Libertycon 28 AAR
So Libertycon 28 was a blast this year. I was in pain (unsurprising, given the state of my knee) but thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and my train car being at the center of everything I managed to survive.
We arrived at the Choo Choo around five in the afternoon and I immediately ran into Sharon Rice-Weber, wife of NYT bestselling author David Weber. I hadn’t see Sharon since Honorcon last year and it was fun catching up with her. While doing this (in the middle of a parking lot, on a hot day, and while both of us were loaded up on pain meds… we’re friendly folk. Maybe a little too friendly?) I bumped into Larry Southard (more on this guy later), Chris Sommerkorn and Joseph Capdephon. Dinner plans were hastily made (because they had been made already and I completely spaced) and we agreed to meet out front in about thirty minutes.
Upon checking into my train car (yes, I stayed in a train car. it rocks) I was reminded two things about the Choo Choo. The first is that the staff is amazing and will try everything in their power to make sure that your stay is pleasant. The second was that whoever owned the place never seemed to want to keep the rooms in proper shape. My room was okay, save for the complete and utter lack of air conditioning when I first got in. I actually ended up turning it down to 50 in hopes that it might drop below 80 in there (it did, but at around 3 in the morning…).
Room more or less squared away, my handler (yes, I have a handler at cons… they keep me from ending up in the wrong city trying to figure out why nobody wants to buy my books) and I went off to dinner with the aforementioned trio. We were joined by the indomitable Doug Dandridge and, while there, Joseph Baird (he’s a politician out of North Carolina, I think. Not sure. Pain pills) joined our group. Chris tried to pour the beer for us (and failed, poor guy) and we devoured great pizza (note: visit Lupi’s in downtown Chattanooga. They’re fantabulous!). Meanwhile, I got to listen in envy as Doug shared with us his sales from last year. The guy is a machine. I mean, seriously. He outsells 99% of the authors out there, and he does it all without a publishing house. Every time we talk I take notes. The guy is just that damned good.
Pizza devoured, we made our way back to the hotel. At this point my room had managed to cool off to a more reasonable temperature and I briefly debated about taking a nap. However, it was only Thursday at this point, so I figured I would sleep later. I wandered around (on a bum knee, this was not smart, as we’ll discover later) and found my con family at various places. Due to building 2 being remodeled this year, the con was more spread out that normal, and I didn’t discover building 3 (where most of my friends were staying) until Sunday.
I didn’t do much on Thursday (though Matt was kind enough to hand me my guest badge) and I crashed around 10 after running into Vonnage and Subdude. Subdude and I finally managed to get together Sunday night and draw up a rough outline for the first book of our trilogy (or series…. we got a little weird on Sunday), something we’d been trying to do for almost 8 years now.
Friday started with… me oversleeping. I chewed on some jerky and granola bars (I missed breakfast) and wandered around consuite seeing who was around. Vonnage took pity on me and gave me a sandwich, which kept me going until later. I ran into Cedar Sanderson and her new husband, Sanford, as well as two of Cedar’s brood (her kids are adorable), and crossed paths with the Hoyts (more on Sarah later). I didn’t have any real panels until 9pm that night so I wandered the halls, meeting old friends and making new ones. Found Jonny Minion, Jasmine and Gerry soon enough and we made plans to go out to eat on Sunday. Jonny, due to a member of the con staff having to cancel because of a death in the family, was an extremely busy man and yet still managed to find time to help me out whenever I needed something (like a golf cart when my knee gave out).
Opening Ceremonies occurred, and they skipped me (or so I thought at first). Conspicuously absent was a bunch of other authors I knew as well, and in my medicated state I could only surmise that Howard Taylor (our Master of Ceremonies for the weekend) simply hated me, my coauthor Eric S. Brown, and a bunch of writers who worked in the 1632 universe.
I did mention I was medicated, right?
It finally dawned on me that, as a part of the 1632 writers, Eric and I were going to be mentioned with the 1632 minicon (a roving convention that invades various cons throughout the US and talks about 1632 stuff, which is pretty cool). So I stood up and waved like a good little writer when my name was called, and I was surprised once more when there were no accompanying boos. I was a bit disappointed (it’s tradition to boo me at Libertycon) and vowed to make the ringleader of the group, one Chris Smith, pay somehow.
So I went to my autograph session afterwards and sold about half of my books, signed a bunch more, and got to meet a fan.
Now, most of you know that I like to say that I don’t have fans, but friends. However, Dawn gleefully admitted that she was a fan and had me sign her copy of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn. We talked for a bit and I felt pretty giddy about it. I mean, I have a fan! That’s freaking AWESOME!
So my first panel of the weekend, titled What’s New in Military SF?, was a bit of a dud. At this point I was in a lot of pain due to my knee and was pretty heavily doped up. Plus, our moderator allowed John Ringo to take over, and John is more than capable of hosting a panel by himself (seriously, Libertycon programming people… just have “An Hour of Ringo” and let it be a Q&A. Packed house, I promise you).I do remember someone mentioning that I had been very quiet during the panel, so I just shrugged and muttered into the mic “I like turtles.”
Sadly, nobody got the reference.
Afterwards it was time to hit the room parties. My handler was pretty drunk at this point (wait, you’re supposed to be making sure I stay out of trouble, not the other way around!) and we visited the Dublin 2019 Worldcon party, which was very green. They had booze, which I didn’t partake (though the rest of my intrepid little group did) and we made our way over to the consuite. My handler kept asking for more of the “green drink of doom” and I dutifully hobbled back over to the Dublin room party four times.
I was in pain. I wasn’t mad. Don’t mistake the look I had on my face as anger. I just was in a lot of pain and really, really wanted to go to bed.
Finally managed to crash around 0230 after reminding my handler that I was donating blood in the morning after my first panel (and Vonnage cut her off, which was hilarious). Made it to my first panel of the day with seconds to spare as Eric and I talked about Kaiju and their propensity for urban renewal projects.
This year wasn’t as active as last, partly due to the fact that panels at 1000 in the morning SUCK. Everyone is either hung over or not awake yet. I hate doing panels that early, and yet I keep getting stuck on them year in and year out. Not sure why, but it’s annoying as all hell. None of my friends showed up (they were the aforementioned “hung over” people), and my handler overslept as well, because I was the one waking her up so we could go donate blood.
Okay, scary moment time: while donating blood, my handler started to black out (dehydrated like a mofo). They yanked the needle out a bit too quickly and she sprayed blood all over the place. Her BP was also extremely low (85/60) beforehand, yet they let her donate anyway. Stupid and dangerous. But everything turned out okay, except for the fact that my handler was extremely pale for about 30 minutes after. A little black makeup and she would have made every Goth in 1,000 miles extremely jealous.
I had one more panel that day (3 pm) before the Baen author dinner (including the 1632 writers, which someone forgot to tell Eric about and he didn’t get invited… oops) and it was talking about the Sha’Daa series, including Facets and the upcoming Inked. It went well enough, and we managed to navigate through without too many problems. I had to remind our moderator that I had no idea who he was and got him to introduce himself, then all the rest of the panelists. But other than that, it went smoothly.
See, I can be subtle!
The Baen dinner was extremely nice, with me receiving some great news about a short story I’d written (will announce it when I have the contract in hand). I behaved and found myself at the table with David Weber and Gerry, where we talked about foreign adoptions and foster kids. David had adopted two Cambodian children many years before, and I was a foster kid, so we swapped stories. Afterwards we headed back to the con, where my handler (who was completely pooped and didn’t want to drink again) crashed. I followed suit later after doing some writing.
You might have noticed that I didn’t have that many panels this year. This is correct. I think I had a total of 5 if you don’t count opening ceremonies and my autograph session. I keep reminding them that I like being kept busy, but bigger name authors draw bigger crowds, so I understand.
Sunday was a bit of a blur. I was on a panel with DeAnna Manning (widow of my late editor, John Manning) where we talked about upcoming Iron Clad Press stuff. I announced the anthology I was putting together (“A Weird and Wild West”) and immediately had some really great new authors clamoring to be on board. I also got back at Chris Smith finally for not leading the boos during Opening Ceremonies when Chris, in the middle of the panel, leaned over and whispered in my ear:
“Dude, I gotta piss.”
There was a pitcher of water in front of me, as well as a few cups. So I started talking to Chris about stuff like “the flow of the writer” and “the pressure one finds oneself under” and “leaking ideas to fans isn’t always bad”. Chris, at this point, was beginning to squirm in his chair like a 6 year old in class. So, to drive the nail home, I began to pour myself a glass of water.
Very, very slowly. The trickle was loud and sounded just like when a man is taking a leak.
Chris gave in, jumped up, and ran out of the room.
I was reminded by Larry Southard that we had raised $100 for charity in the “Destroy Jason’s Liver Fund”. It was something we came up with to drive the charity auction. I donated 2 books and, for every $20 donated, I would take a shot during the Dead Dog Party. I had guessed it would be around $60, so imagine my surprise when Larry donated $100 by himself to help destroy my liver. The man is awesome. There’s a video floating around somewhere as well…
Next year, my goal is $200. John Ringo heard about this later and said “Challenge Accepted”.
After that my handler and I went to lunch with Gerry and Jasmine. It was nice, hanging out with friends. Lunch at The Brewery was pretty good and relatively inexpensive as well. Then we headed back and made plans to hang out later. This is my fault because I completely forgot and later, at Ringo’s Dead Dog Party, she and my handler wandered over to say hi.
I spent the rest of Sunday hanging out with old friends. Miriam and John were amazing hosts, and I got to admit to Sarah Hoyt that I had written fanfic in her Shifter universe. She didn’t kill me (which was nice of her) and I also got to outline the first book in our series with Subdude. I also figured out what I was doing wrong with Kraken Mare and outlined the fix. I’ve been working on it since I got back and discovered that the fix was solid.
We left early Monday morning so I could make it back in time to get Sophie (my dog) from the dogsitting place. Had a lot of funat the con, and found myself wondering Wednesday when it was time to go back. I already miss my Libertycon family, though I do have a lot to look forward to next year. For one, I’ll be sharing a room next year, so hopefully I’ll have more spending money. Another thing is that I hope to have a big book contract signed by then and I can show off the awesome cover art (another book I wrote with a certain cover artist in mind).