I’m going to start this with a little honesty: I kind of suck at conventions. I’m bad at starting conversations with strangers, I’m out of shape, and I require frequent breaks from crowds. Still, I think I did pretty well at this one.
To start, my husband, Kevin, and I checked in Thursday, the night before everything started. This gave us a chance to unwind from regular life and be a little more prepared when the crazy started the next afternoon. Also, it gave us a chance to sit in the bar, pick out what we’d be drinking for the rest of the weekend, and make faces at George R.R. Martin while he did his thing on the other side of the room.
Side note: People asked me if I went and talked to him. No. He was busy. I didn’t want to interrupt. Plus, all I could think to say was “Dude. People hate it when we write about rape, don’t they?” Then I would nod sagely, like we were bros who understood the hardships of harsh criticism, and take a sip of my drink. Nope. I stayed put next to my husband and took a picture, instead. Classy.
On Friday, I had no panels I had to be on, so I floated, mostly to panels my friends were on. At one point, I had three friends on three different panels spanning two floors. First I went to listen to Holly Messinger read from her novella. After a half hour, I scooted across the hall to see Jack Campbell Jr. on a panel called “Is it REALLY Gothic?” then finally made it downstairs for the last ten minutes of “World Building–Religion and Magic” with George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson. The big draw for me on that one, though, was my friend (and fellow Carina Press author) Kathleen Collins was moderating it, and I wanted to be supportive.
So, already, I was wearing myself out. You’re not supposed to do three panels in one hour. But that’s okay. There was dinner and drinks in the bar after that, so, yay! But more panels after dinner, so I wasn’t done. Some of us changed into jammies and slippers and tiaras and hit the 10 o’clock panels. Yep. Plural. The first half hour was Jack again on “Body Horror”, then Kathy again on “Things That Go Bump and Grind in the Night.” They were equally interesting panels in different ways, and well worth it.
Saturday morning we had breakfast with old friends of my husband’s, then an 11 AM panel with my friend (and editor!) Sara Lundberg, “Working Through the Bad Days.” Somehow, by noon I had my first drink in my hand (I blame the sudden appearance at the bar of Jason Arnett) and by 1 PM, I was on my first panel. Jack and Sara were doing a panel on NaNoWriMo and someone didn’t show up–so they pulled me up there with them. At 3 PM, I was on a panel called “Who Owes What to Whom.”
For the rest of the day, I kind of crapped out on everything and parked my butt in the bar until the masquerade contest–which earned my friend Dianne Williams an honorable mention for her fabulous and original Queen of Hearts costume. I attended the celebration in tiara, jammies, and fluffy slippers.
Sunday was brutal. Got up, made myself as presentable as possible, packed, checked out of the room, dropped our luggage at the front desk and barely made it to my 10 AM panel, “How to Navigate the Amazon.” Hero husband split off and got me coffee and a Cliff Bar so I wouldn’t die, and presented me with the coffee seconds before the panel started. It was a good panel, and I met moderator Barbara E. Hill and fellow panelist Gareth-Michael Skarka. Zipped out right after it was over so I could make it to Jack’s reading for the first half hour (I finally ate my Cliff Bar), and my own reading the second half hour.
I am pleased to tell you that my voice was loud and confident, my hands didn’t shake, and I didn’t throw up. I read my work in public and lived. Yay!
I had an hour break between my reading and my next panel, but the wait for the elevators was really bad. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it back in time. So, I hung out on that floor with my friends for an hour (alas, there was no bar), and made it in time for my last panel, “Authors (and Readers) Behaving Badly,” which was also moderated by Kathy, so we got to hang on a panel together at the end.
Kevin and I were all set to bolt out of there and go home once my last panel was done, but Sara convinced us we should all go down to the bar for one last drink. We ended up joining Gareth and his wife, Laura. Pretty sure we stayed for a couple of hours.
So. New friends. Old friends. Drinks. Celebrity spotting. Death-defying public speaking.
It was a good weekend. If you’re in the area for ConQuesT next year, come hang out with me in the bar. I guarantee you’ll find me there at least some of the time.
See you real soon!