Balticon 44 Part 2 – Saturday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Saturday started rough for me, I was feeling pretty lousy and slept in past a breakfast as well as the first two of the three hours of the Master’s Audio Session with John Taylor Williams, Dan Sawyer and Arioch Morningstar that Chooch was moderating. I finally made it in for the last hour or so and found the conversation was waa-aaay over my head. I’m not surprised having missed the first two hours, but I loved seeing some of my favorite guys up there being all big-brained and what-not.

Afterward, we headed up to Heather’s room to meet with the cast of the Metamor City Live that was being recorded later in the day. There we found Heather, Marc Bailey, Kim Fortuner and Chris Lester running lines much to the amusement of Grailpup (Heather and Marc’s 13 month old son). He was fascinated as the reading went on, it was adorable.

We then returned to catch the rest of the New Media to Old panel with Phil Rossi, Bill DeSmedt, Nathan Lowell, Christiana Ellis and Brand Gamblin. The room was glistening with awesome, and I grabbed Bill for a signature and photo with Chooch. Bill DeSmedt is the author of Singularity, which is a fantastic novel dealing with intrigue, black holes and captivating characters. It’s tough to track down a copy as it’s out of print, but he has podcast it and his narration is fantastic! I met him last year, and while Chooch was a huge fan I had not listened yet. This year I went a bit fangirl because I loved it and his follow-up podcast explaining some of the more complex scientific concepts in Doctor Jack’s Soapbox Seminars.

Realizing we hadn’t eaten, we lucked into a trip to Baja Fresh with Christiana Ellis and Dave Slusher. These two peeps are the bee’s knees and while I did get some time with both of them, I left Balticon WANTING MORE! (Yes, I’m greedy.)

We hurried back to ensure that we would have seats for Jared Axelrod’s new podcast launch of “Fables of the Flying City”, and I’m so glad we did! I was really excited, because of not having been to a tea party of any sort since it involved a toy set and imaginary tea. Jared delivered a tea party that made up for that lapse. We were served tea of our choosing and dessert by a fabulously outfitted cast that included his wife J.R. Blackwell and friends Jennifer Rodgers and Russell Collins. Jennifer is an amazing artist, someone whose beautiful work I have followed and Russell is a brilliant composer. You may recall he wrote the “Aliens You Will Meet” theme and also the music for the new podcast of Jared’s. We were treated to a grand announcement of Jared’s publication in the fall of a graphic novel for the series he is now podcasting the prequel for.

At four p.m. was the NaNoWriMo for Noobs panel that I suggested. Chooch moderated for me again, as I was overtired and a bit nervous about taking the lead. We were joined by Mur Lafferty, P.G. Holyfield and Nathan Lowell. I had asked Zach Ricks to attend as I had wanted him on the panel but there was concern about the number of participants. I carefully chose for a balance of professional writers and non-writers, and those that had won or not won a NaNoWriMo challenge. In addition, nearly all on the panel had provided community sort in one way or another whether simply through Twitter support or via blog or podcast. I was thrilled to discover that Lee Budar-Danoff, a representatives from the Maryland NaNoWriMo group, had found the panel and joined us with some of her associates. They were able to provide more in-depth information about that and the Young Writer’s Program. Once the audio for this and the other panels I participated in is posted, I’ll link to it from my blog.

Our friend Pat, aka Fantastic Foe from our City of Heroes Podcast, invited us to a surprise birthday for his wife Lisa, so we headed to the Con Suite for the celebration. They very generously donated a huge cake for our new media party later that night. It was delicious and GREATLY appreciated! Happy Birthday to Lisa!

We then headed up for Chris Lester’s Metamor City Live reading, along with Chris, Heather Welliver, Philippa Ballantine, Gail Carriger (author of “Soulless” and “Changeless”), Dan Sawyer, Kim Fortuner, Marc “Grailwolf” Bailey. The story was brilliant and funny, and I was incredibly flattered to be included again this year. Luckily, my part was at the very beginning because I started feeling pretty damn sick about halfway through.

I faded pretty quickly, and hubby decided food would help so off we went to Noodle & Company. I’m a bit foggy on the details, but this may have been the trip that included Christiana, Rich and Susan along with a whole other crowd that was there when we arrived. I split off for a nap in the room, and ended up just resting and catching up with Patrick as he finally arrived and was getting ready for the book launch party.

Chooch and I then went to the book launch party for P.G. Holyfield, Patrick McLean and Nathan Lowell, but shortly thereafter Chooch went off to start grabbing gear for the concert at 9 pm.  I luckily got a seat even though I missed the first few minutes and was just in time to listen as they read from each others books. First, Nate read “The Vampire in My Attic” from Patrick’s book “Stories I Told Myself”. Then, P.G. read “The Old Dog” from the same book. Ironically, these were two of my favorites so I was tickled pink! Patrick then read a passage from Nate’s “Quarter Share” and Nate read a the first scene from P.G.’s “Murder at Avedon Hill”. It was absolutely riveting hearing these stories in the voices of the other authors. Each of them has a unique and masterful touch when narrating, and it was a real treat for all in the room. It seemed the authors felt the same way. Sadly, you will never hear this if you weren’t in the room, because they didn’t record the event.

After the book launch, it was FINALLY time to watch the Phil Rossi and the Awakening concert. Yes, I’m a fan of Phil’s music and would have attended either way, but Chooch had just joined the band and I was crazy excited to see my man play bass in a band for the first time. He was understandably feeling stress, as he had about a week and a half to learn all of the songs and because the concert was only the third time he had played with them. For some reason, the previous act went well into our time, so by the time they left the stage and the band was set up it was about half an hour late. Lookit, I admit that I’m biased, but I loved the music and thought they sounded great!

I was able to catch almost a half hour, but had to leave to start setting up for the new media party that Chooch and I were throwing. I was pretty pissed at the earlier band for taking so much time away from my enjoyment, but off I went with some of my Prom Committee members to set up. Many thanks to Bruce Press and Tim Dodge for breaking down the camcorder and bringing it to me at the party!

The folks that came and helped with the prom set-up were AMAZING. People had volunteered to help, and they really came and worked their asses off! There were so many that I thanked that night, but am afraid to list them here for fear of missing someone. I feel extremely grateful to have so many people that are willing to frantically pitch in to make the party a success, and we TRULY could not have done it without their help. In addition, about a week before the party after Chooch and I had sunk hundreds of dollars into it, we finally did as had been suggested and started a chip-in to help offset costs and to make sure we had food for everyone to enjoy. The huge amount of donations we received rejuvenated our efforts to make this the best possible party and off we went spending again! For the donors, you can look around the room and see the difference you made, and I thank you on behalf of the attendees as well as Chooch and myself!

The party was a success, and we crowned Dave Slusher as Prom King and Helen “Cynical Woman” Madden as Prom Queen as they came in first place in the costume contest. May their reign be long and geeky! There are MANY pictures from the prom in flickr from other folks, sadly I was too busy to take my camera out at all. My friend Dan Tabor of many cool things, including Geekadelphia, took these photos for me, before and during the party. Thanks again, Dan! But for the kindness of others, I wouldn’t even have a photo with Chooch in front of the Stargate portal that we quilted!

The party is pretty much a blur for me, other than having fantastic conversations with fascinating folks. I chatted for a good long time with Brad Smith from the Second Shift audio drama, and I knew he was my kind of people when he stopped talking mid-conversation to sing along with a Jonathan Coulton song that was playing.

As the party wound down, I again found myself blessed to have countless helpers assisting with the clean-up around 2 am. We donated the non-perishable items to the gamers next door, having already invited them to come through and eat what they like since we had so much food left over. Ensuring that the hotel staff would vacuum we were off to our own devices. Exhausted, but not ready for sleep yet because the adrenaline was still flowing we ended up laughing and chatting until the sun came up with a wild and fascinating variety of people. And yes, Phil Rossi treated those of us in the courtyard in the pre-dawn hours with a serenade with Starla Hutchton and Dan Sawyer singing along at times. We were all thrilled to discover that Dan Sawyer has the voice of an angel.

Favorite moments:
Brad Smith’s reaction to realizing I had just introduced him to the author of the Seanachai, Patrick McLean.
P.G.’s face during his book launch party. Happy P.G. was happy.
Mighty Mur Lafferty telling me that I am an author. (Still processing that.)
Seeing the joy on my husband’s face as he played bass.

Photos from Saturday only:

Balticon 44 Part 1 – Thursday and Friday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast

*phew* That was quite a week. After returning from Balticon it’s been hectic with preparations for my nephew’s high school graduation (a whole year early!) and our oldest son’s 19th birthday party. I finally got photos edited and posted on Sunday and am finally able to do my post about Balticon itself. There are so many people and amazing moments that there is no way to capture them all, so am doing a few highlights from each extremely full and fabulous day. Also, I’m writing these as journal entries for myself so this will be lengthy, but I’ll break it up into a few posts for sanity’s sake.

THURSDAY
Hubby worked from home on Thursday, while I busily ran last minute party preparation and packing. He then delivered our goldie Kaylee to her beloved kennel. After loading up our car Tetris-style to get everything we needed, it was clear that our car would burst if we put even a wafer thin item in there.

Disappointed that we didn’t actually get on the road until 6 pm, we still found a way to enjoy the drive. I spent a good portion catching up with my dear friend Heather Welliver on the phone, and the rest doing some plotting and planning for the weekend. Have I mentioned that Chooch has a wicked sense of humor? We had an extra giggle as we both realized that the last push out the door had us both forget our wedding rings. We joked about being unwed for the weekend, but let’s be honest about the fact that no one else makes my heart go pitter-pat like my man.

We arrived in record time, luckily having missed rush hour and getting the jump on Memorial Day travel traffic. We roomed once again with P.G. Holyfield and Patrick McLean, as we had such a wonderful time with them at Dragon*Con. Both Patricks are brilliant writers, so go buy their books immediately.

P.G. was kind enough to set down his drink and help us unload the car, and I ran to Greg and Carrie’s room to stash some party treats in their fridge. I was thrilled at this, because they have just had a daughter that I had yet to meet. I practically raced down the hall to see Carrie and babe, and was blown away by their beauty. I nommed baby toes and hugged on mama as we chatted and caught up. For you Apple fanboys, it was also my first sighting of an iPad in the wild.

I grabbed Chooch and P.G. for a visit with Carrie and the baby. That little beauty can throw down some fierce Kyoot Aggro so we spent some time there cooing over her before making it to the bar.

Ah, the bar. The drinks are subpar and overpriced, but this is the natural gathering place as people arrive. The sea of awesome is a blur, so I won’t try and name everyone I saw there as we hugged and got caught up with each other. Since most folks arrive on Friday it wasn’t a full-on glompfest as would be seen the next day. As the night progressed, we grabbed Christiana Ellis and headed back to our room for some Pandemic. To say we had a good time time would be a tremendous understatement as we encountered drinks, viral doom and spiders. We saved the world and headed to bed around 5 or 6 a.m. When it’s that late, specifics don’t really matter, do they?

Out Of Context Theater:
“Backgammon porn” – I believe Doc Coleman said this at the bar?
“It’s gonna eat me!” – Viv, after a spider sighting.
“Somebody give me a bikini so I can flip Viv off!” – P.G. while playing Pandemic

Twitter thread that amuses me:

Christiana – I have cured red and black. @vividmuse @choochus and @pgholyfield haven’t cured shit.
P.G. – @christianaellis I may not have cured anything, but I made you spit tostitos across the room.
Christiana – @PGHolyfield And onto your leg. I was TRYING to share! Ingrate.

I, of course, was giggling uncontrollably and contributed nothing.

I spoiled My Inner Child by…
…putting together a Tinkerbell puzzle with Elf Princess. She is delightful and sweet, and I love our playtime together.

Friday
Having no panels or any other need to get up early, we slept in. We grabbed food and headed out to get some last minute party supplies, since we figured Saturday would be crazy. In spite of rushing around, we sadly missed Chris Lester’s reading, but made it just in time for the 5:00 pm panels. The first of many difficult choices had to be made, as Mur Lafferty and P.G. Holyfield both had readings at the same time. We ended up splitting, with each of us going to one knowing that they would be recorded but still wishing we could be at both. P.G. did a reading from Murder at Avedon Hill, his recent release published from Dragon Moon Press. He ended it early to go to Mur’s, but by the time I got in there it had ended.

I got to spend some time very briefly with M.A. in PA and her new podcast partner Sara. As was true during previous Balticon weekends, I didn’t see much of M.A. and this year I saw even less of her. Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to visit with each other previously this year, but it was something I definitely missed.

We grabbed dinner at Noodle & Company with P.G., Jett, Carrie, Greg and Baby and had a wonderful time as we chatted and gazed at the beautiful baby. Back to the hotel in time for Chooch’s Being a Parent in the World of New Media and Social Networking panel and while the conversation veered off topic a few times it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Chooch and I split up after that, as he attended Thomas “cmdln” Gideon’s FLOSS and Tech Geek BOF while I went to the scheduled J.R. Blackwell Reading. As had been hinted, Dr. Mercury made an appearance in J.R.’s place, and provided delicious entertainment. First an explanation of who she is, and then readings of exploits. Later, she kidnapped Mur Lafferty and forced her (against her will, naturally) to do readings including one from the collaboration between J.R. and Mur titled Her Side. It was one of the high points of the weekend for me, in that J.R. completely immersed herself in the Dr. Mercury persona to the delight of the entire audience. I had actually intended on slipping out a few minutes early to prepare for our show at 11 pm, but was unable to tear myself away until after Dr. Mercury exited.

We had invited our friends Christiana Ellis, cmdln and P.G. Holyfield to our Into The Blender Live recording to discuss movies, and I can’t speak for anyone else but I greatly enjoyed our chat. I was going to moderate the discussion, but passed my notes to Chooch when I started feeling under the weather. I could feel … it’s hard to explain what it feels like, but almost a jittery twitch in my jaw when the stutter is starting up. I also felt a little disoriented, but after I sat back and took a break from the conversation I felt a bit better. Chooch knew this was possible and took over, so I’m hoping it wasn’t obvious. We had a great crowd, many familiar faces and some new ones which is always a pleasant surprise. The audience participation was fantastic, which we had worried about with our family-friendly show at 11:00 pm.

Afterward, we hung some signs announcing our “Geek Prom” new media party that Jett Micheyl kindly made for us along with Thomas. We ended up in the bar since there were so many more folks that had just arrived that day. I met folks I only knew from Twitter, and glomped many friends that I rarely get to see. FYI, Chris Lester gives AMAZING hugs.

We closed the bar and finally made our way to our room with some friends including Susan, Rich, and Dave Slusher. I think Chooch and I got to sleep around 3 in the morning. That was our only early night, and it was tough to pull away from them but forced ourselves because Chooch had an early panel and I was fearful of not getting enough rest and being even more sick the next day. It was especially tough because I don’t get to see P.G., Rich and Susan NEARLY as much as I would like. And Dave Slusher is someone that I met VERY briefly at last Balticon, spent a bit more time with at Dragon*Con and finally got to really chat with him during this weekend. He is a fantastic and dynamic person, with a truly generous and nurturing spirit.

Out Of Context Theater:
From me: From @pgholyfield: “I’ll pull it out at the reading.” *
“It’s the wood that I like” -Keetara

*He was talking about untucking his shirt, but I thought he’d get more attendees if I left that fact out. On a related note, his reading was packed. 😉

My Balticon flickr stream is viewable below and includes photos from the entire weekend.

All Hail Balticon!

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Podcast

Balticon is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention held annually over Memorial Day weekend in the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. This will be my third year in attendance, and my second as a participant.

Besides attending countless other fascinating events, I will be participating in the following:

Into The Blender Live! -Friday at 11 pm in the Chesapeake
Come join Chooch and I as we do a live recording of our blended family podcast. Last year’s live recording included a discussion on family gaming.

NaNoWriMo for Noobs – Saturday at 3 pm in the Chesapeake
This discussion includes prior National Novel Writing Month participants P.G. Holyfield, Mur Lafferty, Nathan Lowell, Chooch and myself. Come and learn what it is, and how panelists either won or lost.

Live Metamor City – Saturday at 5 pm in the Chesapeake
Attend a live recording of a new story by Chris Lester in his Parsec winning story series, Metamor City.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Prom, aka the Balticon New Media Party – Saturday at 11 pm in the Derby
Join Chooch and I as we again host the New Media Party and costume contest. Light refreshments will be served and costumes are not required to attend. Tee Morris will DJ, Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit will be the Master of Ceremonies, and Phil Rossi will perform an acoustic set after the costume contest judging.  Judging for the costume contest is expected to start at 11:30 pm.

Girls’ Rules Live! – Sunday at 4 pm in the Chesapeake
My all-female podcast be recorded live with a very distinguished panel of published authors: Philippa Ballantine, J. R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis, and Mighty Mur Lafferty. M.A. in PA and Jett Micheyl will also be there.

There are so many talented and magnificent people that participate, I highly recommend this convention to any that have a of sci-fi/fantasy interests, and especially those with a love for new media. By all accounts, this is the best gathering of those producing podcasts and/or podcasting their written works.

Please say hello, and I apologize in advance for my shyness 😛