A lot of things happen at a conference, especially one with both a writing fan angle. Add in a gaming element and it takes on a totally different atmosphere and feel. My previous exposure to conferences has been through the mystery genre, and let me tell ya. Them babies is very different from ConCarolinas. At no mystery con, would one walk into the ladies room and see a bikini-leather-clad dominatrix putting the finishing touches on her makeup…and then, later, leading Little Bo Peep around by a neck collar, leash, and handcuffs. It was … interesting. Hubby enjoyed every minute of the event. But I have a feeling that David and Nancy kept the girls away. *grin*
At a mystery con, people are desperately trying to get on panels, meet new fans, dress for success, meet agents, corner editors. Never have I seen a writer in flip-flops or shorts or anything but business or formal clothes. This past weekend, I wore sandals and skirts and splangly shawls and was totally comfortable. (Thank you again, Misty for the loaner. I *love* it! You can borrow it back anytime. *cheeky grin*) And we writers were way more comfortable than the girls in chain mail bras, corsets, etc.
For all the debauchery, private parties, game-playing, over abundance of panels, and exhaustion, there was a strong writing and fan contingent. People came to see us, buy books, talk about writing, and learn. It was so wonderful to be there with friends (Misty, David, Gail Z Martin, Edmund Schubert) and work hard as a team, that I am still glowing today.
Not to say that it was totally peachy. There was one writer who pushed all my buttons, with whom I disagreed on every single subject from the nature of good and evil to what makes a writer. I pushed his buttons too, and we butted heads every single time our paths crossed. Not gonna give you a he-said, she-said. Not gonna tell you his name. What I am gonna do is tell you how he redeemed himself to me. Yeah, Misty and David, he did. This happened after you left. My hubby told me about it, and here it is, as much word for word as he could remember.
Next to the signing table where some of us hung out, was a self published writer. She sold over 40 books that weekend by being charming, reading the crowd, and having a ready and versatile shtick. I never looked at her work, though we worked near one another, and chatted several times. Frankly, it never occurred to me. *slaps own head*
This other writer, with whom I was having words often, (in my sweet, Southern way) told her she wasn’t really published because she was not commercially published. And she agreed, with a gentle kind spirit.
I think her reply must have surprised him, because when she wasn’t looking, he picked up her book and he read the first couple pages. Yeah. I know. *He* read her pages. I didn’t. I never offered. And I am supposed to the helpful one, the nice one. Hah! Difficult as he was, he picked up her book. Started reading. And kept reading. Blew me away when I heard it.
When she came back he slapped it in her hand. He said, “No reason in the world why this can’t be published. This is good. Really good. Here’s some names in the business you need to contact. Tell them I said you can write and they should take a look at your work. Tell them I’ll recommend you. Tell them to contact me about it. Good luck.”
Within ten minutes after this um…difficult…man left, the girl had an agent and a small press publisher (who had been considering this all weekend anyway) who said, “If New York doesn’t want you, I do.” And her world took off, at speed, on a totally different angle.
So. People are amazing. And redemption is still possible. And if all fantasy cons are this much fun, I will never attend another mystery conference again.
Faith – who is still smiling.