kittylady: (Default)
So, once again after no effective sleep, I did wake up at just past seven in the bloody morning. I tried, so very hard did I try, to lay back down and get more sleep, but it never showed up for longer than ten minutes at a time.

But I showered, nibbled at the breakfast, and found out that of all things I put in my name for I did manage to get one, which I ended up feeling really bad about because I had to leave halfway through, and if I'd spent more than two seconds of thought on it I would have sacrificed my seat to one of the follow-ups.

By this point I was getting dizzy when standing still and in generally poor health, so for the Thieves' Guild meeting I just stood at the door and tried not to fall over while shooing away those we hadn't had room for. The poor bastard who'd volunteered me got to do all the falling down and being mugged, and he was nearly as wiped out as I was. But he did get his certificate as head of the North American chapter, which he plans to frame and hang on his cubicle at work, which is in the fraud prevention division of a bank.

I barely managed to make it to the Editing Discworld panel, and I really wish my hands hadn't been shaking so much because I would have liked better pictures. Anne Hoppe was smiling as she talked about her favorite books she's worked on, and there was mention that the man prefers to work with children's book editors because they are significantly less intimidated by a big name and far more determined to do their job right. There was talk of other things as well, but most of my attention was on leaning against the wall without falling and trying very hard not to be irritated by the sounds of cell phones. Is it that freaking hard to turn the sound off when you know you're going to be in a room of people straining to hear every word?

Later came a special treat; a Skype chat with Sir Terry himself, answering questions from the audience. It was just fantastic, even if I did get many things in my eye. Rob was in the background making some of the best jokes, and the only thing that could have been better is if there had been more of it.

After that I helped some friends get ready for the Gala Banquet, and I got to play with someone else's hair, which is something I have not done in forever. A wonderful storm was blowing in around then, and it was the only thing in Baltimore that I considered truly impressive. Unfortunately, it did not last much past the Gala itself, but it was enough to cool things down to the point where it was comfortable.

I probably would have enjoyed the whole event more if I'd actually been rested. The food was fantastic, just fantastic, but once again I found the entertainment to be... well, just not my thing. There was a Cirque-du-Soleil style act with a length of cloth dropped from a high support and a bendy girl, but considering my profession I've seen a lot of bendy girls. This one wasn't bad, but, well, it just felt like being at work. I clapped along to be polite, but more and more I was feeling like a cranky toddler who needed a nap. Then came some truly awful puns, and then a man with a box of props came out. I didn't last long, I'm afraid, but I didn't want my crankiness to spread to people who were otherwise enjoying themselves. Although according to my friends, I should have stuck around for a bit, as the man's skit ended with a rail spike up his nose, but overall I feel I did the right thing.

Then I did what I really probably shouldn't have done, but it was my last night there and I still had booze to dispose of. I did more mingling and chatting and made sure there was no booze left to dispose of and got into another argument with my ranty friend and was up until past five because there is absolutely no way that anyone will ever convince me that the Catholic church can be a force for good in the world. Yeah. That was dumb of me. Especially since I managed to sleep until about ten till seven and was extremely irritable in the morning. That was the point where I decided to call it and we packed up the room and got our last minute hugs and checked out.

I do wish I'd been able to rest better, as I wanted to see the musical act and the closing ceremony. But I was just absolutely useless at that point. I spent most of the ride home dozing in the seat only to flop onto my bed and pass out for twelve straight hours the moment I got home, shortly after which I took a five hour nap, followed by another ten hours of sleep. My animals missed me, and I'm wondering if my lack of sleep was due to their absence.

But it was fun. Totally worth what I put me through. And I can't wait for the next one.
kittylady: (Default)
Day two started at seven in the morning. I was never able to sleep past seven the whole time we were there.

The system for many of the events involved putting a small ticket with your name printed on it into a box for a random lottery drawing. I did not get my name drawn for a single event, which in a way was useful as it gave me more time for recovery, which I later wasted by getting far more drunk than I should have, especially considering it was another hundred degree day. But I did my morning volunteer hour, then promptly went and unvolunteered myself with no hard feelings and a standing invite to the afterparty.

The Theives' Guild event was fun, as this time I got to do the mugging and not fall down, but I spent most of my time by the door shooing people away after we got to full seats and a wall of people on one side of the room. People were still trying to get in even when it was ten minutes to the end.

Then there was time spent outside but at least in the shade at the pub where Bernard went to speak. He is really an amazing storyteller. Many entertaining stories of his time as a constable in an extremely small town, and also of his days crafting wonderful things with Sir Terry. Even a few absolutely tearjerking stories about time spent with Sir Terry's mother. I was also able to get a rather tasty plate of chicken tenders, which was much nicer on the tummy than the rest of the menu would have been.

The rest of the day was mostly focused on taking pictures of people getting ready for the Maskerade, followed by time in a wonderfully air-conditioned alcove in the hotel bar. It was so hot that I even tried to step into the pool, but pretty much all the kids and their parents had all had the same idea, so that didn't last long, and the air conditioning was blissful. The alcove was also nicely secluded, which meant it was easier to hear friends talking when they came down to join.

I made the mistake of taking a serious visit to the dealer's room, and after getting a few con trinkets, some presents for other people and a visit to the signed books table, my spending money was pretty much wiped out. I had a bit left, but only a bit, and I was very glad I had budgeted seperately for food and booze money. Of course, I had the better half of two bottles in my room to kill off, and the last thing I wanted to do was try to drive home with an open container in the car.

I didn't see much of the Maskerade, but I did see some wonderful pictures taken by other people, and then there was mingling and drinking and lots of hugs and more stories and then it was past three in the morning yet again.
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
So the first day dawned after far too little sleep. This would prove to be a recurring trend.

I made the mistake of volunteering. This is not a mistake I will be repeating. Not to say that volunteering isn't good for what it is, but I missed nearly everything that I wanted to see that day because I was doing hour-long blocks in other parts of the hotel and couldn't teleport to the door fast enough.

I did get to the Thieves' Guild events, and that was epic. For the first day my other two friends who'd signed up for the show as well hadn't quite made it, so I got to stand in front of the group and get play-mugged and went over the finer points of receipt leaving. It was grand fun, but my nerves were so tightly strung that when I tried to meet the group in the bar later my hands shook so badly I slopped half of my overpriced shot on the bar when I picked it up.

Then there was more running around and volunteering, and finally friends did arrive, and then there was smoking and catching up and running around and volunteering, all in nearly a hundred degree weather. The opening ceremony was wonderful, if shorter than everybody would have liked, and then I got changed for the Bedtime Stories event, in which a Skype meeting with Rob Wilkins had been arranged so that the guests could hear the first thirty pages of the new book, Raising Steam. I had volunteered to be security for the reading, which consisted of walking around quietly and making sure nobody was recording anything. I am pleased to report that everyone was well behaved and the new book is going to be fucking awesome.

The only truly annoying thing about the event was that I got more compliments on my Batman pyjamas than I have on any other costume I've ever worn. An adorable little cherub of a girl in a Tiffany costume came up and handed me a costume ticket and asked which character I was supposed to be. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Then there was the Guild party, and lots of ribbons were had by all. My personal favorites were the Guild of Ecdysiasts, Nautchers, Cancanieries and Exponents of Exotic Dance, guild motto "Veni, Vedi, Eget Linteo"* and the Guild of Librarians, guild motto "Ego Similis Magna Librorvm Et Mentiri Non Protest".**

Afterwards I could finally relax, so I went to the bar and ordered some delicious sliders. This was around midnight. Then there was the mingling outside on the finally cooled brick of the smoking area, and me and one of my friends got into the kind of argument that had the husband going, "Here she goes again," and trying to hint to me to tone it down while I was blatantly ignoring him and doing my best to prove to said friend that I was right and he was wrong. It was great fun, even if we did scare the others to the point where one of them started shouting, "Ewoks! Jar-Jar Binks! Ewoks!" in a desperate attempt to change the conversation. To give total credit to the quick thinker, it worked, and then everyone could talk again instead of listening to the two of us rant at each other.

At about one thirty we tried to call it a night and went back to the room, but I'd pushed myself way too hard. Those burgers came right back up, after which I felt worlds better. So I brushed my teeth and we went and visited the staff party and then went back outside, and I'm reasonably sure it was past four when we did manage to head in for the night.

*"I came, I saw, I need a towel." Although I do think the first two should have been juxtaposed.

**"I like big books and I cannot lie."
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
We left early on the fourth, and I'm glad we did because otherwise traffic would have been a joke. As it was, the drive itself was just too damn long.

But get there we did, and we went to check in and discovered that we were going to really dislike the hotel. Some smarmy little git behind the desk tried to tell us that our registry was wrong, despite months ago booking the room for two people and having the booking reminder confirm that we had registered two people. Said smarmy little git tried to charge us an extra three hundred dollars over what we had been told previously, and it was about to go rather poorly until Chip got the hotel manager out, at which point we were only charged a little over a hundred what we had originally been told. Our experience with the hotel did not improve from there.

But, despite being put on the twenty-first floor in a room with a leaky tub and the worst air conditioning, the water was hot and there was two-ply toilet paper. A shower helped get rid of the worst of the irritation, as well as a couple of shots from the bottle of Jack Daniels that I had so fore-sightedly brought with me, as hotel prices were about eight to ten bucks a drink, depending on if you went to the hotel bar or the bars that had been set up for events. I also discovered that I look good in a bowler hat.

Many other people had booked a day early as well, and there were costumes in plenty as people got ready for the fireworks celebration, a paid event that was announced long after hotel reservations had been made. Chip stayed in his room while I went and mingled and got to hear Bernard Pearson and Esther Friesner talk about democracy and monarchy and why the English should take the Kardashians. I ran into old friends and got to catch up, happy to hear that many of them are doing well, and much booze and laughter was had by all.

Then we went onto the reserved balcony for the fireworks only to discover that the view was terrible. So those same friends and myself went to one of their rooms, from which we could see three different shows including one over the Constellation, and had a really interesting chat with a security specialist about Snowden and why it is perfectly all right to have mixed feelings about the whole clusterfuck.

After that came what is generally my favorite part of convention going - hanging outside and mingling in the cool air with no kids about and the rude, drunken stories flowing like booze out of hip flasks. Bernard is a habitual pipe smoker, and he has the most wonderful stories, all about his own very interesting life and also about the long and varied time he's worked with Sir Terry. Nearly as good as having the man himself there, and in some ways better because I don't have the huge hero worship thing with Bernard and that makes it easier to just talk.

Unsurprisingly, it was past three when it was decided to call it a night. But it had been a wonderful night.
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
So Sunday started bright and early with another hangover, a visit to the concession suite for some water and a bit of fruit for breakfast, and the Rob Wilkin's Kaffee Klatch, wherein I got to hear more out of Snuff! and it was awesome.

After that came two missed events in a row, the Publishers, Agents & Editors panel followed by the Nanny Sutra panel, both of which were standing-room only by the time I showed up, and I was not fit enough to deal with that. But I did manage to get into the Fireside Chat with Bernard, and that was very fun. In addition to hearing about him growing cannabis in the police yard, I got to hear the story of how Bernard met his wife and volunteered an entire pub into creating a pottery class for her to attend, and it may have been one of the sweetest things I've ever listened to. Totally worth missing getting into the Pratchett and the Pagans panel that I wanted to attend next.

Some bigger rooms would have been nice.

Then came the Good Omens panel, and here I must issue an apology to some people. I didn't know. I really didn't know. All I knew was that seat-saving had been going on the whole con, my friends had gotten an early spot, and I cut in front of many people to join them since the doors weren't open. I'm so sorry. Here I just thought that there were more rude people than I'd expected, when I'd totally earned their rudeness and more. How was I to know that Neil fucking Gaiman was going to walk through the door with Sir Terry? Nobody had told me. I had no psychic ability to read the crowd and find out. I'm so sorry. And it was still worth it.

It was amazing. They chatted, well, like two friends who hadn't seen each other in forever, and after a while it seemed that they even forgot they had an audience. They joked, they laughed, they sang, and they swore like they were in a bar. I loved every minute of it, and my hands shook so much I couldn't get a single decent picture. They mostly talked about the infinite amount of problems they had releasing their book, the aggravation of trying to bend to impossible standards when adapting a screenplay, the difference that twenty years of amazing success in their field can accomplish when combined with two decades of graphics improvement, and how completely fantastic the four-part miniseries is going to be.


I confess to being a bit starstruck, and spent the next twenty minutes in a daze of happy adrenaline and hangover toxins. Then I nerded with some more really cool folk, saw some more costumes, and mused that hopefully the next con wouldn't be held during a record heatwave because most of the detailed costumes seemed to be really heavy.

After that, I enjoyed some quiet in my air-conditioned room, rinsed the sweat off, and got ready for the Gala Banquet, one of the pearls of the last con. I'm afraid it was not so enjoyable this time around. The food was decent, even if the potatoes had been frozen, and the cheese samples were delicious. The floral clock was an unexpected nice touch, and the loot at the table was just as nice as at the Tempe convention. Sir Terry came in wearing a foam cheese hat and necktie, much to the amusement of all, and there was a charming knighting ceremony for several people that I barely recognized, and there was a bar. And the catering staff were almost invisible, they were that efficient. That's pretty much it on the good things.

The entertainment was... well, it was certainly memorable, although I walked out after a few skits. Many others were sensible enough to make it out before me. Some local improv group called Chad Vader. I'm not the biggest fan of improv at the best of times, but seeing them completely fuck up what should have been several easy skits... Well, if you're going to be the entertainment at a themed convention during one of the pricier events, you should probably brush up on the theme. I should have stayed, though. I have the feeling that if more had stuck around we might have gotten to see a rare event of bad clowns commiting suicide by mob. Cracking a bad line about writers commiting suicide at that con... yeah, I really have nothing more to add to that.

And then came moar drinking! So much more. You'd think I would have learned by that point, but no. I had learned nothing. And I was also drinking to hide the sad at the fact that I would be leaving early the next morning, missing all of the events of the closing day.

Here is where the cowardice comes in; I could have stayed an extra day, but we'd spent most of our available cash, it was a ten hour drive home, the husband had to go back to work sooner than both of us liked, and I did not want to sit through the closing ceremony, because that would bring home the realization that everything was over and I would spend the drive home sad and grumpy and snappish. By leaving early, I spent the drive being sleep-deprived and grumpy and snappish, with alternating times of extreme bounciness as I sorted through my box of loot. And I got home to my kitties and my own bed and my own bathroom that much faster, the last of which I had missed far more than I expected.

And I really hope the 2013 con is a closer drive. New York would be awesome. Pennsylvania would be even better.
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
Saturday began far too early; I don't think I got more than five hours of sleep at a time the whole convention. But the very patient people at the hospitality suite provided a good bottle of water and a chance to eat some food that had actually been cooked and not processed.

The first convention activity on my agenda was the much anticipated Wizards of Warwick (which I found out is pronounced "warrick") chat via Skype. Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen are both brilliant, and if I'd gotten more sleep or been slightly less wasted from the nights before, I might have been able to at least keep up, instead of feeling brain drift every five minutes. It was still worth missing the second Wyrd Sisters performance, and I'm not just saying that because some douchey parents let their kids stand on the seat in front of me for the whole play the night before. There were some great questions, like "what happens to the Disc if A'tuin dies" and several others to which the answer was "I don't know". It didn't fill up right away, which meant I got a great seat, but when it let out I was surprised to see that about a third of the room had filled up.

And then I went and did some sight-seeing, and the Art room was excellent for that. There were some fantastic pieces, ranging from sculpey masterpieces to a quilted Librarian and all manner of things in between, and I was the dumbshit that did not get enough pictures of it all. But other people did. Yay for other people with better cameras!

The Long Earth panel came next, and that was very cool. New books! New books! And Stephen Baxter was very easy to listen to, and although my view wasn't the best, I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice. A lot of love went into the making of the new books, and I am really looking forward to them. Unfortunately, I think that's another thing that I'm not allowed to tell you more of. But it was really cool.

And then the last few days caught up with me. I did some quiet wandering in the Dealer's room, where the husband's eye caught some sterling silver hedgehog earrings; the lady running the booth was kind enough to sell me three of the larger hedgehog beads, and then all of my disappointment over missing the beading class disappeared entirely, with a bonus for the friend who had missed the class with me. Then I went and visited the Art Fair thing in the outside world that was happening with some more cool people, and made the mistake of getting a burger from one of the carny stalls. That mistake lasted for some time, and I missed the Talking with Terry panel, for which I am still pissed off at myself. One of these days I'll learn. But overall, I'm sure the other people are glad I stayed away.

After that, well, there was really nothing that was scheduled that made up for a cool shower and a light salad. The Maskerade was really hot and crowded, and I at least made the effort to be there for the photo call. Thankfully I missed most of the Morris dancing. The most awesome costume I saw was of a working clacks tower, and I think it was the same guy in the very detailed Ronnie Soak costume. There was also an excellent Nanny Ogg, a really cool Death of Rats, a Sybil complete with flame-retardant clothing and a beautiful Errol, and so many others that I could not get pictures of because my hands were shaking. Never again will I touch a carny burger. Or any carny food.

Then I went and joined in what was probably a collective mistake on the part of many people as we went to the Seamstress Guild party, and I'm damn glad I did, because Sir Terry kindly graced us with his presence again, and the look on his face when someone tried to present him with a balloon sculpture shaped like a giant penis was just a thing of beauty. My camera was not on, and I did not get a picture, but I assure you that it was golden.

And then I went and made the bigger mistake of listening to the staff again, and after me and several others had spent much longer than we thought trying to out-nerd each other, we realized it was three in the morning again. And then another hour passed untill we all finally parted and went in search of rest, if not sleep.
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
Every night of the convention, including thursday, featured an open bar courtesy of the Seamstresses Guild. Thursday, I met up with awesome old friends and got very wasted, and don't remember nearly as much as I would like. But what I do remember was fucking awesome, and I have an excellent picture of said awesome that a lucky few will get to see.

Friday, despite the mild hangover, was wonderful. Thanks to the hangover and being from a timezone an hour ahead, I woke up in time to get my name on the Thieves Guild sign-up sheet. I was fortunate enough to have a ticket for the first signing session, and Sir Terry was kind enough to give my passport book* a fingerprint. I was only a little bouncy about that. Just a little.

Then came mingling as everybody waited for the Opening Ceremony. Maybe not so much mingling as nerding. The nerding was cool, but the ceremony was better. Two guys and a stuffed turtle did a fantastic musical skit that should have earned them a standing ovation, the benediction started a running joke, and the costumes made me wish for a better camera and a steadier hand.

Then came what is still my favorite part of both conventions: the Thieves Guild meeting. Unfortunately, I got there a bit late and didn't get a seat, but that was perfectly all right as I still got my packet. It was crowded, but I'm not surprised, because it was completely worth standing in the back for the whole show. I also received an awesome extra stamp in my book.

After that was the Reading with Rob. And here I'm going to do my little happy dance, because I got to hear a whole bunch out of the upcoming book Snuff, featuring the always-cynical character of Vimes. And I don't think I'm allowed to tell you more than that.

The next big scheduled event was the movie premiere of "Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die", and I really didn't want to harsh my happy, so I ordered a burger that was nearly as big as my head from the restaurant and sat quietly in my room for a bit and watched Spongebob. In hindsight, if I had done more of that I probably would be recovering faster.

Later me and a friend tried to get into the hedgehog beading class, but it turned out that it was sign-in only, and we hadn't found the sheet in time, or even known of its existence. It made us somewhat sad, so we went to the bar and got drinks, and that brought the happy right back.

Then came my second favorite part of the convention, and that is by no means saying that it was anything but wonderful: the Wyrd Sisters play, performed by The Cromulent Shakespeare Company. They were just amazing. The surprisingly young woman who played Granny totally stole the show, and was a treat just to watch. The sheer amount of creativity that went into the production was staggering, and you could feel the love of the original coming through every scene. Sir Terry was there, and from what I could tell, he was loving every second of it.

At the Seamstress Guild party that night, the talented folks from the play were hanging out with us non-thespian folk, and were kind enough to let me pester them until all but one signed my passport book, because he wasn't there. As it turned out, the actress playing Granny was also celebrating her birthday, and she was extra kind enough to share a sip of her flask with me. She opened it and it smelled like sugar, then I tried a sip and it tasted like frosting. I have since determined that cake vodka would likely be something wonderful to make very dangerously boozy treats with, and I will put that plan into motion when I get my bills caught up.

It was at that point that I learned something dangerous: the staff were some of the coolest people at the con, and had some damn entertaining stories. Next thing I knew, it was three in the morning and I was already wiped out from the night before, and I needed to wake up early for a panel that I'd been looking forward to.

All in all, friday was the busiest day for me at the convention. I never did quite get that level of energy again, even though I really tried. Growing old sucks ass.

*The passport was this really spiffy thing designed by Bernard Pearson, a totally awesome person that if you should meet him then you should buy him drinks and just listen to him talk. You had a blank passport book at the beginning, and you got different stamps in it for visiting different parts of the con. Considering that there were several rooms I didn't get to at the last one, this was a spiffy way to encourage me to see all the sights.
kittylady: (teach the controversy)
Today I shall talk of non con stuff, as I am still exhausted.

First off, Madison is absolutely beautiful. Just gorgeous. There were bike lanes that were in constant use, horse carriages that wandered around, museums everywhere and tons of little shops that had just about everything. The people were fantastic; just from the locals I met some amazingly creative people. Granted, they were locals that were also cool enough to go to a Discworld convention, but they still made their city look good. Even the hobos were far more tolerable.

The cheese is just as wonderful as everyone says it is. I can give no higher endorsement.

The hotel had an amazing restaurant, and I solemnly regret not trying the salad bar. I also regret not sliding down the beautiful grand staircase bannister. The staff were amazingly polite, the bartenders were fantastic, and the security were kind enough to inform the husband that the hotel had been built on the site of an old church and was rumored to be haunted. Unfortunately, we did not see any ghosts, but they probably would have blended right in.

The only complaint I have involves the drive: fuck Chicago. In fact, fuck Illinois and their entire construction-poxed toll system. If I never drive through that state again it will be too soon.

There will be pics in several days; there's lots to sort through as several people were kind enough to share photo albums with me, and I promise to share in turn with you. But here's a spoiler to let you know why you should all be insanely jealous:
kittylady: (Default)
Oh, sunday. That was a busy day. It started by rushing to get there early (again) to make sure that after all of my begging and pleading to my new friends that my name would be on the sign-up sheets for the Writer's Seminar and the Thieves' Guild Masterclass. I saw it to be a true thing, and stopped worrying.

Here is where I take a moment to note to everybody just how amazing the Igors at the Consuite were: there was icy water at all hours, nibbles that wouldn't poison you, caffeine in differing flavors, and cool people, all the time. If it wasn't for the fact that I was busy doing the con stuff, I would've spent most of my time there, just watching everybody being all nerdy together.

Which would probably explain why I missed out on the Publishing PTerry panel, but it was a small price to pay. Was able to get some chatting and cheap jokes in with my adopted couple, then I got to go and wait in yet another line before the workshop opened. I chatted with more cool and nerdy people, and there was some bemused chatter about how a convention full of literate folk with pretensions to storytelling would have limited seating for such a popular event.

Fortunately, the limited seating turned out not to matter. A few people snuck in the back, nobody checked for credentials, and some folks even handed around some notes for the latecomers. Listening to Diane Duane was completely fun, and the only annoying part was Peter Morwood interrupting her all the time, but he barely managed to make up for it by being genuinely entertaining.

There was an hour break, and then the only bad part to my day happened: my shoe broke. My brand new four-inch spike heels for the Adora Belle costume. And the Costumer's Dungeon had no superglue. Thank goodness I was foresighted enough to bring a spare dress with flat shoes. Amusing side note: when I was able to present the broken shoe for inspection, one of the ladies had a look of absolute horror on her face as she exclaimed, "Oh, honey, you should never wear those, they'll ruin your knees!" I wanted to pinch her cheek and tell her she was so cute in the worst possible way. At least I refrained from pointing out that I have a pair of seven-inch platforms that are standard.

But anyway, the second half of the seminar was just as entertaining as the first, plus anecdotes about working in the film industry. I think I would rather cuddle live scorpions before I'd willingly try that.

Afterwards I was able to meet up with the nice couple, get superglue and use their room to repair the damn shoe and let it cure for a couple of hours. I think, if I'm remembering correctly, that was one of the two times that I got to ride in the elevator with Sir Terry, which is about all I can claim I did, since he was surrounded by about five other people.

That little adventure took up enough time that I missed The Science of Discworld panel and my scowly face was enough that my new friends decided to get an early start on the drinking. I had roughly the same resistance as my sinuses to pollen in the springtime. We met up with the cool lady from the day before, slightly terrorized the nice bartender at the pub and had lots of fun.

Then came the nerdy thing that I'd been looking forward to all week: the Thieves' Guild Masterclass. As a member, I'm not allowed to divulge Guild secrets, but I can say that nearly all politicians count as unlicensed thieves and can be punished accordingly. *glee*

Then there was just enough time to change back into the fixed costume for the Gala Banquet, which turned out to be worth every penny I spent to get in. First off, in order to get in, you had to get a spiffy little card to show to the large men at the door. Then came the dance of The Finding of the Seats, in which our group of three accosted a table of respectable folk who happened to be the only ones with that many seats available.

The entertainment was, well, entertaining, but the best part of the whole dinner was watching Sir Terry watching the belly dancers. There were some beautiful costumes, of which I managed to get a few pictures, and the lady next to me actually knew a few books that I haven't read yet. I found out that I like saffron rice and that grilled eggplant smells like used socks.

Then I spent an hour running around and getting yet more pictures, most of which came out poorly. By the end of that I was pretty much dead on my feet and nearly fell asleep in the car. But so worth it.
kittylady: (Default)
-Remember to actually check the page with the publisher's submission guidelines. They have all of the standard formatting stuff, which you really want to pay attention to, plus they list the stuff that they're actually looking for.

-DO NOT send your only copy of your manuscript. If you're stupid enough to do this, make sure to include a SASE that's actually big enough to return the thing in.

-Put your name, the name of your manuscript, and the page number on the top of each page. This is for everybody's convenience, and if someone drops it, everybody will be happy that you did that simple thing.

-Proper formatting cannot be stressed enough. If the submission guidelines suggest more than one size font, go for the bigger one. Many, many editors bring their work home with them, and it helps them immensely to be able to see what they're working on.

-When printing out your manuscript, use a fresh ink cartridge.

-Editors are actually a pretty small group of people, and they talk to each other. For no other reason than this, do not lose your temper with them. Besides, you want them to give you money, and that's always worth a bare minimum of civility.

-If you are a new author who hasn't been published yet, FINISH THE DAMN MANUSCRIPT BEFORE YOU SEND IT OUT. No, really, it looks a whole lot better.

-Do not send illustrations with your manuscript.

-Do not write your manuscript in crayon.

-When writing fiction of any sort, but especially science fiction, your readers are going to know a whole lot more about certain subjects than you. It is up to you to learn enough to bluff convincingly. If you don't, you will look stupid, which readers will always remember.

-Do not put any part of the writing you want to get paid for online in any way without your publisher's permission. Odds are quite good that they won't give it until you've actually collected a following.

-Try to make your manuscript as perfect as possible before sending it off. Even if the writing is as solid a thing as you've ever done, go over it a few times to check for glaring spelling and grammatical errors, any nitpicky continuity bits that need to be fixed, and just about anything else that would make the editor's job easier.

-Between the time that you finish your manuscript and before you send it off, try to hide it for a month and not think about it. Then go over it again.

-Remember that just because some people really do talk that way, you still shouldn't use profanity for dialog. Emphasis, yes, because people do like to use their sentence enhancers when stressed, but few people enjoy reading a steady stream of vulgarity.

-DO NOT TAKE ANY WRITING THAT YOU DO SERIOUSLY. You're not creating life; you're creating a product for sale tailored to your publisher's particular tastes. They're not going to like it exactly the way that you like it. And since you want them to give you money, you'd better learn to make it the way they want you to. After you can't claim the noob title any more, you might be able to stand your ground on a few things that you'd like to stay, but still bear in mind that the editor has way more experience in knowing what sells than you do.

-Try to make yourself laugh with your writing as much as possible. Even (or especially) if no one else gets the jokes.

-You don't need to suffer for art. Really, you don't. In fact, it still counts as art even if you hacked it out in two months instead of sweating over it for years. More importantly, if you can actually hack out something profitable in three months or less, keep doing it. Insert your own Dan Brown joke here.

-The only person who is allowed to be mean to the editors is your agent. They are paid to be your bastard and will fight for you accordingly. You, on the other hand, must still be civil and polite to the people with the money.

-When looking for an agent, bear in mind that anyone who wants money up front is a scum-sucking pile of offal and should be treated as such. Agents make their money off of you, and if you have any talent they can recognize they will be happy to take fifteen percent of your earnings. Since they take a percentage, they will fight extra hard for you to get a bigger check.
kittylady: (Default)
Had to wake up early on Saturday, which was an unfortunately continuing trend, but well worth it. Especially as the first thing I did was save seats for my adopted couple at the Fireside Chat with the Cunning Artificer. Bernard Pearson is an eloquent storyteller, and if you ever get the opportunity to do so, buy him good beer and just listen. I won't repeat any of what I heard, or at least I won't do so here, but I do hope one day to have lived a life that was half so entertaining.

Then I rushed over to get a spot for the Publishers, Agents and Editors panel. There was useful advice there, especially on how to find an agent and why having one is much better than not having one. For newbs, try reading the acknowledgments of the books you like, or least the books that you would like to write, and see which names are mentioned more than once. Then check their website. Also, the next big trend in Young Adult fiction is possibly going to be heavily influenced by a Futuristic Dystopian style, so anyone with talent in that direction had better get cracking.*

After the panel technically ended I managed to sneak some advice from Anne Hoppe, who was completely amazing and I wish I'd gotten the opportunity to buy her a drink. She let me corner her while she was signing posters and ask annoying questions on how to get into the proof-reading/editor market, which is a much tighter market than I would've guessed, but not quite as cutthroat as writing. No, I'm not sharing. Go annoy your own captive editor when you get the chance.

I took so much time that I had to get a chair in the back for the Real Roundworld History panel. Again, I wish they'd had a working sound system in place. Many cool and nerdy things were discussed, mostly strange things mentioned in the Discworld books and what relation they had in our reality. Learning about how the Seamstress' Guild got their name gave me a fit of the giggles.

Then came the giant room full of people for the Talking with Terry: Guest of Honor Interview and Discussion, and I would probably have enjoyed it far more if a)the sound system had been more functional with less high-pitched feedback and more actual working, and b) the guy in the row in front of me had not kept moving his head to be exactly in the way of my view. But it was still enjoyable, even if all the pictures I got were crap.

On my way out, I had a moment of pure, geeky bliss. The lady who'd volunteered me to make centerpieces found me and handed me a lovely purple and ruffly Seamstress' Guild ribbon, which I proudly wore thereafter.

After that I had a bit of spare time which was happily spent in the smoking area talking to new people, taking more pictures and getting so distracted by the stories the guy in the Greebo costume was telling that I completely lost track of time and missed the first half of the Diane Duane reading. *scowl* The only reason I noticed was that the couple who adopted me texted me and wanted to meet up for a drink before the Maskerade. Having already missed the first half of the reading, I decided to go and nurse my regret a bit. Then I got so distracted by the other people with us that I completely forgot to have any regret. And I was able to spend a few hours being a bitchy liberal feminist with someone else who was in the same mindset, and I even helped with a few artistic tarot deck suggestions, only to find out later that the publishing company already owns the rights to it and is sitting on it, hoping the movies will make the series popular enough to launch the idea as more than a collector's item.

Anyway, we went back for the Maskerade and I realized that I had a mild case of agoraphobia at the thought of being in a room with what looked like 500+ people. So I stayed outside, smoked, took more pictures, and managed to lure [ profile] scarybaldguy out of hiding long enough to get dinner with me and the awesome couple at the overpriced hotel bar. There was a brief moment of horror when the stadium a few blocks away let off huge fireworks just as the planes were descending, but I later had this explained as a side effect of having stupid people with too much money in charge of the game's more showy effects.

More stuff will be covered later; it's been a long week back in the real world.

*Just remember to send a thank-you check here.
kittylady: (Default)
Now I know why nerds spend all of their time and money on conventions.

On Thursday, a day in which only minor evening stuff had been planned for the early folks, I was dropped off at the hotel at about elevenish so that I could do all of the early stuff and the very kind [ profile] scarybaldguy could go to work. As it turned out, I was there a bit too early, but I had planned for that and brought a copy of Witches Abroad with me.

Was out in one of the few shaded spots in the smoking area when a couple came up to me and asked if I was there for the con. I happily showed off my book, we chatted about nerdy stuff, then about not-so nerdy stuff. I found out that she was Air Force and he was extremely Irish, and once you could get past the accent he had the best stories. He also found out that we enjoy the same brand of whiskey, and from that point out the only time I paid for a drink was when my reflexes let me get my wallet out first.

The people with the registration packets showed up at about threeish, we got our bags and I was able to make the both of them jealous with my button of Death. *squee for Death button* We worked out our event schedules and drank more, then tried doing some of the con stuff.

There were only a few people in costume that day, notably the excellent Rincewind and what appeared to be Ridcully in his hunting gear.

That night was the Pub Quiz, which was way more fun that I would've thought, considering how much booze I'd had on an empty stomach. We met bunches of awesome people at the table, completely flubbed a few of the questions (who wrote the Happy Birthday song? Really?) and got a perfect score on the picture quiz thanks to the really cool lady who'd introduced herself as "The Quintessential Nanny Ogg". If you're curious, you find find the questions yourself by poking around on the links here.

I got a few more pictures, more alcohol and more stories, and then I left feeling like I'd met family. Well, not quite, more like family you wish you had instead of what you got stuck with.

Friday was when the fun really started. It started early with the program "Twoflower's Guide to Conventions", for which there was not enough seating and I would have loved a sound system. Considering just how many of the con goers were total beginners, including myself, I shouldn't have been surprised. But I learned about something called the 5-2-1 rule, which is that for each full day of conventioning, you should try to get five hours of sleep, two full meals and one shower. These are minimums, not guidelines. The whole thing made me slightly regret not taking the chance to do any volunteer work, but only slightly, and it went away before the next event.

Immediately thereafter was the Opening Ceremony, which was quite intense. Sir Terry was walked out under a giant inflatable turtle with a flying wedge of snarly Seamstresses as a body guard. Esther Friesner *eeeomgshessocool* hosted bit of it and kept us laughing. The laughter was needed, especially as Sir Terry talked about refusing to succumb to his illness, saying, "When it comes to that, I will be going out and taking the alzheimer's with me." Yeah, I sniffled a little. But then there were more laughs and good photos taken, unfortunately all by other people, and we went off a bit merrier.

I met up with my new friends and we went to the Dealer's Room. For those who have no previous experience with such things, I have to say that it's a lot like Disneyland in that to have as much fun as you deserve you need to bring lots and lots of money. I spent more on stuff for other people that first day, which I've been told is not uncommon. But something to also remember is that more stuff gets brought out each day, and they will run out of good stuff early, so budget accordingly.

Then I had to rush to get in line for the autographing session that I had. After about twenty minutes of standing around and talking to other nerds, the Igors came out and handed out numbered tickets, which was very nice because it meant that I could sit down. I chatted with more very nice people and missed out on a photo opportunity for a plastic bag with a label of "Nobby's Nuts". Yes, I'm still kicking myself about that. But I did manage to snag some of the flower petals that were strewn in Sir Terry's path for the earlier event, which have since been distributed to deserving people.

Also, he remembered me! Yes, I wore the same hat and corset, and he was so busy remembering me that he signed my copy of Nation twice. Why yes, I do love being me.

I took a few moments to get pics of the Guild Banners that were hanging in the room, then met up again with the awesome couple. We were volunteered, with minimal resistance on my part, to help make centerpieces for the Seamstress' Guild party later that evening. Despite small nuisances like not having enough scissors, it went rather quickly and my new friends then took the time to introduce me to a really cool little pub called Rula Bula that was a quick walk from the hotel. The lamb stew is excellent, and I wish the heat had left me with enough appetite to do it justice.

We went back for the party, saw some truly stunning costumes, and then had our picture taken professionally, a service which was provided at Sir Terry's own expense to add to the convention goers' experience. I must say that it succeeded. Unfortunately, I encountered the one truly clueless person there, who felt it necessary to ask if I was supposed to be a witch. Yes, while I was in costume. *eyeroll* And here I thought that literate people were a tad more observant.

There was more stories from cool people, I met [ profile] marence for the first time, and I hope to all kind deities that I grow to be even half as awesome as she is. There were more pictures, more drinks, and I really didn't want to go, but the heat does make showering essential.

The lady who'd volunteered me made the remark, "Conventions are like sex without the orgasm to tell you to stop." Had to share it.
kittylady: (Default)
Too tired to blog, so I give you poorly-taken pictures!

ETA: That was a whole bunch. I think I'm done now.
kittylady: (Default)
There's this myth that northerners have about something called "dry heat"; supposedly it's less oppressive than the normal heat that Ohio gets. I certainly saw no sign of this phenomenon. In fact, I learned that heat in that quantity will kill any hint of appetite and had no desire to consume anything but water* for the first two days.

A second myth we like to bandy about is that the one about the desert getting cold at night. This did not happen either.

I also learned that heat like that will turn sunblock rancid. Rancid sunblock is strongly reminiscent of used catbox. I spent way too much of my first full day trying to figure out if the cats had marked my clothes or my purse as a good-bye present.

A nice lady I'd met on the second day gave me some useful advice about Arizona from the point of view of a former northerner who'd had time to learn:

- If you see someone driving with the window down, they automatically have the right of way. This is because they have no air-conditioning and their brain will be sizzling.

- If you see a penny, leave it alone.

- Avoid all things chrome.

I followed this advice to the best of my ability and suffered no ill effects from it.

Weirdly, people in Arizona actually wear jeans. I wonder if this is mostly a summer trend, because the air conditioning in every single place I went to was set to "arctic". If you try to do the normal Northern thing and dress for the weather, you will end up shivering in every building and might as well hang a bright red sign on your forehead that reads "TOURIST".

Also, there are an assload of cops. I thought Ohio was known for way too much on the civilian protection, but that was just crazy. Yeah, I know, Maricopa County and all that, but dear gods it was worse than downtown Kent on May Day.

Beyond the huge amounts of hot, my only real annoyance with the area was seeing the patches of yard where people had tried to grow grass. Why the hell would you want to have grass in the desert? Sure, there's the corpse of a blown out tire every five hundred or so feet, but if you can look past the melted rubber the area is quite lovely is a simplistic kind of way. So many shades of brown and red... and then the little squares of green, where you can only see the wasted water and the masochism of someone who would want to go out and mow the stuff down just scrapes across the eye.

Anyway, I have lots of pettings that still need to be handed out and pictures to organize. And sleep to catch up on. Right now the best part of being home is becoming reacquainted with my blankets, which are a totally useless decorative accessory in the desert.

*and whiskey, but close enough
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