After the Ball is Over…

Friday night, I’m meant to connect up with all sorts of interesting and famous people. Seriously famous people. You’ve heard of them.

But they ditched us. Alas.

Which turned out just fine by me. I got to eat my first (and only) proper meal of the weekend and have a six hour conversation with my most excellent sister-in-law. Being ditched by famous people is perfectly fine, under those conditions.

Finally back home, the kittens clamoring for food, attention, and escape (in that order). So we let them run wild on the rug for a while. I tried to figure out how to smuggle them back to Michigan.

And then, straight to bed and missing my wife very much.

Tomorrow, soon, at last.

But for the Grace

Well.

This is what it’s like: A big convention hall filled with booths, books and people everywhere. Thousands of them. It’s overwhelming sometimes and, eventually, all that I have left are little slices of memory and anecdote…

…stormtroopers in full regalia, posing for pictures with anyone who asked…

…the gorgeously plastic stepford drone handing out free books by L. Ron Hubbard, tempted to ask if he’s still writing…

…a familiar face from the night before, enviously listening as he tells me about the cheeseburger he picked up after all the parties; I’ve not eaten anything of real substance in 24 hours…

…stacks and stacks of free books, people dragging totes and crates on wheels full of them, weighed down with swag like something out of, well, Dante…

…the self-publishing ghetto — a sullen, heartbreaking ghost town; there but for the grace of God…

…the first-time author in the overstuffed chair at the Wizards of the Coast booth, probably half my age, giving me some much needed encouragement, good humor, and advice…

…Alec Baldwin, getting his coffee situated before signing a woman’s book…

…realizing that my left hand has been shaking for over three hours…

…weighed down with books thrust upon me, so glad when one or two of them look promising as something I might actually enjoy reading…

…reminding myself that I’m not here to browse, not here to stand in line with the fanboys — I’ve got more important things to do with my time…

…facing a room full of what should be agents but finding only empty tables, abandoned at the end of a long week…

…doing my best to not remind the exceptionally snotty and rude women from a UK publisher that we kicked their ass at Georgetown, once upon a time…

…calling my wife, listening to her answering machine message because her voice is all I have, all I need to make it over this…

…some very kind and friendly ladies from Chicago who keep handing me the various horror and fantasy titles they publish…

…a line of people wrapped around the center, Leonard Nimoy at a little table at the front…

…the semi-famous comedian and his wife and child, navigating the crowd and trying to ignore the people following them; again, there but for the grace…

…one last friendly, familiar face from the night before — a quick chat outside on the sidewalk, a welcome little flash of grace before the end of a long day.

There was more, but that’s the day in review.

My highest expectations were not met and I barely avoided my worst (all the way through Georgetown, ladies).

I made some good connections, I got some good leads, a few business cards.

I might have even made a friend.

Altogether, that’s more than I had when I started.

Once I get back, the real work begins.

But first . . . I need to eat something.

blak citins sleyp

It isn’t too far into the evening that I realize why Neil Gaiman always writes about food and sleep on his blog. Apparently there’s neither in the publishing world.

An open bar, however, makes up for a lot.

Despite the lack of anything remotely resembling food, I spent a perfectly nice Friday evening talking with people who have written lots of books and movies, or who help get them published and/or produced. Everyone was very kind to me and I met some very nice people.

While I might not want to do that sort of thing every Friday night, I’d be perfectly happy to talk about comic books with Chris Miller for a few more hours.

Here at the house, there’s a child’s drawing hanging over the stove which shows a scene from each point in the kittens’ day: “Citins Eet” and “Citins Pley” and “Citins Sleyp”.

No eet for me but I need sleyp. Tomorrow is the Expo.

I have no idea what to expect — so I have the highest and lowest of expectations.

I expect that’s all I can expect.

Sleyp now.

Five Black Kittens

I’ve made it to L.A., heading to a few parties tonight populated with the West Coast literati. So I’m a bit out of my element.

But I did get to lend a hand feeding five stray kittens that my hosts found a few days ago. The kittens are very tiny and had difficulty accepting the idea of an eyedropper as a nutritional source. However, enough got in them to serve as dinner. And now they’re all camped out in the bathtub, happily grooming themselves and squeaking every so often.

About to head out to the Black Clock party — which sounds very cool and Poe-esque to my ears, but I doubt it will go so far as to have people wearing red masks — and will spend an evening meeting famous people I’ve never heard of.

I should have studied, I think.