A Full LibertyCon AAR

Last year, I went to my first LibertyCon because of the list of attendees from Baen Books. This year, I attended because of the fun I had last year. I’m going next year and from now one because of the fun this year.

It’s a decently long drive for me, over 11 hours. I did most of that drive on Wednesday, reaching  Sam and Talina’s house in Marietta 8ish. I suspect I’ll make this the standard plan in the future if they don’t mind. This allowed me to hang out some while recovering from the drive.

Thursday, I made the drive back up to Chattanooga heading initially for the Kinko’s. I had new business cards made up to replace the ones I left at home. I left them in a place where I could not possibly miss them when I walked out of the door. Sigh. I’m good at that.

Anyway, I checked into the hotel on Thursday and was almost immediately invited to the Thursday night party by Gary. This was laid back, but there was some good conversation and I met a number of interesting people. Laid back was all I really wanted, and I went to bed at midnight, very pleased with the start of the Con.

Friday was productive. I spent the morning hanging around outside the art and dealer’s room, meeting some new people and reconnecting with some I’d met before. I sat with Jason Cordova and let him recruit me onto the HMS Wolverine, slated for imminent recommissioning. He introduced me to Jasmine deGroot, another crewmember, who has a twisted sense of humor like his and mine.  I suspect I’m going to really enjoy being a part of Commodore Cordova’s squadron.

Jody Lynn Nye led a world-building workshop that might have been scheduled for two hours, and for next year should be scheduled for two hours. She listed some interesting points about the influences of geography and culture in world-building that made me think.

Then we started making up a world on the fly. Some of the ideas were frankly a bit silly, but for a workshop, making some of the silliest ideas work is probably a good thing. Unfortunately, we had to stop just when we got going well.

My next big event was the Keeping Track of Your Money panel of indie authors. My eyes were opened, but I don’t think I can truly implement all of their advice. Doug Dandridge can apparently publish a book for less than $100. I just don’t think I can publish effectively without editing help, major editing help. Maybe someday, but right now I am too much of an academic and I write too much in Rob-ese.

However, I may have to reconsider my cover art. I really like what Patrick McEvoy did for A Lake Most Deep, but he may just be too expensive. I will have to play around with numbers for The Eyes Of A Doll, my next book.

Then I sat in the Short Story or Novel panel. I’m definitely a novel writer, but I do see how I can expand my sales and my publicity with short stories. What’s embarrassing is that I wrote several this past year, including a couple of 1632-verse ones, that I just need to finish. September I think on finishing and submitting those.

I followed that up with the Indie Marketing Panel. I got a bunch of ideas that I need to follow up on. First and foremost is to be more active here and to expand my internet presence. I’ll probably add a Google Plus page and start tweeting. I am a private person and I tend not to like to put myself and my thoughts out there. However, it’s part of the job.

There were a number of interesting panels after that, but my brain was full and I needed food and recharge time before the recommissioning of the Wolverine. The SCA ceremony geek in me wants to increase the ceremony involved in these sorts of things, but it’s probably more accurate to have a small ceremony followed by socializing.

In any case, I received one of the highlights of the Con, a picture of all involved in the TRMN at the ceremony. Jason insisted that as I was enlisting I joined them. I’m really glad he did because I now have a picture with both me and David Weber in the same group. Naw, I’m not a complete fanboy. I’ll just be in the corner squeeing quietly.

I then spent much of the rest of the evening floating from conversation to conversation and eventually closed down the Con Suite. They really have an amazing Con Suite at LibertyCon. Next year, I may make some pies or something to contribute.

In any case, I went to bed at a time not terribly late, but definitely not early. I got to sleep somewhere around 2:30am, meaning that most of the panels in the morning were not as interesting as they might have been. I essentially got up on Saturday morning solely in time to eat at the Luncheon Banquet.

This was a hoot. Howard Tayler is hilarious, which of course you already knew from reading Schlock Mercenary. They had old science fiction and fantasy books at each table and I went directly to the table with Heinlein’s Space Cadet. While I will always make the same choice, given the other options, that table was in the absolute front and four of the chairs were empty as they were just too “in front” to be prime spots. Though I enjoyed chatting with the people at my table, I would have enjoyed having a full table more.

Nevertheless, I’m definitely adding the banquet to my yearly purchase list.

Then I went to the Baen Traveling Slideshow and Prize Patrol. While I essentially know the entirety of the Baen catalog by heart, I really enjoy seeing and hearing the authors and Toni Weisskopf adding stories and extra tidbits. They give away a goodly amount of swag too. Even though there’s very little that they give away that matches my personal preferences, I really appreciate the amount of stuff they give away. Now if I can only steal…, I mean, acquire legally some of the big posterboards of their book covers that they display at these slideshows. If they all magically disappear one day, I guarantee I didn’t do it… that anyone can prove.

I then did my turn around the dealer’s room and the art show. In general, I don’t buy much, but I had to buy the Grumpy Cat DMing TShirt.

Most of the rest of the afternoon and evening involved lounging and chatting. Quite pleasant.

Later on I went in and watched them demoing Munchkin: Steampunk. I’m totally getting this version, it’s all the whimsy of the Munchkin with twice the gears. I basically sat there and heckled, which all of the players accepted good-naturedly. A really fun relaxed time.

This was capped off with Steve Jackson joining us at the end. They were packing up, but he passed out a bunch of swag. I got my prize of the Con. One of the swag pieces was a blank Munchkin card that simply said “Go Up A Level.” I immediately said to Steve, this has to have a reason. So he signed it. I can’t wait to play that card and shout “Because Steve Jackson Said So, Bitches!”

I went to bed around 1ish, anticipating a long day on Sunday. I think next year, though, I am going to stay for Sunday night and close the Con down right. I’d like to get to know the staff and locals better, they seem like hoopy froods.

Sunday started with the Kaffeeklatsch. I lucked out and happened to sit at David Weber’s table. We chatted on a variety of things, and I was able to ask about the Starfire universe.

I’m not the biggest fan of the game Starfire out there, but I’ve got to be nationally ranked. It was wonderful to hear him chat about his plans and where that’s going now. I guess Chuck Gannon is running that universe now with Steve White. I should reach out to him and see if he’s interested in auditioning another author in that universe. That game is the reason I became a David Weber fan in the first place in something like 1984, and it would be a huge honor to write some stuff set from the perspective of the Tabbies.

Then I watched Family Feud between the Hoyts and the Williamsons. It was even sillier than the TV show, but a lot of fun. I will forever treasure the memory of Sarah Hoyt demanding “Who Did You Poll!?!”

I then sat in the tail end of Sam Flegal’s presentation. He was the artist guest of honor, and he specializes in intricate interpretations of Norse themes. I managed to score a signed copy of the LibertyCon artwork, and I doubt that’s the last thing of his I’ll get.

Celebrity Jeopardy, where the questions are made up and the points don’t matter! They had three of the Con celebrities play Jeopardy using answers relevant to Con and panelist interests. Unfortunately, the Jeopardy game they had was difficult to use, and points weren’t always credited correctly. By this I mean, points were credited correctly at least twice. Still, I’m going to watch it again this year.

Then came Closing Ceremonies. One thing they do really well at LibertyCon is encourage comments, and they subtitle this “Let’s Bitch at Brandy.” I had a couple of small suggestions to the really excellent Android app for LibertyCon. There were lots of other suggestions. Lots and lots. Some of them deserving of attention. Brandy kept smiling. They really do have a good staff.

Of course, nothing can be perfect. One of the things that was striking to me is the difference between SCA people and Con people as a whole. Obviously this is a major generalization of two related bell curves, but I was distressed by how much trash was left on tables in the Con Suite. I get forgetting things, but it was clear that many groups of people simply assumed a member of the Con Suite would pick up their trash.

Yes, they were right, members of Con Suite did pick up their trash, but in my mind they should not have had to.  I’ve never seen the food court at Lilies, Gulf, Pennsic, or Estrella have as much trash simply left for others to deal with. I felt both proud of my SCA side and ashamed of my Con side.

I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning my reaction then as I’m still a relative newcomer, though I probably should have. Maybe next year at the “Bitch at Brandy Session” I’ll challenge everyone to pick up after themselves. The Con Suite people worked their tails off to provide free food and drinks to 700 plus people. We should pick up after ourselves and not add to their already huge workload.

Despite this, LibertyCon is now on my permanent schedule. I’ll pre-register before I leave every year, because it’s capped at 700 attendees. They do this to keep the family atmosphere, and it really is a good atmosphere.

You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
(Then to have your ham and eggs in Carolina)

When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’
(Whoo whoo, Chattanooga, there you are)

See you next July, Chattanooga.