Okay, but in all seriousness, this is the actual report on Can*Con, starting with a little bit of backstory. I shall try to keep the gushing to a minimum.
Also, a warning, it's a long post today.
One Week or So Before the Convention
THANK YOU, BRUCE. You are a bloody legend! Have fun in Winnipeg.
Then I get a call that my ride to the hotel is unable to do it. I panic. I call my dad, who very kindly agrees to be my wheels; at least to the convention. He can't drive me back. That's alright. I'll find a way.
Once the rides were sorted, I realise that I don't really have the right hardware for taking payments. Well... shit. So, I ordered the Square tap/chip reader blue-tooth machine. I left it kinda late, because of course I did. It arrived Thursday - the day before the convention began.
I am so organised.
Nevertheless, it's done. I have a way to display my art, and to take payments. I'm all set. Sort of.
Never mind that I didn't make the three styles of leather dice bags I wanted to bring, and there was a painting I wanted to bring, but hadn't yet finished despite having begun it three months ago.
Whatever. Too late now! With one night left to go, I slept incredibly poorly.
Friday - Day One
We loaded the car, and off we went.
We arrived at the hotel just a few minutes after the dealer's room opened for set up. I forgot what floor it was on at first, so I took us to the wrong floor before I figured it out. The elevators opened to reveal Brandon and Marie, and suddenly I was home.
I got a hug from both before unpacking the carts and seeing my dad off for a well-deserved weekend at the cottage. Then I returned to the room to unpack my stuff.
This is when I learnt that I had not restocked my books... and so of my self-published titles, I had only a few copies of The Seraphimé Saga, Ethan Cadfael and a few copies of The Dying God & Other Stories. I had nothing of Sky Road Walker. Uh... Oops. I also discovered that I had just one bookmark, when I was certain I had four. I still don't know where the other three went. FFS. Whatever. I set up my table as well as I could regardless. I was done pretty quick, and so I spent some time entering a lot of the things I didn't have in my Square, then went out for some breakfast; which I hadn't yet gotten.
That didn't take long and, adequately fed, the rush of getting everything together fading, I had a small breakdown. It wasn't overwhelm so much as the sudden lifting of overwhelm. Suddenly, in a safe, supportive space, there was a lifting of two years worth of stress and frustration. Needing a bit of space to process, I vanished into the quiet room (Can*Con had a quiet room! SUCH A GOOD IDEA) for a few hours and just let myself be. It was so nice.
Realising I hadn't eaten in a bit, I went out for lunch, stopping at Kyoto Sushi on Bank St, which has become something of a tradition for me when I go to Can*Con. Ate my fill, returned to the quiet room for a while until registration opened. I collected my tag and swag bag, managed to get a hug from Derek - and a book! - and then returned to the vendor's room to wait for crowds.
Friday was lovely. Seeing old friends again and meeting new ones was so much fun. I even made a sale that surprised the hell out of me. Now I have to make another leather dust jacket. Oh, the hardship. Exhausted by the crowds (I never really do well with crowds), I raced home in the evening to eat a late dinner, then collapse into bed.
Saturday - Day Two
I had a lovely time chatting with everyone, got a number of hugs from friends, and made a couple of book sales, which is always lovely.
The evening had two parties I really wanted to attend. First, the book launch party for Brandon Crilly and Evan May, both of whom are top blokes, and I wanted to support them. It was Brandon's first book and Evan's third. As it turned out, Evan was unwell and couldn't make it all weekend, which was quite sad. But, Marie very sweetly called in so he could still be part of the proceedings. It was hilarious and sweet, and I'm very glad I was there for it. Nathan from Renaissance Press read from Evan's book (Easter Pinkerton and the Case of the Heretic Blood), and it was great. I've previously read the book, and it is by far my favourite of Evan's. Similarly, Brandon called in... to his grandparents, whom he had dedicated the book to. It was so very sweet, and my heart felt like it was going to explode. I haven't yet read Brandon's book (Catalyst), but I am absolutely looking forward to it.
Following that was mingle time and... I quickly became overwhelmed. There were too many people too close and too much noise for me. I don't do well in crowds normally, and I am three years out of practice. I started disassociating and that's when I knew it was time to go.
I missed the second party I wanted to attend - the 30 year anniversary party. I did plan to go, but I was about three seconds away from a panic attack, so I said some quick goodbyes and ran away. Almost quite literally.
Once home, I ate a quick dinner, cuddled with the cat, and collapsed into bed.
Sunday - Day Three
In any case, I arrived in the vendor's room on time, stuffing my face with a hastily bought breakfast, when I received a text from Nathan at Renaissance. They were waiting patiently for me to arrive so they could begin the book launch for my, Evan's and Elizabeth Hirst's books. I stared at my phone for a second, before fleeing the vendor's room, spilling hot coffee on my hand, as I rushed to the launch.
I thought it started half an hour later than it actually started.
I am a twit.
But I got there... not too late, and the launch went really well. Oh, did I mention that I hadn't chosen a reading until I arrived in the vendor's room?
I am organised.
In any case, I think it went alright, for having been chosen literally three minutes prior. Evan still unwell, Nathan read for him again. And then it was mingle time.
As I usually do when feeling stressed, I stuck to chatting with the folks I know and trust, and it was really lovely. It helps that I'm not a huge name in writing, so not a lot of people were there for me specifically, and I didn't have to deal with a tonne of people. I managed to not have a panic attack before I had to bounce - a little early - to make it to my one and only panel for the convention.
It was a great panel, with fellow panellists who offered brilliant insight into the knotty issue of niche genres and it was really fun to be on the panel. I hope I didn't blubber like an idiot in trying to answer, but I felt pretty good about it when it ended. I'm very glad I only had one panel. Any more and I might have a complete breakdown.
Back to the vendor's room after my panel for me, and there I stayed until it was the end of the convention. I sold more books (completely out of The Summer Bird now), a poster, and my last remaining bookmark. I was very happy to have sold those books. It made dragging my boxes up four floors back to my apartment so much easier at the end of the day (so, thanks, everyone!).
I was also gratified to learn that the silent auction of my art piece Stormbringer broke the $100.00 mark and wasn't a complete flop. I was worried that it would achieve a total of zero bids. I was very happy to be able to help the con in any way.
Pack up went rather smoothly, considering all the crap I brought, and soon, Nathan had me in an uber and before I had time to process anything at all, I was home.
I dragged my nonsense up to my apartment, fed the cat, ate some delivery, and collapsed into bed.
I forgot to take Monday off work, so I haven't had the recovery time I need, and I am still absolutely exhausted. I haven't processed it all yet. All I know is that I had a brilliant time, overwhelm and all, and I missed the Ottawa SFF community terribly. It was so good to see everyone, even if I didn't get to everyone I wanted, and I am already anxious to go again.
Thank you again to everyone for making this Can*Con such a wonderful time.
Now I'm going to go home and collapse into bed.