I had a fantastic time. Met some new friends, saw some old friends, and learned some things (always a bonus). Conventions are always a whirlwind of activity, so I’m probably forgetting some things or possibly getting things out of order, but here's a link to my photos, and here's at least a decent summary of my adventures:
Friday night I got there after 7:30 pm, due to work, but I got to do quite a bit nonetheless. One of the first people I saw on arrival was Davey, which was good, considering he had my badge! (Of course it was also great to see him again.) After I chatted a bit with Barry at the reg. table, I went to ConSuite with Davey, his friend K-B, and a couple of other folks from down South. When we went in around 8:00 ConSuite was supposed to be having a “Meet the Guests” thing, but ironically, at first, I didn’t actually see any guests (other than Davey). Possible reasons for this include the fact that most of the time, nobody really recognizes writers. (So I could have been sitting next to five guests and never even known it.) I talked with the Southerners for a bit, then said hello to some WSFAns (Sarah, Bill, and Adrienne). (And at some point in here, Davey presented me with the gift he’d picked up for me at RavenCon as a thanks for my help in editing his library grant proposal and his short story in the latest Writers for Relief. Guess what he brought me? A signed Deadpool poster!! Squee! There's a picture at my Flickr account.)
As it turned out, Bill needed some help setting up his 1984 room party, so I offered to go along and help him out (which turned out to mean arranging the 372,850 types of alcohol provided in a tasteful display. And eating lots of M&Ms as we put them out in bowls.) After that we headed to the WSFA meeting (after all, I had to go and pay my $10 to become an Official Member, didn’t I?) Saw some new faces there along with the old.
When the meeting ended I went back to ConSuite and actually did spot at least one guest I recognized: Michael Dirda, this year’s Capclave Critic Guest of Honor. The reason I recognized him is that I’d seen him at last year’s Book Festival (introducing Terry Pratchett), last year’s Capclave (as a guest, I believe?), AND this year’s Book Festival (introducing Neil Gaiman). At each of these events I had totally intended to go over and introduce myself at some point, because Michael is a known Pratchett fan and I wanted to let him know about the convention. However, at each event something else intervened or he disappeared (I suspect magic rings were involved) and I didn’t manage to do so. So when he appeared in ConSuite I decided I’d better run over and introduce myself, STAT, before he mysteriously disappeared again. So I did.
I’m glad I did, because he turns out to be very nice and a lot of fun to talk to (see also: insanely smart and well-read). So we had a nice chat about Terry and the convention and some other things, and then he joined me in attending the “Vampires: Do They Suck?” panel. It was pretty interesting, although I’ll admit I’m not a vampire expert (the reason I wanted to see it was more to do with cleolinda’s book than anything else). Darrell Schweitzer, who was moderating, certainly *is* well-versed, though, and had a couple of good vampire-history-related books to recommend, which I wrote down and intend to check out soon.
That was the last panel of the day, which meant next up on the agenda was room parties. (Whee!) I invited Michael to the 1984 party, so we went and were sorted, as per the ritual (I think I was a Beta this time?) and chatted some more. I ended up oscillating between that party and the one down the hall for most of the night before finally realizing I should probably get on home, considering it was after 1:00 am.
Which brings us to...
Saturday Kelly and Martinique picked me up at 9 for breakfast. Martinique had just told us a couple of days ago that she was being sent out to LA for SIX MONTHS to get her firm’s newest office underway, so this was our goodbye-for-now breakfast. We went to the Silver Diner, where much talking ensued. (And also sadness that M is going so far away, although, hey, maybe I can go visit her in LA sometime. That would be awesome.)
After breakfast, K&M dropped me back at the hotel just in time to be almost on time for the Guest of Honor interview (Peter Heck interviewing Michael Dirda), which was fun to sit in on. Then I ran to the Agent workshop being run by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, where I picked up some interesting tips about agenting (to coin a verb). Also had a nice chat with both Ann and Victoria. It turns out Ann is another Terry fan, but sadly will be at DragonCon next year when our con is going on.
After the workshop and chatting, I stopped by the Dealers’ room and took a look around, during which time I ran into Lawrence Watt-Evans, which was good, since I wanted him to sign some copies of his book that our con will be using as giveaway prizes. Had a nice talk with Lawrence, and then finally went on back to Amanda’s for a late lunch. Jeff had made roti for dinner the night before (which he makes about twice a year – it’s awesome but time-consuming to make) so I had yummy leftovers with Indian food and then, mysteriously, felt really, really tired. I can’t imagine why. So, um, I ended up sleeping until almost 7. I finally woke up then and realized that, yikes, I’d better get back if I wanted to see the “What Editors Want” panel; so I sped back over to the hotel for that.
The editors’ panel included Edmund Schubert (Intergalactic Medicine Show), Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld), George Scithers (Wildside Press), Christopher Cevasco (Paradox), and Hildy Silverman (Space and Time). That was a fascinating panel (and Edmund did a good job moderating) with lots of insights into the editors’ process, and I wish it had gone on for longer. But it couldn’t, because it was time for the awards ceremony. This year, Tom Doyle won the WSFA Small Press Award with a story that’s in Paradox. They presented him with a prize, and the runners-up with certificates, and then gave James Morrow and Michael Dirda their Guest of Honor gifts, which were really neat. They were customized paintings; James Morrow’s was of his (deceased?) dog looking out at the stars, and Michael Dirda’s was of a dodo (the Capclave mascot) in a library with lots of books, including some of Michael’s own and a Terry Pratchett book near the front. Very cool.
After the awards we all hung out, and I ran into Maria Snyder, whom I’d met at last year’s Capclave. She told me about a couple of reviews of her book that Terry’s daughter Rhianna Pratchett had done, which was neat. After that I do believe it was room party time again. I ended up at the Scotch party, where I talked to Barry for a long time, and Michael for a bit, and Judy, and Lawrence, and Hildy, and I can’t even remember who-all else. It was fun. And then it was after 1:00 again and I figured I’d better go home. :)
Which brings us to...
Sunday I had signed up for the reviewers’ workshop with Peter Heck, Jane Jewell, and Michael Dirda, so I attended that with about 7-8 others. It was definitely useful, considering I’ve just picked up reviewing and haven’t really had much time to consider the nuances of what makes a really good review as yet. All three reviewers had helpful suggestions, and after the workshop ran out of time, Peter and Jane even took the time to finish up with us even though we had to find another place to sit (Michael had to go to a panel). I took a ton of notes.
I also attended the “Keeping Control of Your Characters” panel, which was kind of funny because pretty much all three of the panelists said, basically, “Control my characters? My characters control me!” But there were some good anecdotes and I enjoyed it. Brenda Clough was especially amusing. After that the con was almost done, but I did attend the Gripe Session in case it would help me with any tips for problems we might run into with our con. A few useful things came up, including one that I am betting every convention has problems with – room temperature. We’ll have to make sure and keep an eye on that.
After that the convention was done, so I said goodbye to some people and then headed back to spend some more time with Amanda, Jeff, and the Baby Melon (who we’ve just found out will be a boy, for sure!) before trekking on home.