It’s been a long year. It’s
been a long year since I awkwardly stepped into the Holiday Inn Louisville East, equally confused and concerned, about the experience I was signing up for. Imaginarium 2021 was my first convention of any sort. I’m used to festivals, which are similar, but still very different. I met some people and learned some things, but mostly, I was recharged in my quest to become a “real writer”.
I should clarify, if for any other reason as a reminder to myself, that I AM a real writer. I’m writing this blog entry right now. This counts! I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I was convinced that I didn’t have to fit in a box. I didn’t have to be Dan Brown or Douglas Adams or George Orwell to be an author. It was so amazing just to see writers in their natural and raw form. It was great to hear them talk about the struggles that look a lot like mine. I’ve made some friends and that translated into some dope opportunities and experiences including working on a music video set (more on that in a bit) and I got to appear on a horror movie podcast (TheNecronomi.com, Episode 125 “High Tension”).
It’s been a long year, but the time has finally come and gone. Imaginarium 2022 ( is in the book and this blog will be generally about my experience this year. One of the biggest differences between last year and this year is that I was far more prepared for what I was walking into and I was more prepared to learn and be engaging. I feel I learned so much this year that I feel that it’s best that I write TWO blogs this year! One going over the lessons learned so that I can convey the knowledge (or how I took the knowledge) and another one (this one) about the experience overall. I’ll also cover the 10-point list from last year’s blog and discuss how I approached it.
In fact, let’s just go ahead and get into it!
1 - Get a Room: So Imaginarium offers a discount code for the hotel that hosts the convention. I followed the convention on Twitter (@ImaginariumCon - follow it now if you don’t already. Trust me) and when the hotel package became available, I quickly reserved my room. The rate was more than fair and it had me staying from the Wednesday prior to the Monday post and that was amazing for me. I had time to relax and focus and work on some projects (not as successfully as I was hoping, but I had the time). On top of that, having the room there saved me a TON on gas driving back and forth all three days. When I needed something or didn’t feel like carrying all my stuff, I just put it away in my room. Buy a bunch of stuff? Put it in your room. Need a break? Go to your room. Change of clothes? It’s in your room! See, beyond convenient and the placement of my room was killer! Right at the top of the center staircase. Couldn’t have been better.
2 - Plan for Food: There was one point when I “forgot” to eat. While I didn’t actually forget, I stayed busy to the point that hours went by without me stopping to eat. Luckily, I had leftovers in my room! Quick bite for the win! Also, my lack of exploration last year had me completely miss the IHOP that was just outside the hotel. There were many other places to eat, but that road is a bit tricky to navigate for me. Again, there is also a restaurant in the lobby of the hotel and they had a concession stand so, not eating is really your own fault.
3 - Business Cards: I did make business cards and I’ll say, it was nice to have. Mine were pretty simple but contained the important stuff. I only regret not being a bit more aggressive with passing them out, but when I met people, it was just as easy to pull the phone out and connect through social media. My Dot business card did come in handy so that all was cool. Business cards are helpful when you get to the networking part of things.
4 - Take Notes: I had my folio with me the whole time. If I attended a panel, I had the folio, with pen and pad, at the ready. Tips, tricks, contact information, funny things you saw, quirky things that were said - gotta have a notepad ready. The one time I didn’t have it available was for the Nerd’s Guide to Erotica presentation and boy, do I wish I could have taken notes.
(Sidenote: That was the best panel/presentation ever! Shout out to Jenn Barnes!)
5 - Don’t Be Shy: So, the point of Imaginarium, in my opinion, is to A, network B, learn from experts and C, buy and sell works. Part of that networking is covered in the business card thing, but let’s be honest - if you just say, “Hey, I’m a writer. Here’s my card,” No one will care. As I’ve said and many others have said, people like to do business with people that know, like, and trust. So be someone that people get to know, like, and trust. Whether that’s talking over dinner, discussing things during a panel, sharing stories during an after-party, or just walking up to someone’s booth and saying hello, making a good personal impression goes a long way.
Two of my more memorable interactions were with Matthew Smith and Peggy Dixon.
I first met Matthew in passing on Thursday, as my friend Jayson was getting his booth put together. Jayson was talking to Matthew because he’s a freelance videographer and editor. We would end up talking for hours on Saturday discussing all manner of things including fatherhood and facing the prejudice we both have seen and suffered from over the years. Myself, as a Black man and himself as a White man from Eastern Kentucky with a deep Southern drawl. Despite those factors, he and I got along so well and it was one of the best conversations of the weekend. You learn a lot about the human experience this way.
I’ve said it before if you want to “fix society”, walk outside, find someone who doesn’t look like you, and have a conversation. That’s what I did and it was very educational.
The way I met Mrs. Dixon was so funny and powerful, the power not truly revealing itself until the end. I was leaving the booth of Author M.L. McIntosh/Bandshee frontwoman Romana Bereneth (same person) and as I left I walked by Mrs. Dixon’s table. As I walked by, she said, sarcastically, “How are you just gonna walk by my booth after you stood there forever talking to her?” I turned around and saw Peggy Dixon’s warm and joking smile. I played along pretending to have been caught in the act and got playfully defensive. I told her to hold on for a second, I turned around, walked back to Romana’s booth, turned back toward their table, and replayed my walk, making a scene as I noticed her table and began to look through her books, including “Meatloaf & Marriage: What Do They Have in Common?” (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/meatloaf-marriage-mrs-peggy-dixon/1128103831).
We talked and talked and it was just a beautiful conversation about family, marriage, the Black experience, writing, and so much more. I purchased a second book of hers, “You Are The Legacy: A Generation Tree” which she suggested that I read with my boys and discuss. This I will, though I haven’t started it yet. This would lead to off-and-on conversations over the next few days and I have to say, speaking with Mrs. Dixon, her family, and her publisher, Julia A. Royston (of BK Royston Publishing and the Book Business Bosses Podcast) I was renewed. In today’s world, it’s difficult to find someone that truly embodies what a REAL Christian looks like. Peggy Dixon does and it radiates from her like a beam of divine light. I’m forever grateful for our conversation on what a Christian’s true role in society is.
Mrs. Dixon, if you ever come across this blog, thank you for your time, thank you for your spirit, and thank you for your kind and encouraging words.
Needless to say, you can meet some great people and sometimes those conversations are worth the price of admission.
Whew! Where was I? Oh yeah. Number six!
6- Listen: As I kind of touched on in the previous section, conversations happen and everyone has a life experience to draw from. Whether you’re drawing encouragement, inspiration, or understanding, It’s worth it to listen to the people as well as the panelist. I learned so many great things and I can’t wait to finish this blog to share the lessons and how I plan to apply them.
7 - Buy the Things: Simply put, support the artist. Support the writers. Support anyone that you connect with. Buy the books, the art, the cupcakes, the pens - whatever. Moral support is great, but financial support pays the bills and artists have bills too. For a guy that doesn’t sit and read physical books, I bought four. Buy the things!
8 - Go through your “Swag Bag” as soon as you can: Funny enough, we didn’t really get a “swag bag” this year. Instead, we just got envelopes with our badges and dinner tickets. This is perfectly fine by me. It’s one less thing, but if the bags return, go through them early. Could have some good deals in them.
9 - Talk About It: I have talked about this convention since I left it in ‘21 and I will continue to. I talked to my best friend about it and she made the trip all the way here to attend. I’m very thankful to have Kristi there on Friday and Kat here with me the whole weekend learning as well. This is how the convention grows. 2023 will have the 10th Anniversary of Imaginarium and they are looking to do it up big!
10 - Have Fun and Be Positive: Above all else, have fun and learn. It’s a creative safe place. Everyone is there for the same reason you are, so just go and have a good time (and listen out for the hotel party room.
You know, I didn’t realize how much of the experience could have been covered by just going over the 10-point list from last year. Aside from what’s already mentioned, it was great to catch up with so many people, meet new people, and take part in the “extras” - that being the Friday entertainment of Hershel Zahnd crooning the Frank Sinatra tunes and Jayson William Allen doing the “Poetry of the Dead” thing afterward and Saturday’s dinner and awards show, including a performance by Safiya Nawaar and World Arabesque Dance and magic by John Pyka of the “Back of the Cereal Box” podcast.
By the way, that music video I (barely) helped out with… won Best Music Video at the Imadjinn Awards! Congratulations to Jayson William Allen for the win with "Over the Under"! I’m sure I moved a box or something!
In the end, it was an absolute great time. Great people, great panels, great information - a great time.
If you’re considering writing a book, making music, or producing a film, this is where you need to be! July 2023 should be a great time and I hope you, whoever is reading this, will be there.
- The Moon