Writers of the Future, Day 7: Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Our last full day in Hollywood was indeed a full day.  They rousted us out of bed with fire extinguishers at the crack of dawn and started us off with a five-mile run.  Then they–

Oh, wait.  No, they didn’t.

For Sunday, we had not one, but two signings scheduled.  The first one was at Vroman’s, an independent bookstore in Pasadena.  They bundled us into a bus for the trip, and we were off.  Jordan and I had a great chat with Rob Sawyer on the way.  Rob was free with the professional advice on a variety of topics, ranging from novels vs. short stories to his takes on the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Turned out that much of Pasadena was on fire at that time.  You might have heard about it on the news.  We were treated–if that’s the word–to a view of the burning hills.  I couldn’t make out any flames, but saw plenty of smoke.  Though we were in no danger, the fires did affect us:  the signing was supposed to be an outdoor event, but it was moved inside due to the haze hanging in the air.

Nonetheless, a goodly crowd showed up at Vroman’s (a wondrous huge place, by the way) and kept us busy for the hour or so we were there.  In the Pleasant Surprise category, I got to meet Christopher East, editor at Futurismic, who made it a point to introduce himself to li’l ol’ me.  I’ve sent stories to Futurismic in the past, nothing that’s connected yet, but Chris still wanted to stop by and say hello.  I thought that was awfully nice of him.

I also met a gal who informed me that she’d "only" had a chance to read the four quarterly first place stories so far (an amazing feat, to my mind, given that the book had just come out the night previous), but that "Gone Black" was her favorite.  Of course, for all I know, she says that to all the boys.  I elect to think otherwise.

The Vroman’s signing also provided me with one of the weirdest moments of the week.  The Galaxy Press sales reps were on hand, and they had us all sign a few books for VIPs, including the SF book buyers at all the major chains.  They also had us autograph a book for WotF judge Anne McCaffrey. 

Me.  Giving an autograph to Anne McCaffrey.  Uh . . . isn’t that supposed to be the other way around?

Signing at Vroman’s.

We were delayed getting out of Vroman’s.  Our bus had apparently dropped into a black hole, or something.  Given that we were already on a tight timeline, lunch was looking rather iffy, so I grabbed a sandwich at the cafe in Vroman’s.  Ever the resourceful one, me. 

The second signing was at a Barnes & Noble in Burbank, not quite as well attended, but still pleasant enough.  Then it was back to the Roosevelt, our home away from home.  Already, it was sinking in that this amazing ride was almost over.  And I really didn’t want it to be.

Author Services had one last event cooked up for us, though:  another dinner, followed by a dramatic reading of an L. Ron Hubbard story, part of the "Tales from the Golden Age" series airing on XM/Sirius.  And warming up, a special performance by jazz pianist Chick Corea and his wife, singer Gail Moran.  Jazz ain’t my thang, but it was still enjoyable.  Man can play that there piana.

The dramatic reading was fun, too.  The story was "One Was Stubborn."  It was my first exposure to Hubbard’s fiction, and I have to say I found it quite clever and amusing.  Now, I must also be brutally honest and admit that I was pretty damned tired by that time, and I might have nodded off a bit here and there.  No reflection on the performers, though.  Seriously.

And that concluded the formal schedule.  We were officially done at that point–but what was the fun in that?  Nobody wanted to go home.  So we gathered in the Roosevelt lobby and just hung out.  Krista, bless her heart, bought everyone a round, and we all toasted each other.  Tim Powers regaled us with more advice and tales of Philip K. Dick.  But mostly, we just huddled together, grateful for each other’s company and dreading our return to the (vastly overrated) Real World.

It was a special bunch, these guys and gals–smart, dedicated, talented.  We all genuinely liked each other.  We had no jackasses in the group, no melodrama, no big confrontations.  I’m told that this is not true of all WotF workshops, so I guess we were fortunate.  I look forward to seeing them all again–at cons, at future WotF events, or whenever else we can conspire to get together.

As the evening wore on, those with early flights in the morning took their leave.  The parade of farewells began.  Eventually, I joined the reluctant exodus.

Epilogue:  Day 8

The wife and I had a little time in the morning before we were scheduled to be whisked away to LAX.  We took one last stroll down the boulevard.  The air smelled of smoke from the still-spreading fires to the north.  We got breakfast at a McDonald’s, then headed back to the Roosevelt for checkout and departure.  I got to see Cheryl and Jordan one last time in the lobby.  Joni Labaqui was on hand to say goodbye.  Grá rode with us to the airport.  I was grateful for his company; it made the trip more bearable.

As we took off from LAX, I got my one and only view of the ocean:


But you know, I can’t really bring myself to complain.  (Yes, that’s the smoke from the fires in the background.)

And in case you’re wondering how a whirlwind trip to Hollywood makes you look when it’s over . . .

LAX to Denver.  Denver to Omaha.  Picked up at the airport by our friend

.  Then home.

I’m still in the post-WotF adjustment phase, working my way back to my normal routine.  Of course it would be great for the party to continue forever, but I have a novel to finish, and award or no, it’s not gonna write itself.

So ends Matt’s Adventures in Hollywood.  Thanks for reading.  Onward . . .

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