterfucks that made this convention what it was. After realizing how spread apart the event was, and how inaccurate and inconvenient the schedule was, I pretty much retreated back to my hotel room and wrote as much as possible while smoking legalized marijuana. I was a proximity player at best. The dysfunction of the Ghost Town Writers Retreat never quite involved me. But others? Other who were required to be an integral part of the event? To be involved with the event, and therefore involved in its dysfunction? People like Brian Fucking Keene? Well, you should go find what he had to say about it. It’s a tirade for the ages. Keene’s fangs are thirsty for justice.

My weekend was mostly spent with my friends Karl and Whitney Fischer. Karl has always been a good friend and you should read his book, Towers. The two of them picked me up from the airport, we hung out a while in Denver, drove through the mountains, checked into the same hotel, and then acquired our convention badges. That’s where we met one of the organizers, a gigantic blob who I’m told wore the same clothes all weekend and smelled like rotting cheese. I don’t know any of that for a fact. I just know that he handed us all the name badges and told us to find ours. Then he told us other things, all while stuffing his face with cream puffs, or some sort of white dessert thing. Karl and I separated, then I found Brian Keene, Amber Fallon, and Mary SanGiovanni, then separated from them to find Karl again, but got lost, and I wandered around this tourist trap Twin Peaks knockoff until I went back to the hotel. A pair of girls saw me toasting some Pop-Tarts for dinner. They walked past and said something clever and flirty and interesting. I replied, “Pop-Tart Dinner” three times in a droning voice. It was smooth.


The hotel was run by little goblin men, and their complimentary breakfast was satisfactory even without burning my fingers on their malfunctioning toaster. On Friday and Saturday I got to work to make this con work in my favor. First I went to see a talk with Stephen Graham Jones (one of the greats, at least in my opinion), and I finally got to meet him. He read my story The Night’s Neon Fangs, but I missed the BizarroCon where I was going to thank him in person. Unfinished business, I guess. It was much like when I met Joe Lansdale at Scares that Care, in that SGJ was nice, cool, and just as awesome as I’d always hoped he’d be. Later that afternoon I hung out with Keene, who I could tell was having trouble with the con organizers. He was a man with a demonic monkey on his back.

We hung out with Keene some more, as well as Amber and a ton of new people I’d never met but who were lovely as hell. We also saw Nicolas Day, who is a great guy all around. Fantastic storyteller. He accompanied Karl and I to our recording of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Keene’s been talking about having me on there for what seems like years, and we finally did it, even bringing Karl along for the ride. Getting to meet Stephen Graham Jones and do the Horror Show pretty much made the convention worthwhile for me. Then I went ahead and got a short story written from scratch, and that sealed the deal. Things worked out, at least for my obscure ass, slipping under the radar like I did. I spent all of Saturday writing, most of Sunday hanging out with Karl and Whitney, and then traveled by plane and van for 9 hours to arrive back home at 2:00 am. I watched the last few minutes of Game of Thrones and fell asleep. Now there’s so much junk to be done it’s absurd.

Hey, if you want me to keep doing those MSPaint Game of Thrones portraits of characters who’ve been killed, say so in the comments. I’m not gonna bother with it anymore if no one wants to see ‘em.


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