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I’ve already posted last week about the success of our book launch at Ad Astra 2015, so if you’d like to hear more about how awesomely amazing that was, click here for the post.

There was more that I wanted to say about the convention, though, beyond simply stating that we did well. It was just a really well put together event, and I thought it might be nice to do a few brief posts about our experiences there to encourage people to get out and experience the convention, if you haven’t yet. I’ve always liked Ad Astra, but I and many people feel that with the death of several local fan-run conventions in recent years, they have really picked up that torch and run with it, and are poised to be the next big thing for those of us who like fan-run and fan-focused events. I’ve posted before about the need in the community for events that are by fans, for fans, and I want to use my platform to help these events thrive. Also, naturally I’m a fan of the literary bent of the convention and I hope that grows, too.

So, the first thing you should know about my convention Friday was that I was sick. Yep, super sick with that stomach flu thing that’s going around right now. But, since I had been working on this launch for eight months, twelve authors were relying on me to do a good job promoting them, and I’d sunk copious monies into the event itself, I was pretty much going to go even if I was sitting at the booth delirious with fever and mumbling stuff about ground shrews. Luckily, my aches and pains subsided throughout the day and I was able to do what I needed to do.

The day started around noon, with a cake pick-up run and a few last-minute stops at those ubiquitous business outlets, Staples and Micheal’s. Naturally, I overdid it at Micheal’s and picked up a bunch of nice decorations for the table, but c’mon… they were having a sale. And they had a blue owl vase that was just perfect for our displays. I also managed to smoosh one edge of the cake, but nobody seemed to notice amid the deliciousness.

From there, I met my two helpers, my husband Robin, and my mum, Viv, who helped me to load all of the stuff for the con into Mum’s SUV. We’re very lucky we took the SUV… veeeery lucky. At least I can say, happily, that due to sales and the popularity of our edibles, there was much less on the way back. We loaded up on schedule, and headed out onto the highway. After a short hop onto the 407, we arrived at the Sheraton.

I’ve previously expressed my admiration for this venue, and I’ll continue to do so here. The service, cleanliness and convenience at the Sheraton were all that I have come to expect from attending numerous conventions there. The staff were always attentive and helpful, the food was decent, and the rooms were clean and at a nice temperature. Since I’ve spent a considerable amount of time at this convention center, it was pretty easy to find the loading docks and get everything loaded into the dealers’ room.

I’ve spent some time streamlining and check-listing our set-up and tear-down processes lately, and so I can proudly announce that we were set up in record time. We were in a good position, along the right-hand wall between two steampunk accessories vendors. Our neighbours were lovely, and it was nice chatting with them over the weekend. In fact, I wish I’d had some money to add to my signature hat collection. Next time, Gadget… next time.

One very pleasant surprise in the dealers’ room this year is the addition of a few friendly faces from Genrecon. Rob and Nick, and their warm welcome, are part of the reason why I’ve become such a booster for Genrecon in the past few years. It was great to see them helping out with Ad Astra as well, and spreading some of that great work around. Plus, let’s face it, it was just nice to catch up. Throughout the weekend, they were totally there for my team, helping us put up posters, making sure my demo space was set up correctly, and just generally serving as contact to the outside con world for us booth hermits.

Soon after setup, our other booth companion, Ira Nayman arrived. If you’re familiar with his work, or have met him locally, you can probably imagine that his wit and humor (not to mention his charm with con-goers) added a lot to our weekend. If you’re not familiar with him, and you like to laugh, you owe it to yourself to look him up. Ira and I spent the rest of the evening chatting with folks, handing out cards for the book launch, and indulging in much hyping of the cake.

Mum shuttled between locations, bringing us food and drinks, and making final arrangements for our hotel room. She was a life-saver in this capacity all weekend, and I couldn’t have done it without her. Pop Seagull underwent some surprise turnover late last year, and at first I didn’t know who would step up to fill the shoes left empty by the departure of our second editor. As it turns out, we’re better staffed and running smoother than ever, thanks to careful re-organization and Mum stepping up to the plate. She was completely new and unaware of con culture when she first arrived, but now she is fast becoming a favourite with Pop Seagull’s convention friends, and she enjoys meeting so many intelligent and unique people.

After all of the work and hauling and lifting and chatting and worry that went into Friday, everyone was about done in by closing time. But, I still made a bit of time for my friends down at the bar. We swapped stories, shared tips we’d discovered between cons, and just generally laughed and had a good time. I shared my idea for a new TD marketing campaign based on Star Wars. Seriously, it’s the bank of choice for jawas. Why else are they always yelling “Ooo TD!”? It’s the perfect slogan, I tell you. Pretty sure Disney is holding onto that copyright, though.

Anyway, that’s day one. Stay tuned for Saturday… now with photos!

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