I think I enjoy World Fantasy more every year, as I learn more of how I best operate there. When I first show up, I’m pretty useless: bad at recognizing faces I haven’t seen in a year, bad at worming my way into conversations, bad at social small talk. Warming up takes a while. But I know that now, so I don’t feel stressed by the usual “oh god I can’t find anybody I know and my foot is looking for opportunities to get into my mouth and I’m not having fun yet.” I’ll get there. It just takes time. By Friday I’m doing better, and now I know that my mental list of panels I’d like to see doesn’t even reach the status of guidelines, let alone actual rules; I’ll go if I feel inclined, but if on my way there I get waylaid by a conversation, whatever. I said this weekend, and I really mean it, that I go to WFC for the conversations. For the lunches and dinners and hallways and relatively quiet corners of room parties where I can get into discussions of Mesoamerican kingship, recent TV series, Kit Marlowe’s sexuality, butt-shot urban fantasy covers, gender issues in SFWA, and the abominations of Leviticus, to name a few topics of the last few days.
By Friday night I’m doing pretty good. Saturday’s usually a swimming success. At some point on Sunday I’ll start to hit my limit: I’m ready to put on my headphones and bury my nose in a book for the trip home. And that’s okay, too.
But it isn’t all cookie-cutter routine, either. Every year I expand the circle of people I know. And this year featured the new experience of increased contact with folks from my publisher, specifically members of the publicity departments in the US and UK. I got trotted out for a lunch with some of the book-buyers for Borders, not as the featured attraction, but to smile and make small contributions to the conversation; mostly I learned quite a bit about how the publisher sells the books to the store, before the store sells them to the customer. And I discovered that the publicity guys Have Plans for Midnight Never Come. Not national-tour level plans, but we all agreed that’s not even a good idea for someone at my stage of things. Cool website plans, though, most definitely. I don’t know how much of it will turn out to be pie-in-the-sky, but I love the notions we were batting around.
Speaking of that book, I got anecdotal proof of the quality of its cover: people were very eager to pick it up and look at it, including some total strangers during the autographing session. (And with nearly a dozen people spontaneously approving of the author photo on the back, I am finally reassured I managed to get a non-crappy picture of myself. Readers will expect me to look like that for the next thirty years, I imagine.)
And hey! Amazon has it listed for pre-order. I was going to say “at last,” but really, the book isn’t coming out for seven months. They’re plenty early. So anyway, that’s one benchmark passed. (And apparently that thing I wrote up for my editor back in June was the cover copy. Wish I’d known that then . . . though it holds up okay, despite having been written when less than a third of the book was done.)
Put all that together with a royalty statement that tells me Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch are both still doing bang-up business, and right now? Things are looking pretty good.