Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ad Astra 2012

Another fantastic convention has just passed, and as usual I'm in a state of mourning. Some of the happiest times for me over the last few years have been spent at cons, and this year's Ad Astra was one of the best.

That's not to say there were no problems; the con was held in a new hotel this year, a fact that brought its own unique issues. However, dealing with all those issues was, for me, part of the fun.

For instance, when I arrived Friday evening, I still wasn't entirely sure what my panel/reading schedule was. Unforeseen chaos had hit the programming team hard, reducing that team to only one very stressed but ultimately heroic person(under the circumstances, Adi, you did tremendously, and I'm sorry I never got to buy you that beer I'd promised). I had a reading that night with Gabrielle Harbowy, but our reading room (Salon 1) hadn't been assigned yet! Adi assigned us her own hotel room; Gabrielle and I read to our audience from the bed, making the reading informal yet fun. She read a devastatingly funny and clever story called Deserter(which anyone who has ever known a cat will appreciate) and I read from The Cupid War, and good times were had by all.

Saturday was my busiest day; five panels, mostly back-to-back, and the autograph session! My good friend Mike Bryant came to help me run my table; he had to spend several hours on his own that day while I was off being clever, including a three hour stint in the afternoon. He did remarkably, and I couldn't have done it without him.

Like my Friday night reading, most panels were held in hotel rooms(with the beds removed for extra space). This gave the panels a crowded bus/sardine-can feel, but it also made the experience more intimate. I did two panels dealing with the publishing industry, one panel on 2012 stories, and two panels that I'd been longing to be a part of for several years - Mental Health in Fandom, and the panel on writing for YA readers. Unlike in previous years, I never felt out of my depth or woefully unprepared.

That night Mike and I attended the Dragon Moon Press Launch for Leah Petersen's Fighting Gravity and Marie Bilodeau's Destiny's Fall. Marie is a friend I made at Ad Astra 2010; we've done several panels together over the last two years, including the 2012 panel this year. Time spent in her company is always a convention high point for me. I wasn't as familiar with Leah, which was hardly surprising; it was her first book, first book launch, and first reading! I think she acquitted herself with style, and I hope to get to know her over the next few cons.

The Chizine party was next, but by that point I was exhausted. I stayed for one poem reading and one beer before heading home for some much-needed sleep.

Sunday was mellow. I had one panel that afternoon(Sequels: How Do They Work?), then I was free to interact with friends and sell a couple more books before calling it a weekend. My table's location wasn't the greatest; seven of us were squirreled away in a corner next to the pool. The phrase we heard most that weekend was, "I didn't know there was anyone back here!" Nevertheless, I sold 16 books in total, gained some new fans(this shout-out's for you, Amanda!), and generally had a good time.

On Monday I faced the usual post-con blues. I miss everybody, and wish my life could be like this all of the time. I'm booked for next year, and I have Polaris to look forward to this summer. Long live the cons, I say! And long live Ad Astra.

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