Dragon*Con happened. Haven't fully recovered from it yet. May not for many more days. Oof. My brain feels tenderized. I have bruises that I cannot fully account for, and blisters that I can. Our bedroom looks like the costume fairy exploded in it. Our living room is only marginally better, and only because we had to pick things up off the floor or Hobkin would have been more than happy to investigate them for us. And there are some post-con issues that I'm having to deal with that are not making me happy.
But from what I can pick out of the actual convention blur, it was great! Highlights, or rather those bits I can remember enough to be coherent on:
My panels/guest talk:
I never thought I'd say this. Not in this lifetime, at least. But public speaking is getting easier for me!
My talk for Ann - I was feeling a bit shaky going into my talk on marketing short fiction for Ann Crispin's beginner's workshop, so I was exceedingly glad that I had practiced and prepped so much beforehand. A couple times when my brain stalled out--as the realization hit me that I was talking, all by myself, in front of a roomful of people--I was able to regain my momentum by glancing down at my note cards and continuing on autopilot. And afterwards, bunches of them came up and thanked me, and bought books from me! In fact, throughout the convention, attendees of Ann's workshop came up to me and thanked me again and again for my talk. So I must not have totally sucked!
Ann treated me to lunch afterward whereupon we had a lovely chat about the biz and I asked her some questions about practical stuff like health insurance for writers. She also asked me to email her an electronic file of "Running on Two Legs" so she could have one of her friends read it. She also told me to be sure to let her know when it comes out in The Third Alternative as she said she feels so strongly about the merits of my story that she wanted to nominate it for a Nebula!
"So you want to write a kid's book" - This was the second most prepped and practiced talk I did. I wrote out my intro and highlights of my biblio so I could, again, click over to autopilot as necessary, which was good as in the past I have tended to forget important things like, oh, say my name. I actually relaxed enough to enjoy this one. Panels are so much easier than solos. And I felt like I made some excellent points, even when Donita Paul and I got into a debate about the merits of putting morals in children's stories. In the end, I think we disagreed more on semantics than on content since I totally think stories should have themes, after all that's their raison d'etre, and Donita doesn't believe in sledgehammer messages. Donita's fabu. In fact all the panelists were just great. When someone asked "what's the difference between writing a kid's book versus a non-kid's book," Brad Strickland exclaimed, just a half second before I was going to, "Nothing!"
'Course I was the only panelist who hadn't sold a kid's book, but considering how much the Cricket Group pays and their circulation and reputation, I wasn't feeling quite like the wee tiniest writer on the panel as such.
"The Roots of SF/F" - As I went along, my preparation level decreased exponentially. I used sections of the bio I had written for the previous panel as my intro, and then set my cards aside. Shared it with again, Donita Paul, as well as Brad Strickland and added Wendy Webb to the mix. There was much discussion of folklore and children's lit. through the ages, so I actually had some background knowledge to pipe in about. (Thanks for sending me your thesis, prosewitch!) And a children's librarian liked my comments on the nature of children so much that she bought two copies of Ascendancy of Blood at the end of it. Yay!
Matthew showed up for this one, bringing with him a plush winged skunk. And it's even a brown and white skunkie! So I actually veered off from what I was going to say to coo and gush about it. My husband is a total sweetie.
Transylvania Twist - I was on a panel with Sherrilyn Kenyon and Leslie Banks! To my great amusement, Sherrilyn had on a corset and vampire fangs for the panel, and so did I! I felt rather awed by being in such august company, so I talked less. Plus everyone else was a novelist, and I but a lowly short story writer. But Sherrilyn and Leslie were incredibly nice.
One of my Daily Dragon staff (ahem, arkhamrefugee) called me on my cell phone just as we were wrapping up. Wouldn't have been so bad if a front row audience member's phone hadn't gone off a few minutes earlier to many jibes and good-natured catcalls from the other panelists. I wailed into my phone "I'm at my panel! Call back later!" to much laughter. Oopsie. But to be fair to arkhamrefugee, he thought I'd be out of my panel by then, and it was almost over.
"The Horror of it" - I wasn't altogether sure what this panel was about going into it. But the moderator was great, although he asked horridly difficult questions like: "What was the first defining horror moment you remember?" I was very glad I was sitting next to Robert W. Walker. I've met Robert before. Actually went to his son's art opening here in town last year. He can be depended upon to think on his feet, which was fortunate as we started at his end. He pondered for a second and then was off, giving me plenty of time to think upon my own answer.
Oh, btw, my answer: when I was four or so years old I went to see Disney's Snow White. The scene with the skeleton in the dungeon reaching for the pitcher of water stuck with me. Traumatized my delicate psyche it did. And now I write squicky horror. Yup.
I shamelessly plugged Ascendancy of Blood and Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown (since those are the books I had with me to sell) at each panel/talk I did. I sold almost forty copies of AoB as well as most of the remaining copies I had of Pixeltown. I think I would have sold all of the copies of Pixeltown I had except I had only brought two to Ann's talk. The first people up bought me out of my supply of those, but fortunately I still had plenty of AoBs to move. Chapbooks are wonderful items to bring to conventions because they're so inexpensive. People have far fewer qualms about dishing out a few bucks on a writer they've never heard of before than bigger sums like ten or fifteen. And I didn't even have a dealer's table! Very lucrative indeed. And quite flattering that I made a good enough impression on the audience to interest them in buying my fiction.
And by the end of my guest stint, I was raring to do more panels!
The Daily Dragon:
Matthew, dude_the, and I were running late on Thursday so didn't get on-site until fourish, a good two hours after I'd told my network person, Jeremy, to be there. Ooops.
As it turns out, it wouldn't have made a difference if I had been there at two. The folks we get our computers from for the con had lost ours. Yup. Lost 'em. It seems they'd given them to Registration by accident. Many hours later, they located them, unhooked them from Registration, and delivered them. But alas, there were no power cords. Our Hyatt liaison was tasked with the mission of getting power cords. Several hours later, still no power cords.
On an up note, we got a computer upgrade. The monitors were HUGE and the computers relatively speedy--and not infected by Klez this year! Once we got them all plugged in, they behaved themselves. Except they didn't have dial-up modems. Since the Hyatt was charging for Wi-Fi Internet access, our first decision was to go in via dial-up. Absent that option, I went ahead and paid for the Wi-Fi access on my own credit card. I have been assured that I will be reimbursed.
The Wi-Fi access issue is a story in and of itself . . .
Then it turns out that we didn't have the correct version of Publisher, nor a copy of WS FTP. And then when I finally got the FTP business sorted out, it turns out that while Matthew and I had discussed beforehand the need to print out and bring the page with all the passwords and sever information so that I could upload to the DD website, we both had thought that little detail was being handled by the other, resulting in neither of us attending to it. Fortunately, Matthew wracked his brain and was able to set up another DD account and reset the password so I could upload. But dire_epiphany had to swing by their home to pick up the current version of Publisher.
Then lord_darkseid had to work, so missed his first DD shift (but at least he emailed me to let me know and to apologize profusely). And the guy I'd picked up from TechOps to replace my last minute dropout didn't show until Saturday. But by that point I'd already adopted pagmatic from TechOps, so it was okay. The DD has an official cartoonist now! An excellent, simply fantastic addition to our lineup of talent. The non-staff volunteer I'd taken on also was a total no-show, stricken down by the plague going around. I was stressing on the staffing front, but it all worked out in the end. Especially once I reconciled myself with the realization that getting anything remotely approaching a decent amount of sleep every night was a pipe dream. I did sleep. Just not much.
I have also decided that I will do the layout for the DD myself in the future. It just doesn't work to have separate layout people. I found that it took longer to explain what I wanted changed and fixed than it took to simply do it. Well, it was a good idea in concept.
Thanks and hurrahs go out to terracinque, arkhamrefugee, lord_darkseid, pagmatic, dude_the, and the rest of my hard-working staffers for keeping me sane and keeping the DD rolling.
And major props go to dire_epiphany for putting the smack down on the cracked-out guy who wandered into 219 and then started being mean to me for no reason on Saturday night. She ran him down with Denise, security lass extraordinaire, and totally told him off. When he had the audacity to say that he hadn't meant to be rude to me, she replied "You didn't mean to be rude? How can you not mean to be rude? Do you have Tourett's or something?"
And more mad props go to astralfire for being an oasis I could periodically twitch at, and for humoring me whenever I asked him to scan in pagmatic's comics because I didn't have enough spare brain cells to figure out how to use the scanner myself.
Panels/Events I actually got to see:
I managed to attend one and a half of the "Firefly Guests" panels. Nathan, Jewel, and Adam had me giggling right out loud. And I actually got close enough backstage to talk to them. Not, mind you, that I did actually talk to them. I was with Kristin, and she wondered if it'd be rude to ask for a picture. I decided we could certainly use a picture for the DD, so I urged her forward.
We got within a few feet before I was hit (hard) by celebrity awe. I meant to introduce myself as the Editor/Director of the Daily Dragon, Dragon*Con's official on-site publication, and could we please get a picture? But all that came out was an idiotic "um, err, hi." Thankfully, Kristin jumped in or I would still be there, tongue-tied and incoherent. And she got the picture!
She's promised to email it to me as soon as she gets it developed.
Also got to see one and a half of Harlan Ellison's talks. I wanted to interview him and went to his autographing table after the first, but I couldn't get past his handler to ask him. As I was heading back to the DD room, I passed by Ann Crispin and members of my DC2K writers group having lunch at the hotel restaurant. We chatted and it came up that I had just tried and failed to get an interview with Harlan, and as it turns out, Ann is friends with Harlan and his wife Susan. Also that Kathleen O'Malley would be there at Harlan's table. So, Ann (bless her), interrupts her meal to escort me back downstairs. I got to meet and had a simply wonderful chat with Kathy. She and Ann collaborated on the Starbridge series, and she wrote a wonderful blurb for "Running on Two Legs" (which I posted on my website) so I was utterly thrilled to finally get a chance to meet her. I also managed to get all the way to Susan, Harlan's wife, to ask for an interview. But, albeit with great charm and reluctance, I was once again shot down. Harlan's schedule was just too busy. Pook. But I can't say I'm particularly put out. I had such a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with Kathy, and hey, I got a chance to meet Susan! Never thought I'd get the opportunity to actually meet a bonafide living saint.
Patrick, one of our dearest, bestest friends from way back when, swung up from New Orleans for D*C. He served as panelist and lackey for Matthew's Independent Film Track. I didn't get to see much of him, as the most time I spent in the same room with him, we were both comatose, but I'm delighted to have had the chance to hug him and get a tiny chance to catch up.
Also got to gab and squee a wee bit with canadiansuzanne, aldeygirl, and orig_ladycat who are all from my DC2K writers group.
I totally missed cmpriest and mystrys, though! Agh. Trapped in 219, I missed seeing many folks I wanted to touch base with. Dammit. But I did get several hugs, waves, and kisses in passing.
I didn't get to any parties, either. None. Zero. Zip. Alas, D*C just isn't a party con for me.
It was exhausting and insane. I loved it, as I've loved every Dragon*Con I've been to and/or worked at. I really do need a massive hunk o'time to recover, though. But the DD website needs to be updated as pictures and the last few articles come trickling in. I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. Again.
My muse is utterly shell-shocked. Last I checked, she was curled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth in a corner of the upstairs closet. We'll just let her be alone for a bit . . .
Received the galley proofs from Leading Edge for "Of Two Minds in Lanais" last Thursday. Didn't have time to look it over then, obviously, and every time I've pick it up since D*C, my eyes start blurring. But after a bit of a nap yesterday, I was able to pore over all but he last two pages. So far, aside from a couple tiny things, it's looking pretty good. And from the page numbers, it looks like "Lanais" will be the lead story of the issue! Neat. Plan to finish going over the galleys and email my fixes to the editor tonight.
Also received an eBook copy of Ascendancy of Blood from Nathan of Scrybe Press from Fictionwise.com. My first eBook! For a limited time, buy an eBook of Ascendancy of Blood for $.84! (Normally priced at: $.99--not exactly a bank breaker if you miss the sale.)
And I cannot express my relief that the current Sci-Fiction story is a multi-parter as I haven't exactly had a lot of copious free time to read it and write a review for Tangent. Getting a couple week's breather is all good.
WAs very glad I got to see and talk to you, brief as it was...I did see your hubby and dude_the or at least blurs speeding by that looked like them...
And a congrats to you and the crew....the DD was as always spectacular...
Could have seen about having you abducted for a party or two...will have to fix that next time...
It was a blast being on staff:) And I just noticed, through one of your typos, that there's a "pragmatic" on LJ too (psst make that correction when you have time).
Next year, I'm bringing my own software, so that the comics will look even better than what I did with the Sharpie.
And mostly, thanks for helping ME keep sane:) I was so out of it for a couple "daze" there.
I didn't notice that was your husband in the room too (a couple times). No wonder you didn't want a hair massage LOL?
I absolutely adored your cartoon additions to the DD. Got many compliments and thumbs ups on them too! Looking forward to having you on staff again next year.
"I didn't notice that was your husband in the room too (a couple times). No wonder you didn't want a hair massage LOL? "
Hee! No, my hubby is absolutely the coolest man alive. He doesn't mind such things and he knows I'm a total flirt. It amuses him. Also, normally I'm all about massages, but at that exact moment, I was seriously preoccupied and needed to focus.