The con started too damn early for me today with a 10:00 a.m. panel on Finance for Beginning Writers. The audience was initially quite small, half a dozen or so folks, but it tripled in the first 15 minutes as more people wandered into the room. We discussed many different aspects of the money side of writing, from what to expect (not much money), to whether to quit your day job (most of us said no, but some argued it could be an effective way to focus), to how to manage the little bit of money you do make (pay your taxes!). It went well, and everyone in attendance seemed happy at its end.
After a short nap in the car and a small burrito at a nearby Moe's, I returned to the con for a 1:00 p.m. panel on Science Fiction and Ethics. The discussion ranged over a broad variety of related topics, and though all the panelists had strong feelings on many topics, we managed to successfully avoid much conflict. I enjoyed this topic and could easily have kept discussing it for another hour. The audience, which was a pretty good size, seemed to feel the same way, which was great.
During the next hour, I learned a couple of con-related, interesting things.
First was that our local paper, the News & Observer, had run an article on the con. The piece even quoted me, which I suppose is good, though more context would have been nice.
Then, Ticia texted me a picture from the con folks about a sketch that Tim Powers had done and then donated to the charity auction.
I think the sketch is very cool, and I didn't want to miss a chance to own one of Powers' drawings, so I changed my evening plans so I could attend the auction.
After a little wandering and some rest in a quiet corner, I showed up for my 3:00 p.m. signing. As is usually the case, I signed only a few books, talked to some friends who wandered by, and dreamed of being one of those writers whose signing line stretches around the block. As these thoughts took their toll on my mood, I started marking up the signing announcement sheet. Bored with that, I wrote a short, depressing story in lines wrapping around the page.
I planned to leave it there, but Jennie and Glennis spotted it, and Jennie snapped it up. That proved to be a good thing, because a little while later one of the con folks said they had heard about it and asked if I would donate it to the charity auction. I said, sure, and Jennie gave it to them.
If you blow it up and turn your head (or print it and turn it), you can read the few sentences of this bit of bleakness.
I then scooted off to the Baen Traveling Road Show, where I spoke about my books and my upcoming (and still not done) Heinlein afterword. I also just enjoyed the show and the chance to learn about the upcoming Baen books.
Though I would normally have gone home at that point, I waited around until the charity auction began. I learned there that somehow they had lost the sheet with the story, so it couldn't go up for auction. I hope someone has it and enjoys it.
I asked if they would auction the Powers sketch early, and they agreed reluctantly but nicely to do so.
It was the third item up.
The auctioneer opened the bidding at ten bucks, and I sat silently as a few different folks bid it to $17.
"Twenty-five," I said.
The room grew a bit quieter. A voice behind me said, "Twenty-six."
"Fifty," I said.
"I think I heard a 'comma, bitch,'" the auctioneer said.
A voice behind me, quieter this time, said, "Fifty-five."
"One hundred," I said.
No one in the room made a sound. "Well, I suspect that's that," the auctioneer said, and it was.
I plead guilty to having to leave early, paid for the piece, and headed out to dinner.