"See you at OSFEst," the e-mail from my publisher read.

OSFest? Who? What? Where? If I'm supposed to be there, I'd better find out. Googling brought up several hits: OSFest...the annual ostrich festival in Chandler, Arizona; OZZFest...about Ozzie Osbourne...OSFest 2003...featuring the Osmonds...nope, neither of those...OSFest, Omaha Science Fiction Education Society...Okay, that sounds more like it!

Throwing a change of clothing into my backpack, I hopped into the Sentra, feed the coordinates into the Navigator, and hit the road! (The road hit back with a right cross.) An hour later, I was in Omaha, parking the Sentra in a "Handicapped" space, and walking inside the Omaha Comfort Inn to register...and immediately searching for an ATM as I was told registration was in CASH! Cash was acquired, Registration was accomplished, and--armed with name tag and program--I was set loose in the wonderful world of OSFest. Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, here I come!

Wandering into the Dealer's Room, I saw a half dozen R2D2s (their correct name was R2ET, I believe) in a row, waiting for Luke Skywalker to activate them and take them home. Luke wasn't available but Darth Maul, resplendent in red and black body paint, his horns freshly polished, was wandering around (looking for a Jedi to fight, no doubt) as well as several Jedi knights who were studiously ignoring him. Followed by an activated R2, I blundered into the elevator, and found myself in the Com Suite, helping myself to the buffet. As I munched on a handful of toasted, buttered, salted pecans (absolutely no calories!) I
chatted with Link from the Legend of Zelda about writing, took his picture, and asked his permission to use it in my blog. He, as well as everyone else, was very agreeable. Outside, in front of the elevators, near the sign with the convention logo, a giant snow tiger cavorted. He informed me he was "Snap E. Tiger" as he posed by the sign, then hurried away to moderate a panel, a mountain lion, and another cat of some kind weaving their way through the crowd behind him. Several men in kilts and long braids wandered by.

Downstairs, the lobby was congested with members of a girl's volleyball team who had gathered around Darth Maul, having their picture taken with the bare-chested lightsaber-wielder, who obligingly flicked it into operating mode and twirled it expertly without amputating his limbs or anyone else's. Others--mostly youngsters--crowded around Mr. Tiger or Link to be photographed. The Jedis watched them from a distance, with amiable tolerance.

In the Main Programming Room, NASA engineer Bridget Landry gave slide lectures on the Huygens-Cassini telescope mission, noting that the two 16th-century scientists for whom the mission was named were bitter enemies and it was ironic they would be forever linked together in aerospace history. The photos of Saturn and its moons, specifically Titan and Enceladus, were amazing...until the computer decided to crash, proving once again that man's technology is fallible. During the lecture, it was noted that by
the time a spacecraft has been designed and built and launched, the technology in it is already obsolete, and one of the first problems faced with Cassini was that the doppler effect wasn't taken into account and had to be solved (from the ground) before the now-launched spacecraft could be sent on its way. Bridget herself was a treat. Dressed in red and orange camo complete with beret (a great disguise if one is hiding in a volcano, I suppose), she appeared the antithesis of the rocket scientist. "Please!" she said as she placed pamphlets, trading cards of Saturn's moons, and temporary tattoos on the edge of the stage. "Take some. Take a lot! I don't want to take these back home. They're too heavy!" A lady with a sense of humor, she is also a devotee of Renaissance Faire and changed her costume several times during her lectures, once appearing as a Renaissance lady and once as someone who seemed to have leaped from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, complete with pith helmet.

Another room held science fiction-fantasy art and there were some lovely astronomy-themed paintings there, as well as prints, and sketches. The Dealers Room was also where publishers hawked their wares, writers autographed their books (being authorized by Tony-Paul de Vissage to forge his signature, I signed 8 copies of the February issue of Sounds of the Night which held a copy of his story, "Sometimes Love Returns." I also pocketed his royalties from the sales. It was only fair. I was the one getting writer's cramp!) There was a jewelry vendor with the most beautiful bracelets and necklaces,
all hand-made. I had to fight with myself not to purchase a fantastic piece called "Faust's Memories of Hell," large silver dollar-sized drops of amber shot with red and connected by silver links. The price tag ($68.00) finally stopped me. T-shirts, action figures, costumes...at one table, sat Nevermore, a ghost-hunting Omaha non-profit organization which investigates paranormal activity in Nebraska. (I stayed away. Didn't need any wandering revenants following me home.) Next to them, a movie director was selling DVDs of his latest 1950's-pastische sci-fi flick. "It's showing tonight at 10:00," he told me. "I'll be there," I promised. (I didn't make it so I bought a copy of the DVD instead.) In another room, entrants in the costume judging that night were being given pointers. Writer Kevin J. Anderson, whose novel The Winds of Dune, co-authored with Brian Herbert, is a Science Fiction Book Club offering this month, sat near the entrance, behind a table covered with his novels.

Next to the Main Programming Room was a table filled with free paperbacks. I descended upon it avidly, coming away with at least six novels which I had heard of and never managed to acquire until now.

Later, my publisher, Tyree Campbell, and I went to dinner with the artist who had the table next to ours. (Tyree had participated in a reading earlier, and was set for a panel on "Worst Mistakes by Beginning Writers" the next morning. I couldn't wait for that. I wanted to see just how many of those mistakes I had
committed.) Between swilling Mexican beer and eating everything on the menu, we had a great time. Though I didn't contribute much, it was great listening to those rapier-wits zing each other. Later, I spent some time "schmoozing," i.e., getting to know the people who ran the convention, meeting other writers, and various media representatives. I'm tentatively signed up to do a reading at next year's con, and was given the dates of several more gatherings taking place this year.

Too soon, OSFest came to an end. As Tyree packed up his table, I gathered my souvenirs. Clad in an OSFest tee-shirt, a Saturn temporary tattoo on my left forearm, my arms laden with "Anita Blake" graphic novels, pamphlets, DVDs, free paperbacks, a styrofoam clamshell filled with the remains of my dinner, and a Grape NeHi, I shouldered my pack and headed for the Sentra. In an hour, I was back home and in fifteen more minutes, was viewing e-mails from Lyrical Press telling me that the attachment was the final edit for Earthman's Bride which is coming out in August, so get to it!

Back to work, back to the mundane (?), but boy! it was a great two-day escape from reality!

PHOTOS: OSFest Sign; Link (Will Pereira) from the Legend of Zelda; Darth Maul (Tamren Cardwell from Party at My Place costumers); Snap E. Tiger; Dealers Room; Darth Maul checks out R2ET; Tyree (sams dot publishing) and Moi (sitting in for Tony-Paul de Vissage.)


  1. Mary Marvella // July 25, 2009 at 12:13 AM  

    Sounds like you had fun. Hope you made tons of contacts!

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 25, 2009 at 1:01 AM  

    Toni, great post! Don't you just love conferences and such! MM and I just returned from DC where we attended RWA National. I went on the KOD (mystery writers) pre-conference tour where we visited the FBI, CIA, State Dept. and Postal Inspectors! I was such a blast. Glad you enjoyed your conference!

  3. Judy // July 25, 2009 at 8:25 AM  

    Toni, you go, girl! You are always on a roll and it's fun to know about all you do to keep it going! Thanks!

  4. Toni V.S. // July 25, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

    It was a great time and I learned a lot about the "selling" end of writing. The workshops gave me more insight, too.

  5. Beth Trissel // July 25, 2009 at 3:31 PM  

    Very interesting Tony. Those are some great pics.

  6. Mary Ricksen // July 25, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

    Tony doesn't mind if you sign the books, you know he couldn't be bothered with that kind of trivia.
    So I think you're okay.
    What a fun post though Toni.
    Gosh I wish they had something like that here. I find it great that you put yourself out there. You are so gutsy, I'd hate to go alone. But you made going alone an adventure.
    Great Post. More of these types of posts would be great. I'd love hearing more about RWA too

  7. Nightingale // July 25, 2009 at 6:40 PM  

    I love Sci-Fi/Fantasy conventions! Looks as if you had a great time, and tossed in a bit of promo for luck. Coming back to reality is exactly how it feels leaving a Con.