So I went to Portales and all I got was this lousy -
For context, click the image. Or here.
Wait! That’s not lousy at all! It’s entirely Awesome! It's a plaque for being Guest of Honor at the 2016 Jack Williamson Lectureship. And that’s a real Clovis Point!
Revision: I went to Portales and all I got was this most excellent award and a wonderful time!
So, yeah. That happened. I drove down solo Thursday, which was not (too) appalling. Although the Albuquerque to Portales trip is not the least monotonous in the world. Unlike last year, when I kept myself awake much of the night with weird fears, I slept well that night.
Which served me well, since Thursday was a busy day indeed, starting with the traditional group breakfast at Mark’s near the ENMU campus (spoiler: everything is near the ENMU campus; Portales is not a large town.) Then it was off to my 10 AM (!) reading, at which I read my entire story "Red Sails, Red Seas," from the April edition of Grimdark Magazine - which got the cover, and a fine cover it is indeed – as well as Chapter 38 of the upcoming epic fantasy novel The Dinosaur Knights. Which I privately think of as "The Lost Little Allosaurus" or "The Loneliest Allosaurus," and which you have not read even if you've read the beta of the full original boat-anchor manuscript for The Dinosaur Lords. I also answered questions.
One of Lectureship director and guiding spirit Patrice Caldwell's erstwhile students, now a high school English teacher, brought some of her class, who seemed interested and came up afterwards to get the swell cards Tor made for DInoLords – they cleaned me out! – and get them autographed. The teacher told me that a couple of them claimed they didn’t like to read – but also loved dinosaurs, and wanted to come regardless.
Anyway, right after that it was off to the luncheon, where I gave my speech. Connie Willis, who’s pretty much the Muse of the JWL, as well as an official SFWA Grand Master and a good and valued friend, gave a stirring speech and gave me a great buildup. My speech, like the reading, were well received. Which came as a relief, since I was nervous as heck about it.
(Not about public speaking – since I’m Masquerade MC for Life at both Archon and Bubonicon – great conventions which you really need to try to get to, by the way. But about giving a formal speech, which I hadn’t done in a decade or more.)
That was where Patrice handed me the plaque above. I’m honored, to say the least.
When the luncheon was over, there was a break to sign books which they were thoughtfully selling at a table. On my way back from a bathroom break I came upon several of the high school kids waiting in the hall outside the door to the room where we’d eaten. The kid who had announced most vehemently that he hated reading when the class started up was standing there with his own copy of DinoLords. The others were mildly ribbing him about it. He asked me to sign it for him, and of course I did.
He said he’d “probably” read it. So that’s a win, right?
(And I bet he will. Dude, there’s nekkidness and hot dinosaurs-eating-people action! He’s gonna love it. I know. I was an adolescent. And of course to a degree I still am, which is why I wrote the damn books.)
After that it was time for panels, on “The Enduring Appeal of Dinosaurs” (wonder why they had me on that one) and their “Short Attention Span Theater,” where Connie, Walter Jon Williams, and I answered one-line questions drawn from a hat by Barbara Klapperich Senn. Both of which were fun, for us and (I reckon) the audience.
To cap the evening we trooped off to a party at the house of Gene Bundy and Geni Flores – Geni specially made for me wonderful stuffed Bell peppers to comply with my LCHF eating habits, for which, thank her again. However, we had a bit of a sour note en route: as I was driving over with Kennard V Wilson as my navigator, I noticed that the steering felt and sounded funny.
We popped the hood, and Kennard soon found out why: the power steering fluid reservoir was bone dry. If it was truly that; the (enormous and usually comprehensive) Passat owner’s manual totally crapped out on it. There were only two largely useless and repeated notes on the power steering, and it wasn’t shown in the engine diagrams. Not that it wasn’t labeled; it simply wasn’t there. Fortunately, Serge Broom came to the rescue by identifying the "steering wheel" icon on the cap, which I had trouble making out.
Saturday we were able to track down appropriate fluid at the first auto parts place we visited – turns out good ol’ Prestone power steering fluid worked fine. (But definitely not automatic transmission fluid, which apparently is used for the power steering in a lot of cars.)
After that, we headed home, with Serge riding as copilot for me and Kennard and his wife Kristen Dorland driving in convoy with us just in case anything went wrong. Nothing did, and the fluid level stayed fine the whole way.
Many thanks to Kennard, Kris, and Serge for helping me out of a jam!
Kennard and Kris headed north home to Santa Fe at Clines Corners, after I declined their kind offer to stay with me all the way to the ABQ. Which would’ve added 100 miles to their trip and by that time was clearly unnecessary. I dropped off Serge, who was pretty much on the way, and returned home where Nan Silvernail - it's her birthday today; please drop by and wish her a happy! - was taking excellent care of house and pets. After she took her leave – and I took a brief break – the Mouse and I went for a beautiful late-afternoon ditch walk down by Tinnin Estates off Rio Grande Boulevard.
Whoa. Now time to breathe and recover from all the fun. And the driving. Mostly the driving. Then back to prepping my speech for the UNM Hobbit Society, on Wednesday. Plus real (i.e., fiction) writing.
Thanks once again to Eastern New Mexico University, the JWL, the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library, and the Williamson family for their kindness and generosity in bringing me down. Thanks to Barbara for her help, Brad Hamann for the remarkable poster he did for the event, Gene and Geni, and all the people who helped out whose names I never managed to collect.
As always I enjoyed seeing Portales friends, such as Jon Ahjudah Barr, Mary Fanelli Ayala, Audra Brown, and Betty Williamson, as well as the above-named folks, and, of course, Patricia Rogers. It's always a pleasure to see Connie, and her husband and daughter, Courtney and Cordelia, as well as Walter, Emily Mah Tippetts, and Laura Mixon. (Plus whomever has fallen out of my mind, thanks to my porous memory, and apologies for that. Although this was a relatively light year for pro attendance.)
Most of all, of course, a heartfelt thank-you to Patrice Caldwell, for inviting me down to share this lovely experience, and for the honor of making me the 2016 Guest of Honor.
And as for you, as always – thanks for reading!