At this point I’ve been to several Texas conventions, plus one World Fantasy Con* (in Calgary). The last WorldCon I went to was in 1997, also in San Antonio. It was a blast. John Norman (Gor) was there, in all his controversial, unrepentent glory. I met Jim Van Pelt there too, though I doubt he remembers me (Hi, Jim!). I only had one day since the kids were small and my husband worked weekends, so my sister-in-law watched the little ‘uns so I could try my best at networking, but even so, it was a great day.

I’ve been to a lot of conventions since then, but I had only been to a handful of cons before that. Even though I played D&D in high school and college, cons were outside of my realm of experience. That is, until HatCon, in Danbury Connecticut, in the mid-1980s.

I dressed up in faux RenFair (prairie skirt, elf boots –cute suede ankle boots — ruffled peasant blouse) and I meekly carried around a folder of my scribbled short stories and waited for Shawna McCarthy (Note: does anyone have a better reference? This is woefully out of date, and Shawna’s agency doesn’t appear to have a website) to ask to see them…. I talked to her a bit about becoming an editor, and she was kind and talked to me, but what I really wanted her to do was ask about the battered folder. And she never did, because she has a fine sense of self-preservation.

There was filking and an art show, a costume show, and people sleeping in the hallways, and panels, though I remember none of the content. I went with a friend (hi, Paul!) and he was there for gaming, so we sort of split up and took separate paths, and it was the best thing ever.

Sigh. So young. So innocent. I wrote many of those stories in high school and college for my friends. They were D&D adventures, fanfic, fantasy, science fiction, all labors of love, all meticulously typed on onionskin or handwritten on lined notebook paper. Oh! The one about the me who owned a castle in Ireland and going into a fairie mound to rescue my changeling child! I wish I still had that one, but it was sacrificed to the gods of moving, which claim their tribute,  but I have a few others, including the dying Earth story, the Mars horror story, a kick-ASS Han Solo fanfic (I wrote a lot of that), the spunky princess story (a few of those), the soulful orc story (D&D)…

Children, don’t throw away anything. Clear? (Disclaimer: I do not and never will condone hoarding.)

The next convention I’ve forgotten the name of. It was in Austin, and I had only been here about a year, so late 80s, maybe 89? It was at the Driskill Hotel, and I don’t think it was an ArmadilloCon. But Bob Asprin was there (Mythadventures! Thieves World!) and Lynn Abbey and I think GRR Martin. Wow, it was like royalty. I didn’t dress up that time but there was a costume contest, and a blonde wearing an old wedding dress rescued from Goodwill won, just like in Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun.

It was several years later before I went to an ArmadilloCon and became a regular. Then it became like an annual reunion with my people. My husband and children aren’t into spec-fic, which has its pros and cons (another blog topic for another time).  I’m a veteran now. But it’s different going as a writer. It’s work. Even if I am not on panels, I’m always “on.” It happens to be work that I enjoy though so that’s okay.

And to think it all started at HatCon, a little convention in Danbury, Connecticut.

What was your first con? What was that experience like?


*Note: I totally forgot WFC in Corpus Christi in 2000, WFC in Austin in 2006 (thanks to Martin Owton for the reminder), and EasterCon in London in 2010.






Martin Owton · July 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

My first con was Eastercon 1996 (I think). I bought a day ticket and remember being totally overwhelmed by the acreage of books in the dealers room.

Patrice Sarath · July 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

Did you also have that feeling that you were among your tribe? I remember just being like, I know these people. These are my people.

Beth · August 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hm. It might have been a Star Trek con in about ’78 or ’79 in New York. I want to say Koenig & Nichols & Takei were guests, and I fell in with a crew of Star Wars fans doing what would now be called Cosplay, because the character I’d come as fit in with their ‘storyline’. I was Vader’s daughter, Luke’s half-sister, and had turned to the dark side – you could tell by my black leotard and the black boots from my Star Trek uniform. (Sigh….) It was definitely my tribe, and I would give my eyeteeth to reconnect with some of those folks (well, and to fit back into that costume again!)

Patrice Sarath · August 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

That is a most excellent memory. What a great con experience.

One of my favorite Star Trek convention memories was getting an autograph from Walter Koenig when I was pregnant with my daughter and was pretty huge. He congratulated me kindly on my expectant state. I always felt we had a moment.

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