Convention

LibertyCon 28 AAR

I have covered some of this in previous posts, so you know that we arrived on Thursday at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. We arrived at noon, intending to link up with the rest of the wedding party participants but with missed communications instead spent some wonderful time hanging out Jonna Hayden (thank you so much for sharing your cool room!) before she accomplished a final fitting of me in my wedding dress.

The hotel promptly lived down to our expectations, not having our rooms ready to check into for more than an hour after check-in time. We’ve not stayed onsite the last two years, and remembered why as we dealt with that. But this year with the wedding and my con schedule, we had no choice, and really, staying at the con is better. Also, the congoers have been banned from building three in the past years, and this year I saw why: the rooms there are nicer (although still not as nice as cheaper hotels nearby. But you take what you are given. Enough about the hotel, this is about the people, not grousing).

The wedding was everything I’d dreamed of. I had no idea which end was up until we were standing there with Peter addressing the crowd, then Dan and Sarah Hoyt saying their vows. When we leaped the sword, it was like flying. I want to thank Toni Weisskopf for bringing the replica of Lady Vivamus (created by Hank Reinhardt). The post-wedding dinner at the City Café on Carter St. was wonderful, until I started to pass out on the table. Too much excitement!

Lady Vivamus sword
Toni Weisskopf with Lady Vivamus (photo taken by Oleg Volk, unedited)
Boot Knife
The sword wasn’t the only sharp thing. My Dad gave me this blade years ago, and it has done much service for me. (photo taken by Oleg Volk, unedited)

Friday started relatively quietly, with the 3D print set up. I didn’t begin ‘working’ until four, when I set up to do the first of two facepainting sessions. Immediately following this, we went to the opening ceremonies. Howard Tayler made the lists of attending guests into a playful experience rather than boring, and we all learned what ‘minions’ really means. The convention presented my new husband and I with a bottle of champagne and wishes for a happy life together, which really touched us. I finished my professional obligations with a session at the autograph table (and many thanks to everyone who came to have books signed or just talk to me. The comments about my blog were really encouraging, as this is an uncertain endeavour). It was fun to sit next to my dear friend Jason Cordova, meet Terry Maggert, and watch fan reactions to L Jagi Lamplighter Wright and John C Wright at the other end of the table.

Following this, I went to our room, where the Wedding Reception party was already getting underway. It was so good to meet up with friends old and new. Sarah Hoyt’s handmade baklava seemed to be a big hit, along with Amanda Fuesting’s truly decadent brownies. I know that Jonathan LaForce’s Ribs needed a guard to ensure they were distributed properly!

I wrapped up Friday night by walking with Sarah Hoyt to the Social Justice for the Undead panel. This was (I think) the only panel I attended where I wasn’t on the panel itself. I’m so glad I went, it was riotous good fun. As much fun as the previous year’s Messiest Ways to Kill Zombies. I got back to the room, did a last round of meet-and-greet, kicked the people out at midnight so they didn’t see me turn into a pumpkin, and I think I got some sleep…

Saturday was the only morning I got over to Barfly Breakfast, but I can report that Quilly Mammoth and Christine put on their usual terrific spread. I wasn’t able to volunteer this year, so I just left a box of assorted handmade jams as my contribution. I left breakfast with some concern, as I had signed up to donate blood for the first time ever, and when talking about it, had discovered that spending time in the UK in the 1990s could have made me ineligible. Turns out that I hadn’t been over there long enough, so they took my blood like cheerful vampires and I ran right to my first panel.

At noon I sat on the “How to Write” Workshop with Sarah Hoyt, and Kate Paulk and David Pascoe joined us since Amanda Green was unable to attend this year. Since the room lacked tables and whiteboard to conduct a hands-on, we talked about techniques and answered questions. For those of you who were there and may read this, I do recommend Navigating from Writing to Publication on the Mad Genius Club site.

After that I had another session of painting, but by the time I had finished I was aware that I really should have grabbed a snack after giving blood. The First Reader and Jr. Mad Scientist steered me to the Pizza Car (a traincar, and a pizza place!) and we discovered that a sauceless cheese pizza is a lot like eating an open-face quesadilla, and that we can’t let the JMS order without a bit more input from the parental units. It was delicious, and I was able to make it to the next panel on time without a faceplant. I sat on the Indie: Is your Book Ready for Prime Time? panel in place of Amanda Green alongside Dan and Sarah Hoyt, Doug Dandridge, and Peter Grant, and we talked about how to deliver the best product to market – in other words, publishing your book well-packaged, edited, and not letting perfectionism freeze up your momentum.

Following this I had a professional obligation away from the con, and then there was some sleep. I think.

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Hunday Breakfast (photo taken by Cedar Sanderson).

Sunday morning bright and early we gathered back at the City Café for the Hun Breakfast with Sarah Hoyt, her family, and many others (you know who you are… LOL!). I would have loved to spend the day in gathering round tables with good food, laughter, and conversation, but at ten Sarah Hoyt and I had to be in the Author’s Alley to hawk books, sign them, and chat with fans. This hour was a great success, and I’m delighted the con added it. I did learn that having swag to give away really helps. I had kittens and grenades (I’d bought them to make into the wedding bouquets, but Toni Weisskopf provided lovely flowers, which were ideal) and Sad Puppies pins. Much amusement was had on discovering that my grenades made noise when the pin was pulled (when the pin is pulled, Mr Grenade is no longer your friend!).

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Sarah Hoyt, the kittens, and books!
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A dapper young couple with my books and swag!
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A small section fo the Evil Legion of Evil, in mid Mua-haha! (photo taken by Richard Hailey).

For me, the funniest panel of the whole con was one I moderated Sunday afternoon. How to Serve Mythical Creatures was originally the brainchild of Robert Hoyt, who sat on this panel, and for added fun, the newly-minted Mistress (Master’s degree made her a Mistress, right?) Cathe Smith, the Insectress. Chris Smith, brewing expert and author, joined us, and at one point Cathe and I had him convulsed in laughter between us. Turns out if you want to cook unicorn you need Extra Virgin Olive Oil. And dragon? Best presented on a dragonscale plate as a ceviche in it’s own acids. Mermaid? Cathe proclaimed it to taste like tuna. The whole panel is of the opinion that as long as you aren’t surveing the human part, it’s fine… And then an audience member solved world humor by proposing that cutting limbs off a werewolf would be an infinitely renewable meat source.

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Sarah Hoyt, Kate Paulk, Sanford Begley, and Cedar Sanderson (photo taken by James Schardt)

I wrapped up my LibertyCon with a panel on Cover design. Dorothy Grant, Sarah Hoyt, and Sam Fleagal sat in on this one. It was great to talk to an artist about how to approach them, and pricing for a true professional to produce commissioned art for a cover, versus licensed art, or stock art. We only really had time to touch on the topic. Then it was time for me to deliver the last hugs, and pile into our overstuffed car and head for home.

So long, LibertyCon! It was a wonderful time and I feel like a new woman now that I’ve had some real sleep in my own bed!

City Café desserts!
City Café desserts!

 

11 thoughts on “LibertyCon 28 AAR

  1. Hey Cedar, glad you had a great time at the convention… though I imagine getting married there also put a special topping on it for you guys. I wish we could have made it, but with airport runs and finishing setup it just wasn’t happening. From everything I heard though it sounds like it was a phenomenal success! (And you’re married now, so I’m guessing it worked)

    Also while it’s “Hotel” and “Not Us” I still wanted to say that I’m sorry you had to hang around all day without a room. Check-In isn’t until three, so I’m guessing that you couldn’t get in until 4:00pm… which must have been a bit harrowing considering it was just a few hours before the wedding. If you ever get rid of that “Sanford Guy” and do it again just let us know and you can use our room (since we come in on Wednesday). 😉

    But as for con-goers being “banned” from Building Three, that’s a bit silly. We’ve had plenty of people in that building during the last few years, but most people didn’t want to stay there since it’s a couple of football fields away from where anything was happening. We used it as overflow from the two buildings that we were using. This year we had to use it due to not only losing Building Two, but selling out the hotel as well. The rooms are typically nicer over there since it’s a newer building than the rest of the hotel, but hopefully that will change a bit with the ongoing remodel.

    Anyway though, like you said it’s not about the hotel… Congrats of the wedding, congrats on getting back home safe, and congrats on having a great time at the convention! 😉

    1. We got into the room at 4:30, which was, yes, a bit harrowing as I’d asked if we could get in early when I booked and they said yes… that didn’t happen at the desk when the time came, though. I know we werent’the only ones.

      I was told the first year that congoers were not allowed to go into Building three *shrug* might have changed after that, we stayed offsite the last two years.

      Next year should be interesting – I am trying to land an internship which would mean I would be unable to do anything else that summer 🙁 But yay, job prospects. So… I won’t even know until spring, more than likely.

      1. Ok, I see what you’re talking about now. The first year we were at the Choo-Choo there was a rather large family reunion occurring at the same time. They had taken up most of Building 3, and most of what was left had been taken up by people that had been shunted from the other two buildings. It’s been a while, but I seem to remember that we still had a large handful of people over there, but it would purely have been by overflow.

        Honestly most of the people (that are upset about room placement) from are annoyed when they _ARE_ put into Building 3. Sure the rooms are in general a bit nicer, but being in the back 40 is the trade-off. It was helped a lot by the shuttle this year though, which we’re hoping to have again next year (hoping).

        Regardless though, I hope it works out for you next year! Also that you can come to LC29, but I see where job is far more important. 😉

    2. Derek,

      That’s interesting; two years ago, when we requested a room, we were told that building 3 was “reserved for non-convention attendees”, and that our only choices were building 1 & 2. (We didn’t ask last year.)

      Clearly, someone at the front desk wasn’t on the same page as the folks coordinating with you.

      To be utterly clear, I have NEVER been disappointed by the LibertyCon staff and volunteers; you guys do a great job. The Choo Choo… well, this was the third year in a row that our cards didn’t work when we got to the room, and we had to switch rooms once we got in due to maintenance issues. I understand why you stay there, and believe me, you guys are so awesome that I’m willing to deal with the hotel just to spend that much more time on site and having fun.

      1. Sorry to reply to everyone, but you’re next. 🙂

        The only time I know of when B-3 was really “off limits” was the first year that we were there, mostly due to a really huge family reunion. (That was LC25)

        If you’re talking about LC26, I’m honestly not sure why. We were trying to keep all of the fans in B-1 & 2, since we didn’t have the hotel sold out. I’d have to ask Brandy about it since I’m not “The Hotel Guy”, but I would have thought that if you had specifically asked for B-3 it should have taken.

        Though it’s sort of water under the bridge now, since we’re _definitely_ using Building 3 from now on. 😉

        But thanks for the kind words. We love working with the Choo-Choo, those guys bend over backwards for us so far that they can probably take off their shoes with their teeth… but when it comes down to it, you’re talking about a 40 year old hotel with all that entails.

        We’re hoping that once the renovations are complete it will alleviate a lot of the problems.

        But really, if you don’t mind driving back and forth there are plenty of really nice hotels within a five minute drive. Granted you’ll probably pay $70-$90 more per night, but might be worth it to not have the headaches.

  2. Derek,

    I’m afraid the Choo-Choo has reached rock bottom in my estimation. I’ve been coming to LibertyCon for three years, and every single year there have been serious problems with my room. I’ve complained to your wife in the past, but since nothing was done, I’ve given up on complaining to LibertyCon as such. I have, however, written a scathing review on my blog last year:

    http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2014/06/dont-stay-at-chattanooga-choo-choo-hotel.html

    This year, we arrived to find our key cards didn’t work (neither did Security’s – the door lock was defective), and there was no bedside light in our room. I complained to the front desk, who moved us to a different room – only for us to find when we showered that the bath didn’t drain properly, so we finished showering in water halfway up our calves. By then we were too tired to bother about changing again.

    The only reason I stayed at the Choo-Choo this year was to assist with the wedding, and because (being partly disabled) it’s more convenient as a presenter to be closer to proceedings. I’m very close to saying that if LibertyCon persists in using the Choo-Choo as a venue, I may not bother coming back next year. Can’t you find something worth the money?

    1. Hey Peter, I actually got hit with the same broken lock problem on my room at ConNooga this year. The maintenance guys just came out and replaced the thing though, so it wasn’t a big deal. But I also didn’t have any other problems to worry about unlike you guys.

      The problem we have is that we require too much function space for pretty much anything in the Chattanooga area short of a few downtown hotels. I don’t know if you ever came out to the Comfort in East Ridge (where we were before the Choo-Choo), but to give you an idea… we had three small programming rooms, an exercise room that was emptied for the Art Show, and the dealers sold out of their actual hotel rooms. Oh, and the hotel was always completely sold out Sunday afternoon about 1:00pm.

      And believe it or not, that’s actually a lot of function space for hotels around here.

      Short of going to the Chattanoogan or the Trade Center, we’re pretty much out of luck. (Not the Reid House, though. Apart from the fact that we wouldn’t be able to guarantee use of the Ballroom for Saturday due to weddings planned years in advance, we’ve had some bad experiences there that Timmy would be more than happy to tell you about next time you see him) 🙂

      Either one of those would be MUCH nicer facilities, however the room rates would be around $180 per night (plus tax, tag and title… and I believe a bit more for the Chattanoogan). That extra $140 for the weekend is a little steep for a pretty large chunk of our attendees.

      Believe me, we scoured the area before going to the Choo-Choo. (We mostly had a ton of reservations about going to a facility that was so spread out) I personally visited about 14 hotels between North Georgia, up to Cleveland and over to Tiftonia. It’s amazing how a hotel will tell you, “Sure, we have PLENTY of function space!” then when you get there it’s a single meeting room on the ground floor.

      However all that being said, The Chattanoogan & The Marriott are both really nice hotels that are within five minutes via car. I also know that a lot of the Barflies tend to stay at the La Quinta in the other direction, though I don’t know much about that particular hotel. I realize that it’s a pain to be offsite, much like you pointed out, but really how often do you usually go to your room at a Con? Of course hanging around Ringo or Kevin Pulliam all night might make it a bit more difficult to actually get there, but that’s what hanging with “the bad element” will get you. (A Taxi, that’s what it will get you)

      (Just kidding, guys!) 😉

      Like I said to Dorothy though, the hotel is in the middle of a huge revamp. Will it fix the problems, I couldn’t say. We’re hoping that it will alleviate a lot of them though… well, when it’s finally done. 🙂

  3. During the How to Serve Mythical Creatures panel, was there any mention of the Lovecraft creatures?

    Sushi, lots and lots of sushi, but you cannot look at the food or you go mad?

    Just thinking.

  4. I really wanted to make it to LibertyCon this year, and a big chunk of it was the wedding. I hate it that I missed it, but congratulations to you and Sanford. May you have many happy years together.

    Now, to sell enough books so I can afford to hit cons. 😀

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