It's all done. I've caught up on sleep, sobered up a bit, and the escalator wounds on my back and ass are healing up nicely. Short version, ConCarolinas was a blast.
The best part of any convention is the people you meet and interact with. At ConCarolinas, I reunited with the Authors & Dragons gang, and met Joseph Brassey and Steve Wetherell for the first time ever.
Drew's a guy who has his shit together. Between the way he moderates a panel, the way he works an audience, the way he puts out several books big enough to beat a guy to death with a year, the way he corrals the rest of us assholes every other week through something like a story, and the way he doesn't fall down an escalator when he's got a few drinks in him, he has a lot of qualities I envy.
To be honest, I didn't get to talk to Joe a whole lot. I found him to be somewhat of a quiet guy who likes to take naps.
I think that somewhere in another dimension there's a giant bald man who will one day come to a crossroads. To help him make his decision, Rick will sit on one of his shoulders and give him sound, responsible advice. I'll be sitting on the other shoulder, mostly hanging onto his ear so that I don't fall off, and occasionally offering him shitty advice.
Someone already said it better than I could, dubbing John the mayor of the Charlotte Underground. Everybody knows John, and John knows everybody. Got questions about your schedule? John's your guy. Forgot book stands because you've only had a year to prepare for this convention? John's got that shit covered. He's like a department store Santa that doesn't inspire dread, even if you are still a little iffy about letting your kids sit on his lap.
Steve is the guy I'd been most looking forward to meeting for quite a long time, and he didn't disappoint. Steve has an almost supernatural ability of being charming and delightful in any state of exhaustion or sobriety.
There are so many other people who made this weekend the memorable experience it was, including fans, fellow authors, organizers, the hotel employee who stopped the escalator so that I could stand back up, too many for me to list here.
But one more person I was very excited to meet face-to-face for the first time is Gabriel Kaunitz, the visionary genius or complete fool who thought enough of my work to option the film rights, and who is now undertaking the Critical Failures Television project. Thanks for coming out, Gabe!
I was on a number of interesting panels with authors more successful and articulate than myself, discussing a number of topics such as reviews, audiobooks, short stories, etc. And for most of them, I held my own pretty well, making a couple of what I hoped were insightful comments and answers and getting a few laughs.
But on the last one I was on, discussing Self-Censorship, I felt so in over my head. The other authors were talking about some pretty serious shit, and I write fart jokes for a living. Yikes. I felt like a complete tool.
Mental note: Don't automatically say yes to everything in the future.
The live Authors & Dragons podcast we recorded was perhaps the most relevatory experience of the whole convention for me. I've occasionally wondered if our podcast gets as many listens as it does primarily because there's just that thirsty an audience out there for our niche with a limited supply of podcasts to sate their thirst.
Going by the size of the audience I saw at many of the panels, and by the fact that our show was scheduled for ten o'clock on a Saturday night, while room parties would presumably just be finding their groove, I didn't figure we'd get all that big a turnout. I was mistaken.
Not only did we have a nice turnout, but those motherfuckers really enjoyed the show. It couldn't have hurt that many of them were probably as drunk as we were, but they demonstrated a level of enthusiasm that I wasn't prepared for. Holy shit... are we actually as funny as we think we are?
Thank you to everyone who showed up to personally witness us fuck up a game of Pathfinder.