In a word: overwhelming. I think there were several thousand more people than the last time I went, a few years ago.

Jessica Reisman and I drove down on Friday and got in, got our badges, ate something, and did a turn around the dealer room. Then she went to dinner with Nebula-award winner Martha Wells and I went to dinner with some lovely convention folks who had invited me to join them that night. We had a wonderful, far-ranging conversation, and then it was time to head out to Clear Lake to stay with our friend, Amy Sisson.

It’s been a long time since Amy and I have gotten together, so that was fabulous. She  has a clowder of cats who are as lovely and charming as she is, and OMG the kittens! We had a great time catching up.

The next day  was less auspicious. Jessica was sick and after an attempt to get to the convention center decided it was far better to simply stay at Amy’s curled up with cats. And so she did.

I got a late start, and missed my first panel, a literary roundtable, but made it to my signing at the Murder by the Book booth. I signed a few books, chatted with Martha, Seanan McGuire, and Carrie Patel, and then it was off for another turn around the dealer room, until hunger made try to find a food booth with the shortest line. On a Saturday. With 45,000 other people. Stop laughing. I did manage to scarf down a hotdog and a coke, and then it was time for my next panel, the critique session.

I read aloud from the first pages of some very intrepid authors, and we discussed their work. We ran long, and finished up at the tables in the hallway. I told them about the ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop, for which I had cleverly brought flyers, and I think some of them may make the trip to Austin for it. It’s the best workshop in Texas, and you can’t argue with its success. Alumni include Nicky Drayden, Stina Leicht, Marshall Ryan Maresca, J. Kathleen Cheney, and myself, among many other talented writers who have sold short stories and novels.

(Another attendee who hadn’t been at the critique panel came by as we were wrapping up, so I chatted with him a bit, and he may come to the workshop too. )

My final panel for the day was a lively discussion of magic systems and magic rules. Barbara Ann Wright, John Moore, Michael Wilson, Andi O’Connor, had a great time talking about how to create magic systems, whether rules are important or not, how pantsing or outlining impacts our use of magic in our books, and even if magic spells are necessary to a fantasy. Lots of great questions from the audience.

By then, though, I decided to forgo the Writers Meetup and instead headed back to Amy, Jessica, and the kitties. We stayed in, ordered takeout, and watched Thor: Ragnarok, and it was a relaxing and wonderful night.

We headed back to Austin on Sunday, and when I got home I took the best post-convention nap ever. It was epic.

Ephemera: Greeted DL Young in the dealer room on Friday, caught up with NASA Engineer and author Antha Adkins, visited with Bethe Ann Bugbee and her family,  saw a few celebrities at a distance, and, entirely randomly, ran into my nephew cosplaying Thanos.


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