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World Fantasy, Part 3

Saturday October 30th

Yes, more WFC rambling.

I woke up late. I felt better. I thought about breakfast, and decided that I would go and get a crepe from the same place that we'd eaten at on the previous day. I didn't actually manage to do this in time, however, as most places stop serving breakfast at a ludicrously early hour. 10:30 a.m. Feh. I ate lunch instead. Breakfast was better.

I did stop to meet Russell Davis, who was partially responsible for Speaking With Angels because he was the editor who handled it; he's not with the company anymore, but he's edited and written for a number of anthologies that I've written for. I also saw John Helfers and Kerri, his wife, and briefly met Nancy Holder.

I got another chance to chat with sdn, and we were joined eventually by Gordon Van Gelder and Rodger Turner. The courtyard is sort of like the lobby at most hotels, but with sun (on the days it wasn't raining, which were most of them) and natural light. If you sit there long enough, you can see anyone.

After that, I think I wandered around the courtyard, where it was sunny, and spent some time talking to Bryn, who writes as Marie Brennan (I can't remember how to spell her last name, so this makes sense to me). She was in the sunlight, and I was avoiding it. Melanie Rawn came across the courtyard -- and Melanie's kind of hard to miss; she sat down and we talked for a while about writing, and all the things that cause writing to just stop. Yes, I did mention the third Exiles novel, and no, it's not written yet. But she did give me explicit permission to tell people who ask why it's not written, or even better, who come into the store and demand to know why the publisher is sitting on it instead of publishing it (which she is aware does happen, although her reaction was pretty much what mine always is -- do they think that publishers don't want to make money??) "my mother got very sick. My mother died. That's why I haven't been writing." There's more heft and weight behind the words than I can do justice to here, but they'll do.

I've met Melanie's mother several times. Because every convention I saw Melanie at, Alma also went to; she liked to take her mother traveling, and her mother liked to come to the various DAW gatherings. She was a quiet, older lady with a very dead-pan sarcasm which didn't show itself until she decided she knew you well enough (or liked you); she got on well with Elsie before Elsie died, and with Sheila and Betsy. She was a very interesting person, and they were very close. I can't remember whether it was liver or kidney failure that eventually caused her death; I can remember when I first heard about it. So. There you have it. Something cropped up recently that had to be dealt with, and it was just another reminder of the loss.

But while we were talking ….

Rant alert

… this very pretty and well-dressed young woman approached us both with a pamphlet and a cheerful, salesperson-like earnestness. I'm probably being unkind. I don't really care. She told us about an absolutely wonderful opportunity for writers -- a convention that would be so useful because it would tell them everything they need to know about publishing, and getting an agent. And I'd seen the brochure earlier in the convention, and recognized that the guest speakers were not, in fact, editors or publishers -- they were, for instance, the CEO of xlibris. Among others.

This is a free country. Okay, the one I was in was a free country. People can pay their money and buy their space and sell whatever the hell they damn well want. But at a convention with an emphasis on professional writers??? She held out the pamphlet while standing in front of the two of us, and I just kind of looked at it as if it were a communicable disease. But worse.

Her smile did not falter. She did not change posture; she didn't change tone; she was just … that perky sort of salesperson I find irritating. I wanted her to go away. So I said, after looking at -- but not taking -- the pamphlet I had already examined on a previous evening, "I've written twelve books that have been published, and I have one of the best agents in the business. Thanks." In about the tone of voice you'd expect I'd use when I want someone to go away.

Did she take a hint? Hah. A hint could have been delivered on the sharp damn end of a pick-axe and it probably wouldn't have penetrated. Her smile did change, and her demeanor did change -- and this is why I'm now ranting. What did she say?

She said, in what might pass for a compassionate and sympathetic tone of voice, "Oh. But you know, we know how Cold and Uncaring the publishing business can be, and how little respect publishers have for the work of writers. It's a really tough business."

Excuse me?

"And we care."

For some reason, Melanie found this amusing. Because, I guess, she has a sense of humour and I don't. So before I could bite her head off -- well, while I was trying, if we're being honest, Melanie said something that could be construed as encouraging. If you were a twit.

I said, "I care a lot about my work. And about getting it published. By a publisher. Editing is good."

And she just sat there with that plastic smile and the untouched pamphlet, and then cheerily said, "Well, you know, maybe you know other writers who haven't been so lucky, and you could tell them all about our Wonderful Convention For Writers and the Wonderful Opportunity it Offers."

So I'm telling you about it. Sort of. It's the only thing that pissed me off about the convention. But it really annoyed me. We care. She wandered off before I could ask her how much money they were charging in order to Care. Or if she were doing this for free. Which she may very well have been. I'm being entirely uncharitable because I am so very very very tired of hearing about how much people Care. I wish tnh had been sitting beside me. Because she's possibly the only person I can think of who would have found it more distasteful than I did.

end rant

Mike Stackpole stopped to say hello to Melanie; Steve Erikson stopped by to say hello to me, and Steve is a very funny person, in the presence of whom wrath is kind of hard to maintain.

DAW dinner was at 7:00, and we all gathered for it. The sales rep for the area had been invited; he reads in the genre, and he was great. The service was about the same as the service everywhere else (except for the steak order mix-up); discussion was typical DAW discussion. I love these dinners, because they're kind of like an extended family gathering; they happen a couple of times a year, and different people show up, but over time they feel more like cousins than anything else. You catch up on kids, on books, on gossip, you get to know a little bit more about the people, and then you drift back to convention land.

The dinner had been moved from its planned time because a small gathering of people who knew Katherine Lawrence had been arranged. I know a lot of the people who knew her -- I never crossed paths with her much, not even on GEnie, so I didn't feel I should be there. But a number of the DAW authors knew her, and did go.

We went back to the hotel. Earlier in the day, pnh had said that he was thinking that when the oxygen level fell to dangerous levels at the Tor party, he would find a room for music. As in the playing of. I know that Charles de Lint and his wife, MaryAnn Harris, along with pnh and Nina Kiriki Hoffman, often play at WFCs, and I've never actually managed to be around at the right time. So I was determined not to miss this if it actually happened.

They did come down to play -- not sure what time it was, but someone came down to tell me that 1. You could not move in the Tor party room and 2. the concert -- I think that's too formal a word, but have so little musical talent or knowledge, I'm using it anyway -- was taking place in the Xavier room. So, off I went (and the sales rep went too).

It was really interesting, and it was a lot of fun, and I had never heard Charles sing before, although I'd heard MaryAnn play her mandolin (at a Book festival, after he'd finished signing, but I was working, and that's all I got to hear). MaryAnn is one of life's radiant people. She just glows. When she smiles, she glows. And she smiles often. She is beautiful in the same way that Nalo Hopkinson is beautiful to me, although they look nothing alike. Charles can really sing. Both of them were enormously animated, and you really had to watch them. As in, hard to look away. Nina has a lovely voice -- and at one point Charles made her sing two songs in a row, instead of the one that she was suggesting; part of what was wonderful about the whole thing was that he really wanted everyone to participate; that he genuinely enjoyed the music that anyone played. He never sat still. His head was weaving or nodding when he listened; his whole body moved when he played.

pnh was a sharp contrast, and it was an interesting contrast for me. Watching Charles, you could take visual cues, could see where something was going by how he was moving; watching pnh, you couldn't. He did play and sing, but when he wasn't actively singing, I couldn't tell he was playing by facial cues; I could only pick it up by listening. He looked so focused, to me, all of the time, that the guitar work he did came almost as a surprise, a gift that couldn't be anticipated. tnh sang harmonies as well, but usually only when pnh was singing.

Really, I could have sat there until sunrise. But then again, I wasn't the one doing the work.

Comments

scott_lynch
Nov. 2nd, 2004 01:06 am (UTC)
Her smile did not falter. She did not change posture; she didn't change tone;

All you have to do in situations like this is reach out, grab them by one cheek, and tug hard to tear the false face, exposing the lizard-skin underneath. This will cause them hours of distraction and embarrassment, as they will generally have to return to a mothership to get their disguise fixed.