Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Contraflow 5 / DeepSouthCon 53 Wrapup: Getting Literary in the Big Easy

IMG_4074I’ve been to New Orleans. I have taken in Jackson Square’s beauty, gyrated to the loose horns on Frenchman Street, and sniffed at Borboun Street’s pee-barf-and-bleach bouquet. But until now, I had not had the pleasure of visiting the Airport Hilton in Kenner, LA.

Well, it’s not so much your location, in life, as it is with whom you find yourself. I found myself with a colorful, friendly, and altogether enjoyable bunch of SciFi fans, artists, and writers. And I also found a Starbucks and a bar in the lobby. Score and score.

I Mustache You a Question

Upon arrival, I checked in to the hotel, checked into the conference, and then checked in at the bar to review the materials about the weekend. There I found an image of the esteemed Scalzi. I took a bit of artistic license with it.

Proud of my work, I tweeted it to Mr. Scalzi.

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I then realized that my first panel, “Writing Funny,” would be at 9:00PM. Not a problem, but at the exact same time as my panel there was also listed a “Cocktail Party.” Dang. I want to go to a cocktail party, but I can’t skip the panel. What would Scalzi do in this situation, I wonder?

He responded to my earlier tweet, but provided no advice on my cocktail party quandary.

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In the end, I just took my drink to the panel, a one-man mobile cocktail party, if you will. The crowd didn’t seem to mind.

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Nor, it should be said, did “The” Rob Cerio or Gail Martin, my fellow panelists, seem to mind. We had a great chat and I learned a lot. Mostly, I learned that I like Rob Cerio and Gail Martin.

Mr. Cerio’s friends and admirers love him so much that if you speak his name without adding the definite article “the” before his name to make it “The Rob Cerio,” they will correct you.

After the panel, I attended a drink making panel. I believe the security officer pictured is asking everyone to remain calm. Or he’s preparing to do the Watusi.

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After that panel, I met some folks who were wheeling a beer keg around in a trash can strapped to a hand truck, and I stuck pretty close to them until bedtime, which didn’t come nearly as early as it should have.

Day Deux

In the morning, I headed into town for a bike ride. New Orleans doesn’t have any hills, so pedaling around down is pretty easy business. I rented this bike from a gentleman in Bayou St. John via a web site called Spinlister.

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Along the way, New Orleans attempted to confuse me by telling me that a bicycle is a bus. I didn’t appreciate it. My head hurt bad enough without trying to work this sign out.

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Then I rode about 15 feet and decided it was time for coffee, lots of water, and some food, so I pulled into Willa Jean bakery and ate this work of art.

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Rejuvinated and rejavanated, I pedaled nearly the length of Magazine to Audobon Park, then back up to Bayou St. John to return the bike. I had to get back to Kenner to do panel with Dawn Chartier.

Technically I am a romance novelist, but Dawn’s got three romance books to my one, so I think it’s safe to say she knows a lot more about it than I do. Also, I gather her books are a lot steamier than mine is, so you get more romance per page with her too.

And her covers are cool as well.

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The romance panel was great fun, as evidenced by the enraptured faces of our attendees.

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After the panel, I set up shop at a signing table. My usual book selling/signing policy remains in affect: I’ll sign any book, any name.

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At the table, I learned from Mr Boudreau, guest coordinator, that the Friday night Writing Funny panel was moved opposite the cocktail party in order to accommodate my travel schedule. Well, that explains that!

And then this walked up, but, sadly, did not buy a book.

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Later that evening I joined Scott J. Carroll‘s improv panel. I got a few laughs, but not nearly as many as Scott himself.

Parting is such sweet sorreaux

Sunday came, and with it a certain sadness. Yes, I would have to leave Contraflow. I called the front desk of the hotel to make sure. To assuage my longing to return to a conference I hadn’t technically left yet, I drank enough espresso to give a dead man the shakes.

Then I did panel with Gail Martin again, as well as Leo King. I didn’t catch the third lady’s name.

I’d been admiring Leo King’s outfit all weekend. As you can see, he’s got on a long sleeved sweater over some sort of poet’s blouse with frilly sleeves. I was dressed like I’d just stopped off at a department store with only one department: boring.

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I tried not to let my jealously show.

Soon, the time came to head back across the street to the airport, and from there back home. As I say, I was sad to go, but glad to get home to Sweetie and familiar environs.

Thanks a bunch to Contraflow for having me, and I hope you’ll have me back next year!