Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gen Con Report: Day One: Safety Razor My Ass

This year's Gen Con really fucking hurt. Well, most of it was my own damn fault, but not what happened Thursday. And it wasn't just me, either. The Husband had his share of Gen Con agony.

So we get to our hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, around 3. It's about a block or two from the convention center where the bulk of Gen Con events are held. It's pretty swanky (see picture below) with a couch and a tiny fridge and everything. Sadly we weren't in there very much to appreciate the selection of cable channels, but they were probably all playing Law & Order reruns anyway.

Once there I reached into my suitcase front pocket to grab my lipstick. And you know what? The cover thing on my safety razor, which was also in that pocket, had somehow come off. OWOWOWOWOWOW. There was a great deal of blood and a great deal of stinging pain. I wrapped my poor index finger (on my right hand...and I'm right-handed) in a tissue and managed to button my dress one-left-handed, which takes mad skills. It seems I took a sizable chunk of skin off my finger (which makes me wonder what happened to the gouged-out flesh. Is it still in my suitcase pocket? I am afraid to look), so it was still bleeding when we went downstairs...and still bleeding when I asked the guy at the front desk for a band-aid. He provided one promptly and I put it on, preventing me from bleeding all over their lobby and leaving a trail to the convention center. Because neither rain nor snow nor hail nor gruesome hand injury will keep me from my Gen Con.

We arrived at the convention center about 4 p.m. and picked up our badges and tickets with no wait. There was a slight hitch because my husband uses his middle name, so what I put on his tickets didn't match up with his license, but they let us go...this time. What? I forget he has a real name sometimes since he never uses it.

We wandered about to refresh our memories from last year of where everything was, then met up with my friend Kimberly Goldstein (proprietor of Smoldering Wick designs). We headed to the food court in the attached mall for dinner- the last time that weekend I was able to find a vacant table there, and even on Thursday we had to sit back in the corner.

My first panel of the weekend was 6 p.m. Thursday, Read and Critique. How this works: a group of writers gather in front of a panel of authors/editors. They have 3-5 minutes to read a piece they've written, and then the authors/editors tear them to shreds. It's awesome.

No, seriously. As a writer, you have to crave criticism. It's the only way to get better. Last year and this year I signed up for two Read & Critique sessions at Gen Con. Last year they were free; this year they were $4 apiece, which I didn't mind. The only problem was that at the Thursday session, one of the four panelists was a no-show, and one of the remaining three had been double-booked and had to leave only an hour or so in. So by the time they got to me, they were down two critics. I really like having a variety of opinions and suggestions and it was a little disappointing to lose two from the get-go. It wasn't the fault of the panelists or the Writers' Symposium but some sort of general scheduling glitch.

I brought a short story I have been having a LOT of trouble with. It's been revised half a dozen times and I'm still not happy with it, but at the Read & Critique I got some fresh perspective and solid advice. Since that was what I was after, I consider it a success. The session ended unusually early (while the program claims Read & Critiques run from 6-8:30, last year I didn't get out of either of mine before 10)- winding up right around 8:30. Certainly the small panel and their relentlessly keeping things on track helped a lot!

Shortly after meeting up with the Husband, we ran into Ed and Steph McWalters, who invited us out to dinner, and were shortly joined by Alex Mayo and Greg Harris. On the way to Buca di Beppo we came across some more friends of Alex, who also joined us for late munchies.

Buca di Beppo is a family-style restaurant, which means you order a bunch of crap and every passes it around. Thanks to this policy, and to everyone ordering large portions to share, we ended up with what can only be referred to as a metric fuckton of Italian food. And since I had eaten earlier, I didn't partake...much (except the garlic bread, bruschetta, carbonera-type pasta, and pizza). During dinner I was charmed by a conversation about the variety of ways hemorraghic viruses can kill you (Ebola FTW in that case). Even with such a large group, we ended up with pounds of leftovers, which we packed up and sent home with the only local, Greg. Hope his family enjoys Italian food.
The Husband and paused to check out the progress of Cardhalla- very impressive even on Day One- and staggered back to our swank hotel room where we watched a rerun of Law & Order and rested up for the next day.

Well, the Husband ended up waking with a pinched nerve in his neck, so he definitely didn't sleep, and I didn't much. But it didn't really impact Day Two. 

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