Friday, April 28, 2017

JordanCon 9 Recap Post

Here we go again, bear with me, and apologies for the photo-heavy post. I’m fighting post-con brain fog and swells of Post-Con Depression to bring you the highlights of my annual trip to Atlanta for JordanCon, the best little literary convention nerdfest around. It is family, and that family grows every year.

For the uninitiated, JordanCon is an annual literary convention dedicated to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but has since spread to encompass all things Sci-Fi and Fantasy. It takes place around the third weekend in April in Atlanta, Georgia. This year’s toastmistress was Amanda Keene of, the Author Guest of Honour was Charles Gannon, and the Artist Guest of Honour was Stephen Hickman.

In no particular order, some highlights from my convention this year:

  • Wednesday - Rolling in Wednesday meant I had a chance to have a laid back dinner with other staff members who’d also arrived early. We’re staff, but we’re also chosen family, and many of us are geographically challenged and rarely in the same room during the remainder of the calendar year. Once JordanCon’s setup begins, we’re off running--at least until the Dead Dog party Sunday night--so Wednesday provided a moment to preemptively catch our breaths, shoot the shit, and enjoy each other’s company before the insanity truly began.
  • The Nine Horse Hitch - April and Chip Moore have bestowed a name on their party room, its namesake being that of the most infamously ambiguous inn in the books. One of my favourite things about JordanCon these past few years has been the honour of working as Chip’s runner in that makeshift bar, and dubbing it the Nine Horse sets my wee geeky heart aflutter. There’s a hospitality muscle Chip and I enjoy flexing together, and I think I’ve finally figured out why we make such a great team. It’s been a long running joke that Chip’s wife, April, and I share a hive mind--and I think the reason he and I work so well together is because I think so similarly to April. We just click. Thank you for letting me be your runner and shooter girl, Chipper--cheers!
Top: The Nine Horse Hitch is rocking!
Bottom: Chip Moore and Lannis

  • The Hive Mind (speaking of April, the Art Show Director to whom I am assistant) - I miss my girl so much, and every year we get more in sync. This year involved us (simultaneously and undiscussed) ordering identical meals, as well as a moment where I was handed April’s locked cash box and asked the (unknown by me) combination, whereupon I spun the dial randomly and hit the release to have it pop open, creepily, with a handful of Art Show volunteers as audience. You guys: the Hive Mind is real!
  • Photos - Over 1000 over five days, and not enough (there’s never enough). The chance to parse together what the hell I did during a five day sleepless bender is helpful, though, thank the Light for technology that fits in your pocket. I uploaded over 400 to my private Facebook account, and half of that to the JordanCon public Facebook page. 

Top: Chip Moore and Alan Romanczuk
Bottom: Paula Sutcliffe, Glen Vogelaar, and Lannis in tiaras.
  • Tiara Time! - Tiaras, everywhere. Yes. It was first of what sounds like a will-be-annual event, and held on Friday night coinciding with my handing out Hawaiian leis (because reasons--namely low impulse control, an Amazon browsing spree and because everyone should get laid at a tWoTcast panel. Duh.) Every pic I see with a tiara and a lei makes me happy. 

  •  TWoTcast's barmaster’s competition - Resident JordanCon bartender Chip Moore competed against Team Jordan’s Alan Romanczuk in three rounds of cocktails and a sudden-death shot challenge, judged by Aubree Pham, Lauren O’Hara, and Jason Denzel. Alan won, though the winners were definitely the audience, what with the epic tale spun around Alan’s drink “Aviendha’s First Night” and silliness ensuing (Mimes! tWoTcash cannon! Shenanigans!).
tWoTcast's Barmaster Competition
  • Ta’veren Ties/Pink Ribbons - I dressed as the Ebou Dari Widow to sell pink ribbons to con-goers, who then awarded those ribbons to their favourite Mat cosplayers. Queen Tylin was there, too, and all the proceeds went to charity. All those Mats, all those pink ribbons. *giddy sigh*

Queen Tylin and her Mats. Photo by Tina Pierce
  • Unplanned writing win - Spontaneously pitching my novel to Author Guest of Honour Charles Gannon in casual conversation, completely unprompted--I actually remembered the pitch I’d written and managed to deliver it smoothly. And when I humbly said I suppose I should start querying and begin my rejection collection, he very kindly honoured me by replying, “Or it’s accepted.” *fans self*
  • Writerly support - Also on the topic of writing, I received a genuinely touching pep talk from a longtime JordanCon and Rereader friend, Richard Fife (JordanCon's Writer's Track Director), who assures me that, “there will not be pitchforks” if I manage to publish this novel. I’ll hold you to that, Richard--I’ll send any pitchforks your way.
  • Werepup Babysitting - Missy Lindsay needed a hand wrangling werepups Roger and Violet, so I graciously offered my services while selling pink ribbons. The pics and odd reactions make it more than worth the baby snuggles. And whomever reported me as a shitty babysitter for putting that kid in a headlock should remember that it’s a werepup and they’re different than human babies--besides, Clementine the baby Trolloc is totally cool with headlocks, why wouldn’t her cousins be? 

Jason Denzel of Dragonmount, and Roger, the werepup.
  • Costume Contest - Every year the costume contest gets more and more impressive , and JordanCon 9 was no exception (Serafina Virciglio’s Kitiara! Blew. My. Mind!). This was my first time entering the costume contest as a member of a group, and we placed first--go team! (spoilers) Darkest Timeline Rand and Wives--a “what if Rand had been converted to the Shadow?” concept, where Rand (Paul Bielaczyc), Elayne (April Butler), and Aviendha (Cassi Costoulas) are all Shadow-sworn, and Min (myself) their prisoner/slave (because she isn’t a power-wielder and therefore not an equal). Damn, we rocked it. (PS: I told you if we did it we’d better gun for first, Paul. haha) 

Darkest Timeline Rand and Wives placed first in the JordanCon 9 costume contest.
Mr Lannis thinks that Rand al'Thor is a lucky man, regardless of timeline.

Clockwise: Serafina Virciglio as Kitiara uth Matar; Molly Weiss as Sevanna; Zackary Stevens as Mat; Megan Fordham as Birgitte.
Non-WoT costumes ahoy! Sanderson, Martin, Dresden, Star Wars -- it's not just a Wheel of Time convention!

What? Is this creepy?
  • Hunting first timers - Sure, the convention game this year was hunting Darkfriends, but who needs that when you can creepily keep a list of people who’ve said on Facebook that they’re attending their first JordanCon, and then scaring the bejesus out of them, scarring them for life, freaking them out ahem, honouring them by whipping out your cell and showing them that you’ve got them on a checklist and are trying to connect with as many newbies as you can? That’s not stalkery at ALL. For the record, folks, I lost my own game. I had 28 names on my list, and found 9. NINE. I lost the game and I was the only one playing! WHAT THE NUGGET?
  • Bird Dog Maple Whisky - For the last year I’ve been telling JordanCon vice-chair Jimmy Liang he needs to take the con chair, Jenn Liang, and me out to IKEA. He apologized for this deficit with a twenty-sixer of Bird Dog Maple Whisky, which aside from a few sips given away at the Dead Dog on Sunday night, I pretty much put away all by my lonesome, mostly at the Dead Dog itself. She is smooth, and my new favourite, straight or on the rocks, even if it’s in a paper cup. Bonus: when you spill it on your hoodie you can still wear that hoodie to the airport the next day because you smell more breakfast than boozy. You're welcome.
  • Our Art Show--it’s grown, you guys. It’s chock full of fantastic art, and we keep running out of space, and despite having fewer attendees we’ve sold more art than ever before--and blown past convention industry benchmarks, to boot. The artists, the volunteers, and the hard work everyone puts in over the weekend and year round is what makes this event so successful, and it shows. A couple of years ago Mr Lannis said I wasn’t allowed to purchase any more wall art, but thankfully this year he neglected to say anything so ridiculous (I refuse to admit that rule carries over. haha). I’ve been coveting Charles Urbach’s gorgeous piece Unbound, and I acquired a print, along with prints by artists Melissa Gay, Amanda Makepeace, and a whole book on Artist Guest of Honour Stephen Hickman. Very art, much drool. [Insert Mr Lannis’ eyeroll here.]

To be fair, Mr Lannis likes stars, birds, and boobies.

  • No sleep - But I’ve learned not to sweat it and allow myself to lay down and rest without stressing about laying awake at night. Gone is the panicked tossing and turning, and I let my mind wander guilt-free and it reciprocates with a decent facsimile of coherent thought. Yes, I use sleep aids. Yes, even with whisky (Dr M told me it was okay!). Yes, I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30am despite both. I have given up, and thoroughly rely on the holy magic of under-eye concealer.
  • New volunteers - Jessica, this is all you, sweetie! I was so excited that you came to help us in the Art Show, and my heart swelled when I saw you pair off to check-in Melissa Gay, one of our attending artists and personified sunshine. I do so hope your first JordanCon was a memorable one, and that you’ll come play with us again! 

Ms Frizzle! Moiraine and Thom! Harley Quinn!
  • Pinky Shear - As luck would have it, I ran into my costumer-mentor Pinky Shear! She needed a place to change for the pyjama-themed dance party and I got a chance to pick her brain regarding next year’s costume--win win! (yes, it’s already happening!)
  • Tai Chi with a Czuk - One morning while snagging breakfast in the (ridiculously fantastic!) Consuite I lagged on the balcony with artist (and huggable, pocket-sized friend) Amy Romanczuk to watch her partner Alan Romanczuk practicing Tai Chi in the courtyard below. Random Tai Chi practice, folks. With a member of Team Jordan. Only at JordanCon!

Anthony Acker of the Black Tower and Alan Romaczuk practicing Tai Chi.

  • The Signed Bookplates - Every year JordanCon has a charity auction, and this year we had a special treat: five bookplates signed by Robert Jordan entered as single lots each. I ended up bidding on a couple in the live auction (so cool!), but losing out. I thought it was fitting since Mr Lannis once said “no more wall art,” and that same year I spent my allowance on Clementine the Trolloc baby, then the next I acquired a Melissa Gay original (SPACESHIPS!), so it tickled me to think of his expression when I told him I spent $300 on a sticker. Sadly, I was outbid. But seeing the look on Mr Lannis’ face when I told him of this plan was close second, haha.

Maple Whisky, a coveted signed bookplate, and friends (Lannis with Jimmy Liang and April Moore). What more can I ask for?

And that’s it for the “fit for public consumption” highlights, eh? Next year is rapidly shaping up to be our best yet: the talented Stephanie Law is our Artist Guest of Honour, and our Author Guest of Honour is none other than my bestie Jason Denzel! (Did you know Pomella was based on me? haha) It'll be JordanCon 10, as well as the 20th anniversary of Dragonmount and Theoryland, not to mention that the recent news that Sony has picked up the rights to the Wheel of Time TV series means more people will notice our shindig! Our convention continues growing, and there’s nothing like the vibe we share. If you’ve ever considered--even peripherally--attending JordanCon, I can not stress enough that you will not regret it. Every year I am giddy as I watch first timers become enraptured by the outpouring of love and organized chaos, and I’m delighted when they vow to return.

The lifeblood and energy of this convention is its people, and trust me when I say it’s worth every heartbeat.

Until next year, JordanCon family. <3