ConQuest 44, another memory of Kansas City...
Mark here, folks, with a few thoughts about ConQuest44.
For those who read or view this blog and were there, well done! Having the amazing GRRM show up and basically dominate the proceedings, but in such a postive, almost unobtrusive way, really made the whole weekend special.
And it was so very special. I got to spend some more quality time with my other extended family, and it really felt that way, too, even when we tried to find our way downtown in three cars over three or four different highways. Hey, we only missed two exits...
I really enjoyed being in the back seat of the Frank-Mobile. So much for clarity, but this is partly my blog, and I'm allowed an inside joke once in awhile.
The Tolkien night at Eve Brackenbury's wonderful bookstore was a blast. Readings, food, fun and instruction were had by all. The HRB family got to meet a new group of fans, and we had a ripping good time interacting. Frankly, I think we might have found our 'voice' should we ever decide to branch our brand into audio books. I'm not joking, Micah!
The Con was MUCH better attended this year, for obvious reasons (see above) but also because "we" were there. HRB is growing nicely and had many authors, friends and contributors attending. We tended to move in a wave of IQ and casual cool through the hallways and meeting rooms. We coulda been a contenda' in Westside Story, jus' sayin'!
I was gratified that all the panels Karin, Terri and I moderated or served on were so well-attended. There seemed to be a steady stream of interested folks full of interesting comments and questions. I look forward to getting on more panels next year. This was my second Con of the year (see that earlier, tortured post about Norwescon) and third over-all, and it felt great. Conquest has its own relaxed vibe that makes it easy to interact. And that is as it should be, obviously. Folks in our genre of the shelf need to stick together for the good of the order. It felt great to recognize people by name and share a quick word, beverage (cue THE James Burke and his flask of slivovitz-something-or-other) or greeting (cue Selina Rosen about a dozen times!). I found myself at the end of the weekend hugging my dear friends goodbye and reflecting on just how cool this experience was. And, hey, we get to do it again next year, and it will feel like next week because that is just how we do things.
Of course, one of the highlights for me was the launch party for my second novel, King's Gambit (artwork by the dynamic and riveting Tom Vandeberg, the man who can talk to ANYBODY--and he does killer cover art, too! The guy should have his own talk show. Be afraid, Chelsea Handler, be very afraid). Eric and his lovely wife Nancy brought books and cake and we had a two hour HRB showcase and ME! I have to admit, it felt pretty good being the center of attention for part of the proceedings. The words came easily and the applause at least sounded genuine. But what struck me most about the experience was the collective power of the other writers from the HRB family who attended. The brain power in that room sent off undulating waves of talent and empathy that actually raised the temperature in the room to near comfortable (another inside joke, roll with it). All the readings were well-received by the audience--and that was AFTER they got cake!
Good times. No,GREAT times...
I realize this post has trended to the silly--especially when compared to the tone my posts usually take, but I feel it is appropriate this time. People came to the Con. They flocked to hear Martin read in that wonderful voice of his--the rumble of a man who dreams in rhythm. Really. I have my opinions about the over-wrought thing that has become the GoT saga, but the fact is the man is having an absolutely wonderful time spinning this thing out for his audience. He is creating the most viable franchise in the genre since Tolkien's Middle Earth, and that can't hurt. I took tons of notes during the times I heard him speak/read, but I think I will save them for another post. For me, this weekend was all about connecting with friends and books and words and thoughts and the wonderful qualities one can find in Denny's coffee if one adds enough cream and sugar to the brew.
King's Gambit is officially out now and available. Thank you to those who grabbed copies and graciously asked me to sign them; I hope the words were legible. Tom Vandenberg will be up soon with another blog post about the evolution of the cover. He is also doing Karin Rita Gastreich's sequal to Eolyn, High Maga. If what I heard this weekend is any indication, that book is going to rock its audience. Count on it.
Suffice it to say that for me ConQuest44 was an unqualified success. The Con-staff worked through some glitches, the hotel had its issues, but none of them seemed to dampen the mood. I heard a lot of laughter this weekend, and only part of it was mine! But most importantly, I am really happy I was able to spend so much quality time with Karin and Terri, two of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege to know, and with Eric Reynolds, the coolest publisher this side of the Mississippi.
I'm done for now. I realize there isn't much room here for responses, sorry, but I really wanted to update you all about how things went. And, boy, did they went...