Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Monday Mumblings

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm caught up enough on other things that I can at least get a post out before I submerge into the semi-monthly ritual of the Paying of the Bills.

So, Austin. We went down on Thursday. The hotel is one of those places where they sneak back into the room when you're gone and refold the edges of the toilet paper into little points. We were presented with warm chocolate chip cookies on our arrival. Yum!

We'd just got settled into the room, logged into the $10/day Internet, and the phone rang. Abject apologies. They'd put us in the wrong room. Someone forgot to tell the front desk that the concom had arranged for us to have a different room. It's just a "little bit" bigger, but better for a party. Okay, fine. I went downstairs, picked up the keys, and we went around the corner to find that we'd been booked into a small suite for the same price as the King room. Well, we were not about to argue with that.

We got settled in again, stretched our legs, and decided to go downtown. We finished dinner just before dusk, so we hot-footed it down Commerce Street to get some pics of the Capitol while the light was good. But first:

Need I Say More?

How can you argue with that?

(Note: These pictures are hosted on Zooomr. You can click through to see larger versions. The entire set is here.)

Texas State Captiol Dome, Dusk

Standing Guard

Why, yes. Those are stars in my eyes. Why do you ask?

Stars In Your Eyes

The air in Austin was worse than I remembered. Perhaps it was because a storm was moving in. I've seen that happen here sometimes. The air just gets really bad for a day or two, then a storm moves in and clears things out. I was left hacking and sucking on my inhaler for most of the weekend. Not fun, I assure you. I still feel as though someone is trying to sit on my chest.

Friday was the first day of the convention. My first stop was the dealer's room for a copy of Zoe's Tale. John Scalzi had mentioned there would be a limited supply on hand, and we wanted a copy. (Release date is tomorrow. Buy!) We attended the opening ceremonies. Bill Crider's PowerPoint-punctuated speech was hilarious. I stayed up to watch a panel on space operas. It was fascinating.

Saturday was the main day. We went to watch John Scalzi's Q&A. Yes, I sound very fangirlish, but he was a lot of fun to listen to. We also found a dealer with some copies of The Sagan Diary for sale. If you happen to be reading this, John (and that would bring my audience count up to four. Squee!), Paul really enjoyed it. He was the one who was talking to you about it in the elevator before the Q&A.

The fun bit for Chris was earlier in the day. I got up to visit the dealer's room and found a lady who did custom work in Kanji. I gave her Chris' name and told her a bit about him. Forty minutes or so later, I took Chris down to pick up the art. I hadn't told him anything other then "something" was waiting for him down there. He was very surprised and pleased. I hope he'll let me borrow it long enough to take a picture.

Saturday night was our party. A group of Fencon folks came and set up the room, then we went out for dinner. I won't mention the restaurant, but I will say that the fish in fish and chips is supposed to be cooked. It ain't sushi. 'Nuff said.

We dashed back to the hotel, and then I took this picture out of the window:

Rain on The Way

That's I-35. And those are rain clouds above. Rain. In Texas. In August. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

The party wrapped up at about 1:30. Yawn.

Up late - but not too late - on Sunday morning. I wandered down to the dealer's room for one last sweep and found our FenCon conchair speaking with John Scalzi. I ambled over and waited to be introduced. Pardon me while I get all fangirlish again. Really, he's a very nice guy, and I hope he makes it back to the area at some point.

I wanted to stay for the signing and his reading, but we needed to get on the road around noon. Paul had to be at work early, and I had this feeling he didn't want to go to work wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and one of his fannish T-Shirts. Hey, I happen to like his legs, but he would prefer not to show them at the office. So, yeah: it was imperitive that I get home and do laundry.

We made it home in time to watch the final Inspector Lynley episode on PBS. I'm bummed that the BBC gave the series the ax, but I'm glad there was no definitive ending. No one retired. No one (else) died. Yay.

I went to bed, read Zoe's Tale until I collapsed. Which is to say that I didn't read for very long at all. No, the book isn't boring. I was just dead tired. And doubly glad I'd worked hard to get the galleys back before I left. They were due today, and I hate going out of town with a deadline looming ominously on the horizon.

So there you have it: my trip to Austin. I can tell all three of you are very impressed.

Now I'd better go pay the bills so I'll have the energy to finish Zoe's Tale tonight. I'm very close.

Did I happen to mention I picked up a couple of John Scalzi books over the weekend? ;-)


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