I'd decided to go to the Universal Monsters panel at 10:30, mostly because Gary Braunbeck and Tim Waggoner were scheduled to be on it. I was curious about the monsters, but on a scale of 1 to 10 my level of interest was about a 5. While waiting for the panel to start, I met Raven Bower and chatted with her for a few minutes--she's cool, and a snappy dresser, too! Gary didn't make it to the panel for a perfectly good reason, his poor injured ankle, that I heard later had swelled intolerably overnight. It turned out to be a decent panel, but I didn't come out of it with a noticeable increase in my fascination with the topic. I went up and asked Tim W. out to lunch afterward, since we'd had such a good conversation the previous night, and we went down to the hotel's restaurant. He's a sweetie. :)
Next was Gary's workshop: Maintaining Emotional Realism in Speculative Fiction. BTW, thank you to everyone who commented on my rough draft of the assignment for that workshop! The finished version was much better because of the adjustments I made after reading your reactions. I'll post the results if anyone shows even the slightest interest!
Gary had asked me to be in a presentation at the beginning of the class, a little skit to demonstrate subtext, so I showed up ten minutes early to run through that with him, and Fran Friel, and Brian, whose last name I unfortunately cannot remember despite the fact that I liked him a lot. I was cast as the Attractive Young Woman in the skit, so Gary is all right by me. ;)
The workshop was great. Gary is a lovely guy, self-deprecating all the time, but a good teacher (and his voice is ear candy!). We spent most of the time reading the paragraphs we'd brought, and guessing the nature of the epiphany each person had had in the circumstance they described. I was relieved that people got my epiphany in the class, since I hadn't conveyed it well enough in the first draft. The paragraphs others had written fascinated me. The timing of the class, from 1 to 4 in the afternoon, combined with my insufficiency of sleep the previous night, led me to an inevitable state of sleepiness for the last hour in there. The whole thing was useful, even if I was a bit faded and cranky at the end.
Tim Powers' seminar on plotting the novel was scheduled for 4 o'clock, right around the time when I naturally start to wake up in the late afternoon anyway, and honestly who isn't going to perk right up at the thought of seeing their favorite writer in the world in person for the first time?
Sidebar: I had good reason to expect that I was going to get to talk to Powers a bit over the weekend. There's a special limited-edition anecdote about how my longtime writing idol surprisingly initiated contact with me earlier this year, but I'm not going to post it. You'll just have to come up to me at a convention and ask. *g* But because we had exchanged some email, I Googled his email address and found a Tim Powers email list a fan started several years ago, that Powers had eventually heard about and joined. So there's a great Yahoo! group where you can discuss his writing with other fans, and Powers will answer questions and be super nice to you unless you make a complete jackass of yourself, like this one guy... (and this will be a minor anecdote I'm likely to throw in if you don't stop me first). Psst! Over here! So anyway, I attended Context 20 because someone cleverly posted on the list that Powers would be the Guest of Honor, and I signed right up; then it was arranged on-list that a couple of us would meet up with Powers at the convention and hang out a bit. End Sidebar.
I walked out into the hall after Gary's workshop and there was Powers, right freakin' there. He was busy talking to people, though, and I continued my mission to get some water in order to prevent death by dehydration. By the time I got back all of two minutes later, all of the seats in the seminar room were full but one in the second row, which seemed as if it had been magically saved just for me. I had to cross right in front of Powers to get there, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself.
He was so friendly. :) You know how some writers are introverts, not equipped with much of a social drive? That's not Powers. He was chatty with me right away, so I inquired about dinner plans for afterward, and we agreed that I would join his group for that.
The seminar itself was hilarious. I had gleaned some of it before from things he'd written to the email list, and interviews he'd done, but nothing beats his presentation. He was in constant motion, telling funny stories and drinking Cokes one after the other--seriously, I'd never seen anyone absorb so much high fructose corn syrup and caffeine in such a short period of time!--but covering a lot of ideas as he went. I think I should consult my notes and attempt to write about the actual ideas in a coherent way later. I have to say, though, that I'm afraid my coverage of it might come out all wonky, like babelfish translations.
After the talk, a few people lined up to get Powers to sign things, and I stayed nearby, letting others go ahead of me since I was going to get to talk to him soon enough. Once he was finished there, another fan (Stacy?) came up and we all went to look for Serena Powers. The dinner group included the four of us and Jackie and Dan Gamber, who I liked a lot. I had never heard much about what Serena was like, so it was cool to be able to meet her. She has a wicked sense of humor (my favorite kind) and amazingly bright blue eyes. During dinner, Powers continued on with his gregariousness, telling stories about Philip Dick and asking me about what I liked to read in the genres.
We couldn't linger over dinner because Powers was scheduled to be interviewed, so Stacy and I went upstairs with him for that. The interviewer, Dan Brown, wasn't there yet, so Powers said I should interview him instead, and I was about to do just that when Dan arrived. This was a good thing for the people of the audience, most likely, since I had no questions prepared, but I'll bet I could have come up with something!
I didn't want to be That Clingy Fangirl, you know the type I'm talking about, so I made sure that Powers knew where the room party was going to be and I went off to a panel on contemporary horror. I was able to chat with Fran and Brian again, since there was half an hour left before the panel was to start. At the appointed time Fran went to the front to panelize with Rae Dawn Carson and Gary about developments in the horror genre. Rae announced up front that she didn't know much about the horror genre yet, so she'd decided to ask a lot of questions, and I thought that was a great thing for a panelist to do. I wrote down oodles of authors to read, throughout this panel, and will certainly post about the books after reading them.
The party on Saturday night was in the same room as Friday's party, but the atmosphere was a lot different due to the music, the surreal artwork being projected on the ceiling, the abundance of drinks offered by Geoffrey Girard, and the greater number of people in attendance. I found Tim Waggoner and spent a lot of time talking to him, but I also met Steve Shrewsbury and chatted with others here and there. I met, but never really got to talk to, Maurice Broaddus. It was hard to talk in there, so Tim W. and I went for a walk down to the bar (admittedly in the hope of spotting Powers, on my part) but the bar had an even noisier event going on, with a cover charge, so we went right back up to the party. We saw Powers up there by the elevator, going off to bed, but he said he hoped to get to talk to me some more on Sunday, so that was all right. :)
Tim W. and I went back into the party, briefly, and then went out to the hallway, which was a better place to talk. We stood there with Gary, Lucy, Shawn, and a few other people, talking for probably about an hour, before I realized that it was time to *sleep.* And that was my Saturday!