On Saturday, I ran up to Baltimore for the day to participate in one of the 50th anniversary of one of the east coast’s greatest science fiction and fantasy conventions: Balticon.
With several thousand fans in attendance, there was room for all types of geeks: writers, readers, comic fans, artists and illustrators, gamers, and cosplayers.
The guest of honor was none other than George R. R. Martin. While I did not have an opportunity to hold the door for him, I did get to listen to an interview that he did, where he talked about how the Vietnam War influenced his thinking about good and evil, his movie theater and art installation projects in Santa Fe, and his thoughts about the fan community and the recent chaos of the Hugo Awards.
One of the big draws for me was the opportunity to participate in a 3-hour small group workshop with the amazing Michael Swanwick. It was really great to be able to talk about specific problems, get feedback on beginnings and endings of actual stories we were working on, and hear Michael’s strategies on diagnosing broken stories. Also, Michael is a font of entertaining anecdotes from the writing community. Given what I learned in there, I have work to do on at least two stories!
Later in the day, I also had an opportunity to talk with an agent about my book, White Bone Spirit. We were walking down a hallway of the hotel while I was giving him “the pitch”, and a complete stranger stopped and started following us. “Don’t mind me,” she said. “I just want to hear more about this book. It sounds really interesting.” Uhh… for real?
The pitch turned into a short meeting and I had to assure the agent that I had not hired this person! I’m very happy to say that this agent did ask for a partial copy of my manuscript, so I sent it out. So it begins.
The highlight of the day for me, of course, was seeing old friends and meeting new friends. Beth Tanner, my Viable Paradise classmate, and I ran around together all day. I also met up with several other friends and made some new friends, including Phil Margolies, Ann Chatham, Rosemary Smith, Tim Boerger, Julie Campbell, Alex Schvartzman, Kelly Szpara, and of course Fran Wilde. Having recently won the Andre Norton Award for her book Updraft, Fran was on a roll and won Balticon’s Compton Crook Award! It was great to be able to celebrate with Fran for a few minutes.
All in all, a very successful convention. My only regret is that life was busy and I only had time to attend for one day instead of four. I look forward next year to participating even more and to seeing all my friends again.