This past weekend, Bill and I attended Icon-Iowa, in Cedar Rapids. I almost didn’t go, I don’t have any new books out currently – the next won’t be released until next June – and it seemed silly to spend the time and money at a fan con without anything to market.

Boy was I wrong!

I couldn’t attend the author events (a bookstore signing and dinner out) on Thursday since Bill thought he’d have to work and I was involved with Skype-attending a book launch for Blackbirds First Flight. So we were busy. Dammit. But we left bright and early Friday to get there in time for DreamCon.

Dreamcon is this cool event where narrative minded high school and college students have the opportunity to sit down and chat with real working writers. We writers were divided into groups, and the kids moved from group to group to ask their questions. I was with the writing/story craft group, along with AR Miller, Cheryl Corbin, and Rachel Eliason. We had Lettie Prell for a while at the beginning, then got Rachel Aukes and Jim C Hines for the rest. We talked to several kids about how each of us had a different method to create a story, ranging from Cheryl’s plan-it-all-out to my mostly make-it-up-as-I-go, with everyone else between. The kids seemed to gobble it up but, frankly, they were cooler than we were. At first they were shy and intimidated, but once they realized we’re all friendly, helpful people (and most of us old enough to be their mothers) they jumped right in. Surely we learned as much as we taught and it was great fun.

Afterward, Bill and I went out to dinner with AR Miller (Amy) and her hubby, and Rachel Aukes. Amy and I have been friends for a while now, but it was the first I’d met her hubby – who was awesome! I’d met Rachel at a bookfair I’d attended, but had never hung out with her before and she, too, is awesome and so funny! (She has a zombie series, starting with 100 Days in Deadland. check it out!)

Then I had my reading. Oh boy. So much to cover and only an hour to do it in. I read from all three Dubric books, talking about each book and scene between reads, plus a few things from SPORE including the first time Sean sees a sporing. Since my reading was before opening ceremonies (that’s what happens when you’re a late joiner) I was really surprised to have so many people, about ten. Ish. Which was, frankly, eight or so more than I expected. Plus I gave away a small funky-dresden quilt! Seriously. Several of the attendees have since followed me on Twitter or Facebook, so I must have done all right, even though I was insanely nervous and mostly out of breath, reading more than I was breathing. ūüėČ

I hadn’t done a con as a writer for about eight years and it’s not quite like riding a bike. Starting off with a reading, all by myself… Harsh. But I persevered.

After a break where I got to visit with some old friends, I was on Keeping Control of A Long Series with Amy, Elizabeth Bear, and¬†Glen Cook. This was a great starting panel, partly because it’s a sweet¬†topic, and partly because I knew everyone on the panel well enough to get joking with them right away! Bear even told the story (that I often tell, but she’s better at it) of how we both came up through¬†Bantam at the same time and she ripped apart a lobster for me. Was a fantastic panel and Glen, especially, is such a resource of knowledge and inspiration. (His wife, Carol, is pretty awesome too!)

Saturday was insanely busy with the Author Meet and Greet. I sat between delightful Cheryl Corbin and ornery Elizabeth Bear, with hilarious Aaron Bunce¬†across from us and Jed Q. Peterson¬†keeping us all entertained. Amy sat beyond Cheryl, but Scott Lynch and Jim C Hines sat beyond Bear and it didn’t take too long for Jim and Scott to start sword fighting and sexy-posing with their butts sticking out. Bear got in on the action and I took a couple of pics. Plus we all got our picture taken with Darth Vader. What’s not to love about that? I also reverse-pickpocketed Scott. Twice. Someone needed to eat all that chocolate and it wasn’t gonna be me. ūüėČ

bearjim scottjim

The afternoon led to Off With Its Head, a panel about killing characters (again, a great panel) which, I admit, fell into a heated debate on how to plot mostly because, well, I have Very Strong Opinions on such things. Was still a fun¬†panel, though, and I was asked about it for the rest of the weekend. Thank goodness Anna Kathryn Davis is a great moderator or we’d probably still be arguing.

Bill’s panel was up next – Living With An Artist or Writer. He was AMAZING and several of my writer friends gushed at how awesome and funny he is. Gay Haldeman (who we know well) moderated and he says she took it easy on him, but she treated him just like everyone else and he totally rocked! He liked it so much he promised Gay he’d do it again next year. Yay!

After supper, I was off to Alas Babylon, a panel about Writing the Apocalypse. I was the only one whose apocalypse was not only in the past but pre-modern era. Bill Johnson (who is freaking BRILLIANT and really needs a website) moderated. Also on the panel were Anna, Rachel E, Nicholas Sansbury Smith, and Tara Tolly. All were great, although we really didn’t let Nick talk much. Sorry, Nick!

I was supposed to do a late night round robin, but I crashed in our motel room instead (bad, tired, half-sick, cold-flashing tambo). I heard it was great, though!

My last panel on Sunday morning was Middle Book Blues, moderated by Dennis Green (another fabulous moderator). He, Cheryl, Kathryn Sullivan, and I discussed all sorts of issues with middle books in series and trilogies. Mostly we decided the middles of trilogies suck and series are better, at least as a writer. Which is true. ūüėČ

Then it was lunch with the Maakestads (Jon, Michelle, and their daughter), who we’ve known for, geesh, twenty some years now, a visit with Catherine Schaff-Stump, chatting with Joe and Gay Haldeman, joking with Bear, gobs of¬†writer talk, a few games in the game room, some late shopping, lots of hugs, and a delightful if exhausted trip home.

I just wrote¬†about the stuff we did, but there was also a massive costume contest, a live band, a movie premier, games galore, general geekyness, and loads of fun. I wonder what the muggle wedding attendees thought, or the cross country team from Purdue, who also stayed in the hotel with us wacky SFF geeks. ūüôā None seemed to mind. lol {{hugs}}

Bill and I will be attending again next fall, so come on out to Cedar Rapids for Iowa Icon 40!


  1. Jon Dearman

    ūüėČ (lol it looked too empty down here and I really don’t have anything constructive to add other than woohoo!) ¬†ūüėÄ

  2. Marc

    Sounds like you had a really great time. ¬†Can’t wait to see you if you ever get to the Phoenix Comic Con – as I stated elsewhere, the panels are great, and well, I’ve been going to this Con since it was just a little one back in 2006, and even getting embiggened at the Convention Center it’s still wonderful.

    P.S. Check with John Scalzi about submitting for his “Big Idea” section of his blog for when Spore comes out.

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