Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Usual warning: This will be long. And probably pretty boring, although it's not like I'm forcing you to read it at gunpoint.

This year I was able to take Thursday and Friday off, and left for Atlanta on Wednesday after work. I got to my hotel in Smyrna around 7:30pm. I didn't try to go into Atlanta that night, just relaxed and walked to Target to buy snacks and an umbrella. I ended up with crackers, cheese slices, and a pair of gray socks with black bats on them. I forgot the umbrella, which was a shame as you will soon see.

I was too excited about DragonCon to sleep well, and when my alarm woke me at 6:30 on Thursday morning, I already felt like I was three days into con weekend and feeling ragged. But I perked up quickly when I remembered I was up early to go birdwatching with my friend Kevin!

Kevin is cohost of the fun podcast The Flopcast, which I highly recommend. We've known each other probably close to 25 years at this point but the only time we see each other is at DragonCon. Last year Kevin mentioned being kind of interested in birds, so I invited him to go birding with me before DragonCon started this year. I drove into Atlanta to pick him up, and while I was waiting for him to come down, I stopped by registration to see when it would open. To my surprise, it was already up and running, and it only took a few minutes to get my badge!

Kevin and I grabbed a quick breakfast at the coffee shop in the Sheraton, then jumped in my car and headed to the Chattahoochee River. It's not far from where I was staying--in fact, two years ago I tried to find it to do some birding but the directions I had just sent me into a subdivision. This year I had better directions.

By then, of course, it was pouring rain. Kevin had brought an umbrella but I didn't have one, remember. We sat in the car for a few minutes until the rain slacked up a little, then jumped out to see some birds!

It didn't go so well. We saw some Canada geese right off, which made me hopeful that we might also see some cormorants or grebes or maybe some ducks at least, but nope, just Canada geese. Then nothing for a long time while the rain increased and the only pair of shoes I'd brought to Atlanta got wetter and wetter. The light wasn't good so the few small birds I spotted were just silhouettes.

We kept going, and then, miraculously, we spotted an osprey! It flapped wetly across the river and landed in the top of a tree. While Kevin watched it through my spare binoculars, I tried to ID the swallows skimming over the river's surface. When one landed in a dead tree not twenty feet away, I saw it was a Northern rough-winged swallow. I was so pleased that I'm afraid I pestered Kevin to stop looking at the majestic bird of prey and instead feast his eyes on the tiny bird sitting on a twig and looking not unlike every other swallow species in the world except to the trained eye.

At that point it started thundering, the rain increased to a deluge, and we decided we'd better turn back. I was so wet by then that there was no point in trying to keep partially under Kevin's umbrella, so I just walked and got wetter and wetter. Luckily I keep a towel in my car, and in fact discovered, when we got back to the parking lot, that I had a second towel in the back too for Kevin to use. Also luckily, my hotel was really closeby, because I needed to change.

Kevin waited in the car while I ran up and changed into dry clothes--all but my shoes, which were sodden. I threw my wet clothes into the tub to dry. Then we drove back into Atlanta for DragonCon!

Official programming didn't start until Friday, but there were some things going on Thursday afternoon. Kevin left to help run the newbie walking tours, and I got some lunch, belatedly bought an umbrella at CVS, and wandered around looking at costumes. As the afternoon progressed the hotels got more and more crowded--nothing like the weekend, of course, but lots of people nevertheless. I tried to find a pair of flip-flops to buy, but the only ones I could find were hideous, cheaply made, and $10. I refused to spend that much on ugly flip-flops so I just walked around in wet and stinky shoes. Eventually they dried out, although they smell like a zombie died in them. I need new running shoes anyway.

I didn't realize immediately that I was doing my own walking tour of the convention area until I was nearly to the AmericasMart 2 building even though I knew the dealer's hall wouldn't open until the next morning. I never go to the dealer's hall anyway. What I was doing, subconsciously, was getting myself oriented. It worked, too. I only got turned around once the whole weekend, and that was early on Sunday morning when I was running on only a few hours of sleep and hadn't had coffee yet. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Later that evening I met Kevin, his wife Felicity, his sister Christine, and two friends of theirs for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, where I ordered goat. It was good, and I was able to mark it off my bucket list as a food I wanted to try.

It was fairly late when we left the restaurant, and after some more walking around I decided reluctantly that I was too tired to stay up for the Ego Likeness show at 10:30pm. I went back to the hotel room instead and got less sleep than I needed but more sleep than the night before.

I've written over 1,000 words and DragonCon hasn't even officially started!

I woke on Friday headachey and tired. I should mention that I'm still getting over the con crud I picked up at WorldCon in Finland a few weeks before. It was a mild cold, but it settled in my chest and chest colds are so hard to get rid of. I skipped the 8:30am panel I'd been thinking of attending and got breakfast instead, coffee and an egg mcmuffin type thing at Dunkin Donuts. And a cruller.

The first panel I attended was "Dollars & Sense: The Business of YA," which was interesting and made me feel I was using my DragonCon time wisely. After that I rushed to get to the "How to Fight Like a Woman" panel/swordfighting demonstration. Every year I try to get to a swordfighting demonstration and every year the room fills up before I can reach it, but this year I made it in! It. Was. AWESOME! If I was half my age and didn't already have 500 hobbies, I'd want to take it up.


After that I attended a panel about the pop culture of 1987, which was a lot of fun, then a Skeptics Track panel called "Weird Mysteries: Applying Science to the Paranormal." That turned out to be a presentation by Ben Radford, whose presentations I've enjoyed at DragonCon before. This one was good too.

By the time it was over, it was 3:30 pm. I'd grabbed a piece of pizza earlier (Papa John’s, made in a big truck behind the Marriott and carried to various kiosks throughout the con; still $6 a slice!), but I was hungry again so got a bottle of that Naked drink that's orange and made partly of carrots. I love that stuff. Then I found a bathroom that was reasonably uncrowded and put my contacts in, brushed my hair, and basically made myself presentable, because after that I went to the "Goth: Heart of Darkness" panel. In past years this has been called something like "State of the Goth Music Scene" or some such. It had a slightly different focus this year, but it was still goth musicians, including Aurelio Voltaire, Rogue of the Cruxshadows, and members of a few other bands, and moderated by DJ Ichabod of the Out ov the Coffin podcast, whose voice I love. I honestly don't care who's on the panel or the precise topics they cover, it's just great to listen to people discuss music I enjoy.

After that I went to an 80s cartoon singalong, where they played the opening credits to a ton of cartoons, many of which I'd never even heard of--but they did have Star Blazers, which made me happy. The presenter commented on a lot of them and she was really funny--I think her name was Renee, but I'm bad with names so I could be wrong. I think she said she was a co-director of the animation track.

It was 8pm by then. At 9pm GLANK! was playing. I wasn't sure I wanted to go, but I thought it would be interesting and I might be able to use it for a paper for my drum class this semester.

Well, I'm now a GLANK! fan. They're a percussion group something like Stomp or Blue Man Group. Members are anonymous, dressed in cleanroom suits, and play a mixture of traditional and found percussion instruments. They also have a couple of other instruments--I saw an upright bass and a guitar, but it's all subtle and mostly just all about the hitting things with sticks. The crowd wasn't as big as I'd expected and not really hot at first. I was having a blast the whole time, but things really heated up when they started audience participation. They passed out shakers to those of us in the front of the dance floor, and later did some fun and somewhat complicated clapping (that kept people from clapping on 1 and 3--seriously, people, don't clap on 1 and 3. Just don't. Please.).

They had a short intermission partway through their set where members of the group came down to take selfies with audience members. I don't usually participate in that kind of thing because I hate taking selfies, but one member joined me and I didn't want to be a jerk so I got a picture of us. And I was having a lot of fun, so it's actually great to have a picture of me and a member of the band even though I look like I'm possessed by demons.

The show finished at eleven. I was thirsty and sweaty from dancing and hungry again, so I grabbed another piece of pizza and a beer. I needed a beer because I was going to see THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

Now obviously they didn't really lock the doors and make people pay to get out. But that was the vibe. DragonCon matched donations up to $100,000 this year for the Georgia Special Olympics, and tracks were also collecting money for Hurricane Harvey relief. So there was a panel member sitting outside the room with a donation bucket, and as people left they could donate if they liked, and they got a card and/or a button.

I lasted 45 minutes. I've seen the holiday special before and didn't feel the need to see the whole thing again. Besides, beer makes me sleepy.

Next day was Saturday, and I set my alarm for 6:30 am again to make sure I was at the convention well before the parade traffic. I started the day at an 8:30 am panel, "Classic Sci-Fi Court," where panelists make a case that a particular bad movie is not as bad as it's said to be. Kevin was on that panel and defended Howard the Duck, a terrible, terrible movie. The panel was a lot of fun and a good way to start the day. Immediately after that one was a roll-a-panel in the same room. Kevin was on the panel of that one too--he was on eleven panels in all, in fact. The roll-a-panel has a big 20-sided die and every face is a different movie released in a specific year, in this case either 1982 or 1992. Someone from the audience rolls the die, and panelists have two minutes to discuss the movie. It's really fun.

Above: the Classic Sci-Fi Court, with Kevin (standing in the green shirt) begging us to not be too harsh on Howard the Duck

After that I went to the Bill Corbett Show, a panel where Bill Corbett has some hilarious guests and basically just makes everyone laugh until they're sick. His guests were Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Night Vale, comedian Joseph Scrimshaw, and voice actor and comedian Hal Lublin. It was incredibly good, and sweet too. That was something I noticed over and over this whole weekend, in fact: various panelists and presenters mentioning either obliquely or outright that we're going through a hard time right now in our country and the world, and it's okay to seek comfort in the things we love.

There were other panels I wanted to attend after that, but I was starving. I wandered around trying to figure out what I could eat besides pizza, and ran into Kevin. We ended up getting pizza together after all, but as Kevin pointed out, even bad pizza is pretty good. After he left for his next panel, I got a vanilla frappuccino at Starbucks (the only drink at Starbucks worth having) and wandered around for a while, looking at costumes.

Then I remembered I really wanted to get a GLANK! shirt, so I went to the Marriott where all the bands have their merch tables. Sometimes it can be hard to catch someone at a particular table, since band members want to go around and have fun too, not just sit at their table all day, plus of course they usually have multiple performances. But I was lucky and a woman with her sparkly hair in two ponytails was at the table. And the first thing she said was, "Hey, you were at our show last night! I danced with you!" It turns out she was the performer who'd approached me at intermission for a selfie, and she was really awesome! We talked for a few minutes and I told her how much I'd enjoyed the show and that I'd been telling everyone about it. She asked if I was coming to their next performance that evening and I said I'd try. I bought a shirt (I’m wearing it now, in fact) and she gave me a sticker and a pin.

After that I went to the Animation track again for the Schoolhouse Rock singalong. Basically they just put the DVD of Schoolhouse Rock shorts on shuffle and everyone sang along. When "I’m Just a Bill" started, a cosplayer dressed in a Bill costume showed up and joined us, dancing along with the song. It was epic. And it's eerie how I know so many of those shorts word-perfect.

I got more pizza and did more wandering around. I wish now I'd gone to see The Pyrate Queen play at seven, but I missed my opportunity. I joined Kevin and Felicity in line for the big Gonzaroo Comedy and Music show at eight. We were in line quite a while and talked with the people around us, which was fun. I shared out some of my fun-sized Hershey bars and one of the other guys had some Hot Tamales cinnamon candy he shared too. We were close to the front of the line and got really good seats, and I forgot to take any pictures.

After Gonzaroo ended, it was ten till eleven and almost time for the Voltaire concert. I was glad it was at eleven this year instead of midnight. I skated in right before it started and wormed my way as close to the stage as I could.

He started his set with the same breakup song from his new album that he started last year's set with. I hate that song. Fucking. Hate. It. I even remember thinking that if he kept playing slow sad songs I'd leave early. But after that he played "Vampire Club" and "Brains" and basically put on a high-octane, incredibly fun show--probably the best show I've ever seen out of the six or seven times I've seen him live.
Above: the only picture I took at the show, very blurrrrry

I didn't stay after that, just headed back to the hotel, but I had to shave my legs and bring my journal up to date and find my phone that I'd somehow dropped into my pile of dirty clothes, so it was after two before I actually got to bed.

Oh, and remember those wet clothes in the bathtub from Thursday morning? They still weren't dry. Not only that, I'd managed (don’t ask) to drop a sock in the toilet so I had to wash it and its mate, and they weren't dry yet either. That left me short two pairs of socks, and I'd only brought three. Fortunately I had the new pair I'd bought at Target.

The towels in my car weren't dry either, and they were starting to stink of mildew. In fact, Saturday afternoon out of desperation I'd spread the towels on the roof of my car while it was in the parking garage. I figured if someone stole them, they weren't exactly my good towels. That helped a lot--they were mostly dry by the time I'd returned to the car after midnight--but the car still smelled sour.

I got a decent night's sleep and woke up feeling a whole lot better than I had for the last two mornings. In fact, I think I turned a corner that night in my cold (although as I type this I'm coughing my head off so who knows). I made it to the Sunday morning 10am Reel Crime panel with Bill Corbett, Frank Conniff, and Trace Beaulieu but only by skipping coffee. It was worth it, though.

I grabbed Starbucks and raced to the next panel I had on my schedule, which I thought was going to be about movie musicals. But when I got there, just after it started because for some reason I got turned around and couldn't find the room, it turned out to be about musical theater. As I wrote in my journal later, "Opera or GTFO." I don’t care about musical theater. I left and sat down against a wall, grimly choking down as much of the shitty Starbucks coffee as I could stand, along with some aspirin for the headache I'd developed while trying to find the right room.

While I waited for the caffeine and aspirin to work its magic, I scrolled through the DragonCon schedule app to see what else was going on that might interest me. I decided to head to a panel called "DIY Musician: Touring with The Pyrate Queen," which I thought might be useful when I write the sequel to my newly completed YA (it's called Kick Drum and it's about a high school girl who plays drums in a band, and my agent doesn't even have it yet so don't ask when it'll be published). Well, I wish I hadn't missed the first half of the panel because it was awesome! There weren't very many people in the audience so the panel had a low-key conversational tone. Sometimes those are the best panels of all. That's when I regretted not going to see the Pyrate Queen play the previous evening, because their only other set was at 1pm that afternoon, the same time as the "Famous Unsolved Codes" panel that I was not going to miss.

I hit the bathroom after the touring panel, and ran into the same GLANK! musician I'd talked to yesterday. She recognized me and asked if I'd made it to their 8pm show the night before. I said, "No, I really wanted to but my friends wanted me to go to the Gonzaroo show instead," and tried hard to imply that they had dragged me to Gonzaroo against my will. She looked disappointed but thanked me for my support. I felt like I'd kicked a puppy. I asked if they had another performance and she said no, but that at 1pm they had a session where they were going to talk about the instruments they used. I said I'd try to go to that one, knowing I was lying through my teeth because again, that was when the "Famous Unsolved Codes" panel was.

I will admit, I considered skipping it to see the GLANK! instruments up close. I wanted to ask how they got their bass drum sound, because I hadn't seen anything on the stage that looked like a bass drum. But I really didn't want to miss Elonka Dunin's unsolved codes panel! I enjoy her presentations every year.

Well. I enjoyed it this year too. But it was the same presentation that she gave either last year or maybe the year before. I remembered it and while I don't really regret seeing it again, I should have been more flexible in my schedule.

By the time it was over, I was starving and frantic for something that wasn't terrible pizza. I decided to walk down to the Waffle House past the Sheraton. But evidently everyone else at DragonCon had the same idea. When I got there, it was packed to the walls. I waited a few minutes, but the thought of a pile of greasy food just didn't appeal to me anyway, so I went next door to the nearly empty Subway.

The clerk at Subway seemed really intrigued by DragonCon. He asked me how long it was going on and kept pausing to watch cosplayers walk by. I got my food and sat down, appreciating the quietof the almost empty room.

While I was eating, a guy in an amazing costume walked past the windows. I don't know what it was from, and I didn't get a picture, but it was one of the big elaborate ones--probably eight feet tall including the wings. I saw him later posing in the Hilton. A guy stopped him for a picture, and then the cosplayer shuffled on, slowly because he probably couldn't see very well through the headpiece.

The Subway clerk suddenly appeared out of the Employees Only door near me, phone in hand. He rushed to the main door, but stood there staring wistfully after the cosplayer, who had passed the restaurant and was making his way down the sidewalk. The clerk had obviously been dying for a picture but wasn't fast enough. I told him if he wanted to go catch the guy I'd be happy to tell anyone who came in for a sub that he'd be back in just a minute, but he shook his head sadly and went back behind the counter.

I sat there eating the last crumbs out of my chip bag and thinking sad thoughts about people who have to work on Sundays and feeling bad about letting the GLANK! lady down too. That's how I knew I was overly stressed. My cousin Molly was out of town this weekend so she wasn't around to whisk me away from the madness of DragonCon for an hour or two, and suddenly I realized how overwhelmed I'd been. Mostly I'm used to DragonCon these days, especially now that I can find my way around without getting lost, but it was good to have a quiet moment to myself for a short time.

I took my time heading back to the convention, but I was still back by 4pm. I went to the "Creating Animated Films" panel, which I'd hoped would give basic techniques about various types of animation styles--that's what the panel description sounded like--but which turned out to be about how to become an animator. The answer to that was basically: know lots of people in the business and be easy to work with. I always wanted to be an animator, but I'll stick with writing, where at least there are official channels you can go through to break in.

Next I went to a fun panel about murder ballads, both traditional and contemporary. The panel members were the bands American MurderSong and Valentine Wolfe, both of which sound awesome and I plan to pick up some of their music along with the Pyrate Queen's. Then I went to a panel about joining a podcast network--my own podcast, StrangeAnimals Podcast, is getting popular enough that I've been approached already by one network and turned them down politely, but I did want to hear what the panelists had to say about the pros and cons of networks vs staying indie, and so forth. Unfortunately, like the animation panel, the actual panel didn't really resemble its description, so I left after half an hour and wandered around for a while. With more pizza.

Eventually I ended up in the Hyatt Concourse, where Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands was playing. The music isn't really my type but it was good and I stayed for the rest of their set. Then I stuck around for Bella Morte, who were playing afterwards. I was hoping they'd have a full band with drums, but they just did an acoustic set. I have seen bands play the concourse with full drum kits, but not in the last couple of years. I don't know if that's a new rule (too loud?) or if it's just coincidence. Either way, I was tired and decided to head back to the hotel instead of sticking around for American Murder Song's set at midnight. My wet clothes were still wet, and the socks were smelling pretty rank.

Above: one member of Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, and some random people. There was a post in the way, okay? And mostly I was just interested in how he was playing a hi-hat and electronic bass drum along with that guitar.

In the past, I’ve never attended any of the Monday programming at DragonCon. I always just check out of my hotel and head home. But there were three panels I really wanted to see on Monday morning. Because I'd left so early on Sunday night, I actually felt remarkably well rested the next morning. I got to the convention way early, before 7:30am, and got coffee and pastries at Caribou Coffee, which is one million times better than Starbucks although that's not hard. I took my breakfast to the Marriott since the 8:30 panel I wanted to attend was there, and found a band merch table that didn't have any stuff at it. I sat there to eat my breakfast and watch sleepy-looking people wandering by.

The hotel staff were cleaning wearily. Considering that some 82,000 people were anticipated at DragonCon this year, the hotel staff do an amazing job keeping the con hotels clean. Saturday night in particular is a flat-out riot, and I barely notice when I step over puddles of vomit or passed-out partiers late Saturday night. In the mornings, the hotels are carpeted with a thin layer of glitter, feathers, sequins, and other bits of costume.

Kevin was on the 8:30 am panel, "Superhero-versary: Batgirl, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, & More." It was low-key because everyone was sleepy (except me), but a lot of fun. After that I rushed to the Hyatt for a "Future of Fantasy" panel. I was especially eager for this one because I'm starting a new writing project soon and want to choose something that will sell. It's always helpful to get an idea of what publishing trends editors and agents are seeing.

Unfortunately, since it was Monday morning, there had been some shakeups on the panel and only one panelist was actually a part of the publishing field, an agent. I actually know her name but she probably doesn't want to be connected with this panel so I'll leave her anonymous. The other panelists were the moderator, an old guy who was a writer although I didn't catch his name and couldn't even see him because of where I was sitting more or less behind a post, and another guy who I don't even know who he was--someone connected with the fantasy lit track in some way, but not a publisher or anything. I guess he was just there to help make up the numbers? Anyway, the panel started well, with the agent giving a lot of really solid advice on what is selling right now and what is not.

Basically, steampunk is out no matter how good it is because it just doesn't sell so acquisitions won't buy it no matter how hard an editor fights for it. Urban fantasy is hot again, although I don't know if she meant actual urban fantasy or paranormal romance. Grimdark epic fantasy is flying high because of Game of Thrones. YA dystopian has morphed into something closer to modern cautionary tales. Retellings of any kind are easy to sell to acquisitions because they understand what they are.

So that first half of the panel was great. But then...I don't remember how exactly it happened, but the old writer guy suddenly launched a rant about the NYT book reviews. He had already shown he was totally out of touch with current trends because he kept talking about the 80s, when I guess he was still relevant in publishing. Now he started ranting about how White Dragon had only made the NYT book reviews list because McCaffrey was a woman and it was all unfair and he was hard done by whine whine bitch, on and on. I zoned out for a while and when I tuned it again he was still at it, although he'd switched to ranting about publishers who gave away or sold at a deep discount the first book in a series, which he didn’t think would work even though two seconds before he'd said it had helped George RR Martin.

The moderator didn't say anything. I know it's not always easy to be a moderator, but a simple, "Let's get back on topic. So and so, what do you think about such and such?" would have derailed the rant. But no, it just went on and on. Then the old guy said publishers were no longer putting "Hugo Award Winner" on covers because it didn't help sell books and sometimes hurt sales, because the Hugo awards were out of touch and no one went to Worldcon anyway, and that was why "we" started the Dragon Awards. (You know, the ones where every single winner this year was white and all but one winner was a man.) To my utter shock, the other guy on the panel agreed with this and said this year's Hugo slate was totally out of touch.

The only person I could really see on the panel was the agent, because of the post and other people in my way. It may be my imagination, but from her expression she wished she was anywhere else besides in that room. She didn't say anything. The moderator didn't say anything. I raised my hand because I had a lot to say, but I was behind the post and I guess no one saw my hand.

I should have left right then. But there were only five minutes left in the panel. The old guy got one last jab in after someone asked whether standalone novels were selling. He said, "No," flatly. At this the agent said that that was not the case in middle grade and young adult, where standalone novels were selling well, and then thank goodness the time was up.

If anyone knows who that old guy was on the panel, please let me know. I'd like to avoid every single project that he's connected with even tangentially in the future. I wouldn't buy a bottle of water from him if I was dying in the desert. What a fucking asshole.

Anyway, that enraged me, but fortunately it wasn't my last panel of DragonCon. I went back to the Marriott for another roll-a-panel, this one about 1977 and 1997 movies. Kevin was on that panel too. In stark contrast to the fantasy panel, everyone was happy, inclusive, intelligent, and funny. It wasn't long before I was back in a great mood even though I'd only seen two of the 20 movies listed on the die. At the end of the panel they auctioned off the dice for charity and got $20 for one and $30 for the other, which was awesome. I threw all my remaining dollars and change into the bucket too.

Then I said goodbye to Kevin and left the convention.

I didn't use the umbrella I bought once all weekend. 

The minute I got home--I mean that literally; it was the very first thing I did after I walked in--I threw all my clothes in the washer and started laundry. Now my socks smell nice and I have two fresh clean towels to put in my car for next time I get rained on. And my shoes are demoted to yardwork shoes.

If you get one message out of this superlong post, it's that you should support GLANK! They are awesome. Oh, and if you’ve read this far you clearly like something about my writing, so go check out my new book! Its called Skytown and it’s available from Fox Spirit Books.

See you next year, DragonCon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

DragonCon bound, how to find CheapSleep Helsinki, and Skytown giveaway!

I'm heading out for DragonCon, directly from work--only two hours from now! I'm still not fully recovered from WorldCon in Finland but I'll survive a few more days of mayhem.

Oh, I have a Goodreads giveaway going for my new book, Skytown! It's open to anyone in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the things I've wanted to do since my trip to Helsinki was put a note in for future CheapSleep Helsinki guests so they can find the hostel more easily. As of my stay in August 2017, take the #7 tram (not bus--trams are the ones that ride on tracks) from either the downtown train station or the Pasila/Bolle station. The tram will get you to the Hattulantie stop and then you just walk around the nearest corner (cross the road, cross the road again to get catty-corner from where the tram lets you out--there's a sign for a jazz bar and the crossing is one of the ones that make noise). When you're across, turn right and walk about half a block. There are signs. You'll need to press the buzzer and wait for someone to answer. Someone is on staff all day and night so if you don't get an answer, keep trying. Everyone in Helsinki speaks English so don't worry that you won't be understood. Reception is on the fourth floor. There are lifts. Staff are very nice but very overworked, so be patient!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


My book Skytown is available now from Fox Spirit Books!

It was actually released a day before WorldCon75 in Helsinki, Finland. I was in Finland that whole week and the next, so only now can I really appreciate having a new book out! It looks amazing with that cover by Jenny Haines, and it's available in paperback from Amazon (and Amazon UK).

WorldCon and Finland were amazing and I got to meet so many good friends from Twitter! Now I'm doing my best to catch up on my sleep (and shake the con crud) in time for DragonCon in Atlanta a week and a half from now.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My new book and a friend's new book!

My fun steampunk fantasy adventure novel, Skytown, which stars Jo and Lizzy (from various short stories I've written about them) is releasing on August 8! It's published by Fox Spirit Books. I'll be in Finland for Worldcon 75 when it releases, but as soon as I get home I'll update here with a link!

Here's the cover, made by the awesome Jenny Haines:

While you're waiting for Skytown's release, you can buy and read J.B. Rockwell's incredible SF novel, Hecate! It's a prequel to her equally amazing Serengeti and Dark and Stars, all available from Severed Press. And look at that fantastic cover!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Podcast and Schedule!

I've pretty much fallen off the wall when it comes to blogs--either reading others', or updating my own. But here's a quick update on what I've been up to.

In February I started a podcast called Strange Animals Podcast, which is a lot of fun and updates weekly. It's available pretty much everywhere, and if you can't find it on your preferred listening app let me know so I can take care of that.

My schedule for the rest of the summer is going to be extremely busy, in a good way! I'll have the full details up on the podcast site (see link above), but basically I'll be at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, Finland in August, then at DragonCon in Atlanta as usual over Labor Day weekend! I definitely want to say hi and meet up with you so let me know if you're going to be at either con so we can get together!

I also have a book coming out very soon from Fox Spirit Books. It's called Skytown and is a full-length Lizzy and Jo story, which means lots of excitement and action, and lots of picnics. I'll post when it's available!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Occasionally I contribute to a Kickstarter or Indiegogo or something of the sort--not that often because I'm not rich, but often enough that I'm all too familiar with the aftermath.

Here's how it usually goes. You get excited about a project, look the rewards over, think about how much money you can spend, and contribute. Then you wait. Sometimes the project doesn't get funded and you're secretly relieved that you're not out that $10 or $20 or whatever.

If the project does get funded, you then get 10,000 emails about it in the next six weeks. Then silence. Then one day, if you're lucky, your thing shows up. You've forgotten about it by then. You wonder why you ever gave money for such a stupid gimcracky thing.

Actually, I've gotten a lot of awesome stuff from Kickstarters. But not always. Here, I'll break it down.

If you contribute to...

An album: It will be 4-6 months late but when it arrives it's been signed in silver gel ink by all the band members. You listen to it a couple of times. One or two of the tracks are really good.

A podcast: Your stickers will arrive on time and your laptop will no longer look so bare.

A TV show: The show will be picked up by Netflix. A year after you contributed you'll receive an email with a code to watch a special behind-the-scenes/making-of special, which you will never watch. You will also never watch the actual show because you don't have Netflix. For some reason you feel cheated.

A movie: Every six months you'll get an email saying the DVDs/Bluerays are shipping. They never ship.

A tabletop game: It's 6-12 months late but it arrives. You never play it but the artwork is really pretty.

A computer game: It's 1-2 years late but you finally get the Steam code. You play it once. It's okay.

A book: It's a year late but it when it arrives it's an attractive addition to your "to be read" shelf, where it will stay forever.

A practical item: After a flurry of emails about production issues, it arrives 6-8 months late. You wonder why you thought you needed it. You put it in a drawer.

An art item: After a flurry of emails about the artist's life issues, it arrives 6-8 months late. It's not as pretty as the picture online made it look. You put it on a shelf and forget about it until you need a last-minute birthday present for someone you don't know very well.

A comic: It's six months late and you read it in five minutes. It's okay.

A band's tour: The band never comes anywhere near where you live but the t-shirt looks good on you.

A performance art project: Six people contribute to the project, which is run by a friend of yours. They cancel it before it ends. You commiserate with them but are secretly glad.

Monday, September 5, 2016

DragonCon 2016 (Still Alive)

It's Monday afternoon, Labor Day, and I've been home from DragonCon 2016 long enough to do a huge load of laundry, eat a bowl of salad about the same size as the laundry load, and listen to Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive" 605 times. Here's this year's DragonCon report! As always, it will be long but not, I hope, too boring. If it helps, imagine me typing this up while listening to "Still Alive" on repeat, because I am.

I wanted to drive to Atlanta on Thursday the way I did last year, but my work schedule prevented it. I decided to leave before dawn on Friday in an attempt to arrive in time to catch a 10am panel about Rifftrax hosted by Bill Corbett. I set my alarm for 5am and went to bed at 10pm on Thursday night. At about 1am I managed to get to sleep. Thank you, brain. Thanks very much.

So I staggered out of bed at 5am and managed to get out of the house by six. From my house to downtown Atlanta takes almost four hours if traffic isn't bad, so I knew I wouldn't be able to park, check in, and make it to the panel in time. I didn't stress about it, just sang along to the playlist I'd thrown together the night before. The farther south I drove, the cloudier and cooler it became as I drove into the remnants of Hurricane Hermone.

Traffic was light and I might have gone a tiny bit above the speed limit occasionally. I made it to Atlanta by nine-thirty, parked in the same parking garage I've been using for years, and hurried to the Sheraton to check in. I'd heard from people checking in on Thursday that the line moved fast, but was extremely long--the tail was outside for at least part of the afternoon. But it was still early enough when I arrived that there was almost no line. Within five minutes I had my badge and was galloping toward the Marriott to make the panel. It had already started when I arrived, but I only missed a few minutes.

It was hilarious and fun, a great start to DragonCon. After that I went downstairs to catch a panel about Star Wars ("Post-Force Awakens Scandals & Cliffhangers"), which was also fun although I see I am in the minority when it comes to Team Rey Kenobi. After that I had some time to kill before a panel at 2:30pm, so I headed for the Hyatt to watch the end of Galaxy Quest.

At this point I should mention that I'd been carrying around four bananas since I arrived. I'd brought them for snacks and imagined they'd last me the whole weekend, but I misjudged their ripeness and realized I couldn't leave them another day without them becoming inedible even by my standards. They were small bananas and not well-connected at the top (much like me) so I was carrying them on my hand like a waiter with a tray.

On my way to the Sheraton to check in, I'd heard someone yell, "Banana!" I turned around ready to offer him one, but he was waving a banana at me and grinning. We laughed and yelled banana at each other for a few minutes.

I was among my people.

I managed to give one banana away and a few hours later I ate another in desperation, but that left two and they were getting pretty black. They were fine inside but they sure didn't look very good.

I wanted to attend the goth music panel at 2:30, but I didn't want to attend while carrying two overripe bananas. It just felt weird, you know? But at the same time I couldn't make myself throw out two perfectly good bananas, and I also couldn't make myself eat them. So I texted my friend Kevin to let him know I'd arrived and asked if he wanted a banana.

He texted me back to say sure, he was a bit hungry and a banana would hit the spot.

He was in a puppetry panel, so after Galaxy Quest ended I headed over that way and caught him when the panel let out. He was with a friend I didn't know and we were all in a hurry to go to our next panels, but I was able to say hi to Kevin and give him and his friend the last two bananas.

From Twitter:
I saw Kevin very briefly and made him take the bananas, and he actually thanked me which just goes to show how nice he is.

Finally unencumbered, I hurried to the Westin for "The Goth Panel: Don't Bury Us--We're Not Dead!" This year the guests were Voltaire, Rogue from Cruxshadows, and two members of I:Scintilla. I didn't get a picture--for some reason I didn't get any pictures on Friday until late--and I have regrets. The panel is a bit freeform but basically the guests talk about what new projects they're working on and answer a lot of audience questions. This year the topics meandered from a discussion of Rogue's hair to what it means to be a goth and to the goth scene in general. It was interesting and fun, and I was lucky enough to snag one of the free CDs the moderator (DJ Ichabod--his Out ov the Coffin podcast is really good) puts together to showcase new goth music.

After that I had to leave the con long enough to check into my hotel. That meant getting my car out of the parking garage, of course, which was when I discovered the garage prices had gone up and the main exit was card-only. I'd made a special freaking trip to the ATM to make sure I had a lot of parking money, so now I get to make a trip to the bank this week to put the cash back.

It was four by the time I reached my hotel and checked in. I was starving and considered sitting down to eat somewhere near the hotel instead of getting into rush hour traffic. I decided finally to just head back to the convention since it was going to be hours before traffic thinned and it was only just building. Besides, there was a panel about cryptozoology I wanted to attend at 5:30. I didn't think I'd make it in time but it was worth trying.

Well, I made it despite the traffic. I have no idea how I kept lucking out this weekend, but I didn't have any trouble navigating my way through the traffic whether it was by car or on foot. I only missed one panel all weekend because it was full.

The best thing I can say about the cryptozoology panel is that it was nice and dark inside, which was restful for my eyes. They mostly talked about Bigfoot, with a fervor that people generally reserve for religion. After that I went in search of food and ended up in the Marriott--my favorite DragonCon hotel, and yes, I realize that sounds weird--with a piece of overpriced pizza (it's gone up to $6 per slice) and Coke. I found a relatively quiet corner and sat down against the wall to eat and decide what panel to attend next.

It was Friday evening by then and the convention was in full swing. Something good has changed with the internet coverage in downtown Atlanta, though, because for most of the weekend and in most places I actually had connection. The DragonCon app also worked really well this year. I grabbed a paper schedule just in case but never needed it once. I ate my pizza and watched people walk by in costume and thought I might just take the next hour off and do nothing in particular.

Then I realized I was right by the rooms used by the American Sci-Fi and Fantasy Media and related American Sci-Fi Classics tracks. Kevin is involved with both and I thought he might even be in the room to see the next panel, "Hero TV Crossovers: Fun? Fantastic? Forced?"

When I went in, there Kevin was on the panel! I hadn't seen any of the shows they discussed but as always in that track, the panelists are funny and knowledgeable, the moderator good, and I enjoyed listening to them. I got to talk to Kevin for a few minutes afterwards, then left for my next panel.

That's Kevin in the last chair on the right. Actually, this is a picture of a panel from Saturday.

From Twitter:
Made it to the next panel just in time. The room's now full.
It's a panel about Victorian spiritualism, part of the alt history track.
No seats so I'm standing in the back and having regrets about this situation.

After fifteen minutes I decided the panel wasn't engaging me, so I ducked out so someone else could come in (that's usually how it works when a room is full). I ended up in the Hyatt in time for the latter half of Escape the Clouds' concourse performance. I didn't know much about the band except that it was steampunk and I really liked the name. It turned out to be a guy singing songs that reminded me a little of sea shanties.

From my Twitter:
It's one guy with backing tracks and what sounds like a bass but so tiny.

(I found out the next day that he was playing a baritone ukulele.)

The last panel I wanted to attend that evening was about Creepypasta. It turned out to be really interesting and enjoyably creepy, appropriately. It ended at eleven, which gave me an hour before the Voltaire concert. Earlier that afternoon in the goth music panel, Voltaire had accidentally said "Matrium" instead of "Marriott Atrium," and not only did I find that funny, it actually made it easy for me to remember where he was playing (and I caught myself calling it the Matrium the rest of the weekend, so apparently this is a thing now. Take note).

Lines for all the big Marriott performances and panels started outside this year, not inside, which actually worked very well. It left more room for people to move around inside--always a problem, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings--and frankly I'd rather line up outside at night. There's always a lot going on outside.

From Twitter:
In line for Voltaire. I'm outside but it's a gorgeous night, breezy and cool.

Voltaire! Not a very good picture but the only one that wasn't hopelessly blurry

The Voltaire concert was awesome as always. I saw him in Knoxville a few months ago but he'd changed his set around for this performance. It was also fun listening to the people in line around me while we waited to get in--there were some hardcore Voltaire fans discussing his music. I really wanted to stay for The Cog Is Dead afterwards, but I just didn't have the energy. I drove back to my hotel and fell into bed for five hours.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, mostly so I'd avoid the parade traffic, I arrived for the 8:30am roll-a-panel about 1970s movies. Kevin was on that panel with about a dozen other people. It was hugely fun, and followed by the sequel to last year's Permissible Mullets panel, "Fantastic Mullets of Classic Sci-Fi." Kevin joined me in the audience for that one.

I ducked out about ten minutes early because my cousin Molly was on her way to pick me up for lunch and I didn't want to miss her. When I went upstairs in the Marriott to go out the side door, a full-sized brass band was playing inside the hotel (which gives you an idea of how huge these hotel lobbies are). People were dancing and I badly wanted to join them, but I also wanted to see Molly so I left the hotel and dodged through traffic to leap into her car while she waited at a red light. Seriously. (It was Molly's idea anyway--she called to let me know she didn't think she could get over into the right lane so I should just run into traffic and meet her. We are related.)

She whisked me away from the convention madness to the same restaurant we went to a couple of years ago. I still don't remember what it's called, but the food was amazing. Molly suggested I order something big so I'd have leftovers I could eat later, so I ordered half a chicken and then proceeded to eat the whole damn thing. I didn't have leftovers after all but I also wasn't hungry for a long long time.

It was great to catch up with Molly and decompress a little, although for whatever reason this year I didn't feel as frenetic as I usually do during DragonCon. Maybe I'm getting used to it. It definitely helps that I finally seem to have figured out how to find my way from one place to another without getting lost or turned around. I rarely had to consult my map this year. It only took six DragonCons to learn where everything is.

Molly dropped me back off at the convention in time for the swordfighting demonstration, but like last year the room filled up way too fast and I didn't get in. I went to the Doubleclicks concourse show instead. I like the Doubleclicks and have their most recent album, but when I listen to their music at home I can only take a few songs before I have to switch to something heavier for a while.

They put on a fun live show, though. About halfway through their set, they played their cover of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle." I always liked the original and I like their cover, so I was happy they played it and sang along. Then suddenly I realized I was about to cry. It came out of nowhere. It's been a stressful year for me for various reasons and everything lately has seemed harder than it should be. A sweet little song reassuring me that everything would be okay just hit me hard. I had to leave.
The Doubleclicks made me cry

I walked around the convention for a while until I felt better, then headed to the Hyatt again for a panel about Hammer horror movies. I'm not a horror movie buff and couldn't tell you if I've ever actually seen a Hammer horror in my life, but the panel was interesting.

From Twitter:
At a panel about Hammer horror movies. The Saturday DragonCon crowds are building. Internet connection is increasingly shaky.

After that I didn't know what to do with myself so wandered over to the Hilton to the skeptic track for a panel on "Writing, Creativity, and Skepticism." It was a lot more interesting than I'd expected and I was glad I'd gone.

From Twitter:
I'm glad I wasn't driving this bus.

After that was the only panel I had to attend that day, an alt history panel called "The Musical Multiverse." I would have gone to see it anyway, but the singer for The Cog Is Dead was on it.

Boring explanation time: I'm taking drum lessons again (third semester) and part of the class is writing up concerts. I missed The Cog Is Dead's big show Saturday morning at 1:30am but knew I'd catch their concourse show on Sunday, but I thought it would be interesting to include some information about the band from the panel. (And I just realized I should be writing that paper instead of this blog post.)

Anyway, in addition to John Sprocket of The Cog Is Dead, Unwoman was on the panel, along with a guy from the Positronic Cats, two guys from Wasted Wine, and the moderator was the guy from Escape the Clouds. That's how I knew he plays the baritone ukulele--he mentioned it.

The panel was interesting. I did notice John Sprocket looked like he wasn't feeling too good, and next day he actually said during their show that he was coming down with con crud, but he was a lot more articulate than I'd have been in his position. I was impressed with all the speakers and immediately put Wasted Wine and Positronic Cats on my schedule to see, but I never did manage to make their shows. I'll have to look up their music online instead.

It was nearly seven by then and I was finally getting hungry again, so I got a piece of pizza and a Coke and settled down against a wall to eat and people-watch. Incidentally, there are very few places to sit during DragonCon unless you're at a panel. If you want to sit and eat, you find a free bit of wall and make sure to keep your feet tucked in so people coming by don't trip over you.

Kevin texted me while I was eating and asked if I was going to the Gonzaroo show at eight. I had other stuff on my schedule but I hadn't had much time to talk to Kevin so far and anyway it looked like Gonzaroo was going to be extra good this year, so I said sure. Kevin said he was in line and I could join him as long as I brought him a bottle of water. I did, because that was a good deal and anyway I already owed him for taking that banana off my hands on Friday.

The Gonzaroo special is a variety comedy show that lasts several hours. This year it was hosted by Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff in their MST3K personas! They're extremely funny comedians themselves, and the guest list was amazing. Kevin and I got fantastic seats too. While we were waiting for the show to start, we took selfies together, and a woman came up and asked if she could take our picture. I was a little surprised since we weren't dressed up or anything, but we said sure. She had a big camera and pressed the bar on the side several times. I wondered if she was an official photographer just grabbing pictures of random con-goers, but then a Polaroid photo spat out the front and she handed it to us. So that was utterly cool. Kevin has the picture and said he'd post it in the Flopcast show notes for his DragonCon wrap-up podcast in a week or two.

Me and Kevin, not a polaroid. The woman behind us is having way too much fun.

The show was excellent, of course. At times I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. In addition to comedians, there were a lot of musical guests: the Doubleclicks (they didn't make me cry this time), Molly Lewis, Paul and Storm, and Jonathan Coulton.

Molly Lewis accompanied by Paul and Storm and comedian Joseph Scrimshaw

Jonathan Coulton played "Still Alive," among other songs. I've never played Halo but I know all about it from friends who do. The song is seriously catchy.

After Gonzaroo Kevin and I met his wife Felicity and we went to the Here Come the Mummies concert! The Mummies played for a high-octane superfunky ninety minutes, including an encore--DragonCon doesn't do encores so they must have cleared it ahead of time. Their show started at midnight, and by the time I got back to the hotel at past two, my fitbit thingy said I had nine thousand steps for the day. Those were dance steps.

Here Come the Mummies!

I slept a little over four hours, then raced back to the con in time for the 8:30 am roll-a-panel (companion to Saturday's roll-a-panel), only to discover that the panel actually started at 10am. There wasn't much else going on so early and I hadn't had breakfast yet, so I walked a few blocks and found a Waffle House.

I had eggs, ham, grits, toast, and as much of a waffle drenched with syrup as I could stuff down, plus coffee and ice water. I think it may have been the first time I ever actually ate at Waffle House for breakfast.

From Twitter:
Got to DragonCon with an hour to kill before my first panel, so I found a Waffle House to start the day right with ten thousand calories.
The Mummies concert last night was amazing! I feel like someone beat me up.
Now I just want to go back to bed.
Checking out behind a Jawa.

The roll-a-panel was fun again--Saturday's covered the 70s, Sunday's was more about the 80s with some 90s shows and movies thrown in. The moderator has a big 20-sided die (like, a foot across made of cardboard) and audience members roll it. Whatever movie or TV show comes up, the panel talks about for a while. It's a lot of fun. Kevin was on that panel too.

Kevin's the guy in the middle between the lady in pink and the guy with his mouth open wide.

From Twitter:
The con's starting to wake up.

Next up I went to a workshop about recording your music on a budget. I'm not very interested in doing recording myself, but I'm writing a YA about a girl in a band and I thought I'd better get some grounding on how recording works because it's going to come up soon in the book. I learned a lot from the panel, and over the weekend I also quizzed Molly and Kevin about topics I needed to know for the book.

From Twitter:
Now I'm at a sound recording and mixing workshop, primarily as research for my WIP. IRS take note.
Next a panel about unsolved codes!

The unsolved codes panel was one I was particularly eager to see, since it was presented by Elonka Dunin. She gave a presentation last year on the Beale Ciphers and I really loved it. This one was just as good--so good, in fact, that I now have her name memorized when we all know how bad I am at names. Most of the names I've listed here I've had to look up, but not hers.

After that I finally got to see The Cog Is Dead play. I got a good seat on the floor up front too. They had someone filling in for their usual bass player and their singer, of course, was the one getting sick and losing his voice, but they still sounded great. They put on a fun show. Unwoman joined them on cello for a few songs too.

John Sprocket and Renate Goodwin of The Cog Is Dead. Sorry, substitute bass player, all the pictures I got of you were blurry.

I'd brought my copy of their latest CD, Carnival of Clockwork, and after their show I asked their drummer to sign it. I told her she'd inspired me to start drum lessons, which is absolutely true--there were a lot of reasons I finally took up drumming after wanting to learn since I was in my early 20s, but starting lessons was an important step and seeing a girl drummer at DragonCon two years ago was a real inspiration. She was gracious about the whole thing and I hope I didn't babble.

My last day at DragonCon was racing along. There was only one more panel I really wanted to attend, "Sounds from Beyond!" It was part of the Skeptic track and hosted by Brian Dunning, who runs the Skeptoid podcast, so I knew there'd be a lot of solid science behind it and not just some guy telling me that Bigfoot was real. I worried that the room would fill up and I wouldn't get a good seat, so I decided not to see Jig to a Milestone play and instead went to get in line. Well, I got pizza first.

While I was sitting there eating my pizza and admiring an amazing Totoro, someone's costume nearby started playing "Still Alive." I love costumes that have sound effects or play music. This one, though, combined with me hearing the same song the night before, burrowed into my brain and took over.

From Twitter:
Someone's Halo costume had that song playing and now it's stuck in my head FOREVER.
I don't know many of the words. Pretty much only, "just keep on trying till you run out of cake" but that may be wrong.
Anyway, that's what the inside of my head sounds like right now, that line over and over.

I stood in line for Sounds from Beyond! for an hour. Because of where I was standing, I had a really good view of people passing by in the Hilton. I think I enjoyed that hour as much as if I'd gone to a panel or something. I also got a lot of good pictures, so here are a few from then and earlier.


This Totoro was near me while I was eating my pizza. It was awesome to watch little kids run up to hug him. There's a guy in the costume and would make Totoro bounce up and down slightly. Also his ears wiggled.

THIS LOOKS JUST LIKE MY SKYRIM CHARACTER sorry it's blurry, I was overcome with emotion.

Saw this Batman on my way to the Hilton. He was awesome.

I smiled at a guy dressed as the Mad Hatter, in a brilliant costume, and he gave me a little bracelet with a teapot charm! Also while I was waiting, a Spiderman stopped to wait for some friends and took the opportunity to stretch his legs against a post that sort of stuck out from the wall. On the other side of the post, maybe twenty feet away, sat a little girl in a stroller with her parents sitting next to her. The Spiderman stuck his head around the post to look for his friends and the little girl squealed with excitement. He noticed and for the next five minutes played long-distance peekaboo with her. She was utterly delighted and I honestly think it was the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life.

From Twitter:

So just keep on trying till you run out of cake
So just keep on trying till you run out of cake 
Just keep on trying till you run out of

Since I was first in line, naturally I got a great seat for the panel. It was just as good as I'd hoped, covering everything from the bloop recording to backmasking. I got one of the free Skeptoid stickers afterwards, too.

I:Scintilla was playing at midnight, but while I like them, I didn't want to stay up that late when I was already drooping. I had a couple of hours before the last event I wanted to attend, a showing of MST3K shorts and bloopers, so I just wandered around for a while.

From my Twitter:
Walking around DragonCon now playing Pokemon, looking at costumes, and humming that Halo song. Bow down to Queen Geek.

Kevin texted to ask me if I wanted to join him and Felicity for supper, so I met up with them and we tried to find a place to eat that wasn't packed. We ran into some friends of Kevin's who were going to walk down to the Mellow Mushroom, so we joined them. It was a few blocks away and unfortunately when we got there the place was full with a half-hour wait time. Kevin and Felicity wanted to see Kirby Krackle play at 8:30 and I wanted to see the MST3K thing, so we decided just to walk back. It was a lovely evening and we didn't hurry, just meandered along through relatively quiet streets and talked. We said our goodbyes when we reached the Hyatt and went to our separate things.

I got in line for the MST3K presentation and actually got a seat pretty close to the front once they opened the doors. Unfortunately, the room had low ceilings so the movie screen couldn't be raised enough so that people in the rear of the (very large) room could see it. Even my good seat was marred by a guy's head exactly in the wrong place so he inadvertently blocked my entire view. I stayed until ten even so, because I knew so much of the material already that I didn't really need to see it, but when they stopped to do a costume contest, I decided to take off.

There were still plenty of things to do. I even had some of them on my schedule. But I was so tired I couldn't think straight. I decided to head back to the hotel despite it being so early.

I was in bed by eleven and slept until past seven. Then I packed up, checked out of the hotel, and hit the road home. When I got home, thankfully there were no mockingbirds in my house like last year. I downloaded "Still Alive" immediately.

Maybe next year things will be better for me financially and I can actually stay in a hotel downtown, because having to drive twenty minutes to get to my hotel makes it hard to stay up as late as I'd like--plus I spent $90 on parking this year and that's just ridiculous.

So that's it for DragonCon 2016. But don't worry, the year will fly by and it'll be DragonCon again before we know it, except we'll all be a year older!

Oh, and my Bag of Holding is EXCELLENT. 11/10 would buy again

"Still Alive" has restarted for the 900th time.
This was a triumph
I'm making a note here
Huge success