Last weekend, my husband, Stella, and I went to the Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh. My Writeshop buddy, Jason Sanford, had his novelette “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” nominated, and I wanted to cheer him on. And despite anxiety attacks for two days before the convention (and almost throwing up the morning we left), I had a wonderful time.
PS: I never once threw up, but I did spill a lot of stuff.
At the Conference, I was able to meet a lot of authors and editors that I admire. Including Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Seanan McGuire, Alyssa Wong, Brooke Bolander, Scott Andrews, Neil Clarke, and Navah Wolfe. I got books signed, and, most amazingly, got to meet a real live astronaut: Kjell Lindgren, who was so gracious as he listened to my awkward attempts at buddying up while I held back tears of joy. Here’s a picture of us:
I didn’t attend every panel I was signed up for, because I learned from World Fantasy Con that panels really wear me out. This time, I took the Con at my pace and listened to my body: if I couldn’t do something, because I was too tired or needed food, I skipped out. One skipped panel let me enjoy a nice lunch with Bonnie Jo Stuffebeam, David Levine, Jeremiah Tolbert, and some other authors. It was totally worth missing the panel over, plus I got a ham sandwich and coffee cake out of the deal.
The banquet was wonderful. I sat next to Barbara Krasnoff, who had her short story, “Sabbath Wine” nominated for a Nebula this year. We had fun making our picks for who would win in each category. She kept me entertained with anecdotes about past Nebula Award ceremonies while her husband supplied similar anecdotes for the whole table. Talking to Barbara was really a highlight of the trip.
So was finally hanging out with Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, as we’ve been talking on Twitter since I found her Nebula Nominated novelette “The Orangery” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies last November. I loved finally having a chance to talk in person. Speaking of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, I finally got to meet Scott Andrews, who was so wonderful to work with on "...Calamity Jane" and my forthcoming novelette. He was as kind face to face as he was in writing, and nice enough to ask me for more work, which put a spring in my step for the rest of the conference.
One of my favorite things was watching everyone react to Jason and seeing how well he was received. He really is inspirational in not only his craft and skill with writing, but also how gracious he is with attention and how much he admires his peers.
It was lovely to meet people like Leo Vladimirsky and J.R. Dawson. Like Mike Antares and Jazz. Like Beth (an amazing SFWA Volunteer) and Rebecca Gomez Farrell. All these people who were there to enjoy the Conference like I was there to enjoy the Conference; to learn like I was there to learn. To see what was achievable and meet our idols like I was. It was great to talk about our journeys together and encourage each other. I look forward to seeing all of them again, many more times.
Stella was wonderful the entire trip. She dutifully stayed up past her own bedtime both nights, and even was nice enough to inform me when it was time to go to bed. And yes, she was right, even when I had to miss out on stuff. When the TOR Party had to be moved, Stella nudged my hand, Time for bed. And it was. In getting ready for bed, I dropped everything from my toothbrush to my moisturizer. I wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes at the bar, and Stella knew it. We were both asleep within minutes of curling into each other.
It was also super great to have my husband, James, there with me. He’s definitely the more gregarious of the two of us. He pushed me to talk to Kjell Lindgren. He pushed me to buy all the books we did (and I’m glad we did), he pushed me to talk to all the people I did. Without him, I would have been the girl with the dog looming in a corner the entire time.
This tells me that with Stella, Cons are easy. With Stella and James, Cons are far easier than I ever thought they would be. My recovery since coming back has been swift, almost nothing compared to what I had to do after World Fantasy Con or the MadCap Retreat. I'm so glad that James agreed to come along with me, and happier still that he had such a great time.
Congratulations again to all the Nebula Winners!
I’m reading The Starlit Wood right now as research for a fairytale I’m writing, and looking forward to getting to Amal El-Mohtar’s “Seasons of Glass And Iron.” Here's to many more months of great stories and great books, and I'll see everyone back in Pittsburgh again next year.