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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

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November 8th, 2005

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Gawd. This needs a 10 000- word mammoth effort rather than what it's going to be, but...

WFC is over, and we're hooooome. Leaving aside the welcome of the cats (Boboko basically followed me around all morning today, and insisted on his 10 minutes in my lap, which he normally doesn't get noisy about - but this time it was "Pick me up and make no comment about it because otherwise I will SHRED your computer chair!"), everything else is in place and where we left it a week ago, but as usual the world is a very different place from what it was when we closed the door of our house behind us on the way to Madison, WI.

Let me just clear the air first, for those who knew about this, and say that teh Endeavour Award was handed out at Orycon, another convention halfway across the US, and the person who received it was my friend Louise Marley - who, by the way, read part one of a STUPENDOUS story at the WFC and who richly deserves the accolades. So, didn't win that. DIdn't expect to, really, given the field I was in - but all the same there was that little part of me whispering very softly, "but it would have been NICE". Never mind. There's always a next time. I hope.

Okay, the con. It was back to the Wiscon hotel that we went, the same one where the elevators kind of warble at you all day. I had its fruity little "LAH-bby" announcement down so pat that eveyr time I muttered it in the elevator, just before the elevator echoed me precisely, whoever else was in there with me cracked up which was a rich reward. The hotel obviously had experience with conventions and was a stalwart base of support to build on - and this year's committee were a sterling lot which meant that this was quite possibly the best organized and best run con I've been to all year (and that's saying something, I've been to 9 or 10). The con suite, especially, was always well supplied with very nice victuals, and more importantly had something that was very very important to me - a continuous supply of COFFEEEEEEE. Okay, you can all stop laughing and pointing fingers now. Stuff like this is important.

I had one panel and I was part of a Broad Universe reading panel, as well - and while at the con I was also handed an actual individual reading slot vacated by someone who had not come to the con after all. The panel, on mining other cultures (other than generic European medieval settings with an inn, a rotund innkeeper, a comely wench or three, some stew, and a dangerous oversupply of blade-happy adventurers in search of an Artefact of Power), went very well - and one of the other panelists, Marie Brennan, has an actual website where she is creating a bibliography of books with OTHER settings, which should be a primary port of call if you want to read something different or new. The readings were both cool and very different from one another - and I learned, because I had a good head count in there and that might have been because I said on the flyer advertising the solo event that chocolate would be provided. People who come for the chocolate stay for the reading - this is a Good Lesson. From here on, I go to no con without a good supply of something gooey I can bribe an audience with [grin]. Hey, don't knock it, it works...

Went to a bunch of other panels and parties, chatted with people like L E Modesitt (of the wonderful waistcoats, which he changed every day and which came in an infinite variety of patterns and colours) and Patricia McKillip, who sat next to me at the mass book signing on Friday night, a WFC tradition which is often something of a zoo "Battle stations!" announced a concom person as writers were getting settled into their seats. "We're about to open the doors!" And they did, and in they came, people with handfuls of books, bags of books, boxes of books, making a blindly determined effort to locate the authors of their hoard and get it all autographed in the space of about 2 hours. People with reputations and long lines signed away steadily; people whose first book was just out sat hopefully with a a bunch of copies on the table in front of them and smiling enticingly at the passing crowds. I actually got to snag a couple of passing hotel people with trays of munchies because they kept on turning up just as Patricia McKillip got overwhelmed by another twenty people and kept on missing out on the hors-d'oeuvres until I captured a passing shrimp for her from a tray about to whiz past us yet again. Fun. A young lady from the University, wearing a card that said PRESS and carrying a camera and tripod which were taller than she was, decided to ask me a few questions - so I was interviewed for TV, kind of. People wandered past aiming random cameras at us behind the tables. A perfectly cared-for hardcover of "jin shei", wrapped in clear plastic to preserve the dust jacket, turned up to be signed. In all, ALL THE BOOKS I HAD AT THAT CON VANISHED, which was pretty good going.

We went to the by-now traditional concert that Charles de Lint, his wife MaryAnne, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Nina Kiriki Hoffman (in its primary basic edition). This time we were treated to visiting artist performances by Sharyn November, Joe Haldeman, and bunch of other folks who happened to have guitars with them and who were all pretty good in their own individual ways, a belly dancer who gyrated voluptuously to de Lint's "Cherokee Girl", and, memorably, Ellen Klages to whom I said, later, that she was a national treasure. She adlibbed not one but TWO extempore songs, both from "suggestions" tossed into the hat from the audience, while Patrick and Charles played backing guitar. The first effort was titled "Shadow Dirt", and it was just... well... no, it's beyond words. You had to be there. Suffice it to say that people who WERE there spent most of the rest of the convention catching each other's eye, lifting an imaginary mike to their lips, and mouthing "Shadow DIRT!" at each other with much ensuing hiliarity. (To give you just a taste of it, try and resist a song with a verse that goes something like,

"I was looking in the corner
for something I"d left behind
I thought it was my purse
but it turned out to be my mind...

SHADOW DIRT!"

Met up with two separate editors while there, and did a bit of business, and many of the bookmarks I had brought in disappeared at a rapid rate. Met old friends, made new ones. Despite some fairly trying travel arrangement tangles, everything began and ended well, and we even managed to fly back home having upgraded our tickets to first class - to be faced with a stewardess who knew Rod Serling...

Right. That was the last con for the year. From here on, I have work to do - edit one novel, write another, plan and begin writing the third...

I'll stop by occasionally to opine on things. Otherwise, I'll be at my desk, nose to the grindstone.

Would the first person to spot a copy of "Embers of Heaven" in the wild, either in the UK or in the Antipodes, please ping me...?