Categories
Conventions Rant

Boskone:Doing it Right–Plus Pointers For Those Doing it Wrong

Geez, Boston. Got enough snow?

Boskone, or Snowkone, if you prefer, was everything I hope for in a convention.   I don’t like mentioning people, because I’ll leave someone out and feel bad, but the whole thing was a joy. I was very well taken care of by the convention, the panels were fun, and the weather wasn’t all that much of a problem except that too many people I wanted to hang out with couldn’t make it or could only make it for a while (I’m looking at YOU, @rnmelton). I missed saying hello to my old friend Vicki, and would have liked to have spent more time with Charlie Stross, but I can’t really complain. The VP dinner was a delight. Great good times. Thanks to everyone who made it so much fun.

I need to specifically mention the bio that Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote for me.  Some conventions seem to have abandoned the old tradition of finding someone to say nice things about you in the program book, and then laughing at you when you get flustered.  And since I’m on the subject of conventions, here are a few things that Certain Other Conventions can learn from Boskone (and Minicon, and Loscon, and many others who do it right). Some of these are from my experience, others from friends.

1. If you can’t afford to give your guest’s “+1” a free membership, you can’t afford the guest. This applies to GOHs, and to those invited to participate in programming in exchange for a membership. When you say, “We will give you a free membership, and give your friend a special reduced rate,” you look like you’re in over your heads, and many of us worry about being trapped at a convention that is going to fall apart. (Some of us have been to those, and failed to enjoy them.)

2. If someone in your department, or in another department, is screwing up, do not try to enlist the guest on your side of the political infight this has produced within your convention committee. If you aren’t all working together in perfect harmony, fake it.

3. The thing of offering the GOH a choice between giving a speech and being interviewed is relatively new, and awfully nice. (Thanks, Jo–that interview was a high point of a great weekend.) But if the GOH must give a speech, let him or her know about it. Preferably before the convention.

3.1. Heads-up: A panel with one person on it is called a “speech.” See above.

4. Do not ask the guest to write a free story or draw a free picture or whatever, even for charity. (I’m a little embarrassed to mention this one, because after feeling all put-upon by one convention that asked me to do that, I developed some major health problems, and the next year I was the charity. It was extraordinarily kind, and I still have warm thoughts about them. But still. You ought not to do it. Or at least, make sure the guest knows about it before accepting.)

5. Checking the guest into the hotel before he or she even arrives is not required, but, oh my god, it is wonderful when it happens. I mean, Cesare H. Tapdancing Borgia, is it nice! You get to the hotel, exhausted, stressed, worried that you’re going to suck as a GOH, and someone walks up to you and says, “Here’s your key. Go to your room and chill out. Want help with your bags?” Until you’ve been in that situation, you have no idea just how big a deal that is.

6. First thing, even before the room, make sure the guest knows where meals and such are coming from–ie, if you’re supplying a per diem, put it in the guest’s hand before he or she has to ask; if the charges can go to the room, say so. This is to save embarrassment. Some of us feel really weird saying, “So, um, I’m hungry. Can you, er, buy me a meal?”

6.1 ETA: This is more of a note-to-self to check on it before accepting an invitation, but, if you’re offering a per diem, make sure it is actually enough to feed the GOH and any guest for the time you’ve asked them to be there.

7. Having a programming questionnaire that includes things like, “what events do you not want to be against,” and, “who do you want to do panels with,” and, “who do you not want to be panels with” is also relatively new, and a very fine thing that saves a lot of irritation. For the record, there was no one at Boskone that I asked not to do a panel with, but I very much appreciated being asked.

8. After the convention, if the guest didn’t suck, say so. I mean, give us a bit of reassurance. You would be amazed at how insecure we can be. “They hated me,” we say to ourselves. “I was stupid on panels, and didn’t talk to enough people, and they really wish they’d invited Jerry Pournelle instead.” (To be fair, as a guest, you should do the same–if they ran a good convention, like Boskone did, tell them so. Hey, Boskone, you rock!)

 

Categories
Conventions Jen travel

A Note

Dearest Steven,

I write to you in the form of a draft blog post as a reminder to us both that we ought to be publicizing your upcoming convention and festival appearances, and further, that such public-facing mentions of same should be cheery, perhaps even excited, in tone–though it wouldn’t do to be crass–and must additionally give all relevant details and links for the appearances in question.

I am certain that your mind, which, being fair, nimble, and concise enough to amass the many fans who at this time are doubtless waiting with bated breath for news of your public appearances, could produce a note which accomplishes the goals outlined above with the effort of a mere moment.

Until such time as we can enjoy the satisfaction of pressing “Publish” on that happy post, I remain your affectionate,

Jen

*****************

I cannot but admit to the extreme justice of your observation. As my plans for travel come close, it may be that someone who reads this would be interested in learning where I intend to be, and, just as much, when I intend to be there.

Believe me when I say that your kindness in taking on the burden of disseminating the details of these plans is not unappreciated.

-skzb

*****************

I would be rather more a poor than a humble servant were I to balk at such a pleasurable task as delineating a schedule, but I fear I must dare so far as to disagree with you on one point, and that solitary point is, as you must have already guessed, the word ‘burden’. Such a word, applied in this instance, implies that it would be weighty or difficult to do so. Yet, merely by working through the night shifting data, crafting links, and dyeing pixels to your usual specifications, I have already queued the relevant information and appended it to this very missive.

  • Boskone, February 13-15 in Boston, MA. [link] Take note that Friday afternoon program items are open to the public.
  • Minicon 50 & Cats Laughing Reunion, April 2-5, in Bloomington, MN. [link] [Cats link] Concert is planned for Friday.
  • Fox Cities Book Festival, April 20-26, 2015, Appleton, WI. [link] Steve is currently scheduled for Thursday evening.

Now I must beg you not to waste a moment of your precious time or energy in any unnecessary displays of gratitude, as I assure you, it was no trouble whatsoever.

-Jen

*****************

The Horse! This is astonishing! And only your remonstrance–to ignore which would, under the circumstances, be the height of inconsideration–prevents me from using all of my hard-won, long-practiced, and well-cherished eloquence to express the profound degree of gratitude, and, moreover, admiration, that the splendid, timely, and elegant completion of this task has inspired in me.

-skzb

Categories
Conventions travel

Worldcon–a Vague Gesture Toward a Report

Only my second ever Worldcon.  It was hot, and stepping outside to smoke was no more pleasant than you’d think; but I had my e-cigarette, which helped.  Parking was a pain in the arse, and food was way too expensive.  Okay, that about concludes my bitching.

It was great seeing old friends, and meeting people I only knew from online.  And sorry to those of you I omit from the following; I’m just hitting a few things.

Friday Aug. 30, noon, Autographing session (Convention Center)

This is the first time I’ve ever filled out the whole hour without running out of people wanting things signed.  And everyone was really nice.  It was fun.

Friday Aug. 30, 3pm, Steven Brust concert (Ballroom A, Convention Center)

Better than expected; I think I pleased the audience.  Turn-out was fair, though the room was so big it didn’t necessarily feel like it.  But I didn’t horribly blow it.

Later, I sat in for a couple of songs on drum with my old friend John Purcell; had a good time with that, then dashed out for a smoke.

Friday Aug. 30 9PM Control of a long series. 106B Convention Center

The best of the three panels I was on. I think we all had interesting things to say, and there was even some mild disagreement here and there, which always adds spice (strong disagreement adds even more spice, but you can’t have everything).  Everyone was smart, and useful things were discussed.  Bear kept good control of the panel, and never had to clobber me.  Very hard.

Tor Party Friday Night.

Fun, but didn’t stay long.  The high point was Mary Robinette Kowal doing a private reading of part of The Incrementalists.  SO GOOD! SO GEEKED.  SQUEEEEEE.

Saturday Aug. 31, 5pm, Panel “The Enduring Popularity of Firefly” (006CD Convention Center)

About what you’d expect: We love Firefly, we hate that it was cancelled, it’ll probably never be back, but let’s not give up hope.  Same as every other Firefly panel.  But it was okay, because, well, I love Firefly, and the other panelists were fun.

Saturday Aug. 31, 7pm?-? Drinks With Authors (Ernie’s Bar, behind Rivercenter)

Long, long lines to get a drink.  I don’t think the organizers expected the turnout.  Went with Jen, and Skyler, and her friend Karen, and I looked pretty good surrounded by hot babes.  I could get used to this.

Jo Walton’s party Saturday Night

Small, but a hoot.  Great music by PNH and Sassafrass.

Sunday Sept. 1, noon, Panel “Space is Really the Old West” (101B Convention Center)

One of the panels where the moderator has a list of questions and is by God going to stay on track with them no matter how interesting the discussion that she has to cut off.  Still, smart people on that panel, and I enjoyed exchanging thoughts with them.

Sunday Sept. 1, 2pm, Koffeeklatsch (Riverview Room, Riverwalk)

Really, really fun.  A small group of Smart People, and I got to hold court (I have a terrible weakness for that, but I feel like with something like this I can indulge it without guilt).  One brought 41-year-old single malt that was amazing.  The low point was when I wanted to try adding a couple of drops of water to it and I got sloppy and added too much, ruining that glass.  Sad.  But there were more glasses of it, so all was well in the end.  Really, really fun time.

Sunday Sept. 1, 4pm, Reading with Skyler White (002A Convention Center)

High point of the convention, I think–I just LOVE reading from The Incrementalists with Skyler.  We started at the beginning and got into the third chapter.  Then we went to the bar where Jeff Lowrey kindly bought us a pitcher of sangria and we read some more.  Fun, fun.

Hugos

We went back to our hotel to enjoy air conditioning and followed the twitter feed, and Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal,  PNH, and Scalzi won Hugos, so, like, what can be bad about that?

Monday

Hung out with PNH and TNH and L. E. Modesitt, Jr. and John Chu.  Got to congratulate Sczali in person, and tell Robert Silverberg my Robert Silverberg story.  Then we drove to Austin.

 

Categories
Conventions

Convolution – Saturday

Another delightful day at Convolution in San Francisco.  It started with a friend (James) buying us breakfast, always appreciated; then got better.  Hung out with James and Cat and Chris and Trish a lot, talking about Books & Shit.  Did a panel series novels, then one on story telling.  The story telling panel was especially good.  And we came up with an idea to control the thing that most annoys me on panels:

Appoint an official timekeeper.  The job of the timekeeper is to burst out with the current time of day any time a panelist says, “Well, in my book…”    Yeah, I know; I’m old and crotchety.  Deal with it.

Did a hot tub reading (like in the old days at Minicon), but, alas, hardly anyone showed up.  Then, much later, did a reading of Paarfirotica in my room–Chris doing the dramatic reading.  Poor James isn’t a Paarfi fan.  We watched him writhe in agony.  We’d have felt bad for him if we could have stopped laughing at him long enough.

Interestingly, this doesn’t feel at all like a first-year convention.  The organization is solid, and things flow nicely.  Later, I’m hoping to meet Peter Beagle.  Having a blast.  Wish you were here.

 

Categories
Conventions

Convolution–Friday

Been having a wonderful time.  Read the new short story, and it seemed to be well received.  There was a charity poker game at which I played well in spite of the Karaoke in the background.  Hung out with Jen, Chris, Cat, James, and Trish, talking about writing and stuff, and read them some of the new book because I’m kind of nuts about it and can’t help myself.  The people running the convention appear to know what they’re doing–at least, any problems haven’t appeared on my radar.   Breakfast time.

<Insert inflammatory yet fascinating political analysis sufficient to start heated discussion>