Chicon 7 – WorldCon Wrap-up

So, I was off to big city for a while, visiting friends and talking shop. That’s what I love about conventions. This year’s WorldCon was in Chicago, and this was my first time to the city, but unfortunately I didn’t find the time to do any of the extra sightseeing I’d hoped to do (there was also talk of getting me to ride the subway and the L Train–something I’ve never done in any city–but that didn’t materialize either.) I will have to make a trip back sometime in the future to do all that stuff I missed, preferably with the family in tow. As it is now, I didn’t move more than a couple blocks from the hotel the whole time I was there.

I got to the con on Wednesday and met up with my con posse, Christopher Kastensmidt and Al Bogdan. We’ve hung out at a number of cons before this and it’s always great to see them again; they keep me from sitting alone in the corner at parties, looking lost and dejected. We went out to dinner at Peterrino’s in the theater district. The food was okay, but the ambiance reminded me of mob movies. Caricatures of actors decorate the walls and the waitstaff dress in tuxes. I half expected to see Ray Liotta sitting at a table with DeNiro and Pesci, discussing where to bury a body.

Thursday was my free day, so hung around with friends and had dinner with Carol Berg and a couple of other folks (whose names completely escape me right now). Spent the evening in the SFWA suite where several very cool things happened: I got to meet and talk to Jim Hines, who is very cool, got to see Lyda Morehouse again after many years and she plied me with compliments about Night Bird Soaring, and touted me to an agent who then asked if I had a novel. I was thoroughly blushing at that point.

I woke up Friday not feeling very well. I had my first ever WorldCon panel that day and the nerve were making me sick. I made it through my panel (Fuck Your Knight and the Horse He Rode In On), but the nervous nausea lasted through a good portion of the day afterwards; I was pretty sure that I’d said something questionable due to lack of speaking coherently on the subject and may have inadvertently made it sound like I didn’t take accusations of racism from readers seriously (which is so far from the truth, for I worry about it tremendously and research strenuously to do my best to avoid making bonehead, racist mistakes) and so spent a couple days worried about that. I started feeling better after several people came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the panel. Public speaking was never my strong suit, so it would probably do me some good to do more panels, particularly at my local con, and get comfortable with these kinds of group conversations. I do find that just talking about these kinds of subjects in small groups, I’m on my game and talk very well about it; I’ve just got to learn to translate that to the larger group setting.

Saturday was my autograph session. I’m not sure what possessed me to sign up for one (I don’t recall signing up for one, but maybe I did), but I got to sit next to Paul Cornell and we chatted a bit. By that day, the remnants of Isaac had rolled into town and the city was covered with lots of cool low-lying clouds, and I suspected that my sinuses were going to start their annoying habit of swelling up. I had a minor sore throat when I got up but it went away quickly and I was left with some post-nasal drip. I spent some time scoping out the small presses in the dealers room, collecting business cards from those that looked like they published quality product, and buying teeshirts for my kids.

Sunday was my reading and I really expected no one to show up, which has happened to me a couple times at MileHiCon. To my surprise, not only did a couple of my friends show up, but some people I didn’t know at all, and they listened to me babble incoherent about the novel (I never did have an elevator pitch for it, but maybe I should come up with one, for use at readings). The actual reading part went well, since I practiced it a couple times before then and knew I could get it done in the time allotted. People actually asked questions afterwards and one later photographed my name tag, so she could find my stuff after the con. Overall a smashing success, in my book. I sat with Al and Chris during the Hugos, so we missed all the debacle with the streaming feed getting banned by rogue netbots (how science fictional!) and we ended up back at the SFWA suite where I had a great conversation with William Lawhorn about historical fiction. My reading list has grown considerably because of it.

As for the parties, I managed to make it to the Tor party, which was in a huge suite on the top floor of the hotel, but didn’t make it to the Baen party, in the same suite the next night. I enjoyed hanging out with the Nightshade crew (Bradley Beaulieu, Martha Wells, and Courtney Shafer) at the Night Bazaaar party, and at the Chizine party, Brett Savory made me an awesome deal on a couple Aztec westerns/horror books (and I’d vowed to bring no physical books home with me!). I went to a couple readings too (Christopher Kastenschmidt, Lawrence Schoen, and Lyda Morehouse, who had a 10:30pm reading?!?)

Luckily the sinus yuck I’d been fearing stayed minor until Monday morning, otherwise I might have had to cancel my reading, since I could barely talk and breath once it flared up. Probably my biggest disappointment about Chicago was the food; I was expecting some really good stuff, especially pizza, but the choice of restaurants around the hotel was less than stellar. Peterrino’s was all right but nothing to get excited about, and we took most of our meals either at the The Corner Bakery down the street, or in the SFWA suite. We tried to get pizza on Saturday night, but Giordano’s had an hour and fifteen minute wait just to cook the darn pizza, and having had nothing to eat since breakfast that day, none of us wanted to wait around for that. Probably the best meal I had while in Chicago was a queso burrito from Qdoba, which I grabbed on the way back from Giordano’s (and the charming young man behind the counter gave me a good-hearted ribbing about my Broncos sweatshirt). It was fantastic to make it back home because the husband and kids then took me out to dinner at our local 3 Margaritas for some awesome Mexican food.

So that was my week at WorldCon, and I’m reenergized to get back to work on writing. You can find pictures from the convention on my Facebook fan page.

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