Well, it's been over a month since I went to my first science fiction and fantasy convention. And I still haven't posted the second half of my report on the experience. Granted, what follows is not nearly as detailed as it would've been had blogger not eaten my first post about this. But I've apparently left a couple interested readers in the lurch, so here are the highlights at least.
The Panels: I didn't got to all of the ones I wanted to because I was so exhausted from the combo of insomnia and volunteering at 6AM in the game room. I did attend a couple, one featuring Elizabeth Moon and another with Connie Willis. They are both fascinating women. Connie had a lot to say about writing humor, and Elizabeth said much about writing and researching about autism. I had the chance to chat with Elizabeth after her panel, and she talked a lot about restoring her Texas prairie land. Really nifty stuff. I also attended went to the awards and closing ceremonies, and it was fun to see all the guests of honor together and cracking jokes and such. But, overall, I wanted to attend a couple of other panels. I'm going to manage my time and my insane need to volunteer better at the next con.
The Art Auction: There was some beautiful work at the art show. I had bid on a couple pieces. One of them I got free and clear because no one else bid on it, which surprised me because it was such an intriguing piece by a really gifted artist. The other went into a bidding war, which I'll talk about in a second. The last few seconds of the bidding brought me a run in with Guest of Honor Charles de Lint. While killing time until bidding was over, protecting my one bid, I found a piece of jewelry that no one had bid on and the bidding price was $3. And of course I was without a pen. I asked the woman next to me if she had a pen I could borrow. Her husband turned around and said he had one, and I found myself scribbling down my bid with Charles de Lint's pen. I'm surprised it was still working after all those autographs.
I somehow got finagled into volunteering for the art auction later that day. That was a blast. When I get published, I hope to use whatever popularity I have to put more butts in the seats at auctions like that. There was some amazing work there and it went for far too little to keep those artists eating AND doing their work. So if I become a hot author, I'm going to volunteer my services as a runner at those auctions. It was so much fun, walking around, displaying some amazing art like I was Vanna White or something. And the auctioneer was a riot. I happen to run the piece that I had bid on that had gone to the auction. The auctioneer had a blast with that, trying to get me to up the price or not really display it. It was great. In the end, I didn't get the piece. The price went up into the $30s, and I couldn't afford it.
The Costumes: I also got roped into manning the costume contest green room with one other volunteer. This made for an incredibly long evening (at one point, I was holding open a door for an hour straight; at least I was able to sit while doing so), but fascinating. There some amazing costumes. The winner's ensemble was titled "Dor'c, First Prime of Adoophus". When he told me how much it cost to make the thing, I was too tired to feel the sticker shock, but it was there. And I made a quick mental note that professional costuming was not in my future, no matter how much fun it looked.
The Authors: Despite being totally exhausted by the end of Saturday's festivities, I went to the Author Chat at the bar and somehow managed to stay up until 1AM talking with Carol Berg--and be coherent throughout. That last is the really amazing part. Carol, in addition to sharing some great writing advice and just being fun to hang out with, got me in touch with another aspiring writer. The reason I mention it is that this other writer is about my age and has left a scientific career for writing. I was beginning to think I was a unique creature in that regard, and I'm very glad to know I'm not. (By the way, I'm the aspiring writer Carol mentions in her own Con report; groovy, eh?)
Overall: I'd do this again in a heartbeat. I highly recommend checking out a local, well-done, middle-sized con as an introduction to the World of Cons. It's a little easier on the pocketbook, too, than just heading off to World Fantasy or World Con. I think that covers the rest of my experience there. I'm sure there was more that happened (probably just that I got locked out of my room a couple more times or something), but this covers the big items. It was a ton of fun, and I'm looking forward to the next one I can attend.