Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Awesomeness of Dragon*Con

By Banditas Nancy and Trish along with guest Tanya Michna

At this time last week, Nancy and I, along with our good friend (and my roomie for the weekend) Tanya Michna (aka Tanya Michaels), were embracing our inner geekitude along with 40,000 other sci fi, fantasy and pop culture fans at the annual Dragon*Con conference in Atlanta. This was my second year to attend, and it lived up to the fun I had last year. Tanya and I were part of different panels on the Writer Track, and we also attended the Supernatural fan discussion and handed out business cards for the Supernatural Sisters blog (where we're two of the five contributing writers). I know Nancy had a lot of great experiences with big-name writers this year.

So, the three of us decided to share some highlights with you, complete with lots of piccies.


My favorite things: Sitting in a giant ballroom with a horde of Star Trek fans watching Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner do riffs off each other. I've been a Classic Trek fan since high school. I'd seen Nimoy but not Shatner, who never did many conventions. This is a highlight of my fannish life, ranking right up there with meeting my favorite Superman artist, the late Curt Swan, at a local con years ago and taking writing classes from A.C. Crispin.

Meeting Lois McMaster Bujold, author of the Vorkosigan Chronicles, the Sharing Knife series, and a fantasy series starting with The Curse of Chalion. She's very friendly and very thoughtful. I just wish I'd had less of an awe factor going; it tends to generate conversational clumsiness.

Hearing Laura Anne Gilman, author of Luna's Retrievers series, which Jeanne and I love, read from her forthcoming fantasy, The Vineart Wars. I also got to chat with her while we all waited in the hall for someone to unlock the door to the room where she was to read. She'll join us Oct. 16 to discuss that series, which has less romance than the Retrievers but lots of action.

Listening to Michael Biehn (the original, and still best, Kyle Reese in Terminator) discuss his career and getting to ask him a question, thanks to Cassondra and Steve. And he said "Hi" to me, as I think I may have mentioned one or two or six times already since then.

Seeing GRW friends and writer buddies I don't get to see anywhere else and going to dinner with my online sff critique group. Our teacher, A.C. Crispin, goes every year, and Lois McMaster Bujold and Julie Kenner joined us this year.

Seeing the wonderfully inventive costumes, especially for the Steampunk (Victorian era science fiction fans).

What I did not get to do: Hear Bujold read. I was like a distractable kid this year, unable to keep up with what what was going on despite having circled things (many, many things) on the program grid. She was reading from the forthcoming Miles Vorkosigan adventure, the first in several years, and I HATE that I missed it!

I also missed Catherine Asaro's reading and panel appearances, and I love her Skolian Empire series.

I did not get to the Cybersecurity panel on the Science track, something I thought might be useful for a future project. I didn't see the panel on surviving the apocalypse, which also had research potential for a future project, on the Apocalypse Rising track.

I didn't see Kate Mulgrew or Patrick Stewart. Simply couldn't stomach the lines.

I missed the parade. I was having breakfast with friends, and the time got away from me. I love the parade, which the dh calls "the extroverted half of the con performing for the introverted half." And the boy and his girlfriend marched in the anime crowd, along with the son of some friends. The dh watched, though, and he didn't see any of them in the mob of costumed anime fans marching down Peachtree Street. I wanted to cheer on the Stargate contingent (I'm a member of Stargate Atlanta), too. And to see the massive Star Wars group, complete with a big unit of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion. Oh, well--next year!

I didn't get to see Trish and Tanya except for about thirty seconds outside the Writer Track room. With 40,000+ people there, running into your friends becomes unlikely. Maybe next year for that, too.


This was my fourth DragonCon, but I don't think you can ever really "get used to" the convention! The spectacle of the crowds and costumes never fails to awe (and occasionally overwhelm.)

My favorite moments from this year: After missing all of the Battlestar Galactica panels last year ('cuz they seemed to conflict with the Firefly stuff--or at least the three hours I was spending in the Firefly lines), I was thrilled to go to a BSG panel this year, now that we all know who the final Cylons were and could discuss it. It cracked me up when the Galactica "chief" Aaron Douglas crashed the panel!

I also really enjoyed the Buffyverse panel including the fabulous Felicia Day, the gorgeous Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz (neither of whom have aged in like a decade--what is up with that?) and Buffy "1.0" Kristie Swanson, although there were a few awkward moments because everyone else had recurring roles on Buffy and/or Angel and she, though in the original Buffy movie, admitted to never even watching the show.

Even though there were only fans and no stars (sigh), I loved the Supernatural panel--much fun discussing where we think the show is going in the newly kicked off season 5!

On Saturday, I got to attend the "An Hour with Draco Malfoy" panel with Tom Felton, who was hilarious and really gracious (even in the face of some slightly crazed fans with inappropriate questions. Eesh, people).

Then there was the rockin' Cruxshadows concert, worth both the line AND being up past 2 a.m. Sunday was a favorite moment of different kind, because I actually got to participate on a panel with some really impressive writers. I was honored to be up there with them!

I had wanted to go to the Twilight panel, but gave it up to go to a YA panel that included Tricia Mills (yay!) and Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant (which I am reading now.) I also missed the parade (the line for BSG was already forming). But I've actually missed that every single year I've gone, so it's becoming like a tradition!

A first for this year: I came in costume! I was Tonks, echoing her purple-haired look from the Order of the Phoenix movie. It wasn't 100% accurate, but total strangers guessed who I was and even asked for my picture so we'll call it a success. I'm already brainstorming costume ideas for next year. After all...only 355 days 'til the next Dragon*Con! (Photo: Trish as Alice Cullen from Twilight and Tanya as Tonks from Harry Potter)


Like Tanya, I was all about the Firefly stuff last year since Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin were in attendance, and thus missed all the Battlestar Galactica stuff. Not so this year! The BSG panel was great, and you could just tell all these people loved working together. There were a lot of BSG cast members in attendance: Michael Hogan (Col. Tigh), Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), Michael Trucco (Sam Anders), Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeda), Luciana Carro (Kat), Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and Kandyse McClure (Dualla).

That same camaraderie existed among the members of my other favorite panel -- for Stargate. There were two SG1 panelists (Gary Jones and Colin Cunningham), but I was most excited to see the four Stargate Atlantis cast members: Joe Flanigan (John Sheppard), Paul McGillion (Dr. Carson Beckett), Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan) and Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex). I'm a big fan of Atlantis and hate that it was canceled. I'm hoping there will be some Atlantis movies in the future like there has been for SG1.

While I attended some other panels, did a little shopping in the dealer rooms (got two new Firefly T-shirts as well as a model of the Serenity and some little Firefly action figures), and attended the Cruxshadows concert, a lot of my time was taken up with getting my photo taken with stars. I went a little crazy with it this year, but my favorites were with the Stargate and BSG cast members. And the one with John Schneider. Yes, he was a great Jonathon Kent on Smallville, but I have liked him since the Dukes of Hazzard days. If I could go back and tell my 12-year-old self that I'd meet "Bo Duke" one day, I wouldn't have believed it.

Here I am with Joe Flanigan and Paul McGillion (pulling a Zoolander pose), who autographed the photo.

And next I'm pictured with Michael Trucco, Kandyse McClure and Mary McDonnell (who I also loved in Dances with Wolves).

And perhaps the coolest thing to happen to me at the conference was when I was in the Walk of Fame room where the stars meet fans and sign autographs. I was going to have my photo taken with Michael Hogan and Kate Vernon from BSG. While I was waiting, I got to talking to one of their assistants. He saw my guest name badge and said my name looked familiar. I was taken aback, but we got to talking about how I'm an author. Then he told Kate. Even though the fans were supposed to stay on the front side of the tables, Kate told me to come around to the back and while we waited for Michael to finish talking to someone else, we talked about my YA novel. Totally surreal moment, and they are both so incredibly nice. Here's the photo the assistant snapped.

Part of the fun of Dragon*Con is just checking out all the costumes. Some people go all out and probably spend a fortune on their costumes.

Dr. Horrible (with Tanya)

Fray (from the Buffyverse)

Some Lycans from the Underworld movies. You can't see all the people dressed in the vampire armor from Underworld Evolution.

And Captain Mal, River Tam and Jayne Cobb from Firefly/Serenity (with me stuck in the middle)

The things I didn't make it to that I regret missing: the parade, a session with Diana Gabaldon (it totally slipped my mind!), the Twilight panel with Peter Facinelli and Justin Chon (though I did have my photo taken with them), the Tom Felton presentation, and some workshops on costuming that looked interesting.


Nancy said...

Trish did a great job of putting the blog together. Don't she and Tanya look cool?

Nancy said...

Oh--moi with the bird. I know just what he can do. We have lots and lots of picking up to do.

Helen said...

Congrats Nancy have fun with him what are your plans

What a great blog all three of you had a great time love the photos.

Must have been awesome meeting all of those people and listening to the discussions it is now wonder you didin't get to everything you wanted to with all those people there and the choice of what pannels to go to I don't think I could have made up my mind.

I probably would have gone to the hour with Draco Malfoy seeing as how I am a big Harry Potter fan.

Thanks for the great blog

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, one chook for you! Congratulations!

Welcome, Tanya! Always lovely to see you here. Nancy and Trish, didn't you have a fabulous time? Wow, what a lot you packed in. It made RWA look like it was for sissies! And didn't you hang out with the famous people. I hope you told those b-listers that you two were A-list banditas!!!!! ;-)

Oh, by the way, Nancy, I'm with you on Michael Biehn. I thought he was wonderful in Terminator. Sigh.

Natalie Hatch said...

Trish, I'm still wildly jealous. One day I'll get to one of these.

flchen1 said...

OMG! How totally awesome! Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos and yay, looks like it was a terrifically fun time for all!

Congrats on the GR, Nancy! ;)

Pissenlit said...

Nancy - *whimper* She read from the next Vorkosigan book?!?!!? *unintelligible noises*

Tanya - Love the hair! What was the colour called?

Trish - *points finger* You got your picture taken with Joe Flanigan and Paul McGillion! That is so cool!

Minna said...

Great pictures!
Oh, Trish, did you get my email?

Minna said...

Thought I'd share this. Caridad has some links to sites where you can get some free Harlequin and Mills & Boon and other books:

But I can't understand why Barnes & Noble wants your credit card number even when the books are free. *SIGH* They have some free books I'd love to read.

EilisFlynn said...

It looks like it was fabulous!! One of these days ...

Terry Odell said...

Great post -- wish I could get to more conferences. Sigh.

Susan Sey said...

Oh my gosh, you guys! Dragon*Con sounds like a blast! Pictures were awesome! Did you come home inspired? That's what I love about conferences most--that feeling of unlimited creativity & possibility. Any new ideas??

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen--

I plan to make the GR work. He's picking up papers with the dog standing guard, though I don't like the way they're looking at each other.

DragonCon was a hoot. I always come home from it jazzed, if brain-fried from sensory overload. I didn't see those Lycans surrounding Trish in the photo, but with 40k people there, you aren't going to see everything!

And I talked a friend whose friend had driven Tom Felton in from the airport. Apparently he was supposed to have a limo, but there as a snag, and my friend reported that her friend (the fannish grapevine is a marvelous thing) reported that Felton was just lovely about it--friendly and chatty.

Nancy said...

Hi, Anna--thanks. It was a fabulous weekend for me as a fan. Laura Anne Gilman is guesting with us to discuss The Vineart Wars next month. The segment she read had plenty of boom, albeit magical and not gunpowder-related, and the magic system is really cool, based on wine.

Michael Biehn was very nice to all the fans and went out of his way to say gracious things about the actors with whom he'd worked. He walked around the con with his girlfriend and one handler--no entourage or giant security detail.

Nancy said...

A couple of years back, I was heading up the crowded escalator in the Hyatt at the end of a long day. Riding up ahead of me, smiling and chatting, with no security or entourage and no one bothering them, were Kevin Sorbo and Steven Bacic, then of Andromeda. They're just as hot-looking in person but not as tall.

Nancy said...

Natalie, you really should come to Atlanta some Labor Day weekend and join 40,000 potential friends in a massive geekout. It's loads of fun.

The blood drive broke a record, collecting over 2000 units, and there was an effort (don't know how it worked out) to break the record for the most people performing Thriller together.

Nancy said...

Fedora, thanks. We had a blast, though I wish I'd seen Trish and Tanya for more than an eyeblink. I heard there were other Ga. Romance Writers members there, but I didn't see most of them.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit wrote: Nancy - *whimper* She read from the next Vorkosigan book?!?!!? *unintelligible noises*

Clearly you understand the reason for my distress. I couldn't believe I'd missed it. And then to have her ask if I'd been there and have to say no--Aaaugh!

Nancy said...

Eilis, you would love it. I promise you would. But of course, you already know what it'd be like.

Though I will say that if you've never seen the DragonCon parade, it will boggle your mind. The city closes Peachtree Street, one of the main downtown venues, for a couple or three hours. The hundreds of participants gather at a park some distance away, where the maschoc--uh, volunteers--organizing the parade sort them all by category, grouping anime, Star Wars, Harry Potter, pirates, Dr. Who, fairies, super-heroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, steampunk, etc. by costume. Then they all march down Peachtree to the Hyatt and around the corner to wind up at the Marriott where RWA was held a few years back. It's truly an awesome sight.

Author and illustrator Janny Wurtz leads off the parade in a kilt, playing her bagpipes as she marches down the street. Behind her comes a group holding a huge DragonCon banner, and behind them comes everyone else. The costumes are fabulously inventive. The Star Wars contingent is usually largest, thanks in part to the 501st Stormtrooper Legion turning out in force, and brings up the end of the parade.

Here's a YouTube clip of the Star Wars contingent:

There's lots of other video from the parade uploaded. I plan to watch it since I missed the parade live.

Nancy said...

Terry, DragonCon is just pure fun. There's a great writer track, organized by GRW founding member Nancy Knight, and there are writers all over the place. The con has a great book presence in addition to all the comic book and TV/film panels. I hope you'll give it a try sometime.

Nancy said...

***Just FYI for everyone***

I brought home a trade paperback, squarebound sampler of new fantasy releases, and I'm giving it away to someone who comments. :-)

Nancy said...

Hi, Susan--I came home in a weird state that combined energized and brain-fried. I always need a couple of days to reach baseline normal again. To the extent that I ever am baseline normal. *g*

The boy's girlfriend, whom he met last year at DragonCon, stayed in the hotel with us. The first day of the con, they went over to the Marriott and rode up the escalator where they met. Isn't that sweet?

Pissenlit said...

Nancy - Clearly you understand the reason for my distress. I couldn't believe I'd missed it. And then to have her ask if I'd been there and have to say no--Aaaugh!

Oh yes, I feel your pain. Had that happened to me, the whole convention would know the moment I realised I missed it. Something along the lines of "NOoOOoOOOOooOOOOOOOoOooooo!!!"

jo robertson said...

Nancy, Trish and Tanya, what a great post about Dragon Con!

The pictures are superb and you guys sound like you have a super time!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hello ladies! What a great time you three had! I amd so jealous. Grins.

Nancy, watch out for that bird. I think he has designs on some of the items in your BSG collection. Grins.

I'm totally jazzed about Laura Gillman coming to visit! Yeah!

Trish, I ADORE those pictures! Wow, I would have just gone all suishy with some of those delicious hunks. Wow. Did you not post the one behind the table?

Tanya, thanks for being with us today. You make a great Tonks!

Virginia said...

Congrats Nancy, have fun with that bird today!

It looks like you all had an awesome time at Dragon Con. I have never been to anything like that but it looks fun!

Nancy said...

Jo, I didn't get as many pictures as usual this year, and my Luddite tendencies have prevented me from figuring out how to upload directly to the Mac from my camera. Trish took all the photos.

Doesn't Tanya look great as Tonks? I love that character.

Nancy said...

Jeanne wrote: Nancy, watch out for that bird. I think he has designs on some of the items in your BSG collection. Grins.

Well, considering I have a replica of Queen Amidala's laser pistol from The Phantom Menace, I have everything under control. Right now, to separate the GR and the dog, I let the boy take the GR upstairs to play SuperMarioKart on the game system.

Nancy said...

Virginia, thanks. I think things like DragonCon are fun if you're okay not knowing what's going to walk toward you around the next corner. I don't love the crowds, but the rest of it's worth it to me.

Nancy said...

The boy keeps a stash of mini-Tootsie Rolls in a tin in his domain. The GR seems to have developed an unfortunate fondness for them. Lucky for the boy, chicken claws aren't good at opening tins.

Barbara Monajem said...

Whew. Just *reading* about DragonCon was exhausting! I think I'll go have a nap.

Nancy said...

Barbara, sorry you weren't able to make it this year. Maybe next time?

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, everyone. Just getting to the blog. Had my RWA chapter meeting today.

I see I neglected to put up one of the photos, the one with Kate Vernon and Michael Hogan. Oh well. I was having photo issues when I was putting this together.

Natalie, if you're into sci fi, fantasy, etc., I think Dragon*Con is something you should definitely attend at least once.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Pissenlit, yep, Joe and Paul were really funny. I had my photo taken with Jason Momoa and Rachel Luttrell too, but I didn't want to clog the blog with all the photos. Yes, I went a wee bit overboard.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Minna, yes, I got your e-mail and forwarded it to MJ. Thanks.

Susan, I'd say I was inspired in that I REALLY want to get my paranormal projects published (fingers crossed) so that my work fits better with the Dragon*Con crowd.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Nancy, somehow I think Kevin Sorbo could handle himself. :)

Speaking of the Thriller thing, I heard they got enough people but were waiting for Guinness to verify it. There's a totally hysterical video on YouTube of a practice session. In the midst of all the people is someone in an awesome costume as the alien from Alien. Dancing to Thriller. I about fell out of my chair.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Speaking of YouTube, here's the link to the Thriller session with the Alien. LOL! Give it a few seconds until they pan to the left side of the room.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Nancy, that's such a sweet story about your son and his girlfriend. Awww.

The photos are fun. And Tanya took the one of Tom Felton. I missed that session.

Minna said...

Oh, good. I'm never quite sure if my email goes where it's supposed to instead of getting lost in the cyberspace.

#1 ANGEL - Love Song For A Vampire [David Boreanaz]

Christine Wells said...

Oh, wow, you guys look like you had a fantastic time! 40,000 people does make romance conferences seem on the small side:) Thanks for giving us a report, Trish and Nancy and Tanya, welcome to the lair! It sounds like you all had a full programme and what great photos. How cool to be part of the writing track, also. Did you get any interesting/weird questions from the crowd?

Tanya, I very much enjoyed your networking workshop from D.C. So entertaining and insightful.

Nancy, you'd better get out your miniature storm trooper suit, because the rooster is heading your way:)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Nancy, I've often found reason to be glad that the GR doesn't have opposable thumbs. :>

Trish, those are such cool pictures. :>

Deb Marlowe said...

Such fun! You guys look great in the pics.

I keep vowing to go one of these days!

I would have been drooling at the Nimoy/Shatner panel too!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Me too, Deb, altho I have to confess to loving Patrick Stewart best as the Capt'n of the Enterprise. :> "Make it so, Number One."

Nancy said...

Jeanne wrote: Hey Nancy, I've often found reason to be glad that the GR doesn't have opposable thumbs. :>

Oh, so true! He's also, apparently, unable to handle certain PS2 games because of that deficiency. Just now, he's in the kitchen eying the dog's dish.

Nancy said...

Deb, you really should go some year. There's a massive load of Trek programming.

Anonymous said...

>>>Welcome, Tanya! Always lovely to see you here.

Squee! (Anna, I'm having a total fan moment--LOVE your books

For Tonks, I just picked up the hairspray with the purple cap at Party City *g* I was THRILLED people knew who I was. One very shy young man came up to tell me it was cool and said that Lupin is his favorite character (obvious Tonks connection, there). It was the first year I dressed up and could not believe that amid the more elab. costumes, total strangers wanted pics of me. (And y'all, I looked much better before it rained on the temp. hair color, LOL)

>>>I very much enjoyed your networking workshop from D.C

Christine, thank you! It's been raining here nonstop for 2 wks and I'm deadline--you just TOTALLy brightened my day :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Tanya, Christine and several others have been talking about your workshop. I'm going to download it on their recommendation!

Louisa Cornell said...

OMG !! I am SO adding this to my bucket list!! This looks like so much fun! I am GREEN with envy! Thanks so much for sharing DragonCon with us. I have met Nimoy and have his autograph actually, but I have never met Shatner and I would LOVE to have my photo made with either of them. And Michael Biehn!!! Are you KIDDING me?

Nancy, I just know the GR is going to straighten up and fly right at your house. Wonder how he would look with Tanya's Tonks hair color?

MsHellion said...

That looked like it was a total BLAST. (I would have loved to have seen the Tom Felton interview. Huzzah.) Hilarious...and I love the surreal moment of being recognized as an author. Score!