Very long and overdue DragonCon recap

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DragonCon was… good, mostly? I mean, I went into it sick. Yes, I was panelist zero. I brought the crud to the con. This had the ONLY benefit of the fact that I was over the crud by the time I had to go back to work on Tuesday. But it made for a fairly miserable con for me. On top of that, I had 15 events I was scheduled for over the weekend, and if not for very dear friends making sure I was fed and watered, IDK when or if I’d have eaten, and no exaggeration, I probably would have passed out. So suffice it to stay, I did not venture out nearly as much as I would have liked, and I had to keep people at arm’s length, so I’m very sorry if I missed seeing you/didn’t hug you properly. :(

Also, I want to thank every single person who went out of their way to attend one of my panels or events (whether you were there to see me or not, heh), because it meant I got to see you, even if for just a moment, and otherwise, I probably would not have gotten a chance to see you all weekend. <3

Soooooo, without further delay…. (**WARNING, VERY LONG AND PICTURE HEAVY**)
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I woke up Thursday morning feeling like an elephant was tap dancing on my head, BUT, I had fantastic news. Ron (who was flying in from an alternate location) texted me & said our hotel had let him check in waaaaaaay early and upgraded us to a suite AND were really excited to have DragonCon guests staying with them (seriously, the evening manager is a cosplayer too, and was in full costume every night – it was awesome!).For the past 9 DragonCons we’ve stayed at the Marriott Marquis, but after the nightmare that was last year (and, as it turns out, this year too), and the continued awful treatment of their guests, enough was enough. Time to move on.

I arrived Thursday around 1pm, unpacked with Ron, set up the suite (it had a full kitchen, y’all, which ended up being a life saver since I had to pack a lunch every day!), I ironed and prepped our costumes, and then I finished up Ron’s Captain Marvel costume.

After that we headed over to the Marriott to pick up our guest badges, and it had no line, so we were in and out within 5 minutes. Pretty seamless. Also, it sounds like DCon has sorted out their attendee badge pickup woes as well.

We eventually made our way back to the Marriott Marquis for the YA Lit social where I got to see the wonderful YA lit crew, and take selfies with Diana Peterfreund, L.M. Davis, and Beth Revis. <3 love these ladies.

At that point though, my cold was kicking my butt, so we headed back to our hotel and I eventually feel asleep. Kind of. Blarg.

FRIDAY:

Up bight and really for the Geek Girls Run Fun Run! And HOLY SMOKES y’all, we had over 160 people RSVP for this thing – last year it was like 30 or something. It was CRAZY! But SO MUCH FUN! And Caitlin is crazy awesome and took the red-eye and landed and got in just in time to lead one of the running groups. There were 4 in all, ranging from walkers to crazy fast people I couldn’t keep up with, so I made them do pushups. 😉 Also, KELLY SUE showed up! Lastly, we were featured in “How Stuff Works” as the #1 thing in you didn’t know about at DragonCon. YAY!
THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE!

Me & the rabbits. I WANNA SEE MORE COSTUMES NEXT TIME, RABBITS!

This Ping running costume was fantastic!

The finishers’ tunnel – best part of the run!


I love Luci so much and I’m so glad she joined us as a pace group leader and a panelist!

The 3 co-founders of Geek Girls Run.

After heading back to the room to shower and change AND EAT, Betsy did my hair in these absolutely perfect victory rolls that went perfectly with my “Carol Danvers” bounding outfit. Basically, I wanted to subtly costume Captain Marvel (like Betsy did at SDCC), so I felt a red Geek Girls Run shirt + star wars belt + flight boots and flight jacket would be perfect! Nobody really picked up on the bounding aspect of my outfit, but everyone loooooved the overall look, and it’s one I wish I could do more often.

Off to my first panel of the day, Digesting the Divergent Triliogy. On the whole it was very positive and I think we all expressed our love for our favorite parts of the books. Then it was off to my next panel…

SCIENCE! Of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D.. They had a bunch of scientists on the panel and I totally felt outclassed, and this was the panel I was most concerned about making an idiot of myself on. BUT as it turns out, as the resident aviation guru, and knowing a little something about aerodynamics, g-forces, and how they effect the body, I was the go-to person for any questions about Ironman, Falcon, and the helli-carrior.

Also, the room was completely packed, the questions were great, and really thought through, and I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd. It was really nice to see Magpie in particular.

On the whole, I’d do this panel again if asked.

Then it was off to my next panel, All the Single Ladies: A more academic discussion of the concepts of sexism and objectification in Star Wars, and fandom, & the controversy surrounding the Episode VII cast.

Basically, this panel could have gone on for like 2 more hours and I still don’t think it would have been enough time to cover everything. I ended up moderating it, and it just killed me that we didn’t have more time, and that I had to gloss over so much. That said, I think what discussion we did have was really good, and I think everyone learned something that day – I certainly did!

Heeeeeey it’s Betsy and Caitlin as Captain Marvel and Robin Sparkles!

That was the last panel for the day for me (Ron still had one more) – food times, and changing Ron into his Captain Marvel costume in time for the Carol Corps meetup . Let me just say the reaction to Ron in his gender flipped Captain Marvel costume was fantastic. Everyone dug it, and when Kelly Sue called everyone in a flight suit forward for a pic, everyone absolutely loved having him there & you could tell he loved cosplaying such an awesome, powerful character like Carol (or in his case, Carl) Danvers.

We found a super adorable Kamala (which I totally want to do a running costume of)!

Matching Captain Marvel Penny Blossoms! If you want one, you can order one from Caitlin (who makes them) here.

The meet up itself was packed, super hot, but full of so much win! Kelly Sue was fantastic as always, and just being around such a diverse, fantastic group of people that all love Captain Marvel was so flippin awesome!

Found these two and when I squeed “I TOTALLY SHIP YOUR CHARACTERS!” They happily obliged me with a kiss.

SATURDAY: AKA, the day that tried to kill me.

We fought through horrid crowds to get to the Marriott in time for our first panel, the Athena’s Daughters Authors Meet & Greet. It was me, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Diana Peterfreund, Ron, and Autumn Frederickson on the panel, and we had a fantastic time! At one point Diana made Ron turn beet red, and the audience was laughing so hard. That was really an awesome panel.


Then it was off to my first Writer’s workshop seminar: YA Fiction, making it work in publishing today.. This was daunting for me, because I felt like I’d come full circle. 5 years ago I attended the first year this seminar series was offered, and Michael A. Stackpole & Aaron Allston were the instructors. This year, with Aaron’s passing Mike asked me, Ron, and some other people to fill in some panels for Aaron. That was… difficult, mostly because I certainly don’t feel like I could fill Aaron’s shoes even remotely. At any rate I gave the class, the room was about 1/2 full (and it was a large room), and sold out of every single copy of my War of the Seasons trilogy, HOLY COW.

Then I had to fight through the crowds for my YA Fandom Rules The World: How Fan Creativity is Driving Popular Culture , but it was totally worth it. Such a good panel. I learned so much! And spent the whole time trying to play it cool and not fangirl over Naomi Novick (I failed. I totally fangirled). And it was really nice to have a panel with Heidi. <3 (panelists: Naomi Novik, Lev Grossman, Heidi Tandy, Casey Fiesler, and me).
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Not so sneaky selfie.

Aaaaaand then back to Hyatt for my next seminar (this one with Timothy Zahn), Them’s Fightin’ Words: From logistics and tactics to the logical impacts on worlds and characters. Tim handled the first 1/2 of the panel, all the small unit and individual fighting stuff, then 1/2 way through turned to me and was like “And now Janine is going to talk to you about the larger scale battles and tactics. Go!” So I went. And I think (at least I hope) everyone was satisfied. This is the 3rd time Tim & I have done this panel together, and we seem to have a pretty good battle rhythm at this point, so YAY!

Soooooo after the Military tactics panel with Tim, I raced over to Artist Alley for my Athena’s Daughters signing, hosted by Autumn Frederickson, one of the artists for AD. It was a little quiet (for me), but that was honestly great because It was  because it was my first moment that day that I didn’t have to be “on.” I just kind of sat there having a moment to myself and it was awesome, and needed.

From there I had a free hour I think? I linked up with Betsy and Ron at the food court and then Caitlin, Rogue, and John showed up in their AMAZING Celebrity Jeopardy costume group and I was laughing so hard. It was perfect. They had the last spot open so anyone could jump in for a pic. Pictured here is Betsy as Captain Marvelous. EVERYTHING IS MUSIC! 

Then it was off to my last panel of the day, and one of the ones I was most looking forward to, All Kinds of Super Heroes with Kelly Sue. I don’t really remember what I said on the actual panel. Mostly I just sat there totally trying not to fangirl over Kelly Sue (and failing – I detect a pattern here). I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting with E.C. Meyers before the panel. He’s a cool dude, and I’m really looking forward to checking out his work.

Duck faces with Kelly Sue & EC Meyers – it was Eugene’s first!

Kelly Sue & Beth Revis (Bonus E.C. Meyers!) meet & the world didn’t implode from awesomeness. WHEW!

From there I rushed over to the Westin for Avengers Ball rehearsal. We went through it a couple times with the music, and then dashed back to our room for all of us to change over into our costumes.

We ran back stage in costume, finished getting our costumes on, and then BAM! were on stage.
Caitlin also made AWESOME GIFS of our dance to Bad Romance (and no, I could not bend over, due to my armor).

After we performed we danced around for a bit, and everyone behaved ridiculously and it was awesome. I took great pleasure in photobombing all a Lokis I could find, and one adorable Loki ran around behind me carrying my cape for a while – she seriously cracked me up.

I think one of the most memorable moments of the evening for me though was when I ran into a new Captain America (Falcon), and he was just SO EXCITED to see me. Like over the moon. “I saw you dancing on stage and I said, I HAVE to get a picture with her! The new Cap and the new Thor!” And I think that’s the moment I truly realized that him having Sam Wilson as Captain America was just as important to him, as having a woman be Thor was to me (I mean, I knew this before on a conceptual level, but seeing him, there dressed as Sam Wilson Captain America, and how flipping happy he was, well, it really touched me – not sure if any of that makes sense). Diversity & representation, y’all – it’s so important. I wish I’d thought to take a picture with my camera too, because he looked fantastic!When we got back to our hotel, this is what the night manager looked like.

Group pic with Mary Mo (Whedon track director), following the performance, as we all posed like a 90s alternative band, LOL.


SUNDAY:
 Also known as my Aaron day.

I started the day with my traditional breakfast with Caitlin and, well, Aaron Allston in spirit I suppose. The last 4 years at DragonCon the 3 of us met for breakfast. The first couple times it was accidental, but a couple years back we formalized it because we loved our Caitlin, Aaron, Janine time. So, this year Caitin and I met up and I brought Aaron’s jacket, and we set it on a chair, and talked, and laughed, and were sad, and hugged, and laughed some more.

Me and Georgia McBride. Love this lady.

I made it to my first reading of the day, BROAD UNIVERSE, with Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin and some other lovely ladies whose names escape me (because I’m a horrid person, eek! Sorry!). I read Slug, because it was a new crowd, and I only had 8 minutes, and that story generally does well at readings.

From there I dashed off to the Aaron Allston’s Memorial Kids Writing Workshop. I was so wonderful to be there with Bryan Young & Ron and help these kids craft their own stories. Given that Aaron pitched the concept of the workshop to Jill last year, and offered to be on it, I think the title is absolutely fitting, and I was so touched that Jill named it for him. She introduced the panel, and I was so grateful, because I don’t think I could have done so. Then Bryan led us off (I’m so glad he was prepared, because I wasn’t). On the whole, I think the panel went well, and the kids were all really engaged/came up with fantastic stories.

Me working one on one with one of the kids.

Jill left prizes out so I appropriated the Dusty Crophopper necklace. THANK YOU JILL!

Bryan and I headed back to the Hyatt for our joint reading, which was a lot of fun. <3 everyone who came!

Then it was back to the Marriott for the Geek Girls Run panel. This year we had two guest panelists, Luci and Rogue (thanks y’all!), who were both fantastic, and just like last year, I think the panel could easily have gone on for another hour or two. We packed the room, and had a candid conversation about boobs/sports bras, chaffing, injuries, making a running costume, etc etc. I wish we’d had more time! Thank you so much, Jill, for hosting us yet again!

Hands down my favorite costuming group of the con.

So, onto my last panel, Appreciating Aaron Allston & AC Crispin. Michael A. Stackpole, Timothy Zahn, Kevin J Anderson, and Bryan Young were all on the panel as well. As I was the one person who hasn’t written for Star Wars in some way or another, so I kinda felt like I was almost the proxy fan on the panel for everyone in the crowd – and I was honored to do it.

It was a sea of tacky Hawaiian shirts and it was beautiful. Aaron would have been delighted! I ended up crying there at the end when I was speaking, but it was so hard. Everything was just so beautiful, and I could just feel the love and loss from everyone out there, and it moved me so much. A friend told me after that he had a hard time looking at me because every time he did he saw himself, his emotions, reflected in my face. It struck me, because I felt much the same way when I looked out in the crowd. It was hard for me to make eye contact with anyone. But on the whole it was healing, and so very cathartic. I’m glad we did it.

Afterward, there were many hugs, and eventually we managed to pull ourselves away & get some food, then we went to catch the tail end of the KT dance party, and had sooooo much fun! Well done, Jill, well done! Oh, and Ron and I got balloon hats made!

After that we went back to the room to change (Ron into Yule Ball Krum, me into Queen Susan, and Betsy into fabulous fashion show Loki), and headed back to the Yule Ball. .

No Caspian for this Susan! And these pics do this dress no justice – I love how comfortable it is, and how it moves and flows.

STAHP BETSY! YOU ARE AMAZING!

Uh oh… Hermione found Krum!

Wand chain.

President Snow meets Katniss.

Ladies of YA Lit – Triss, Katniss, Hermione, Susan.

Ron and I didn’t last very long because we were just plain old exhausted, and had to wake up at 0500 to get Ron to the airport, soooooo we called it an early night, and off to bed we went.

Monday was a travel day, so yeah, that was it. That was basically DragonCon.

It was a blur of working constantly, and brief islands of calm. Hopefully next time I will be a bit less busy, and definitely not sick. Speaking of which will be in 2016, as I’ll likely be deployed over DCon 2015.

Sooooo next next year at DragonCon…