Saturday, August 9, 2008

On the road again: Denvention, day 4 - con stuff and Jennie

After work, some time on the treadmill, a shower, and more work, I headed to the convention center for my first panel. I was moderating a discussion on writers' workshops. Everyone on the panel had solid credentials for being there, the audience of 50 or so folks stayed engaged, and it went about as well as these things do. I repeatedly made what I consider the key point: do all the workshopping you want, but write. Doing the work is the most important thing.

Later in the day, I attended the Baen preview show and talked about my upcoming books for the large and enthusiastic audience. I signed a few books afterward and generally enjoyed the preview.

I also had a good time at the masquerade, which I've been attending as a fan since my first Worldcon in 1978. Quite a few of the 31 costumes were entertaining, and several were also beautiful.

Before I forget: some folks at Baen's Bar let me know about a nice review of One Jump Ahead at io9. Check it out if you're interested.

I hadn't gone to a single con party prior to tonight, so I decided to sacrifice some sleep and attend a few this evening. In the course of doing so I was lucky enough to experience the funniest (well, at least to me) moment of the day.

Jennie and I were standing at the entrance to the SFWA suite, part of a group of people waiting for a break in the incoming tide so we could leave. Jennie was wearing a pair of jeans, a low-cut teal top that revealed a considerable amount of cleavage, and a blue fabric duster. Her con name badge was turned the wrong way, so you couldn't read her name. She was talking to someone, and I was standing behind her, minding my own business and working on staying calm while waiting in a crowd.

A man walked by, stopped, stared at Jennie for a moment, and then leaned close to me and whispered, "Is she a movie star? Would you turn her badge around? Who is she?"

Now, a sensible person would simply give her name. Instead, I stared at him in silence as I considered a multitude of options, including:

* "Yes, she's Meg Ryan. It's her first appearance since the hair dye and the augmentation."

* "Yes, but she works in porn."

* "No, she's the editor of Playboy scouting for bunnies."

Instead, I chose this option. I leaned a bit closer, then whispered, "She's..." dramatic pause, "Jennie." I leaned back as if that explained it all.

The man stared in wide-mouthed surprise and darted into the party.

I'm a bad person.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the road again: Denvention, day 3 - con stuff

I slept late and actually got a passable amount of slumber; six or eight months of this level of sleep, and I might begin to feel rested. Today will be the last full-sleep day, however, so no worries on that front.

After work, exercise, and more work, we headed to Rioja for lunch. The meal--we shared a bunch of appetizers--was fabulous and featured the single richest pasta dish I've ever tasted, their saffron fettuccine. Suffice to say that I ate half of an appetizer portion, and despite my status as a semi-professional eater, I don't think I could have finished an entree portion.

From there we rode the convenient and free Denver sixteenth street shuttle to the Sheraton for the Rising Stars reception. Though at some level it was the exercise in humiliation I had feared--new writers, one to a table, each staring soulfully into space in the hopes that someone would come by to chat--it was also, to my surprise, generally okay. I never had a moment without at least one visitor, I signed a few books, and I had quite a few pleasant and interesting conversations.

From there we hoofed it to the convention center and prowled the dealer's room. I signed books for booksellers who wanted me to do so, and all said my books were moving well--words to warm a writer's heart. I visited with some friends, then headed back to the room to work.

Dinner this evening was a Baen gathering that Toni Weisskopf, the Publisher, hosted at the Highland's Garden Cafe for the con's guest of honor, Lois McMaster Bujold, and multiple other Baen writers, editors, and friends. I had the chance to meet and chat with Rome Quezada, the editor of the Science Fiction Book Club and a fun and interesting man. The setting (an old Victorian house), the food, and the company were all good, and as near as I could tell everyone at the table had a good time.

After the cab ride back to the hotel, everyone headed out for the parties. Well, almost everyone: I'm writing this, and then I will work on Overthrowing Heaven. It's what I do.

Today was the light day. Tomorrow, it starts to get busy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On the road again: Denvention, day 2 - Eight Ball and Squid

The con began in earnest today, but I didn't see much of it. After eight and a half hours of sleep, I got up, worked, exercised, worked, showered, worked, and finally went to the con to register. The registration lines were generally long, but the one for people with last names in my part of the alphabet was non-existent, so I waltzed up and registered immediately.

After some time wandering this part of Denver, I worked more, then went to the con's opening ceremonies and also did a quick tour of the art show.

Multiple folks have remarked that it must be nice to be a celebrity as a writer. I suppose being a celebrity might be nice, though it might also suck, but it doesn't matter, because I'm definitely not one. Other than old friends, two people recognized my name badge today. The first, whose badge read "Eight Ball," is a Barfly (someone who spends a lot of time on Baen's Bar) and knew me from there, though he hadn't read any of my books. The second, whose badge read "Squid," actually wanted me to sign a book, though he didn't have it with him. (I promised to find him at the art show, where he's volunteering, and sign the book later. I love it when people want me to autograph their books.) That's the extent of my celebrity-hood.

By the way, I am not in any way trying to make fun of these men. Both seemed nice, both were polite and friendly, and I'd talk to either one again any time. You just have to admit that the fact that the only two fans who recognized my name were called Eight Ball and Squid is just too good to write about.

Tonight's dinner was at Luca D'Italia, and unlike last night's meal this one justified its cost. Each dish in the five-course tasting menu was yummy, and all were above average. If you're in the Denver area, I recommend it.

I have a book to write, so to it I now go.

On the road again: Denvention, day 1 - the rest of the day

Ah, the optimism of my morning post. Our delay became shorter only for a brief time, because somehow American and the crew for our flight failed to connect, so a plane's worth of people stood around and waited for the crew to show up from the Raleigh hotel where they were staying. That wait made us an extra hour late, so we landed shortly after our flight to Denver took off. It was a lovely morning.

Fortunately, I'm both lifetime platinum with American and a member of the Admiral's Club, so I got the benefit of a very competent woman who worked for the better part of an hour finding ways to get us to Denver. She ultimately managed to get us on the next flight, which was as good an answer as we could have hoped for. Of course, waiting there ate work time, so I'm just now winding down, and I am bushed.

The rest of the trip was blissfully uneventful, though I do hate the fact that it takes almost as long to taxi to the terminal in Denver and to get from the terminal to your baggage as in Dallas or Chicago.

Quite a few foodie sources we checked declared Denver a culinary wasteland, but we found some advocates and some promising places. Tonight, we ate dinner at one of them, Restaurant Kevin Taylor, and I'm sorry to report that neither the meal nor the service lived up to the price we paid. The venison was the star of the seven-course, assemble-it-yourself tasting menu, and the floor captain was a welcome bundle of overly nice energy, but overall the experience was not up to similarly priced competition nationally.

Still, it's hard to complain about your life when you're staying in a nice hotel, ate a glutton's meal of way better than average service, and have jobs that let you work indoors. I like to keep that perspective in mind.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On the road again: Denvention, day 1

Two hours and forty-five minutes after I crawled into bed, I awoke screaming through clenched teeth due to a massive cramp in my left calf muscle. I'd awakened once previously from a nervous dream, gone to the bathroom, and buried myself again under the covers.

To say that I don't handle early wake-ups before trips well is obviously to commit quite an understatement.

We hit the airport on time, which proved to be useless due to the massive weather delays in O'Hare. The American Airlines folks were on top of their game, however, having left messages at both the phone numbers they had for me; in my early morning stupidity, I had forgotten to check them.

Fortunately, the delays shortened, we're now only an hour behind schedule, and we have a shot at making our original connection.

Not a great start to the trip, but I've had worse. Still, I am hoping the day will improve.

Perhaps more later today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Heading out

Tonight will be insane: writing, packing, paying bills, family time, work, and so on. The nights before trips are always crazy. Worse, tomorrow I have to get up at what for me is a sad hour--about seven o'clock--and head to the airport a bit before eight. When I have to awaken early, I never sleep well, probably for fear I'll miss my flights. The good news is that if all goes well, I'll be in Denver by late afternoon local time.

If you're going to the Worldcon, I should be easy to find. In addition to the panel's I'm doing, I've also been invited to the Rising Stars reception and will attend it, and I'll be in the audience or helping at the Baen slide show. And, I'll hit a bunch of the parties, go to the masquerade and the Hugos, and so on. Feel free to come up and say hi, have me sign a book, or whatever. (Okay, maybe not any whatever, but most reasonable whatevers one might do in a public place with strangers.)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

An odd thing I did

Nathan Lilly, who runs the site, interviewed me about fourteen months ago at Balticon 41. He ran the podcast later, and I appreciated the press--and I hope listeners enjoyed the conversation. Nathan and I hadn't crossed paths since then.

In the middle of June, he emailed me and asked if I would act as one of the three judges for a space westerns' senryu contest on his site.

Those of you who know me and understand how completely and utterly insane my schedule is, how little I sleep, how far behind I am, and how stressed I am, will know that there is only one reasonable answer I could give.

I ignored all that and said, yes.

Why? Because it was just odd enough and interesting enough that I wanted to try it. Weird is appealing (within limits).

I won't give away any of the entries (nor do I know the winners), but you can read about them on Nathan's site on August 6, when he announces the winners. Check it out; you might enjoy it.


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