I woke up at, like, 0430 and couldn't get back to sleep. We left town at around 0915 and two discussions about my driving and one pee break later, made it into Madison at around 1330. Our hotel sucked--it wasn't the convention hotel but one about three blocks away--and apparently hadn't been updated since the 1930's or so. We couldn't control the heat, the smoke alarm would go off when we showered, and the toilet would sometimes keep running. Luckily, we didn't spend too much time there. Once we got food in our tummies we were in a much brighter frame of mind.
We checked into the convention and got our swag bag. I'm here to say the goodies are worth the price of admission (which is a steep $135 apiece). Ken and I each received a bag full of books. Unfortunatley, two of the books we already owned, but fortunately, there was a 'book swap' table were you put duplicates and pick up books you wanted. The dealer's room was basically jewelery and books, and you guys know me and bookstores. I held myself to one book, though.
The panel discussions were good. That first afternoon I met Holly Black, who has published something like seven ya books in the past five years. I immediately wanted to be her friend because she had cool hair and could do that cool liquid-eyeliner-sixties-cat-eyes thing with her makeup. She introduced me to her agent, who invited me to send him a query. Whee-hee! That night we attended a few readings, as well, and decided that readings were a lot of fun. The two authors we saw first changed their voices for each character and read with alot of expression, much like an audiobook. The whole point of the reading is to make people want to buy the book the story is in or the book that is coming out, and these two accomplished that. There are unpublished authors that do readings, as well, so maybe I'll try to get a slot next year. It made me think I should maybe take an acting class or something so I could be more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd and getting into the reading.
Another bonus of WFC: free food and drinks. There's a 'consuite' room with freebie soda, beer, and hot and cold food to eat and drink whenever you want. Also, every evening different groups host parties that are on the same floor of the consuite. Once again, free drinks flow. The first night it was austrailian wines (it was an aussie party), and I had to consciously remind myself I was here to meet people, not to become drunk and stupid on free liquor. That first night Ken and I met two guys from Arkansas--Jon and Jeremy--who had written a few books and were stumping them around. We actually hit if off right away and kept meeting up with them throughout the con.
I met a children's/ya editor from Viking--she was on a panel and the first words out of her mouth were "I fucking hate morning people," and so I knew she was one chick I had to meet. After speaking with her for a bit she told me to send her my manuscript, and if it wasn't for her, she'd maybe pass it on to someone who could work with it. Apparently this woman is a biggish name in the children's/ya publishing realm because her name kept popping up over the course of the weekend. She said she seemed to like contemporary fantasy more, so I have a feeling she'll reject my book, but maybe she'll like the next one. I could have that one done next summer, maybe.
In the early evening Ken and I played a time-wasting but highly-addictive game with a group of writers from Minneanapolis. They seemed like a group of peeps I could hang with alot. One of them has a PhD in physics, and somehow we got onto the subject of marshmellows in the microwave. Apparently, if you make a grid of minimarshmellows in the microwave and you zap them, you see the microwaves in the pattern of swelling. You can measure it and somehow calculate the speed of light. This chick says this--I think it was Laura--and immediately I feel like a complete dumbass. This is what they do for fun???? Dude, I watch E! and read Instyle for fun. Of course, I kept that information to myself. See, sometimes I can keep my mouth shut.
More parties in the evening. Met up with some people Ken and I had met at Gen Con in July. One is the author that I gave my manuscript to. She was only on page sixty or so, but she said so far she was enjoying it and she would email her comments soon. I found out she has two deadlines before the end of the year and one in February, so it might be awhile. I say, we should all be so lucky.
Ken and I join Jon, Jeremy, and the gen conners for breakfast. I'm beginning to feel less like an imposterish hack and more like I belong. I'm already looking forward to next year. We do panels and readings all day, but skip the parties that night. We're not young anymore, after all, and can only drink so many woodchuck ciders and microbrews, even if they are free.
Ken and I talk with Marissa Lingen for a bit. I had spoken with her briefly throughout the con, but she had had a bout of food poisoning and wasn't up for much. She was still sick on Sunday, and I felt bad for her. She seemed like a sweetie, though, and if she spent too much time with me I would surely corrupt her. After a few panels and another free book we left.
Basically, the moral is in the beginning I felt like a nervous, incompetant, and talentless hack, and in the end I felt like a semi-competant hack with a smidgen of talent.
Gotta jet. I'm meeting a friend for a belated-birthday lunch, and I have to go make myself beautiful. That could take awhile.