Sometime in spring for 2018 I heard about this whole FantaSci thing. Rising from the experience and awesome volunteers/staff/fans of HonorCon, it would be (cue dramatic music) the first 4HU Con.
There was much rejoicing. I was pumped to be asked to be a featured panelist, and all around ridiculously excited to have another opportunity to talk about this fab universe alongside the creator/publisher/authors/awesome folks who made/make it happen.
Also? I had no idea what I was in for.
FantaSci was an INCREDIBLE experience. First, the staff did not Fyre Festival that shit (™ Kacey) - care and planning was evident in every aspect. Second, the people? The people!!!
It begins: Wednesday, 3 am - I’m awake a full hour and a half early and ready for my ungodly early flight because on the other side of that flight? One of my favoritest people, who I am absurdly lucky to call both friend and coauthor, the devastatingly talented and wonderful Kacey Ezell. She picked me up at the airport, graciously ignored that I was running on approximately 8 caffeinated beverages, and off we went into shenanigans. These included hanging out with her awesome family, her introducing me to Letterkenny (hello, friend), and our highly entertaining Facebook Live.
Thursday, 6 am (5 for this cst girl, whew), we are up and about, off on the road to 1) pick up Jason + Doc (fantastic road trip companions who also happen to be incredibly good authors), 2) traverse a few states, and 3) get to the FantaSci hotel in time for Serious Author Plotting.
The hotel is gorgeous, full of kind/professional/competent/awesome staff, and contained some of my fave people. I noticed none of that in favor of the conveniently-close-to-front-door-bathroom. It was a long ride, y’all. But business completed, I returned to the lobby to greet so many wonderful folks, and then we went to dinner and I got to plot with the masterminds of 4HU - Mark Wandrey, Chris Kennedy, Kevin Ikenberry, and Kacey Ezell. The upside is: stuff in the 4HU storyline is going to get even more shit-going-down-ish. Other upside?
I’m gonna write my own book(s). My mentors and compatriots (they are all both) made a point of telling me (and my siblings, and my mom, fyi) that it’s time to get some solo books out there. Stepping up the pace it is!
There was a ton more hanging out and shenanigans Thursday night, because the moral of the story is this con was full of wonderful people, and I took full advantage of spending time with them.
Friday, 7ish am. Post-dawn, hooray! My wonderful sister Jen arrived, and brought a surprise - my baby brother Lucas (christened by Johnny Minion later as Sleepy Wolf). There was breakfast and caffeine and much rejoicing, and when Kacey headed off to Baen (hi Baen! Hope to catch you awesome folks next time!), the plotting for Saturday went down.
First: touch base with ConSuite folks and ensure there is room for cake and a plan for decorations. Important note: the ConSuite folks are amaaaaaaaazing, I adore them, I hope Jason’s campaign to get them medals succeeds, because DANG. They are the best.
Chris and his fantabulous wife Sheellah allowed me to borrow their car and my sister and I went to secure the cake I’d ordered (Lucas napped, because: Sleepy Wolf). Two points of order: the entire time I was chanting “don’t wreck your publisher’s car, don’t wreck your publisher’s car, don’t get a ticket” which I’m sure was fun for Jen; also the baker/bakery? SO GOOD. If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, do absolutely check out The Kupkake Fairy. We secured extra desserts to keep the cake safe, and it was so worth it. Also she loves to read, and listened to me be excited about my book, because oh yeah -
FRIDAY WAS THE RELEASE OF HUNTER. Jen and I got back to the hotel, Johnny Minion bought them books by the ever-wonderful Chris Woods, and then my author-brother Kevin Ikenberry popped out of nowhere to tell me Hunter was the number 1 new release in action & adventure literature.
Orange tag amazingness!!!
I ran back to our hotel room to squeeeeee with Kacey, and then at some point there was food? Then there was Opening Ceremonies, which was a delight, followed by my first panel:
Dating Game, with books. Chris Kennedy got a room full of people doing the theme song, and I got to channel Tamir Alcuin as one of the three bachelorettes for the first round. Our “bachelor”, the terrific Mark Stallings, had a hard choice between Tamir, Kacey’s demure Evie, and David Weber’s most deadliest woman, but he went with the girl who made him legit blush - that’s right, Tamir was the winner! She’s sassy, you should check her out (Assassin, "Shit Day" in Tales from the Lyon’s Den, and maybe if you’re lucky she’ll pop up somewhere else.).
However, funny as round 1 was...let’s say that round 2, featuring Con Chair Joel Lyons as Jolene, blew it out of the water. Amazing.
More hanging at the bar, and then passing out because SO SLEEPY.
Saturday! The Baen Roadshow was at 9 am, which seemed cruel and unusual for timing, but totally worth it for content. Wonderful art, peeks at great stories, and I got to talk about my story in the upcoming Freehold: Resistance anthology for the first time in public! Basically? Shit goes down. Also that’s my story-ship on the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous???
Saturday charged on with lunch with my siblings, then three panels in a row:
Aliens, spot-moderated by Kacey, with Steve White, Terry Maggert, and me! We made it like ¾ through before we started talking about interspecies shenanigans, and it was overall full of delightfulness
Chris Kennedy Publishing Year Ahead - SO MANY THINGS! 1) we revealed the official title of the Zuul book I have the huge honor of writing with Mark Wandrey….Night Song! (it’s so good. He’s the best). 2) we officially revealed the news we’d broken on our FB Live: there will be an all-Depik anthology! Negotiation, coming your way later this year. 3) So much good art (y’all, get ready for Black and White, I canNOT wait to read it)
Peacemakers - Kevin, Kacey, and I hung out with some folks and talked Peacemakers, collaboration...and a few teases of what might be next (spoiler: it’s gonna be AWESOME)
Then, quick break to change - Kacey and I got some deeply fantastic cat makeup done by the lovely and talented and all-around-wonderful Wendy Woods.
And then! The 4HU Dining Out. Kacey wrote a deeply hilarious script that she and Kevin Steverson (as Madame and Master Vice) enacted along with the President of the Mess (creator Mark Wandrey). I got to escort in the Head Table Guests of Honor (Chris and Sheellah Kennedy as Nigel Shirazi and Alexis Cromwell, Mark and Joy Wandrey as Jim Cartwright and Sansar Enkh, David and Sharon Weber, Steve and Sandy White...the talent + beauty at the table!! And yes, you can decide who I mean for what.), and then be utterly Dama Tsan of Whispering Fear with a dgaf attitude to model the grog drinking. Thankfully I got the grog at the front end, when it was freshly poured and less gross. Apparently. Also I got to bring the wonderful Cisca as my plus-one date - y’all should be so lucky. The entirety of the evening was full on entertaining and drink-heavy, but wait! There was more!
During the Dining Out, my fab siblings ran up to the ConSuite to start getting the room ready for the party. What party? Why, a launch party for Hunter that was also a full-on surprise party for my partner in crime/co-author/soul friend/fave person Kacey Ezell. Thanks to Joy and Mark for distracting her so I could run away, Cisca for taking charge of both streamers and candles, and everyone for colluding so effectively.
Because: success!!! Surprise effectively achieved, cake consumed, consuite returned to its original state for the fabulous staff. So. Much. Fun.
Sunday included a signing for Hunter (um. Folks. Real talk? The way people love this book, and/or are telling us how it made them cry in public, and/or are excited to buy it just because it’s #catsassins and me and Kacey...it makes me so happy on such a deep level...thank you.), then my mom and brother Jonathan arrived to secure their own copy of Hunter and have lunch! They got to meet a bunch of people and it was all very exciting and over too soon.
More hanging out, PLOTTING with Mark (Night Song! eeeeeee), more food (Hibachi with Kacey, Jen, Lucas, Doc, Jason, and another one of my faves, Brian “Bubba” - who you may remember from a critical scene in Assassin and you should know as an absolutely wonderful human being), more hanging out, and more sleep.
Before, you guessed it: more driving. Monday was an all-day drive-a-palooza, but there were Hunter-reactions (courtesy of the fast-reading and ever-entertaining Jason), plotting (also Doc is going to be our generation’s finest horror writer, creeping or gruesome or both, note it), shenanigans, chicken, and ultimately: a return home to my pups and my understanding and terrific husband.
Spending this weekend among family (both blood and found), nerding out over so many things, and getting to be a part of such an awesome Con...I just can’t wait for next year. I hope your travel plans can include FantaSci 2020 (March 20-22) because you will NOT regret it.