Libertycon XXIX AAR — The Black Tide Rising Edition

So LC29 is in the books and I for one had a blast. I got to meet more people (always fun) and talk with some of the biggest names in the field (always productive). I got to work out the details of a new project with coauthor Christopher L. Smith and watch an old friend and gaming buddy ink a book deal with Baen Books (he’s collaborating with John Ringo on a Black Tide Rising novel).

So to start…

The drive down to Chattanooga was intense for all the wrong reasons. There was a deluge of rain for most of the drive, and then there was one hell of a detour to get around a wreck that would have delayed me by about 4 hours. But in the end it was worth it because I was finally at LIBERTYCON!

I didn’t need to check in to the hotel because I was rooming with Gerry and Jasmine this year and they had beaten me down there by about 15 minutes. So I was able to throw my stuff into the train car, give both of them huge hugs (and scaring Gerry by hoisting him off the ground) and then running out to explore and see if I could run into any old friends.

I found Matt at registration with his head down and finalizing last-minute details (I heard registration ran well, as always, and now we know why — Matt gets there days early to prepare) and ran into Rich Groller, who is the Programming Director at LC as well as a writer who has been in a few of the same anthologies as me. He was able to get me my registration and swag bag early (perks of knowing Important People). From there I wandered around and bumped into more people I sorta remembered, and then got into contact with Doug Dandridge and Larry Southard for our annual Thursday pizza run. If you are ever in Chattanooga, go try Lupi’s Pizza Pies. They are amazing.

Dinner managed, we made it back to the hotel and ran into a few authors I kinda-sorta knew. Again, names escape me at the moment, but they were really nice people. I missed the Hoyt room party (partly because I thought I wasn’t invited for some reason) and found my way over to the Grill Sergeant’s room, where there was whiskey and drinks to be had.

Note: I typically dislike whiskey. Not my preferred drink. Bad incident when I was much younger and more foolish.

After bidding the Grill Sergeant adieu, we ran into John Ringo. We hung out with him for a bit out on his room balcony before calling it a night. We all were pooped and there was no reason whatsoever to kill ourselves before the con had even started.

Friday was a bit of a blur in the morning. We had breakfast in the hotel and I decided I wasn’t going to Range Day, since it was over an hour away. Instead I wandered around and found more people. Vonnage and Subdude got hugs, and there were plenty of “Crap, I forgot to email you!” going around but all in all, it was nice to catch up before the con officially started. Though opening ceremonies weren’t until 5 p.m., I had a panel at 3 p.m. More appropriately, I had a reading.

I hate readings. I don’t like the way my voice sounds. Plus, I was doing a “Four Horsemen of the Baen-ocalypse” reading with fellow newbie Baen authors Kacey Ezell, Christopher L. Smith, and Michael Massa. They all sound eloquent and have good readings voices while I always sound like I have sinus congestion and have snorted two lines of coke while playing with a helium tank.

I’m not kidding.

It went rather well and we even had John Ringo show up to the reading (more to steal Massa away; more on that later) and the people who attended had a lot of fun. I got to read one of my favorite verses from Kraken Mare, which was a scene that was mostly written by my co-author Chris. He, in turn, actually read from a short story coming out later this year in an anthology.

Once the reading was done I made my way over to the Consuite and began my usual food hunt. Unfortunately for me, most of what they had contained onions, and I hate being stuffy and congested, so dinner plans were made. Then it occurred to all of us that I had a 2 hour signing starting at 7 p.m. in the Author’s Alley and I wouldn’t be able to go and make it back in time. I had jerky for dinner with some gatorade (healthy, right?) and then grabbed my books and headed over to the Author’s Alley.

I’ll be absolutely honest here. I expected to sell maybe 5 to 7 books, which looked about what everyone else was selling. What I did not expect was to sell every single copy I had. It seemed that I always had someone in line wanting to buy a copy of Kraken Mare. I even managed to sell all of my copies of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, and signed a few copies of Corruptor that people had purchased from inside the dealer’s room. I was completely cleaned out in a short order and walked out of there happy and shocked.

After that I was floating on Cloud 9 the rest of the night. I don’t even remember what room parties I hit that night except that I knew I was babbling like an idiot. In all the years I’ve been at Libertycon I have never sold out of all my books. It was an amazing feeling.

Saturday started off with a 10 a.m. panel (seriously, who the hell schedules me for panels before noon?) and Chris and I did our usual “drive the moderator nuts” shtick. Fortunately our publisher was the Moderator (or perhaps that should be “unfortunately”?) and she took it in stride. Alas, I didn’t have time to eat much (see also, 10 a.m. is too goram early for panels) and I had to rush over to the Bloodmobile to donate my blood again to the friendly neighborhood vampires blood bank.This year I did this thing called the ALYX donation which doubles the red cell donation while using less actual blood. Takes about 25 minutes instead of the usual 10 but hey, why not? Donated, got a t-shirt (woot!) and a cookie before heading back out to attend the Baen Traveling Road Show.

If you’ve ever wanted to score free Baen loot at a con, the Traveling Road Show is the best way to do it. They were handing out books galore there and it was neat to hear the authors talk about their covers for upcoming releases. I left early (nobody told me to stay) and found out later that they had all the Black Tide Rising authors come up and be recognized.

Damn it.

Later that night I attended the Baen Author dinner, which is always a tremendous honor. I had a panic attack while there though, since it was too crowded in a tiny little space. Thanks to Toni and the others who recognized what I was going through and gave me some space. I also have to thank Larry Correia for shifting the topic over to videogames, which allowed me to re-engage and not feel like a complete and utter reject. We geeked out on World of Tanks for over an hour and I casually mentioned to him that people would pay to watch him livestream his World of Tanks addiction. He didn’t really believe me until I told him that people paid me to stream my gaming. I told him that if I could make money, he could make a ton more.

Evil capitalism at its absolute best.

Hit up some room parties when I got back to the hotel, including the MoonDream Press release party for the latest anthology. Ended up over at John Ringo’s room again (seriously, it’s like I’m looking for someone and end up there, then I can never leave). Hung out for a bit before I decided to walk around some more before going to bed.

Sunday I found out that I had won two auction pieces. One was from Paul Bielaczyc and was an official Wheel of Time piece (The Prince of Ravens), and the other was a simple Oriental-style art piece (A Study in Shading) by a young new artist named Neko San (I know her real name but Neko San is her professional name, so I’ll go by that). I really enjoyed both pieces and now both are proudly mounted in the office. I also got to attend my final panel of the con: the Black Tide Rising roundtable.

Funny story: John Ringo pulled me aside and mentioned that he had not even read my story before the book was in print, so he had been a bit surprised when people were telling him how much that they enjoyed the Louvre story and the heist. He conferred with Gary Poole (the collaborator with John on this project) and was told that yes, Gary had indeed sent my story to John for approval.

I know John didn’t read it because the look on his face when I mentioned that Folsom Duncan was a character in the story was absolutely priceless…

Con wrapped up after this, though I did sign (what felt like) a few hundred copies of Black Tide Rising. A few times I signed on Chris Smith’s name just to screw with my buddy (you’re welcome!) but at the end my hand was cramping. Then it was on to Closing Ceremonies and then the Dead Dog Party.

However, before I went to the Dead Dog Party I was invited to go out to eat with Tedd “Speaker to Lab Animals” Roberts at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had never been before so I agreed.

Holy. Mother. Of. God. I don’t think I’ve had that much meat stuffed into me in my life. Doc and I were absolutely murder-facing the meat they were bringing by and shouting out our battle cries for more food once we tore apart the fleshy goodness. More than once did we get disgusted looks from people around the restaurant, who were appalled at out meat intake. PROTEIN, DAMN IT!

(BTW… meat sweats is a thing, and you should ask Larry just how pleasant they can be)

Monday morning we all woke up late and checked out of the hotel. I’m already missing my con family and can only feel that Heaven must be an eternal convention. Made it home late last night after picking up Odin from the dog sitter (the cats don’t need a cat sitter, just ask them) and lounged for a bit before going to bed. Received an invite to be a guest at two cons but I’m already committed for one on the same weekend so I declined, while the other is a local con here in town that is within walking distance of my house. I’m going to that one.

I miss you already, Libertycon. Best thing of all? Next year will be Libertycon XXX: The Dirty Thirty Edition. They have “Oh, John Ringo, No!” as their special 30th anniversary Literary guest and Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid!!!!) as their Literary Guest of Honor.

So stoked.