This was the first con I’ve been to by myself in a very long time. I spent most of it in panels, and they turned out to be more informative than local con panels generally are. In particular the one on writing a multi-book series (“as opposed to all those single-book series,” Aaron Allston deadpanned) was useful. Kay Kenyon got amazed looks from the other panelists when she mentioned that she keeps a style sheet going to remind herself of names, places, and other odd things needing to be kept track of. “You mean you… do it as you go along?” was sort of the astonished consensus. No one else is that organized, it seems.
Panel on paranormal romance concluded that it’s extremely hot right now, to which I say DUH. The new Harlequin imprint and the upcoming Tor line didn’t clue you in? This panel was useful for taking mental note of things I should be reading, but otherwise the panelists seemed to be debating foregone conclusions, like vampires + sex = sales. Someone noted that almost all the books in this category have a normal heroine finding a supernatural lover, which makes sense from an author-wish-fulfillment standpoint. I can’t think of anything I’ve read with those roles reversed except for Staying Dead (which I highly recommend, btw) and a couple of the Samaria books.
The GOH interview with Sharon Shinn was intriguing. Among other things, she mentioned that she has a mountain of unpublished work—more than she has published. Among these is a contemporary romance. I’m not the only one who read Jennifer Crusie and immediately said “I must write like this!” That book’s probably trunked but she might try another one. She writes very, very fast – about eight pages a night after the full-time day job. (The interviewers, Kay Kenyon and Louise Marley, were aghast.)
Oh yes, and she’s another Buffy/Angel/Firefly fan. Anyone done a study on Joss as a virus?
There was a panel on what good books have come out this year so far. I have notes, although I only bothered to write down the titles that interested me. I’ll post it in a little while. Everyone is looking forward to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, although most people seem to have heard vague rumors and not read the New York Times magazine or the Time article. Insular little world we have here. Several people in the room seemed bewildered by the paranormal romance trend. This after years of wondering why more women aren’t attracted to SF. [facepalm]
I stopped by the ConDFW room party for a while. The con is a little off its stride this year thanks to the server meltdown in March and the guest relations officer being distracted by that whole wedding thing. Anyway, they’ve lined up Steven Brust as the GOH, which means I really must read something of his soon.
The readings I went to were wonderful. Sharon Shinn, Charlaine Harris, and Barbara Hambly all read unpublished things that everyone loved. Charlaine’s hilarious story is in Powers of Detection in October; I don’t know about the rest.
Digression: the people at the readings were impossibly rude. Sharon Shinn in particular is soft-spoken; I was horrified when a couple came in halfway through her reading, pulled out chairs, rattled around in grocery sacks, pulled out candy and sodas, tore open the (loud) wrappers, and popped their soda cans. Honestly. They couldn’t have done all that in the hall? The lady in the back with the two-month-old baby made far less noise through all three readings (back to back!) than these two did in five minutes. Yes, I have become a curmudgeon. RATTLE YOUR SNACKS OUTSIDE! Jesus. Also, when an author politely declines to discuss a particular topic, it’s best to move on rather than continuing the discouraged line of questioning.
The dealer’s room was typically good; stuffed with book dealers, just the way I like it. Frank was there giving massages, so we said hi. I was on a mission to find a couple of things, most of which never turned up. At least I found the book Mike wanted. (Thank you, ACS.) I snatched up the new Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and made it through part of the introductions over lunch. The only thing I found odd, though I agreed with their sentiments wholeheartedly, is that Link & Grant spent a small but noticeable portion of their word count on the graphic design shortcomings of small press publications. (If you are part of a small press pub and those comments stung a little, treat yourself to a copy of The Non-Designer’s Design Book. Really. It’s a tiny book, and very painless.) As I said, I agree—and both Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the Small Beer books have great designs—but the commentary seemed out of place.
I’m sure there was more, but I can’t remember what at the moment and this entry is already much too long. I’ll try to post that reading list later tonight.