Our friend, Jared, had agreed to give the manuscript of the first novel in the Trickster series a copy edit pass. He handed back the pile of pages, and we discussed topics other than mechanical copy edits. One of the questions he had for me was whether I planned to create a map of the fictitious world to include in the book.
One reason was that there are some places where it is a bit confusing where some of the groups of traveling people are in the story.
I have a very rough map sketched out in my notes, along with description that would just be long exposition in the book. There is description of the setting, but generally I keep it short and focused on the immediate vicinity of the characters. I really don’t want to write a scene where one character says to another, “As you know, Philippe, the empire is bordered on the south by four independent lands: the Duchy of Molalla, the Duchy of Falatin, the Tlatskan Marches, and the Duchy of Matilla. The river Klitwatchee defines the border, and it’s many tributaries define the major trade routes between the larger cities of each…”
When one of the characters is actually at the river, I mention that the opposite bank is another country, but no one really wants a detailed geography lesson plopped into the middle of the adventure tale, right?
I feel a little reluctance to put in a map because of a number of reviews I recall reading some years ago (as in, when I was in my teens) disparaging such maps in fantasy novels. I don’t really recall all of the reasons that were given for treating the maps with such derision. I remember a suggestion it denoted either laziness or a case of copying all the more successful epic fantasy novels. Or something.
Which I realized is weird. I have somehow internalized these opinions that I only vaguely recall reading, and it’s made me ambivalent about the idea of including a map.
While I was talking about this, a couple of our other friends scoffed at the derisive commentaries. One said, “Some of my favorite books have maps!”
The consensus seemed to be that a map wouldn’t hurt. Since the plot of the novel does involve several characters traveling, not to mention a battle with multiple armies, a map would probably be quite useful for at least some readers.
So I guess I need to draw a better map.
But, a fun time was had by those of us there… Read More…
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…!
I don’t know which year it was that we first played croquet at the barbecue, but I have photos of matches going back at least to 1996. That first time we were using an old set that had belonged to Auntie’s family on a yard that wasn’t flat. Like a typical Seattle-area lawn in the summer (when almost no one waters their lawn in the summer), there were odd patches of brown grass, and so forth. So most of the challenge of the game was the uneven ground and turf causes the balls to bounce, and take weird turns, or just go rolling down a hill.
Someone said it wasn’t a croquet match, but a monster croquet match. And the name stuck.
Over the years we’ve evolved a set of odd rules. David constructed a set of wooden wickets with large, easily-read numbers. We got in the habit of multiple people bringing croquet sets so there are enough mallets and balls for however many want to play.
Each year the course is different, and we take pains to make parts of the course treacherous. The uneven terrain and such proves to be a great leveler, so one’s skill level is often less important than luck. Which adds to the fun.
Sometimes the course if very different. When Julie (also known as “Julie with an e”) and Mike (also known as “Julie’s Mike”) hosted it at their new home a few years ago we knew it would be a challenge. Julie & Mike’s yard consists of an ornamental pebble stream bed, several decks, a couple of curved wooden bridges, various ornamental plants, and no grass. So we got a Nerf Croquet set and made the course go over the bridges and around the decks.
When Keith and Juli (also known as “Juli sans e”) first bought their house some years earlier, the backyard was devoid of any vegetation and was all slope. We thought that was perfect for treacherousness! But after many, many hours of grueling play, when no one had made it even halfway through the course, and the sun was setting, we realized it was too treacherous. We were debating calling the game because of darkness, when my godson (who was, I think, six at the time) finally went through the pair of wickets at the turn-around point. When he hit the turn-around stick, we unanimously declared him the winner, grateful that we could finally stop. We have often referred to that year’s match as the Death March Croquet Game.The rules have always been somewhat ad hoc, based on an aggragate of the collective memory of childhood croquet games, with an evolving set of modifications. Some years ago someone requested a rules reference, so Auntie and I created a rules booklet.
On the front page it says that the rules aren’t binding and can be modified midgame by consensus. Please note that consensus doesn’t mean majority vote, it means everyone has to agree. Usually the rules changes that hapen midgame are for weird situations that never come up again. Though the Notorious Incident of Wicket 12 on the Glacial Till is where we made the rule that if you miss a single wicket 12 times, you can then move on to the next as if you made it. Which we’ve since kept.
This last weekend was hosted at Juli-sans-e and Keith’s (I think this is the third time there), and having learned our lesson, we stuck to the front lawn. The wickets did a lot of criss-crossing and were not in order. And we had a pair the were several numbers apart, but physically next to each other at not quite right angles. We were starting to worry that we might have to call the game because of darkness, but everyone had made it to the turnaround and was more than halfway through, so it was nowhere near as bad as the Death March.
Then Chuck got back to the starting stake, becoming poison, and the race was on. I had been in last place for most of the game (I forgot to count, because no one expects trouble at the first wicket. But it took me a very long time to get through the first one), so I was the least threatening target. While Chuck was busy killing off everyone else, I did manage to get through three or four wickets. But I still got knocked out at the end.
It was a great way to spent a Saturday.
This will be the first time in 26 years that I have not attended NorWesCon (the Northwest Science Fiction Convention). Technically, the first one1 I actually attended was not NorWesCon, but was called Alternacon (the notorious NorWesCon IX2 having had so many disasters3 that the hotel canceled the next year’s contract, forcing the con into a smaller hotel, and a limited membership.
I’ve been to every one since. a couple of them I only attended for a day or a part of a day6.
Seventeen years ago at a NorWesCon I met Michael7. We didn’t see each other again until the next NorWesCon. It was a couple months after that that we started hanging out, and nine months after that before we went on our first official date. The next NorWesCon after that was the first we shared a room, and we’ve been to all of them since.
So while I think of the anniversary of our first date as our official anniversary8, he always considered NorWesCon as our anniversary9.
All of which leads to why I’m feeling a bit odd and sentimental about skipping NorWesCon this year. There are a few reasons—most of them just personal timing things, though also we haven’t really enjoyed ourselves as much as we used to the last couple of years. Certainly we both had a lot more fun at EverfreeNW last year.
Maybe we just need to take a year off.
I was shocked to realized today that the convention is this next weekend. Just a few days away10.
This also means that this is the first time in many, many years that we will be home for Easter. I should probably make some plans for that.
Of course, it is the first time that this particular anniversary has not happened while we were at a convention. Maybe we should just celebrate by ourselves…
1. I had been wanting to attend the con for a few years before that, having several friends who regularly attended. It sometimes feels as if I vicariously attended a few earlier than my first.
2. When NorWesCon IX rolled around I was attending college nearby, but I couldn’t afford to chip in on a hotel room and so forth. The con happened during Spring Break, so I was back at my Mom’s (after spending a few days with friends caravanning down; it was a strange week). When we arrived at Mom’s place, she barely let us get unloaded before she and my step-dad were loading us in the car and dragged us to a nearby Community College. They wouldn’t say why, just that it was a surprise. The Guest of Honor at NorWesCon that year was Anne McAffrey, and she had flown into Portland to visit friends before going up to Seatac for the convention. And she was doing a reading and book signing that night. So I got to see the Guest of Honor that year, in addition to hearing about all the experiences of my friends who attended the con.
3. In addition to the stories from my friends attending, and people I’ve since met who attended or were staff for that convention, I also got to hear about the con from a classmate who, at the time he was telling me about it, didn’t realize I was one of those “freaks.” He was a fundamentalist, and his wife worked in the management office at the hotel. She was also a fundamentalist, as were many of the employees there, because the Assistant Manager was a member of a very large nearby church, and had heavily recruited among the congregation for his hiring. When the Assistant Manager saw some of the costumes and pagan imagery on t-shirts and such early in the con, he had become convinced that the attendees were all Satanists (not to mention all those godless atheist science types, et cetera), and had instructed the employees who he trusted to go out of their way to document any bad incident that happened, because he was determined that those sinful freaks would never come back to their hotel.
The organizers of the convention were unaware of this. They were too busy dealing with about a thousand more attendees than their wildest dreams had expected, and they were woefully understaffed to deal with them. The physical layout of the hotel (it’s really a complex of several buildings interconnected with enclosed walkways, rather than one building), made patrolling difficult for con security4.
A bunch of bad things happened, such as damage to the rooms, people sleeping in the hallways, drunk people making a lot of noise very late at night, et cetera.
4. There are always some people attending any type of convention5 who do stupid and/or very inappropriate things. Sometimes it’s just being thoughtless. Sometimes it’s because they’re drinking. Sometimes it’s just because they are in their late teens and this is the first time they’ve been that far from parental supervision.
5. I can tell you stories from a high school journalism conference that will make your toes curl. And equally disturbing ones from a Bible conference I once attended.
6. While I was going through my divorce, a friend who had been through a few more serious breakups than I had advised that sometimes it best to let your ex “have custody” of fandom for a while, so that mutual acquaintances don’t feel awkward, if nothing else. So for at least two years I only made those brief appearances, rather than attending for the entire convention.
7. We have different recollections of where we met. I remember meeting him at a room party on the Saturday afternoon. He remembers meeting me at a specific panel on Friday morning. I remember participating in the panel, I just didn’t recall him being one of the other people there.
8. I can never remember the date of our commitment ceremony. For one thing, it was extremely informal. If you insist, I can go dig around in the filing cabinet and find our paperwork.
9. Of course, now that we’re officially married, rather than domestic partnered, I suppose our official anniversary should be December 9. Or maybe we should just celebrate all three.
10. Which means that a whole bunch of our friends will all be gone this weekend.
We got hitched.
I’ve been calling it “the Elopement,” in part because we were doing this quickly for legal purposes, and planning a more traditional ceremony and reception in the late spring/early summer when more of the people who wanted to attend could. And so we could do it properly.
Which is why, when we were thinking of a cake for the elopement, and Michael said that the ones we were looking at looked too much like birthday cakes, I had said that wasn’t a problem. In fact, I opined that for the proper elopement vibe the cake ought to say something like, “Happy Bar Mitzvah, Kevin.”
Then Michael said it was the wrong time of year, because if that was the aesthetic I wanted, then the bouquet needed to be flowers stolen from someone’s garden. And maybe looking a little bedraggled. Which made me say something about how I hadn’t decided if I should be holding flowers, to which he replied, “Are you saying I can’t hold flowers?”
“We can both hold flowers!”
I knew, because of some of the friends involved, that there would be more than a slight festive look to the house when we arrived. and there had been hints that the super simple ceremony we had told C.D. we would be happy with might not cut it with one of our witnesses. There had also been whispered conversations I almost overheard, where some friends immediately denied they had been talking about anything, so I knew people were planning some additions. I just didn’t correctly anticipate how many.
When we arrived at the home of the friends hosting, and walked in the door with the hat boxes and such, a cello and violin began playing “Here Comes the Bride.” My godson was playing the violin, and our friend Jeri Lynn was on the cello. I should have realized there would be a surprise string section. It is entirely in character for our friends. But it did surprise me, and I started crying.
Then, of course, I saw the flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. Red roses. Big lilies. White mums. White poinsettias. And more. A big altar of flowers.
Two rows of chairs were set up facing the flowers. Four very pretty wedding-cake-shaped candies were under a beautiful glass dome. Gorgeous cut crystal champaign flutes were lined up. I could go on. But even typing this is making me get misty-eyed.
I cried a lot.
So after hugging, expressing astonishment, setting up the cakes, and getting our bouquets in water, we went off to get dressed. More friends arrived. More decorations appeared. The musicians kept playing incidental music until we were all ready to begin.
I cried more. I couldn’t actually look at Michael while I was repeating my vows, because when I did, I would cry harder and wasn’t able to talk.
I must say, a small wedding like this is especially fun because instead of a receiving line, we just turned into a hugging mob. Which was perfect.
We fed each other the wedding cake candies. We cut the cakes. There was a toast (with amendments). There was a lot more hugging.
And then we changed, rearranged the room, and sat down to play a game.
Thank you to Ieva, Kristin, Jeri Lynne, David, C.D., Valentine, Sky, Judy, Matt, Jeff, and Darrell, for being there for the happiest day of the year–and quite possibly my whole life.
Most of all, thank you, Michael, for becoming my husband.
I love you all!Indulged in the felicity,
Of unbounded domesticity.
A first-rate opportunity,
To get married with impunity!
(Apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan for re-arranging their lyrics!)
Our good friend, C.D. Woodbury, who happens to be the man officiating our elopement today, had a gig with his band last night, which we’d already been planning to attend with friends. When I realized earlier in the week that it would be the night before the elopement, I started referring to the planned excursion as our bachelor party.
The band has recently been recording an album of all original songs, and this was their first gig after laying all the principal tracks. So they premiered several of their original songs. It was a fun evening with friends, great music, great food, and great beer at Grinders Hot Sands in north Seattle.
I’d heard from several people that the bread pudding at Grinders was a religious experience. Bread pudding is not on my diet, so I didn’t order it the last time we’d been there (to hear the same band play some months back). Of course, the meatball sandwich isn’t really on my diet, either, but…
Michael ordered the bread pudding, and told me to have at least a bite. I ended up eating most of it because the whisky sauce was stronger than he had expected. He’s never been fond of the taste of alcohol. For the record: the bread pudding is like a religious experience. It is awesome.
Listening to a blues band (a great blues band, and I’m not just saying that because they’re friends) with a bunch of friends is more my kind of bachelor party than any of the stereotypical activities.
Every convention I have ever attended has included conversations with people who do not seem to be on the same time-space continuum as I am. This has been just as true at the journalism conferences I attended back in the day, or the evangelical mission conference I once attended, or any tech conferences, not just the sci fi, comics, gaming, or anthropomorphics conventions.
I realize that it is mostly a matter of statistics: a certain percentage of the population could be categorized as odd or downright crazy, so any situation that puts you in contact with a bunch of people in a constrained time will include some of them. There’s also likely a correlation between certain personality types and enthusiasm. In other words, the sort of person most likely to choose or agree to attend a convention dedicated to any topic may be more likely to be a few standards deviations out from the norm in some way or other.
Often after conventions I summarize some of the conversations I had with random people while sitting behind my table in the dealer’s den. I do this for entertainment value, and so have usually picked the silliest, weirdest, or just most dumb-founding. Which creates the impression that that’s all the happens.
Also, for some reason, there were a lot fewer of the really odd ones this time.
So, I think this time I want to focus on the more positive fun encounters:
Fan #38: Points to my t-shirt. “Hey, is that a pony? Which one?”
I lift my badge up out of the way. “It’s Derpy!”
Fan #38: “Derpy! I need a Derpy shirt! Wait, why does she have a muffin?”
Me: “Why shouldn’t she have a muffin?”
Fan #38: “No, no, no! Derpy should have a chocolate chip cookie!”
Me: “Derpy can handle either.”
Fan #38: “True. More Derpy!”
Fan #9: Stops and grabs friend’s arm. “Oh! This is one of the books I was telling you about!”
Fan #10: “What? Another comic?”
Fan #9: “No, it’s stories! Science fiction and stuff.” Makes eye contact with me. “I really like your stuff. Oh! Look, that’s a new issue!”
Me: “Just published last week, actually.” I look at the other guy, who has picked up one of our zines. “Do you want me to explain how the project works?”
fan #10: “Sure…”
I gave him the usual spiel about being a collaborative project, and that we’re a non-profit with a mission of fostering creative skills, and a bit about the universe.
Fan #9, meanwhile, has pulled copies of the most recent two issues from the racks. “I’ll take these.”
Fan #10 puts the issue he’d been looking at back down, and asks his friend, “I can read these, right?”
Fan #9: “Yeah, but if you like ’em, you should pick up the whole set.”
I rang up the sale, handled the change, then pulled out one of the blind bag boxes.
Fan #10: “You’re giving away ponies?”
Me: “One blind bag with each purchase, subscription, or renewal.”
Fan #10: “So I can come back tomorrow when I have money. Cool!”
(I don’t know if he came back, since I wasn’t always watching the table)
Fan #87: “There you are! I was afraid you weren’t around any more when I didn’t see you last year.”
Me: “We were here last year.”
Fan #87 is picking up the last several issues from the racks. “Really? I looked and looked.”
I pointed out where we had been, and mentioned the posters.
Fan #87: “I don’t know how I missed you. Tell me about this Omnibus…”
Fan #43: “Yeah, I picked up some of your books last year, but only really liked a couple of the stories.”
Me: “I’m sorry.”
Fan #43: “It happens. I really, really like those two stories, but some of the others just weren’t my thing.”
Me: “Do you remember which ones you liked?”
Fan #43 describes two tales. I ask some questions, he answers. We determine the stories were “New Queensland Station,” originally published in issue #2, reprinted in the Omnibus, and “A Shadow’s Kiss” from Eclipse. We talk some more about what he liked about them. Eventually I suggest he might possibly enjoy “Beside Himself” from Skulduggery, and point out a sequel, “The Shadow of Azrael” was printed in a more recent issue. He decides to pick them up.
The next day, Fan #43 stops by the table. “I haven’t had time to read them all, yet, but I really loved the story in the Special Edition. Thanks for recommending it!”
Had a busy weekend, which included going with some friends to hear another friend perform.
I mentioned just the other night how many wonderful, talented people I’m privileged to know. Having a friend who’s won the Washington Blues Society’s Best of the Blues Electric Guitar Award twice in a row is just one of those examples. Hearing C.D., Chris, Don, and the two Mikes play a selection of blues and blues-adjacent music for a couple of hours would brighten anyone’s week. And I’m looking forward to the new album they’re looking to release around the end of the year.
I didn’t get a lot of writing done over the weekend, but I worked a lot on writing-adjacent things. My biggest accomplishment was dropping off a new issue of the Tai-Pan at the printer Friday. My second biggest was working on the issue after that (a good chunk is now in copy edit), organizing a bunch of in-progress stories, and otherwise participating in a work party with a few other editorial board members on Saturday. Just a few hours before we ran out to be band groupies together.
And then there was the journey to the year 1876 where we moved a little closer to the nuptials of “Atlas” O’Flaherty and Miss Prudence Earwig.
The weekend wasn’t all great news. After helping a couple friends earlier in the week diagnose significant computer problems, my husband found his main computer dead when he got home Friday night. Turned out to “only” being the failure of his primary boot drive, but it still took him most of the weekend to get his system restored, pulled data out of backups and off the failed drive, and so on.
So he didn’t come with us to the work party, nor dinner and music after.
And then late at night, we got rain, ending our dry streak that was only a few days from an all time record. We didn’t get a lot of rain. And the long range forecast has no rain coming up, but this bit was quite welcome. I love the way the world smells after a rain. The sunlight looks cleaner, somehow. And I love the rain.
We took a small road trip up to Bellingham to visit Sky and J’wyl and Zork. It was the furthest in a single go we had driven the new car. And it was the new car, so I has having fun.
Unfortunately the day out of the three-day weekend that made most sense with our schedule was one of the days that Zork had to work, so we visited him briefly at work (I have now been inside and actually shopped a wee bit at the Granola Mine), and then met him for dinner late in the evening.
We didn’t have an agenda other than visiting. We talked about lots of things, from The Skyman’s super sekrit project, to favorite shows on DVD, to gaming, to just random chatty things.
We had lunch at one of their fave restaurants, Bayou on Bay. The food was awesome, and they don’t skimp on the gin in their gimlet, let me tell you! I had a second cocktail as Sky had volunteered to drive back. Now he’s experienced some of the fun of the zippy new Outback.
Particularly after the conversation about the sekrit, I had been determined to get some writing done Monday.. Progress was made, though I did more napping than writing that day. Which isn’t exactly a bad way to spend a holiday.
Some of what I wrote will be posted somewhere soonish. Stay tuned!