Monday, May 20, 2013

Nebula Awards Weekend 2013

This weekend, I flew to San Jose, California, for Nebula Awards Weekend. Vessel was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and I was not missing out on the free unicorns. (As everyone knows, all award nominees automatically receive three free unicorns. If you show up, you are given the ones that are housebroken. If you don't, they ship you the leftover unicorns, and believe me, the bill for cleaning rainbows out of carpets is HUGE.)

Seriously though, I was -- and am -- so thrilled and honored that Vessel was nominated, and I was delighted to be able to attend.

I arrived late on Thursday night and woke up on Friday bright, chipper, and ready to say hello, hello, hello to people... at 4am. (Or at least that's the time the crazy west-coast clock said it was.  My east-coast body begged to differ...) I tried again at 6am. And then at 7am. And then 8am... at which point my paranoid side started to whisper maybe I was in the wrong hotel or the wrong state or had the wrong weekend, but then I spotted some people that I knew and all was well with the world, at least until I trotted off in search of registration and walked straight into a dental hygiene seminar. Sadly, they did not have any unicorns.

Anyway, I found my badge eventually, and then I viewed a mummified fish, joined a posse, got pinned, got photographed, got dressed up, and ate a salad while waving at my husband on the other side of the country. In that order.

I didn't see much of San Jose on this trip, but here is the view from my hotel room:

My one big trip out of the hotel was to tour the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. I went with a dozen other attendees in a stretch limo that boasted broken window controls, dusty glass decanters, and a dubious odor. We were fairly certain we were all going to die. Or be taken back in time to a 1980s prom. But we arrived safely at the Egyptian museum...

... where we saw a mummified fish...

... and toured a reproduction of a tomb, which was pretty much one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a museum. Once we were allowed off on our own, I promptly went back in and spent many lovely moments imagining it was real and that I was an ancient Egyptian.

Okay, that's not really true. I totally imagined I was the goddess Isis. She so rocks. Did you know she was one of the first kickass heroines? She quested through Egypt with her pack of awesome giant scorpions in search of the pieces of her slain husband's body. But I digress.

After the fish and the tomb came the posse.

The Friday night of Nebula Awards Weekend has always been my favorite part. It starts with a mass autographing at the hotel and concludes with the Nominee Reception. Not to be missed. This year, the Norton nominees who were there on Friday (Leah Bobet, Alethea Kontis, Eugene Myers, and me) claimed a table and formed the Norton posse. (Jenn Reese joined us on Saturday.) In all seriousness, they were a large part of what made the weekend great, and I adore them.

After a break for dinner with additional fabulous people, I went to the Nominee Reception, which was held in a room lit by green lights and decorated with glowing white roses. It also had exit signs near the floor, which Eugene claimed were there to guide crawling people in case of a fire, but I was convinced were there to guide the rescue hedgehogs in case of any emergency. For the record, Alethea agreed with me.

During the reception, the nominees were all awarded certificates and "Nebula Nominee" pins. Here's my snazzy certificate:

And we were taken into a non-green room for professional photographs of the entire group. The photographers told us to come back later if we wanted additional shots. I don't think they actually expected anyone to take them up on that, but the Norton posse is all about defying expectations. We returned and much fun was had taking all sorts of pictures.

We then returned to the reception for more discussion of hedgehogs, and I performed a maneuver not unlike Cinderella taking the unbroken glass slipper from her pocket and pulled my other two Norton nominee pins (from when Into the Wild and Ice were nominated) out of my purse and put all three on my badge. They make me very happy, and when else do I ever get the chance to wear them?

On Saturday, I again woke early (though thankfully not as insanely early as on Friday), and I did some writing. Appropriately, the artwork in the hotel room featured old typewriters. Here's my desk in the hotel room:

Saturday officially started with a SFWA Business Meeting, which I enjoyed. (I mean that seriously. The first thing I did after signing my first book contract was mail in my membership application to SFWA, and I enjoy being a member and doing memberly things.) Plus this meeting had lots of food.

I had my second interview of the weekend after that, a joint one with Leah Bobet (conducted by Carrie of the fabulous blogs Smart Bitches Read Trashy Books and Geek Girl in Love).  The first interview was for the SFWA website, and I believe it will be posted soon as a podcast.  Both interviews were really fun.

In the afternoon, Leah Bobet, Steven Gould, Eugene Myers, and I did a panel called "Writing for YA," which began with Steven demonstrating his skill with falling and rolling and included my oversharing the fact that as a child, I didn't realize that Bambi's mother died. I thought his parents had simply divorced and it was time for him to go live with his dad for a while.

And then at night... the banquet!

Time for my dress!  I’d actually starting regretting the fact that I’d gone with a cocktail dress rather than a ball gown or a floor-length evening gown for the banquet.  Alethea even kindly offered me a tiara to make me feel better -- thank you, Alethea! -- but I decided to stick with my own jewelry and once I put on my dress, I remembered why I'd picked it. It makes my eyes look totally Fremen blue.

I don't have any photos of the reception or the banquet itself, but there were many glorious dresses and tuxes and sparkles and sequins. Even Barry, Lawrence Schoen's little pet buffalo, was dressed up all dapper. I was seated at a great table filled with fabulous people, one of whom (thank you, Dawn!) was kind enough to discover for me that there was a live stream of the event. I promptly texted my husband back home, and he promptly found it and proceeded to watch all of us eat food for the next hour and a half.

I love that SFWA did the live stream. It made me feel like my husband was right there with me, and that made the whole evening extra special. Like the true professional I am, I of course waved and blew kisses at him via the video camera at every opportunity.

When they announce the awards, it really feels like the Oscars. They project the names of the nominees on a big screen and read the names, and it's all really exhilarating. Steven Gould introduced the Andre Norton Award, and it was a lovely intro. He read the opening lines of a dozen classic MG/YA novels, and those sentences alone said everything. They encapsulate why YA and all of children's literature is important: because it touches that bit of you that is eternally young and full of wonder. I think he's planning to post it online soon, and I dare you to read that list and not be filled with memories.

In the end, I didn't win. The winner of this year's Andre Norton Award was Eugene Myers for Fair Coin from Pyr. But I am really, really thrilled for Eugene! He's a great guy, and it's a great book. (I blurbed it, in fact.) Yay, Eugene!

And I'd like to say congratulations to all the winners:

Kim Stanley Robinson (Nebula for Best Novel)
Nancy Kress (Nebula for Best Novella)
Andy Duncan (Nebula for Best Novellette)
Aliette de Bodard (Nebula for Best Short Story)
Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Abilar (Ray Bradbury Award)
E.C. Myers (Andre Norton Award)
Gene Wolfe (Grand Master Award)
Ginjer Buchanan (Solistice Award)
Carl Sagan (Solistice Award)
Michael H. Payne (Service to SFWA Award)

*cheers, applauds, and does Snoopy Dance*

It was really so much fun to be a part of this event. I had such a big smile on my face through the whole thing that after the ceremony, Robert Silverberg (the MC) said to me, "You should win a Nebula for your smile. It lights up the room," which only served to make me smile all the more.

Thank you to SFWA and to all the organizers and volunteers who made the Nebula Weekend possible. I had a fantastic time! And I love my three unicorns.

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At 9:19 AM, Blogger LinWash said...

Sarah, thanks for that account. (Love your dress by the way.) Congrats on your nomination. Another well deserved one!

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Jennavier Gilbert said...

Sounds like fun! You did your fans proud:)

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Jazz said...

Fabulous report. I watched most of the ceremony itself via lifestream and was keeping my fingers crossed for you. At least you got the housetrained unicorns and another cool pin.

Fremen blue eyes. Yup.


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