Monday, January 16, 2012

Con Report

So, MarsCon? Awesome.

Penny and Alex were not (too) whiny. I got to wear my costume with the leather corset I bought last year. I saw musical shows. I got to hang out with friends I see all too rarely, and made a couple of new friends. I bought stuff for myself and for the kids, most of it pointless and silly. (The beaded cell phone bag, though, was all but necessary. Why didn't I make that stupid skirt with pockets?) I ate junk food and stayed up late and plugged my books.

The weekend is something of a blur, but let me (try) to start at the beginning.

Friday night was Rock Band Night at the Hedge -- the usual Friday night crew, plus Elizabeth and Lorenz and Jenn and Brian. Braz put the boys to bed and told them that if we had to come up and tell them to be quiet, we would separate them. The threat worked, and though I don't think either of them went to sleep until well after 9:30, they stayed in Henry's room and were at least quiet enough we didn't hear anything over Rock Band.

After the boys were in bed, we told the girls to go upstairs to play, and I slipped in this suggestion: "You know, if you stay upstairs and don't come interrupt us, we might forget what time it is, and you'd get to stay up late." The bribe worked, and we didn't see hide nor hair nor hear a squeak from the girls until Adin realized it was time for us to do Penny's 10:00 blood sugar check.

And the adults...? Well, we rocked.

Until after Adin had to leave for work. Until after Jenn and Brian realized they had an hour and change drive home and reluctantly left. Until... until Matt realized that it was coming up on 1 in the morning and we really should get the kids home.

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast and took showers and got dressed (more or less in that order) and eventually (near lunchish) found ourselves at MarsCon.

We found KT and Kevin right away, and Penny and Alex and Jess spent a while playing in the huge pile of Legos and getting their faces painted.

Then KT and I left the kids with Kevin and Matt and went off to a writer's workshop, where I joyfully also ran into my brother. I've wanted to do this workshop for years, but it's always conflicted with something -- other panels, childcare, etc -- that took precedence. It was a lot of fun; a closed panel where everyone present wrote the opening few sentences for a short story. The hook, in other words, and the panel judges offered up critique to help us hone our writing styles and do a better job of genuinely drawing in the reader. (One of the panelists said the very nicest thing about mine, which was "Every single sentence had something I wanted to ding you for, but somehow you made it all work." I all but squee'd. I may share it with Wednesday's post to the writing blog, if you're interested.)

While we were doing that, Matt and the kids went to a puppet show that sounded like oodles of fun, then had lunch up at the Con Suite. (MarsCon has the Best. Con Suite. EVAR..)

We took the kids to a workshop on drawing cute creatures. Alex was showing signs of needing a nap, though, so Matt took him over to Braz and Adin's (as we had arranged previously), and I left Kevin to keep an eye on Penny while I dashed up to the Con Suite for my own lunch, where I was fortunate enough to encounter Pickleman!

When the drawing workshop was done, we took the girls to the Hysterically Correct Pirate Show, at which Penny and Jess became apprentice pirates. Then we took the girls to another workshop to make little felt zombie dolls. (I may be getting things out of order. The whole day was a bit of a blur.)

In the meantime, we bumped into dozens of rarely-met friends and took lots of pictures of people in costumes. (Those links include a fantastic Chel from Portal, including a gorgeous portal gun, a collection for four different incarnations of Doctor Who, and the obligatory Slave Leia.)

We spent half an hour in a musical concert from Jonah Knight, who writes and performs... I don't want to say "filk" because I think of that as music about existing franchises, and this mostly wasn't. Let's call his stuff steampunky short stories set to music. Sometimes spooky, sometimes silly, but definitely fun. KT was obsessed with his fingering; I was fascinated by his awesomely well-worn guitar.

We went out to dinner with the Hickses, our old college friend DJ and his son, and Vicki, and that was awesome, too -- we put the three kids in a booth to themselves and the grown-ups had a grand time talking about all kinds of stuff.

Then Matt and I dropped by the house so I could change out of my costume (it was fun, but the lack of pockets and the continual need to, er, "adjust the girls", so to speak, was getting annoying) and then we split up again. He took Penny over to Braz and Adin's to hang out and go to bed, and I went back to the con to go to a panel on GLBT in speculative fiction. (Matt also went back to the con after he'd dropped Penny off. I think he went to the Coyote Run concert along with KT and Kevin.)

While I was waiting on the panel to start, one of the panelists came in and it turned out to be JM Snyder, whom I'd met back in September in Roanoke, so we sat and chatted for a while, which was awesome. The panel (more of a panel-moderated discussion, really) was fascinating, too. It was followed by another panel-moderated discussion about repopulating the planet in the event of an apocalypse -- elements to consider, things that might or might not happen, how best to ensure the survival of the species -- that was super fun. When that was done, there was a reading from four authors where it looked for a while like I was going to be the only person in the audience, but eventually the room filled up.

I ended up talking for a while with another one of the audience members who I've seen before but not spoken to, and she was really nice, so I'm looking forward to seeing her again next year. I gave her one of the free copies of "Of Sound Mind" I had with me for promotion purposes, and she promised to read it and pass it on to friends who might like it.

When that broke up, I thought about wandering down the hall in search of one of the dozens of ongoing room parties, but it was nearly 1 in the morning and I had to drive home, so I made my farewells and headed out. I figured Matt would have been home long since (he'd come to the door of the panel and waved at me at least an hour before) but when I got home, he had only arrived a few minutes earlier and had just finished bringing the kids in and tucking them into bed.

We went back the next day as well -- had lunch in the Con Suite and wandered around a little, chatting with KT and Kevin some more and making a last sweep through the dealer's room before we headed home. KT and Kevin followed later to hang out with us some more that afternoon before they went back home.

It was a super weekend, and I'm sad it's already over. Matt and the kids have today off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but I'm stuck at work. At least it'll be quiet, since all our government customers will be closed.

We're talking about getting a room at the hotel next year -- it's great living so close to the Con, but we were getting sick of having to lug our coats and bags around all the time, and it would've been nice to have a spot to eat and rest and regroup. We're also juggling the notion of going to another con up in Richmond in April -- the writer GoH is Glen Cook, and I'd love to get my ancient and battered copy of The Black Company signed. Alas, their website is not very helpful in determining whether they have any child-friendly programming, so we're not sure whether this is something we can all go to for the weekend, or if it may be a Mom-Only Day Trip. We'll see.

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