My Own Personal Grey

Post-Con Update: with Pictures! (super-long)

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So… On Tuesday last I had my first offical signing of Underground at University Bookstore, which went quite nicely thank you–I think Richelle is much funnier than I and she actually remembered to invite people, which I didn’t.  But I have an excuse: I had to leave the next morning and I had things like… packing on my mind.

And at 6 am, off I went, care of our favorite Airport Service driver, Mosen.  Flappity, flappity, I’m off to Denver.

When I arrive, my already funky 6-year-old cell phone finally gives up the ghost for good and leaves me with a very annoying instrument I can only hear in speaker mode.  Bleh!  But I don’t have time to fix it, so I make do. And am picked up from the airport by Mario Acevedo, who then dines me and drops me at my hotel.  Where, as I am signing in, I discover an old friend, Richard Foss, registering next to me.  Very cool!

The clerk warns me that the only room of my type that they have at the moment is on the 24th floor and there is construction going on on the 25th–but only 9-5 M-F.  I can wait a few hours for another room to be prepared or I can take this one….  I think the 24th floor will be fine, since I have little chance of sleeping past 9 on Thursday or Friday due to my weird Con schedule.  I say “OK.”  Oh… what a silly woman am I….  But I take my bag to my room, shift a few things around, and head for the Colorado Convention Center.  Now, the fun starts.

Con registration is very hard to find, hidden as it is in plain sight… at the back of the convention center.  This requires a looooong, undirected and un-signaged ramble past a John Deere convention and a Statistical Analysts convention (or something like that), to the tables where I am eventually rewarded with my badge and bag o’ stuff.  I even double-check to make sure the other membership I had to sell off is properly transferred to its new owner and I’m now free to get in trouble–assuming I can stay awake.  But there is always coffee…

Ramble around, get in trouble, find Mario, get in more trouble which involves drinking and almost being late for dinner with two local friends of mine from teh Intarwebs.  Molli and Wes wait patiently while I extract myself from a vodka-and-soda and we take off for dinner, accompanied by Harper, herself.  Or at least a very good facsimile:

Wes, Molli, and Harper-the-Dollfie

One may notice Molli is wearing a Harry Dresden Classified Ad T-shirt, because she has a ton and a half of good taste.

We have a really great dinner and I am totally stuffed silly by the time Molli and Wes head for home.  OMG–my tummy is so full I may never eat again!  I go back to my hotel, drop off the leftovers, discover a phone call on my fucked up cell phone and listen to the message which is from Mario asking if I’m done dining and would I like to come out for a drink?  So, I say, yeah and head to the Sheraton.

It starts raining.  It’s not very hard, but it’s persistent and I’m a bit wet by the time I get to the Sheraton and very turned around by the time I find the ASFFA party.  Which Mario and John Picacio have already vacated.  Oh look: there’s another message on my barely-functional phone.  Mario and John have abandoned the very dead party for the Hyatt hotel bar, which name of same I mis-hear.  I’m staying at the Hyatt, too!

The other Hyatt.

So I go out and walk to the Convention Center Hyatt.  I begins to rain a lot harder. I can’t find the “Samba Room” but eventually am spotted wandering in the rain by Mario, who waves me into the STRATUS Room.  I have a drink or three… which do not seem to have the effect on me that most people experience in Denver.  No, strangely, the alcohol hits me not at all.  Until Drink #4 when I become instantly exhausted.

Luckily, before that happens, I meet Charles Stross–who in spite of my fears turns out to be very nice and incredibly sweet.  We have far too silly a conversation at the bar until Charlie nearly falls asleep in his beer and cleverly bids us all good night before he becomes the same sort of zombie I should be–but amn’t.

Meanwhile I hook up to a conversation with Alan Beatts, of Borderlands Books.  We end up closing down the bar and Alan kindly walks me back up to my hotel.  It has stopped raining and we sit on a bench outside and talk until 3 am.  Poor Alan. I stumble to bed and finally get into it just before 4 am.

Remarkably, I do not have a hangover–which is really good since I am awakened by a strange tapping sound on the walls at 8:17 am.  Followed by the sound of someone removing said wall with a sledgehammer.  I do not see the sledgehammer, but I’d like to: so I can use it on the clerk who said the room would be quiet until 9.  I heave myself out of bed, shower (without having to pack a bag and walk 4 blocks with my soap and towel first), dress and trot off for my first full day of connage.  I can’t remember what I’m doing, but I do it anyhow.

Later I have lunch with the fabulous Mario, Jeanne Stein, Warren Hammond, and a fellow named Matt whose last name continues to escape me, even though I try very hard to catch it.  Lovely.

Warren Hammond is Cool

More wandering about, more food, more drinks, banging into people I know or have wanted to meet all over the place–this is the way the whole con continues through Sunday.  Except for my own panels, I never seen a single piece of programming.

On the other hand, my own panels go great and on the Urban Fantasy Panel on Friday, I’m really pleased to see that more than half the audience is male.  They think UF is all girly stuff except for Jim Butcher and Simon Green and I’m tickled pink for the opportunity to turn these guys on to the other stuff in the niche (and pimp Warren and Caitlin and Mark and a bunch of other cool people.)  Patricia Bray, Sarah Hoyt, Darlene Marshall, and Lucienne Diver make it all tons of fun and very informative.  (I’m in love with Patricia Bray.)

I run into more fab folks outside–including Joshua Palmatier who reminds me I promised to write something for him.  Oops…

But that’s OK, we’re both swamped, so it’ll be OK. I have lunch with my agent and get lost in the convention dealer’s room until I return to my hotel to leave my laptop–which I’ve foolishly been carrying with me all this time.  I do not take a nap, due to the sound of tap-dancing squirrels resounding in the walls, but deal with my email for a while, losing all track of time… Until I get a barely-understood phone call from Mario, asking if I’m still coming to dinner….

I trot off for dinner and then my signing at the Tattered Cover with the able assistance of Mario and the Denver Mobsters.  Arriving at TC, we discover Jen Scholes lying in wait and looking adorable–as always.  And Charlie

Charles Stross at the Tattered Cover signing Aug 7, 2008

and Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman at the Tattered Cover signing Aug 7, 2008

already waiting for my laggard butt.  Things go well, except that Joe and Charlie are so much better at this Author Thing that I figure my biggest asset is in my bra.  It’s really not that bad, but… wow… these guys are So Good!  damn it.  They sign a lot more books than I do, but… they are bigger names and they are gracious and charming the whole damn time!  Poop!

Denver Mob and I hook up with Charlie to return to the convention hotel and go looking for parties.  We find few and end up in the Hyatt bar again.  (See a pattern?)

Friday dawns to the sound of hammers and a concerto for power drill.  At 8:20 am.  Unlike the real, hardcore fans, I cannot sleep wherever I happen to find a couch.

Some people can sleep anywhere....

But I still have a lot of fun and another old friend turns up: Marc “Animal” McYoung whom I haven’t seen for literally two decades.  He and Jeanne Stein become best friends as we all wander around looking for beer, then dinner, then various parties….  I can’t remember most of it, but I do remember meeting John Scalzi.  Who turns out to be from my home town!  W00t!  This con is made of Win!  I have too much fun.  Jeremy Lassen has the best suits ever.  And there is a lot of drinking.  Once again, thrown out of the bar at closing time… This time in the company of Richard Foss–who’s been shut out of nicer bars than this one.

Once again, no hangover and it being now Saturday and all my stuff is done, I think I shall sleep in… but the Giant Electric Rat Gnawing On My Wall At 8:20 am (also known as a “Sawzall”) has different ideas.  Oi.. vey.  Good thing that tool’s on the next floor up or I’d find him and shove that appliance up his charging socket!  Thanks… you rat.

I try to have breakfast with Mr. Foss, but he has an appointment and has to run off, so I kill time until I can go have a coffee with my stand-in editor (Jessica Wade, since Anne Sowards couldn’t come.)  I go looking for coffee and find… John Hemry having coffee with Jessica Wade!  I join them and end up wearing my coffee from tits to knees.  Whoops…  Luckily, the pants are coffee-colored–which is odd, since I’d have sworn they were olive green.  The shirt is largely OK, but I do smell interesting enough to attract engineers.  I survive and neither John nor Jessica thinks I’m a total numb-nuts.  They do have some question about my ability to drink, however….

And I finally throw in the towel and buy a new cell phone. Which I take back to the hotel and plug into the charger while I check email–and it’s a good thing, since I find a bunch I need to deal with.  When I check the phone it’s not charged… because I forgot to put in the battery.  I rectify that and spend another hour trying to program the phone once it’s charged.

And Mario again has to remind me to come to dinner.  On the new phone!  It works!  yay!

Jeremy Lassen is not amused... but Mario is

I trot off and meet a large crowd of Denver Mob and Associates and head off to dinner at the Wynkoop Brewery.  Another lovely time is had and we head off for the Post-Hugo insanity.  Which begins with a parade of winners through the lobby of the Hyatt and onward to the Sheraton.  We follow them to the Ace/Roc after party, where I again encounter… John Scalzi–who has the most lovely date in the room.

Yani and John.. who is not sure about me...

And a Hugo:

John and his Best Fan Writer Hugo award, it looks... pointy...

Isn’t that cute?  Now he just needs to get that Best Novel one and he’s good to go!  (But how can you complain about being beaten by Michael Chabon?  I mean… really?)

And the evening is very silly at the Ace/Roc sponsored party.  Ginjer is surprised when I leap out from behind a chair to take her photo–because is that not the best T-shirt EVER?! I want one…  (so does everyone else.)

Stalking Ginjer....

And I discover that, yes… everyone is shorter than Duane Wilkins.

Duane and the petite and wonderful Jessica Wade

Finally we all trundle off, head for bed, and generally fall away.  I stop to complain to the front desk about the Rodents of Unusual Size living in my walls and am awarded… a pair of earplugs.

The Rodents hold off until 9:30 on Sunday.  I “sleep in” then wander off to see the end of the con, where I… discover my new phone doesn’t work!

I trot back to Radio Shack and with the assistance of the Fosses, get it fixed.  It never works quite right ever, but to this moment I have not had a chance to go back to the local RS and rectify that….

After fixing the phone at least to a degree, I return to the Hyatt to hang with the late stayers, and have dinner with the SFWA Musketeers–which includes John Hemry, Elizabeth Moon, and Lee Martindale.  A truly incredible dinner with fascinating people ensues and no one throws me out for saying very weird things.

Somewhere along the line, I lose the opportunity to have John sign some books for my husband, but that’s OK.  I have a lovely walk and chat with Lee to our hotel, then double back to the “other” Hyatt for “dead dog” drinks with the last of the hardcores–which includes Jim Minz of Baen who gives great conversation and is really fun to chat with.  Alan Beatts hatches a plot to storm the amusement park in Montreal next year, and I finally give up… and head to my hotel for the last time.

The two-legged rats do not awaken me until 9.  Fucking rats.  Breakfast is coffee and a scone at the Corner Bakery, and a quick, final trot around Denver, where I rediscover Catilin’s building and sign books at B&N, before I’m picked up by Mario for lunch and a trip to the airport.

Denver clearly loves Caitlin...

We stop at the Buckhorn Exchange–Denver’s oldest restaurant–and have this view during lunch of all the critters who have ever been on the menu:

Old Menus in the Buckhorn...

Someone has apparently eaten the last unicorn…

Peter S. Beagle never knew...

and we missed it. Mmmm… unicorn on toast….

And home to Seattle, on route to which I benefit from being seated in the same row as a man so tall he needs two seats just to insure he has sufficient room, so… there was a half-empty seat between us. Score! needless to say, I don’t sleep… I read Nymphos of Rocky Flats all the way to Seattle.

Next year… Montreal! BYOU (Bring Your Own Unicorn.)

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