Y'all, my heart is so happy and my brain is so tired that I know I'm going to miss approximately eleventy million things that made this last weekend amazing.
The highlight is this: Liberty Con is a combination of amazing people, hilarity, fantastic conversations, shenanigans, and all around awesomeness and I strongly recommend you check it out if you haven't already. You can also watch some of us talk about it on Inside CKP on the youtubes - live on Wednesday 6/22 at 8pm est, or anytime after that, as to your preference.
I didn't take very many pictures, because mostly I was laughing/grinning/running around like I'd lost my mind (which...maybe I had), and also there was a large portion of sleep deprivation.
I'm writing this update with my eyes sinking shut, much like this pup. Totally worth it!
After 4 hours of sleep (not our flight's fault, just...my brain. Doing its thing), I started off a little punchy. My awesome sister brought Jeremy and I to the airport, the flights went smoothly (with a healthy dose of 'trek-across-the-entirety-of-an-airport-for-the-connecting-flight, because of course), and we got to Chattanooga mid-afternoon.
After a serendipitous run-in with one of my favorite people in the whole world, we got a surprise ride to the hotel, then got to have dinner with another one of my favorite people in the whole world (also the food was amaaaazing, definitely check out Tata's for some delicious Bosnian food), then I locked myself in the hotel room to work on a story that was due...very soon from then.
Afternoon: sneak out for lunch with arriving awesome people, linger too long, have dear friend banish me to finish the dingdang story I had to finish (seriously, my friends are the best). Wrote more story!
Evening: As you may have guessed: story writing! But also broken up by a visit from one of my birthday twins, John F Holmes, and his sparklingly wonderful partner who is (you guessed it) one of my very favorite people. Chatting with them re-energized me, I finished my story, sent it off to an alpha reader (my sister, to be clear, I'm not that fancy), and then I got to run downstairs and hug SO MANY OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE and there was joy and cheesecake and happiness until very, very late in the night and into Friday morning.
The connnnnn! In the morning I did a bunch of story edits, submitted said story, and then voyaged into the hotel to get my registration stuff, eat the foods, and talk to all the people. I may have tackled Mel Todd, I definitely tackled Joy Wandrey (in my defense she made me an amazing, amazing bag with room for pins and velcro for patches and so many pockets and I forgot to take a picture at con so below is Olive approving of it. And you should go to Joy's website immediately and buy some!), and I can't begin to tell you how many people I saw that involved me shrieking and throwing myself toward them for a hug.
(oh and also there's fun fabric inside the bag, loook at it, I get excited about new treasures ok?)
Right, con. There was much hugging, high-fiving, and all around excitement. My first panel was the CKP year ahead, and there is so much fantastic stuff coming I am happy to link you to the panel itself, which my fabulous husband recorded for the CKP channel and you can watch right here.
At Opening Ceremonies, emceed by the one and only Factory Boss himself, Chris Kennedy, the CKP Choir ran up and helped him serenade Brandy (2nd gen con runner, brilliant woman, incredible friend, and hellllll of a ship-runner!!) with 'You've Lost that Loving Feeling' because of course we did.
I missed a panel I very much wanted to go listen to because dinner took a bit of time, but then found out it got recorded (keep an eye out for Toni Weisskopf's and Ben Yalow's 'Unknown Magazine: Its History and Legacy' and we can watch it together), so at least it's not an entire tragedy. Post-dinner I crashed the first half of Monalisa Foster's session on Point of View and narrative distance and it was brilliant (such good reminders and learnings in there - Monalisa is a fantastic instructor and deeply insightful. If you ever have a chance to go learn from her...DO!).
I would have stayed for the whole thing, but had a 10pm panel for the newly released Onward Liberty Con anthology where I sat amongst LEGENDS of the field, grinned like a loon, and danced to the music bleeding through the walls from the wedding next door.
I did...not go to bed after that. I mean, like, eventually, but it was definitely Saturday by then. But, come on...I got to talk with Casey Moores and Cisca and Sharon and Cassie and Speaker and Smalls and Ian and the Steversons and Mark Wandrey and Karen and Tara and Bridget and Chris Smith and Griffin and Mike and Jason and Yvonne and George and Bubba and Nate and Dave and Larry Hoy and....seriously. SO MANY FAVORITE PEOPLE.
Did I sleep in?
I did not.
But it was for the best, because Joelle Presby hosted an early morning Zoom to connect authors, editors, and sciencey experts at Liberty Con with some incredibly talented science fiction/fantasy writers based across several countries on two other continents (folks zoomed in from Asia + Africa and made for such delightful conversation). I drank a bunch of coffee, nerded out over their talent (I'm hoping to snag the incomparable Hannah Onoguwe for Valkyries at some point), and then joined the crew Walking with the Pros for a still-early-just-a-little-less-early walk around outside. Lots of chatting and a skooch of exercise, which is a pretty big double win.
Then more coffee, crashing friends' conversations in the lobby (I think I interrupted Kevin Ikenberry, Alex Rath, Mark Stallings, Bill Webb, and Kevin Steverson at least seventeen different times over the course of the con. No regerts, friends. No regerts), and secured breakfast for my wonderful husband who got to sleep like 4 more hours than I did.
I fiiinally ran into Charity Ayres (that might have been a tackle moment too?), chatted with James Chandler and Scott Huggins and Rick Partlow (I think it was this day. Maybe it was another day, either way: fab), managed a 15 minute nap at some point, and met up with Mel Todd, Jay Boyce, Mark Stallings, and my husband for lunch (and a delicious dessert), and another walk.
Crashed the Fallen World panel, mostly to cheer and heckle but then also get Price-is-Righted up on the panel itself because Salt in the Wound will get done this year, dang it. There I got the first of several "Hey - where's my book?!" from the talented + hilarious Christopher Woods (who was, btw, Special Guest of Honor at Liberty, and is as gracious and understanding as he is talented and funny. And I'm not kissing up because I'm past my first deadline...or, ok, I'm not ONLY kissing up - it's genuinely all true!!).
Melissa Olthoff and I attempted to check out the art show, but we forgot how time worked and it was closed, so instead we cheered on the Masquerade cosplayers - speaking of creative geniuses!!
We swung through the dealer hall, met up with more shenanigan-ers at the hotel bar, and then suddenly I went from having ALL the time to NONE of the time, so I got to chat super briefly with Ben Yalow (fandom statesmen, connoisseur of the entire field of science fiction and fantasy, and deeply fabulous friend) as he added absolute amazingness to my TBR pile. Then it was: hurry and change for dinner, collect charming husband, and speedwalk off to the Baen Banquet.
I got to talk with more of my favorite people, met some very cool Hearts players (we're bringing Hearts back, y'all!), got a compliment that turned my entire face red, and suddenly it was getting late.
'Marisa,' you may say, 'did you then go to bed?'
I did not.
Hotel bar, room parties, wandering shenanigans, and, best of all: karaoke. So. Con karaoke is one of the best, most bananapants new-ish traditions. Ask me how it started some day in person, when I don't have to incriminate myself or others on the internet...
That lasted until...2? Ish? After being awake for 21+ of the day's hours and some of Sunday's, I finally went to bed.
Five and a half hours of sleep! It was a miracle. 10 am panel was Science Fiction, Mystery, and Noir with Larry Correia, David Weber, Julie Frost, Jacob Holo, and me. 1) it was a hugely fun conversation, 2) Larry Correia was an excellent moderator and had lovely things to say about all of us, which is a moment of joy I am going to carry with me basically forever, 3) I caused David Weber a hilariously ook-ed out shudder in describing something cool/gross I did in a story, which also is a moment of joy I'm going to carry with me basically forever, 4) I learned - somehow for the first time - about Julie Frost's Werewolf PI books, and 5) I was so delighted the entire time I forgot how tired I was.
Also delightful: my next panel, Xenoarchaeology with Jody Lynn Nye, Jim Beall, and Jon Osborne. I laughed so much the entirety of my face ached. I'm not even going to explain this panel to you, because it needs to be experienced - and because we need more grad student - I mean test subje - I mean, people to see it and enjoy. Yes, yes, that.
A moment here - every panel I was on, watched, or heard about was so, so, SO great. Rich Groller and his team outdid themselves...it was like three years of program highlights in one!
Closed out the con on a high note with the 4HU panel - we talked favorite aliens, upcoming projects, why we loved the universe and writing in it, and basically I just took a moment during it to think about how incredibly lucky I am to be amidst such wonderful, talented, and welcoming people.
I got to plot a tiny bit with Mark Wandrey, Casey Moores, and Mark Stallings on various projects, saw a bunch of the staggeringly talented Valkyries authors in attendance (Mel Todd, Melissa Olthoff, Charity Ayres, April Kelley Jones, Joelle Presby), and talk new projects with luminaries like the Hillbilly, and Charity, and my CKP fam.
We hung out pretty late through the end-of-con Dead Dog party (as always, no dogs are harmed in the making of this, though potentially some human livers), but I can't give you details because it's lost in the haze of amazingly talented and knowledgeable and insightful folks complimenting my writing and therefore turning my brain into a puddle of goo.
I know I got to hug Vonn and Michael Gants (the former is the fearless leader of the consuite and a GENIUS and the latter has his first novel coming out SOON, stay tuned), and we added and took away about 300 chairs at our table and I love every single person who stopped by or sat at our table-o-shenaniganators, but most of it is tucked away in oh-no-I-melted-into-goo-everyone-is-the-best-ness.
Breakfast with friends, quick hellos and goodbyes with friends I did NOT get to spend enough time with (including Johnny Minion, who is buuusy during cons, go figure), and a slightly less smooth trip home.
Somehow I managed to entirely miss a ton of people I wanted to see, and I don't think I mentioned everyone here I did get to see, but good goodness my heart is warmed and my soul is soothed and I would like another Liberty Con surrounded by so many people I love so much soon, please and thank you.
(not too soon, because the incredible, INCREDIBLE con staff and volunteers deserve ALLLLL the rest time. Seriously - these folks are experts, and so warm and lovely and the best. HUGE thanks to them for the endless work they do to ensure we have such an amazing time. I hope they get all the treats they can handle and every nap they want! And then next year, I hope you get to be part of the utter amazingness that is Liberty Con.)