Bad weather had been predicted for the weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised as I drove to Dallas Saturday afternoon to find the road mostly clear and dry - but then I drove into the storm that was right over Dallas County.
People in Dallas drive Zero to 70 - Zero visibility at 70 mph. I was grateful I was driving a rental, because I wouldn't feel bad if it was wrecked. I just didn't want to get my ass killed.
I arrived at 3:30 and Keith West caught up with me in Con Ops. Keith used to teach at Texas A&M-Commerce, we met back in 2005 because my wife took a science class with him. He now is on the faculty of Texas Tech. I bunked with him Saturday night. That was the first time I actually stayed at the Crowne Plaza Suites. My mother-in-law lived in Dallas until last fall, and so I had previously cheaped it out by staying with her.
I went to my reading. Linda Donahue and Melanie Fletcher had already done their reading, and so I dove right in. Linda was the first of many people to say they hadn't seen me and didn't know whether I was coming. Years ago, when I first began attending cons, no one knew me. Now after a number of years people actually know who I am and look for me. It feels kinda strange.
The book signing at 4 p.m. was for me, Rie Sheridan Rose, and O.M. Grey, but Grey was a last minute cancellation, so Pat Elrod took the empty slot. As I mentioned previously, I sold a couple of copies of "Zombie Writing!".
Pat did the edit of "The Centurion and the Rainman" for Buzzymag, and she said I had really come up with a very creative idea. It makes me wonder whether maybe I'm not the old-fashioned hack I think I am.
Pat was also on the panel about Dirigibles at 5 p.m.
I mentioned to Martha Wells that she was at the first con I ever attended, ConDFW in 2003. During the discussion I was impressed that she knew the story of the Italian aviator Umberto Nobile and his ill-fated attempt to reach the North Pole with the airship The Italia. She even knew about Nobile's dog, who survived the whole idea with her master.
GOH Cherie Priest was on the panel. I had never met her before, so that was nice.
After the panel, I found Bill Ledbetter. We had communicated before the con about going to a Middle Eastern restaurant, The Tasty Greek, on Belt Line Road in Addison. We brought a contingent of ten there - Bill, myself, Adrian Simmons, Michelle Muenzler, Loa Ledbetter, and five other people whose names I can't recall (friends of the others).
The food and appetizers were all great. The last time I was there I asked for, and got, one of their tall red hard plastic drinking glasses. A few weeks ago Millie knocked it off a table with her big fat Labrador tail and it cracked when it hit the tile floor. The owner gave me a new glass. "You can have glass any time you come by and bring nine other people for dinner!"
When we got back to the hotel, I visited a few room parties, for Dark Star Publishing, FenCon, and AggieCon (which will be my next con.) Afterwards I went back to the suite, where I pulled out the sofa bed and slept in the living room while Keith snoozed in the bedroom.
We ate breakfast in the hotel in the morning and then I went to finally visit the dealers room. The book swap table had a pile of old Asimov's, and I found a copy of the Sept. 2005 issue (where my story "A Rocket for the Republic" was published). I bought it, and at the next panel I waved it, Turns out it had been donated by Dallas fan Cliff Barnes (the label says C.A. Barnes so I didn't make the connection). I've seen Cliff and his wife at conventions a zillion times over the years; they are the most faithful fans I know.
The Escape from the Slush Pile panel had a good attendance, despite being at 11 a.m. One of the panelists, Jaye Wells, will be giving a workshop on world building at the spring writers' conference being hosted by the local writers' group NETWO (Northeast Texas Writers Organization) here in Mount Pleasant in April.
I moderated that panel, and learned that Michael Ashleigh Finn had come to the con, but had to leave. He's a nice guy, I was looking for him. Cathy Clamp replaced him on the panel.
Since Wells and Camp are both published novelists, I picked up some pointers myself.
I was also the moderator for the panel for the panel on Writers to Keep an Eye on. This was the second panel I had with Cherie Priest, who was freezing the whole time. I think the hotel had the fans turned on, but after the storm passed through Saturday, the outside temperature dropped. Everyone was cold in that room, except perhaps me.
This was another panel where Michael Finn was scheduled, and Pat Elrod replaced him.
My final panel at 3 p.m. on How to Fix Terrible Prose was the only one I had where all the scheduled panelists made it. Mel White had the great idea for us to go over the first few pages of the infamous "Eye of Argon", and since that story has so may screw-ups it was a great teaching aid. We all - the other panelists were Lee Martindale and Adrian Simmons - synced up great and I think the audience enjoyed it.
After going to cons for years, I meet and greet a lot of the same people now, but one person I met for the first time was Laura Domitz, who is co-chair of LoneStarCon 2013, the world con. I ran into her while having a drink with Bev Hale and Michael Moe. I was able to ask a lot of questions about the world con, which was very helpful.
Oh, the art with this blog post? I found this cool poster on the literature table. Chances are London will get the world con bid for 2014, but Orlando is in the hunt for 2015, and with his kind of attitude, they'll be a shoo-in.