For the last five years, I've had a tradition of combining a family trip to the cabin with WisCon. This is the first year we did the cabin visit first, then went down to WisCon. It was also the first year that I took advantage of WisCon's excellent child care services to give SMWM a break from the boys and let her sleep in. Overall, it was a good trip.
I love the family cabin, mainly because of the memories but also because it is a second “home” for me. Having my brother and his family, my dad, and my entire family up there at the same time was just nice to let the four boys play with each other and to catch up on family events.
This year, it was cold. Apparently there was snow on the ground a week before and the nights got a bit chilly. I also got sick in the middle, but only for a day or so.
The first trip of the year is always filled with little things. It was a good winter, so we just spent part of a day blowing out all the leaves, a bit of cleaning, and generally settling in. The dock isn't going out this year, mainly because my father may not be coming up as often until he settles into his new house.
The highlight was the boys playing. This year, my brother's two sons and EDM were all in the playing range. And they turn into some sort of pack so they would spend hours in the “bear cave” (behind the couch), in the “boat” (the leather recliner), or on the back of some hapless parent on the ground.
BAM decided to start walking on the trip up to the cabin (six hours), so we set him down and he started trotting around. Ever since, he's happily giggling as he toddles around and enjoys his new found efficiency in movement.
Somewhere during the cabin, when I had almost no Internet access, I got a commission request. I haven't done them in over a year, but a little money wouldn't hurt to pay for the trip, so I managed to negotiate the deal at one email every hour.
The decision to take the six hour drive first followed by two days of three hours each was a much nicer one. The boys got anxious first, then we relaxed. As opposed to shorter trips with a massive one at the end.
This year at WisCon was pretty good. The one person I really knew at the convention didn't come, so I was adrift and lonely as usual. However, I put myself out a bit more and managed to at least interact with strangers.
I actually got to go to the ceremonies. It was pretty fun and I like the sense of humor. I knew some of the “trivia” answers, which is always cool, though I probably would have slammed the “list as many slash pairings as you can think of” and bombed the “list the previous guests of honor.”
Princess Culture and Race
This was a very good panel, though late. It mainly focused on Disney princesses in movies and how most of them were white and had long, blonde hair. Seeing someone break down the eras of Disney princesses was pretty cool. I managed to bring up the differences with the shows (Sophia the First comes to mind), but they also countered with tokenism (Sophia is white, her friends are People of Color (POC)). There are no Disney shows with POC princesses as the main character, which kind of sucks.
There was a nod to why Lilo wasn't ever listed as a main Disney female.
One of the common trends brought up is “having someone like me.” There is a lot of that, but I can see it. There isn't a lot of role models, one reason I'm so obsessed with showing girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) (and also why the main character in Flight of the Scions is into engineering).
This is a panel that really interested me, mainly because I want to write a JRPG novel about the game hero's grandfather. The panelists talked about how the older hero frequently is used as a sacrifice for the younger one, but I got some really good notes on older characters as main characters.
A bit of a break
Saturday, we went out to visit my grandmother. I only see her (and my aunt and her family) once a year, but it is definitely the highlight. She got to see BAM and EDM, EDM and my aunt's son played games, and generally we talked. There are a lot wounds between the three of us (me, my grandmother, and my aunt), but I think they are healing. It just takes a while.
Back to WisCon
On Sunday, I went to two panels. Before them, I had some lovely conversations in the consuite, which really made my day.
Utopia, Cyborgs, and Dialects
I didn't realize this was the academic track until I got there. The details were more than I could handle, but it was fun to push my limits.
Fandom and Creators
This ended up being a panel focused on fandom in general, something I only brush against at the edge. But it was nice talking about writing, sharing with creators, “breaking the fourth wall,” and various high-profile creators who came from fandom and how they responded differently to fans than those who did not.
I learned a lot, but had nothing to contribute.
Not Your Typical Cats
And then we came to my first panel. The panel before with the guest of honor doing a reading. She packed the room and the stories were lovely. But watching the entire room empty out in two minutes for me… kind of disheartening.
In the end, there were three people for the panel, including the other panelist. Frank, the other reader, did a long story, and then I did one chapter of Flight of the Scions and two chapters from Sand and Blood. I think it went well, but… hard to tell with only three people.
I was frustrated by my lack of draw, so I just gave all three of them a signed copy of my book.
Throughout the entire reading, a group of college students sat in the corner and had a loud conversation interrupted by louder laughing. They didn't seem to care what we were doing, they looked but then resumed their laughter. It made it hard to hear myself, so there were a few times when I was talking in hopes that others could hear me.
I think I prefer working in the hotel rooms, at least there you don't get interrupted as much.
Intellectually, I knew that a lot of people wouldn't show up. Both Shannon Ryan and Adam J. Whitlatch both talked about it, so I knew. My heart doesn't really listen well to my mind, so it was a trifle depressing but I got over it quickly.
World-Building Through Food
This was a fun panel. I originally planned on doing to it because Rebecca Gomez Farrell talked to me online, but really I like the idea of food as it related to world-building. There were a lot of good examples and it was a nice, solid panel. It also gave me some ideas for the dinner scenes in Flight of the Scions.
I had a chance to chat with Rebecca later, she is nice in person as she is online.
The final event for me was the SignOut. This was a nice ninety minutes to sit back and have some really good crackers. I talked to the two authors on either side of me (one I apparently met repeatedly but couldn't remember).
Not a single person looked at my book.
The only signatures I made were for the two people going around the room gathering signatures.
I'm mostly okay with it. I have a baseline. Next time, I'm hoping to have at least two people ask for my book. But, you have to start somewhere.
A Room of Their Own
I have to make a shout-out to A Room of One's Own. This is a large independent bookstore a few blocks from the convention. In the few years I've deal with the staff, they have been nothing but friendly.
This year was the first year I came as an author. Fortunately, thanks to a push from Ksenia Anske and others, I had just finished republishing Sand and Blood under Ingram to make it friendlier for stores like this. The first time they looked up Blood, they found the Lulu version with no returns at a 15% discount. I thought I did something wrong, but then they gave me a screenshot of their site and I noticed it had the wrong ISBN. Once I gave them the right one, it dropped down to 40% discount with returns and everything was happier.
Overall, it was fantastic seeing my book on someone's dealers table. I also spotted it in the background of a picture on Facebook made by someone else. Overall, it was great to see my book “in the wild” as it were.
Overall, it was a good, enjoyable trip filled with family and books. I was lonely for parts of it, but I still enjoyed myself.