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On Wednesday I posted something I’d written several months ago, so I decided to poke around in my draft file and see what else I’ve started only to leave rotting in the depths of my wordpress folders. I wrote this almost a year ago about my second adventure at FenCon. I decided to post it since FenCon 2013 is less than a month away. Oh, well. Here’s a trip back to last October when I took second place in the short story contest (that earned me a free membership for this years Con- yay!)…

Fencon banner

I’m writing this with blurry eyes and swollen feet. Ok, I know that’s not truly correct grammar and you’re picturing my fat toes typing away, but I’m too damn exhausted to revise, so just go with it.

I’m back from four days at FenCon. It was a lot of fun, but I’m paying the price for eating poorly, drinking the liquid evil called rum, not sleeping, and wearing a variety of hooker shoes. So forgive any mistakes here, but I wanted to give you the low-down on the experience and adventures that only I tend to stumble into.

Thursday night was the beginning of FenCon for myself, my BF (Machelle),critique group comrade and friend (Rachel), and a group of about 15 other writers taking part in a workshop being run by Karl Schroader (Canadian sci-fi author and damn smart dude). Class went fine and we were all released around 9pm to go sprinkle our geekiness on unsuspecting hotel patrons. That worked great for us, as there was a Lennox Air convention winding up at the hotel which ment there were lots of bored men ready to talk to anyone without a Y chromosome. We qualified under those lax standards and, despite the grandma-donut-bun my hair was in, we were showered in funny conversation and free drink cards (that enabled our drinking problems for the entire weekend). Here I’ll insert my shout-outs to Rocky, Fever, Denise and her fellow Ohio-an, and the one and only Scoot-ass (don’t ask, you really don’t want to know).

Friday: Day two of class went well and we became acquainted with some lovely folks including Tom, Belinda, Russ, and Don to name a few. Karl used my first chapter of Moonshine Ministry and my half-ass outline as an example. It was a lot of fun to get insight and suggestions from him and fellow classmates. I still have shell shock from my first novel and decided to approach this story using an outline and structure compared to my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach I usually take. I can’t say that I took a specific piece of advice, but there were a couple of things said that made the lightbulb go off and now I know exactly how to fix the issues I’m having with the plot. Thanks to the class and Karl for that.

Me with my certificate after the annoucncement. I still can't believe I danced in those shoes.

Me with my certificate after the annoucncement. I still can’t believe I danced in those shoes.

Friday night was the opening ceremony and I knew that I was receiving my award for my short story “The Vessel” and would have to look presentable. It’s not a formal affair but I opted for my Jessica Rabbit-lite dress instead of pajamas or a corset since we were going out to eat afterward (Kenny’s Woodfire Grill deserves an entire blog to itself). I was wearing some impressive stripper-esque kicks so I positioned myself on the aisle. After some intro bits, the music started and Peter David came dancing up the aisle singing “Red Shirt Riot” to the tune of “Zoot Suit Riot” (Star Trek fans will get that). It was hilarious until he stopped beside me and held out his hand. “Dance with me!” I smiled and jumped up there with him, but inside I was cursing my decision to wear hooker shoes and thanking my mom for teaching me the jitterbug.

In the end, I didn’t break my ankle but poor Peter managed to sprain his knee from trying to pivot on carpet while wearing tennis shoes. I got my award, met a real life astronaut, Dr. Love (no, really, that’s his name), and went to dinner. The rest of the evening was spent chatting in the hotel bar with the first place winner of th short story contest, authors like Candy Havens and Rachel Caine, and lots of attendees (fen). Overall it was a wonderful night.

Daleks need love too (but watch out for those plungers, they get a little "handsy").

Daleks need love too (but watch out for those plungers, they get a little “handsy”).

Saturday was spent in class and then roaming around in one of my many steampunk-lite outfits. I attended several symposiums and shopped in the dealers’ room. What I loved/love about the convention is that it is one giant geek fest and nobody is ashamed of how quirky/nerdy/freaky/strange/smart they are. I met several people who were open about having Aspergers or having kids with it. I would love to take my son because I know he would fit right in without other people thinking “he’s weird.” If they do think it, it’s a total complement in that arena. Hell, I met a man who passionately educated me about the carnivorous plants he grows. I’m not really into them, but I loved how much he loved them, and I learned something new.

My Cambria cosplay. I did crunches for weeks.

My Cambria cosplay. I did crunches for weeks.

Now, Saturday night is party night. The hotel creates the “geek floor” so we can all roam from room to room, meet people and be lured in by different conventions. Machelle and I always have a blast on those nights. We talk to all sorts of people, nibble on food, and drink more than we should. Mac dressed in a really cool steampunk/world travel ensemble and I wore my Cambria Simms outfit that was made for a book cover for another author. I liked the outfit because it involved combat boots instead of stripper heels. We hung out more with Rachel Caine, C.J. Cherryh (sci-fi legend and guest of honor), Teresa Patterson, and many more. The only uncomfortable/freaky thing we encountered was a self-proclaimed “furry.” I didn’t even know what that was, and I’m a “to each their own” kind of girl, but that freaked me out. This guy was on major drugs and at the wrong damn convention. Creepy.

Sunday morning came early. Mac and I had breakfast with our instructor, Karl, and then headed in for our last bit of workshop. After that we went to a panel that our new friends, Tom and Belinda, were hosting about critique groups. It was interesting but sometimes the “pro’s” get a little carried away and take over. I made a comment about being the second place winner and that when I got my judges critiques back they ran the spectrum of “Loved it! Must Publish!” to “You misused a semicolon on the first page and this isn’t very good.” My point was that it was good for me to get all of the feedback because it helped remind me that you can’t please everyone. IT WAS MEANT AS PRAISE. One panelist didn’t take it that way and immediately put on her pissing match panties. She’d been one of the first round readers and offered to give her critiques to people who were brave enough to take her harshness. I was waiting to get mine and she just kept hounding to me that she was a very hard “critiquer” and tough to please. I finally said, “I won second place. I can handle tough critiques.” She turned away (I guess she wanted to make me feel like I was dismissable) and said over her shoulder, “Well, I chose 52 Bicycles to win and I’m glad it did.”

Yeah, I know. I started looking around to see if I’d stepped into some wormhole that had dropped me into a middle school instead of a convention. Not sure what her issue was with me, but if she needs a place to put some of her “tough critiques” I have some suggestions for her. I felt even more assured that I’d written a competitive story when officials from the con actually stopped me to tell me that the judges were not unanimous in their decision and had gone to bat for me. That made me feel good, but, honestly, I was fine with second. REALLY! It was my first writing contest so second was just damn peachy to me.

To wrap this up, it was a great experience. Not as much fun as the year before when I hung out with Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine and took part in a Shared Desk podcast with Gail Carriger, but still damn fun.

Sunday: a tired but still jovial Peter David and myself.

Sunday: a tired but still jovial Peter David and myself.