Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Readercon Trip Report

Readercon was AWESOME. So awesome that I missed all but a single meal a day and nearly forgot to sleep on Saturday night. (This is unusual. I like sleeping and eating. Especially if it involves chocolate. Eating chocolate, I mean. But I digress.)

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about... Readercon is an annual fantasy and science fiction convention held outside of Boston that focuses exclusively on literature (in other words, no Stormtroopers were harmed in the making of this convention). I was a program participant and scheduled to appear on two panels, give a reading, sign autographs, and hold a kaffeeklatch (a "meet the author" hour). It's a small convention but extremely well-run.

OK, in no particular order, here are some of the things that made Readercon awesome:

The Name Badge. I LOVE having a participant badge. For Readercon, participants had an orange stripe at the top (other people had green or maybe it was blue -- I didn't even notice because I was far too enamored with my orange stripe). It's like wearing a sign that says, "Come talk to me!" Except if you actually wore such a sign, no one would really talk to you because you'd look like, well, totally crazy. Anyway, the orange stripe gave me the courage to talk with lots and lots of very awesome people.

Panels. I was on two panels at Readercon. I LOVE being on panels. I am the perky puppy of panels. I stare out into that audience and all I can think is, "People! Looking at me! Listening to me! Yay for people! I love people! You! I love you! I love you all!" I try very, very hard not to bounce up and down in my seat... which reminds me of the other cool thing about Readercon: instead of the normal chairs with a table in front of you, you have these comfy throne-like chairs, a coffee table, and microphones! It totally feels like you're on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton.

Me and Famous People Sitting in Comfy Chairs

Friday night, I was on a panel with Holly Black, Michael J. Daley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Sharyn November, and Elizabeth Wein called "Young (and Very Young) Adult F&SF," in which I revealed that I began working toward publication at age ten after becoming increasingly concerned that I was double-digits and still lacked a career goal. And Sunday, I was on a panel with Steve Berman, Holly Black, Kelly Link, and Sharyn November called "After Rowling and Pullman," in which I revealed that I like fantasy books because I want to wake up one morning and discover I'm really the Princess of Unicorns.

Don't judge me.

Autographing Session. This was the very first convention where my book was sold in the Dealer's Room (yay!) and the very first convention where I had an autographing session (double-yay!). My autographing session was with Elizabeth Wein, a YA fantasy writer who is extremely nice and such a pleasure to talk with. Here's a photo of me at my signing with purple pen in hand. (You can't see the lovely orange stripe on my name badge because it's turned around, but I swear it's there.)

Me at my Autographing Session (photo courtesy of Ellen Datlow)

In terms of actual book sales in the aforementioned Dealer's Room... my books sold out twice, and the bookseller had to get more. This made me a very, very happy puppy. :)

Kaffeeklatsch. I had steeled myself for no one to show up to my kaffeeklatsch. After all, INTO THE WILD just came out. Who would come? I'd decided that if no one showed, I'd just call my husband on the cell phone so at least someone would talk to me. [sniff, sniff, whimper] But people came! Michael and Nomi Burstein, Ryan Freebern, and other awesome people who I'd just met that weekend... I had a full table! We even needed to pull over an extra chair. And we had a very cool conversation about fairy tales. The hour flew by.

Meet the Pros(e) Party and Mafia. On Friday night, Readercon holds an event called the "Meet the Pros(e) Party" where all the participating authors have a sheet of stickers with a single line from their novel or story written on it, and everyone else has a sheet of wax paper. You're supposed to go around and collect as many sentences as you can. I used the first sentence from INTO THE WILD: "In the darkness, the heart of the fairy tale waited..." Got to meet many awesome people. (Yes, "awesome" is my word of the day. Feel free to substitute in another superlative as you read if the redundancy bothers you.)

On Saturday night, I participated in a game called Mafia, in which a bunch of people are designated... okay, I'm not going to explain the rules here. Google it if you're interested. Anyway, it was entirely Nina Kiriki Hoffman's fault that I played. And Holly Black too. Since I'd never played before, they both felt it necessary to my full-convention experience. Peer pressure was used. But I've forgiven them since it was fun and I met many (yes, the word is coming again) awesome people.

Lots of Awesome People. The person with whom I spent the most time at the convention was Holly Black. She pretty much defines awesome -- fun, smart, sweet. I'm very happy that I got to spend time with her. I also got to chat for a bit with Wen Spencer, author of the very cool TINKER books. I met her at a Boskone a number of years ago, and she's really great. Also talked several times with Victoria McManus, Laura Anne Gilman, Jim Freund -- all super-nice and super-fabulous people. And Steve Berman, who is both sweet and hilarious.

Holly and Me

I am not even going to attempt to mention everyone who I talked to. Emboldened by the orange stripe on my name badge, I pretty much talked with anyone who was foolish enough to meet my eyes, including a few who weren't even connected to the convention but were merely unlucky enough to step into the elevator with me. Except the clown. I did not talk with the man dressed as a clown in the elevator. Clowns in elevators kind of freak me out.

Anyway, if I met you at Readercon... so great to meet you! You're awesome!

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At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look so insane there.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Yeah, but in a good way... :)

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great first con as a pro. I hope there was some ambitious young writer in the audience taking notes. :)


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Wow, sounds fabulous!

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say that it's incredibly silly to imagine you'll wake up one day and find you're princess of the unicorns.

Because when the unicorns finally acknowledge their princess, it's gonna be me.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Ryan Freebern said...

It was great seeing you too! I had a fun weekend.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Sean: You're so sweet. Thanks!

Erin: It was totally fabulous. I've clipped my name badge to my desk lamp so that I can look at my Orange Stripe of Glory all the time.

Janni: Okay, but then I get to be Queen of Dragons. (Nice telepathic dragons, not grumpy hoard-protecting dragons.)

Ryan: Ditto! Hope to see you again at an upcoming convention.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Ryan Freebern said...

BTW, I just glanced at your sidebar. It needs to be updated! It still says ItW "will be published in summer 2007" and stuff.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was marvelous to see you bring out Holly's insanity.


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