2. johnjosephadams and I were both worried that my part of the reading for the Shimmer Pirate issue (available here!) would not go very well, because it's a rather visual story. There is nothing more dire than a story that's meant to be funny and isn't coming off that way, as the sad author pauses for laughs that never come, or come belatedly and with a forced courtesy. This did not happen. People laughed in the right spots. Also I was able to finish my story in the time available, and I am fond of having at least one complete piece in a group reading, so that was a happy thing. Yay reading. It was good. Also there was a pirate hat for the person who was reading at the moment. Yay hat. (I am generally a fan of hats, not pirate hats as a particular thing.)
3. I went to a couple of other official programming-type events. I went to hear stillnotbored read poetry with a bunch of other people, and some of them were really good, and some of them were not so good, but this is what we expect of an open mike event. If you go into an open mike expecting wall-to-wall fabulous, you will be disappointed. But stillnotbored was not the sole highlight of that event, so yay. Also I went to a panel on Gilbert and Sullivan as fantasy. I was a great deal more interested in Gilbert and Sullivan in fantasy, but sidetrackable Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiasts are not the worst people to put on a panel. There was, I think, too strong a correlation of whimsy with fantasy. Just as unrealistic and non-realistic are not necessarily the same thing, non-realistic is not necessarily the same as fantastical. We don't get to claim everything that isn't aimed at being strictly and solely representational -- nor would we want it if we could. The fact that people don't spontaneously break into song in the middle of conversations -- at least, markgritter usually doesn't -- does not give musicals a fantastical setting or a speculative conceit as such, any more than the fact that people are not attached at the back to stone makes a bas relief speculative. Nor is satire inherently speculative. So -- yah. Not much talk of peris or potions, not much talk of the tension between Gilbert and Sullivan on the use of magical elements in their operettas (Arthur was agin 'em), but lots of laughing and discussion of social roles in G&S, which was fine with me, especially since I got off on a mental tangent about my own librettist and composer characters in What We Did to Save the Kingdom and scribbled notes happily for awhile.
4. Business cards are a fine thing, people. They serve their purpose in a minimalist sort of way; they are not thrilling, perhaps, but they get contact information between people in a way nobody has to think about too hard. There are advantages to cultural standards sometimes.
Business cards are not generally useful for reminding people of specific books, though, and I have opinions on two of the things people often use to do so (without going into the temporary tattoo/fridge magnet/ballpoint pen/other object of use and/or interest territory). Bookmarks are good. Approximately everyone at a convention uses bookmarks. You don't have to explain what they're for. Probably a lot of the people at a convention will use anything else paper you give them as a bookmark anyway. I am fond of bookmarks. But the one I really wanted to mention, because it's so darn common, is postcards with your book cover on them. People. Will you please consider making them useful as postcards? Because you may well want to send a postcard with cover copy and release information taking up the whole of the side that doesn't have the shiny picture on it, but you are the only one. Even if you meet someone and talk to them about your book and they think it sounds awesome, they are not very likely to pick up a stack of your postcards and address them to their college roommate and that one co-worker who reads this sort of thing and Eccentric Aunt So-and-So if there's no room to write on the card itself. If your cover is truly awesome, someone might say, "I must have this lovely and fascinating image!" and pick up the postcard-sized object with writing all over the back. But odds are not good. Take a page from the people who have the postcards of Niagara Falls: put three lines of explanation up in the far left corner and leave the rest useful. Then there's some chance that people will send the postcard to someone, thereby thinking of your book while carting it around writing it, putting it under the eyes of postal employees, and then putting it under the eyes of someone else completely on the other end of this thing. If you hand out pens, you make sure they write; if you hand out magnets, you make sure they stick to things, because nobody wants a thin bendy piece of metal that doesn't stick to the fridge. So if you hand out postcards, make sure people can blather about the awesome pommes frites they had on Saturday on the back of them. This is what postcards are for.