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A Hellaciously Long Dragon*Con Post

There are those days in our lives that we consider our Best Days. I’m not sure I could pick out one as The Best Day Ever, but there are certainly ones I will never forget: my high school graduation, Orson Scoot Card’s Boot Camp, selling my first book, really kissing Joe for the first time. The Saturday of Dragon*Con 2011 was one of those days for me.

There are people who live their whole lives and never have a day like that. I would just like to let those people know that I honestly and truly appreciated every minute of it.

It started off just like every Saturday morning at Dragon*Con: there was an alarm, a very groggy Leanna, and a parade. I woke up a little before the alarm, so I’d have more time to draw stars on my face and make tea for my lovely nightingale roommate. I was up and dressed and looked FABULOUSLY CUTE and got to SEE LEANNA WEAR PINK. (The latter happens far more rarely than the former.) When we arrived at the staging area, I dropped Leanna/Romana off with the Doctor Who folks and met the Dark-Hunters–a large handful of which were children this year. I love kids. Especially kids who dress up.

Eddie had hurt his knee the night before so he wasn’t able to help carry the giant Dark-Hunter banner. Joe offered, but two strapping young men had already stepped up to volunteer. But as the Bloodmobile bus revved up and started pulling away (vampires always walk behind the Bloodmobile), we noticed that the banner was sagging a bit in the middle.

Sherri groaned and then said, “Alethea, will you go hold that thing up?”

There wasn’t time to debate logistics, and as I never have any qualms about being front and center, I hopped to the task. Happily, my crew of minions (a word I wouldn’t normally use, but they were kids AND Dark-Hunters!) jumped up beside me and helped me hold the banner as well. The little Simi and I had a great time waving to people and smiling, and every time we stopped she yelled, “YOU ALL LOOK TASTY!” or some variation, which sent me into fits of giggles.

The best part about being front and center with that banner was that EVERYONE SAW ME. My dear friend Crissy yelled and waved and blew me kisses as we rounded the corner. My friend Cass did the same later on down the street. I arrived back at the hotel to find numerous posts saying, “I saw you in the parade!” which was just fabulous and awesome.

I also arrived back at the hotel to find that I had completely sweated through my costume (thank you, Atlanta). Since I still had a bit of time before my first commitment (Leanna’s autograph session), Joe and I went to the Walk of Fame (which was closed) and the Exhibitor’s Hall. I’d bought a corset last year at Passional, and I had my eye on getting another one this year before the pickings were slim. I threw on my “back-up dress” (one always brings a back-up dress to Dragon*Con) and proceeded to spend WAY TOO MUCH on a gorgeous green full corset (because green is my favorite color) and a long black ruffly skirt (because if I was going to spend that much, I may as well get a whole outfit out of the deal, right?). We stopped back at the room to drop off purchases and I changed into my new GORGEOUS outfit, ready to face the day!

I left Leanna a little early to make it to the Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon Panel. I’m so glad I keep getting invited to MC this panel, because I swear I do less and less every year. The best part for me is always warming up the crowd before Sherri gets there. I adore the Dark-Hunter fans–in a way, I’ve grown up with them. Those ladies & gents are my family. We are all friends on Facebook, and every year it’s like a family reunion. They knew me back when I was just a picture book writer and they cheered me when I hit the NYT Bestseller List. So I was INCREDIBLY PROUD to be able to show off not only my new dress, but also the book cover for ENCHANTED! By the time the panel started, I was absolutely giddy. I’m sure it showed.

I’m very glad too that I was able to chat with everyone before the panel, because directly after I was whicked away by my friend Gaia to see another panel over at the Sheraton hotel. See, I’ve been a guest since 2006 or so, but before then I was a FAN, and I miss it! I miss seeing panels (that I’m not on) and getting autographs (they’re so expensive now!) and shopping and collecting things. You have to wait HOURS to see panels now, and I just don’t have that kind of free time. I am a busy woman every year at Dragon*Con. They put me to WORK!

Back before I was a fan of much of anything besides books, I was a Next Generation Trekkie. Yes, Captain Picard was (and in a way, still is) my Captain. This year at Dragon*Con, a lot of the ST:TNG folks were in attendance. Gates McFadden, who played Beverly Crusher (my favorite character — the Warp Bubble episode is still my favorite), was doing a panel with Wil Wheaton & Brent Spiner, moderated by Garrett Wang. It was seriously killing me that I had to miss this.

But my dear, patient, and long-suffering friend Gaia is what we nowadays call “handicapable”, and those folks are allowed to the front of the line and let into the auditoriums first. They are also allowed to have one slave to assist them. I GOT TO BE THAT SLAVE. (Happily, she told me I could be a slave princess sans metal bikini, for which I will be eternally grateful.)

Gaia wasn’t even a fan of Star Trek (as was pointed out during the panel, they just don’t have Star Trek in France), but she loves me, and the panel was SO MUCH FUN that she actually had a great time. Gates and Brent and Wil and Garrett told stories and picked on each other and cracked us all up. We smiled and laughed and I took a bunch of pictures and I had the time of my life because I know this rarity was probably something I would never be able to experience again. It was a gift from a friend–one of the best gifts I’ve ever received–and I will never, ever forget that. Thank you, Gaia, darling.

Of course, squeezing that panel in made me subsequently late for my 5:30 autograph session, and there were already people waiting for me when I arrived. Gaia and Jacqueline and a few other girls helped me set up my table and welcome everyone, flustered as I was. Edmund Schubert had a chance to come in and sit by me a while which was a special treat, as he is someone else I miss dearly and never get to see enough of. He invited me to dinner with David Coe and Faith Hunter, but the hour came and went and I never stopped signing…and the Dragon*Con staff weren’t kicking us out…so I kept on signing and chatting with everyone until Sherri’s line disappeared.

I think Joe and I grabbed a quick bit to eat after–I don’t remember eating much at Dragon*Con this year. Yes, we did eat then, because I changed out of the fabulous green corset and into some jeans so I could eat. I wanted to save the dress to wear to the Yule Ball the next evening, and technically I was “off duty,” so jeans & a t-shirt were more than acceptable.

I knew David and Faith had a panel at 8:30, so I swung by quickly afterward to see if I could catch them before it started. I passed fellow Codexians Mary Robinette Kowal, Danielle Friedman, and Helena Bell who invited us to sit with them in the Marriott restaurant/bar, but I told them we would join them after I accomplished my mission. I found the room the panel was in about two minutes before it started. Jeremy Lewis was there along with Faith and David, and Carol Malcolm (my favorite Dark Fantasy track moderator) was holding court.

Two minutes or no, I proceeded to Hug Bomb the panel. Because Princesses have that right. I never saw Jeremy or Faith or David again after that, but it was just so lovely to see their faces and touch them for five seconds, to remind myself they were real, and how much I missed them (though I think it’s the first time I’d ever met Faith in the flesh)…it’s one of those unique feelings I wonder if anyone outside Dragon*Con knows.

We joined the Codex table at the Marriott, which grew as Leanna joined us, and then Tempest Bradford and Andrew Mayer. The company was both lively and relaxing at the same time, and I began to wind down from my fabulous day. I knew I had promised a few people that I’d make an appearance in the Green Room, and I wanted to make sure I fulfilled my duties before it closed for the night. I reluctantly excused myself from the table and left…but not before I heard “Alethea!” called from a table near the door.

A gorgeous girl dressed as Elvira told me that she’d been at the panel earlier, and complimented me on my bubbliness, for which I thanked her. And then she GOT UP FROM HER DINNER and asked if she could take a picture with me. ME! In my jeans and t-shirt! This happens to Sherrilyn Kenyon. This happens to Felicia Day and Jewel Staite. This does not happen to ME. I was honored and humbled and speechless as I made my way through the habitrails to the Hyatt Green Room.

Everyone ended up there, too, eventually, and they finally kicked us all out in the middle of our fabulously good time, some time about 1:30am. On the elevator down to the lobby, Joe made some fantastically snarky comment about which David Nykl said, “That guy’s funny.” This of course meant nothing to Joe, but I had an inner fangirl moment. David is a frequent visitor of the Green Room. One of these days, I will finally tell him how much I loved his character on Stargate:Atlantis.

Down in the lobby, I waited for everyone to decide what to do…and tried my best to remain upright. I was DEAD TIRED. It had been a long–albeit magically amazing–day! Jim Minz wanted to go to karaoke and Joe wanted to check out Rocky Horror Picture Show, but Leanna recommended tea and bedtime, so I happily took her advice. So Joe and Jim went off to cause trouble and Leanna and I chatted until sometime before three–I think I fell asleep while she was talking. From beginning to end, it was a perfect, PERFECT day.

The only thing I regret–because there is always something–is that I cried off and went to bed as soon as I did. Mom always says, “If you’re having a bad day, crawl back under the covers and give up, because nothing will go right. If you’re having a great day, ACCOMPLISH AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE on that day.”

While Leanna and I were sharing sugar in our tea and talking best friend business, Joe and Jim had gone down to Rocky Horror, where they found Eddie standing in line amidst a completely disorganized mess of people. So they chose plan B and headed over to karaoke. The text I received from Joe read:

Doc Brown and Sylvester McCoy are at karaoke.

Dammit.
But that’s okay. I still consider it a pretty darn perfect day.
And that was only Saturday.

Vive La Dragon*Con!

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