Wild West Weekend: MileHiCon 50

Just Part Of The MIleHiCon 50 GOH Line-up

Where do I start?  Cool panels?  Meeting up with friends too long not seen in person?  Getting a chance to chat with writers and artists whose work I’ve long admired?  Learning I was a key member of the archer team defending Gondor?

I guess I’ll be boring and go chronologically…

But first I’d like to thank two people who helped make the con special for me: readers and Firekeeper fans, Jason and Christine.  These hard-working people separately found time during their very busy weekends to travel to MileHiCon to meet me.  You can’t possibly understand how honored I am.  I hope you had fun.

So…  This weekend’s adventure in more or less chronological order…

Jim and I had a good drive up from Albuquerque to Denver, arriving just about an hour before Opening Ceremonies for MileHiCon 50.  For this landmark occasion, MileHiCon had invited back all past Guests of Honor.  An astonishing twenty-five or so were able to return, making for a showcase to rival most major conventions – and with everyone a whole lot more accessible.

Thanks to a suggestion by Jim Van Pelt, each author had a special Guest of Honor sash to wear.  After putting these on, we quickly scurried into alphabetical order.  Then one by one, we paraded down the red carpet and took our seats on the stage.  I think it was Jeanne Stine who, looking at the stage burdened with lines of chairs, said: “I hope that doesn’t collapse!”

Opening ceremonies were followed by a meet and greet combined with a Guest of Honor signing event.  By chance, I ended up sitting next to Lawrence Watt-Evans.  I’d never met this gentleman before, but he has a special place in my writing life.  He sent me my very first rejection letter.  While he didn’t take my story, he also didn’t crush my hopes and dreams, for which I will always be grateful.

Later, when Jim and I wandered into the bar to find out what the Author’s Networking event was about, we ended up bumping into Steve Brust and accompanying him to his “office” (the outdoor smoking area) where we spent a very happy half-hour or so while Steve quizzed Jim about various archeological theories, and Jim happily dove in to give what answers he could.  (Yes.  I am sensitive to cigarette smoke, but chatting with Brust was worth it!  Besides, he sat upwind from my lungs.)

Saturday morning, we rose early enough to attend the KaffeKlatch in the con suite.  When I was a MileHiCon GOH last year, I’d been assigned this event and immediately became hooked on it as a laid back way to chat with fans and guests.  This year we scored big, because both Jack McDevitt and Barbara Hambly were on deck.  We settled into a side room and enjoyed a free-form chat loosely organized around various media influences on SF and F, going all the way back to radio serials.  I was grateful that my pen pal Paul Dellinger had long ago educated me both in classic SF film and TV, and in those great radio dramas.

Later, I had a panel on “Whatever Happened to… Questions Definitively Not Answered in Your Books.”  This rapidly segued into what might have been called “Who Is Your Audience? And What Mistakes Are You Most Embarrassed By?”  It became very lively…

After that, we snagged lunch, did a quick tour of the excellent art show and dealers’ room, then went off for the oddest GOH presentation I have ever been part of.  Each GOH had been asked to send seven images that would be turned into slides.  We each then had four minutes to make our presentation.  It went astonishingly smoothly, except for when the slides stuck at Jack McDevitt who did a brilliant job of adlibbing while the show was unstuck.  Kudos also to Carrie Vaughn and Rob Sawyer, who each did impromptu presentations for a GOH who wasn’t able to be there for their slides.

The PackaGOHcha was immediately followed by a mass signing, during which I had a chance to briefly catch up with long-time friend, artist Liz Danforth.  After the mass signing, I had my shared GOH presentation with Jack McDevitt.  We had a great time discussing why we love SF, assisted by some very thoughtful questions and comments from the audience.

That was the end of my programming for the day but, after we’d had some dinner, we decided to try something new, so we went off to listen to the Artist Roundtable discussion.  The topic of discussion was how to handle mailing art to convention shows.  Even though neither Jim nor I are artists nor do we have any plans to become such, we very much enjoyed this chance to see another aspect of the convention scene.  An added bonus was a chance to chat after with artist Chaz Kemp and his writer wife, Carolyn.

Sunday began again with the KaffeeKlatsch, for which this time I was an official host along with the aforementioned Chaz Kemp.  Attendance was lighter than Saturday (doubtless because so many people had been up way too late), but it was a great way to get ready for the day.

Later that day, we were back in the con suite to help Carrie Vaughn celebrate the release of her new novella Paranormal Bromance.  It’s set in the same universe as her “Kitty” books and features three “Millennial” generation vampires.  If the sample she read is any indication, Paranormal Bromance is going to be both funny and thoughtful.  As a bonus, Carrie explained to me what the term “Bromance” means…

Then we raced down to attend the GOH presentation by artists Lubov, Teresa Mather, and Liz Danforth.  Despite difficulties with the visuals, these three talented artists gave a great presentation.  I was especially delighted when Teresa Mather devoted her presentation to the work she has done on carousels throughout the country, but all of it was fascinating.

My Sunday panel was titled “Creating Fictional But Meaningful Religions.”   Since I love mythology and anthropology, I’ve been on quite a few similar panels.  This was, by far, the best.  The panelists were well-informed and actually stuck to the topic – using examples from their own work and those of other authors to illustrate both the complexities and rewards involved in creating meaningful religions.

That was it until closing ceremonies.  Once again, the format had been cleverly adapted to allow all the Guests of Honor their moment in the spotlight without ever becoming repetitious.  However, not one of us knew what would be expected until we entered the room and took a seat at the front of the room: each of us would be responsible for introducing the person on our right.  Given that we’d grabbed chairs at random, this was quite a challenge.  Happily for me, I was to introduce Lawrence Watt-Evans with whom, as noted above, I have a bit of personal history.  Barbara Hambly introduced me with true panache, given that until this weekend we hadn’t spoken for more than a few minutes.  She ended by revealing my key role as a defender of Gondor.  Now I understand all those curious dreams…

Even when the con had ended, the fun wasn’t over.  Author/editor David Boop took me, Jim, Steve Brust, and John Forrest out for a wonderful traditional Japanese dinner followed by a jaunt to The Inventing Room for ice cream desserts made on the spot with (among other ingredients) liquid nitrogen.

The drive home from Denver included great wildlife viewing including herds of antelope, scattered deer, red tailed hawks, ravens, and what we’re pretty sure was a beefalo.  I know this last isn’t a wild creature, but, hey, seeing one was pretty wild!

Now it’s back to writing before life does its next hard right turn.  Stay tuned next week for an update as to what that will be…


2 Responses to “Wild West Weekend: MileHiCon 50”

  1. Louis Robinson Says:


  2. Harry Palmer Says:

    Great! I really enjoyed your writeup. Now I’ll need to figure out how and when to attend one of these events. I love the crowds but my wife hates them, so I suspect I would really need to convince her it is worth attending.

    I’m glad you and Jim were able to attend, especially since you were a GOH! If your discussions are anything like the conferences & conventions I used to attend, then your Energizer Writing Batteries are fully recharged and you are already thinking of ways to “borrow” some of the concepts which were discussed and enter them into some of your storylines.

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