Judging by the attendees' reactions, I wasn't wrong to call them the Best Goody Bags in the History of Ever. Everyone seemed wowed by just how packed with books the bags were, and there were surprisingly few hand-backs from people who already had something that was included.
I did wind up ceding the role of this year's Vanna to marysang, who has far more grace and poise, and who looked better in the red sparkly dress than I would have. I don't think anyone was disappointed with the last-minute change -- except me. Once the awards ceremony began I got jealous and stood up, shouting, "I'm the Vanna! I'm the Vanna!" At which point Tom Monteleone and David Morrell wrestled me to the carpet while nihilistic_kid stuffed chocolate cake in my mouth until I was mollified.
Since I was on the committee, I spent most of my time doing prep work or manning the registration table, so I only got to see two panels. The first was the Friday night Horror Criticism panel, which was amazing. S.T. Joshi was charming and incredibly intelligent. Ben Indick, who has been walking the Earth since the great apes first stood upright, was hilarious (though perhaps not so hilarious to S.T. after Ben told him to be quiet because he was talking too much) and outed himself as an anonymous PW reviewer. Peter Cannon, also of PW, moderated well, and most of the time it seemed like he was talking directly to me, probably because I was the only one sitting right up in front. mssrcrankypants, who was nervous about being on a panel with so many of his idols, held his own quite well and, as usual, outdressed them all.
The other one I went to was Saturday afternoon's After the Edit panel, with copy editor gadarene and book designer Elizabeth Glover. Elizabeth, it turns out, designed the interior of sarahlangan's novel The Keeper and kept holding up the ARC that was in her goody bag and using it as an example to illustrate points about book design. I already knew a lot of the stuff she talked about from my days in publishing, so I was far more interested in what gadarene had to say about writing tics (apparently, in every manuscript, no character can simply sweat, bleed, thank or apologize -- they all must do it "profusely") and surly authors who don't want a single brilliant word of their genius questioned. It was her very first panel, too, and she did a great job. I hope she'll do more in the future.
The parties this year were legendary. That's pretty much all I can say without getting killed, though I did finally get to mention the Straubathon to Peter, who seemed pleased that I was reading all his books at once. I also finally got to meet his daughter and her boyfriend, who live quite literally around the corner from me. Apparently I have to travel to Newark to meet my neighbors.
I find convention reports boring, and this one is rapidly approaching my tolerance level. Big shout-outs to all the friends I saw there, especially morbidmusings, who I haven't seen in years, and Rhodi Hawk, my unofficial date to the pre-banquet cocktail party (and what a terrible date I was, too, always having to run off the attend to something or other). Thanks to cinriter and Hank Schwaeble (who, we discovered in one mind-blowing conversation, went to law school with my freshman year roommate from college!) for being around to help out a lot. Thanks to Deena Warner for donating a fantastic piece of art for the cover of the program book. Thanks to all the publishers who bought ads in the program and were so generous with books for the goody bags. Thanks to Linda Addison and Gerard Houarner for being great presenters at the ceremony, and for trying to speak Italian. And extra special thanks to my fellow planning committee members Greg Faherty, Gordon Linzner, nihilistic_kid, Gina Osnovich, Jane Osnovich, marysang and, most of all, Stoker Weekend Mastermind leethomas, who busted his ass to make sure this was one of the great ones.