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We All Float Down Here, Georgie…

LC26 AAR

Ah, Libertycon… where sleep goes to die.

As usual, I had a blast at the convention and would like to thank Brandy and Derek Spraker, as well as the rest of the Libertycon staff, for putting on one hell of a con. The food was good (except I forgot to mention my onion allergy, which almost caused a trip to the hospital), the staff was friendly and the atmosphere was mostly fun and friendly.

I rolled into town Thursday around noon and was exhausted. I had worked the night before and, in order to be on a daytime rotation for the weekend, had to stay awake all day Thursday so I could be semi-functioning during the con. For those of you who thought I was angry or distant, I’m sorry. I was just exhausted. I really can’t wait to go back to days so my sleep schedule can be what everyone else’s is. So yeah, Thursday… my room wasn’t ready at noon (not surprised) so I ran into Peggey, who introduced me to her friend Johnny-minion (that’s what the name tag said; don’t judge me), who was tasked with keeping me company while I wandered the hotel grounds like a zombie. He (mostly) kept me out of trouble, and we did lunch at the Brewery next door to the “world famous” Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Note: it’s not so much “world famous” as it is a “Southern thing”. If I’m dropping that much money on a hotel, my room had better not smell like ass.

Anywho, Johnny-minion kept me out of trouble and passed me off to my handler when she arrived with Scott. I stumbled around, I think I ate dinner (I was beyond reasoning at this point) then was served alcohol in Grill Sergeant’s not-quite-a-party room party, where I ran into The Amazing Writing Hoyt’s (Sarah, Robert and Dan– not sure where Marshall was), Michael Z. Williamson, Evil Penguin, and Speaker to Lab Animals (to be known as S2LA from here on out… that’s too much to type). Tried some of Grill Sergeant’s BBQ, which helped clear up that sinus problem (and woke me right the hell up). Ran into Chris (one of my fellow reviewers at Shiny Book Review as well as aspiring author) and generally had a good time. I think I crashed around 10PM, since I wanted to be up early the next morning for my first ever Range Day.

I’ve been coming to Libertycon since 2006 and I have never managed to make it to a Range Day, which is something of a Baen Barfly tradition at LC. Usually it’s because I oversleep but, with my sleep schedule already out of whack, I was wide awake at 7am. Got some breakfast and caught a ride to the range with Chris and Doc, who is going to  be a character in a future book (Doc is a combat medic in the Army, much like my little brother Nick). He’s a really cool guy who also happened to be on a panel with me later that night.

So we do Range Day, shoot a lot of pictures of Zombie Shane, watch Tripp blast away with an AR15 (he pulled the trigger so fast that it sounded like a fully automatic…. and then the kid giggled. That was some scary crap right there), managed to get the nickname “LT” as I, the one with the map, kind of got us lost as we went hunting for food, and finally made it back to the Choo Choo in time to do registration.

I got into the wrong line (naturally) and then proceeded to confuse the hell out of everyone as they tried to figure out who I was. I mean, they “knew” me, but I think the registration people were expecting someone a little… older? Possibly. I still look “youngish” enough to confuse people. Got it all straightened out, grabbed my schedule, and went back to ConSuite to see who else had arrived.

Which was just about everybody.

Too many people to list, but I was especially happy to run into Vonnage and SubDude, who is no longer in the Navy. This means our Havoc Lords series will finally get written. Yes, I’m writing another series. But this one has SCIENCE in it. REAL SCIENCE!

So my first panel was Opening Ceremonies, which is just a basic introduction of the main Guests of Honor. Larry Correia MC’d and did a pretty good job of it. Right after that was my first “real” panel of the weekend, Dreams of Steam: Gadgets and Gizmos.

One of the first things I learned on this panel is that I really don’t “know” steampunk. Oh, I can write about airships (primarily because I treat them as navy vessels that fly), but outside of that, I really never gave much thought to the whole “technology” side of things. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s steampunk, splatterpunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk… so long as the story is character driven, it’ll sell. I tried to get this across but I don’t think I did a good job communicating it. Hey, I was out of practice — cut me some slack.

I spent the next 45 minutes signing books. Lots and lots of books. Over 100, I think. It seemed like everyone had a copy of Lawyers in Hell, What Scares the Boogeyman?Dreamers in Hell or Sha’Daa: Pawns for me to sign. This was fun, and I plopped my butt on the ground so I could sign without being in the way. I’m glad I have an easy signature. That could have been painful.

I had a few hours to kill after that so I went back to ConSuite and BarFly Central, where one unfortunate individual told me that the food at BFC was for Bar Flies only. He was corrected of this (honest mistake, since I didn’t have a BarFly ribbon) and I got some food, and ran into Larry Correia for the first time.

I did not fanboy. You should be proud.

Also of note: Larry isn’t kidding when he says he’s a big guy. My neck hurt looking up at him, and then his wife is my height, so it was as though I were in the Land of the Giants. He’s a really cool guy, though, and had to run as he had wayyy more panels than I did. I lounged around some, talked with MadMike about some ways to kill zombies (because that was our next panel), and then it was off to my best attended panel of the weekend: Messiest Ways to Kill a Zombie.

I had thought, coming in, that my chemical reaction/explosion would be the winner. Nope. John Ringo wrote about how a tank spun out across a road slicked down with zombie guts. However, I will admit that I liked S2LA’s idea about the pathogens and how to really make things “messy”. The crowd was pretty good and Larry kept everyone in check (even John) and it was probably the most fun I had on a panel all weekend.

Didn’t party much Friday night (was tired) and crashed. Good first day to the con.

Saturday wasn’t as much fun, though, and that was mostly my fault.

BarFly Breakfast was hosted by Quilly Mammoth and his wife Christine, with the donations going to Operation Baen Bulk and Wendi’s Toof Fund. Good food, but I was a bit cranky because I was still tired and managed to find myself over at the Dreamers in Hell Roundtable, which had… zero attendees.

Seriously. Crickets, man. It was a kick in my ego’s nuts. Thankfully, I don’t have much of an ego to start with.

The roundtable turned into business planning meeting as the authors talked about their next story ideas. I mentioned a few ideas I had for Ponce de Leon and talked about Of Woe and Sloth. Other than that, I kept quiet mostly and let them handle the meeting (which is what I suspected I would be doing anyway). Afterwards we did a group photo of the Hellions authors (Susie took some pics, I hope I get to see them soon) and I was off to do my Autograph Session at the Perseid Press table.

Signed a few more books (seriously, where the hell did all these books come from?) and mostly talked to Tom Barczak about how well-behaved his three boys were. Saturdays, for some reason, are usually something I don’t remember afterwards. It’s not because I was trashed (I wasn’t) but mainly because there’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track. After my signing I was invited to the first ever Christening at a Libertycon.

Took some amazing pictures (that baby is going to be a linebacker) and got to watch something I’d never seen before. Sitting here now, typing this out, and I realized I’d never seen a Christening before. I didn’t think about it at the time it was occurring (I was taking pictures) but now… wow. To be invited to such an event makes me feel amazing. Honored, even. I’m thankful that the Vanner’s invited me to watch and attend.

After this I needed food. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time before my next panel, Sha’Daa: Pawns and Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse re-release. Two people showed up for this one, and I didn’t really get to talk much about my Sea Dragon vs Navy SEALs fight. I was starting to get a bad feeling about my panel attendance and a noticeable pattern was starting to form. Ugh. Well, at least I have other stuff I can talk about, right?

With that in mind, my next panel, The World of Steampunk Roundtable almost kicked off a fight because, as I admitted earlier, I don’t really know steampunk. I held my tongue as I listened to someone who self-describes himself as a “dick” bitch about how society is horrible and lacks manners and class, which is why he does steampunk. That made little sense at the time and now, two days later, makes no sense at all. I think what he wanted to say (and was afraid of not being “PC”) was that he desired the stronger distinction in classes like there was in the Victorian Era. I may be wrong, but that was my impression.

He also called me “one of those writers” when I admitted that I call my steampunk story “steampunk” because it rolls off the tongue better than “alternate history with varying technologies” or something. *shrug* And? I’ll take my check and cash it either way, TYVM. 🙂

I was extremely grumpy at this point and needed some food, so it was back to the ConSuite for me. I got to drinking (it’s a CON, people… if you don’t drink, you’re either a recovering alcoholic or underage, or found religion) and managed to miss my next panel completely. Uh, oops?

Worst part was? The ConStaff were presenting me with an amazingly kind gift and had a big “roast” planned, and everyone was in on it.

Why didn’t someone tell me to make sure I was AT THAT PANEL?!?! ARGH!

To those of you who planned the party: I am really, really sorry. I don’t think I can express enough just how sorry I am.

Book release party for Dreamers in Hell was next, and the announcement that Iron Clad Press will be publishing my first Tobias Fox novel, Unholy Vengeance, was made. I spent the next five hours hanging out with John Ringo, Miriam, Mel, Grill Sergeant, and various others at poolside. Funny story there…

John (talking to Melanie): Jason’s given you one of my books to read, right?

Melanie: Yeah.

John: Okay, good.

Melanie: Yeah, he had me read Ghost.

John (horrified expression on his face): I am SO sorry! (glares at me)

Me: …I thought it would be funny…

I really did. So did everyone else. Ah well. Afterwards I crashed because, well, I was still tired and the con was starting to kick my butt.

Up early, packed, checked out. Found some food in BFC and prepared for my last three panels of the weekend. What’s New in Horror moderated by Larry Correia, and I had a lot of fun on this panel. Talked about the various projects we were working on as well as the stuff in horror we all liked, including I Am Not A Serial Killer. Good conversation and the time really flew here.

Bought some shirts, saw Melanie and Scott off, and got to hang around for a few more hours with Larry at the Dead Dog Party. Shared my story about how I accidentally insulted Niven and Pournelle (long story) and got to share the SEAL mission from hell with a few friends (SubDude was extremely helpful, since his memory is better than mine and the story will be showing up in one of the Havok Lords books later). Talked a bit with Robert Hoyt (creator of Ninja Nun, of which I am a HUGE fan) and caught up with a few other people.

I will admit, the drive home last night was scary. I had to stop somewhere in southern Kentucky because I was too tired to drive and managed a nap. Got home around 4 AM and promptly crashed.

Overall, the con was a blast as always. I can’t wait until next year and I hope I can go.

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