Libertycon 32 AAR — Blond Edition

Libertycon 32 technically ended Sunday, but quite a few of us hang out until Monday to see old friends and catch up with new ones (you’d be amazed at how many new friends you can walk out of this convention with). Since a lot of us also do the “Well, let’s get there Thursday to start partying early” as well, you can imagine that this is nothing but one great time to be had by all who attend.

As is usually the case, if I forget someone or something it’s not you, but me. My memory sucks, and I know a couple of neuroscientists who are drooling and eager to experiment on my brain…

Thursday we rolled into Chattanooga around 5pm, somehow missing all that rush hour traffic by coming down US 27 (I think). Since Jasmine road with us it was actually a straight shot from her house to downtown Chattanooga. Very handy, since we unpacked and started seeking out our friends almost immediately. I lost track of the deadly duo until later that night, partly because I was still dead tired. However, I did run into a few familiar faces and saw JonnyMinion, which is always fun. I picked up my badge early (hooray for being favoritest author!) and decided to not stay up until 2:30am. I needed to sleep.

Side note: I only stayed up until 1:00am. So proud. Much achievement. I think I’ll go invade France next week, idk.

Friday morning we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Last year, calling it an unmitigated disaster would have been polite. This year, though, the hotel was prepared and had a buffet set up. Much better, in my opinion, and the food was very good. I arranged to have the winner of the #LionWatch contest, Sean Carey, to meet up with me for dinner there that night so I could pick his brains about his Tuckerization in an upcoming novel. Before any of that could happen, however, I had panels to go to!

There was a 1:00pm panel that I didn’t know I was supposed to be on (I was going to roll in around 2:30pm for the mass autograph signing) but I was getting pestered by friends to go so I showed up late… and was promptly called Sommerkorn. *sigh* There’s a long story there but in order to fully grok it I will point you to the Four Horsemen series but Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy. Start with the Revelations Cycle and go from there.

However, the 4HU panel (as it turned into) was pretty good. I got to talk a little about SONS OF THE LION as well as the upcoming projects within the 4HU (I’m beginning to wonder if I’m insane for committing to so many projects). According to my count I have at least 5 books to write in that series alone, with a potential sixth later down the road. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. I also like to write, so it works out.

I went from here to my only autograph session of the weekend (I was offered another but I figured they can find me at the Author’s Alley on Saturday) where I signed with John Ringo. I hadn’t seen John since Dragoncon last year so it was nice catching up with him. We really didn’t talk shop that much, preferring instead to talk about our respective cats and joked about invading a Latin American country–

Me: Wait, didn’t we already do that once?

John: Yeah, maybe.

Me: What do you mean, maybe? You were there.

John: Oh yeah. I was thinking about another Latin American country…

So yeah, a good time.

From here I found my way to the bar, where I ran into Gary Poole and Jim Minz. Jim is an awesome guy and Gary is like the older brother you want to be as cool as so you borrow his clothing but you don’t pull off the cool factor the same way he does. Gary and I wanted to talk a bit so we decided we’d head down to the outdoor patio area to talk business after I finished my Tennessee Whiskey and Ginger Ale. I didn’t know this was a thing. I do now. It’s delicious.

Well, somehow before we could do this, the fire alarm went off. Instead of rushing out of the building and stuff, Jim and I simply sat in the bar sipping our drinks. I mean, it wasn’t as though we were in any position to waste good booze on something as pithy as a fire, so we remained behind. Which turned out to be a good call, since the alarm was faulty and had one more false alarm a few hours later.

Opening Ceremonies were next, and I didn’t attend because I was in dire need of a nap. So I slept for an hour and went to dinner with the winner of the #LionWatch contest. We came up with some interesting back story for his character and he even convinced me to make his dog the XO… well, he didn’t try too hard, since I was all for it.

Afterwards I hit a few room parties and tried to find more of my friends, as well as get with Chris Smith to decide what we were going to read during out 10:00pm reading that night. We both struck out, so I figured I would read the Prologue and Chapter One of WINTERBORN while he was on his own.

I normally give Chris grief during conventions because that’s what friends do. However, this year I got to take it a step further because Chris showed up to our reading mildly intoxicated and with a severe case of the hiccups. I went first because he was late (SOMMERKORN!) and this enabled me to mock him mercilessly when he couldn’t read his offering without hiccuping every five seconds.

I offered my sympathies to him by livestreaming his reading…

I must say, however, that a 10:00pm reading with Chris and myself was very well attended. There were almost 20 people there, which would have made it my largest audience ever for a reading, Between me giggling madly and trying to hold the camera steady, and the audience uproariously laughing at the poor bastard (who asked for someone to punch him in the solar plexus and an active duty lady from the Army volunteered… which did not cure his hiccups but made us all laugh louder because she about kicked his ass. I seriously thought he was dying there for a bit). He finally managed to read his last bit without hiccuping too much and we vacated the room to a standing ovation.

Me: Hey Chris, I’m going to read this part reeeeeeeal loud, okay?

Chris: I hope you die.

What can I say? Chris and I have amazing chemistry.

Hit some room parties and headed for bed rather early because I knew that Saturday was going to be one long, adventurous day.

And it was.

I was woken up early by getting punched by the girlfriend because she was having a bad dream or something. Not just punched anywhere, but in my goodly bits. As I’m whimpering in bed, Jasmine yells out in her sleep from the other bed “shut up you little pussy” and rolls over. I’m of two minds here. Was she really asleep? She pleads ignorance and swears she was asleep, which leads me to my next question: what the hell was she dreaming about?

My first panel after breakfast was at 10:00am, thus continuing the tradition of making Jason hate the daystar because it comes too early. The panel was about the upcoming anthology FREEHOLD: RESISTANCE, where we sat down with everyone and talked about our stories and how hard it was for the editor, Michael Z. Williamson, to link them all together. I think we caused him to start drinking. Unsure, will clarify at a later date.

After this, it was another autograph session before I swung over to my 2 hour block at the Author’s Alley.

I love the concept of the Author’s Alley. You pay like $5 per hour and you get a table to sell your wares and sign books. I actually sold out of copies of WRAITHKIN this year and easily made the money back for this investment in the first five minutes. I also got to meet Lydia and David’s son, Dread Pirate Baby Wesley, who I decided needed a new hand puppet friend. Wesley met Inigo and a friendship was forged.

Dread Pirate Baby Wesley meets Inigo

From there I hauled butt over to my next panel, titled “Critters”. I wasn’t sure what this panel was about (side note: I never study for panels, panels study me…) but it turned into a lot of fun as Kal Spriggs managed to corral us wild ones and we ended up making a very interesting mineral-based alien creature that lived in an ammonium and chlorine atmosphere. We got science-y for a bit.

I had my first break here and I was supposed to go and get something to eat but… forgot. I instead found my way to the dealer’s room where I did some shopping and bought a few shirts that looked cool. Then I was off to my next panel because I lost track of time, which was with my publisher, Chris Kennedy Publishing, and the year ahead.

We talked a little about the Kin Wars Saga but most of it was deservedly on the other writers, all of whom have absolutely crushed it in terms of sales and writing this year. 2019 is half over and the amount of #1 sellers he’s had is ridiculous. Very awesome panel where they announced the next series in the 4HU — The Guild Wars. I have at least 3 books in this arc so I’m super excited about it.

Off to my next panel, which was a science one called “From Pinplants to the Terminal Man: Can Science Build the Better Humans Envisioned by SF?” Now, you my be asking yourself why am I on this panel? Well, the moderator, Dr. Rob Hampson, asked for me because I’m a huge fan of the brain and use a lot of neuro-related science in my novels. However, I couldn’t help but feel that I was the “normal” person in the group of brilliant doctors and scientists. Kinda like the average guy swimming against Olympians? Yeah, that guy.

You can see just how out of my depth I am when everyone’s talking about the thingy in your brainy and I’m trying to think of a good synapse joke.

Next was the Baen Author dinner, hosted by Toni Weisskopf and Baen Books. It happens every year at various cons, and Libertycon is always the largest due to the amount of Baen authors who show up. It was very enjoyable and they actually had food for me to eat this year, so I didn’t need to run and get more food after.

I then had a room party/book release that I did not go to because… I don’t really remember why, actually. I know I had intended to go, but ended up going somewhere else. I know I had fun, though, because I showed up to the 10:00pm panel (and final panel of the day), titled ” New Voices in YA Science Fiction”. This was my only complaint about the entire weekend. Who the heck schedules a YA panel at 10:00pm on Saturday night???

Anyway, it went well because I went all “Hulk smash!” on the poor crowd, who had a good time as I broke down why YA fiction at the moment was both blossoming and collapsing. Poor Kal Spriggs did his best to rein me in but I was hot, and the current crop of YA books leaves much to be desired. Matt Wyers, a new author, was on the panel with us and I think I scarred the poor bastard. He did not expect to see Hulk Jason, apparently. To be fair, I hadn’t been prepared to get that pissed off as well.

Much room parties occurred, and I finally got in my meeting with Gary, and then I headed off to bed. I had one more official day of the con and it was my most open day of the weekend.

Sunday was a much slower pace, with the Kaffeklatsch and then closing ceremonies. I got to check out the amazing artwork of Mitch Foust (and picked up a few things) and signed a few more books that had somehow missed me along the way. Then it was moreh anging out with friends and planning secret things, which is a lot of fun. From there we went to meat faucet (aka Ridizio’s Brazilian Barbecue). I proceeded to try and make myself sick on protein (Larry Correia couldn’t make it this year so I decided that meat would be devoured in his honor). I somehow made it back to the hotel without dying and promptly began the “meat sweats”.

It was glorious.

Monday morning was a lot of goodbyes. We headed out around 10 and stopped at the Tennessee Aquarium. We took a ton of photos and had a great time. We also discovered that Jasmine is only a few inches taller than an Emperor Penguin (for science!) so we took a picture for proof. This is how blackmailing begins (muwahahaha).

Libertycon 32 was, and always shall be, a large family reunion. I already miss my family and I can’t wait to see them again. I know some won’t be around next year (moving out of the country for military commitments) but I know they’ll be there in spirit. It was also the first con without Uncle Timmy, and I feel that LC32 more than lived up to his expectations and hopes. Many a toast was hoisted in his memory this weekend.

This was only after Day 1

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