trips and other fun things


Like David and Misty, I’m back. Unlike David and Misty, I’m not at home yet, but through the magical mystery of the Internet, am back virtually on MagicalWords.  My body is somewhere on the plains of Kansas…no wait, it’s the rolling hills of Okalahoma, seeing the country and taking rivers. And listening to the hubby find songs for every freaking state, city, etc that we pass through. Entering Okalahoma has been the worst. He doesn’t listen to show tunes but he knows the opening phrases…over and over. Arrrrg! Anyway, hope this loads up properly on the laptop…


For the past few weeks I’ve been crossing the country doing research for my AKA’s (Gwen Hunter) thriller that will be out this Feb. 09, and getting to Denver for the conference, which was called both WorldCon and Denvention3.


It’s been a lovely trip, full of unexpected surprises – things I will use in future books, including, possibly, Golden, Colorado as a book setting. But I’ll blog on that in another place. Speaking of which…the conference.


This was my first WorldCon, held in Denver, and it was fine, fun and full of fantasy. There were lovely visits with my agent, Lucienne Diver, whom I adore, and dinner with my new editor at ROC (division of Penguin) Jessica Wade. She is perky, clever, thoughtful, willing to let a writer take chances with a character and plot, and, though she looks fourteen, has five years experience as an editor. Can’t beat all that. Except to say that we clicked, which is what all writers hope will happen with an editor. I do like her very much. That in itself was worth the price of the trip out.


The con… Well, many of you know that I come to conferences through the mystery and the romantic suspense genres. Cons in those genres are different, though there are similarities as well. Let me start with the clothing…


Fantasy cons…The animal ears, Star Wars costumes, erotica elements, belly dancer costumes, S&M and erotica elements, character clothing from a favorite series, and that was the fans. The writers tend to wear jeans and tees, which came as a shock…I mean, the mystery cons and romance cons, are so different.


Mystery cons are business attire by day. (Yeah, jackets and business slacks and loafers or comfortable walking shoes with arch supports.) Formals and tuxes are worn at the big events. No one wears costumes at a mystery con. The fans are usually older, with a demographic that is more mature, more traditional, and less ready to party. Heck, most mystery fans are asleep after the early news. (Did I say that? Faith slaps self.)


At romance cons, writers dress in the clothing of the time period in which they write, so writers and fans may show up in saloon girl clothing, cowboy or cowgirl outfits complete with whips and six-shooters, pirate outfits, medieval costume, or Elizabethan gowns. The erotica element is present there too, like in fantasy cons, with just as much to show. Ahem.


Parties: The parties at WorldCon were fun, though the fact that I don’t care for parties might have something to do with the fact that I left early every time. Fantasy con parties are drunken, loud, with a lot of hooking up for after-hour sex. Our little group hung together and we may as well have worn *Keep Away* signs around our necks for the trollers.


Mystery con parties may serve wine or beer, but will as often serve hot tea. And scones with jam. I kid you not. However, the hooking up still takes place, and it is amusing watching the thriller writers troll for other writers and fans young enough to make do.


Romance con parties—well…like fantasy parties, they are rowdy and drunken gatherings of fans (all women) and writers (99% women) and most of them straight. And so few men, and most of them gay. So, not much hooking up. At one memorable RWA con party I went to, 50 drunk women pulled my hubby into the middle of the dance floor and spent 2 hours rubbing all over the poor poor *poor* guy while I talked business with my editor and publisher. I still tease him unmercifully about that, and he gets this happy glow when I do. And yes, we went home together. And I had a lovely evening…. Okay. Onward.


At mystery and fantasy cons, what is much more fun than publisher parties is gathering in the bar with writers (those not looking for a temporary bed partner) after the evening’s official events end, sipping beer and chatting as the group ebbs and flows, grows and shrinks and the hours pass. I’ve spent evenings with big name and midlist writers and fans and gotten a few good pics…and lots of good advice. At WorldCon, well, David has already mentioned the writerly names, so I won’t bore with repetition, (Faith waves hi to all the new friends!) but it was wonderful, and I met lots of new people.


David has a sharp wit and kept us all laughing. Misty Massey can talk to anyone, and if she ever tells you she is shy, she is fibbing through her teeth. She is gracious, charming, and took good care of me when my adrenaline condition acted up and I got lost. Real lost. Like, couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag—that kind of lost. And totally forgetful. When it happens it is like falling into full blown Alzheimer’s. A bit of rest helps, but there wasn’t much rest this week. Because of the panels….


The panels at all cons are really good, and David, Misty, and I had several each, but often opposite each other, so getting together for lunch was nearly impossible. On my panels, there was a lot of give and take between the writers, with great audience participation. Only on two panels, one of Misty’s (which I did get to attend) and one of mine, did a writer consider herself the only expert and take over. Writers who do that are tiresome, and spoil things for everyone, as the audience comes to hear a group, rather than a monologue, and if the moderator sits there like a rock on a turtle, allowing said chatty writer take over, it gets boring. On Misty’s panel, the moderator was Mr. Rock on Turtle. On my panel, the moderator did a great job and called chatty Miz Know It All (not the same person as on Misty’s panel) down. And had to keep calling her down, over and over. Tiresome.


There were people from my Yahoo group at AWorldCon, Randy and Char, and we ran into them all week, but never found time to belly dance. Though yes, I brought my hip scarf. I did get a private filk demonstration from Char, and she has a lovely, clear voice. (Hi Randy, hi Char!) David, you would have loved it. (happy grins) Filk is a type of musical style that is very whimsical, lyrical, full of medieval influences, and is often story-telling at its musical best. And it works with fantasy-based cons. Randy and Char also gave me cake. Very good cake! And salt and vinegar potato chips. I was sooo hungry!


Last but not least, was the seminar I gave on the First Five Pages, and Why My Manuscript Didn’t Sell. It went very well. Very very very well. (Hi to new fans and writers from the seminar!) I was quite pleased. Well, I was quite pleased with the entire week. Cons for fans are fun! And they are part of a writer’s life, necessary for several reasons, which is what this rambling monologue has been leading up to. I’ll list a few reasons:


  1. To see agents and editors, keeping high in their radar
  2. To hear about the industry and what is happening, might happen, or recently happened
  3. To taste regional food (read beer here…90 Shillings and Fat Tire. Yummy)
  4. To connect with fans and hopefully make new ones
  5. To connect with writer friends. I live near Misty and about 5 other writers, but most live miles away and I might bump into them in person only once or twice a year. I made new writer friends and look forward to seeing them again at other cons (More waving!)
  6. To attend parties with publisher bigwigs
  7. To rub elbows with the creative and powerful
  8. To brainstorm PR and book ideas with fellow writers
  9. To plan for the future, both series and business and next year’s cons
  10. To have a bit of fun in an occupation that is so very solitary


Negatives for cons? Expense. Time not spent writing. Did I mention expense? Time away from family. Oh—and then there is the expense. What cons also don’t do is make a measurable, quick difference in a career. Writers don’t see an instant jump in book sales.  Writers don’t suddenly move up the lists. And cons are very expensive. Yeah, I know. I said that already. Flights (or in my case RV gas) hotels (or in my case RV camp fees) and food are a lot to pay to be part of an industry that won’t do much to help you with your career until you are already moving up the charts. But the fun and the after-party beer/cola/water fests make it all worthwhile.



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