This was a day of high emotions.
Again, Melissa and I rose from our bed early. We made our preparations for the day, then went downstairs to catch a shuttle to the convention center. The smell of smoke was already in the air.
I’m not sure what happened with the shuttle. We arrived right at 8AM, and waited almost half an hour, but never saw it. It either came and left early, or was off to a late start. Since I needed to be at the pitching session by 9AM, we left on foot, and once again walked the streets of Spokane.
When I signed up for the pitching session, I didn’t realize what I was signing up for. Thursday, I’d gone to the desk for the Kaffee Klatche signups, and the woman behind the desk said that if I filled in one of two sheets that were close to full, she could put the sheet away and make more room on the desk. I obliged, scribbling my name on the bottom of the pitching sheet, thinking that I was going to go to a session where I’d learn how to pitch my book.
That’s not quite what it was. I mean, I could learn how to pitch my book, but it was via pitching my book to an actual agent. I discovered this just before getting there.
I started off nervous, and feeling like I shouldn’t be there. The online information about the panel stated that some of the work should have been sent in advance. Since I hadn’t done that, I felt like at any moment, a couple of burly security guys would come in, haul me up by my belt and collar, and throw me out with the words, “And you’ll never work in this town again!”
Those fears were a bit exaggerated and misplaced. Instead, I wound up sitting down with John Berlyne, a man that I’ve seen at several WorldCons, and that I’ve admired. His name has appeared on this blog before. To put it mildly, I have a great deal of respect for him. In addition to being nervous about pitching my novel, I was a little bit star struck.
I did my best. I told him about The Repossessed Ghost and he listened and gave me some tips and advice. He said it sounds marketable, derivative in the good way, and that I should send it (not necessarily to him) when it’s ready. He talked about how urban fantasy had its heyday, but is now on the decline. There were a few other things he said, but I didn’t have the mental fortitude to retain it all that well.
I thanked him, gathered up my stuff, and left. Melissa rejoined me, and we stepped outside. I was wound up tight, my emotions running like an engine in the red. I calmed down quickly, and Melissa and I were able to move on to the next thing.
Keep in my mind that when I say that I was emotionally charged, it has nothing to do with acceptance or rejection. The experience had nothing to do with that. This had more to do with presenting something unprepared to one of my heroes. It’s the real life equivalent to the dream where you’re on stage, and you don’t know your lines. Or you arrive at class, where there’s a test you haven’t studied for.
From the pitch session, Melissa and I made our way to the first panel we’d be attending that day. It started off reasonably well, but then went off the rails. The moderator was not prepared, recovering from partying the night before, and she said some things that turned Melissa and I off. I have some notes, which I’ll post at a later time.
A little bit peeved, we prepared to go to the next panel. Only, there were two events I jotted down that I wanted to attend. I wound up convincing Melissa to go to one, which I knew she’d enjoy, and I went to one I was interested in, that I thought might help me decide the course of my writing career. Melissa went to hear George Martin and Robert Silverberg talk, while I went to learn whether or not I should self-publish, or go the traditional publishing route.
Again, I’ll post the notes to the panel later. It was okay. Not fantastic, but it did end with a question which I think has me decided. That is: Do you want to have control over selling your books, and manage all the aspects of the business of your writing, or do you want someone else to sell your books, leaving you to just write stories?
Put that way, it’s easy: I just want to write stories.
Melissa and I met up for hot dogs. We ran into Andrea Stewart and sat with her, and enjoyed lunch together. That was nice, for a couple of reasons. One, Andrea is a really cool person, and is in my local writing group. For another, the next item on our agenda was attending her reading, so as long as we were sitting together, we weren’t going to miss her event.
Andrea’s reading was fantastic. She gave Melissa a copy of her book, and after the reading, Melissa told me how much she wants to read the rest of the story Andrea read to us. That was really nice.
After the reading, there wasn’t anything on my schedule until dinner. We wound up following Richard Crawford and his wife Jennifer to a couple of interesting panels. One was on adapting the human body to low gravity. The other was about pseudoscience. After those two panels, Melissa picked one on narrative structure and expectation. All three panels were interesting and fine.
By the time we were done with panels for the day, it was nearly time to meet Jennifer for dinner. We started to leave to take our bags back to the room, and discovered that the air was barely breathable, full of smoke. It blocked out the sun. People on the streets covered their mouths. One person on a bike wore a full gas mask, and it seemed appropriate for the conditions.
Melissa and I didn’t dawdle. We took the shuttle, stayed indoors as much as we could, and arrived at our meeting place with plenty of time. We relaxed on a couches in the lobby where we were to meet Jennifer for dinner. Melissa told me all about the Silverberg-Martin talk. I knew she would love it, and I regretted missing it myself.
Dinner with Jennifer was very nice. I met one of the people in her writing group, Jason, and both of them asked me about some of the stories I’m working on. I told them at length about A Clean Slate, and they had some sound advice. We talked about our stories, the emotions involved in putting work out there. Jennifer told us about an early rejection letter she received, and how she’d accidentally turned down an agent’s inquiry.
The food and the company was fantastic. I think we all had a really great time.
After dinner, we had to rush back across the street to attend the masquerade. Denise Tanaka was a participant, and we didn’t want to miss it. The masquerade was full of some fantastic costumes and some truly inspired presentations. One of my favorites was in the novice division. He came out as Groot, and apparently, he’d never done any sort of costuming before. His Groot was perfect.
The costume presentations took a long while. There were close to 50 entrants. After the last one left the stage, the judges were excused to tally their results, and the artist guest of honor, whose name I can’t remember, came out to entertain the crowd with his filking. Before he’d made it out on stage, about a quarter of the audience had made their way to the exit. Melissa and I thought that was rude. Then the guy said that he was going to perform for more than an hour, and Melissa and I exited, too. We still thought it was rude, and we felt bad about it. But we just couldn’t sit there for the whole show.
The smoke was still really bad outside. We shuttled back to our hotel. Melissa stayed in our room, and I went over to the party hotel to visit. I was out for about an hour and a half, and entered into some great conversations. Before midnight, however, exhaustion caught up with me, and I went back to my room and went to bed.
It’s been a great convention. As I’m writing this up, I’m feeling that fuzzy in-between place, where I’m not entirely sure what day it is, or what I’m going to do next. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be back at work on Monday.