Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Greatest Weekend Ever

All I can say is…wow! Ok, I will try to say a little more than that. Although, it seems wow was the word I used most over the weekend. Luckily, for all concerned, people that had a lot of more interesting things to say, allowed me to listen to them.

Let’s begin with the panels. Both informative and entertaining, these sessions allowed us to get inside the minds of industry professionals. They shared insights, dispelled myths, reinforced facts, and passed on information that I had never heard before. The panel, Escape from the Slush Pile, alone was worth the price of admission. I particularly enjoyed hearing that the slush pile is a magnet for the mentally ill.

I made a lot of new friends. Some of which I hope to stay in contact with, others I know I will. I met several people that I recognized as commentors from a few of the blogs that I frequent. I also received the names of several new sites to aide in my relentless pursuit of blogs to read. It is great to finally be able to put a face with the name, or in most cases their handles (I suppose there is no actually distinction in cyberspace).

The aspect of the convention that amazed me most was the accessibility of the authors. It wasn’t just that they were roaming around, accepting handshakes, returning nods, and signing autographs, I mean to say that they were truly approachable.

On the topic of autographs, I picked up my first copy of Agyar, which Steve Brust signed for me. I can’t wait to read it.

My first night, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the fabulous Nielsen Haydens and incomparable Mr. Brust. You have not lived until you have discussed politics, scammers, and the civil war with these people.

I have been following Electrolite and Making Light for several months. It was great to finally be able to put a face and more importantly a voice with the words.

I witnessed history in the making. Teresa Nielsen Hayden made her singing debut on Saturday night. She was really quite good, but there was some discussion afterwards to the fact that she had been tricked into doing it. Tricked or no, you could tell she was having fun.

Mr. Brust is, hands down, one of the most entertaining people I have ever met. On Saturday, he was kidnapped by a group of traveling belly dancers. Oddly enough, I don’t think he minded. When he returned, I bet we spent every bit of an hour swapping one-liners and all out groaners. The man knows more light bulb jokes than any one person should.

Saturday afternoon, Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye were having a conversation just slightly out of my earshot. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity like this, I kept trying to think of something witty to say that might get me invited to join their conversation. I’m thinking, I’m thinking and much to my dismay, I realize I got nothing. Finally, I just break out with “Excuse me, I am not much of a conversationalist, but I love to listen. Do you mind if I join you?” They didn’t mind and as a result, I spent a lovely hour getting to hear some absolutely hilarious tales. I feel I should point out here that I had actually planned to share one of their tales, but have since erased it. Why you ask? Because not knowing them on a personal level is part of the great mystery, the allure. If you want to hear about personal trials and tribulations, it should be in first person or at the very least have the writer requested to do so. Might I suggest that you visit a con?

I will say that I had a wonderful discussion with Mr. Asprin late Saturday night. I told him that this was my first con and he told me about his first one. He said that he found himself surrounded by all of these great writers. One of his favorites took a liking to him and led him around the con introducing him to several influential publishing people. He said that he looked back on that moment and wondered how he could ever repay a debt like that. He obviously couldn’t take this author around to all of the contacts he has now (Well, of course he could, but chances are said author has already been there). So finally he decided that the only way he could truly pay him back was to do the same for others. How cool is that?

I also had the privilege of spending some time with Bob Gunner the founder of Cyber-Pulp e-publishing. Mr. Gunner was very charismatic and enthusiastic about writers, writing, and the future of e-publishing. He is now branching out to the physical world, working with book distributors to see his books placed on the shelves of bookstores everywhere.

Just when I thought the con couldn’t get any better, I had an amazingly cool experience. I attended Literary Agents Demystified: What Every Writer Needs to Know. It was hosted by the Nielsen Haydens. When they began the portion about scam agents, Mrs. Nielsen Hayden invited me to sit on the panel. I have had some experience in this area and I suppose that she felt it would be fruitful to have me talk to other aspiring writers about what I have learned in that department. I gotta tell you, it was cool to sit up there, telling my story and having a room (mostly) full of faces looking back at me intently. They may not have been hanging on my every word, but they were paying attention. I hope that means it will help someone out there think twice before signing on with a con artist. If I were able to prevent one writer from being fleeced, then that knowledge would make every other experience at the entire weekend pale in comparison.

In short, this was one of the greatest weekends I have had in a long time. I can’t wait ‘til next year.


At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I ever mention how much fun we had? That was a great weekend. Thanks for being part of it.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Thanks, Teresa. I had a blast myself. That was due,in no small part, to the time I spent with you guys. I look forward to doing it again sometime.

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