We drove down to Seattle rather than our usual method of taking the Airporter bus - I have a new toy from under the Christmas tree, a baby GPS, and, really, the reason we drove up was because I wanted to play with it. I've named it Hal - as in, the occasional "I can't DO that, Alma..." seems to be par for the course [grin] - but this time Hal seemed to perform on spec (the trouble is that it performs best when you already have some idea about where you're going...)We got to the Doubletree on Thursday in good time, got my registration materials, and then had to stand in line for an hour to get rdeck squared away - but we finally did all this, and then I had a panel. Right from the word go. Hit the ground running and don't stop don't stop don't stop.
The panel, "Story crafting from your subconscious", was a surprisingly good one, and with a surprisingly healthy audience for a panel this early in the proceedings. We had a range of writers from those who outline everything to an inch of its life before they start working on anything to those who run from outlines screaming in pain and either write the STORY or don't write anything at all. Turns out novels can grow from all kinds of seeds... but it was fun discussing seed placement anyway. Then I had an appallingly badly scheduled reading - I had a small audience, but apparently the person who was scheduled right after me had nobody turn up at all - it was a THURSDAY, before half the people got to the con at all and half of the other half were still trying to register. But, eh, them's the breaks. The people scheduled for their own readings on Sunday afternoon, when most of the con attendees were either gone or scrambling to be, probably have the same kvetches, from the other end. We showed our faces at the Small Press party that night, but the level of noise in the party suite quickly got to beyond casual conversation decibellage and I still had a LOT of talking to do that weekend so instead of shouting at people for the next couple of hours we decided to call it a night and retire relatively early.
Friday kicked off with one of the best panels that the con threw at me - a 10 AM panel with standing-room-only audience, "Creating Emotion-driven SF/F". Two of the panelists self-identified as "new" or as too afraid of tackling the emotional aspect of the craft to do it justice, and frankly said that they were on the panel to learn how to do it - but I think we all learned something, and there were plenty of insights being supplied by our "newbies", too. I think it was a great panel, it opened up a lot of areas of discussion, and audience participation was fantastic. From that, straight onto panel#2, "Writing Magic 101", the rules of magic and what they need to be for the story to succeed. It was in a bigger room and the audience seemed sparser but that might have just been the fact that they were scattered so much more freely in far more space - still, some good questions were asked, and (I thought) some fabulous answers given by the panelists. Then I had a break, during which I attended at least one other panel as an audience member ("Writing YA Books") and had things to say from THIS side of the panel table, and then there was the other fabulous panel of the con, "Plot, Setting and Character: Who's on First?" The panelists included wolflahti (who is my soul-twin when it comes to writing method, and who growls at outlines with just as much gusto as I do), my friend and colleague kenscholes, and the amazingly talented Kevin Radthorne (whom I discovered, at this convention, to be an accomplished artist as well as a writer) - and things got fast and furious very quickly. I was describing what my research notebooks wound up looking like at the conclusion of a spirited bout of book research - scribbled all over, in increasingly crabby handwriting, with stuff underlined or highlighted in different shades of fluorescent, multi-coloured post-its fluttering from it at every angle, and I said that I was sometimes astonished that something as coherent as a novel ever comes out of what I described as "a dog's breakfast of monumental proportions". kenscholes promptly whipped out a pen and wrote that phrase on the back of his name tent so that it did not get lost or forgotten. I am now famous.
We adjourned for dinner with jpsorrow, and then eventually meandered off to the pro party where we hobnobbed with the likes of cscole and mkhobson and others too numerous to mention, and yet again withdrew before the witching hour and retired to bed... because I had another panel in the morning.
At NINE AYEM.
It was a surprisingly well-attended panel for an early Saturday morning ("How do you name your characters?") and although it wasn't one of the best panels of the con it was interesting and a few important points were made. But the prize of the day was the next panel, "Writing the young female protagonist", where one of the panelists, um, actually WAS one. She was an articulate, well-spoken, well-read teen with opinions she could ably communicate and defend, and I was highly impressed with her - so much so that you might well see her guest blog in this space very soon. Watch this space, a star is being born - this young lady has the presence and the mind and the spirit to do great things with her life.
The first autographing session started in the room across the hallway straight after this panel, and we had to fight the hordes of fans who were already starting to queue up to have their books (a lot of them freebies supplied by the publisher at the con) signed by GoH author R A Salvatore - let me just say that this line was STILL merrily winding its way across the room by the time I was winding up my OWN autographing session, two hours later. As for me, I signed a couple of books and a HEAP of con souvenir programs and talked to a gaggle of both friends and strangers who wandered by and expressed an interest in the books - many of the latter got signed bookplates and are likely to meander into a bookstore and recognise the name and buy the books to go with them. So it was all good. We had a very pleasant dinner with radconbob, and indeed found ourselves at the Radcon party not too long after that. radconbob was in fine fettle throughout. There. Are. Pictures. From. That. Party.
I also had the first of the two writers' workshops critiques on Saturday afternoon, and that one went better than I expected, actually, seeing as all three of the critiquers had quite a lot to say to the writer - but he took it well, and wrote copious notes, and perhaps all will still end well there. My second crit session, and my last official responsibility of the con, was on Sunday morning at 10 AM, and once that was done we packed up our bags and fired up Hal and drove off to visit with family for a couple of hours. Driving home was a nightmare of hard driving rain and copious spray from the drenched roads and miserable visibility - but we made it home well before dark, the cats were happy to see us, and, well, there was a to-do list waiting for me in the office.
Consider this con report one of the things I just scratched off it as DONE.
I have a busy few months ahead - going back to my edits now - and that was Norwescon for another year.
See you all at the next con.