Trina Marie Phillips - Science Fiction Writer  


Aliens Made Me Do It

Lone Star Con 3 - Part 3 - Most Awesome Day

Posted by tmphillips on September 18, 2013 at 7:10 PM

It really shouldn't have taken me this long to get this post up. Especially since this was the best day of the con for me. But I was on a writing high when I got back and now that's landed me in the middle of working on a story and I'm torn between spending my writing time on blog posts and finishing a story before deadline. So my apologies for the lateness of this.


Saturday morning started with a panel on Bujold's, Vorkosigan Universe. The room was packed with fans and I was sharing the stage with Steve Jackson, John O'Halloran and Lillian Stewart Carl. Lillian, whom I was seated next to, has been Lois McMaster Bujold's best friend for 52 years.


This panel, this whole room – ROCKED!


Comments and questions from the floor opened up early and we got a grand discussion going with excellent participation from everyone. Of course, with everyone being fans, there were elements that could be spoken in shorthand. And while there were certainly some spoilers for anyone who hadn't finished the series, we managed to somewhat cloak the more poignant moments that occurred at the end of the last novel (series chronology), Cryoburn. Being all of similar mind, the jokes and ideas flowed readily and everyone was having a rollicking good time. The best moment for me was a point where I popped in with a wisecrack and the whole room busted up. I have never made a room full of people laugh like that before.


When the panel was over, Lillian told me that Lois had snuck in the back a few minutes after the panel started. So she got to hear all my fangirl declarations of appreciation, and my jokes, for herself. I've learned the hard way not to pass up opportunities. So I piped up and mentioned that I'd never had the chance to meet Lois in person. Lillian was happy to remedy that situation. Lois was gracious and kind. I didn't want to be that pesty fan and impose too much so I let them get off to lunch and I went outside to call my boyfriend and tell him how great the panel went. He was a saint for listening to all my giddiness.


I spent the afternoon stalking Lois through several panels. One that stands out is the one on Writing Combat. All the writers were heavy hitters – Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Bear, Martha Wells, Jean Johnson and Lois McMaster Bujold. And do you notice something else? They're all women. A panel about writing combat was covered entirely by women. Awesome.


My second panel that day was in the late afternoon and it regarded buying art at cons. I hate to say that it was poorly attended; even two of the panelists didn't show up. I'm not sure what we were up against though. Maybe something big was going on.


That evening, there was a get-together at Ernie's Bar – Meet the Authors. Well, by the time I was able to get there, there were no authors left. I hung out a bit, but when I found a group of Codexians heading out to go to the Baen Books party, I immediately tagged along. You see, Baen Books is Bujold's publisher. If you ever go to a con and have a favorite author you want to meet, go to their publisher's party. It's one of your better bets for meeting them.


At the Baen party, I mingled and wandered as a good party-goer should. I still haven't mastered small talk with strangers. I'm not shy, I just don't know what to talk about. Once or twice I mentioned that next year I'm considering going to Cambodia and possibly spending a week on a jungle walk and the reactions were mostly, "why would you want to do that?" or some equivalent oddball look. Evidently SF writers and adventure travelers are not significantly overlapping groups. I'm fine once I find common ground. It’s finding it that's the trouble.


Then, partway into the evening I stumbled into an end room in the suite and who was there but Lois McMaster Bujold. Again, not wanting to be a bother, I asked if I could join them and was invited in. You can't go wrong with courtesy. This is another point where my SFWA sticker may have given me some cred. I wasn't just a goofy fan, I was a fellow writer.


Shortly after I sat down, Astronaut Cady Coleman entered the room. Evidently she and Lois had already met, but some introductions were made and Lois introduced me as a science fiction writer. So I find myself in the room with one of my favorite authors and an astronaut that has been on two shuttle missions and spent time on the ISS. I wasn't leaving that room for anything at that point. The conversation rolled and split and came back. I got to speak to some other NASA people as well. All very interesting. I also got to ask Lois about some of her methods, though she writes very much by the seat-of-her-pants so set methods don't exactly apply. She makes up her brilliance as she goes along. She's in between projects now and not sure what she wants to work on next. I didn't push. No one can tell a writer what they should write. I also thanked her again for her time and insights.


The NASA people also brought swag. I got a personalized autographed photo and a sticker. The photo is being framed at my shop as we speak.


Lois left the party about 1am. I left at 2am and Astronaut Coleman was still going strong, though it seemed the party was winding down. We all had panels at 11am the next morning and regretted that we weren't going to be able to attend each others' events. A great night all around. I couldn't have imagined the company I would be keeping that evening. It was a real privilege to meet these wonderful people.


What I Learned: Put yourself out there and don't be shy about grabbing opportunities. Don't wait for anyone else to do it for you.

Categories: SF Musings

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Reply Jared
3:15 PM on September 21, 2013 
"Evidently SF writers and adventure travelers are not significantly overlapping groups."

That's strange, isn't it?
Reply John Wiswell
12:05 PM on September 20, 2013 
The other great thing about that combat panel was that all four of the leads were highly knowledgeable. I actually went for their expertise, only realizing they were all women when noticing that Bujold hadn't shown up yet. That was great! Also great when she did find the room.