As always, I had a fantastic time at this year's Ad Astra convention. Saw good friends, sold some books, did some panels and spent some money on stuff I really didn't need but kinda wanted. And yet, I came away from this con with a heavy heart, and did not book a table for next year.
Why not? Let me put it this way: if there was one word I could use to sum up the whole experience for me, however, it would be bittersweet. I had nothing new to sell, after all, and I had nothing on its way to publication to promote. It felt... like I was yesterday's news, making one last desperate attempt to get noticed before fading into irrelevancy.
Whoa. Got kinda dramatic there. That happens when I'm in one of my moods, a topic that will become even more relevant as this post continues.
Anyway, the con. I went down Friday evening to get registered, find my table, and attend a panel on ebook publishing that featured my good friend Sarah Water Raven (author of Detective Dochherty and the Demon's Tears). It was fun and insightful, but left me no wiser on how to boost sales on Closets(anyone? Pretty pleeze?).
Saturday was busy, with my first panel at 10 in the morning. My friend Monica Kuebler (of Burningeffigy Press, publisher of Section K) came early to run my table while I was away. The Changing Face of the Paranormal in YA featured myself, Kelley Armstrong, and moderator extraordinaire Amanda Sun. We covered a lot of YA paranormal ground, agreed that vampires have been done to undeath, and offered predictions on what the future of the genre might bring (hint - Angels!). I left feeling full of beans, metaphorically speaking, and thought I'd done a good job.
I didn't have quite the same feeling coming out of my 3 PM panel, Demons, Werewolves and Necromancers. My fellow panelists were Jim Butcher, Andrew Pyper and Douglas Smith, three guys who really knew their stuff. I choked on a couple of questions, but managed to hold most of my own as the panel went on. Don't get me wrong, those guys are terrific and did not try to intimidate me in any way, shape or form. I just felt a little out of my depth, like a little kid surrounded by the grown-ups. Of course, the image of the big kid is not something I've ever tried to resist (quite the opposite, in fact).
That night, a large group gathered in one of the Consuites to watch that night's episode of Doctor Who. It was a lot of fun watching a favourite show in the company of so many fans. Space was very limited, however, so there was a lot of shuffling about on the floor to acquire a decent line of sight.
On Sunday I had another 10 AM panel, followed by another at 12. Monica could only come for Saturday, but my fellow vendors were more than happy to watch my table while I was out and about. My first panel was Bullying-TNG with Kari Maaren and Sgt. Pat Poitevin. We discussed the issue of bullying in broad and specific terms, identifying weaknesses in so-called 'zero tolerance' policies and exploring a variety of solutions. Sgt. Poitevin (husband of Sins of the Son author Linda Poitevin)is an RCMP officer who specializes in anti-bullying in schools, and he offered a lot of useful insight.
My final panel was Fandom Mental Health Forum, with Adrienne Everitt, Kate Daley and Brenda Shaw (told you my moods would be relevant again!). All of us were in agreement that the panel time of one hour wasn't nearly enough. We all had a lot to say, and things got very emotional. Naturally I managed to get a plug for The Cupid War in there, but I was reminded of how important it is for me to write even more about mood disorders.
One thing about the con in general that needs to be said: the Timmies Girls were lifesavers! Three young ladies came around three times a day asking vendors if they wanted anything from Tim Hortons. Without their heroic efforts, many of us would have faced near-certain decaffeination.
The con was a good one for me; I sold more books than I thought I would, made some new friends, had lunch with some old ones, and did as much as I could with the time I had. Even so, I missed several panels, readings and parties that I otherwise would have loved to have attended. Some friends I caught only a glimpse of, and I'll have to wait for the next con to get another chance to see them. I'm not sure when that will be for me. I hope to attend Can Con in September, but time (and money) will tell. I still won't have anything new, nor an answer to the question of when will my next book come out. One thing is for certain, though - I am definitely not done with the fandom community. I guess I just really want to prove my worth. I know I don't have to, but that's where I'm at right now.
And, table or not, I will be back at Ad Astra next year.