Taking a week off of my Balticon panel write-ups, I hit Imaginarium 2022 this past weekend. This was my 3rd year as a panelist for the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. My first year was purely virtual, last year was hybrid, and this year was purely in-person.
Only? I forgot to book a room! 2 weeks out, I was looking for my confirmation email and realized my mistake. I called and asked to get wait-listed, found a cheap alternative, and paid a little extra so I could cancel at any time, with the expectation I’d be moving. Well… that never happened.
I took half a day off my dayjob and Sako Tumi, my con buddy (and live stream regular) hit my house about 3pm, for the 9-hour drive — most of it through the mountains of West Virginia, where cruise control is useless. Sako and I chatted shop most of the way. We got to the motel about 1am and checked in — they confirmed our reservation, then tried to tell us we’d already checked in. Finally, they found us a room — at the back of the lot. When we walked in, it reeked of cigarettes, despite the paper we’d signed saying we wouldn’t smoke on site and the numerous signs saying “No Smoking. Whatever, it was clean enough, it was available, and we were tired. Plus? I’d brought an air filter, so I set it to full-blast and we crashed out.
Morning comes and we headed to the Host Hotel, spying a gentleman with laces on his sleeve — looking like renaissance faire garb. I grinned and told Sako, “I bet they’re going to the con, looks like we’re not the only ones in overflow.” Sako hit the reg line and I tried to get off the waitlist, but no-go. They were full up.
With our badges acquired, we checked out the dealers’ room, grabbed lunch from the concession stand, and stole a table outside the gaming room to eat. Then? It was time for our first panels. I was on a panel for “Writing YA” with Lynn Slaughter, Jillian Boehme, M.S. Nolan, and Robert P. Ottone. A lively panel with a lot of good thoughts.
Next, I headed to “Understanding Anthologies” for some research and “Blogger, Youtuber, Podcaster” for that external validation. We skipped opening ceremonies in favor of dinner, then came back to socialize in the lobby/bar. But, after the long drive the night before, and with full bellies, by 8pm, we were crashing hard, so bailed before the out-of-control “Writers and Bourbon” panel.
We aired out the room. Sako got a nap in, while I played on my phone for a couple hours, then got an hour of revisions in. Then, she woke up and got some of her own writing done, while I went to sleep.
I woke early to shower and drag my butt to a 9am panel on “Creative Marketing”. We even left early enough to grab some Starbucks! It was a fair panel, but more of a “Marketing 101” than anything really new. (Then again, the only really creative things are the things that haven’t been done before…) Next up, Voodoo Marketing, 101. With a new friend, Ericka, Sako and I hit Starbucks (and Jimmy Johns) for lunch. I made it back in time for a pile of panels/workshops: “Plot Development Workshop”, “Audiobook Narration”, “Ask the Editor Q&A w/Ellen Datlow”, & “Storytelling through Tarot” with Sako.
Instead of the awards assembly, (and some food that did not impress us last year), we headed out for some errands. I grabbed some scissors for my masquerade costume. Then, I was thinking ‘fried chicken’, so we tried to hit Bob Evans, but the lot was empty, and we found out the hard way they were carry-out only, so? Across the parking lot was an Olive Garden. We skipped the line and just ate at the bar, and I had all the breadsticks. No regrets.
We swung by the hotel room so I could grab a brush and we could let the hotel know the smoke smell wasn’t us and see if they had a fresher room — they did not. Then! Back to the host hotel.
The awards ceremony was still going, so, I slipped into the bathroom to add some accessories to my outfit for the costume contest, then I went to chat with Sako. 2 minutes later, I decided to grab more accessories from my car… and couldn’t find my keys!
Did I mention my costume came with button eyes? I could see great straight ahead, excellent peripheral vision, not so great at the bathroom counter in between those.
I retraced my steps, checked at the registration desk for both the con and the hotel, asked around, and retraced my steps a second time, and a 3rd — this time without the button-eyes. I was told keys had been turned into the front desk and I was so excited! but…. they weren’t mine. I started asking around for who had AAA, but I wasn’t gonna call til after the costume contest. Finally, I messaged a couple friends on staff and… 2 minutes later I got a picture of my keys, asking if they were mine! *whew* I wasn’t gonna have to call and get a friend to overnight my keys from home, nor was I gonna have to sit with a locksmith for an hour.
The awards ceremony was still running. I slid through, grabbed my keys, and got my act together. After the awards finished, they swapped out the room configuration and I lined up for the costume contest, doing my best head-tilt and creepy smile — thoroughly creeping out our host, John Pyka.
There were about 10 contestants this year. In my Coraline-inspired, “Other Morgan” costume, I did my best to be smiley and creepy, snipping in the air with scissors, and offering my spare set of button eyes “Black is traditional” to the judges.
While awaiting the judges’ verdict, John Pyka declared none of last year’s contestants had returned, I stomped up to him and set him straight. Then, I loaned my spare set of button eyes to another contestant (was it you, Tallyman?) and we stalked him again.
Then, the costume awards were given out and… I tied with Tallyman for first place!
Still high on my win, I visited Sako in the lobby/bar, hanging out and talking shop for hours, (poor Joel, the birthday boy).
Quote of the night? “So, Alice in Wonderland would qualify as psychological horror for kids, right?”
When the bar called last round, I was starting to fade, I rounded up Sako and we headed back to our hotel at 2am.
I had a 10am panel on “Taming Squirrels” — on keeping focused on your writing.
One problem. It was in half of the room that had been used for the awards the night before, and was still combined with the other half of the room — where they were having an Acting workshop! After 5 minutes, they stood up and started to move to music and we bailed for the lobby, where there were fewer distractions.
The rest of the morning was spent shopping and chatting with people. Including the gentleman with laced sleeves I’d spotted at the motel on Thursday who was selling dice. And then?
My first in-person workshop! “Agents, Loglines, and Query Letters” I’d been worried having a workshop after lunch on the last day, there would hardly be anyone left, but the room was full! I got it set up on the monitor and working just at 1:30pm, and 5 minutes in, the screen went wonky and I gave up on that. I had one attendee ask if I was an agent, and after I said ‘no’, asked a few other questions, then bailed early (maybe she had a long trip ahead of her?) but everyone else stuck it out, asking great questions and all-in-all, making my first in-person workshop a success.
I chatted a little after the panel, said goodbye Cassandra, grabbed some Arbys, then hit the road, just in time for my weekly productivity live stream with Sako and Doc! Sako drove and I hosted as we drove across Kentucky, the stream ending right after we hit West Virginia.
We switched drivers and made our way through the mountains of West Virginia for the second time in 3 days. At one point, it was near time for me to stop for gas and I saw a sign for gas and a Biscuit World. Now, I’ve never tried a Biscuit World, but I *am* a carb-ovore and a fan of biscuits in particular, so I took the exit… and saw a sign that said that both the listed gas stations and Biscuit World were 9.9 miles from the highway!
That was a little too far. Clearly, you could only get listed on an exit sign if you were under 10 miles away, with those sort of numbers. BAH! So, I followed the GPS right back onto the highway… and it had us going SOUTH! 8 miles later, we hit another exit, got gas, and managed to get back on the highway headed in the right direction.
The rest of the trip was interspersed with checking our sliding ETA and shaking my fist chanting, “Stupid Biscuit World.”
We took a late dinner break at EDIT: Sheetz
WaWa where I got a breakfast sandwich and finally got my biscuit.
About 2am, we finally hit my place and Sako crashed over until dawn, so she’d be safe to drive.
I’d originally just taken the morning off, so I hit the chiropractor just before noon, then came home and napped some more. Everything I brought with me, though, had to get washed cause it reeked of smoke.
All in all, a pleasant weekend, and I’ll know to hit the road by 2pm at the LATEST next year, coming-and-going. Or maybe it’ll be safer to fly?
The best part of the weekend, for me?
Was getting to geek out about writing with people who get it.