To those who borrow this book: If you don’t return it to Patrice, your hard drive will crash, losing the last two hours work on your project, which were the best thing you’d ever done. Also, your e-reader will fall off the counter into the toilet. And your cat will throw up in your favorite shoes. So just save yourself the trouble and RETURN THE BOOK. Sincerely, The Author

The aforementioned book curse was by Emma Bull, who so inscribed my new edition of War for the Oaks. I had loaned a previous copy to a friend, who moved out of state with it.

This was a high point of a con with with many high points. I know that crests imply troughs, but seriously, there were very few of those. Everywhere I went I heard people praising the programming and the panels. Truly one of the best literary science fiction conventions in the US, not just in Texas.

It does an author good to have people at his or her reading, and mine was nicely attended. I read the first two chapters of Miss Bennet, and then a bit from the middle section of Lady of Temia, and people laughed at the funny bits. I decided not to do the book signing, because while I love sitting and chatting with my author friends, I also wanted to see some more panels, so I went to the one on Imagining the World without Fossil Fuel. Matthew Bey rode up on his bike and it was a great visual. Thought-provoking panel with great back and forth among audience and many salient points. Also, I got to hear Martha Wells read from the second book in the Cloud Roads series (Books of the Raksura I believe is the official series title). Have I mentioned that if you love fantasy you need to read her books? You need to read her books.

The guest of honor interview with Paolo Bacigalupi went very well. I like an interview subject who loves to talk, and entertainingly and intelligently so. Paolo gives great interview. It was fun and absorbing and a lot of people said they enjoyed it. If I had thought ahead I might have seen about recording it, but oh well. If you get a chance to see Paolo at a convention or elsewhere, take it. He is thoughtful and engaging. I really enjoyed his follow up to Ship Breaker, called The Drowned Cities, which he read from on Sunday and I’m looking forward to that book when it comes out next May.

Likewise the panel of Strong Female Protagonists, which had insightful commentary from all the panelists, but especially Amanda Downum, who had thoughtful things to say about the fallacy of Writing the Other  — women and men are not necessarily the Other. And thinking of women as being somehow Other (or men, for that matter) is, well, demeaning.

The agent panel with Kimberly Frost was interesting and absorbing. Aspiring writers may think they desperately need an agent, or they may be troubled by the idea of having to think about the business side of writing. However, being informed and armed with proper information better enables a writer to navigate their career and achieve their goals. Be informed, people.

The WisCon panel, which discussed the disinvitation of Elizabeth Moon as Guest of Honor, was ably moderated by Emma Bull, but I am conflicted about some of the conclusions drawn by the panel, and even exactly why it had to be discussed. I’ve made my feelings clear here, and certainly don’t think shutting down discourse ever serves any purpose, but…I will process my inchoate impressions into cogent thought and discuss further in a single blog post.

A wonderful little surprise was a short film by Jessica Gardner based on William Browning Spencer’s short story, “A Child’s Christmas in Florida.” The film transferred the story to Texas, and it was lovely and heartwarming, and truly deeply weird. If you get a chance to see it at a film festival or other source, do. Extraordinary.

On Sunday, I was treated to Jessica Reisman‘s reading from her new novel, then put myself on the Guns in SF/F panel on account of researching and learning how to shoot for the gunrunning subplot of Gordath Wood, and then, even though I was scheduled to moderate the Learning to Write panel, I made everyone from that panel go to Emma Bull’s reading instead, on the grounds that we can TELL you all about books and writing classes, but the best way to learn to write is to learn from the masters. Emma Bull read from Claim, her sequel to Territory, and then talked about researching Territory and the shootout at OK Corral and the politics of the old West, and how they resonate in our psyche. Good stuff.

Excellent meals, marvelous parties, a wonderful mai-tai at Mark Finn’s party that I had to leave unfinished or I would be unfit to drive home. Good friends, good conversation, books, and more. I love my ArmadilloCon!


Aden · August 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

This was my favorite Armadillocon ever. Part of this is your “fault”. I was very glad to meet you and appreciate your help in the workshop. Also, thank you for introducing me to Emma Bull’s work. After the reading I bought Territory and she just happened to be signing!

It was a great weekend, and really jumpstarted my writing brain.

Patrice Sarath · August 29, 2011 at 8:22 am

I am so glad! That makes me very happy, that I could introduce you to one of my favorite authors!

This was a really great ArmadilloCon, I thought. Very high energy and engaging.

I am very pleased that we met and I’m happy that the workshop was so helpful. I think workshopping is so important for writers; not just for the feedback but for the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. Writing is solitary, so a strong community is especially important.

Thanks Aden, and see you next year (or at other conventions).

Audrey Lockwood · August 31, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I had such a great time this year! Best yet. Really great seeing you, and I particularly enjoyed our lunch. Thank you for that and for your encouragement and making me feel very at home. Already looking forward to next year.

Patrice Sarath · August 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I enjoyed lunch too, and also running across to Barnes & Noble to pick up Rosemary’s book — I really hope that girl bought it.

Looking forward to next year too!

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