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It’s some indication of how the last week or so has gone that it’s taken me this long to do a con report. Whee! At any rate, Friday was a mad rush of driving across Wisconsin to land at the hotel in time to rush Jana off to the Art Show to set up, drop off a box of post-surgery Catherine clothes for the Clothing Swap, check in, register and all that.

I should note that this year was a very emotionally fraught for me: I attended WisCon for 25 years in a row, then stopped going for a couple of years after the Frenkel debacle. I lost some close friends over how the convention committee at the time handled/mishandled the situation and its aftermath. Several people that I did programming with or hung out with, including poet John Calvin Rezmerski, writer Ama Patterson and author Mike Levy, died in the last eight months. One or two folks who I would be perfectly happy to never see again for the rest of our lives inevitably showed up. And then, unsurprisingly, there was some emotional processing with other people, about which I still have mixed feels. Given all this, I had a pretty decent con, with a few hiccups.

Friday night was a nice dinner with friends from Boston, a brief collapse and a short party tour followed by my reading with the nice folks who added me to their group. The reading went reasonably well – good attendance, interesting stories and my chocolate emojis were super popular. Some friends from Iowa showed up , as well as some other folks I haven’t seen for a few years so a good time was had reuniting. Saturday morning was the Farmer’s Market tour, followed by the Small Press Publishing panel. I had cleverly noted the time as 10:30 and was late, so I spent my intro apologizing, but apart from that, it was an okay panel from the standpoint of panelist and audience engagement. And I may have picked up a short term consulting gig from it, so that was all good.

Jana volunteered at the Art Show a fair amount, while DreamHaven Books (yay!) ended up taking my books for sale. A Room of One’s Own Bookstore supposedly had the books, but didn’t bring them to the con, which was frustrating. And alas, also not the first time I have had this or similar problems with them. But so it goes and I will go back to not depending on them for any at convention sales and stick with working with other folks instead. It wasn’t a great book sales weekend for me, in any case, which wasn’t too surprising since I didn’t have a big book release and hadn’t been there for a while.

Saturday afternoon featured the Red as Blood: Women in Gothic Horror Panel, which was terrific. I had fun moderating and both the (very full) audience and the panelists were very engaged. See my previous post for recommendations. I definitely want to do a panel on this theme again. Plus, I got to follow it up with hot tub time, which made for a lovely afternoon. Dinner was spent in the pleasant company of a charming couple that I met on Twitter and everything was all good…

Until I got back to the room and opened the program book and noticed that were more numbers than I expected next to my name. Wacky hijinx ensued as I learned that I was scheduled for a presentation on Aging in Speculative Fiction at 8:30 Monday morning that wasn’t on my personal schedule. This also meant that while I had the right laptop with me, I had no connectors for hooking it up, but more on that later. Sunday was a nice day, spent in the company of friends and getting lovely feedback on my gaming tie-in writing for the Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary anthology The Cainite Conspiracies, which I was in last year (and learning that I’ll likely have an opportunity to write more gaming tie-in work soon, which was a very nice compliment). I went to a panel on the idea of borders, physical and cultural, and liminality, which was quite interesting, hung out at the Art Show, visited friends and bought things  in the Dealer’s Room and prepped for my crack o’dawn presentation on Monday. Also, more hot tub which I really needed, and another nice dinner with friends old and new.

Monday was also Jana’s birthday, but she dutifully helped pack up the car and came to watch me attempt a presentation with no laptop connections (I waved my arms about and said ‘Imagine a pretty picture!” occasionally), despite heroic efforts by the convention AV person and the hotel staff. It apparently wasn’t too bad of a train wreck and people stayed and asked questions and giggled at my jokes and signed up for AlterConf in Chicago. We then whisked Jana off to birthday breakfast at a nearby pancake place that the awesome Caroline Stevermer suggested (she was, as usual, quite right). Then it was back for frenzied packing, preregistering for next year and so forth.

The trip home included a stop off at the International Crane Foundation, which is always delightful, and birthday pie and lefse wraps at Norske Nook in Osseo, Wisconsin. We also made it home at a reasonable hour despite rainstorms. So did I make it to any of the big stuff (opening ceremonies, etc.)? Nope. Do I regret that? A little. I was pretty sore and tired when we arrived so I erred on the side of relaxing a bit and working instead of trying to Do All the Things. I still had fun and got to see lovely people, so that made it worthwhile. I’m trying to think of WisCon as a new convention, rather than the same one that I went to for 25 years. It makes some of the holes where people are missing somewhat easier to cope with, and makes the snafus less surprising. I would definitely say that I met more new people than I have met at a WisCon in years and I think that’s good. I am cautiously optimistic about next year! Huzzah!

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