Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about, or even witnessed the Great American Eclipse of 2017. I know many of you are tired of hearing about this, but please bear with me for a moment.

All across the United States people were traveling, planning, and making the most of what would generally be a once in a lifetime event. The last total eclipse that was visible from one end of the continental U.S. to the other was June 8, 1918. That eclipse followed a very similar path as the one we recently experienced on Monday, August 21st, 2017.  As I said, this is generally a once in a lifetime event, but will happen twice in 7 years for those living in my current area of Southern Illinois. We’ve landed right in the crosshatch of the 8-21-2017 eclipse and the 4-8-2024 eclipse. Should I still have the privileged of being on this earth, and living in this area, I’ll get to see this amazing phenomenon twice.  And next time I’ll be better prepared. I’m dying to get some high resolution photographs, so I’ll be purchasing the correct filters and equipment for 2024.

I’m mentioning all this to explain why this event was such a big deal in our area. While we certainly weren’t the only area in the U.S. to experience 100% totality, we did get the longest duration at 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds. In 2024 we will again be among those that will see the longest duration, with this event lasting somewhere over 4 minutes.

If you’ve never witnessed a 100% total eclipse, let me say… it’s pretty cool. We went from bright sunshine to street lights coming on and insects singing their nightly songs, then back to bright sunlight (and some very confused animals) within the span of a few minutes. I’ve posted a video of what it was like in our back yard, just after all went dark. You can see it here: Total Solar Eclipse, 2017

To make the most of the event, and the large amount of visitors expected, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL put on a comic con featuring local guests and national talent alike. Nathan Bonner was the coordinator behind the project and he did an  amazing job. If you aren’t familiar with Nathan’s work, be sure to check it out at his website, Indavo.

Our local news station also did a piece on the event. You can see that here: SIU hosts Eclipse Comic Con

Okay, so let’s get to the recap.

This was, in short, an amazing weekend. Selling books is great, but for me the best part about these events is meeting readers and fellow artists. I have so much fun just talking with people and learning about them. I had the privileged of being surrounded by some mind-blowing talent.

Amy and husband John

I have to start with giving a huge thanks to my husband John. Without him, I would not be doing these events. Not only does he support the work I do, but he attends with me and helps out with everything from planning, to set-up, to sales. He’s my rock and I adore him with all my heart.

A young reader who purchased The Shadows Trilogy (posted with permission)

I also want to say think you to all the people that stopped by my table and said hello, purchased a book (or more), and just generally talked eclipse/convention/writing with me. It’s such a joy to me and without you all, I wouldn’t have a reason to attend such fun events. A special thanks to two gentleman who stopped by my table first thing Saturday morning. One guy bought a copy of all six of my books. (Talk about putting faith in my work!) Another purchased Letters From Jayson as a gift to his mother. The next morning there was a comment on my Facebook page from her, telling me how thoughtful her son was and how much she was loving the book. She said she couldn’t put it down and would be reading more of my work. I’m not kidding ya’ll – I choked up right there at my table. It’s the reason I do this. I want to add value, escape, and entertainment to the lives of those who read my work. *Place blissful sigh here.*

 

Amy and author Jason Nugent

My table was next to author Jason Nugent. Jason and I had met before at another event last year, but we hadn’t had a chance to really talk until this event. He’s a super nice guy with a lot to offer readers. I picked up all three of his books – (Almost) Average; an anthology of short stories with some serious weird/creep factor going on- very Twilight Zone. Moments of Darkness; another anthology of quick, creepy reads. And his latest YA novel called The Selection. He’s got a fun blog called (Almost) Average where he shares stories, writing tips, and more. He’s also got a fan page on  Facebook: Jason J. Nugent Go have a look and tell him Amy sent ya! And if you missed him this weekend, never fear. He’ll be at Penned Con in September and you can meet him and pick up his fantastic books there.

Jeff Garner at his The Panic Room booth, with my daughter in her Raven costume. She was having a great time working on all the puzzles at his table.

Across from my table was a relatively new business to our area called The Panic Room. They have a variety of escape rooms to choose from and I’m dying to try out their paranormal one. It’s owned and operated by a crazy fun guy named Jeff Garner. He was a hoot to talk with and added to the great memories we have of this event. Check out his website here: The Panic Room

Amy and author Kenny Sills (with his murderous friend in between)

Cathy Jackson, Amy, and Brian K. Morris

I also had the pleasure of hanging out with authors I’ve been friends with for some time. Talent such as Brian K. Morris (FB), Cathy Jackson (FB), and Kenny Sills (FB, Website). Each one of these awesome people have a knack for storytelling that will keep you riveted. And if you ever have the chance, have dinner with them… all at the same time. I’m kinda of shocked we didn’t get kicked out or asked to quiet down. We were having the best time!

Amy holding her signed copy of Guardians, with Todd Black and the soon to be published 10,000 Miles.

It’s always great to make new friends as well, which is where comic book creator Todd Black comes in. This was my first event with Todd and he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s created some wonderful comic stories that the whole family can enjoy. He’s currently got a kickstarter running to help fund his latest work in progress; a comic titled 10,000 Miles. If you love comic books, go check it out and if you can, give him some support! He’s got some fun perks for helping out, including putting YOU in one of his comic books! You can find Todd ‘s Facebook pages here: Guardians (comic), Home (comic)  His kickstarter is here: 10,000 Miles

I also had the honor of meeting a talented artist named Candice Comelleri with Glitter & Shine Creations. We didn’t get a photo together, but I’m looking forward to talking with her more at the next event.

Another highlight for me was being asked to contribute on a panel about writing. The other authors on the panel were Cathy Jackson, Kenny Sills, Jason Nugent, and Todd Black. Brian K. Morris moderated and shared his experience with the audience as well. We had a great time, with lots of laughter thrown in. If you’d like to see the video, Kenny Sills did a live Facebook feed during the panel and it can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/ken.sills.5/videos/10213458364684748/

And what is a Comic Con without the big name celebrity guests? This convention featured lots of talented special guests (including the aforementioned Brian K Morris, Kenny Sills, and Todd Black). Most memorable for me, outside of those three, were the following:

Jennifer Cihi – singing voice of Sailor Moon (and those Hot Pocket commercials). I didn’t actually get to meet her, as she was always away when I got the chance to leave my table, but I’m a fan.

Kevin Duhaney – best known for his Roles as Ethan James The Blue Dino Thunder Power Ranger as well as the voice of Cameron on the hit cartoon series Total Drama Island.

Sean Dulaney –  a writer/artist/editor and broadcaster from Southern Illinois, not to mention super nice guy who shared his donuts with me.

Rhett Tyler Fisher – best known for playing Ryan Mitchell, the Titanium Ranger in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. He’s also a singer and I’m looking forward to hearing his music!

Jeff Parazzo – most fans recognize him as Trent Fernandes the White Dino Thunder Ranger from the hit kids television show Power Rangers.

Actor Jeff Parazzo, Actor Kevin Duhaney, Amy, and Actor/Musician Rhett Tyler Fisher

Another favorite aspect of these conventions is seeing all the creative costumes. Homemade, or purchased, it’s awesome to see how much love and work goes into these things. As a member of a family that loves cosplay, I’ve learned to appreciate the efforts of any costume. Below are some of my favorites. (There were more than just Star Wars cosplayers there, but for some reason these are the only photos I ended up with.)

So there you have it! It was a fantastic event and there is a possibility they will make this an annual thing, minus the eclipse hype. I hope they do. I’m really looking forward to doing this one again.