Dragoncon: Saturday

I am too old to stay up until 4 a.m. and get up at 8:30. Just. Too. Old.

My flunky for this show is Angelia Sparrow, who was kind enough to volunteer her services as “bodyservant.” That’s a new title for the person who gets me from point A to point Z, makes sure I do things like “eat” and “drink water,” and generally kicks my ass.

Angelia woke me up at 8:30 to remind me that I volunteered to join Walking With the Stars. It’s an effort by Stu Segal to counteract the health-destroying aspects of con: get up a little earlier and go for a walk around the block. To entice the fans, Stu asks authors and artists and other famous people to walk, so the fans will exercise in order to spend time with us. It’s an excellent goal and I clearly remember volunteering as a “star.”

So I fired Angelia and told her I was going back to sleep. Fortunately she’s impervious to being fired, because she watched me fire Dana several times last year and God alone knows how many times I fired Katie. I haven’t fired Becky yet, but she’s only been my in-town flunky for a little while and she's never had to wake me up at con.

Angelia made me get up and make myself slightly presentable. She made me a cup of tea, so I unfired her. We joined Stu and Steven Segal and several other fine folk, and we went for the walk.

I am so glad I went. The weather was marvelous: warm but not hot, sunny and beautiful. It really was a leisurely stroll, not a deathmarch, and we had a great time. I do hope word spreads about this new tradition, because I think it’s excellent. Bravo to Stu and Steven for setting it up.

On the way back, I actually felt quasi-human, so when I saw that the parade was starting up, I hung around to watch. Six years of Dragoncon and I finally saw the parade. Oh my, what fun! The marching legions of Stormtroopers (led inexplicably by a small group of Stormtroopers in kilts – I ask no questions). The Incredibles family. The walking Jayne’s Hat. The marching periodic table. Batman – old school and new. A real DeLorean, complete with Marty and Doc running madly about. The legions from 300 – and gentlemen, we really appreciate your efforts. Mrow.

Then I returned to the room, to ungross myself and fret over sales. Since the lack of internet access means my Dragoncon wrap-up will not appear until I get home, it’s safe to say that I was frankly terrified. It was the end of Saturday before I sold a single book. I have NEVER been that far behind at any convention, much less Dragoncon. Granted, I don’t expect to ever have a year like I did in 2005 or 2006, whichever year it was that I sold at the New Babel Books booth and brought home a thick wad of cash. But one book by Saturday? When I have good placement in a booth in the exhibitors’ hall? Something has gone very wrong.

Speaking of going very wrong... the author kaffeeklatsch failed due to poor planning on my part. I set it for the Atrium Level, misremembering which level had all the chairs. The only chairs on the Alcohol Level were in the bar, and they didn't want us sitting there unless we bought their overpriced drinks. Not that anyone could find us there, except for one reader and three authors.

Next Year: Ten-Forward, as Angelia dubbed the 10th floor with all its empty tables and chairs. And I'll get it in the Daily Dragon, on the LJ list and elsewhere far more in advance.

My next panel was a fascinating discussion of oil disasters and the oil crisis as it relates to potential apocalypse. Panelists included the irrepressible Selina Rosen and Kevin J. Anderson. Selina and I have been armwrestling at cons for years, but Kevin was new to me – and I am pained to report that he is a TERRIBLE punster. Oh, the puns.

What? I never do puns. That’s just mean.

Selina immediately started in with the references to my cleavage. Her version of MidSouthCon had me forcibly implanting her face in my breasts. As I recall, it was Selina who shouted my name, ran across the hall and faceplanted in my cleavage. I have witnesses.

But I got my revenge. Poor Selina. We were trying to explain the psychological aspects of a post-oil society, how entrenched oil is in the American way of life and how difficult many people would find it to switch. Selina started on an analogy of a society in which everyone ate carrots and suddenly there were no carrots.
Hey, I followed it.

But it was on.

Every few minutes someone would make another carrot joke. “Well, in the carrot-based economy…” It became a running gag, and afterward I reminded Selina that we will be together again at Archon – and I will remember the carrots. “Fuck you, Elizabeth,” she said cheerfully. It took the whole panel to get a “fuck you” out of Selina! I must be slipping.

Dear Archon: Kevin J. Anderson is your guest of honor. We both think that a gift-wrapped bunch of carrots would be the perfect gift for toastmaster Selina Rosen. I'm just saying.

I could have tried to make a panel or two that I was actually not on, but to be honest, I was flagging badly. So I went back to my room and talked to Jimmy for a while, watched some Dragoncon TV, then took a nap. I didn’t really intend to – naps generally don’t help me, just make me feel worse – but apparently I had the look of death on me, because Angelia let me sleep. She also got me a sandwich, so I unfired her again. When did I fire her the second time? I forgot.

Then came the corset. Angelia wrestled me into the rose corset while Kelly provided running commentary. Saturday night was the Victorian Lady, with black-and-roses corset, floor-length black skirt and shawl. The corsets needed much less wrestling this time than previous cons this year, and I discovered that I have somehow misplaced 15 pounds without dieting this summer. Roh? Not that I'm complaining! I could misplace another 75 pounds and be perfectly happy.

On to the famous zombie erotica panel, with Jean Marie Ward and John Everson, among others. We managed to keep the bad jokes to a minimum and talked a good bit about romance, erotica and the definitions; the inherent problems with zombie erotica and zombie romance; the few examples of people that have pulled it off; taboos in our society and the erosion thereof… etc.

Partway through the panel, Pennywise the Clown strolled in. With Georgie. Pennywise held a bunch of balloons; Georgie carried a paper boat. Pennywise had the teeth and the silver eyes. They sat halfway back and freaked me out the whole panel. When we were done, I demanded that Pennywise come up front and get his picture with me, because IT is my favorite book of all time and Pennywise is the boogeyman of my youth – and I have no problem with clowns at all. I make an exception for Pennywise.

After the panel, Angelia took my Rolling Red Bag of Doom back up to the room and I went costume-hunting before wending my way to Vernard’s party. The dress was a big hit. When I walked into the hallway, Parish fell to his knees. He always was dramatic. Vernard did a casual faceplant a la Selina. Melodee groped me, because that’s Mel. I chatted some with Jeff Pagliei, whom I killed in THE COLD ONES and I butcher his last name every time I do a reading.

I’m always amused by the glee my friends feel at being maligned in print – I named the vampire queen in ABADDON after Melodee’s online persona, Zorathenne. The vampire Zorathenne is batshit crazy, a murderer and psychotic. Melodee is delighted. Of course, Zorathenne’s trigger was the grotesque murder of her husband, Martin. He was burned alive on the steps of the cathedral. Now, I stole Vernard’s last name for that victim, and that was the image chosen by Cerridwen Press for the cover. When Martin dies, he is clothed and writhing in pain. On the cover, his arms are up high in defiance and his torso is bare. And it’s a very fiiiine torso.

“Do you know how much shit I have taken over that?” Vernard told me. I informed him I have a giant eight-foot poster of that cover, and Melodee insisted she wants one.

A few words about Vernard. He has the consummate ability to look at a person and gauge their mood, tolerance, inebriation level and taste, and mix the perfect drink to match. He has always managed to find the perfect drink for me. Vernard is one of those people that creates a sense of family around him, and everyone is at home when he’s around. When you’re in Atlanta, the party is wherever Vernard is.

The party was lovely, and I even remember it. I sailed back to my hotel to crash at about 4 a.m., because I keep forgetting that I am thirty-five years old.

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