Once we made it to the hotel and got checked in, the weekend was a lot less tense. Friday night's buffet dinner at the restaurant was overpriced ($22 per person, including Autumn) and under-quality. The food was lukewarm in many dishes, and the selection was (for a buffet) poor. But, we were on an adventure, so we vowed to order pizza into the hotel room the next night and not let the poor start influence our weekend.
Friday night I had two panels scheduled, an Introduction to Live Action Role Play (that costumed improv-theater game I have played for the last 10 years or so) and a White Wolf Gossip Session.
We cancelled the Intro to LARP panel about 10 minutes into the one hour time slot, when it became obvious that everyone there was associated with the panelists and thus already knew more than enough about LARP. So that freed us up to wander the hotel a little, which we did. We went to the Dealer's Room (a big room full of tables where folks were selling everything from books to jewelry to swords to costuming to artwork to t-shirts). Folks were still setting up, many having been delayed by the weather as well.
We discovered, after we left the vendors and wandered some more, that the hotel was layed out very strangely! The first through fourth floors were on one side of the hotel, and the fifth through eighth were on the other side (not over the top of 1-4!) Add in some strange interconnecting hallways and a weird multi-level lay out, and we were calling it the Escher hotel all weekend.
My second panel Friday night was a Gossip Session, where I was supposed to meet up with folks and feed them little tidbits about what is new and "coming soon" from White Wolf. Unfortunately, because of the weather, the only folks who showed up were one of the people from the LARP panel and a friend of his. But we had a good time chatting about White Wolf, so while the crowd was small, it was enthusiastic.
I hate having my picture taken. A lot.
Look, Mom and Dad! There's 7 of the books I've written or written part of on that table! :)
After the Gossip session, we wandered a while longer, just visiting with people. Autumn had a great time. We gave her one of our cell phones and she was allowed to explore the hotel on her own. (After appropriate safety conversation, of course: No leaving the public areas, check in any time she was leaving one of the main areas for another, etc.) It's hard to give her freedom like that, I'm so used to her being under constant supervision, but she's 12 now... Time to give her some room to grow.
Around 10:30, Pat and Autumn toddled off to sleep, and I spent more time visiting with colleagues and peers. I went to a couple of the on-site concerts they had there, including S.J. Tucker and Boogie Knights, a silly band which includes a friend of mine, Keith DeCandido. After that, I hit a couple of late night panels and then went to bed, around 2:30am, since I had to be up and ready to do my first panel on Saturday by 10am.