It transpired that I was so flat out for the entire six days that I didn’t get much time to update anything – Twitter, Facebook and LJ all suffered, but it was to good purpose – too busy selling books and catching up with people to social network online? I call that a win!
So now it’s a matter of trying to remember what happened when! Not easy with lack of sleep and a blurring of days happening… But I’ll give it a go.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT 1: A very early start, as I woke at 2am worried about luggage and couldn’t go back to sleep! Also discovered that Terri had missed her flight, so probably good I got up then and realised! Repacked suitcase, removing more clothes (and as it turned out, could have left out more, between over-warm venues and a washer and dryer in our apartment!), and then headed up to the airport. Arrived before 5am, with baby in tow. A little hard to negotiate shuttle bus and luggage drop with baby and bags, but the QANTAS loaner strollers are a life saver. Managed a cup of tea and one bite of a revolting toastie before boarding. QANTAS had very nicely blocked out a seat next to me for the bub, so we didn’t have too much trouble relaxing. Switched seats with a lovely couple when I noticed a lady with a badge sitting opposite – she was a con virgin in her later years, so we had a lovely chat on the way over (and in a con of over 2000 members, I naturally kept running into her in random places!).
Arrived in Melbourne near lunchtime and was very pleased with the service on Sky Bus – very helpful with pram and luggage pile, and super friendly. After a random meeting with Deborah Biancotti off the bus, made it to hotel, where staff also very friendly, but Melbourne is NOT pram-friendly. So many steps, so few ramps for wheeled items. Rested with bub for a few hours, then made my (very round-a-bout) way to the Hilton to meet up with Jonathan Strahan and family. Wandered into hotel lobby and saw a group of people I figured HAD to be con-goers. Being me, I went up and said hi – introductions were made, and lo! Group included a jet-lagged John Scalzi who I then ended up chatting with for a while until Jonathan and family arrived! Endeavoured not to be too fangirlish 🙂
Took an extended taxi ride out to Alex’s house, where we were joined by Tansy and family, Alisa and Kathryn and her other half. Noisy and fun to catch up with people – Alex’s husband most tolerant 🙂 After a dash to the shop to get some groceries, we caught a tram (my fourth time in Melbourne, pretty sure this was my first proper tram ride!) back to the city. Ran into Matthew Chrulew on the street (as you do), and finally made it back to the room rather late!
THURSDAY SEPT 2
An early start with baby (the first of many!) and the arrival of at about 8am – got ourselves to the lobby to meet up with the others and head to the Convention Centre to register and unearth the Dealer Room, hoping all the way that the books we freighted over had arrived safely. Books direct from our wonderful printer (Griffin) arrived Wednesday to our hotel, so we taxied over and lugged upstairs the 14 boxes that came that way! Made it to the correct space and to find 19 out of 20 boxes awaiting us. Easy to identify the missing box as one of my Worlds Next Door cartons, so got straight onto Toll IPEC to track it down. A little difficult to do as we didn’t accept the delivery ourselves, but within a few hours they had found it and arranged delivery for the next day. We spent the next couple of hours setting up the table and arranging ourselves, interspersed with another trip back to the hotel to collect the delivery of five boxes of Glitter Rose from China! So stoked they arrived in time (at one point they weren’t going to make it, at another they weren’t due until the Friday, so to have them for the full trading duration was fantastic) – it was very exciting opening the boxes!
Finally go the table set up – Dealer Room officially opened at 2pm and I’m pretty sure we barely stopped between that time at 4.30 on Monday! Was fabulous. Lots of people to meet and catch up with and lots of sales to make! Possibly my favourite was the very enthusiastic lady who came to buy one book and left with six, then came back AGAIN for more the next day! I AM super sales girl! Also, very proud of who had, by the end of the weekend, begun upselling very well 🙂
After a brief sojourn to the official launch of Helen Merrick’s Hugo nominated work, The Secret Feminist Cabal, I went out to dinner with Alex, Tansy, Terri and Dirk Flinthart and his boy "Jake". I must note again how good retail and hospitality service is in Melbourne – I’ve not seen it equalled in such a universal way in any city or town I’ve visited in Australia! And then back to the hotel for chats, balancing of cashbox (for the record, down $15 on the first day, but pretty good thereafter!).
FRIDAY SEPT 3
As an idea of how busy how was this day, note my tweets from just before 10am to around 6pm (EST):
* @gailcarriger There’s a rumour you’re signing at the Orbit table at 5.30. Is it true?
* Sigh. Everyone just left for the Voyager party. I’m still selling books though! #aus4
* @prkaye @natcon50 @swancon Natcon50 folk don’t have a con hotel room to host in! #aus4 #swancon #natcon
* Bringing my #Tupperware flask to #aus4 was a smart move. Worth the luggage space for tea that stays hot!
Four tweets in eight hours. Yup, busy! I have no idea who I caught up with on what day, so won’t even try to figure it out. I maintain that the Dealer Room is the place to see and be seen, and managed to meet a whole bunch of Tweet buddies and Facebook friends while holding down the fort. I think I was also on a panel – Peter Ball and I were the only two panellists who showed up to discuss the difference of Australian SF, but we dragged Narrelle Harris along with us, and I pretended to be moderator – given we were missing Jack Dann and Lucy Sussex from the panel, I think we did pretty well! I managed two panels and a short reading (in the kiddies room) during the five days, but did not get to a single other panel! Luckily lots of people were tweeting them and telling us about them after, so it was okay 🙂
As they changed the time of the Voyager party, I was unable to go along, staying in the Dealer Room takin’ care of bizness. Once we shut down, I wandered off to get changed for the Ditmars and then joined Cat Valente in the Hilton bar briefly – was nice to meet her, and chat with her while she awaited dinner. Sadly didn’t get to drag her along to the Ditmars as her food took ages to arrive – I think she made it though! I went upstairs with the Clarion crew and found a space at the back of the room. The Voyager partiers arrived eventually, and kaelajael took baby duties (which weren’t pleasant! Baby was not well that evening!). Peter Ball had asked me to collect any awards he should happen to win, so it was a real thrill when he won the first Ditmar announced (Best New Talent)! The full results of the Australian Awards, as I tweeted them (reverse order to announcement order…):
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Fannish Cat goes to Peri Peri Canavan
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars The William Atheling Jr Award goes to Helen Merrick for The Secret Feminist Cabal
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Novel goes to Kaaron Warren for Slights
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Novella/Novellette goes to Paul Haines for "Wives"
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Short Story goes to Cat Sparks for "Seventeen"
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Collected Work goes to Slice of Life by Paul Haines
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Artwork goes to Lewis Morley (cover of ASIM)
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Fan Writer goes to Robert Hood
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Fan Artist goes to Dick Jensen
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Fan Publication goes to Steam Engine Time
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best Achievement goes to Gillian Polack (for Conflux Banquet)
#aus4 #awards #Ditmars Best New Talent Ditmar goes to Peter M Ball
#aus4 #awards Peter Macnamara Award to Janeen Webb
#aus4 #awards Short Story competition won by Helen Stubbs
#aus4 #awards Inaugural Norma K Hemming Award to Maria Quinn
#aus4 #awards A Betram Chandler to Damien Broderick
Fantastic winners list! We then took ourselves back to the hotel with a lovely group for a little room party. With the occasional contribution from Helen Merrick’s other half Stewart (they had the room next door) and his friend Warren, we had a ball – lots of food (thanks Terri!) and wine (thanks Kathryn for foraging!) it was most congenial. We had the obligatory "please quieten down" phone call from reception about midnight, but managed to continue on until after 2am. Great conversations and the best of people! Thoroughly enjoyed it and am glad I got to host it!
SATURDAY SEPT 4
After three hours sleep, was woken by baby, but the awesome took charge, so I got another two or three hours sleep! Ended up running very late but still made the 10am opening of the Dealer Room! This was the busy day, as I was supposed to do three panels – pulled out of one that was also on (shanghai’d in instead!), but did a short reading to the kiddies in the Kid’s Room and moderated a panel on YA Paranormal Romance. Harassed Marianne de Pierres into signing many many Glitter Rose books, which meant we got to chat lots with her 🙂 This day is a bit of a blur – am sure stuff happened, but can’t remember it well! I do know Alisa and Alex were in our room until quite late chatting! And it took me AGES to balance the daily sales (eventually discovered there was an EFTPOS receipt missing – much easier after that!).
SUNDAY SEPT 5
Another good day of sales and chatting. I also finally made my way around the Dealer Room and bought the books I wanted, including re-upping my ASIM subscription. There were some great tables, but I was very restrained 🙂
Was sad to miss the pre-Hugos Orbit party in the evening, but was good to have a bit of a quiet evening. Balanced the books while watching the tweeting and live blogging of the Awards online (ahem, in the company of Neil Gaiman and the DragonCon folk on the other side of the world, so not too bereft!), and then enjoyed chats with Alisa, Tansy, Terri and Alex again – and yes, I kicked them out at midnight! Almost unheard of!
MONDAY SEPT 6
Terri and I up early to finish packing and organising, before Joanne Anderton and her husband Gaston joined us for breakfast at about 8am – was lovely to meet Gaston and catch up with them both in a bit more relaxed way. Terri’s family also arrived during this time, ready for the family holiday (which was great – they took the baby for the day! Didn’t see him from 9.45 to 2pm or so!).
Only four hours of trading, and lots of goodbyes during that time. Terri did a brilliant job packing and labelling boxes, and I managed to balance the books first go when we finally shut down. With lots of help from Alex, Rohan and Mitch, Alisa and I were finished up with the boxes taken by courier by about 3.30pm. Chatted with the others for a while longer, before we made our way back to the hotel with Trent Jamieson also in tow. Relaxed in Tansy & Finchy’s room for a few minutes before heading down to wait for shuttle bus. Luckily realised BEFORE the bus came that I was missing a bag that had my purse! Bus came about 10 minutes late, but other than that, trip to airport uneventful. Absolutely NOT a fan of Melbourne airport (crappy parents’ rooms, hideous amount of stairs, poor signage) but eventually got myself fed, baby changed, and found my gate. Plane a little late leaving, but made excellent time. Baby slept the entire trip in the wonderful bassinet on the plane, so I got to eat, doze and half watch the Russell Crowe Robin Hood (still fun, but a bit silly!). Was after 11pm Perth time by the time I got to my car, so was after midnight by the time I got to bed. Kids woke me up at 4.30 because husband had left for work and they didn’t know where I was (sleeping in kid room due to my bed having too many bodies!). Got a little more sleep (but not much, as bub woke early!), took the bigguns to school, came home and bub and I both slept for four hours! Was awesome. A reasonably early night last night means I’m feeling almost normal now! Catchup is good.
I was delighted over the course of the con to to finally meet, catch up with or manage to spend time with Simon Petrie (who is helming ASIM these days I think!), Marianne de Pierres, Peter Ball, Thoraiya Dyer (who stayed with us on Friday night), Trent Jamieson, Rowena Cory Daniells, Alan Baxter, Gary Kemble, Rob Shearman, Mondy, Mitch, Rohan, Narrelle Harris, Kaaron Warren, Dev, Cat Valente, Gail Carriger, Kate Elliott, Patty, Helen Patrice, Ross from NZ, Janette Dalgliesh, Doug and Wendy Van Belle, Rachel Holkner, Theresa Anns, Karen Miller, John from Boxcutters, Justin, the awesome Shaun Tan (who said nice things about what Amanda did with his art for the cover of Australis Imaginarium!), Crisetta, George Ivanoff, Paul Collins, Michael Pryor, Amanda Pillar, Ellen Datlow (briefly – sad she had to leave so soon), a whole bunch of Western Australians who I could see at home whenever, and probably a bucket load of others I’ve missed mentioning! 🙂
Books were sold, Swancon36/Natcon50 memberships were flogged, people were seen, friends were hugged. Melbourne put on some lovely weather (I was not cold at all, and there was sun with the rain), although the rain in the city can be deceptively light – one minute you’re walking along thinking how gentle the droplets are, then suddenly you’re soaked! It sneaks up on you getting wet! I’m very glad I went, and hope to do it again some day! Was also very glad to be home though 🙂 Thank you everyone I DID catch up with for great conversations and lots of fun. Also to all those wonderful people who took the baby and entertained him when I was busy – cannot tell you how much that was appreciated! And to all those people I missed, I’m sorry – do come to Swancon next year – a little less frantic, hopefully!
One last thing – note to self: WEAR SENSIBLE SHOES FOR DAYS! My feet were KILLING me! I wasn’t the only one, but owwwww! Am refusing to wear boots for at least a week. And am contemplating a visit to the pedicurist! Would be worth it!