Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gen Con 2007: Con report

Back from Indy. All the suitcases and such are in the house (but not unpacked), the cats are fed and watered, the mail has been sorted, and the comfy clothes have been donned. It is officially time for the report.

Ken and I arrived in Indy around noon-ish only to discover that Indiana is on EDT and not CDT. This change happened recently; up until a last year, Indiana didn't observe savings time, so during the winter they were an hour ahead of Illinois and the summer they were the same time. After setting our clocks ahead an hour and checking into the hotel, we bummed around the hotel a bit before meeting up with writerly types for dinner. Two of my writer friends (Paul Genesse and Anton Strout) have recently sold their first books, and so our shin-dig was a celebration of sorts, complete with gift bags, beads, and stuffed animals. Fun times. It was actually the first time I had met Anton Strout in person. He's a cool guy with a dry sense of humor that I dig. Anton's gritty urban fantasy drops in 2008. Can't wait to read it! I also met Patrick Rothfuss, whose first book just hit shelves four months ago or something. He's being described as "the next Scott Lynch" because his book is steamrollering the market with its awesomeness. I've not read it yet--in all honesty, I hadn't even heard of it--but I intend to read it shortly. Pat is the most down-to-earth, awesome guy. He looks like a russian dictator and laughs at my jokes, so he's tops in my book. I heart Pat. I also met Kathy Watness and Marc Tassin; they have stories in the Blue Kingdoms anthologies. Funny, nice, good people.
In other news, Elizabeth Vaughn--paranormal romance writer extrodinaire--gave me a copy
of Romantic times Books Reviews. There's a review of Pandora's Closet, and they mention my name. My name! In a magazine! And it's a favorable mention! A PDF copy will be forthcoming. Needless to say, I saw the review, acted cool for about two seconds, then bawled like a baby. I can't even describe the feeling. I thought holding the book in my hands made it real, but I was wrong; seeing the evidence that the book existed for other people, for strangers, really drove it home. I'm published, baby. I managed to pull myself together and not look at the magazine for the rest of the night.

This was the actual first day of the convention. I ate lunch with a group of hometown friends. During the meal, one of them presented the group with toy riding horses (you know, the kind with the stick you straddle to "ride" it), "DORK" t-shirts, and little foam swords and shields. Total geek-fest fun. The group of us did True Dungeon, which is sort of a real-life D&D game. It was fun but overpriced; I probably won't do it again. After, I ate dinner, attended a few readings and then fell into bed.

This was my busiest day--after I left the hotel at around 10:00 a.m. I didn't return until almost midnight. I attended writing seminars, played poker, and ate dinner with Ken, Brad Beaulieu and Paul Genesse. After the evening readings I attended a round-robin reading of "Eye of Argon." Follow the link if you dare. It's really, really, bad and really, really fun to read out loud. We sat in a circle and passed around a printed copy of the story, reading out loud until we either laughed twice or read two pages. Next year we'll probably do a "laugh once or one page" rule; interpretive dance was also suggested. My god, it's horrific. But so much fun. And talk about an ego boost for a writer!

I spent most of Saturday being nervous about my reading Saturday night. I attended a few seminars but most of the afternoon I surfed the Internet and practiced reading "Cake and Candy" out loud. I also bought a pair a dangle amber earrings to wear. I arrived for my reading early, interrupting a general writer Q and A panel. Apparently the audience hadn't been asking too many questions, because as soon as I sat down, Beth Vaughn said, "Hey! Kelly! Got a question?" I pointed to panelist Pat Rothfuss, who was dressed as ... a wizard? but he looked vaguely like a garden gnome... and said, "What's with the hat?" Laughter ensued and took the edge off my nervousness. Pat told me later he appreciated the joke. See? Cool guy. I heart Pat.
Around 15 people attended the reading. I shared a slot with Chris Pierson, who's a great, cool writer/game designer from Boston. I went first, and I actually did pretty well. I had inflictions, I made eye contact, I didn't cry. However, two or three people did tear up and one had to leave the room. I found out later that the flee-er had lost someone close to them in March, so their emotion was less about my writing and more about their own experience. That's how reading and writing is though, isn't it? The reader adds to what the writer has written. Anyway, I feel good that I didn't screw it up and I feel honored that my story touched people. As I joined Ken in the audience to listen to the next group of authors, Ken presented me with a pair of blue dangle earrings. We had seen them when we bought the amber dangles, but I rejected them because they were a bit pricey. Ken went back and bought them because they matched my eyes. I've got the best fucking husband in the world.
After the readings, Ken and I had drinks with Brad and Paul again. After that, Ken and I met up with one of our hometown friends and had more beer and food. Good times. I collapsed into bed at 1:00 a.m.

Spent the morning packing and checking out of the hotel while Ken and a friend played a game. I watched a magician/entertainer from New Zealand perform his act in the Convention Center hallway. For his last bit he picked four people from the audience to perform a trick. I was one of them--apparently he had a thing for blondes. Anyway, for this trick, the four audience members had to sit on little camp chairs in a specific formation: each of us faced a different direction; the person behind me had his thighs perpendicular to the small of my back and my thighs were perpendicular to the girl in front of me's back, etc. We laid back, and once we were positioned, we raised our butts and the performer pulled the chairs out from underneath us. And we totally stayed there, like a human tabletop! It wasn't hard, but the kid behind me struggled a bit--he was a fourteen-year-old gamer, after all, and didn't have much in the way of muscle tone--but we stayed that way for probably 45-60 seconds before the dude put the chairs back. Good times. After, I strolled the exhibit hall, said goodbye to writer friends, bought cool but useless toys, and ate out one last time. I felt the need to purge, but other than that, it was a low-key day. Perfect end to the con.

And ... that's all. Tomorrow I have the day off--thank God--and I'm doing laundry and working on Stormy Weather. I haven't written anything since I turned in my ghost story over a week ago, and I'm getting a bit gitchy. During one of the seminars, one of the panelist said, "Plot is like a basketball game" and it totally hit home with me. You know how when teams just trade baskets or one team completely dominates the other, it's a bit boring? But when one team is up and then the other is ahead and then oh! there's a foul and then blammo! there's an injury and damn is this game close, it's much more interesting? Um, that's like plotting a novel. Who knew? SW, prepare yourself for greatness!


Bridget (& Jimmy) said...

Sound like a good time. No rest for the wicked.

I still tear up when I read your story, so it's moving even if you haven't lost someone recently. You just have to be able to imagine and put yourself in the story. You made that happen.

I keep forgetting you have pierced ears now. I can't wait to see them.

Kelly Swails said...

I can't wait for you to see them. Only a few more weeks!

No rest for the wicked, indeed. We're busy folks.

I'm glad you like the story. Hopefully the exposure helps sell more stories ... and eventually a novel ... fingers crossed!