Interlocking Bits of Cool Stuff

Chuck, Me, and Weber

It took me forever to figure out how to organize a Wandering about all the cool things that happened this weekend at Congregate, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to organize it.

Why was organization an issue?  Because so many of the things I want to tell you about interlock in all sorts of intricate ways.  I took a break to exercise and, while doing so, decided that the only possible organization was to set up a bunch of subheadings and leave it up to you to bounce around between them in whatever order you want.

So…  Here goes.

Hanging Out With Old Pals

The illustration for this piece shows me and two long-time friends, Charles  E. “Chuck” Gannon and David Weber.  Chuck and I were co-guests of honor, but we have also known each other since I was a junior in college.  Often reconnecting with old friends becomes awkward once the reminiscing is over.  Happily, Chuck and I immediately reconnected, touched on the past, and blasted into the future.

Weber and I have been buddies since he had one-and-a-half-published novels, and I had one published short story.  Yes.  We’ve collaborated with each other on many projects, but those are secondary to the fact that we’re sympatico.  His arrival with his wife, Sharon, and their son, Michael (who Jim taught to crawl, long story), was a great treat.  We did several panels on Friday before they had to depart to take Michael off to a summer internship.

Since this was the first time Jim and I had been at an East Coast con in a while, many friends came to the con.  Phyllis White, who was a consultant on my second novel, Marks of Our Brothers and provided many coyote stories for Changer, came with mutual friend, Chris Cowan.  Paul Dellinger, who has been my pen pal for something like twenty-five years, came – and ended up on so many panels we kept passing in the halls, but we did find time for some good visiting.

Yvonne Coats and Mike Collins, pals from New Mexico, now relocated to Virginia,came down.  Ursula Vernon and Kevin Sonney couldn’t do the con, but they came up and joined us for dinner Saturday night.

Scot and Jane Noel, with whom I did the Chronomaster computer game in 1995, came from Pittsburgh.  We discussed a new project that…  Well, look for the heading below.  Speaking of games, John Cocking, who I met as the son of one of my colleagues at Lynchburg College, materialized briefly at my signing, bought a copy of Asphodel, presented me with copies of his very cool-looking role-playing game Beyond the Wall, then vanished like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only his smile.

The Live D&D Game

This was a blast.  Chuck proved that his luck with dice has not improved in the decades since our weekly games.  Yes, folks.  He really did fumble twice in a row.  Thanks to Steve Long for organizing the adventure and for being patient with the barely-organized chaos that ensued.  I’ll keep you posted as to whether John Harkness (aka Funyons the Bard) did capture enough audio for a podcast.

Weber’s Long-Held Secret

Guess what?  There’s going to be a new Star Kingdom aka Stephanie Harrington aka Treecat book.  Weber has known for three months and kept the news to himself so he could tell me in person.  I’ll keep you posted.

Yes, Reader.  I did hug him.

A New Magazine

The project that Scot and Jane Noel brainstormed with me is called DreamForge the Magazine.  They brought with them the 2018 mockup issue and it looks fantastic.  I’m on the masthead as Senior Advisor and Creative Consultant.  You can see a little about it at  You’ll hear more about it from me as we get closer to taking subscriptions.  One thing I can say for certain: It’s going to be fantastic.

Why Congregate Was Particularly Terrific

Other than the fact that they had good coffee available all day?  Well…

So often, an out-of-region guest at a con ends up feeling like an outsider.  This isn’t because the locals aren’t welcoming.  Often it’s the exact opposite.  They’re so determined to be welcoming in the most formal sense of the word that the GOH is left feeling like Great Aunt Mildred at the family reunion.  Everyone is glad you came, but no one knows exactly what to say to you.

I mean after “I really love your books” and “What are you writing now?” what really is there to talk about?

What was special about Congregate was how much effort the staff and attendees put into making me and Jim feel we were not only welcome, but also worth getting to know.   Chuck Rizzo met us at the airport with not only a polite smile but with a chatty history of the High Point area where to con was being held.  (Who ever knew that there was a fashion week for furniture?)

Tera Fulbright, who was my contact person and the programming coordinator, met me at the registration desk in company with her daughter, Hannah, who had taken responsibility for presenting us with our special Guest of Honor swag bag.  Hannah (age eleven) was delightful, and I was so happy that Tera felt we could be greeted with such familial friendliness.

It just got better from there.  A person met once became an on-going source of smiles and friendly greetings that made me feel like I was welcome as more than a sort of performing animal.

But the best thing was that no one was intrusive.  As I mentioned above in “Hanging Out With Old Pals,” numerous friends made the trip to the con.  We often gathered in the comfy chairs in the lobby to visit, but although many people waved as they went by, no one tried to crash old home week.  That meant we could stay part of the con, but still catch up.  Such courtesy is a rare thing, and it meant I was much more willing to take time when I wasn’t occupied to chat with attendees.

This is getting long, so I won’t keep listing people…  I’ll just say “thank you” and I sincerely hope we meet again!

Conclusion of Utter Lack of Organization

Hope you enjoyed this sampler platter!  Now, off to catch up on my writing!


10 Responses to “Interlocking Bits of Cool Stuff”

  1. stevenslong Says:

    The game was an absolute blast! It was great to meet you, Jane, and have you take part in the adventure. Hopefully we can do it again sometime. 😉

    • janelindskold Says:

      I am reading your book… I want to play my paladin again. She wants to complain about how Freya’s tears were mentioned but not her Hall of Heroes. Seriously, liking the book.

  2. Louis Robinson Says:

    Sorry, Jane, but that was eminently well organised. There was even a modicum of logic to it, irrelevant as that is to this sort of report.

    Oh, and BLEEEK!

  3. John C Says:

    It was a delight to see you, however briefly. I hope I disappear a little more slowly next time you’re in the area!

    • janelindskold Says:

      I did look for your after… Now I’m considering whether I can use the game books you gave me within the game I’m already running. You have an interesting concept there — basically a game designed for rapid play w/o losing emotional depth.

      • John C Says:

        The fault is entirely my own. Before I discovered the convention was coming to town, I’d promised away too much of my weekend, and so didn’t have as much time at the con as I might’ve liked.

        I’m delighted by your interest in Beyond the Wall. We’re quite pleased with how the character creation process gets us to care not only about our own characters, but our friends’ characters as well. It is largely compatible with what used to be “the world’s most popular role playing game,” so it should lend itself well to adaptation for your game. I’d love to hear about any house rules you use to smooth the transition, should you make the change.

      • janelindskold Says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily discard my current game (which is based on GURPS 3rd) but use your game for those times when my characters turn right when I expected them to turn left. Another option would be to integrate into one of their current plotlines, which involves a deity of luck — having them deal with an adventure dictated on the fly by dice has a certain bizarre suitability.

        I wonder if any of them will read this…

  4. Heather Says:

    Delurking to say that my 8yo daughter SCREAMED with joy when I read her the bit about the new Stephanie book.

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