Category Archives: science fiction conventions

Radcon 2017

So here’s my schedule right now…..

 

Friday February 17

2:00 PM Neurodiversity

3:15 PM Making your own way

6:15 PM Reading

Saturday February 18

12:45 PM The Many Ways of Plotting

3:15 PM Policing Space

5:45 PM Editing: the toughest part of writing

8:15 PM Home unSchooled

Sunday February 19

11:30 AM Missions of Gravity

 

Hope to see some of you there!

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Orycon Schedule

So here’s the Orycon schedule for this coming weekend. BTW, I will be giving away a lanyard and an eyeglass chain at my reading at 5:30 on Friday–handmade by me!

How a Writer’s Workshop Changed My Life
Douglas Fir (3)
Fri Nov 18 3:00pm – 4:00pm
John Lovett, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Manny Frishberg, Sara Mueller
Joyce Reynolds-Ward Reading
Hawthorne (2)
Fri Nov 18 5:30pm – 6:00pm
Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Gardening in Fantasyland
Sunstone (3)
Sat Nov 19 10:00am – 11:00am
Anthony Pryor, ElizaBeth Gilligan, Esther Jones, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Kamila Miller
Science Fiction as a Tool for Social Change
Salon C (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Brenda Cooper, Guy Letourneau, Jennifer Rosenberg, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Peter Jones
Nuclear Power
Salon B (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 1:00pm – 2:00pm
G. David Nordley, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Peter Wacks, Robert McGown
Twisted History
Salon A (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 3:00pm – 4:00pm
David Weber, Guy Letourneau, Jim Fiscus, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Pat Macewen
The spirit of exploration
Salon B (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Ethan Siegel, Guy Letourneau, Hugh S. Gregory, Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Understanding Evolution
Salon B (LL1)
Sun Nov 20 10:00am – 11:00am
G. David Nordley, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Manny Frishberg, Sean Robinson
Autograph Session 7
Autograph Area (LL1)
Sun Nov 20 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Blythe Ayne, Curtis Chen, David Dvorkin, Deborah Ross, Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Backyard Astronomy
Salon B (LL1)
Sun Nov 20 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Robert McGown, Roy Torley

 

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Miscon

Well, posting about a convention almost exactly a week after it ends isn’t exactly what one would consider a decent con report. Nonetheless, it’s the way life has been rolling, so there. Life has been busy. Did I think things would slow down once I no longer had a steady Day Jobbe and we got moved? Boy, was I mistaken. Granted, most of this is self-imposed, but if anything, our lives are busier and more involved than they were before. So. Busy. Life.

Well, and maybe a touch of con crud when we got back to Enterprise….

Anyway, this year the trip to Miscon did not feature a suicidal deer or a newborn fawn. It did, however, feature some rather epic eagle sightings. We drove from Enterprise to Lewiston and on to Missoula through the Lolo Pass, which meant we followed first the Clearwater River and then the Lochsa River up over the pass. During one curve along the Clearwater, while we were still on the Nez Perce Reservation, a bald eagle curved over the road and back over the river…about 40 feet from my windshield. Sweet.

Further up the pass, I started to notice horse poop on the road, in places where I a.) didn’t see horse pasture nearby and b.) would not consider to be rideable road horse placement on the road. As we ascended the pass, I could see the poop getting fresher and fresher. I started to suspect that we might come around a corner and encounter a horse-drawn wagon. Considering how tight those corners are and how narrow the turns (with big truck loads running over the road, geez, takes me back to the day of big log loads on the Mohawk), I wasn’t too thrilled about encountering a wagon. Fortunately, they were still in camp (we drove by them).

The drive over Lolo is pretty darn gorgeous. There’s lots of trail access from the highway and the rivers were running high enough to support good-sized raft parties. There’s always the opportunity to see wildlife–and on the downhill side, we spotted a spike bull moose hanging out in a swamp.

Miscon this year was in a new hotel, with overflow space into a small park and a couple of downtown facilities. The Clark Fork River runs right behind the hotel, so we still had the meadow and river ambiance…only bigger. Instead of a small handful of food places available, there were some pretty good options within a decent walking distance. Plus a stunning 50s-era building that is both well-preserved and absolutely hilarious in its adherence to 50s-era design. Did I get pictures? Nope. I intended to, but….

The con itself went well. I sold a couple of books, handed some out, and met some cool new people. Somehow the alternative comics panel managed to span everything from the 60s to the present day in one hour, while touching on offshoots affected by alternative/underground comix such as comics/graphic novels in education and literacy, a brief nod to feminism in early underground comix, regional comix, political comix, and the influence of 60s-70s comix on the development of contemporary series such as the Simpsons, Girl Genius, and so on. It was fun but intense.

Our return was nowhere near as dramatic with regard to critter sightings. I did see quite a few swallowtail butterflies hanging out by the road as we drove down the Lochsa in particular, fluttering around certain puddles. The car collected a healthy dose of bugs, and we had a gorgeous view of the hillside above Asotin that was glowing purple from the fresh-bloomed vetch in the late afternoon sun.

So, as always, Miscon was a marvelous time, with marvelous people, and lots of opportunities to meet up with good friends. Already looking forward to next year.

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Miscon

So my MisCon schedule is pretty minimal this year. Not sure what happened, but oh well. I have one panel that is cross-scheduled with my writer’s workshop so the workshop has to take precedence. Just the way it works. Otherwise, I have a signing, a reading, and one other panel.

Signing: Friday, 3:00-3:50, Hotel Lobby of Doom

Reading: Saturday, 11:00-11:50, Tent by the Trees, (1). I’m in a group with Christopher Paolini. If I were still teaching middle school, that would probably evoke huge SQUEE moments amongst some students. It may still do so for some former students….

Panel (nonconflicted): Alternative Comics–the 70s until now, Sunday 11:00-11:50, Madison. Ever since the 70s there’s been a strong alternative comic world populated with inclusive, varied characters such as The Checkered Demon, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and Honkytonk Sue. Find out about this fascinating industry, its colorful past and how to jump into exploring everything it has to offer.

I’m  hoping to get on some other panels, but if not…well, I’ll have fun anyway at the new and larger MisCon.

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Radcon schedule

First con of 2016, and I’m excited. Radcon (Pasco, Washington)  is always fun….so if you’re there, come see me at a panel or grab me at a break!

Friday, February 12

4:15-5:15 pm Is it always true you have story ideas?

Audience members toss out ideas and genres for panelists to respond to with story ideas.

5:30-6:30 pm Empaths, Synesthetes, & Other Super Powers

Moderating this one. Should be interesting.

6:45-7:45 pm The value of being alien in your own culture

There are many terms people use to describe individuals who do not reside in the main portion of the bell curve such as being manic, depressive, ADD, ADHD, autistic, color blind or even myopic. Yet these differences have stayed in our population. Could it be that there is a benefit in certain situations where these conditions are actually beneficial to long term survival? Come listen to our panel of experts and find out.

Saturday, February 13

11:00 am-12:00 pm Autograph session

12:30-1:30 pm How Big a Fish Do You Need To Be?

You’re an independent writer. You’re an independent musician. You’re an independent artist. How big do you need to be to make a sustainable living? The traditional track to success has involved the large imprints and labels, but that’s not working so well anymore, particularly not for musicians. Come listen to our pros talk about alternative ways of building your own career niche as an independent creator.

5:30 -6:30 pm You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

Why do we like strong women in our stories? What do you like about them. Is there anything you’ve had enough of yet? Reading and Writing the Formidable Woman.

6:45-7:45 pm Nonconformity & Personal Agency in Geek Culture

Schools teach about self-efficacy, but often as a tool to effectively conform. What about empowerment? Better yet: personal agency – having a voice and guiding one’s own journey. This includes nurturing a culture of consent, innovation, and getting in the hero’s role for your journey.

Sunday, February 14

10:30-11:00 am Reading

11:15 am-12:15 am Non-biological pets

Not virtual pets, but actual walking, (talking?) Robot dogs, cats, and mini dragons? They don’t poop, you feed them electricity or sunlight, they act like they have personalities, and (if maintained) they don’t die. Will they replace the real thing, in time?

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Orycon Panel Schedule

It’s that time of year again…and I will be at Orycon, albeit not all that late at night due to my transport options. The Marriott isn’t quite as convenient as the Lloyd Center location was for either bus or driving, alas. Oh well. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, November 20

3:00 pm-4:00 pm —  Political Systems in SF — Salon A

Are writers getting it right? What do you need to consider when developing local, national, global, and interplanetary governments? Do existing governments with different cultural values really operate, or do they fail?

4:00 pm- 5:00 pm —  Healers, Shamans, and Clerics, Oh My! — Salon C

Medicine in fantasy novels. Is there really an herb for everything?

Saturday, November 21

11:30 am-12:00 pm — Reading –Willamette

I’m going to be reading selections from Netwalk’s Children (out for Orycon) and Pledges of Honor (out December 3rd).

3:00 pm-4:00 pm — Hybrid Vigor: Choosing Both Traditional and Self-Publishing — Sunstone

Don’t believe the True Believers on both sides of this non-existent divide: you can be both a traditional AND a self-published writer. Learn how to let the project choose the path.

4:00 pm-5:00 pm — Can Technology Save the World?— Salon B

Note: hopefully I won’t be delayed but I am coming from a different floor from the previous panel….and I may cut out early as I am switching floors again and am moderating the next panel.

China is becoming…something. North Korea is just plain scary. Energy-starved nations wanting nuclear power vs fears of a potential for nuclear war. How technology affects developing nations, how fast can they get it by what means, and what will it do to the world’s future?

5:00 pm-6:00 pm — Piracy: Fight It or Embrace It? — Sunstone

Same note as before: I’m switching floors so I might be late. Oops. I’m moderating this one. I’ll be there on time!

Piracy is everywhere, and creators hate it. Except when they don’t. HBO, for instance, says pirating of “Game of Thrones” is the best free advertising ever. Should creators learn to embrace the Jolly Roger, or fight it?

Sunday, November 22

11:00 am-12:00 pm — What is Cognition? — Salmon

A look at the impact of modern neuroscience and psychology on our understanding of understanding

1:00 pm-2:00 pm — Ghost in the Machine or Grandpa? –Salmon

I’m moderating this one…Needless to say, my Netwalker character Sarah’s gonna get talked about in this panel.

Is a personality upload a real person? Can they vote? What do they do for a living? Or for fun?

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So it was a Worldcon

And it almost didn’t happen for me. See, the horse has been having health issues, and given the expense of the beast, if it looked like I needed to stay home to take care of her, well…as late as the Friday before the con, it was questionable because she was showing signs of colic. That subsided with no incident, fortunately, though the original attack of what we thought was founder/laminitis kept on bothering her. But it wasn’t quite what I thought was founder/laminitis, things didn’t look right…but she was in good spirits so we decided to go. Plus I had Sergeant-at-Arms commitments for con staff, so I needed to figure out what was what so that I could ensure coverage should I not be able to go. Which didn’t happen, fortunately. But.

Well. There’s been a bit of fire around Enterprise of late. Nothing particularly close when we left, except for a wee bit of fire north of town, along the route we were taking. Going to Spokane was all right, though, even with all the smoke. The first day was a bit of a challenge, though, simply because I was using both a walker and a peg leg to get around and keep the pressure off of the sprained ankle. It didn’t take me long to bag the peg leg and stick with the walker. I could put my knee on it, crouch down like a ski racer, and actually make some decent time around the Convention Center doing that, and the walker also provided me with a solid rest for my main Stuff Bag.

Then I discovered that walkers seem to render me invisible at parties. The first night’s party was a wee bit distressing when I figured that out. I usually like to socialize, but between the awkwardness and the invisibility, it certainly Wasn’t Fun. Nonetheless, I got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, because I had the WSFS Business Meeting to do logistics for as Sergeant-at-Arms. I recruited some helpful friends, and between them we got things up and rolling for four morning meetings.

The gig was enlightening, and I have to say that WSFS Business Meetings are conducted with much more wit, humor, and grace than I’ve encountered either in teacher union meetings (including OEA Representative Assembly) or Democratic Party Central Committee gatherings (both state and county). Much of that was due to the good humor and grace of Kevin Standlee, who’s hands down the best chair I’ve ever had to work with. But a lot of that was also due to the hard work put in by the committee overall to prepare for the meeting, again including Kevin and his wife Lisa as well as far too many others that I can’t name for memory reasons or other stuff. But there were a lot of other good folks helping to coordinate logistics, including CART transcription technology and ASL signing along with the regular PowerPoint agenda slides.

Still, the attitude of the attendees (in spite of the urgency felt to deal with Hugo nomination issues) also made a huge difference. Many of these folks are fans of long standing and remember a LOT about processes. But that doesn’t mean people couldn’t have fun. This was the first time I’ve had someone pass out a Meeting Bingo card with the names of frequent speakers on the card to fill out (before the meeting) and announce Bingos as the frequent speakers spoke. On the third day, one particular fan created a filk (sf folk song) to sum up his position, and sang it to the crowd. That was another first.

But overall, my job was more about making certain that people with disabilities had physical access to following the meeting and being able to comment, making certain that we had a table set up for members to sign in and pick up agendas, and on one day to alert the convention center crew that we needed to have a divider removed between two rooms. Simple little stuff that nonetheless makes meetings work. I’m pleased with the job my team and I did, and proud that we had a lot of people happy with our work. Between all my volunteer gigs and ten years of middle school teaching, I can wrangle people pretty well, especially when given a good support team.

Besides that, I spent some time at the NIWA table promoting books, and meeting up with friends. My ankle definitely slowed me down just because wrangling the walker was still tiring. After a morning’s meeting I wasn’t that eager to bounce out and socialize/self-promote, which meant Worldcon was much more mellow than I had planned. Which was okay, I guess. I wish I’d been able to contact more people I knew–I saw some folks in passing that I would have liked to have spent more time with, but couldn’t for various reasons.

The Hugo Awards themselves were anti-climatic. I decided it would be better to watch on the big screen in Guinan’s Place (a bar setup in the convention center) than in the auditorium itself, especially since that meant I could get a drink or two. The Campbell Award kind of signaled to me that the hard-line anti-puppy vote was in full force, and that became even more evident when No Award was issued in the editor categories.

For the record, I did not vote a complete No Puppy slate. I read all the works. Didn’t mean I completed them, mind you. Too many of the short story competitors made me want to reach for a red pen to do edits and the novelette/novella categories were the same. I didn’t like the results for the editors because with a couple of exceptions, all those folks are solid pros who got caught up in something they had nothing to do with. Additionally, I’m a bit jaundiced about the claims of 40/50-something white men (yes, yes, I know they’re not the only ones but they’re the most visible) that they’re not being recognized. It’s a power play for recognition, and it has succeeded to a small degree. No, I don’t think they will push out people of color or of non-cisnormal sexuality. That boat has sailed. Those groups rightfully have a place at the table and rightfully so, in my opinion. It’s the only just thing.

But. My sense is that the demographic that will get pushed out by these Puppies happens to be mine, quite frankly, because middle-aged white men throwing temper tantrums about their perceived lack of recognition end up dominating the slice which we share. Many older women who’ve deferred writing because of family responsibilities and day jobs end up discovering that they’re not cute enough, edgy enough, or connected enough due to past and current family responsibilities. When faced with a question of fairness, most of us tend to take the stance that “hey, it’s only fair that these discriminated groups have representation.” I believe that, because it’s right. Period. What I don’t like is the feeling that I’m being marginalized, though, because I’m a white woman over 50–and I’ve seen enough ageism in the employment market to recognize it in other settings. It’s annoying as hell to deal with.

The last day turned out to be more hectic than I anticipated. The little fire in the Wenaha-Tuscannon Wilderness that laid down nothing more than smoke on our way to the con blew up on Thursday night, leading to the evacuation of the small town of Troy on the Grande Ronde River and Level 2 evacuation alerts along the road we would have taken home. And then I saw that the barn was on a Level 1 alert due to the Falls Creek Fire up Hurricane Creek. Between that and a report that Mocha was still sore, I had to leave the con at noon on Sunday and rush back to Enterprise. We got here, I was able to talk to the barn owner about the situation (better than I thought, though she had to evacuate horses from the other fire).

And…Mocha looked crippled as heck. I picked up the offending hoof, started to pick it out…and got a spurt of white-brown fluid oozing from by her toe. Abscess. Hopefully it’s just a simple abscess which has been plaguing her over the past few months and not subacute founder. It actually explains her quick apparent recovery and relapse. There are ways it could be bad…but we’ll see. I’ll know in an hour.

So that was a Worldcon. Fun in many ways, opportunities missed in others, but…I did a good job at what I was supposed to do and that’s huge. Not able to promote my writing as much as I could have wanted, but these days I’m not always sure that’s a doable proposition. And I did have fun, plus came home with a select choice of books. Don’t know if there’s another one in my future, but one can always hope.

(Hint: buy books, buy books, buy books….)

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Con report: Orycon 2014

The tl:dr version? You know it’s been a good con when you’ve been so busy that the time just flies by. That’s what Orycon 2014 was like for me. Lots of panels, lots of meeting up with folks, not enough meeting up with folks and just waving at people I would have liked to spend more time with, and so on.

There are several happy advantages to not teaching these days which really made this con. First of all, I was able to meet up with friends on Thursday night. There were some glitches, mostly due to the train that Alma was on running out of fuel. On the Columbia River bridge. Sitting there for two and a half hours. Would anyone really believe that this happened? But it did.

Not working meant I had time to do a quick run to the barn before the con on Friday to get Mocha out and lunge her, so that she only went two days without a work (important when you are rehabbing a horse from a long-term injury). Then I met up with a friend for whom Orycon 2014 was her first sf con ever…and got to experience Friday through her eyes. She took some good pictures of me at my first panel (as well as–urm–some rather–um–interesting expressions). Then we did some shopping, including getting her fitted for a corset, which looked ravishingly glorious on her. Later on, I participated in a critique session with friends Frog and Esther Jones for a lovely person in her early phase of writer development, and as always learned a few things for my own writing in the critique. Since she is a local to me, we’re keeping in touch.

Saturday was a blur of readings, panels, and then a rousing good time with rowdy friends at dinner. It was such a blur and busy time that I had to go home and collapse before the Jay Lake memorial. I regret missing it, but there was no way I could hold on until 10 pm. OTOH, I wouldn’t have passed on the double grand entrance that Bob Brown and I made into several parties. One of the features of Radcon in past years was that at least once Bob would scoop me up and carry me around. All part of good fun, and every piece of it was well within my personal boundaries (trust me, if someone crosses a boundary with me, they KNOW). Bob and I haven’t done this for YEARS, and it felt good to be joking and playing in that way again.

Sunday was another flying blur with good panels. The only fly in the ointment is that I discovered this morning that I left a bag of books at one of the booths that my books were placed in. However, I’m hoping to get those books back and have talked to those people.

But there was oh so much more. Good professional conversations about the business of writing, running into old friends who I haven’t seen for years, and having a great time with my people. Another set of pleasant convention memories for the books.

And now I’ve gotta finish putting stuff away, go to the barn and deal with horse, then come back and put some words down. Deadlines are looming on two stories. Time to get back to work.

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Spocon

The trip to Spocon ended up becoming one of those lovely summer events that turns out even better than expected. I hadn’t done this con before, but since Worldcon is going to be in Spokane next year, I thought it would be a good idea to scope it out.

I’m glad I did. Epic and lovely things happened on this trip, both personal and professional.

We arrived early and went on a walking tour of the area around the convention center. I will admit that my Worldcon experience is limited (four), but I do think that Spokane will provide an excellent location in many ways. It’s beautiful with good walking accesses. This picture is from the riverfront trail behind the convention center.

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There is a food coop one block from the convention center, as well as a vegan/gluten-free deli and bakery next door. The Rite Aid has some grocery supplies. If you have a car, it’s not far to a Fred Meyer (supermarket) which has everything. Heck, we figured that out just from flying stops for gas en route to Miscon. Easy on, easy off of I-90 and there’s probably even non-freeway routes to get there.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly as both panelist and fan. My fellow panelists were an interesting mix of familiar and new to me, and I came away having learned new things or acquired some things to think about. That’s always fun. Plus while elders were definitely around, this con had a lot of younger fans present, not just in gaming and anime panels but in writing panels. They asked a lot of good questions, and I predict we’ll see some rising young writers from this bunch in the next few years.

On the technical side of things, I was happy with my schedule, and Spocon did some very nice things with the table tents. The tents had an event map as well as a panel listing. The primary focus of the writing track was on characters, and by the time I was done talking about characters, I’d absorbed wisdom from other panelists and thought through my own process a little bit more. I had a story that I was working on throughout the con, and I think that spending con time talking about characters, then getting up the next morning to apply some of those techniques after sleeping on it, helped develop that story more effectively. I know I walked away from this con feeling energized and ready to go write more, and that’s not something that happens after every con.

Then there was the networking, and this now-infamous incident:

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I didn’t think Phyl was going to do it, until she suddenly put her purse down and started taking off her shoes. But once she did, I realized I wanted to take the pictures. That did happen at the end of a night where we’d gone to an Irish pub, investigated the garbage-eating goat, and looked at the falls.

Mmm. Falls.

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The Upper and Lower Falls of the Spokane River are an easy walk from the main convention hotel. I took many pictures.

I also roughed out the end of a story and have developed some project ideas to be breathing into life here soon. Western-SF crossovers are beginning to tease my brain. Could be interesting. Other good stuff is in progress after this con, and I feel like it was a much-needed transition from past teacher life to present writer life.

At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

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Another great MisCon

As always, going to Missoula for MisCon was an excellent experience. Not everything involved science fiction and writing. We  found the new Preston Wine Cellars store (and purchased some wine, though the port is no more, alas).

Because of the clear, sunny weather on the way over, I got some incredible pictures. Here’s a short sampler:

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(Hubby playing around with a sculpture)

Kootenai Falls.

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We ran up to Whitefish Lake when we got into town rather than check in, and I got some really nice shots of the lake, as well as a couple of folks flyboarding. I’d never heard of it before, so watching it was pretty fascinating.

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And because it was a clear, sunny, warm day, we actually were able to use the outdoor hotel pool.

On the way to the con from Whitefish, we spotted a buffalo bull who’d just gotten up from a wallow, still coated in dirt. It was right on the edge of the bison reserve, and there was no good place to pull over to take a picture. This is a theme which will be repeated.

At the con, I observed part of a plotting session using the Tarot, but had to bug out due to packing for leaving the next morning. I had fun in my panels, and I think my fellow panelists did too. I had to recruit help when it turned out that everyone else on one panel was out sick, and the audience was too big for one panelist. At least if that panelist is me. But I had amazing friends who popped in to join me, and we had a vigorous discussion.

The writing critiques went as well as critique sessions go. Relatively uneventful and interesting concepts. Hopefully, the critiqued writers go on to do something with their work.

The hosting hotel for MisCon, Ruby’s, doesn’t have a bar, but just up the street is an Irish sports bar, The Stone of Accord, that has a decent menu and a rather nice selection of single malts, both Scotch and Irish. I finally got up the nerve to fork out for the Macallen Cask Strength shot, and a rather nice choice it was. That ended up being the choice libation as a bunch of us sipped from our glasses (one savors the Cask Strength, not chugs it) and discussed writing topics from figuring out plots to marketing to archeology to this and that and other things.

Since I was staying in a neighboring hotel, I hiked over to the con every day and got to inhale the glorious scent from this lilac hedge along the parking lot:

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Of course, I swooned over pink and light lavender and dark lavender lilacs. There weren’t any dark purples or whites, alas. But the warm weather brought out the strong sweet perfume of the lilac blossoms, and I loved it every time I walked by.

Because hubby had to go back to work today, we left early on Monday to come back, missing the last day of the con. However, about thirty miles west of Spokane, right next to I-90, near a little snowmelt pond, we spotted a big moose circling round at a trot to catch a glimpse of something that had startled it. We giggled about “moose in the Palouse” the rest of the drive home.

I had this day off so I had time to rest and recover from driving all the way back. Sixteen more days.

Sixteen more days until I’m freelance again. Yay?

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