Monday, June 29, 2009

Apollocon post-mortem

After a shaky start, Apollocon weekend turned out pretty well. Having stayed up late the night before, as is my M.O., I headed off to Houston from New Braunfels in my PT Cruiser sans air conditioning. I wouldn't recommend this during times of the year when temperatures reach triple digits--as the weather here in Texas has for the past few weeks. It was so hot I ended up eschewing one of my flamboyant convention vests for the sake of comfort, opting instead for a silk Hawaiian shirt Bug gave to me for Fathers Day.

Around 1 p.m. I stopped in Brookshire to interview a subject for the Chicken Ranch book. It wasn't someone who was directly involved with the goings-on there, but he was an important local figure with a prime, front-row seat for history in the making. The interview lasted two and a half hours. I got some good stuff. Unfortunately, my big excuse for not actually writing anything was that I needed to interview X number of people involved with the Chicken Ranch affair to get a well-rounded picture of events. This was the last one of those folks. So now I've got to get off my duff, work up a formal proposal and set about landing an agent and publisher. I also learned where the former Wagon Wheel brothel was located, a discovery that left me pleased as punch. The next time I head through Sealy, I'm getting a bunch of pictures.

I left Brookshire just in time to hit Houston rush-hour traffic. Which was as much fun as you'd guess. I reached the convention hot and exhausted. I touched base with Wil McCarthy long enough to set up an interview with him for 10 a.m. the next morning, then hooked up with Brand Denton, Caroline Spector, Chris Nakashima-Brown and Maureen McHugh for dinner at a nearby Cajun joint. My crawfish etouffee was pretty good, if not particularly spicy, but it hit the spot and revived me somewhat for the rest of the evening, which included the requisite party hopping (Deep South Con's coming to Dallas in '10!). I ended up turning in early around 11 p.m.

The next morning I felt much better. I got to the con around 9:30 and set about organizing my questions for McCarthy. He was running a little late, though, which concerned me. There was a panel at 11 he had to be on, so my time was limited. Fortunately, he turned out to be a fast talker, answering all my questions thoroughly and in plentiful detail, yet finishing in 45 minutes where other folks would take an hour or more. This is good.

My three panels, Cliches in SF, Scarce Commodities in a Space Colony and Writers on the Edge of Forever all went over quite well with lively discussion and attentive audiences. I got soaked by a sudden downpour when I rushed out to the parking lot to roll up the windows on my car, and was more squishy than not the rest of the evening (luckily, I had a change of shoes and socks available). I had good conversations with Scott Cupp and Bill Crider, and with Lillian and Paul Carl as well. Dinner was in the con suite, where they were serving the most incredible banana leaf-wrapped tamales. There was also an exquisite tomatillo/cilantro salsa that wasn't particularly hot, but had such vibrant flavor I didn't mind the lack of heat. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Much encouragement was met from all parties during the weekend regarding the Chicken Ranch book. Bill and Scott thought some anecdotes particularly amusing, and agreed that it'd make an excellent HBO series. Later that night, while bouncing amongst the half dozen parties going on simultaneously, I was heartened to discover and Aggiecon contingent intent on rebuilding burned bridges and getting that waning con back on the upswing. I don't know if they'll succeed, but they seemed intent on correcting the mistakes of the past two years, and their preliminary guest list is both wise and pragmatic. They welcomed advice, and if they actually take it to heart, they might have a shot. I expect their finances are such that another disastrous year would wipe them out permanently.

Sometime after midnight I departed, reluctantly, and headed to Columbus for the night. I arrived at my parents around 1:30 a.m., and when I got out of my car I was struck by the night sky. It was stunning, with the Milky Way cutting a brilliant swath overhead. Because of the wretched amount of light pollution in New Braunfels and San Antonio, I hadn't actually seen the Milky Way in more than a year. I just stood there, stargazing for 20 minutes, soaking it all in. I even saw a shooting star. Lovely.

Sunday I got up and made it back home in time to take Monkey Girl to a week of horse camp in Utopia, way west of San Antonio. We got back late, and crashed early--all that travel takes it out of you.

Today, a check arrived from Brutarian along with a whole bunch of contributor's copies of the current issue--the one with my Allen Steele interview. This made me happy, and rescued me from financial insolvency. I also--and this is a big deal--discovered a folder on my laptop that contained the majority of my fiction and non-fiction writings, up to about 6 months ago. This means that everything I'd lost on the hard drive disaster a month or so back isn't lost after all. My more recent writings are still gone, but that's something I can deal with. Also found some other things squirreled away on the laptop. Yay!

Things are looking pretty good right now, knock wood. This next month I hope to put together a dazzling book proposal for the Chicken Ranch project, which will land me a good agent, a great publisher and a spectacular advance. And I'll also knock out that Wil McCarthy interview for the upcoming Brutarian, because hey, he's a fascinating guy. Good stuff people. Carry on.

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1 comment:

  1. Good to see you at the con, and the discovery of the stories on the laptop has to be heartening.