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Scattered WisCon notes

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WisCon ended only a few hours ago, but it's already something of a blur, so I'm gonna take a few notes before I completely forget it.

Thursday: Flew from SJC to MSN via DEN. (I bought tickets from US Airways for a flight on SkyWest dba United Express. I don't understand the airline industry.) Possibly the easiest travel day to WisCon I've ever experienced. I arrived at SJC in plenty of time; I didn't get backscattered; SJC and DEN were both nearly empty; both flights left on time and arrived a little early.

(I wondered who was having my travel problems. Turned out, alas, to be Mary Anne.)

Thurs evening mostly hung out in my room. Slept poorly and not enough; that continued to be true every night, so I won't repeat it.

Friday was mostly occupied with critiquing a couple of books. Was on a panel about asexuality that afternoon; I was very apprehensive, because we had lost two panelists in the preceding days and because I was realizing that I didn't know nearly as much about the topic as I thought I did. But as we were settling in to start the panel, a woman in the front row told us that she had been the one who'd proposed the panel, and hadn't signed up to be on it because she hadn't been sure she could make it. So we asked her to join us, and under Tempest's able moderation, I think the panel went pretty well.

That evening I ended up at one of those small gatherings-in-someone's-room that I like so much. (Con parties are REALLY LOUD; I often can't enjoy them much because I can't hear people talking.) Usually I invite people, but this time someone else did, and it was lovely. Casual chatting with people I really like, and I was in a blissed-out fog for most of it because of the phenomenally good back rub I was receiving. I'm leaving out the massager's name only so as not to get them swamped with requests. But I will say that it was one of the high points of the con for me.

(I was intermittently a little sad all weekend, because a bunch of the people I most look forward to seeing at WisCon didn't come this year. But a bunch of the other people I most look forward to seeing were there, which helped assuage the sadness.)

Eventually wandered by the end of the Outer Alliance party for a while, then went to sleep.

Saturday . . . I have no idea what I did Saturday. Attended panels. Helped babysit Alan & Kristin's twins. Got kind of grumpy about a headache that wouldn't go away. (I suspect dehydration.) Got some time (though not enough, of course) to talk with Karen and with Julia. Had dinner with assorted cool folks. (I'm sorry I'm naming so few names in this entry; it was lovely to see everyone. I just suspect I would accidentally leave people out if I tried to name everyone I saw.) Attended part of the Tiptree auction. More panels. Wandered through parties.

Sunday was the big exhausting day, which was unfortunate given three previous nights of little and bad sleep.

The day started with heading down to Michelangelo's for my very first convention reading of my own work. (I've been reading others' stories aloud for decades, but the only previous time I've read my own fiction aloud in a public setting was at a bookstore reading where I read the beginning of my zeppelin story, and I tried to read it fast because it's fast-paced action but everyone I talked to afterward thought I had read it too fast because I was nervous. So I made sure to avoid that problem this time.)

We set up tables and chairs in Michelangelo's back room. I was reading with Mary Anne, Heather, and Liz A. (Liz had made and put up posters for us advertising the reading.) I ended up going first, more or less by default, which was fine but I was a little disappointed later when some friends showed up after I was done.

I read a key early scene from my novel-in-progress. I think it went pretty well; I hadn't practiced the tricky multiple-odd-voices bit enough, but the audience seemed to be with me, and they laughed in the right places and applauded at the end, so all was well.

In my introduction to my reading, I mentioned that the protagonists are in their twenties, but I realized as I was reading it that it sounded like a YA book, and the people I talked with afterward all said that they liked the teen protagonists. I don't really want it to be a YA book, and that messes with some aspects of the characters, but I think I have to admit that it probably in fact is a YA book at heart, and I'm not sure the protagonists are believably in their twenties. (Which is funny because one reason I didn't want to write a YA book was that I didn't think I could write plausible teens.) So the next draft may involve my reworking everything about the characters' ages. We'll see.

Speaking of readings, I attended remarkably few readings this year. Usually that's a big part of my WisCon experience, but this time almost all of the readings I wanted to attend were at times when I couldn't be there. Alas!

Anyway, after our reading, a few of us went and had lunch, and then Pär and Jeremiah and I set out on the next stage of the day: picking up the cakes.

“What cakes?” I hear you ask. Keep reading and all will become clear.

When we got back, I attended parts of a couple of panels, and then went to help set up for the Strange Horizons tea party.

Which went quite well. A bunch of people came to help set up, as usual. We opened the doors on time; people chatted and mingled and drank tea for half an hour; and then it was time for the main event.

It was, of course, important at this event to introduce my new co-editors, Brit and Julia. But we had decided ahead of time that we wanted to focus the event primarily on celebrating Susan's and Karen's work on the magazine.

So I had collected praise from an assortment of our authors who couldn't be there in person (mostly email, and one brief video statement), and had asked a few others to stand up and speak, and hoped that others would be inspired to do so during the event.

Susan started things off with the traditional standing on a chair to greet everyone and introduce the magazine. Then I introduced Brit and Julia, who each said a few words, and I asked the crowd to thank Pär for his excellent work as our senior webmaster for the past four years, and I noted that we're hiring for several volunteer positions. And then for the next 30 or 40 minutes, we alternated reading the emails with various people standing up (mostly on the chair) and saying how important Karen's and Susan's work on the magazine had been to them.

It was lovely, and it exceeded my expectations. I knew that lots of people wanted to thank Susan and Karen, but I had been worried that not enough of them would've been (a) present, and (b) willing to stand up and talk in front of everyone. But I needn't have worried; in the end, I suspect a few more people would've liked to have spoken, but I wanted to leave time for Karen and Susan to speak at the end.

Anyway, I think it went really well; thanks very much to all who participated! And then at the end we provided cake (including a giant sheet cake with a drawing of a Saturn-like planet); thanks again, Pär, for your work in making that happen!

After that, there was more general mingling. Then dinner, and the dessert salon and the Guest of Honor speeches.

Andrea Hairston and Debbie Notkin both gave (very different) excellent and thoughtful and inspiring speeches, which I'm way too tired to comment on in any detail at this point.

After the speeches and the awards ceremonies and announcements, I attended part of a panel on multiraciality, hung out for a bit at the Beyond Binary launch party, watched the genderfloomp dance contest, and then went back to my room and went to sleep.

Ended up with about six hours' fairly solid sleep, which was more than the previous three nights, so that was nice.

This morning, had an in-person editorial meeting with Brit and Julia, then hung out at the Sign-Out until it was time to go. Mary Anne and Alex and Ben and Angeli and I drove to M's house, dropping off Alex at ORD along the way, and spent the rest of the evening exhaustedly chatting and playing with the kids and the dog.

And now it is late (not by my normal standards, but definitely by my low-on-sleep current standards), and time for me to do a little more magazine administrative stuff and then go to sleep.

Great to see y'all who I saw; sad not to have had much time with several of you who I saw only briefly or in passing; even sadder not to have seen those of you who weren't there. (Though if I had seen you when you weren't there, that might've been a little spooky.)

But at this point, all other reactions are giving way to tiredness.

1 Comment

About the ages in your book: I remember, as a Young Adult, appreciating books not just about people my own age, but actual young adults as well. Would it be consistent with the feedback you were getting (and your own observation here) to adjust the tone of the book to what it "wants to be" without necessarily changing the ages of the characters?


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