Midsouthcon, Part II

First order of business on Friday was business: set up the booth. I was moderately pleased with the new displays, but I can already see where some refinement needs to be made. I also need better signage and more clipboards.

After setting up the booth, I left to have lunch with Andy. As always, it was chicken salad at La Baguette, two hours of catching up and laughing over old times. Then he had to go to work, and I picked up a boxful of almond croissants to share with my roommates. It's a good thing I don't live in Memphis anymore – I'd weigh 300 pounds.

La Baguette. Party City. Buster's Liquor*. Office Max. Walgreens. All of the above, then back just in time to open the booth with the rest of the dealer's room. Sara Harvey joined us soon enough with her books, and the real work of the weekend began: Shameless Huckstering. I blessed the Lucky Magical Unicorn of Commerce and bid it to suck in our prey.

We took turns manning the booth around the panels, until it was nearly time for the party. Jesse showed up at my panel on ebooks, in which I debated the ascendancy of the 'net format with Eric Flint, guest of honor and editor of Baen's Universe. I'm pretty sure he's never rejected me.

It was lucky Jesse showed up, because we had one hour to simultaneously decorate the room and get ourselves dolled up, so we immediately conscripted him into slave labor. I had chosen the Vampira Cleavage Dress of Doom, but first we had to hang stuff. I had brought the decorations I used for the A MORE PERFECT UNION release party. Wall/mirror clings: yes. Stringy little bat overheads: bring thumbtacks next time. I ended up balancing my stocking feet on the arm of a chair while attempting to hang the bats on the edge of the curtains and fell right the fuck off, catching myself halfway and breaking my own fall with, um, my ass. It was not my most graceful moment.

I will say the glittery shiny door curtain – blood red, of course – was the single best advertisement we could have had in this particular hotel, which has an atrium design. The moment we hung it up, people began cruising by, even though we were still twenty minutes from opening.

Downside: the shiny red door curtain tried to eat the guests. Strand after strand wrapped itself around someone's neck or caught on their wings, and there was a trail of red glittery strands up and down the hallway outside.

I am basing a monster on that curtain someday.

Angel provided a beautiful chocolate cake – by Wal-mart, no less – imprinted with the cover of her new book, NIKOLAI. She was the only one who knew how to mix stuff. Sloe screws, by the way, rock. Me as a bartender: not so much. "Um, I can, y'know, mix stuff if you want, or how'd you like a sloe comfortable screw?"

I had to duck out right away because there was a guests' reception, and I was required to attend in order to get instruction on the Darrell Award reading scheduled for the next day. When Selina Rosen commands, you show up.

At the reception, someone hit on me. Now, this happens occasionally when I wear the Vampira Cleavage Dress of Doom. But this was creative.

HIM: Excuse me.
ME: Yes?
HIM: I'd like to thank you for single-handedly bringing cleavage to the con.
ME: *laugh*
HIM: And if you're interested, I'd like to share some very high-powered marijuana with you.
ME: … No thank you, but I appreciate the offer.

I really don't think I've had an offer like that since high school. Hee.

I relieved Angelia at the bar in our room party so she could go to her reading, while Sara set up to read tarot. It was a huge hit, with the line for tarot stretching around the room. Actually, sitting around the room. Each time she finished reading someone, everyone shifted over a seat. "Next!" It was hilarious.

Selina and the Yard Dog crew dropped by, and after three different people had tried it, I sicced Selina on the stubborn bottle of Vampire Wine. "Oh sure, give it to the OCD person, because you know I'll fuckin' keep at it until it's done!" she accused. Sure enough, she dug and dug at that thing until it was open. Then it turned out to be really sucky wine. Live and learn, the bottle was cool.

We had guests of honor drifting in and out, a terrific crowd that I fear may have emptied other events going on that evening. But as someone told us, we were The Party. At the time, I regretted putting our party on Friday night, because we didn't have time to promote or prepare. But in the end, I was glad to do it on the night when less was going on, and leave us free to enjoy ourselves on Saturday night.

My one regret about the party: no one put anything in the tip jar. Angelia and I spent a ton of money on booze, food, decorations and flyers. I've thrown a lot of promo parties, and never once had an empty tip jar. I suppose each con has its own practices – at Dragoncon, it's pretty much expected that if you drink, you toss a buck in the jar as a courtesy. Perhaps MSC just doesn't do it. Or maybe I should've given the tip jar to Selina. No one says no to Selina.

For a wonder, we didn't get shut down, despite being louder and more obnoxious by far than last year's pirate party, which was shut down in 45 minutes flat. I yelled last call at 1 a.m. and by 2 a.m. we had the room pretty well put back to order.

Oh, and Sara Harvey and I slept together. Why are you looking at me like that? Angelia is over six feet tall and there were only two beds in the room. I cracked that among my crew, I was the only woman who was not bisexual, and if there was to be any sex in our room, I would be manning the video camera. Sorry to disappoint you, Sara was a perfect gentlelady

Next: It's an honor to be nominated….

* I'd like to add that despite Buster's proximity to the University of Memphis and its 25-year history of providing hooch to inebriated college students, this was the first time I'd actually made a purchase at Buster's. No, really.