Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nebula Weekend - first post

I haven’t done much writing outside of work for the past few weeks, with the result the blog has been somewhat neglected. There are some good reasons for that.
The publication May 11 of my story “Great White Ship” by Daily Science Fiction was a nice ego boost. I knew I had a busy week ahead of me starting on the 14th, because of all the work I had to do to clear the decks and leave behind some stories I had been working on for the Friday and Sunday paper. Things took a downturn on the 15th when an employee started the day normally but soon received a call from family members that her father had been taken to the hospital. She left by 10:30 a.m. to travel to Illinois, leaving us suddenly short-handed, and her job is a one in graphics and productions, so we don’t have many people who could substitute for her. We were pretty much left short-handed all week (the employee’s father died on Thursday).
In making preparation for my trip, I planned to rent a car one-way and leave from Little Rock Friday morning. I could catch a flight at 5:45 a.m. Friday to Reagan Airport, and it would only cost $123. But when I went on-line to make my reservation, I learned I can’t rent a car one-way from Mount Pleasant. In fact, Enterprise only allows one-way drop-offs at airports.
Thankfully, there was a simple solution. A bus from Dallas to Memphis stopped in Mount Pleasant at 9:15 p.m. Thursday and arrived in Little Rock at 1 a.m.
I was pleased and satisfied I got everything done on time that I wanted to get done by Thursday, and I caught the Greyhound bus – which was right on time – and then when I arrived in Little Rock, took a cab from the bus station to the airport. I had emailed the Yellow Cab company in Little Rock, and they had a cab waiting right there, so things went very smoothly.
I snoozed in the airport lobby from about 1:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. when the Delta ticket window opened and I checked my bag. There was a change of flight in Atlanta, and I arrived at Reagan just at 11 a.m.
There was a shuttle bus from Reagan Airport to the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, and when I got to the hotel I was able to check my bags although I wasn’t staying there. There were a lot of bags checked in the lobby.
I later learned that about 40 Nebula attendees who arrived Thursday at the hotel had been bumped to another hotel owned by the same company a number of miles away because an entourage that was already in the hotel decided to extend its stay a day, and a number of rooms that had been reserved by SFWA members weren’t freed up in time. Apparently in Virginia, it is against the law NOT to allow someone to extend their stay at a hotel for a day or two if they are already there.
This led to bags being checked into the lobby for people who hadn’t stayed at the hotel overnight. The people who were bumped Thursday were very unhappy.
The first event I wanted to attend was the panel on writing comedy at 4:30 p.m. Until then I wandered around and acquainted myself with the hotel. I visited the con suite and commended the volunteers for their diligence and the quality of their fare. I saw a few people there I had only previously corresponded with, such as Bud Webster, and Ferret Steinmetz. I also saw Sheila Williams, whom I had last seen at the Nebula Weekend in 2007.
I commended Steinmetz for his blog posting in the wake of the Canine-American scandal when Nisi Shawl and then Jim Hines jumped my ass. Steinmetz was one of the few people who addressed the issue intelligently, and I had posted a reply to his blog in the same vein. I told him that I learned a lot from that episode as well as running for SFWA office. He asked me what I head learned, and I told him, honestly, that SFWA is not an outfit for me and I had spent my time working on a new writers’ group.
The panel on comedy was moderated by James Patrick Kelly and included James Morrow, Connie Willis and John Scalzi. Scalzi introduced himself – I had never met him before. He asked me if I knew the outcome of the SFWA election. I told him I had no doubt I had lost the V-P race, and it was no big deal – it would have screwed up my plans much more at this point if I had won (bearing in mind that since March I have been helping with SASS). He said the elections commissioner, Lawrence Schoen, had trouble getting a hold of me. Truthfully, I hadn’t thought about the election for over two months. I later caught up with Schoen and found out what the problem had been
The panel on comedy was interesting. I actually took notes, which I may write up at a future time.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had scouted the location for the mass book signing, and knew right off the bat it was a going to be a disaster. The room was dark and cavernous, not even conducive to socializing. The tables were all spread out, many hidden behind columns.
As I suspected, once the signing started at 5:30 p.m., there weren’t that many people, and they were all much more interested in socializing with big-name authors – I really don’t think all that many books were sold, even by them – and I knew I was going to sit there lonely for two hours. I didn’t want to drive the other guy at the table – a nice fellow, I forgot his name – crazy by talking for two hours, so I pulled the book I had started to read on the airplane out and finished it. It was “The Winter Queen” by Boris Akunin. It is a 19th Century murder mystery, very well written. It was translated from the Russian.
Bud Webster and a friend of his were at a table across from us, but like I said, the tables were widely spread out, and we really couldn’t chat.
One of the things that cut down on my socializing during the book signing, as well as during the weekend in general, was that I was so far away from my home turf. A lot of people from the general area were there and they already knew each other. The only other person I knew from Texas who was at the weekend was Jake Kerr from Dallas, who was a Nebula nominee.
I did get to meet Bud’s significant other, Mary Horton, as well as Lawrence Watt-Evans – who I had met at a Dallas convention once – and his wife, Julie Evans.
Overall, the book signing was a waste of time for me. James Patrick Kelly took photos at the convention and his snapped a shot that shows me obviously disgusted and unhappy.
Things improved immediately afterwards, as Bud and Mary and Lawrence and Julie and I all went across the street to grab a bite at a deli. The conviviality and food lifted my spirits somewhat, and afterwards we went back to the hotel and split so we could get ready for the Nebula honoree and nominee reception, which started at 9 p.m.
There were a few people I saw there I already knew. When Gardner came in I got down on one knee and kissed his ring. I congratulated Connie Willis, and chatted with a few people again, but overall I know so few people that I got much more enjoyment by pulling out my camera and taking a bunch of photos. For some reason some of my photos turned out real well. I’ve already posted a number of them.
My sister was driving in from Great Falls to pick me up at 10 p.m. so I caught the start of the presentation ceremony and then left. I was tired from the long trip that started in Mount Pleasant Thursday night, so I knew I couldn’t last much longer.
That’s all I’ll write up tonight.


  1. Anonymous10:54 PM

    So, what was the problem with the elections and getting in contact with you?

    1. He called my home telephone number, but I never answered because I didn't recognize the number and otherwise it had no ID. He never left a message. When I saw him and he told me what his area code was (205), I told him what happened. I really don't know why he needed to call, anyway, I got trounced.

  2. Lou, I'm kinda like you. Don't know a lot of people at the few cons I go to and am not a real lively networker. I just got back from BayCon, where I was one two panels and moderating one, and critting in the Writer's Workshop. Those were fun. I also enjoyed a delightful dinner one evening with editor Marty Halpern and his wife, and another with Aidan Fritz (a new writer) and his lovely GF, Alison. I'm not big on cliquiness, and spend more time at cons in the fitness room than schmoozing. LOL. Gardner is an all-round good guy and deserves your genuflection :) ...oh. and Little Rock is a nice town. Been there, had dinner at The Faded Rose...


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