WorldCon — LoneStarCon3 Finale

In retrospect, I wish that I had mentioned that all these WorldCon posts were about LoneStarCon3.  Someday, perhaps a year from now, I’ll do another series of posts about WorldCon, only it will be whatever the name of it is in London.  Or the year after that, whatever it’s called in Spokane.  It’s all WorldCon, but being more specific would be better, if I’m thinking of the future.

Let’s talk a little bit about my last day at WorldCon, while I’m sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight.

I woke up a little bit later than I had intended.  Though it was 7AM back in Sacramento, at the convention, it was 9AM when I rolled groggily out of bed.  I took my time getting myself together, and I headed down to the other hotel’s lobby to sit at a table and write yesterday’s post.

While sitting there, I saw lots of people that I had met with throughout the weekend.  For most, we only exchanged a few words.  One author, Marie Bilodeua, stopped and sat with me for a couple of hours.  It was absolutely fantastic.  We talked about writing, and our families.  We dabbled in religion and philosophy.  We had a fantastic conversation.  The time flew, and my blog post was mostly forgotten for hours.

Eventually, Marie needed to go do her shopping before she went for her signing, and I needed lunch.  I went to the food court once again, picked up enough burgers for myself, Michael, Greg, and Bill, then headed to the dealer’s room to share my lunch.  Greg wasn’t hungry, but Ian, Bill’s son, was there, so I didn’t wind up with too much food.

After lunch, I went off for a panel.  I’d met an author the previous day named Ransom who had just been picked up by 47North, and I thought I’d catch the “47North Presents” panel. Unfortunately, there were no panelists.  That gave me some time to head back to another wifi spot and finish my blog post.

I was in a different hotel lobby, but again, I kept seeing people I’d made friends or acquaintance with.  Nancy Kress’s daughter-in-law, Jaime(sp?) sat and talked with me for a little while.  We talked about writing and the challenges we’ve overcome.  She was then off to another Kaffeeklatsch, and I finally finished yesterday’s post.

With my blog post finished, I got up to try another panel and ran into Effe, Arley, and Rosey.  They were headed to the same panel I was, or at the very least, the same area, so we walked together and chatted amiably.  Rosey told us about one of her stories that had been picked up recently, after she’d taken a break from writing for 10 years.  Rosey went on to another panel, and Effe, Arley and I went to “As You Know, Jim” which was a panel about exposition.

The panel was okay.  There wasn’t a ton of good information from it, but I found it entertaining.  I took copious notes, as usual.

With the panel finished, I went off to make sure that Marie had at least one person in her autograph line.  She had a few people, and she seemed really happy.  I was going to buy the first book in her series from her and have her sign it, but Candace had picked up the last copy.

I checked in with Michael and Greg again before heading back to my room to take a nap.  We made a plan to go out to dinner together and get a steak dinner.  My phone told me that there was a place that was close, had received high marks, and I was able to check out the menu.  It seemed like we had a plan.

As we gathered together to make our journey for dinner, Meredith found us and tagged along.  We followed the map, headed down Alamo street, found the place easily enough… and then discovered that it was closed for the holiday weekend.  Fortunately, Michael had spotted an Irish pub along the way, so we went there and had a lovely dinner.

Then it was time to head to the Hugo awards.  There’s not a lot I can say about them, really.  There weren’t a ton of surprises.  Paul Cornell was hilarious.  Chris Garcia hugged all of the winners as they walked up to get their prize.  We didn’t have to remain standing the entire time like we did in Chicago.  It was a really great show, and I was glad to see it.

After the Hugos, I went with Michael to his room.  He shared some Scotch with me that was very special to him, both in its quality and its sentimental value.  It was a 26 year old whose name I don’t remember, but that he’d received at his graduation.  There wasn’t much left of it, and while I’m not much of a judge, I think it was pretty good.  Scotch has a lot going on.

It was nearly midnight, and it was once again party time.  We wound up battling the elevator and the stairs to get to the party floor.  One of the first places we went was the party for JordanCon.  Michael quickly moved on to the Helsinki room, and shortly after he left, Howard Tayler, Brandon Sanderson, and Mary Robinette Kowal came in to the room, carrying their freshly acquired Hugos.  I was standing not too far from the door, and I was the first one Mary offered her Hugo to.  I held it in my hands, and I studied the base.  It was a surreal moment, and my eyes weren’t really focusing correctly.  It was heavy and beautiful, and I was a bit overwhelmed.  I know I said some things, and I think my words were somewhat intelligible, but I don’t remember exactly what I said.  As I handed it back, I remember saying, “If it was me, I’m not sure I’d be able to hand it off so easily.” Mary said, “You just did.”

After that, I was pretty much done.  The introvert in me said that it was time to go to bed, and unlike the previous evenings, I no longer had the strength to argue.  I wanted to say a few things to Brandon Sanderson, and I would have loved to visit with Howard a little bit more, as I had visited with him earlier in the week.  I was done, though.  I slipped out quietly, went and found Michael to let him know I was quitting early, and went off to my room to sleep.

Earlier in the evening, just before we went off to dinner, Michael had said to me, “Every time I see you, you’re talking to a different woman.” It is true, and looking back over this post, it might look like I was up to no good.  Honestly, though, I wasn’t seeing gender.  I was just enjoying conversations, and I spoke to as many men as I spoke to women.  As I was going to sleep, though, I was thinking about Michael’s words, and I wondered about it.  What finally settled me was this thought: A bad husband makes his wife jealous of other women, but a good husband makes other women jealous of his wife.  By that metric, I’m not sure how good a husband I was, but I wasn’t a bad one.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

When I get settled and have some time, I’m going to transpose all of my WorldCon panel notes… Reno, Chicago, and San Antonio… into their own area on my blog.  Maybe other people will find them useful.  I’m sure I’ll be reminded of some good advice just going through the exercise.


WorldCon — The WorldCon Strikes Back

I didn’t get back to my room until around 2AM again, so again, I didn’t get any blogging done before going to bed.  It seems that I was much more disciplined about recording the details of my life when I went to Disneyland.

After posting to my blog yesterday, I wandered briefly before getting to the Kaffeeklatsch room.  I was on the standby list to see John Berlyne, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get in.  I was allowed in, and getting to sit down with John was absolutely fantastic.

John Berlyne is an agent in the UK with clients all over the world.  He’s an extremely intelligent man with a someone brusque, sarcastic mien.  I actually found him a bit intimidating last year.  Then I got to talk to him for a while at one of the parties in Chicago, and he was amazingly supportive.  He didn’t sugar coat anything, but he also didn’t let me bullshit myself.  He asked me about my book and told me that when it was ready in a year or two to send it to him.

Sitting down with him yesterday, I found him to be exactly as he had been in Chicago.  He’s sarcastic and witty, but more generous than one might expect.  He re-invited me and a few others to send our stories to him when we’re ready.  Obviously it’s no guarantee.  My work my night even be a good fit for him.  Still, I’ll take all of the encouragement I can get.

After the Kaffeeklatsch, I went on to the SF Signal meetup.  I wasn’t sure what that was going to be like, but it was only okay.  There weren’t really enough tables and chairs for everyone to sit together.  Michael, Todd McCoy, and acquired our lunches and sat together just outside the main set of tables.  I had been looking forward to catching up with Emma Newman at the meetup, but she wound up at a complete different set of tables.

Fresh from lunch and full of energy, I went to a couple of panels.  The first one was titled “But Why Can’t You See My Genius” and it was about how to handle rejection letters.  A lot of the information was stuff I’d already heard before, but there were a few interesting tidbits I put in my notes, and the presentation of the information was entertaining.

I almost attended a panel called “Should SF/F be Covert Commentary on Current Social Issues?” I went in, sat in a chair, and looked at the name of the panel again.  My novel questions few current social issues in a subtle fashion, so I determined that I could answer the panel’s question on my own.  I got up and went to a different one.

I chose “Use of Language in Fantasy.” It’s an ambiguous panel title, as it could be dealing with what the characters are saying, how the author is telling the stories, or made-up languages.  The panel actually touched on all of that and more, and was more applicable to what I’m working on than I expected.  Mary Robinette Kowal was on this panel, just as she’d been on the previous one I’d attended, and she was fantastic.

With the panels done, I wandered a bit.  I’m actually struggling to remember what I did next, and I feel bad because I think I hung out with someone.  I’ve met up and spoken with tons of people this week, but I don’t necessarily remember everything chronologically.  This is one of the reasons I wanted to do these posts before going to bed.

The last official event I participated in was a Kaffeeklatsch with Nancy Kress.  She’s a delightful writer, and now that I think about it, she’s similar to John Berlyne in that she has no place for nonsense.  She’s very sweet and nice, and she invited conversations very easily.  She seemed ready to shutdown hogwash quickly and effortlessly, without being mean about it.  It’s hard for me to describe.

I want to make one more note about that Kaffeeklatsch.  There were a few in attendance that didn’t seem fully healthy mentally.  There was another guy that just seemed bored and disinterested, although that might have just been how he presented himself.  There was an older woman sitting to my immediate left that was excited about the sit-down, but she was a little hard of hearing and kept talking over Nancy.  It made it more challenging for me to enjoy the Kaffeeklatsch.  Nancy was very graceful about the whole thing, and continue to invite conversation.

After the Kaffeeklatsch I went in search of dinner.  I was determined not to get something fro the food court, and I was hoping to have dinner with someone.  Michael was unavailable, having made a bee-line for the next party/get-together at Ernie’s Bar.  I wound up going to Chili’s and eating by myself, feeling just a little bit lonely.  A pigeon was foraging near my chair, pecking at chip crumbs and other dropped food.  At one point, he started attacking some discarded breaded chicken, and all I kept thinking that it was cannibalistic.

After dinner, I went to Ernie’s Bar for Drinks with Authors.  The bar was overcrowded, but I still had a good time.  I bought some drinks for some really great people.  I met some great people.  Much fun was had, in spite of the excessively long line to the bar.

Then it was off to the usual parties at the hotel.  Michael, Chris from Canada, Will, Jim, Jim’s wife,and I went to various parties and I tried various drinks.  I don’t drink that much, and at one point, at the Brothers Without Banners party, Michael tried to get me to have a reaction to a drink called an Orange Ghost.  Michael had tried it himself, and it had burned.  I don’t know why, but I found it a little bit yummy, and it tingled my lips a little.  Michael and the others that were watching were impressed that I hadn’t flinched or turned red or anything.  It was anti-climactic enough to be interesting.

By the time I got to my room, it was 2AM, and I was in no shape to make a blog post.

It’s Sunday afternoon now, so this post is going up later than I had planned.  I’ve already had a somewhat fascinating day, which I’ll likely write about tonight well after the Hugo’s, or perhaps tomorrow at the airport.




WorldCon Day… WorldCon

This being my third WorldCon, I’ve come to learn that there comes a point during the convention where days stop having meaning.  There are panels, people, scrambles for food, more people, parties, then a weary collapse into a bed where just enough sleep is achieved that you can do it all over again the next day.  In that regard, this WorldCon hasn’t been any different than the others I’ve attended.

Because my phone tells me so, I know that it is Saturday.  I’m writing this post from the lobby of the other hotel.  I’ll talk about that in a moment.

Friday morning was just like Thursday morning, in that I got up, took a leisurely jaunt to the con suite where I had an apple and some water for breakfast.  Then I went to join up with a bunch of people to do the Walk with the Stars.  Again, it was a sweaty almost-forced march along the river.  It’s a great way to wake up and get the blood flowing, except for how hot it is.  I wound up shuffling off to my first panel of the morning with my shirt clinging to my skin.

The first panel was about converting books to ebook format.  I hadn’t looked into it before that panel, and wasn’t sure what was going to be involved.  It turns out that I really only needed to be there for the first two minutes, where the presenter explained that you need to know a little bit of HTML and CSS to be successful.  There was a hand-out as well, so I didn’t need to take notes.  It wasn’t a terrible panel, it just wasn’t one that I needed to attend.

After the panel I hurried on to a Kaffeeklatsch with Lee Harris, the main editor with Angry Robot.  Lee Harris is a fantastic individual.  He talked about Angry Robot and shared with us some interesting information about how Angry Robot selects new authors.  Everyone I’ve met associated with Angry Robot is just fantastic, and Lee Harris is no exception.

After the Kaffeeklatsch, I deviated from the WorldCon routine that I’d established two years ago.  I let my schedule go, and just sort of wandered.  I went to the Dealer’s Room and visited with Howard Taylor and his people.  I also met up with Greg Close and M Todd Gallowglas.  Greg Close is a great guy, and has been sharing his table space with Michael and another man, whose name I don’t fully remember.  I remember that it is Bill, and that he’s selling his Dad’s books.

We went to lunch together in the food court.  After that, I wandered again.  Around 3PM, it occurred to me that I could head back to my room and write for about an hour.  I opened my laptop, edited a few words, and realized that I was very sleepy.  I napped for about an hour, which is very unusual for me.

I got up and out in time to make it to George R. R. Martin’s reading.  I let him spoil a little bit of the book I’m reading so that I could hear him read a chapter from book 6 of Ice and Fire.  It was really good!  He took a few questions and talked about some other stuff he’s working on.  He’s a very intelligent, well-spoken presenter.

When the reading was through, it was time for dinner.  I met up with Michael, Greg, and Jim Doty for dinner.  There was nothing interesting or exciting about the food, but the company was excellent.

With dinner done, I went off to help set up the room for the Convolution party.  Once the setup was done, the evening of partying began.

There isn’t a ton I can say about the parties.  There are tons of people floating around in different states of inebriation.  Myself, I had a little bit of wine, and a tiny bit of Scotch under Michael’s useful instruction.  I mostly drank water, though.  I wished that I had had more alcohol in my system, as that would have greased the gears for being social.

Meeting people and talking casually is a little bit outside my comfort zone, but it’s what you do at the parties.  Being pressed in by bodies on all sides, inundated with all of the sound and noise that comes with that is downright uncomfortable, but is a part of the con nightlife that must be endured.  I did my best, forced a smile on my face whenever I remembered to, and occasionally squirmed my way out to the hallway to catch my breath.

In spite of the things I’m complaining about, and in spite of myself, I did have a good time.  I met some fun and interesting people, and I think a lot of them got the impression that I was fun and interesting, too.

Before I put a bow on this blog post, let me touch on the Convolution party again, and explain why my daily wrap-up is going up the following morning rather than that night.  The laptop that the party host had brought wasn’t going to work for what she wanted it to, so I volunteered my laptop.  I had enough presence of mind to remember to close out my party evening at the Convolution party so that I could get my laptop.  I was too tired to remember to actually take it with me.

Today, I slept in a tiny bit, and I didn’t go on the Walk with the Stars.  I’ll write later tonight about how the rest of the day went.


WorldCon Day 1, For Reals

It’s close to midnight in San Antonio, and I’m having trouble forming interesting words to recap today’s experiences. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had a phenomenal day. I just might not have the words at hand to talk about it in an interesting fashion.

It started off with me getting up early enough to make it to the Walk with the Stars. This is basically just a morning stroll around the local area with some of the distinguished guests of the convention. This morning, there was Phil Foglio and Lawrence Shoen and one or two others that I don’t remember. The walk was around an hour long, and the San Antonio weather was warm and humid. By the time we got back to the convention center, my shirt was sticking to my skin from the sweat.

I went back to my room, cooled off and ensured that I wouldn’t offend anyone’s noses, and then went on to the con suite to get an apple for breakfast. I also drank a bottle of water. My wife would be proud of me.

I talked to lots of interesting people. The unfortunate thing for me is that I am fairly terrible with names. Everyone says that, but I really do struggle sometimes. I suppose meeting a large number of people in a short time exacerbates the situation a bit.

One person I ran into was Jim Doty, a fairly successful self-published author. I first met Jim at Westercon a few months ago. It was over dinner with Jim and Michael that I determined that I needed to stop whining about writing and start acting like a proper writer. In other words, it was partly because of Jim that I started this blog in the first place, so I was fairly pleased to run into him.

We talked for a little bit, went our separate ways, and I eventually wandered into the dealer’s room when it opened. To my surprise, Lee Harris from Angry Robot recognized me from last year and greeted me warmly. I chatted with him very briefly, but walked away feeling like a celebrity.

Wandering around a bit more in the dealer’s room, I found myself at the bookbaby.com table, where I ran into Julia, another person that I recognized from last year. We talked for a bit, and eventually I went to lunch with Julia’s assistant Christine. It was Christine’s first WorldCon, and either from the excitement of being at the con, or from travel fatigue, she forgot her bag at the lunch court. We had only stepped away from our table for a moment, but it was gone when she went back to get it. Fortunately, it had been turned in to lost and found, and she was able to get it back fairly quickly.

Then I was off to my first panel, which was all about how to get an agent. Like in Reno and Chicago, I took thorough notes. It was mostly a Q & A, and I wrote down some good information. It was mostly stuff I already knew, but it still kept my interest.

After the panel, I returned to my room for a few minutes. I dropped off my laptop before heading down for a Kaffeeklatsch with Shiela Williams. Shiela Williams was the celebrity I got to speak to at my very first Kaffeeklatsch in Reno. She was just as interesting to talk to this time as she was last time. When the Kaffeeklatsch was finished, I wound up walking her back to the Rivercenter hotel so that she could make it to Opening Ceremonies.

Shortly after that, I met up with Michael. I hung out with him as he went through registration, and then we went together into the Dealer’s Room to catch up with some more people. We wound up going to Howard Taylor’s booth, and met up with some absolutely fantastic people. They invited Michael and I to their room, where they had a kitchen and they made us dinner. It was a simple meal, but it was tasty, and it was made all the more delicious by their hospitality and generosity. I wish I could remember their names. I’ll have to see them again tomorrow so that I can commit their names to memory.

After dinner, Michael and I met up with Jim, and eventually went to the Booksworn party. Like most con parties, it was crowded and noisy and hot from all the warm bodies crowded together. There were drinks to be had, but I stuck with water. I’m not usually that comfortable at parties, to be perfectly honest, but I was relaxed and sociable at this one. I talked with dozens of people. I gave away bunches of business cards.

And now I’m back in my room, preparing to do the voodoo I need to do in order to post this. I wish I could add links for all of the people I mentioned, because they’re all amazing. WorldCon is fantastic. As I told some people earlier today, this con is like vitamins for me. I come here and just feel better. I’m going to be exhausted in the end, but it’ll be a good, well earned exhaustion.


WorldCon, Day… 1?

Okay, technically, this is more like Day 0. Everything actually starts tomorrow, but I was able to get my registration done today, get some cool swag, and check out the facilities, which are exceptional.

Let’s start from the beginning.

My flight took off from Sacramento at 6:30AM, which meant that I needed to get up around 3:30AM in order to have enough time to get there and get through security. That is, if I’m going by the recommendation to get to the airport 2 hours early. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I got up early.
It was hard getting up that early, but everything else was quite effortless. I didn’t have any problem with parking, and I didn’t have to wait for the shuttle to get me to the terminal. It’s like someone went ahead of me and greased the travel machines.

Normally, I’m an enormous baby when it comes to flying. This morning, however, I was comfortable and at ease. I listened to some more of A Dance with Dragons. I was as calm as I’ve ever been during the landing in Salt Lake City, where I had a very brief layover. I didn’t even have to travel very far to get to the connecting flight.

For the last hop into San Antonio, my seat was upgraded, and I wound up next to someone else traveling for WorldCon. We talked the entire flight, which made the last hop go very quickly. Landing in San Antonio was a little rough, but I mostly handled it well.

This isn’t the most exciting of my blog posts. I, the hero of this story, was never in any real danger, and I didn’t run into any adversity. As a writer, I recognize the danger of having a lack of conflict in my tale. As the hero, however, the writer can go jump in a lake. I hope all the stories I star in are frought with such boring ease and comfort.

I acquired some gifts for families and friends. I’m not going to talk too much about them at this moment, since those people are my only readers. I will say that I did well, and it was wise of me to do my shopping before the convention got into full swing.

The evening ended with me sitting on a padded bench in the Orlando bid party. I was really surprised that there were any parties at all on Wednesday evening. I talked with a few people that have tables in the dealers lounge, and learned some very interesting things about how coins are made.

If you’re reading this, then I have figured out how to type my blog posts on my laptop, transfer them to my phone, and then post them through my internet connection there. We shall call these technique Technomancy.


Pre-WorldCon Ramblings

My work week is finished!  Tomorrow, I get on a plane for WorldCon!!

I find it difficult to express just how excited I am to go to this event.  I expressed it a bit last year, when someone interviewed me and M. Todd Gallowglas after Chicon was done.  In regards to that video, I have to say that I’m glad it came out as well as it did.  I almost said some stuff in it that would have been permanently, irrevocably embarrassing.

Okay, let’s blab about WorldCon in general.

It is the yearly event that I look forward to the most, now.  When I was in the Air Force, it was a different convention, Dundracon, that I looked forward to.  I loved gaming, and I knew that I’d be able to meet up with my good friend David there.  It was a yearly voyage where I’d get to go and feel like I was going home.

Now it’s WorldCon.  Ever since Reno, WorldCon has built up more and more in my mind.

It doesn’t even make all that much sense, really.  I’m not a published author yet.  I’m not a very passionate fan, and indeed, I don’t recognize most of the names of the writers that are in attendance.  I’m not particularly good at the networking aspect.  There might not be that much more information I can get from the panels that I haven’t heard already.

And yet, I still feel like this is Shangri La, or Brigadoon, or some other magical place that I’ll get to visit.  Maybe it’s the open, welcoming community that I feel I have so much in common with.  Maybe it’s the dream that one day I’ll go to a WorldCon and be the guy that people want to see on panels, or sign books.  Maybe it’s the experiences, such as the Kaffeeklatsch where I got to discover just how awesome Hugh Howey is as he served me and the other visitors water, and gave us signed copies of his books.  Or that Tor party where Emma Newman talked with me for more than an hour and a half, giving me the most amazing encouragement to keep on writing.

It’s all of that and more.

Reno was the WorldCon that woke me up and reminded me that I like Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and that I should be writing.  Chicago was the WorldCon where I picked up some advice and started to take to heart the things I needed to actually do the writing.  What does San Antonio hold for me?  I can’t wait to find out!