This weekend was both wonderful and harsh. In many ways, I feel like one of my characters right now. I had a wonderful time at my Paradise ICON workshop. And I had to watch a wonderful woman pass away.
On Thursday morning, I was asked to help out ICON, the local science fiction convention. They needed someone to pick up Jim C. Hines from the airport and take him to lunch, and since Catherine Schaff-Stump and I were the only two writers doing the workshop, could we take care of it? I was overjoyed.
On Friday, we started the workshop a little early so we would have time to pick up Jim. As we’re leaving the hotel to pick up Jim, I get a phone call from Stephanie. Her grandmother, who has not been well all summer, is in the final stages of death. Stephanie is going to spend the rest of the day in the hospice. I tell Stephanie that I can drop everything, but she insists she will be fine, and I should keep on my schedule.
Catherine and I picked up Jim, had a nice lunch a Zoey’s Pizzeria with lots of great conversation, and returned to the hotel. Then Cath and I finished the critiques. At this point, it was around 2 PM.
I drove to the hospice and stayed a couple hours, watching as wonderful a woman as I have ever met going through her last stages of life, barely conscious, as Stephanie talked with relatives on the phone.
That night, our friend Cat was celebrating her 50th birthday. Stephanie had really wanted to go to this, and had also wanted me to go with her, so I ditched the con to go along.
The next day, Stephanie plans to visit the hospice in the morning and join me in the afternoon. I go and hear Adam J. Whitlatch and his friend Gabe talk about martial arts in fiction with Jim C. Hines. Then as part of Paradise ICON, I get to sit in a three journeyman-level guest lectures from Jim C Hines, Stephen Erikson, and Sarah Prineas.
The lecture from Jim was about using stereotypes, and it was just about like every other interaction I had with Jim. He’s highly personable and easy to get along with. His lecture was more of an in-depth conversation.
The lecture from Stephen Erikson was intense. He came in and in an hour filled my head with information. He had some great definitions for things I had been doing by instinct. We also talked about process, and Stephen’s process blew my mind.
We finished up with Sarah Prineas. I’ve met Sarah a few times. She’s just a really nice lady. Cath nailed it when she said Sarah reminds you of a favorite teacher from high school. She talked about “Protagging,” her theory about what makes a protagonist a protagonist. Very interesting stuff.
Then I was off to the hospice for another couple hours. Much of the same. A few relatives had come to join us, Stephanie’s aunts and one of her great uncles. I spent a few hours there, and then I took Stephanie for a quick bite at McDonalds.
Back at the con, we attended Jim C’s reading, new material from his upcoming Libromancer sequel. Then we joined Cath and Jim at the bar for drinks–Cath had invited Stephanie, thinking she could use the release. We kept things loose and let people drift in and out. After Jim and Cath excused themselves, I ended up talking classic television with John Jackson Miller for about three hours. John writes Star Wars comics and novels, and I think he was just happy not to have to dodge questions about the Disney buyout.
We arrived home around midnight to find that grandmother had passed away earlier that evening. In the morning we discussed what we should do. At that point, I was emotionally drained enough that I didn’t really care much what I did, but Stephanie told me I should go. I really wanted to go to at least one panel with my old friend Lars Pearson, and Catherine had a reading in the morning.
After Catherine’s reading, I grabbed a soda from the consuite, and sat in the conference room where my reading was to be. I really didn’t expect much from a 1 PM reading time, especially with the Mindbridge Foundation meeting, which many of my friends belong to, opposite my time. However, Adam and Jess Whitlatch made it, along with a friend of theirs whose name I should know* (I’ve only seen him around various cons about 100 times.) And at the last minute, Stephanie showed up, which made me very happy.
I went home right after my reading, and decided to write about my weekend.
*It was Steve Todd.