I arrived at the convention, jogged down to grab my badge, said hi to Larry (the travelling god of SF booksellers) and tried to grab a bite in the Green Room. Unfortunately the problem with their "cook as you go" meals is that it takes time to get the stuff. So instead I went straight to my reading.
This was the only "bust" of the con, really. Aside from Shana, I had no one for the reading. I seem to be destined to have either sucky times or sucky locations for my readings. TOO BAD FOR ALL YOU BARFLIES OUT THERE! I was reading the sections that come AFTER the most recent snippets! Muuaaahahaha!
Then we went down to the restaurant so I could eat something (as I hadn't eaten since 7 in the morning at that point). The Ice Cream Social afterwards was, alas, a bit of a disappointment. Last year it was in a big ballroom, everyone got to sit around and talk while eating in comfort. This year it was held in the lobby, held up for half an hour, and whoever was in charge of the ice cream somehow hadn't gotten chocolate ice cream. Madness, I tell you, madness! While it's not MY favorite flavor, the very idea of having a big ice cream party without chocolate is insane. (WHERE THE HELL IS THE PUMPKIN ICE CREAM??? Sorry, that's offtopic, but I haven't found any yet this year. This is the only time of the year it ever shows up. And Price Chopper stopped carrying Perry's ice cream, which had the most wonderful pumpkin flavor...)
After that was the time for my first panel. Freedom and Democracy started quietly enough, but pretty soon we got rolling, The discussion focused more on the problems with balancing the different types of freedom, once we got past the beginning. The final conclusion of course was that it's a complicated matter. The discussion was lively and I think the audience enjoyed it. It was certainly the most active panel I've ever had on a Friday, which usually spells death for a panel.
After the panel I trotted down to the "art reception" -- and there I first met up with Terry Brooks.
I didn't know what to expect; I generally don't search around for pictures of authors, as I'm not usually very good at recognizing people from pictures anyway. I think a good way to describe Terry is "Elven". He's not very tall and white haired and somehow refined. He was very friendly and we talked for a while about his writing -- I got to thank him for one of my favorite scenes-never-written (Garet Jax VS the Jachyra). And he signed both Elfstones and Wishsong for me and Kathy. And Shana had made sure that we would be at his table for the banquet. He also told a very funny story about how he came to write Magic Kingdom For Sale--SOLD!, wherein he ended up handing his editor a bit of a shock. Terry' is the kind of guest that you wish EVERY author was; in some ways he reminded me strongly of Hal Clement. He had the same air of patience and interest that Hal used to have around him and that made virtually everyone at ease with him.
So that ended Friday on a high note, and I went home feeling quite cheerful.
Saturday started with a bang, as I got there just in time to grab food at the buffet and go straight to a panel I had NOT been told I was scheduled for, but which was a hell of a panel -- multiple authors centering around GOH Terry Brooks. The panel: Which Comes First? (Plot, idea, character, setting). This panel of course had heavy attendance and the discussion very lively indeed; I ended up starting a bit of controversy by suggesting that characters weren't necessary for a good story. (not that I don't think characters are excellent components of many stories, of course). I gave Terry my very last copy of Digital Knight (I had in fact thought that I had NO copies left, having sent what I thought was my last one off to someone I hoped might have media connections, but I did find one more), signed of course.
My signing was uneventful in terms of signing (just Shana and one other), but my Co-Signer author was very energetic, intelligent, and interesting to talk to: Alex Paultre (no, he's not Paltry or Poultry). He's into electro-optics and is wisely following the "if I give it away, more people will see it" philosophy of electronic publishing. We had a rather interesting conversation about the possible evidence for higher-tech civilizations in the past than we give credit for. He had a number of sites which showed some pretty interesting examples of "stuff it's hard to explain how they did". Some of it you can find off links on his site, which is www.smartalix.com. I really must look into some of that because I'd like to be able to either say "yes, here's how it was done", or else be SURE that no one KNOWS -- because then I can steal some of it for my writing.
The next panel, Cliches That Should Never Die, was excellent fun had by everyone. There was some debate about exactly what a cliche WAS, and of course many side diversions into Bad Cliche Discussions that SHOULD die, but both the panelists and the audience seemed very much "into" it all. Kathleen and the rest of the family met up with me then, and we went to the dealer's room, grabbed some Stuff, brought the kids to the Green Room for some Chinese lunch, then had to split up as she went home to drop off the kids and get ready for the banquet. I saw Terry again briefly as I got him to autograph Running With The Demon for me (this time standing properly in line for the privilege)
The Banquet was enjoyable, though the noise and our seating location sometimes made it hard to hear what Terry was saying. However, Vicky was very cute throughout the dinner. Babies are excellent conversation pieces, as long as they limit their whinging. :)
The final panel of the day was PIRATES (or something) in SF/F, and it was a GREAT panel. A goodly number of people showed up after the first few minutes, including -- yes -- Terry Brooks. Who was an excellent audience participant, asking questions that kept us on the general track. Much "AAARRRRR, MATEY" Fun was had by all. SHIVER ME TIMBERS! By the end of the panel we had pretty well fleshed out various approaches for having Pirates in one's SF while not entirely sacrificing the SF part.
Sunday I managed to get to "I Wish I Had Written That", which became more a discussion of the way in which one develops as a writer from being influenced by others. This included references to "Other Authors That Depress Me", as in "Oh jesus he's too good. Now I don't know why I bother". It was at this panel that Terry -- completely to my astonishment -- mentioned that he was not only going to read DK, but would be posting a REVIEW of it for all to see. As he's clearly very much aware of the business he's in (part of our earlier discussions touched on the difference between people who understand that it's a business and those who don't), he's also clearly aware of the impact that could potentially have, so I was both astonished and gratified. I of course hope he likes DK, but even if he detests it, as he and I agree, there's no such thing as bad publicity. :)
The Con wound down after that, although at the last I finally met up with Terry one MORE time -- this is the first time I've ever encountered the GOH more than once or twice, let alone several times -- and he took my Email addy down. So who knows, I may hear from him soon. I'll be sending him a note through his site.
A big HI and THANKS to all the people who recognized me and talked with me about my books -- you 'flies know who you are! And of course, Larry, "We Won't be Having any more of THAT!"