Hey there, y'all.
I'm moving up my usual Thursday post because I'm newly returned from FantaSci and my whole heart is happy (and everything else is exhausted. But: happy in my heart). I knew I missed cons, and my con family, but I still underestimated the impact of actually going to a place and seeing so many people I love.
So, how was the con, you ask? To semi-organize my overwhelming feeling of AAAAAAAA (see gif below), I'll sort it into days. It'll be better for you this way than the hour plus of word-vomit and "oh wait but that other thing happened before this and then before THAT was this thing and and and" that my poor husband had to sit through.
My sister and I left at o-dark-thirty for our twelve-hour, seven-state road trip. We packed (and ate) many snacks, cursed at many drivers, paid many tolls, and eventually fetched up to the hotel, where we met up with my sister's awesome friend. We promptly left the hotel and secured tacos. Fellow Texas-related-folks, you might appreciate this: there was a new Torchy's only twenty minutes from the hotel! Many tacos and much queso was consumed, and it was glorious.
After an appropriate amount of gorging, we found the fabulous Wandering Wandreys at their campground and hung out with their amazing selves and adorable pups for several hours. We might have managed to leave early in favor of rest (I mean, it's always possible I'll have sense and value sleep at a con), but what sounded like the start of the zombie apocalypse happened*, and we stayed until all quieted on that front.
Then there was sleep.
Adventures! Sister, sister's-awesome-friend, and I voyaged into the broader Raleigh/Durham/Cary area for cupcakes (from the fabulous Kupcake Fairy who made Kacey's surprise cake last FantaSci), brunch, and general sight-seeing. We found that happy dino-face pictured above in a random neighborhood, cool murals, more good food than I necessarily needed, and then headed back to the hotel.
I decided to camp out in the verandah area of the hotel and read until people started appearing, but literally the moment my behind touched the seat cushion, people appeared.
Fittingly, the first person I saw was Yvonne Jacobs, brilliant friend, deeply fabulous person, and miracle-working Program Director for the Con. I may have screamed her name. I had a lot of built-up excitement, ok?
There was joy and tears and then more people arrived and almost every time someone walked by the glass doors inside the hotel and saw folks outside there was a cartoon screech to a halt, trajectory redirect, and they'd come out to say hey.
I bellowed as I caught sight of people**, worked hard to be conscious of everyone's personal space, and lost all track of time. For an all-too-brief but deeply joyful handful of minutes we got the incredible Kacey Ezell on a video call and passed my phone around to everyone so we could have her there with us some kind of way. Thank goodness for technology, but definitely looking forward to having her back in the near-ish future.
In the evening I crashed the a dinner party (there...was a party bus incident***), which had good barbeque, great drinks, and absolutely phenomenal company.
After that was a blur of talking to people, drinking ciders that appeared magically in front of me, comparing fun-colored-hair with all the other fun-colored-hair folks, repeatedly wandering into and out of conversations because I have entirely forgotten how to people, and going to bed later than I have in...a very long time. In a word: heaven.
All the panels! I talked education/miseducation with Terry Maggert, Chris Kennedy, and C.W. Gray, music with Ian J. Malone and Melissa Olthoff, the future of the 4HU with Mark Wandrey and a horde of fellow 4HU authors (and Kacey!! She got up at some ungodly-in-Japan-hour, FantaSci's tech goddess and my sister worked magic, and Kacey appeared on the big screen to much rejoicing), and Peacemakers with Peacemaker Six Kevin Ikenberry, Casey Moores, Mark Stallings, and Matt Novotny. Y'all! The quality and caliber of writers I get to hang out with is unmatched. They are talented and funny and kind, and I will never get over how lucky I am to know them.
I was going to crash more panels, but instead I went outside again, talked to even more fabulous people, and then crashed a dinner with some of my favorite ladies. More delicious NC barbeque, this time in the form of an absolute UNIT of a sandwich.
For scale purposes, that is a completely normal-sized fork. The picture does not do it justice. After dinner and delightful conversations, we had a completely normal-nothing-to-see-here-maybe-in-person-one-day-I'll-show-you-the-picture ride home, and then shenanigans at a Dating Game with Books panel (always a good/wild time). That night, Chris Kennedy Publishing hosted a party on the verandah****, I caught up with more favorite folks, and at some point I called it a night/early morning and headed back to my room.
Morning arrived a little faster than I appreciated, but I made sure FantaSci's tech goddess had everything she needed to get Kacey in for the Baen Roadshow, then I slipped out and called my husband for - oops - the first time since I'd left. He's the best, y'all, and understands that me-at-a-con is basically sugar-fiend-five-year-old-at-the-candy-factory.
My sister and her awesome friend brought me delicious foods, I hung out with two more of my favorite ladies (yes, on the verandah), and as one of them is a baller writer (the incomparable Mel Todd), we set up accountability check ins for post-con writing life. Because we have all the things to write!
Mid-afternoon we had the CKP Year Ahead panel, where we had a great crowd both on the panel and all across the room, and I managed to slip out***** just in time to miss the announcement of my upcoming book.
I thought I was slipping back in, but there was cheering and shenanigans instead. As is so often the case, my timing is impeccable. There were many exciting announcements - Kacey and I have started work on Ally (book three of three of our Depik arc), Salt in the Wound (my Fallen World solo novel) is coming later this year, and, oh, just a little kickstarter to launch the 4HU Savage Worlds game!
WHAT!!! I know, it's cool stuff, and already well on its way to getting funded. Check it out here!
Also on Saturday was the 4HU Dining Out, which should be a post on its own. We all had way too much fun. They entrusted me with a microphone, a privilege which I fully abused in my position as Madam Vice^. There was love, camaraderie, complete and utter snark, food, drink, and revelry. Starfleet invaded, mercs stole the grog, allies were made, and I never wanted it to end. On the bright side, there was karaoke afterward, so that helped.
I had absolutely no voice by the end of this evening^^, and it was completely, utterly worth it.
I attended absolutely nothing Sunday. I ate amazing barbeque with terrific folks, hung outside with more folks trying not to be sad, and then had dinner with yet more wonderful people. The weather was perfect for patio dining, and sushi outside with great company and a beautiful sunset was all I could have asked for.
With another twelve hour drive ahead of me, I couldn't stay out too late, but I hung out on that dang verandah long enough to chat with many of my faves, get a new project, make plans to propose another new project, get pep talks, give pep talks, get lectured (well-deserved), watch a video (I did nothing to deserve that!), secure more whiskey to present to my husband, hug everyone, and, finally, hope that we get to do this again really, really, really soon.
There will be more little stories in upcoming emails (join my mailing list if you haven't already!), because I didn't even touch on all the thoughtful gifts, my first book tattoo sighting, all the people I finally got to meet in real life for the first time, what those cool new jobs are, or half a dozen other amazing things that happened.
In summation: FantaSci was awesome, tickets are on sale for next year, and I hope you can join us. Huge thanks to the Con Chair, the con staff, the con volunteers, the family of attendees, and all the science, science fiction, and fantasy that make it all possible and worth it.
Til next time, friends.
*it was actually the end of an NHL playoff game, with its resulting howling, sirens, beeping, revving engines, and general bonkers-itude echoing through the night
**this is standard con behavior for me
***there were several party-bus-adjacent incidents. Roofing nails, a Mr. Tire, a seductive dance, a non-kink-shaming seat in a fancy pickup truck...Blog details are vague to protect the not-at-all-innocent, but it was a good time had by most. Probably all.
****if you're wondering if I spent 98% of my time outside on the verandah, let me confirm: yes, yes I did. It was fantabulous and yet I failed to take a single picture out there
***** it was not at all graceful or subtle, I tripped on a package of water on the way out. Also it was all that water's fault I had to slip out anyway! Dang hydration.
^ did I accept whiskey at inopportune times? Send people repeatedly to the grog? Sass everyone? You're darn right I did.
^^ and, indeed, still do not as of this writing