Writer's Weekend 2005, Quality Inn, Seattle, 9-12 June

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This has to win the record for Con At Which I Was Least Coherent, beating out even Redemption 2001 where I was battling an 11 hour time difference jet lag. I'd picked up a bug at Baycon two weekends earlier, which I'd just got over when I found myself needing an emergency root canal filling the day before getting on a plane to Seattle. Spending three and a half hours in the dentist's chair at four hours' notice was not the ideal way to start the con, even if the pain control is very good nowadays. It disrupted my packing, and ensured that I was bone-tired before the con had even started. So some of what follows may not be accurate as to timing, or coincide with what other people remember. :-)

This is the draft version -- it may be updated later, and photos may appear.

20 June -- added comments by Anna Genoese on selling gay paranormal romance to the report of the Size matters panel.

This report's long and rambling even by my standards, so I've done an index. I took detailed notes at some panels which were stuffed with information likely to be useful to other relatively inexperienced writers, and those are marked in the index with an asterisk.


I arrived fairly early, in spite of the best efforts of the shared ride van service from Seattle airport, and was first of my roommates to check in. Registration wasn't going to be open for another couple of hours, so there wasn't the option of wandering around peering at name tags looking for any of the people I knew without knowing their physical appearance. There _was_ the possibility of going up to people and saying, "Do I know you?", which I did for a bit, but finding lunch seemed like a better use of time. I wasn't hungry, but suspected that once I started eating I'd want more than nibbles. I was proved right, as the teriyaki chicken burger from the nearby garage's in-shop fry bar seemed to slip down with no trouble at all. After that I socialised for a bit, and then registration opened early, so some of us registered and then started talking to people whose names we no longer had to try to remember. We were all fascinated by the layout of the hotel, which involves walking from the reception lobby through the pool area to reach the function rooms and dining room...

I did in fact manage to hook up with Allie McKnight and Doreen DeSalvo from Loose Id shortly after registration opened because Allie was very sensibly wearing a Loose Id teeshirt, and thus was instantly recognisable as somebody that I should accost, even before I got close enough to read the name tag. We retreated to their room for a bit, where Doreen and I inspected each other's publicity materials. I've been getting 6x4 photographic prints made of my cover art at rtizpix.com, Doreen has been getting address labels and 6x4 fridge magnets of hers at vistaprint.com. Both of us were impressed with the other's items, and website addresses for the manufacturers were exchanged. I also got to see the new print books from Loose Id, and was impressed with the physical quality of the books -- they're nicely bound, and on acid-free paper.

Nibbles were served at 5, after which I went to :

Fanfic: how it can affect your writing

The panel was by Anna Genoese (Tor's paranormal romance editor) and Kassandra Sims. I can remember that it was great fun and had some useful advice, but can't decipher most of my notes. Anna did say that when submitting profic, there is no point in mentioning that you have won fanfic awards unless you know that the editor likes fanfic. Something to bear in mind on profic is that you need rapid sales in the first couple of weeks, because if you aren't selling a high percentage of the stock ordered within six weeks of it hitting the shelves, it will not be re-ordered and the stock already on the shelf will probably be pulled and returned to the publisher. If you've already got a following from your fanfic writing, use that to generate interest when the pro book hits the market. Post in your fanfic LJ, and ask your friends to post about it in theirs. You want as many sales as possible in the first two weeks after the book is released, so you want that buzz generated as quickly as possible. Another comment -- people who write fanfic tend to be fairly low on the descriptive detail even when they switch to original fiction, and it can be very, very obvious that someone isn't used to having to fill in the background detail you can _see_ on screen when you're writing fanfic.


Met up with my editor, Raven McKnight, who had seen rather more of Seattle by foot than she had planned or desired. We went out in search of dinner, and discovered that Seattle closes early. In fact, Seattle closes before 9, at least that part of it we walked through. Or worse. Since when does Starbucks close at 6? Even in Silicon Valley that's a bit on the early side. We ended up in Subway, on the grounds that it was cheap, edible, easily chewable (a major consideration for one member of the party), and _open_.

We eventually wandered back to the con hotel and met up with our other roommate, Jet Mykles (another Loose Id author). There being not that much on, we went to bed reasonably early. Or at least we went to our room early, and then proceeded to talk non-stop for some considerable time, setting a pattern for the rest of the weekend. Two authors and their editor sharing a room makes for interesting conversation. :-)

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Friday morning

Breakfast was included in the price of the room, so I made sure that I was down in the dining room in time to get some, even if my roommates were muttering darkly and pulling pillows over their heads. The food was excellent, a buffet but freshly cooked. The hot buffet was scrambled eggs that were creamy, not rubbery, and bacon that actually had some lean as well as fat, and American Breakfast Things that I left alone. Waffles as well, real waffles you made by pouring batter into a waffle iron, not those toaster things. Queuing to use the waffle iron was required, but they were worth the wait. I haven't dared weigh myself since I got home. :-)

One of the things this weekend is supposed to achieve is networking with other authors, so naturally I managed to sit at a table with two of the few mundanes in the hotel... I was somewhat taken aback to be asked, "You're not American, are you?" before I'd even opened my mouth. I'm used to this question, but only after the American in question has heard my very, very English accent. All was explained when she went on, "You use your knife and fork in the European style." I'd forgotten about that little cultural difference.

Size Matters

20 June -- added comments by Anna Genoese on selling gay paranormal romance.

First panel of the day was Size Matters, with agent Evan Fogelman and Tor editors Melissa Singer and Anna Genoese. This was the 9 am panel, so I was a little late, but the panel was well worth getting up for. Lots of useful facts and figures. What I noted down follows:

Once upon a time returns (stock returned by the booksellers to the publishers because the copies hadn't sold) on mass market paperbacks were 50%, now that's typically 60-70%. That means that for every book sold you had to print two, and now you have to print three. The money returned to publishers is about 50c/book, out of which they have to pay all their expenses, including royalties for the authors. The MMP may barely break even, so the hardcover is needed to make money. This has knock-on consequences -- if you have a self-published book that has sold well, this may be a _dis_incentive for a big publisher, because you may have already used up the potential hardcover market.

Print run size in sf is typically 25,000 for the MMP and 3,000 for the hardcover. In romance the MMP print run is typically 50-100,000.

Cover/query letters and credentials: some credentials are useful on the cover letter, some aren't. Evan pointed out that from an agent's point of view, one essential credential is being well read in the genre you're writing in. It doesn't go in the query letter, but it's something an agent is likely to ask -- and if you've decided that it would be nice to write in a genre you know nothing about, it doesn't look good. The editors told horror stories of manuscripts which were very, very obviously written by people who knew nothing about the genre -- often by writers experienced in another genre who didn't realise that being good in that genre didn't qualify them to write in an unfamiliar one. Anna said that a lot of romance writers inspired by Lord of the Rings were convinced that what they really, really wanted to write was a fantasy novel. :-)

Having a degree in creative writing is irrelevant. An MFA is _negative_, as most of the teachers have never been published themselves. Evan said to think about what that means about what they're teaching to their students.

Membership of writers' organisations is mostly irrelevant, because it's possible to become a member of most without having any sales history. They might look at active membership of an RWA _chapter_ (not membership of the national organisation) because those are often genuinely helpful in teaching people the nuts and bolts of writing. However, saying you're a pro RWA member (rather than just saying you're a member) is a point off. You can be a pro member if you submitted a manuscript and were rejected, so it's no guarantee of proven sales history -- and if you don't realise that, and think pro membership is worth quoting, you're labelling yourself as inexperienced.

Relevant work experience is useful, as is relevant non-fiction writing. The key word here is relevant.

Contests are not worth mentioning unless you came first and they're reasonably well known. There are some prestigious ones you should mention, _if_ you came first, not if you came third. And a huge string of places in contests is counterproductive, as it starts to look as if you keep shopping it around the contests because you haven't been able to sell it. Basic rule of thumb is that if you can't use it on the cover to sell the book, it's not relevant.

Writer's Workshops -- some are good and worth mentioning. Two explicitly mentioned were Clarion and Borderlands. Most aren't worth mentioning, and even if they are, they must be appropriate to the genre of the book you're submitting.

There was a comment that credentials can help if you already have very good writing, they won't sell a mediocre book.

Non-US credentials aren't necessarily useless when selling to a US market, but you need to give some idea of what they mean -- it's a big world, and they can't keep up with everything.

Screen-writing credits are good if they're in the same genre, and good anyway if they mean you have useful contacts in the business. If you can get a cover quote from a household name, this is excellent.

I asked whether it's worth using contests to put manuscripts in front of judges who are agents or editors, and was told yes.

Don't include photos, bribes or sob stories in your cover/query letter. It doesn't work, and it may annoy people. Anna mentioned that as a romance editor she often gets chocolate, which would be very nice except that it's usually milk chocolate and she's a vegan... (Melissa said that everyone else in the office appreciates the chocolate sent to Anna:-)

Length needs to be 75-100,000 words. Under 75,000, and you can't charge enough for the book to cover the cost of making it. Over 100,000 and the book is thick enough that you can fit one less copy on a shelf or in the pocket of a stand. That then goes back to the "print three for every one sold" -- if you've got two copies in the stand pocket, you won't sell any, if you've got three, you'll sell one. Several of the bookselling chains will no longer buy anything where the spine is more than an inch thick.

If you have an agent, don't submit manuscripts yourself. It will only make the editor wonder why you're trying to work around your agent, and it looks bad.

It's worth saying in your letter if you can get a blurb from someone who'd be a selling point on the book's cover. If you know a famous author, and they'd be willing to give a quote, say so. However, be sure they _will_ give a quote, and think about whether it's worth getting a quote. Someone who's said "the best book I've read all year" on half a dozen books this year isn't going to be of great interest.

You need to have an agent who's familiar in the genre. Submissions from an agent who's good but doesn't have any experience in that specific genre are ranked only slightly higher than the unagented slush.

Update: I asked a question about the likelihood of being able to sell gay paranormal romance. It wasn't in the draft of my report because it wasn't in the huge wodge of notes I scribbled during the panel, but Anna later commented on the issue on the Writer's Weekend LiveJournal community in response to something said about it in someone's con report. Anna's given me permission to quote the post here:

The other day, I was reading someone's write-up of the convention -- I don't remember whose it was, of course -- and I noticed that there was mention of something I'd "said". It nagged at me through the weekend, so I'm going to post this here. Either what I said was unclear (a definite possibility) or what I said was misinterpreted (also a definite possibility).

Here is the deal with gay romance: it's really hard for Tor to publish paranormal romance novels aimed at the GLBTQ community, because, as I said in the cross-genre panel, genre definitions are used as marketing and targeting tools. 99% of the people going into the romance novel section of a bookstore want a very specific sort of book -- one with a sexed-male, gendered-male hero, and a sexed-female, gendered-female heroine.

This sucks for those of us who are interested in a more inclusive view of the romance novel, but that's the way it is right now.

That is not to say that there cannot be GLTBQ characters in the books -- only that the main focus should be on the heterosexuals, because they are what is selling the book. Seriously. This is a business, and selling books is really the point -- most of the time.

The post mentioned that I'd said that GLBTQ characters were unwelcome in books submitted to me and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. This is a strange thing that I am positive I would never say, as neither Patrick nor I have any problems with GLBTQ characters and protagonists, etc. There are GLBTQ characters in several books I've edited.

Tor actually publishes quite a few books featuring GLBTQ themes and characters, especially in fantasy and science fiction.

Rant rant rant, etc. I just needed to set the record straight. (Er. Ahem.)

End quote.

More Friday morning

I missed the other Friday morning panels, being too busy gossiping, er, _networking_ with other authors. I'd gone to the food nook to pick up some caffeine, and ended up in conversation with Rosemary Laurey and Susan Sizemore. Susan hadn't heard about the RWA graphical standards uproar, so Rosemary and I brought her up to date. :->

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Friday afternoon

Hidden Markets

Mike Hemmingson gave a talk on hidden markets. Jet and I missed the first ten minutes of this (a fairly common pattern throughout the weekend), but we still picked up some interesting stuff.

He was discussing book packagers when we arrived. These are the folk who amongst other things put together series of books, selecting authors to write books in the series, and selling the series to a publisher (or possibly publishing it themselves). You may well find yourself one of several writers writing under the name of the nominal series author. The typical pattern is that you get given a detailed synopsis and told to write the book to that synopsis. If you're one of their stable of established authors, you may get to suggest plots for future books. One way to get into these is to look at the copyright page of a series book -- the copyright holder is the book packager. That's the company you need to contact.

Look at niche book clubs -- they may sell original books as well as reprints. The example he gave was the Venus Book Club. Many of the big publishers and book clubs have these niche book clubs as specialist imprints.

Look at erotica presses. Useful titbit -- Blue Moon is no longer accepting submissions from outside its stable of in-house authors, as the line no longer has an editor.

You don't need an agent, but an agent will get you a better deal, and make sure that you actually get paid. A lot of publishers are very good at failing to remember to pay the money.

Good places to research markets: _not_ Writer's Digest. Networking -- Mike's bagged a fair number of jobs by talking to people at cons etc. Various market listings websites, e.g. www.ralan.com for sf, www.erotica-readers.com/ for erotica. Newsletters such as Scavengers.


I skipped the next panel, because I managed to track down Alma Alexander who'd just arrived. There were several of my online friends at this con, leading to the perennial problem of recognising someone you've never met in the flesh before. Alma was the only person I managed to recognise from her online photo with reasonable certainty. :-) She was in sore need of coffee, the coffee stand in the food nook was temporarily unattended, and the hotel was failing to provide a key to her room. So I took her off to my room and pointed her at the percolator. We had a nice long chat catching up on various things and talking about rec.arts.sf.composition. Which reminds me, I don't think I ever wore my cat vacuuming badge, even though I'd packed it. I'd meant to show it to the Iddies who'd asked about cat-vacuuming after I'd mentioned the subject in my LiveJournal.

There is no story fairy: overcoming writing myths

Eve Gordon and Wolfgang Baur presented a panel about writing myths, starting with the one about not working for a story, it just strikes when the story fairy feels like bringing one. Of variable interest and usefulness -- some of the things they derided as myths actually do feel to some writers as if they happen that way.

The next session was another "sit around nattering instead of going to a panel". After that there was a mass turnout of Iddies for:

Sizzle workshop

Alisa McKnight, co-owner of Loose Id, presented a workshop on writing erotic romance. She coped wonderfully well with having a bunch of Iddies sitting centre front and grinning evilly at her throughout. Lots of useful advice, none of which I have actually written down, but it's well worth going to her workshop if you have the chance and are interested in the subject. Ask her about tentacle porn...

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Friday evening

Take an agent to dinner

Less exciting than it sounds -- groups of five authors plus an agent sitting around a table, eating the same takeaway pizza as the rest of the con but in a private room. It was a good opportunity to chat informally to an agent, and I think of more use to me than a pitch session would have been. The agent on my table was Susannah Taylor of the Richard Henshaw Group. Fortunately she turned out to not be in the least bothered by questions about my chances of placing a gay romance. Her advice was that it would be difficult but not impossible to place, and there is a growing recognition in the publishing industry that there's a market for such material. It may prove easier to sell as time goes on. She suggested that I try Kensington.

Is that a bagel in your pocket? Conveying culture through detail

What was undoubtedly an interesting panel to others, but I was starting to fade at this point and ended up leaving after fifteen minutes or so. I was still badly affected by the root canal surgery, so I was just too tired to concentrate, and a lot of it was stuff I'm already only too well aware of from personal experience. There'd been an example at breakfast that very morning, with the cutlery incident... I felt better once I'd been out of the room for a while, so I suspect part of the problem was that the panel room tended to get very stuffy.

Reading by Alma Alexander

I went to hear Alma read from The Secrets of Jin Shei. I'd followed the progress of this book in discussions on rec.arts.sf.composition, but I'd never actually seen any of the text. It's been on my to-buy list, but after the reading it got bumped up a good deal higher in the priority list. :-) Wonderful reading, and in fact I bought the book the next day.

Fanfic/slash reading

I was well and truly wilting by 9 pm, but that did not stop my publishers and editor suggesting very firmly that it would be jolly nice if I read a little something at the fanfic/slash session. I was dragged, protesting feebly, to the sign-up sheet, where it transpired that there was a ten minute slot still left at the very start of the session at 9.30. I thought I could stay awake _that_ long, and signed up. There then ensued a comedy of trying to print out the excerpt of Mindscan from the Loose Id website, that having been decided upon as suitable material. Unfortunately nobody had a printer, so it was necessary to take the file down to the front desk of the hotel to use their printer. The desk clerk was quizzed as to his age, it not being entirely obvious he was over 18, and was then told firmly not to read it even if he _was_ over 18. It's a bit raunchy. :-)

It seems my skills at reading to an audience in a large room have not deserted me over the last couple of years. I managed to make myself heard at the back of the audience without shouting, etc, etc. Pity I was so tired that I forgot to say who I was and what the title of the piece was, even if I did manage to do an impromptu "the story so far" summary to introduce the excerpt. Anna Genoese did a lovely job of getting that information out of me after the reading without being obvious about it, for which I am extremely grateful.

So I started with Predatrix's joke about, "This is male/male erotica. If you don't like that sort of thing, please leave. If you do like that sort of thing, please wipe your seat afterwards." The excerpt fitted nicely in the ten minute slot, and I finished with, "I'm sorry, but my publisher won't allow me to give you the orgasm. You'll have to buy the book for that." Which was in fact perfectly true... I didn't dare look, but I was told by my roommates that the reaction was most gratifying. Doreen the marketing manager promptly took advantage and started handing out business cards with the Loose Id url to those frantic to find out what happened next.

I probably should have just given up and gone to bed at that point, because it's not very diplomatic to doze off in the front row of the audience for the Tor editor reading her friend's Harry/Draco fic. I didn't actually fall asleep, but came near to it. Was a rather good fic, and I must remember to point Predatrix at it, as I think she'll enjoy it. I did ask the next day where to find the full story so that she can look at it.

Anna declared a cigarette break, at which point I decided that enough was enough and staggered roomwards. Further conversation ensued, but I did get a decent night's sleep.

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Saturday morning

Once again I made it to breakfast while certain people stayed under the covers. They had no particular incentive to get up, as none of us were very interested in the panels in the first two slots of the morning. The time was occupied with networking (lovely euphemism, that). Annoyingly, the two panels we all wanted to go to were on at the same time. I opted for "Booksellers and your writing career", as being the panel most likely to be of practical use in the near future.

Booksellers & your writing career

This should have been presented by two people, but only Russ Robertson was present. He had a sore throat, so it was hard going for him to have to present the panel on his own. He still managed to give some good advice on organising signings and readings. Russ is a staff member of the university bookshop, so was speaking from experience on the bookshop's side.

If you're a local author, meet the bookseller and make that clear. If it's a bookshop you normally frequent so much the better. There are advantages to being local -- it may attract more customers because of local interest, and it makes it much easier to find a convenient slot in the calendar if you don't have to plan the travel arrangements.

Try to give lots of advance notice, ideally at least several weeks. Events calendars fill up well in advance, and the more notice you give, the more chance there is that there will be a slot free when it's convenient for you, or at all. It also gives the shop time to order in stock for a signing, and remember that if it's a UK import they'll need even more time to get the stock. Let them know in advance of publication if you're doing a publication promotion event.

In response to a question -- booksellers do network with each other, and exchange events calendars (occasionally leading to outbreaks of jealousy over guests:-).

They will deal with POD houses, but it's more difficult. Short discount or non-returnable books are a no-no. They need to get a 40% discount or it's not worth their while. Also no pay-in-advance, because if stock doesn't sell it's often impractical to actually get the money back even if it's theoretically returnable. If the pay-in-advance is refunded as a credit on future orders from that publisher, in practice it's not returnable. The shop won't be ordering enough new stock from that publisher to get the money back.

Organising a signing at a local shop. Approach one of the staff members, explain that you're a local author and would like to do an event, and ask if they do events and to speak to the appropriate person. The most appropriate person is likely to be the person in charge of the section for your book, rather than the head buyer. There's typically someone who's in overall charge of organising events. They may be called something like community outreach or event co-ordinator. It's useful to have a package of information for the shop -- details on the book, publicity blurb, ordering information. Be aware that shops aren't always interested, especially if you're not a known name. Although it's rare, it's not unknown for there to be outright rudeness to unknown authors asking for an event.

If you do get an event, check on whether it's a reading or a talk (a lot of the potential audience will be more interested in a reading than a talk, especially a reading from a forthcoming book), and if it's a reading make sure you have something to read.:-) Some people have been unpleasantly surprised... Good idea to bring a name tag, covers of forthcoming projects, etc. Phone them the day before just to check that things are still going to plan and reassure them that you haven't forgotten all about it (and make sure you _don't_ forget about it, because people do). Turn up on time -- Russ said it's amazing how many people don't. If you can't get there on time, phone the shop and let them know, as far in advance as possible. And let them know when you _are_ going to arrive, and keep them updated. Russ had a story about a Neil Gaiman signing where Neil's plane was delayed, leaving the shop with no guest, no idea where he was, and a shop full of baying fans. Eventually they found out what was going on, and that Neil was still in a circling plane but would be there eventually. They asked to be told when the plane landed. Unfortunately, the next contact they received was the one to say that the car was just approaching the shop, leaving no time to round up all the fans who'd dispersed around the building to do a bit of shopping while they waited...

Don't be rude to the shop staff, even if it's been a long tour and you want nothing more than to crawl into bed. _Really_, really don't be rude to the fans, even if you've got provocation. People notice, and booksellers network. They might forgive you for being cranky with them, they know what the grind of book tours can be like, but don't be rude to the paying public.

Booksellers may have to impose limits on how many books are signed, or require that at least one book per person is bought in the shop, or have a ticket system. If it's a big event, they'll probably need to hire a room, and that costs money. They may not get all of it back even if everyone at the event buys a book from them, but they'll really be out of pocket if everyone who comes to the event just brings in books that they've bought somewhere else. You may also get asked to sign stock for people who aren't there, but who've sent in an order by mail. Oh, and if you've ever thought you've made yourself look clever by telling a bookseller that the shop on the other side of town is cheaper, think again. Russ had some scathing remarks about people who spend an hour driving across town to save 50c on a hardback, and then boast to the local shop about it...

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Saturday afternoon

Keynote speech: Alma Alexander/Deckert

After lunch I went to hear Alma's keynote speech, about half an hour long. Alma gave an excellent speech about the need to never give up, with examples from her own career. Will nag Alma to put it online rather than try to remember it. :-)

The bookseller started setting up for the signing session shortly afterwards, so I bought a hardback copy of "The Secrets of Jin Shei" and got Alma to sign it. It is what I will be reading as soon as I've finished writing this con report. I also managed to catch up with someone else I know slightly from online, Jim MacDonald. He and Debra Doyle showed me a copy of that most excellent masterpiece, Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea. It was all I had been led to believe it was. :-) More details here: http://www.travistea.com/. I will note in passing that lulu.com put out a physically nice product.

That was what genre?

Panel on cross-genre books hosted by Janna Silverstein, Anna Genoese and Mike McArtor. I can remember being at this panel. I can remember managing to nearly fall asleep in the front row of that particular panel room when Anna Genoese was behind the table for the second time in two days. I can remember that the panel was both extremely enjoyable and very useful. And I can remember bugger all else about it, and appear to have neglected to take any notes. The after-effects of the dental surgery had once again caught up with me...


I wandered back to the main panel room for the second half of the booksigning. The signing and booksale was open to the public, so there were a fair number of people who'd come in just for the signing.. There was _still_ an enormous queue for Sherrilyn Kenyon, even after the first hour. Bless her, she signed and signed and signed, until well after the official end of the signing session. She signed until every last fan had got their autograph, and smiled throughout. Excellent example of what Russ had been talking about at the bookseller panel that morning.

I pottered about talking to people I knew who were doing signings but not busy. Loose Id seemed to do quite well at the signing session, although it would have been even better if all of the books that had been ordered had actually turned up. One carton of the latest batch of print releases seemed to have gone missing somewhere along the line, which was a shame as this was the first opportunity anyone would have had to buy them, and they'd have probably sold fairly well.

Anna dishes the dirt: the call to action/talk to the hand

I think that this was the panel that consisted of Anna Genoese and Melissa Singer bitching most entertainingly about the evils of The Hero's Journey, with special attention paid to Harry Potter. In the same panel room as the one where I'd already nearly fallen asleep twice. I'd learnt my lesson and ensured we went for seats at the back of the room, where it would be less obvious that I was in zombie mode. Seats with actual tables, so when I really couldn't stay awake any longer, it was less disruptive to just fall asleep on the table for five minutes than to get up and go to my room. My roommates were there, so at least I knew there was someone to kick me if I started sleeping loudly. :-) I did actually hear most of the panel, but at this point can't remember any of the juicy details.

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Saturday evening


A trip to the food nook to find some calories and caffeine, then Jet, Raven and I returned to the room to get ready for the banquet. Someone turned on the tv, ensuring that we were thoroughly distracted by Gremlins, which had just reached the part where they discover why you should never feed the cute fluffy creature after midnight. We were late down to the queue, but it was a fairly slow-moving queue, so this didn't matter too much.

Lots of time to talk in the queue. There was the discussion about my desire to have Jet do dress-up paper dolls and/or fridge magnets, eventually leading to us realising that we were having a rather loud X-rated conversation in a public place and apologising to the people in front of us, only to be told do go on, it's fascinating. Ditto my description of The Syndicate as fluffy BDSM gay romantic comedy in space, which one of the audience said certainly sounded like an excellent example of the cross-genre writing that was the theme of the weekend. I was still very tired, but Raven managed to get my attention when I started to doze by drooling over the barman and mentioning that he was wearing a wrist cuff. She knows my tastes only too well...

The food wasn't bad, but the banquet wasn't the networking opportunity it should have been. There were so many people in the room that there wasn't room to get up and wander around to talk to people, which was disappointing. Raven, Jet and I found ourselves mostly talking to the two women directly opposite us. And found ourselves hastily reviewing the conversation when one of them let slip that technically she's not a woman but a girl, being but seventeen years of age. Oops. We decided that we probably couldn't be had up on charges of corrupting a minor. I _know_ that they were already well corrupted (or we wouldn't have been having that sort of conversation anyway, we're not _that_ daft), but that wouldn't matter to the law enforcement agencies...

The keynote speech for the banquet was given by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and a most excellent speech it was, once again on the theme of "never give up". Winners of the Scarlet Writer's Contest were announced, and champagne and chocolate were handed round (which I think is when we discovered that the young lady opposite was both not old enough to drink, and honest enough to say so).

Apres banquet

Eventually we wandered off and found other members of the Loose Id party in the food nook. The bar in the food nook was open, complete with the young barman who was thoroughly enjoying the attentions of a largely female con membership who understood the concept "look but don't touch". Raven decided that she wanted a photo but had been far too obvious in her admiration of him, so I was dispatched to take the photo, on the grounds that I was much more innocent-looking. If any of my meatspace friends have read this far, they're probably rolling on the floor laughing...

The other two were tired, I was _really_ tired, and there didn't seem to be much happening in the way of room parties, so we decided to make an early night of it. Plans were derailed by somebody switching on the tv just to see what was on, and finding Grease just starting. Um, yes. We watched the entire film. So much for the early night. There was also very silly conversation, of the type one gets when two authors and their editor are sharing a room, and tired enough to find that sort of thing amusing. Discussions of why subbie boys are so nice. Story idea brainstorming. Jet is to write the story of how Maid Marian made all those men merry, I am to write the one explaining why Robin and the Sheriff are no longer speaking to one another. There was discussion of whether Lancelot was a bad boy to run off with his king's wife, which led to discussion of whether she was in fact the cover for hot Arthur/Lancelot action. (I was in the room. What do you expect?)

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In spite of the late night, I made it to the food nook in time for breakfast and my daily communion with the waffle iron. I didn't even have to queue for it. Ate breakfast with Alma and Rosemary and others whose names now escape me. Rosemary and Alma, not being American, fully understood my ecstasies about the bacon bearing some remote resemblance to proper streaky bacon, i.e. actually having some lean meat to go with the fat. Refreshed, or at least awake, I staggered off to:

Perseverance: How to keep your spirits up in the publishing world

Which was a pep talk by Mary Louise Schwartz and Janna Silverstein, essentially an hour's worth of variations on the theme of the panel title. Not a bad panel for Sunday morning -- useful but not requiring of great mental effort to get something worthwhile out of it.

Back to the food nook after that, where I found lots of Iddies who'd dragged themselves from their beds just in time for food and/or coffee before breakfast was finally cleared away. Long conversation ensued, largely internal company shop talk. Conversation eventually continued in someone's room, where there was handing around of doughnuts and other nibbles from the Starbucks at the end of the block.

And then it was time to pack up and go home. Jet and I shared a taxi to the airport, so we didn't have to go cold turkey.

I had a great weekend, met a bunch of people I was already friends with, and met some new friends. There was useful advice to be had, and I can even remember some of it. I had a ball, in spite of the problems with needing dental surgery the day before the con started. Thanks to Karen for organising the whole thing, and thanks to Allie for nagging me into going.

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