July 30th - August 1st, 2004
Imperial Palace Hotel - Las Vegas, NV

Jane Espenson: Mutant Enemy Writer (BtVS/AtS/Firefly)
Glenn Yeffeth: Author of The Seven Seasons of Buffy
David Lavery: Buffy scholar and critic
Don DeBrandt: SFWA member and author of Angel tie-in #5 Shakedown
Nan Dibble: SFWA member and author of Plot - Elements of Fiction Writing
Jacqueline Lichtenberg: SFWA member and featured in Seven Seasons of Buffy

July 28, 2004

Day one got off to a good start. No major disasters, although the van slipped its belts again, so we had to drop it off at the garage on the way down to the airport. We got to the airport with plenty of time. I love this new self-serve thing the airlines have for check-in. I always felt so pressured going to the counter, but now it’s just me and the computer. Quick and painless.

Met Xionin at the gate and we finagled seats together. The nice guy at the gate even rigged it so the seat between us was empty. It was good in theory. In actuality, the flight was booked solid and some poor guy was stuck sitting between us while his fiancée sat behind. We switched around so he was on the aisle and I was in the middle. Fun ride for me with my arms crossed most of the time. But it wasn’t a long flight, about an hour and forty-five minutes to Cincinnati.

We get to Cincinnati with a little over an hour till our connection, so we figure we’ll grab some lunch before we try to get our seats changed for that leg. Do not EVER go to the McDonalds in the Cincinnati airport. EVER. I was in line for fifteen minutes, and then I waited another fifteen minutes for the food. Fifteen minutes for a burger and fries. And the fries were cold! So we scramble to the gate (fortunately right next to the food court), got our seats changed and had five minutes to scarf our feed before they began boarding. *sigh* We were seated aisle and middle, and no one was on the window, so we spent the whole boarding paring no one would come for that seat. Xi kept watching the line of passengers and insisting they were coming back to us. But no one ever did, so we got to spread out and be comfortable.

Which was a good thing, because that was without doubt the bumpiest flight I have ever been on. We were on the edge of thunderstorms coming across the plains and ended up climbing to almost forty thousand feed to get away from it, and then coming up on Vegas there was all this temperature based turbulence. By the time we touched down, I was this close to needing an airsick bag for the first time ever. On the positive side, we had been rerouted south over Arizona to get around some of it, so we got to fly the length of the Grand Canyon to get to the City. Granted it was out the window on the opposite side of the plane, but it was still incredible. I didn’t think I would be impressed by a big hole in the ground, but I really was. I was so tempted to plan a trip out there tomorrow, but I have to meet the new arrivals.

Back to the airports. McCarran is a nice airport, but it is spread out. Enough that you have to ride a tram from the gate to the baggage claim. Nice tram, though. Some confusion with the bags, since I’d only had mine a week and wasn’t sure what it looked like, and by some weird chance someone else had exactly the same bag with exactly the same tour company tag as Xi. After a brief panic that someone else was walking off with Xi’s porn underwear bag, we found the right one and off we went.

Nice cab ride into the city, and we had fun seeing all the resorts, although they looked kind of tacky in direct sunlight. The Imperial Palace is nice. Low end, but comfortable. Xi got checked in (I spent the first night with her. Cuz I’m too chicken to sleep by myself) and we went up to get settled. And who should we meet in the elevator but Mezzibelle? After quick introductions, she told us what room the concom was in if we wanted to stop by. Well, of course we did! We dropped the bags off and checked out the room (the Luuuuv tub is huge! And there are mirrors on the ceiling over it and the bed!), we closed up shop and headed downstairs.

What a hoot! We arrived at the beginning of bag stuffing, so I set to folding inserts with all my hard earned skills. Having mastered that, I got to help make badges. Kimi trimmed them, then I stuck them in their little sleeve. So I got to squee and fondle cardboard at each name I recognized. Some of them ended up a little slobbery. But we had lots of fun visiting and making initial contact. Then finally around ten we went off in search of food and a pharmacy.

Ah, yes, the tale of the toiletries. I very wisely packed everything in Ziploc bags so any eruptions would cause minimal damage. Well, the worst happened, and my perfume, essential oil actually, leaked all over in the bag with my small stuff. So now my jewelry, my hair ties, and my toothbrush are all bergamot flavored. Not so bad, except for the toothbrush. So I needed a replacement. We started walking down the strip, which was fun. Lots to see. The architecture is amazing. Totally form over function, and not in a practical way. But for the most part it was beautiful. We walked past Treasure Island in time to catch the finale of their free outdoor pirate show, and saw gondolas punting around the Venetian. But no drug stores. After half an hour, we headed back, stopping off for Chinese food for dinner. And Pepsi. A big, much needed Pepsi. Found a toothbrush in the gift shop here in the Imperial. So fed and brushified, we headed up to bed.

Yeah, right.

My allergies, which I was so certain would clear away once we hit LV, have actually gotten worse. So I dozed fitfully until finally I had to get up and take a benadryl. An hour later Xi was awake, too, and I was taking a second pill. We sat up for a while, and I called Eric who was just getting off work and then wrote this entry. Xi puttered around for a while and then went back to sleep.

I think I finally feel the pills beginning to kick in. Stay tuned tomorrow for the beginning of the con and the appearance of the other half of my brain!

July 29, 2004

Woke up at seven. Ah, two blissful hours of sleep. So much for coming to Vegas early to catch up on my rest before the con starts. I started to accept that my sneezing might not be allergies and might instead be a summer cold when I finished off the box of Kleenex in the room and was forced to resort to washcloths. So finally I dragged myself out of bed, looked up the address of the nearest drugstore, a CVS on the 3700 block of the Strip (we’re on the 3500 block) and set out.

Now, “blocks” in Las Vegas is a deceptive term. They are not the 100 yard regular divisions I’m used to. Basically I walked about a mile and a half before I found the place. I started to get paranoid that I was going in the wrong direction, but fortunately I passed a visitor’s center and stopped in. The guy was really nice and told me that I was going in the right direction, and I was even on the right side of the street, which is an issue with the Strip. That’s a scary ass road. Found lots of cheap t-shirt shops and all the touristy stores, though. And found out Grand Canyon tours average $100. Sigh. Next time. Finally, finally found the drug store. Picked out my Puffs Plus with lotion (to apologize to my poor nose for the washcloths) and blessed, blessed Alka Seltzer Plus cold medicine. This is the best stuff ever for upper respiratory ailments. At the register, I ripped open the Kleenex box as soon as the girl scanned it and honked like an elephant. The clerk was very sympathetic (although she slid me my change across the counter instead of handing it to me), and said everyone in Vegas has the same thing, that she and one of the other girls there were tempted to walk around with tissue stuffed up their nose. Comforting, and yet not. And then began the long trek back to the hotel. It actually wasn’t so bad, except my arthritic feet hurt. I got to walk past the Flaming and Bally’s and the Bellagio. And that early in the morning seems to be the ideal time to go walking. It’s not crowded, and while it’s hot, it’s not sweltering. I passed a thermometer that said it was 92, and I would have guessed it to be the low to mid 80’s. I usually self-destruct over 87. I guess that “dry heat” thing is true.

Arrived back to find Xi puttering about. I took my medicine and then set about topping up my phone. Apparently I will be having financial difficulties all weekend. The phone system wouldn’t automatically recognize my credit card, even though it has done dozens of times so far, so I had to actually call in, confront Virgin’s truly annoying automated service and get someone to do it for me manually. On a different card. Sigh. That finally taken care of so I could get in touch with arrivals (and my family), we decided it was time for breakfast. Rather than get adventurous, we just went to the teahouse here in the hotel. Decent food, so I can’t complain. Not anything exciting, basically diner food. As we came out afterwards, I got two text messages. Mydeira had landed, and she had written smut. Woohoo!!! Rather than subject Xi to the frightening amount of squeeage that would be taking place, we went up to the concom room to hook her up with people. No one was in the room, but we weren’t the only ones waiting, so we hung out until I got another text from Mydeira (aka Nikki) saying she was in the shuttle and on her way. I went downstairs to wait.

Whoops, I forgot check-in. After breakfast, we figured I might as well at least get registered. I couldn’t get into the room until after three, but at least I’d have the paperwork done. Smart move. It took about twenty minutes to go through everything, including having to manually approve the credit card as it wasn’t being accepted (this was the card that did work with the phone. Go figure.) But the lady was really nice, and switched our room around so a) we’d be closer to Xi and b) we’d have a non-smoking room (which I had asked for but apparently hadn’t got). She also said that my cold/allergies/whatever might actually be from the cigarette smoke. Well, duh. I hadn’t even thought of that. I have been sensitive to it before, although I haven’t had sneezing fits over it in ages. She recommended saline to flush it all out. Next treatment.

Back to the story.

So I hung out near the front door for about fifteen minutes before Nikki arrived and the squeeing commenced. She’s a tiny thing, although annoyingly tall (says the jealous short person), and does look very much like the girl in her icon, only with glasses. After we finished squeeing and hugging, we headed up to Xi’s room.

Things get kind of fuzzy for me here. It’s good cold medicine, but it’s kind of sleep inducing, and I had just taken a second dose when we got back to the room. So I know Wisteria called to say she and Kelly hk had landed, and I know Xi came back, and I know I laid down for a little bit, but I couldn’t tell you what happened in what order. I did sleep for a little while while they visited and watched tennis. Around 2:30 Wis called again to say she was in the lobby, so I dragged myself downstairs to meet her. She said she was the one in the Kelly green shirt, and she wasn’t kidding!

Back we went to Xi’s room (did I mention she’s on the 18th floor?) to hang out for a while and visit. We discussed some of the social politics issues facing the weekend, and Wis gave us cute little con notebooks and gel pens, which I’d love to use if I didn’t already have my own anal retentive con notebook started. She also let us pick from some lovely beaded jewelry she had hand made, just to say thank you for us letting her stay with us. Like we’d have said no!

Four o’clock was the beginning of the meet and greet in the bar. So off we all tromp again. Ran into Pepperlandgirl4 and slacker_97 (aka Pepper and Jaime) in the elevator lobby. More low key squeeage. I stopped off at the desk to get my key (painfully aware that check-in is now taking 45 minutes or more. Early is good), and then we headed into the bar. This was a nice place, with a lot of couches as well as the tables and chairs and it was two for one happy hour. So we got our drinks (the first amaretto sours I’d been able to get in years, not being a bar girl) and a bunch of food, and we nailed down a set of couches and tables in the corner. Which turned into the happening spot. Essene and Spiralled joined us for a while, as did Pepper and Jaime. Jacqueline Lichtenberg came by with flyers (squee!!!! She edited the collection I drew the inspiration for IDF from. I had to stand up and shake her hand). Nikki and I turned around to visit with some folks on the couch behind us (two Spike slashers and an Oz fan), and we got to pimp the OT3. Periodically you could hear squeals coming from here and there about the room. Keep in mind we aren’t the only ones here. There are a lot of mundanes in amongst us. In fact, our waitress asked us what we were here for and we all said practically in unison “A writing conference.” “Yeah? You all are writers?” “Yeah, we all write pornography for fun,” says witty I. She seemed impressed. Or maybe it was the amaretto sours coloring my vision.

So it got to be 6:30, and I had volunteer orientation at 7 in the registration room so we headed off. But coming out of the bar we see Essene and Spiralled talking to . . . wait for it . . . Nauti, Love and Mr. Monkey bottoms. Ohmigod!!! Will not squee, will not squee. Exchange words with Essene about . . . hell if I can remember. Will not squee, will not squee. Fuck it. Out goes the hand. “Hi, I’m sorry, but I have to do this. I’m Sadbhyl, and I know who you are. It’s nice to meet you.” “Oh, hey! How are you?” Like she actually remembered who I was and genuinely cared! Will not squee, will not squee. Gave her directions to orientation and the time and all. No squee, no squee. Made it into the hotel. SQUEE!!!! Hop, jump and squee! I hugged Nautibitz! Squeesqueesquee!!!!

Slot machines cover a variety of embarrassing sounds.

Nikki went off to do her thing, and I went to do mine. Nothing earth shattering in the meeting, although it became really clear just how hard the concom has been working to make this a success. And they have done a fabulous job of it. Got our marching orders (and got to make Green cry in a good way), dropped off my binders for the library and headed off to find Nikki. Who, wouldn’t you know, was just then coming out of the elevator. Same brain, I’m telling you. We headed up to the con suite so I could confirm my working times with Shaddyr and get hospitality instruction. We went kind of a circuitous route and ended up very turned around but finally we found the room, and Xi as well. After I met with Shad, she asked me to cover things while she went to get her guitar and sheet music and talked. And one of the first people we met was the first non-LJ person to send us feedback on the OT3. More squee! The cool thing about this con is that you get to squee over your favorite writes, and then you get to squee over your favorite feedbackers. It goes in both directions and is too much fun.

Shad got back and we shifted from the door to the floor and had many lovely conversations. The squeeing was pretty constant and very funny. At one point Shad interrupted all conversation to make everyone introduce themselves, and there was almost always an “Oh!” or “It’s you!” from somewhere in the room for everyone. I can’t remember who all I met, but we had a great visit with Denny_DC, and I got to meet DutchBuffy (who I guiltily acknowledge not having ever read, but who was absolutely charming.). Diachrony and her sister showed around 9:30 or so. Poor things. Margo was recovering from food poisoning, and they had gotten lost getting there and had gotten lost in town. Dio seemed excited, but Margo looked ready to collapse, so they only hung out long enough to get and give room numbers before they went in search of room service and sleep. Finally at 11 we were all in, and headed back up to our own room (did I mention we’re on the seventeenth floor?) for showers, smut reading and a little bit of plotting. (We know how to finish S5, we just have to get it done). The water pressure here, btw, is ungodly. They don’t need shower massagers, the spray is that strong!

Oh, and also btw, did you notice I haven’t mentioned my cold? I don’t know if it was the meds or the amaretto, but whatever it was, it worked wonders. I conked off, not to be heard from until six the next morning, when I needed more cold medicine and I wrote this entry. Tomorrow, the con starts in earnest!

July 30, 2004

Woke up at five with the sneezes again. Sigh. Got up and took my cold medicine, then sat up and journalled for two hours. Went back to bed just before eight and slept until Xi called at nine to get together for breakfast. Got up and dressed and we dragged downstairs to grab a quickie meal because we’d forgotten that opening ceremonies were at 9:30. We met Pepper and Jaime and had a nice visit before heading on to the conference rooms.

It was so exciting seeing all of us in one place. The concom worked so hard, and to see it finally come together must have been a huge thrill for them. Chris and the others did their spiel and then asked for questions. There was only one. “Are you going to do this again next year?” And the answer was “Not in twelve months. 18-24 is more likely.” Which is good enough for me!

My first panel was the Philosophy of Fanfiction. It was a nice start, kind of low key. I didn’t really get anything new that I hadn’t read before in the academic books, but it was good for starting to get the crowd warmed up.

Afterwards Nikki and I went back up to the room during our free time because I’d forgotten my program guide and we’d just had breakfast and so weren’t really hungry. We started just hanging out, but of course that never lasts long with us, and so we ended up blocking out S6 for the OT3. Which was interesting in a lot of ways. Neither of us had brought the bunny list we had generated over the last several months, so basically we had to start from scratch with just the themes we knew we wanted to deal with and the couple of episodes we wanted to rework or radically transform. We had also never gotten to plot together face to face, and that was a whole new dynamic. A smiley just doesn’t have the same import as an open mouthed, wide eyed “Ohmigodohmigodohmigod!!!” Don’t know why . . .

We worked until 1:30 and then it was panel time again. Nikki went off to the Ho Yay! Talk (for details of which, see her journal) and I went to play drabble tag. That was fun. We were all sitting at banquet tables, and each table randomly drew a name and a quality. We got Anya and hilarity. I think we came up with a solid half dozen (although Jaime ate his rather than let us read it), but Pepper won out with her tale of woe involving Xander, Anya and a sex swing. Snicker. All the drabbles from the day are being collected and will be posted at the con site. I’ll link to it when it goes up.

Next up for me was work. Being the experienced conventioneer that I am (insert raspberry her), I volunteered to do two hours a day in the con suite. Which basically involves hanging out in the room, making sure people have sodas and ice and chips and otherwise getting to hang out in a room and visit. A good way for the wallflower to be forced to meet people, I though. Well, let me tell you. I found myself in the very unique position of being outnumbered in my ship. And not my weird ship, no. My mainstream ship. When is a Spuffy ever outnumbered??? In the con suite from 3-5 apparently. And it wasn’t just another ship, it was all slashers. Every last one of them. I’ve written what, two slash stories? And don’t really read any of it, so I didn’t know any of the writers and what not that they were all talking about. But did I hide in the corner for two hours? No! I battled on and found a way and ended up having a nice visit. It helped that in the last twenty minutes a bunch of Giles writers showed up, so I got to at least talk about my weird ship (and hey, two of them had even read it and liked it!) Also through them I got yummy info on Robin that I intend to start exploring as soon as I get home . . .

Was late getting down to the morality panel. That one ended up being . . . interesting. Again, it started out being a rehash of the academic stuff (although Harmonyfb made an interesting parallel between BtVS:Christianity:predestination::AtS:paganism:free will/personal responsibility that I will have to look at more deeply). But then someone brought up the soul, and did it have any meaning if it were only pursued to get the girl. And that started a deluge of questions very much directed at individual agendas which continued until the dreaded word AR was mentioned. At that point, you could almost feel everyone one in the room suck in their breath. That’s one of those flashpoint topics that I think in general people were avoiding in the spirit of con unity, and now that it had been brought out from under its rock, we didn’t know what was going to happen. One person up front started banging her head on the table and two in the back actually did get up and leave. But the panel handled it gracefully and moved on, crisis averted.

Afterwards Pepper was supposed to go up to hospitality for the poetry slam, but she met Mary of Journeys fame and they were squeeing over each other and wanted to do dinner, so she asked if Nikki and I would go up and make apologies go Shaddyr and send Jaime on his way. We were heading up anyway, so of course we said sure. Jaime just sighed and shook his head and headed out, and we were visiting with Shad and trying to decide what to do about dinner when in strolls Nauti. No squee, no squee. She had actually come in search of Pepper, but she said hi, and then looked closer at my name tag. “Oh! It’s you! How are you?” And she hugs me again. Meaning yesterday she hugged me not even knowing who I was. How cool is that? But she did know me. How much cooler is that? Then she turned to Nikki. Nikki said, “Oh, you don’t know me.” “Yes, I do.” “Just trough Savvy’s journal.” “No, I know you. Give me a hug!”

I don’t think Nikki’s come down from that yet . . .

Off to dinner (Mexican at Chipotle, which is just fast food but was really good) and then back to dress for the cocktail party. On the way down who should join us in the elevator but David Lavery? For those of you who don’t know, David is an English professor with a concentration in Buffy studies who runs Slayage.com, edited Fighting the Forces (if you don’t have it, get it), and ran the big US Buffy conference. Okay, squeeage restrained. I did get to talk to him some about, well, mostly how pictures of naked Spike have academic value, but also what’s current and what needs doing in Buffy studies. I mentioned my very tentative theory about the link between 9/11 and S6/S7, and he was actually fairly enthusiastic, pointed out some supporting evidence for me in the S7 DVDs and said if I wrote it, I should submit it. SQUEE!!! Of course, that means trying to get my academic brain back.

Got my drinks (free for the first hour) and got to introduce someone to amaretto sours. Go me. We sat with Pepper and Jaime and Xi and Denny_DC (awesomely cool lady!), and then Redeem147 came by and took me to introduce me to Taramisu. Tara was showing me her piggy pink fleece jacket with the Gordo with a stake embroidered on it when from the other side of the table dettiot says, “Tara, you didn’t show Jane your pig.” Tara turns automatically to show the pig to the person she’s overlooked, and it’s JANE. I’m standing eight feed away from Jane Espenson. Oh fribjous day!! I did NOT squee. I let Tara do it. I smiled stupidly, then got Nikki’s attention to point and mouth “Jane!” repeatedly, finally giving up and going over to tell her (we were just at the next table). So we watched as people slowly trickled by, and dettiot said that the best thing to do was when a chair was open just to have a seat and Jane would talk to us. Xi went over and had a good visit, and Denny had a very short introduction. I nagged Pepper into going over there and they seemed to be having a good talk before they were interrupted by a member of the concom. Nikki and I finally got our chance and sat next to her (I sat right next to Jane Espenson! Squee!!), but at that point she’d been visiting for almost an hour and a half after working all day and then flying in, and a couple of people had really monopolized her time. She excused herself and headed out, but she smiled apologetically and promised to talk to us tomorrow. Not that she’ll remember us, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Hung with the gang for a while, but then a bunch of people, including Xi, Denny and Nikki decided to go to a strip club. It was eleven by then (or later, I’m not quite sure) and I was already fading and don’t do so well in those kinds of crowds anyway, so I decided to skip it and just head up to the room. Wisteria came up with me (a good thing, since she had the key), and we ended up just visiting until one as I slowly just sort of evolved my way into bed.

Slept until three when Nikki knocked on the door (she didn’t have a key). I opened the door and she just looked at me and said, “I will never be clean again.” The rest of that story you will NOT get from me. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. (Look hard enough, I’m sure you can find all the sordid details somewhere). She showered and I crashed again until five when the sneezes started again. Got up and had my cold meds and went back to bed until eight.

July 31, 2004

Got up and journalled until 8:45 when Xi called to see if we wanted to do breakfast. Let me pause here to say that this is the most journaling I have ever done. I know it won’t continue past the con, mostly because my mundane life isn’t interesting enough to rate such intense coverage. But this hour every morning has been kind of nice. Anyway, back to Vegas. Xi came down to pick us up to head to breakfast, and when I opened the door to her, she still looked pretty shell shocked. Over the next hour, I started getting all the gory details about what happened last night and became more and more convinced of how glad I was I didn’t go. If you start seeing a few light, fluffy, het, vanilla G rated fics out there of unusually high quality, they’re probably part of the Las Vegas Strip Club Redemption Penance challenge. Say a little prayer for the author’s soul.

First panel of the morning for me was fanon vs. canon. The general consensus was that fanon, those elements of the ‘verse that are standard or assumed to be true without actually being part of canon (Angel’s last name being O’Conner, the Buffy/Elizabeth argument, the use of the word “childe”, etc) are in general a bad thing and a sign of lazy writing, especially when used to excess. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that. I think fanon is pretty neutral, and gives us a tool to use to help fill in holes that they show can’t because of constraints of time and production and methods of input. We can’t know what Buffy smells like, at least not until they invent smellovision. But at last I found out the reason almost everyone makes her smell like vanilla is because once in an obscure interview, Sara said she liked vanilla, and we as fan writers ran with it. Mystery solved.

Next panel was gender relations. After writing IDF, it seemed a natural, and it was on opposite the dialogue panel, which I’m pretty comfortable with, so it seemed like a no brainer. Of course, I forgot that one of the potential uses for gender theory is as a club. After twenty minutes of listening to people use it to bash Buffy, I couldn’t take it any more, and I was out of there. Nikki came up after and said it had gotten a little better after I left. I’ll listen to it on the CD when I can rant without interruption.

We hung out in the room through lunch, and I made the mistake of calling home. I won’t bore you with the domestic details, but suffice it to say lowering your expectations doesn’t actually help. But on the bright side I threw my phone onto the bed instead of against the wall, and primal scream therapy really does work. So do naps, of which I took another.

Got up and we headed back to the meeting rooms, Nikki to copyright law and I to recurring themes. Again, not much new there that I hadn’t gotten from the academic books. Moral of this lesson: read the academic stuff to improve the quality of your fiction.

And then it was time for Jane.

Probably the best two hours of the entire con. No, fuck probably, it was. She was just amazing. She got a five minute standing ovation before she ever opened her mouth, and was obviously overwhelmed and a bit embarrassed by it. She said some really nice stuff about the interface between the show and the fan writers and was very encouraging of the work we do, and then she started taking questions. For the most part, people were pretty agenda neutral, and she seemed very aware of the politics and subgroups within the community. Whenever she would take some hope away from one group, she’d always give them something back. For example, someone asked about Spike/Xander, and she said no, that look in Beneath You wasn’t confirmation, but then she said that she’d love to have seen that. Someone (goddess have pity on her pointed little soul) did dare to ask about the AR and the soul. These two issues linked together had kind of become the joke of the con (see how we can grow when we don’t have the filter of the monitor between us?), but this was asked in all seriousness. A part of me was kind of glad, because if it came from Jane, it’s irrefutable, right? Well, probably not, but it’s worth a shot. Her response was that that was one of the times they as the writers failed, not because they did it, but because they didn’t do it right. They didn’t get across that that was the moment Spike had his moral crisis and realized he had to go after the soul, and that that was always the intention behind the trip to Africa. She also said they probably blew it with the misdirection about his motivation, that it left the issue of his true motivation too uncertain when it wasn’t meant to be. She took the responsibility for that squarely on the shoulders of the writers. We got inside information on the animated series which as far as I know can’t be found anywhere else. Not anything about if/when, but she did tell us about one of the scripts she wrote in which Buffy starts shrinking and over the course of the episode gets smaller and smaller until she’s the size of a Barbie. She gets to ride a cat, and falls behind the sofa cushions where Joyce sits on her. It sounded like a riot. And she totally confirmed two thirds of our OT3. She absolutely believes that Giles and Ethan had some kind of sexual history together. As she put it, “Come on, they both went to public school!” We owe that bit of info to our beloved Trekker, who was as squeed about it as we were. Someone else asked about Band Candy, and I can’t remember what it was she said, but we were so happy!! She also said how much she liked being able to get inside the grownups’ heads for a change in that episode. Gee, we wouldn’t know anything about that . . . and she is such a little slasher at heart. She encouraged every pairing brought up, both het and slash, and kept encouraging us to write them, not realizing of course that we already had. I think the only exceptions were the World Without Shrimp and a world where Andrew died and Jonathan lived. But don’t hold me to that.

She made the critical error of saying she actually still reads the fanfic, so, putting a couple of other things she had said together, I got totally ballsy and when she was signing my book (which she hadn’t seen before, points for me), I gave her my card with the Menageaverse website on it and I wrote “Joyce/Giles/Ethan” on it. She may have just been being nice, but she said, “Now, that’s an interesting combination,” and said she’d have to check it out. Nikki was about six people back from me, so when she got her turn, she introduced herself as the other half of the G/J/E and Jane repeated that she was looking forward to taking a look at it. Now, neither one of us has any unreal expectations, but wouldn’t it be the coolest thing in the world to get feedback from Jane Espenson?? Just the thought gets me all squiggly.

Yes, there was a lot more that went on that my Swiss cheese brain and poor note taking skills aren’t helping me remember. But I’m sure a transcript will be going up soon, and you can get your very own video copy by purchasing a supporting membership to Writercon. It’s sooooo worth the $25, I can’t even begin to tell you.

The raffle was next, and I won a signed picture of Nicky. So take that, all you Oakland people!! Then it was off to the Giles writers meetup. What a nice group of people! Unfortunately, my inherent shyness that I’ve been working against all weekend reared up, fueled no doubt by the fact that I had last eaten at 9 am and it was now 6 pm. I just started getting very weird in a not good, bordering on paranoid way. So I bowed out when they decided to go to dinner and keep talking. I grabbed a couple of hot dogs and went back to the room, read for a bit, journaled for a bit and napped for an hour. When I got up, I once again made the mistake of calling home, this time to my mother. Again, I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say I hope I learn as a mother that my kids don’t want me to fix things, they just want someone to bitch to. Final moral: Stay in con world during the con. The real world is just a buzz kill. After that I figured I’d just head down to the con suite. I was scheduled to work from 9-11, and it was 8, so I headed down early. Nikki joined me, and we had a lovely visit with a couple of people until it was time for the erotica panels to start. Then it was me and Nikki and one other woman and her daughter until my stalker arrived.

Let me tell you about my stalker. He started as Nikki’s stalker. He cornered her in the con suite Thursday night and lectured her about how the only decent fan fiction was canon based fic. In his words, he has done one or two non-canon based stories, but he keeps them isolate in a separate section of his website away from the others. Like it’s contagious or something. Weirdo. So anyway. I brought IDF and Strangers to the con for the library. (Yes, this is related.) So today between morning panels, I stop by the Magic Box to see what’s happening and find a pretty little icon badge yindagger made me (thank you sooo much!) I checked on the message board and found this note:

I’m reading Impossibly Delightful Flesh right. this. moment.
Be sure and ask me now I liked it, because I WILL tell you regardless
-stalker’s name here-

So, how the hell do I interpret that?!?!?!? Me being me, I’m paranoid he wants to tear me apart for it, and that would just ruin the entire con for me. So I’ve been avoiding him. But here he is, one of the four people in the con suite, and I’m not going anywhere because I’m working. So I hid my name badge. Never mind that I had my IDF t-shirt on and my IDF bag. But he never said anything, and we had an okay conversation on betaing. People started filtering in as the panel part of the presentation ended, and I kind of got usurped by several members of the concom, so I hung back. Had a nice visit with Scarlettgirl (who looks so much better pregnant than I ever did), and dettiot came by and we got to talk some con stuff. I definitely want to find a way to help with the next one, but I’m not dumb enough to join the concom proper! Got to hear about Pepper’s workshop from her and Xi, which apparently went really well despite having a fairly low turnout. By that point, it was 11:30, and Nikki was fading, and Xi had abandoned her plans to rent a limo and cruise the strip because she was pretty wiped, too. So we came back up to the room, where Wisteria joined us by pure chance within minutes of our getting back. So we had another evolving into bed night where we just kept talking over Nikki’s unconscious body until Wis started telling me a story I had told her the night before. That’s when we figured it was time to shut up and sleep. Since it was one am, that was probably a good idea.

August 1, 2004

Another 3 am sneezing wake up, but after I took my meds, I slept until 7. Go me! Poor Wisteria had to be up at 7:30 to pack and get ready for the workshop she was leading at 9 before heading to the airport at 11, so I got to bounce her out of bed. We had such a good time with her, I was sorry to see her go. Nikki got up a little later and we headed downstairs for breakfast. Then we wandered up to the Magic Box. I probably should have pre-ordered 5 Seasons of Angel, but I didn’t. I’ll get mine in October when we’re a little more flush. Got to talk about the IDF cover with one of the Ben Bella Books editors, though. I never did get her name, but she was just lovely. She had seen the picture and liked it so much she picked the binder up and started reading it. She actually ended up adopting it when the library closed because she’d only had time to get half through it. Which made me happy because 1) someone new was reading it (Squee!) and b) it meant I didn’t have to schlep the binder back home. Hurrah! Strangers got adopted, too, so there’s a ream of paper I never have to look at again . . .

Went to the Hero’s Journey panel at 11. that was fun. It was all Tea at the Ford people, and very scholarly. And reminded me of everything I loved and hated about grad school. Relativism gives me a headache, but Buffy has taught us nothing if not the fact that there are no absolutes. Sigh.

Lunch time we went and hung out in hospitality, which was good because it gave Shaddyr a chance to go get food. Then at two it was off to the Be a Better Beta workshop. Oh my god, this was beyond doubt the funniest workshop of the whole weekend. Soundingsea deserves a lot of credit, first for writing the absolute god’s honest truth worst paragraphs in each category (gen, het, femslash and m/m) with phrases that will linger in our lexicon for ages (simulating his prostrate being the best by far), and second for sharing pages of her own first ever fic for us to practice our skills on. I don’t know that I could have been so brave. But I swear I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time. The two hours just flew. The panel talked to us about determining expectations in a beta relationship and knowing what kind of beta you can be and what kind you need, and not being afraid to say no if you are sent something you aren’t comfortable with. Then we got to practice our skills. Not that anything we could do would have helped those paragraphs that didn’t involve fire or a shredder . . .

Went straight from there to the grammar panel, which was okay, but focused an awful lot on commas. The lack of continuous sleep over the weekend was catching up with me as well, and I kept dozing off. Sorry, guys.

After that it was back to the main ballroom for the closing ceremonies. We got somewhat of a rundown of the con from the concom’s perspective, although I’m sure their insight will be better when they’ve slept for oh, say, a week. They asked for comments and feedback, and everyone was incredibly positive. The consensus from the front table was that they would be doing this again, and that it wouldn’t be in Vegas. There was discussion of longer panels and more tracks, but those were all issues for the future. And then came word that flights out were being buggered up by weather and whatever happened with American, so people started focusing on that. So with a heavy heart for us (and probably a great deal of relief for the concom), the first biannual Writercon was brought to a close amid thunderous applause.

But of course no one wanted to leave.

We hung around visiting with everyone. And creepy stalker guy finally caught me. So I sucked it up and said hi. He said he hadn’t finished reading IDF, but would when he got home. Didn’t make any comments on what he thought of it so far, but he did ask questions about the graphic, so I got to give him that whole story. And while I was talking to him, Barb C. jumped into the conversation, so I finally got to talk to her about using magic in fic (I complimented her on her use of qabala, she smiled and said she had just enough to fake it. Sounds like me and combat!). She apologized for not having read the OT3 but that she doesn’t like Ethan. I told her that a lot of our readers don’t, but they like our Ethan. So she said she might give it a shot. Hee! I feel like I’ve been on a book tour this whole con, trying to talk people into reading the ‘verse. But I think it may have worked!

Finally it got to be 6:20 and I was due up in hospitality for the turkey readings. Everybody else went out to dinner. They ended up going down to the MGM Grand for a very posh meal and didn’t get back until 9:30. I was a little hurt that they couldn’t wait an hour for me to be able to go with, but oh well. The turkey readings started out slow. Spikewriter read to us from her first ever romance novel (brave soul!) and then pukajen pulled out this intentionally bad fic she had been telling us about in the beta workshop. Well, the sick thing about writers is that we actually want to hear this stuff. So I got to do performance reading for over an hour without anyone paying to shut me up! It did go on a little too long, I think, and by 8:30 I was getting kind of bored with it. At 9, though, Nauti and crew showed up, and Shaddyr convinced her to sing for us. So she did Crash and Burn for us (which is even better live), and then got talked into trying Rest in Piece. The problem with that was everyone (now about thirty people in the room) knew the words and was singing along. As we kept going, Jen pulled out the CD and loaded it up so we could sing along to that. After that she put up video of the funniest moments in BtVS, made even funnier by the fact that the sound wasn’t working, so we got to do the dialog ourselves. Nikki had shown by this point, so we got to gush over Gilesy goodness. After that there were a couple of vids that everyone was very excited about, but didn’t really do much for me. We’d seen some in the con suite at lunchtime that I thought were much better. But ah well.

By this time it was eleven, about twelve hours since I’d eaten last, and Nikki, who had to get up at 6 for a 9 o’clock flight, was fading. So she came with me to the Teahouse where I had the best prime rib sandwich and then we headed up to bed for our last night.

August 2, 2004

The first night I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night sneezing! Slept until 6, then got up with Nikki to get her packed and off to the airport. It’s so hard to remember that we had never seen each other before Thursday, and that we may not see each other again until the next Writercon. Well, she may come to Son of Phauxcon in October. But it really feels like we’ve known each other for forever. It was really hard to say goodbye. Now I’m sitting in the hotel room alone, catching up my journal entries and waiting until it’s time for me to head out around 10. I may do a separate entry reflecting more on everything, but I need more than a few hours. I’ve got issues of community and initiation and reintegration going through my head, as well as ideas for next time and whether or not I should offer to be a panelist. I keep wishing I could be a fly on the wall when Jane sees Joss and any of the other writers and imagine her saying “They love us!” and the others getting all jealous. Although I don’t know if any of the others would get the same universal acclaim that she did. I understand why the concom wants to wait two years, but I think they’re going to miss a big opportunity with Serenity coming out next spring for us to cash in on the promotional tour for that. Oh well. If I’m not going to join the concom (hell no!!), then I don’t have a say in those decisions.

I have no regrets about this weekend. It was cheap at twice the price, and I would do it again and again and again . . .


Checked out a little early, mostly because I got bored alone in the room. It felt weird to have none of my markings of community or identity from the weekend (the only clean fan shirt I had was my Pepperwhore shirt, and I wasn’t wearing that on the plane!), but I had reverted to hippie Stephanie and headed out, bags in hand.

Cyn Martin was waiting at the cab stand, so I asked if she wanted to share a cab to the airport. She was going with Macha and someone else I couldn’t remember (bad me) but said I was welcome to ride with them. It took me a couple of minutes to realize she had no clue who I was! It wasn’t until she was introducing me to the others that she made the connection. Take a person out of context and they become anonymous. Nice visit about the con on the way, and arrived in good time. I really like the LV airport. Somehow the fact you have to take a tram to the gates amuses me. Got some brunch and settled in at my gate to wait when Dettiot found me (she just happened to be on the same flight home. Serendipity), so we had a nice visit about the con. We weren’t delayed any, and got out of LV on time. 1:10 PT, 4:10 ET. Keep that clock in mind. What I didn’t realize was that this flight would have a layover in Salt Lake City before continuing on to Philadelphia. An hour later we’re coming into SLC, but the weather’s really bad, so after attempting to land and failing miserably, the pilots pulled up and diverted to Grand Junction, Colorado. Grand Junction is not a major airport. Grand Junction is barely a regional airport. Grand Junction does not see 737s on any kind of a regular basis, let alone the several that ended up being directed here. We were on the ground there about an hour after leaving SLC, and then sat here until 5:30 pm MT, 7:30 ET. It’s actually kind of interesting. I’ve never seen the Rockies, and I’m getting a pretty close look now. I have the feeling this is the place some smart entrepreneur set up shop during westward expansion, right here at the base of these intimidating cliffs and said “Hey, if you want to give up, I’ll buy your extra stuff, and if you’re brave enough to keep going, I can resupply you.” And that’s why a town grew up here. But the mountains are really beautiful. I’d never seen so many colors in the earth before, and the stratigraphy is so delicate and detailed. I followed this thick chalk or limestone layer along with my eyes for miles. And they all have so much texture, crevices and erosion streaks and wandering gulleys that look like they should go somewhere but don’t. But I don’t think I’d want to live here. I think living at the base of these mountains would end up making me feel very small.

Touchdown back in SLC at 6:10 MT, 8:10 ET. Pretty town (Pepper, I give you permission to move here.) Unfortunately, Delta in their infinite wisdom had brought in another plane and sent that on to Philadelphia instead, so ours was no longer going there. Even more unfortunately, there were no more flights out of SLC to Philadelphia that night. We’d all been re-booked on an 8:45 am flight the next morning and would be given new boarding cards and a discount coupon for one of the local hotels. I was standing in line in front of a bunch of college kids from New Jersey, and they didn’t like the discount idea at all. They started tearing into the customer service rep until she gave in and got authorization to give us free coupons. So Dettiot and I got booked into a nice quiet Holiday Inn. With no luggage. It was just too much effort to try to arrange to get our bags, and we decided we just didn’t care enough. We did score the last/only two remaining overnight kits, so at least we had toiletries.

We got to the hotel and checked in before promptly going for food. It was now 7:15 MT, 9:15 ET, and we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, as they were supposed to feed us on the second leg of our trip. We had a nice dinner, complete with ice cream (because we deserved it, damnit!!!) and then headed back to the room. Dett fired up her computer and let me check my email, bless her soul, and I briefly checked LJ and posted my cry for help, and then crawled into bed to watch What a Girl Wants (mmmm Colin Firth. In leather pants. Mmm. Can you go wrong with Englishmen in leather pants?). Cute flick, and just what I needed. After that I tried to go to sleep, but the brain just wouldn’t shut down. Dett was working on her LVSCRP fic and we kept coming up with icon ideas (“reason to have a beta #236: “Her cervix thrummed as she simulated his prostrate . . .”) and discussed Gordo pron before I gave up and updated my journal. Which I have done. I am now going to sleep.

August 3, 2004

After all the drama, I wish this were more exciting. We got up at 6:30 MT, 4:30 ET and caught the shuttle back to the airport. Grabbed breakfast there (Mmmm, Cinnabon) and hung out at the gate. No check in issues, and obviously we didn’t have to worry about our bags. And I even scored a window seat. Got a little bit of writing done, watched the Rockies go by, watched Shrek 2, watched the Great Lakes go by (and got a little bit homesick) and finally landed in Philadelphia at 2:45 pm ET. Twenty-two and a half hours after leaving Las Vegas. I was sad leaving, but damn was I glad to be home!!

Except of course that hubby had rear-ended someone the day before and seriously messed up the van. And we don’t have collision . . .

Back to reality with a thud.