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ConGregate 6

by Dennis M. Myers, 07/17/2019

When I decided I wanted to go to ConGregate this year, it was really so that I could accomplish one thing. I wanted to meet Gray Rinehart. He's the Slushmaster General at Baen, and as such, the one who will read my book. I had heard good things about him from three different people I know and respect. I watched some of his YouTube videos and saw a decent man. I learned a bit about his background, and the fact that he's ex-military made me feel good.

I have to admit to some pro-military bias. Not for the conservative political bent it usually imparts, mind you, but for the shared, common experience of serving this country. I also bought his book, Walking on the Sea of Clouds. My first story starts on a fully colonized moon, and he wrote this story about constructing the first colony. It was something I wanted to read, along with Moon Beam by Jody Lynn Nye and Travis S. Taylor. I would mention all of the other books I've read on the subject, but these are the two authors I've actually met.

While I was at it, I joined his mailing list. The resulting interaction between us made me feel really good about meeting him.

Now, keep in mind, he might not like my first novel. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of first novels do not get published. I know this. I have plenty of research that tells me this is so. Which is why my goal is to have another novel in the slush pile before the first one is read. When I told Gray that this was my plan, he was very positive. If the first one doesn't get published, maybe the second one will. We will see.

The point is, regardless of what happens, I will continue to write until I can write no more. I'll improve my skills, and keep telling my stories. I have created such a huge playground for myself, I can't wait to explore it as much as I can.

Since I'm already mentioning it, Walking on the Sea of Clouds is a book I would recommend to my friends who like solid science in their fiction. I compare it to the Mars television series where they interspersed mini-documentary material alongside the fictional account. This book is like that in tone and science, but without the documentary portions. The characters stand out as real people, doing real things, and encountering problems along the way. Their goal is to establish a fully self-sufficient colony on the Moon. You can click on the book cover image up there and go get it for yourself.

My copy has now been personalized by the author. May and I spend a little over an hour listening to him sing his songs. They are weird, a little silly or sad, and well worth the time to listen. Before the concert I had been working on my next book, Endurance. While I was supposed to be quietly sitting there enjoying the music, my devious brain hit me with a lyric. The setup is that the last contact expedition to fail ended in a feast. The lines would be part of a song called "Eaten by an Ombax". The fourth line made me laugh out loud. I hope Gray thought I was laughing at Tauntauns for Glory. I decided later to add the line, "Too soon, Gray. Too soon." I don't know that it will make it into the book, but it's just the sort of human way to deal with grief I would expect. If nothing else, maybe people will sing those lines at Science Fiction conventions in the future.

I met Michael A. Stackpole. May and I wanted a place to sit, and we ended up sitting next to him. I recognized him and started a conversation. He's a very generous and giving person. We had a great conversation and he gave me a lot of advice. At one point I whipped out my phone and ordered a reference book to help me get one of my characters right. Many thanks for that, Michael. Later I sat in on him talking about his work in the Star Wars universe. Come to think of it, someone should write a book about that.

The bad news of the weekend was that Eric Flynt is laid up in a hospital in Utah. We all wish him a speedy recovery. Having the Guest of Honor cancel at the last moment is a hard thing to deal with for people who run conventions. Luckily, Toni Weisskopf stepped in and let herself be interviewed. Toni is the Publisher at Baen. Kind of a big deal for me. Needless to say I dragged May to watch the interview. Toni is great. I enjoyed hearing her talk about a variety of topics.

One thing that really hit home for me is how some estates seem to value their deceased family author's work so much they won't let it free to find a new audience. It got me thinking about my universe, and what I want to build. I'll say it right now. I want to share my universe, and let it keep growing and entertaining people long after I am gone. Unless there is a practical breakthrough soon, immortality of the body isn't going to be mine. But knowing that something of me is left in capable hands to continue to grow and bring joy.... That's pretty darn close.

Meeting Gray Rinehart and Toni Weisskopf was a real pleasure. They are a couple of warm hearted, kind people. I know it seems a little self serving because I want them to publish my work, but they aren't the types to be influence by a blog post. They are folks looking for talent and growing a family. The fact that I want to be a part of that family is another thing. The Baen Roadshow was great. They give away free books and spotlight their authors. If you like Science Fiction or Fantasy, you should at least show up for the free book, and stay for the slideshow.

I also met Teresa Howard. She struck me as an interesting person and wouldn't you know it, she's got a book out by a smaller publisher, and a second one in the works. I ordered the book, because I think she's really nice, and after hearing her talk about things, I want to know what kind of book she wrote. I'm looking forward to it.

Allen Wold was there. I didn't have as much interaction with him as I would have liked. What I wanted to do over the weekend didn't line up with his plotting workshop. I'll have to keep my eye out for it in the future. His daughter Darcy was there as a panelist, too. She's a trip. Smartest person on the panel, that's for sure. She's also an artist and does her father's book covers.

Not everything was perfect. One of the elevators stopped working, the hotel maintenance guy quit, and someone from the bistro walked off the job. I heard reports of plumbing issues as well. The people working at the hotel bent over backwards to make it right. They opened the maintenance elevator, swapped people's rooms, and tried their best to maintain a positive attitude. I have to say, those folks did a great job dealing with the adversity. Then on the drive home, our minivan started to cough. Just enough to turn off the cruise control. Any time extra power was needed, like going up a moderate hill, the car was coughing and sputtering with the expected loss of power. With 95 degree weather outside, the air conditioning was also growing very weak. By the time we got to May's lab, we had been roasted. As I am writing this particular section, it's at the shop, which will open tomorrow morning and look at it.

Interesting addendum, my Uber driver was from Mongolia. I asked if he liked Mongolian Heavy Metal. Turns out, he loves it, (The Hu) and is also a big Band-Maid fan. Nice guy. Now I get to link to my music.

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