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The captain had called me to the bridge… again. Nothing good ever came of a summons like that.

As I stepped through the door, I swept my hat from my brow. “You asked to see me, ma’am?”

She spun on one hourglass heel and peered at me through the monocle she’d been using to survey the map. I must have looked rather odd through the lens because she dropped it so it dangled from a hook on her pristine navy blue corset. I tried not to think about the amount of filth and grime I’d brought with me from the bellows. She shone like the brass gaslamps on the wall, and I… looked like I’d just crawled out of a coal mine explosion. I twisted the hat in my hands and shifted my gaze to the floor. It wasn’t near as shiny.

“I did indeed, Lolita Seleste. I need you to build something for me.”

Building? I could handle building. I met her gaze again, nodding like my head didn’t want to stay attached. “Of course, ma’am.”

Smiling, she pulled me aside and whispered her plans. With every word, my heart sank further into my gut. I couldn’t do what she wanted. No… it couldn’t be done. She was asking the impossible. My heart started to thunder like someone had let a wild stallion loose in my chest.

“I’m sure you won’t let me down, Lolita Seleste.” Then, without waiting for a response from me, she turned on that perfect heel and strode back to her perfect bridge where her perfect crew stood ready to do the impossible.

But I couldn’t. As much as I scrubbed my palms on my breeches, they wouldn’t stop sweating. Or shaking.

I was poised to become the captain’s very first failure.

~~*~~

So, for those of you who don’t know the World Science Fiction Convention is going on right now in Chicago. And I’m there! A couple years ago, I attended World*Con when it was in Montreal. It was my first solo convention… and it was before I was published. A great time to fade into the woodwork and just watch things happen.

This time, I’m a multi-published author in a few genres, and I said to myself, “Seleste, you should try to get involved in some of the programming.” I figured it was no big deal, I’ve done panels and such at the Romantic Times convention for the past two years. I did a panel at World Steam Expo. Panels are old hat. And worst case scenario, if my nerves kick in, there are always other people there to pick up the slack.

Except…

Apparently someone at World*Con is convinced I’m a decent sized draw. Two of my three slots in programming are just me. Solo reading *gulp* (I’ve never actually done a public reading before.) Literary beers *gulp* (People are supposed to sign up to come talk to me.)

I got my schedule and went into a bit of a panic.

It took a while, but I’m no longer panicking (at least about that). I figure I have to learn to do this stuff sometime, so I might as well embrace it on a large scale to start off. And hey, at least one of the things will have beer… and we’re supposed to drink. Honestly, the only way that could have been better is if it had been “Literary Vodka Shots.”

So, if you’re going to be at World*Con in Chicago, please look me up. (Needless to say, I probably won’t be able to check back and comment here but, if you want to post confidence boosters, I won’t say no 😉 ) I’m on the “Why I Love My Editor” panel Saturday morning, doing the reading Saturday evening, and Literary Beers Sunday evening.

Otherwise, I’ll be the chick wandering around… trying not to panic.

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