My WorldCon, Hugo Awards & GRRM-Tapping Experiences

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I had so much damn fun at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane! Where the hell do I start? I definitely went to the convention to promote my Kickstarter for The Alchemist’s Theorem, but all I had to do was put my stack of mini Moo cards down on the freebies table and let them hand themselves out. So I ended up spending the majority of my time having fun meeting great people and attending wicked cool events, like 47North’s meet and greet, the Hugo Awards, and George R. R. Martin’s secret Hugo losers party.

We immediately met up with Brooks’ long-time, bestest friend Craig Engler. Whenever Craig and I don’t have Brooks around as our linchpin to the trio, we actually do just fine because we can always talk about TV. I love talking about TV with Craig because he worked for the SyFy channel and he is now the co-creator of Z-Nation. I thoroughly enjoy picking his brain about the crazy business that is television. We also talk a lot about self-publishing since Craig is publishing his Weight Hacking book himself. The three of us didn’t link arms and skip around the convention, but we might as well have since we did a ton of fun stuff together.

We got to hang out with Brooks’ friends Liza Trombi, editor-in-chief of Locus Magazine, and science fiction author Daryl Gregory (they are a witty, fun pair to hangout with). Craig did a cool thing and brought up the proof of my book and suggested Liza see it. She gave it a good inspection and hopefully it passed. He also brought up The Alchemist’s Theorem when we had breakfast with illustrator Gregory Manchess and Tor Books creative director Irene Gallo (the nicest souls).  We had a long, leisurely breakfast together and it was the most pleasant encounter of the entire trip.

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Whenever I showed my book to industry people, I always respectfully tacked onto the conversation how I am choosing to self-publish and intentionally avoiding traditional publishing. I hesitated at first to show my book to anyone in the publishing business because if I were to get an offer, I might be tempted to take it. I am pretty destitute right now so I would definitely drool a little over a figure of any significance, but I am more determined than ever to do it on my own and figure out a workable model for authors who have an entrepreneurial side.

The great side effect of advertising my desire to self-publish is that it takes the tension and awkwardness out of the conversation. There are SO many writers out there trying to get their work published, and only so many industry people. There can be some uncomfortable moments when the two sides come together. Instead of the awkwardness, I got to enthusiastically share my project with people like a proud parent showing baby pictures. And in return I got a lot of praise and encouragement, which can go a long, long way for an author.

We got to attend 47North’s meet and greet, and I met Alex Carr, editorial director at Amazon Publishing. It was the publishing party of WorldCon. Lots of authors and FREE books. I snagged a copy of [R]evolution, the cover art is beautiful! I also got to hangout with Alex at another party on Saturday. We chatted about the industry a bit. I showed him the book and he showered me with compliments. Great guy!

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On Saturday, the Hugo Awards happened. Craig, Brooks and I attended, dressed in our snazzy clothes. Because of the Sad Puppies and their puppygate campaign, a lot of anticipation had been built up for the ceremony. Wired covered the controversy and the outcome of the event. I have to say that I was definitely riled up when the whole thing happened, but I didn’t worry about the outcome much. As an anthropologist and behaviorist, I am trained to see predictable patterns within animal behavior. After watching gamergate happen, and seeing how so much activism rose up and fought back, making the voices of bigotry less and less effective, and establishing progress in small but important steps, I estimated that the same thing would happen again in this case. And it did!

It was an incredible night. WorldCon and the Hugo Awards broke records and set precedents. During the convention, I didn’t see any hostility or bigotry. All I saw were many long-time friends coming together and supporting the genre community. There was a swell of compassion and positivity. Everyone was getting emotionally high off of it, myself included. David Gerrold, who wrote “The Trouble with Tribbles” classic Star Trek episode, hosted the ceremony with Tananarive Due. They were hilarious, witty and charming. When all of the puppy slates were announced, everyone clapped politely, and when the “No Awards” were announced everyone cheered victoriously. Two translated works won Hugo awards, which was an important first for the genre. Some of the acceptance speeches were emotional, some were powerful, and many were damn witty. I loved the whole damn thing, start to finish.

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After the awards, Brooks and I were able to attend George R. R. Martin’s secret Hugo losers party via Craig’s invitation. It was in an old mansion and had a live band, piles of food, and fancy drinks. George threw the party so he could give out his own Alfie awards to the people who got kicked off the Hugo nominations because of the puppy slates. The event stirred up a lot of emotion, and the Alfie winners showed deep gratitude. I was amazed that I got to be there and participate in the victory.

I also made sure I got a selfie with George. I had to chase him around a table and down a hallway to get it though. He was leaving the room, and Brooks and Craig were ready to go home so I had to hurry. I kept gently tapping his shoulder, but a tap from a tiny person like me probably feels like an annoying insect to him. It took a more aggressive tap to finally get his attention. He graciously let me invade his personal space and snap a selfie with him. The hallway was dark but luckily, GRRM glows in the dark.

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So many awesome things happened over the span of a few days. But the most memorable moment of all was when David Gerrold addressed the crowd at the Hugo Awards and asked for all the past Hugo nominees to stand up, and my honey Mista Brooks stood confidently along with his best buddy Craig. The two of them were nominated for the online magazine they created in the early Internet days called Science Fiction Weekly. That was a solid moment that will now be a core memory for me. The sight of watching him stand up brought forth every single reason why I love the man, and every happiness we have shared together so far. It turned my belief in being with this witty, talented, loving partner into a conviction. I will never forget it.

Best. Convention. Ever.

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