Sunday, July 12, 2009

CONvergence 2009 day 3 (Fri) Kelly's Con Report


We had breakfast at the OPH again, this time with Dwayne, Charlotte, Anton, and Anton's friend Tom. Laura had banana pancakes, and I had basted eggs and country bacon, yum. More cool conversation. Dwayne, like Laura is a physicist, and Charlotte told an amazingly cool story about meeting Jim Henson when she was a kid and how he helped her start down the path to becoming a TV writer.


I was highly scheduled on Friday with no passing time between my first three events, which meant I was a little late to my reading. If not for the efficiency of my liaison Jenn, I'd have been a lot late, and probably never have found the photo shoot.

12:30 PM: Beta Reading: Relying on the Honesty of Friends (Panelist(s): Kelly McCullough, Elise Matthesen, M. K. Melin, Kathy Sullivan

This was a fun panel with a lot of useful advice on how to give and receive critique.

1:00 PM: GoH group photo shoot.

We got a tour of the back passages of the hotel on our way to this event, which was in a section of ballroom seemingly cut off from everything but the catering entrance. We were all pretty punchy for the session and got some great silly shots including one with Joel Hodgson punching me in the jaw and another recreating the shooting of Jack Ruby--did I mention we were really punchy? The final, official, version has Dwayne and I and a couple of others holding Joel horizontally in the air in front of the rest of the group. Dwayne's taking most of the weight with me getting much of the rest. There was also a really great group shot with us and all of the liaisons. Afterward we signed copies of our badges and a number of tee-shirts as prizes for various awards and charity purposes. As a side note, we also signed a set of the group shots on Saturday for similar purposes.

2:00 PM: Kelly McCullough GOH Reading

I was about 8 minutes late to my own reading, and then it took a couple more minutes to get started as the con was giving Inkheart tees away to people who showed up in an unannounced prize. I read from SpellCrash, the forthcoming final book in the WebMage series and it seemed to go over well. I was still mighty punchy though, so I did more humorous and editorial asides than I might have otherwise. Also, being late meant I was forced to end with my protagonists falling through space, instead of at the rest point I'd hoped to get to a couple of pages later. After the reading, one of the people from the MNPoly room party stopped by to invite us to stop by and see the life-size mural they'd done of my Furies as part of their Greek gods theme--punchy as I was this didn't fully register but I did jot down the room number and promise to drop by.

3:30 PM: Inserting Humor Into Your Writing
(Panelist(s): Kelly McCullough, Brian Keene, M. K. Melin, S.D. Hintz, Jerrod Balzer, Patrick Rothfuss

I think there were actually even more of us there because of one or two late additions, and the room was packed. The panel went all right due to handing over the moderation to Pat, who isn't afraid to be a hard-ass moderator, but it was a little unfocused as usually happens with large panels.

Before the panel, my liaisons stopped by to make sure I got fed, and somewhere in here is when I started leaning on them for stuff that I just didn't have the time to do. I asked Jenn to fetch me some caffeine, and either she or Lisa kept showing up with diet coke when I needed it thereafter and Megan offered to run grab me some egg rolls from the con-suite which sounded lovely, so she sprinted off to fetch them. Have I mentioned how very taken care of I felt at this con? Thank you all!

Afterward another of the MNPoly folks stopped by to let me know about the mural. She also noted that she was cross-playing as Raven from my books. At this point the idea of a mural and someone dressing as one my characters seemed cool, but still didn't really sink in due to the intensity of my schedule thus far.

That's also when the folks from the House of Toast stopped by and got me to come up with a toast recipe--which I wrote on the paper plate they handed me and then signed, promising to try to stop by their party later.

5:00 PM: Why Writers Should Archive
(Panelist(s): Kelly McCullough, Meredith Gillies, Elise Matthesen, Lynne Thomas

Another fun one. Lynne, who archives my stuff, graciously consented to be the moderator. In addition to being a fine moderator, she is both articulate and funny. So are Meredith, who I had never met before, and Elise. That's really all you need for a good panel, but this one also had the fact that all of us are passionate on the topic going for it. Oh, and props. Meredith had brought some copies of items from her collection (she runs the giant bat cave under the U of Mn) and I had hauled along a box of manuscripts that I needed to pass off to Lynne.


In which I slipped my handlers' leash and went to dinner with friends from out of state. Okay, that's not completely true. I asked my liaisons nicely what I needed to do if I was going to go off grid for a bit and let them know where I was going and that I would be back after dinner. Laura and I then went to dinner at the Good Earth with our friends Tom Foster (who was Laura's office mate in grad-school) and Pamela Gay (who is a big name astronomy podcaster among the many science outreach hats she wears).


So, after dinner we stopped back at the room, dropped some stuff off and then headed for the parties. We did stop in at House of Toast briefly in here, but they were really packed and we ended up getting distracted by something shiny and wandering off before we got any toast:-( We also stopped at COF2E2 and I had a Tickled Goblin which was actually quite yummy.

Then we went to MNPoly and there were my Furies and Jess in Raven garb, and I pretty much stripped all the remaining gears on my mental transmission. The red carpet treatment and all the attention I was getting had already made this both a fabulous and surreal weekend and led to midwestern me losing a steadily increasing number of gear teeth--going further and further into a sort of state of shock--but the mural and crossplay just completely blew my mind. I was really stunned and humbled and it wasn't until we came back a bit later with Lynne and Michael Thomas, and Michael made some comment about how cool it was that I had someone cosplaying my main character and life-size fan art that it actually sank in. WOW, just WOW.

Later, (~10:30) as I was standing on the bridge-side balcony people-watching and trying to process the whole experience, Brian Keene came along with a couple of bottles of really smooth bourbon and sent one of his liaison's off to find a cup for me--Laura can't drink it because of possible gluten issues. His timing couldn't have been better, because A) I was still kind of shocky, and B) I had agreed to do a bit for villification tennis at 11:00 that included me taking a stage kick to the groin and I hadn't done stage-combat or any kind of show in years which meant that C) a little loosening up was called for. The bourbon definitely loosened me up.

11:00 PM Vilification Tennis Main Stage

Having never been to a Vilification Tennis match before I didn't really know what to expect beyond having a vague idea that two sides would be hurling (often unprintable) insults at each other. This despite the fact that VT and I had overlapped at the Ren Fest by a year or two.

The intro delivered by Tim Wick who is the VT referee was both very funny and quite offensive. That's the point, and it was strongly suggested that if you could be offended now was the time to leave. After the initial part of the intro Tim wandered up to the front of the audience and introduced and picked on me, well us really Tim, myself, and our old friend Karl who wasn't there. Tim and I have known each other since we were 6 and have been friends since we were 9 and Tim killed my very first D&D character, so there was a fairly rich vein to tap in terms of growing up geek together. Not, as Tim pointed out, that either of us has moved out of geekdom.

Apparently being a middle-aged balding science fiction author who is married to a physicist doesn't make me one of the cool kids. Who knew?

My bit in VT was a sort of half-time interlude in the shape of a family-feudesque gameshow, played for laughs not points. We got quite a few. I also got a mock "kick in the junk," a knee actually, but kick was the phrasing in the question. Apparently I haven't forgotten how to make it look real, since I got a number of very concerned sounding "are you okays?" from the other players. Oh, and I also got rug burn on my knees--different bit about which I can only say: "Khaaaaan!"

Then it was over and very late and time for me to go to bed.


tate hallaway said...

This sounds very cool. I, or rather, my alter ego saw you on Saturday and you looked completely shell-shocked. Now I know why.

Kelly McCullough said...

I'm actually still a little shell-shocked. Very cool but very disorienting as well.

Bill Henry said...

Speaking of Khan (as we were not so long ago), one version of "infinite Khan" is at Coilhouse, here.