Antelope, Wookie, Buffalo?

Last Friday, Jim and I drove up to Denver for MileHiCon.  The weather was lovely and the route over mountains and plains was a festival of wildlife.  I kept singing “Home on the Range” because we saw deer and antelope, and kept hoping for buffalo.

Jason, Me, Carrie, and Eric

We also saw numerous hawks, ravens, magpies, and what I could swear was a black swan.  This last was in flight, but I can’t think what else could have had that profile.

Because I hadn’t been able to promise I would be there early (departure time was predicated on when we would finish giving fluids to our two senior cats), my first official item of programming was the Opening Ceremonies.

I tidied up from travel and came down to find programming coordinator Rose Beetem and her assistant Meg Ward lurking with evil intent.  You see, for its theme the convention was celebrating Star Wars (in honor of the film’s fortieth anniversary), and Rose wanted the toastmaster and guests of honor to help out.

Toastmaster Jason Heller got a quilted vest so he could be Han Solo.  Artist Guest of Honor Carrie Ann Baade was a perfect Princess Leia – even without the hairpiece.  Author Guest of Honor Eric Flint was asked to step in as Yoda – which he did by stretching a Yoda stocking cap over his pork pie hat.  And I was asked to represent Chewbacca – “Because of the wolves” as Rose kept explaining.  I accepted the embroidered stocking cap with slight trepidation, but what the heck…

I actually really like Chewbacca, so why not?  I then channeled Chewie during my opening comments, apparently badly startling the first several rows of attendees.

After opening ceremonies, I had a chance to chat with Carrie Ann Baade.  During a quick preliminary pass through the art show, I’d already decided I liked her art.  By the end of our chat, I was certain I liked her as well.  Her students (she’s a university professor) are very lucky to have her guiding them through the early stages of their creative journey.

Then it was off to the Friday night mixer, during which guests of honor, past and present, are available to sign and chat.  I had some great discussions with various people and finally had a chance to talk with Eric Flint.

Eric Flint had come with very high recommendations from a wide variety of people.  He not only lived up to, he exceeded, those recommendations.  After the signing had ebbed, we ended up staying on to chat with Eric and author Dave Boop about westerns, romances, and the works of James Joyce.  Then, after a quick pass through the con suite, where Bubonicon was hosting  a pizza party, Jim and I toddled off to bed.

The next morning, I was scheduled to be one of the hosts of the morning Kaffeeklatch along with Eric Flint and Carrie Vaughn.  We had a lovely, lively discussion that set the tone for the rest of a very active day.

My next panel was Animal Attraction.  The other panelists shared my enthusiasm for and appreciation of animals, and we had a great discussion.  I learned things about elephants I’d never imagined.  I then took off for a couple of hours to visit with my late father’s best friend, which was simply lovely.

My afternoon (by my own choice) was packed.  I attended the Mass Autographing, during which I continued the patchwork quilt chat I’d been having with Jason Heller about the works of David Bowie.  From there I went to my Hour With.

I gave the audience a choice of me talking, me reading a short story, or me reading from my forthcoming novel, Asphodel.  The audience was split, so I did twenty-five minutes of reading from Asphodel and twenty-five minutes of answering questions.  Again, the questions were great, and I could have spent a lot more time with those folks, but I was off to “Iron Hack.”  I’m going to talk about this panel as part of a blog later on, so I’ll just say I had a lovely time.

From there, we got ourselves some dinner, then opted to get some quiet time so I could prepare for the next day.

Sunday morning we awoke refreshed and, because we’d enjoyed the Kaffeeklatch on Saturday, decided to go back down.  This time the topic began with anime (an enthusiasm of mine and, so it soon became clear, of many people present) and circled around to discussing aspects of writing.  After that, we went down to tour the art show and dealer’s room.  Both were high quality and very nicely run.

Eleven o’clock brought me back in company with Jason, Carrie, and Eric for the Guest of Honor remarks and the announcement of various awards.  The ninety minutes raced by.  Then, after chatting a little with a few participants, Jim and I grabbed a salad from the coffee shop and went to our room to regroup.

At 2:00, I gave a talk about writing endings to a packed room.  From there, I went straight to a panel on comedic fantasy.  This last was really neat because the participants were two fans (who were obviously avid readers) and two writers.  Although all the comments were excellent, I learned a great deal from listening to Laurence McNaughton talk about how he sets up his humorous fantasy novels.

After the panel, Jim and I found ourselves comfortable chairs in the lobby.  There we were lucky enough to be joined by Toastmaster Jason Heller.  All weekend, we’d been having a fragmented chat about the works of David Bowie – triggered, I admit, by my desire to make up for a panel we didn’t get to do at the 2015 Bubonicon.  Now we were able to really get into details. This included me asking Jason about his approach for organizing his forthcoming non-fiction work Strange Stars, which is about the intersection of pop music and science fiction.

From there, we went off to Closing Ceremonies.  Eric Flint had already left to catch his plane, so our little band of stalwart rebels had lost its Yoda.  Nonetheless, we forged on.  The Force was definitely with us.

Later, Jim and I attended the Dead Dog party, during which I found a fellow audiobook enthusiast named Meaghan to chat with.  Monday morning we were back on the road, heading south.  On the way out, we’d seen antelope and deer.  This time we added a very large herd of buffalo to our tally.

So we went home, home across the range!  If I met you at MileHiCon, thanks for making me and Jim feel so welcome.  If not, well, maybe we can talk next year when we hope to be back to help MileHiCon celebrate its 50th anniversary.

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