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Geek Girl Con

S0, my hubby and I are attending our first GeekGirlCon, which is held at the Washington State Convention Center. It’s a sci fi con, dedicated to welcoming and celebrating girls, women, young women in geek/sci fi/fantasy culture.

And it’s fun!

First impression while we were in line to get our badges was that the crowd is much more like a pony con than a traditional sf/f convention. Fewer guys. A lot more kids. Not that there aren’t a lot of guys of all ages, here, but we’re in the minority. Which is the point, and not at all a bad thing.

There’s a Do It Yourself Science area that’s set up for kids to sit down and do science projects. Every time I’ve walked by today, it’s been pretty full. I first learned about it a couple months back when the GeekGirlCon mailing list sent out a link for people to donate to pay for the supplies and such in the area. You know I jumped on that. We need more science-literate people in future generations!

I’m writing this blog post in Introvert Alley, which is a room the set up for people to have a quiet, dark place to retreat to if you need it. It’s nice. I can still hear the con outside, but we’re clearly in another space. I had to adjust the brightness of my iPad screen several times before it felt right in here. Now I wish every con had someplace like this. When I feel the need for this sort of thing at some cons, I just head back to our hotel room. But since this place is about a fifteen minute drive from our house, and downtown hotels are never cheap, we don’t have that option.

The Exhibitor Hall (or dealer’s den) is huge. We did one long methodical sweep through it, only stopping at a couple of booths. I was pulled to one by a 1954 Hermes 3000 typewriter. The author whose table it was at, Eva L Elasigue, had typed some poetry on it. We geeked out about manual typewriters a bit, then I asked her about her book. She said it was mythic space opera, “think, Les Mis meets Cowboy Bebop.” No, I’m one of those queer boys who hates Les Mis. I know, sorry, it’s just too grim for me. But I understand the pathos and appeal it has for a lot of people. And I absolutely love Cowboy Bebop. And Cowboy Bebop’s noir-ish vibe certainly could go well with a Les Mis sensibility. So, as I told her, based on the pitch alone I had to buy the book: Bones of Starlight: Fire On All Sides.

We hadn’t walked far from her table when we hit one of those traffic jams that happen in crowed dealer’s rooms, so I opened the book, and read a few sentences. Yeah, I could totally hear a Cowboy Bebop soundtrack playing as I read. I got through the rest of the first page in starts and stops every time we had to wait while walking. I like it already and have high hopes for the rest of the book.

I’m seen several people I know, but other than Joi, it’s all been from a distance through the crowd, so haven’t talked to any of them, yet.

Michael reminded me that he hadn’t eaten before we left, so we tried to walk to a restaurant 600 feet away, but I managed to get turned around and go the wrong direction for at least that far before I figured out where we were. We’d exited the convention center from a side I’ve never been on before, and thanks to some construction projects happening outside (I think for the new light rail station), I couldn’t see any landmarks I recognized until we’d gone a block and a half the wrong way. We got to the place eventually, and the way we both inhaled our meals, clearly he wasn’t the only one who needed to eat.

I had trouble finding the room the next panel I wanted to see was in. By the time we did, the room was full with a guard at the door telling people the room was full. But the next panel I want to see is there, so I now know where it is and I can go get there early. I hope.

When I do check twitter, I’m trying to just skim over all the deplorable stuff. I much prefer the bright future I see on display here to the rationalization and rape apologetics that the Republicans are trying to pass off as political discourse this week.

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Conventionally speaking

A toy dog, fanzines, and toy ponies.

This adorable corgi plushie is my table mascot this year.

I’m having a good time at the convention. I haven’t slept in very much, but I seldom do when running a dealer’s table at a con.

This year, in addition to the usual copies of fanzines full of anthropomorphic science fiction, we are also selling an anthology of fiction produced by another publisher, My Little Pony blind bags, buttons designed by my husband, satirical bumper stickers designed by me, trading cards based on the fanzine project, badge ribbons, and t-shirts.

Though it would be more accurate to say we are offering all of those things for sale. As there hasn’t been a lot of actual purchasing happening at the table this year.

Thursday I sold mostly blind bag ponies and buttons. Friday the big mover was the badge ribbons. Oh! And all the My Little Pony coloring books (I only had three left after Everfree NW) also went on Thursday.

I’ve had good traffic at the table, and a few interesting conversations. I also got a decent amount of writing done Friday.

I’ve been having more fun, as usual, hanging out with friends for meals or up in our hotel room after the dealer’s den closes.

I did have a surprise visit from Julie. She and her mother had returned from a trip to London and Paris, and after Julie dropped her mom off at the airport, she came over to the convention hotel. Someone from con staff sent someone into the dealer’s den to tell me Julie was out at the door. She dropped off Lucky Tuppence coins for several of us, and showed me a tiny fraction of the photos she took on the trip.

I should grab some breakfast…!

Running off to a con

The car is very nearly packed. I still need to pack the computer, make a final run through the house to get everything turned off, et cetera, and I may hop in the shower one more time before I go.

I go to conventions because I enjoy hanging and goofing off with my friends, enjoy seeing people I don’t see except at fannish events, also to people watch, get some writing done, and (it is hoped) sell some books and things. It’s my version of a vacation.

There is a point (or, to be honest, several points) before I get on the road where I’m stressed out about almost everything: Have I packed everything? Is the inventory ready and in an order where I can find everything? Are my display materials ready? Did I remember to back up my computer before I left? Do I have my medications? Did I remember this, that, and the other?

Then during the drive and/or flight at least half of those questions keep coming up again, along with a lot of others: Did I double-check that the stove was turned off? Did we get the windows locked? Did I start the dishwasher before we left? Did I take the trash out? Did I let the responsible neighbors know we would be gone for a few days? Did I make sure no leftovers that won’t last are sitting in the fridge? Am I sure I locked the door?

When I write them out, it sounds like I’m a complete mess. Which is usually a slight exaggeration. Don’t get me wrong, each question wells up from my subconscious delivered in a voice of utter panic (usually sounding like Don Knotts’ character, Luther Heggs, in the movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken). But the more rational part of my brain will sigh and say, “Yes, yes we took care of that.”

On trips where I’m experiencing a bit more of the worry than usual (such as, say, during times near the anniversary of Ray’s death, or his birthday, when I’m been working a lot of extra hours at work…), Michael has to intervene and remind me that if something is wrong or missing or forgotten, we’ll deal with it, “We always do.”

Which is great when he’s with me.

Unfortunately, he forgot that this was a Thursday through Sunday con, so he didn’t arrange to take today off from work. He helped did most of the loading of the car before he left. He’s going to come home after work, change, grab a few things, then take the train down to the hotel to join me this evening. As he reminded me just before he left, I can call him if I realize I forgot something, and he’ll check the house once before I go.

He’s always so calm, and capable, and endures my worry attacks with the patience of a saint.

I don’t deserve him.

Anyway, time for me to do those last few things and hit the road. If you happen to be attending RainFurrest, come to the dealer’s den, find the Tai-Pan table, and say “howdy!”

You might get a free badge ribbon or something out of it!

The co-opting of the Nerds

The Great Nerd Summit (also known as San Diego Comic-Con International, or SDCC) of 2013 has just happened.

I have only attended once, back in the mid-80s when attendance was a mere 6000 people. Yes, I said “mere.” Last year’s attendance was more than 130,000 people. I don’t believe that official figures are out, yet, for this year. While the convention (called the Golden State Comic Book Convention when it was founded in 1970) originally was about Comics, and the word “comic” is still in its name, it had expanded far beyond that realm to embrace sci fi/fantasy books, movies with any sci fi or superhero connection what-so-ever, and gaming back when I was there.

Of course, comics is a style or medium of storytelling. I grew up reading both Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics and X-men and the like, so even I knew that as a child. Yes, I said grew up. My mom was an X-men fan in the mid-sixties. I have mentioned before that I’m a second generation fan, right? My point being that you can conceivably tell any kind of story in comic form. And there have been the extremely interesting and well done examples of memoirs, biographies, and other kinds of story that don’t fit the comic book stereotype.

That said, SDCC has gotten to the point where it is the trade show for just about the entire entertainment industry. I understand why there are events highlighting upcoming movies such as sequels to The Avengers, Captain America, and Thor, as they’re all based on comics. And I understand why there are events rolling out teasers for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It’s a cartoon, not a graphic story (there are comics, but those are spin-offs, and the official MLP events were all about the cartoon), but animated cartoons are an allied artform of comics. I even understand all the video game stuff that happens at the con.

But, much as I love Benedict Cumberbatch and the current BBC Sherlock series, I think that Sherlock events at SDCC is stretching the definition a bit. Whereas the fact that there were events for How I Met Your Mother, Veronica Mars, and Community is just insane.

The official SDCC award (as opposed to Awards sponsored by other organization which are simply presented at SDCC), the Inkpot, is given out for “outstanding achievement in the Popular Arts industry.” Which makes me think the event should more properly be called the San Diego Popular Arts Con.

I’ve gotten into arguments with fellow nerds about why Sherlock Holmes, as in the original character and stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, has often been included in science fiction events. I have defended the inclusion because Holmes could be argued to be an archetype of a particular kind of nerd: hyper observant, possessed of encyclopedic knowledge of a vast range of topics, an uncanny ability to find relationships between the most minute details, and infamously incapable of relating to people empathically. Serious articles have been published in psychological journals debating (pro and con) whether the fictional Holmes had Aspergers syndrome, for goodness sake! The Holmes stories may not be sci fi, but both the character and the methodology by which he solves his mysteries are highly identifiable to a significant portion of the fan community.

While I have made that argument, and will continue to do so, I’m also the first to admit that all it provides is a reasonable rationale for stretching the envelope to include Holmes as an allied creation. It’s a stretch, and I admit it.

A sort of similar argument can be made for the specific television show, Community, because its ensemble includes some nerds. But it’s a much more tenuous connection to make based on a couple of supporting characters, as opposed to the main character and his primary activity.

I can think of even more tenuous (and ludicrous) arguments that might be made for shows such as How I Met Your Mother, but all of them would be a smoke screen. The truth is that, as I mentioned, SDCC is a trade show, not a fan convention. Its purpose is to advertise, generate buzz, and fan the flames of enthusiasm for any popular art property that can shoehorn itself into the convention. That isn’t a bad thing, per se. Certainly no one is forcing fans to get online at a particular time on the final day of the convention so that the entirety of the next year’s memberships can be sold out in less than two hours. No one is forcing people such as myself to track down stories and videos of the events to get some ideas of what movies and shows I should be looking for in the future.

If you want to fan the flames of enthusiasm, there is no better place than the heart or mind of a nerd or geek. We’re more politely called fans, which is short for fanatic. The one trait that most distinguishes us from the mundanes is how incredibly, obsessively enthusiastic we get about the things we like. So even though some of us are primarily enthusiastic about science and science fiction, if you can get us interested in your show— even one that doesn’t have any discernible science-y aspects—we’ll talk about it. We’ll set our DVRs to catch your premiere. We’ll mention that it’s coming out to our less nerdy friends. We’ll make and post fan art or create and share silly memes based on photos from your show.

We will be your viral marketing campaign. And because tens of thousands of us are willing to buy memberships at SDCC each year, that means some of us are paying for the privilege.

Apart from other branding considerations, I think that’s why for the foreseeable future they won’t be replacing the “Comic” part of the name.

Only the ponies

Ponies, Disney pins, and other merchandise on our table

The table I was sharing with Edd (MU Press) at EverfreeNW 2013.

I had a lot of fun at EverfreeNW. As mentioned earlier, I spent most of the time behind a table in the “Vendor’s Room.” I’m used to the place where people sell stuff at a con being called “Dealer’s Room” or “Dealer’s Den.”

My half of the table was selling buttons, small My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic toys, some MLP:FIM coloring and sticker books, a couple of pony-themed bumper stickers, and a few of the most recent publications from the Tai-Pan Literary & Arts Project.

Edd’s half of the table was selling Disney Pins and one of MU Press’s graphic novel-type books.

A pile of rag doll ponies

Joi was at the next table, selling rag doll ponies.

We drove down and checked into the hotel midday on Thursday the 4th. Our friends Jwyl, Sky, Anthony, RJ, Wendy, and several others (I don’t remember how much of the gang was actually there at that time) were hanging out in the lobby of the hotel so they could see people as they arrived.

The convention was happening at the Seatac Hilton, but several of us like the Marriott next door better. So a bunch of us took rooms there. It was like having our own convention within a convention. We discovered that there was a gaming convention going on at the same time in the Marriott, so both places there were lots of people walking around the hotel wearing badges on lanyards around their necks.

Cute soft plushy

A close up of Bedtime Derpy.

When I had assembled our merchandise into a display the weekend before the convention, I’d put a super cute plushie pony I’d purchased from Equestria Rags on top.

Our friend, Joi, is the genius behind Equestria Rags, and she was sharing a table with Sky in the Dealer’s Den. I made up a little sign that identified the doll as Bedtime Derpy, made by Joi, and encouraging people to go see her table. I thought that 1) Bedtime Derpy is just too cute not to be seen, 2) it would be a way for me to direct people to Joi’s work, and 3) if someone with a kid expressed interest in the doll, I would be willing to part with her, because I really think she needs to be held and cuddled by a child.

Nami, Sky, and the back of Xen's head.

Nami, Sky, and the back of Xen’s head. View from behind the tables.

The only problem with my brilliant plan was that I had completely forgotten that Sky and I had both asked, on our Vendor Applications, to have our tables next to each other. So if anyone was at my table, they were likely already looking at the ponies on Joi’s table. Oh, well, I still had a lot of fun getting people to hug Bedtime Derpy and look more closely at the rag doll ponies.

We brought my large format printer in case Sky or some of our other friends needed to print more prints or buttons. I have an Epson color inkjet that will print sizes up to 13″ by 19″ posters. I didn’t realize until we were unloading the car that I have forgotten to pack the extra ink cartridges. But we’d come down a day early, and since it was a holiday traffic had been clear, so while Michael went off to work in Con Registration, I drove back home and grabbed a few other things we’d forgotten. And Sky did need to make some new buttons, so it was a good thing.

Anthony with buttons over his eyes

Anthony goofing off in our room.

The weather wasn’t really hot, which was a big improvement over last year. But it’s warm, sunny, and high pollen season. When you combine that with sleeping in a hotel room, which always make my sinuses either dry up and ache or clog up and ache (I always assume it’s the mostly closed-system air conditioning that does it), I often feel as if I’m coming down with a cold when I’m at a con. Other people get sick after they come home, but usually not me.

The coming down sick feeling was especially bad on Saturday. I was getting cranky. My head, sinuses, and throat hurt. My eyes were itchy. And I was dozing off at the table. I was convinced I was sick. Anthony was trying to organize a run to a restaurant he liked, but we didn’t have enough transportation for everyone, and I just wanted to go curl up in bed and die by that point. So, Michael got me up to the bar at the Marriott. We’d eaten a few meals at the Marriott restaurant, and I’d been disappointed that the burgers and sandwiches I liked from earlier stays weren’t on the menu. They were on the bar menu, now!

So, I ordered soup, the Oregon Bleu Burger, and a coffee nudge. People keep asking me what a coffee nudge is. I can never remember: it’s coffee, some kind of booze, and whipped cream. And it’s really nice to drink when you’re feeling sick. According to the interwebs, a coffee nudge usually has brandy and dark creme de cacao, and sometimes coffee liqueur. I essentially inhaled the soup and the nudge, and felt a lot better.

Combining a Fluttershy hoody with a matching ninja mask.

Xen as Ninja Fluttershy at AFK Tavern.

Members of the gang that I thought were being ferried to the off-site restaurant started show up at the bar and joining us. I learned that our friend, Nami, had never had a coffee nudge, and since I was about to order my third by that time, talked her into trying one. She seemed to enjoy it.

Jared watches Nami putting on a ninja mask.

One of the only pics I got of Jared, shooting between a bunch of people.

As usual, I’m always forgetting that I have a camera in my pocket all the time, so I didn’t take many pics. I’m especially irritated that I didn’t get pictures of several of our friends.

Jwyl spent most of the weekend down in Oregon visiting Katrina and Terry. Then Katrina and Jwyl drove up and joined us for the last few hours of the convention, and more importantly, the excursion to AFK Tavern. Even more people came up from the con for that this year. Which is cool, but made it difficult to actually enjoy any one’s company at the tavern.

I know several folks left early because it was just too crowded, too loud, and some folks had other problems related to those things. I’m not as much of an introvert as some of our friends, but the whole thing got to be a bit much for me, as well, so Michael and I left early, too.

It was a fun convention. We sold pretty well. Several of our friends sold a lot of stuff. A few of us have begun to more seriously conspire to have a book to sell next year. Yes, I’m planning on coming back. I hope a bunch of our friends are, too.

A bunch of people at the end of a table.

Jwyl at the center of things at AFK Tavern.

Experiences, not things

The ads usually pop up as Christmas time approaches: give people the gift of experiences, not things. They suggest paid excursions, theatre tickets, sports event tickets, and so on, with an appeal against consuming natural resources. As a person with a house continually crammed full of stuff that I love but don’t really have room for, I understand the sentiment.

But I’m not terribly good at following it.

While I was browsing the dealer’s den at RustyCon (a small local sci fi convention), one of the booths was filled with zillions “Rare! Hard to Find!” soundtrack albums on CD and movies on DVD. I have a weakness for soundtrack albums and started flipping through the tightly packed rows of discs. Within the first half dozen I looked at, all labeled with a price of $44.95, were two which I had happened to buy in the last year at the iTunes store. One for 9.99 and the other for 7.99.

I have no doubt that many (if not most) of the discs he had there are not available for download from iTunes or Amazon or any of the other digital music sources. And I’m sure that many of them were difficult for him to obtain. Certainly storing and transporting those enormous piles of discs isn’t cheap. So I’m not in any way disparaging the vendor.

It’s just that seeing those two albums (one originally released in 2002, the other originally released in 1975) which I had by chance purchased digitally recently made me stop to think about the situation. The reason I like owning music is to listen to it from time to time. I have a rather daunting amount of music in my digital collection, and how often any individual track is listened to is rather less often than might justify even the typical digital price of 99₵ per song. So does it really make sense to spend 45 bucks on a disc with 12 – 16 tracks on it?

I had just this last week commiserated with two friends about our shelves and shelves full of music and movies, which even though many had been digitized, we were still reluctant to get rid of because the discs now constituted the backup. But we also were all a bit frustrated at how much space they took up.

Not too many years ago I still owned a couple boxes of music albums on vinyl. I hadn’t owned a machine that could play them in a few years, so I finally admitted it was time, and got rid of them. I should mention that among those boxes was the 1975 soundtrack I mentioned above which I recently purchased digitally.

I’m afraid all this thinking about how much stuff is cluttering up the house made me steer clear of the booksellers. If I stopped acquiring new audio books and ebooks, and just focused all my reading time on the piles (multiple) of “new books to read” beside my bed, it would likely take me a few years to get through them.

I have been enjoying myself at the con. I’ve had several good conversations, attended interesting panels, and yes, I bought some things. As a person who frequently has a table with things for sale at conventions, I don’t want people to stop buying things at cons, don’t get me wrong.

I just think that I, personally, need to focus more of my enjoyment on the experience, and less on carrying home a pile of toys and such afterward.

One day I will buy your things…

There’s a kind of encounter one has when staffing a table at a convention which happens so frequently, that it practically qualifies as an archetype. Every con several people stop at the table and explain how they’ve heard many good things about our publication, or that they read a friend’s copy of one or more of our books and loved it, or otherwise know that what we publish is something they would love, love, love, if only they had the spare cash right now to buy it.

I’m quite sure that most of them are being truthful (or trying to be). I certainly understand having a limited budget at a convention. I have only to look at the large pile of books I have yet to read to empathize with the “not gotten around to it” aspect of the explanation.

I also recognize that there is a social obligation aspect to it. They feel guilty for not buying stuff, whether because they’ve stopped to sample the free candy, or taken up a bunch of my time with questions about the project, or just because they made eye contact while browsing the table.

When the same person gives you the same excuse for many years at many conventions, it starts being a challenge to extend them the benefit of the doubt. Really, you’re so broke at every convention, year after year, that you don’t pick up things you desperately want year after year? I mean, yeah, I’ve often drooled over very expensive cars, then told myself that the higher cost of the car, insurance, and upkeep over the car I do own are not worth it.

But we’re talking about books that cost less than 10 bucks—some are only $5—not tens of thousands of dollars. Our stuff can be ordered online. They’re available from two different distributors, who occasionally offer them at discounts.

Which isn’t to say that anyone is obligated to buy any of our stuff. It is just difficult to believe the people who insist they are very anxious to buy them, but…

Not that I want to punish anyone for trying to be polite.

I do, sometimes, want to smack people with a wet trout for blocking other people from looking at our things because they are going on and on about how they can’t afford it, or can’t decide, or have been meaning to get around to us. A few moments is fine. Even just being social and asking how things are, or asking questions about the products is fine. But recognize that you’re taking up my time, your own time, and preventing someone else from browsing.

If you think five bucks is too much to scrape together for a book, then why are you squandering all this time, too?

That’s MISTER mad scientist to you

This ought to be my fourth day at the con report. Except we were barely at the convention at all today. We slept in a bit. We packed out the room. We met some friends for breakfast. We walked around the dealers’ room one more time (and picked up one thing). And then we headed home.

This was my 25th NorWesCon—in a row. Obviously I enjoy going to this convention, and I enjoyed myself this year. This was one of the years where I attended almost no actual convention activities, so all of my enjoyment was due to time spent with friends also attending the convention and all the writing I got done at the con. Read More…

I need the cat murder app

The third day of NorWesCon I was out and about a bit more.

I slept in, but this time nowhere near as late as Michael. I did some more writing in the room (intrigue! deception! plotting!), until the fourth or fifth time a friend texted to find out if we had done breakfast yet, which is when I decided to hop in the shower and go get lunch/breakfast. The upshot, I ate my first meal of the day at about 1pm.

Julie had planned to host a nail painting party in her room Saturday afternoon, while Auntie was doing her annual “Seattle Opera Trunk Show” later in the day. Sky and I had lunch and hung out at the restaurant talking to whoever randomly walked by for a bit. Then we walked up to Julie & Mike’s room, where Julie and a cool artist named Kat were painting their nails. Kat painted one Tardis on one nail over each of her hands. Julie did an homage to van Gogh’s Starry Night on one thumb nail.

It was awesome to watch them work, and I took way too many pictures.

Then Sky, Julie, and I headed over to the panel room where Auntie was doing her big panel. For those of you who don’t know all the background: I am a godparent, and my co-godparent is a fabulously talented artist and costume person who works for the Seattle Opera in the costume department. She does a number of costuming panels at NorWesCon every year, and one of those panels every year she brings some samples of costume pieces from the opera’s stock, along with pictures and background information on how the costumes were made, how they are used, et cetera. It’s always a very well-attended panel and a lot of fun. For me, much of the fun is seeing this person I hang out with doing other activities with getting to show off for a crowd.

 

I got there well before the panel stared, but still wound up in a seat off to the side. Her theme this year was wings. She brought a wide variety of costume wings, including some adorable angel wings meant for a small child. And a small child in the audience ran up and volunteered to model shortly after Auntie pointed out that none of the people helping her were small enough to fit in the harness.

Auntie preparing to show the magic

 

Afterward I chatted with a few people at a couple of the fan tables, did another run through the dealer’s room, and then headed back to the room do to more writing.

I kept getting caught in traffic jams in the hallways, or stuck behind people who would just stop right in the frikking middle of a hallway for either no reason, or to start a conversation with someone, completely oblivious to the fact that they were blocking sometimes HUNDREDS of other people from moving at all. Good thing pocket disintegration rays don’t exist, or a lot of people would have vanished today.

Anyway, once I got to the room I put my headphones on and first listened to some very unchallenging music while I tried to get my brain back into a writing space. Then I listened to silly dance music while I wrote some good scenes. Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 have made a lot of progress today.

By this time people were pinging us about dinner, so we gathered things up and headed down. We had a table over in the side restaurant this time, rather than the middle of the super noisy bar. And our waitress seemed much more able to deal with more than one person. I had a rather larger number of cocktails and buffalo wings.

Then most of us retired back to our room, where we talked about things we’ve done, TV shows, and a lot of other weirdness. Probably more weirdness than I remember.

I did not manage to get a photo of Julie’s Mike’s creature created by hyridizing several plushies. I will try to remedy that. I also failed to get a picture of Mark’s painted fingernail. Or the cool jewelry.

On the other hand, we seem to have managed to cajole Mark into getting a twitter account. He followed several of us right away this afternoon, and his second tweet was, “I have 0 followers. I will give candy to the first of my friends who notices my account.” Julie noticed first. I was second.

I should try to finish that next scene before I go to bed.

Writing and drawing

I spent most of my second day at NorWesCon in my hotel room, writing. Sky was also here doing some drawing, and even did a livestream of some vectoring of one of his sketches.

How I wound up spending the day in the room instead out out in the con begins with parts of the first evening I didn’t cover.

I bought a few things in the dealer’s den. Then several of us snagged a booth in the bar. Sky had just texted that he was leaving Bellingham and would not be stopping for dinner, so I only ordered an appetizer and beer while we sat, chatted, and waited for Sky. After he arrived we had dinner, and then retired to the room where we played at least four games of Give Me the Brain. One went exceptionally long. Juli won twice, Mark and I each won once, and Keith never one. Juli only did the “I win! I win!” dance after her second win, however.

Every body headed back to their own rooms. Sky, Michael, and I chatted for a while. Then they both crashed. I did not feel the least bit sleepy. I had composed yesterday’s blog post, then I tried to write. I couldn’t compose a decent sentence in any of the stories I tried. I would write a sentence, hate it, delete it. Or I would write a few words into a sentence, and already see that it would just end in tears, so I deleted what I had and started over. I tried reading for a bit since, as mentioned already, I was not in the slightest bit sleepy. But I couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few paragraphs.

Finally, at 3:30, I shut down the computer, put the remaining light out, and crawled into bed. I lay there, in the dark, still not sleepy. After an eternity, I rolled over to check to clock. 3:32. I grumbled silently to myself, and rolled back over, trying some meditating. After another very long time, I checked the clock again. 3:35.

The last time I remember checking the clock was at 4:31, so I think I finally drifted off to sleep then. I woke up briefly sometime later to see Sky quietly getting dressed. I think I talked to him. But it is possible I just dreamed it. A bit after that I woke up again and went to the bathroom, then collapsed back into bed.

At about a quarter after nine, Julie called to see if we were up and interested in breakfast. Michael and Sky were both up doing things on their computers. I thought it might be a good idea to get moving. I think I even got up and talked about it with Sky and Michael. The phone rang again, at nearly 10 (oops), and it was Keith and Juli (not Julie, but Juli, they are different people), who were thinking about breakfast.

Eventually we got out of the room and headed down to the little breakfast restaurant. Everyone else we knew was not there, so we got a table. We hadn’t yet ordered when Darrell showed up and asked to join us. Had a nice breakfast. Then, since Michael hadn’t been in the dealer’s room, we went with him and wandered around there. While Michael checked out the art show, Sky and I chatted with Jeri Lynn and Jeff. Soon we were joined by Keith and Juli and Mark and Darrell. We had a large crowd there for a bit. Julie joined us briefly, then some people went to get food, others to panels, and we retired to the room.

The novel that I have finished, but is now in revision, had a plot problem. There are these two supporting character, both monks, who die during the course of the story. One originally died in a scene that I had removed after the first draft (because the scene was redundant both in terms of the action, and what happened with the emotional arcs of the characters involved). But because I had removed the scene, that meant that one monk had simply vanished from the story sometime between chapter 5 and 8 without any explanation. The other problem was that somehow the monk who had been elderly and thoughtful changed into the middle-aged bombastic one.

So I went through finding all references to all of the characters until I found the scene in chapter five where I seemed to have switched their names. I went through all the subsequent scenes fixing the names until I reached chapter eight. I rewrote the ambush in that chapter so that both monks appear and both die in that scene. So that’s one problem fixed. I also fixed a couple other bits so there is a better foundation laid for some things that happen later.

Having gotten all that sorted, I got back to work on the novel currently in progress. I have been stuck trying to get Chapter 8 going for a while, now. Today I finally got a scene written, and have a much better idea of the the shape of this chapter and the next. It is quite a bit clearer what needs to happen next and how all the arcs are moving toward the narrative climax. So that’s good.

Michael had gone out wandering for a bit, then decided to lay down for a nap. That sounded really good, so I did, too. Sky apparently couldn’t resist the idea, because just after I dozed off when my phone started chiming as people texted me, me was out cold in his bed, too.

Folks were trying to coordinate dinner. I didn’t feel up to playing relay, so I shared a bunch of contacts with Julie and went back to sleep until Keith called to see if we wanted to join them for dinner at a big table they had snagged.

We wound up with 12 people at a long table. Things got a bit chaotic. Some food for another table was delivered to ours, the upshot of which was that a couple people in our group wound up with two dinners. And my order was messed up, so I didn’t get my dinner until after everyone else had eaten. Kehf and Auntie joined us as some of us were having dessert (most people don’t think buffalo wings are dessert, but it’s one of my convention traditions).

Some of us retreated back to our room, theoretically to play some games, but some people had sewing, other people had other projects, and we just wound up doing a lot of chatting. Oh, and a few pony episodes were played for those what were interested.

This is not the first convention I’ve gone to where I spent much of it in my room instead of going to events. Some years all I want to do is see as much as I can. Other times I prefer to dip my toes in the convention only a little bit here and there, while doing other things. It’s one reason staffing a club table ofter works for me, since I can do all the people watching and have random conversations during much of the day, while either writing in-between that, or scanning the schedule to find interesting panels and events to go to.

I’m happy with the writing progress I made today. While it might be argued that I could have just stayed home to do this, there is something about getting out into busy places with odd juxtapositions of genres and themes and notions and people that can clear logjams in the mind.

And I think I know what happens next, so I should go write it.

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