This past weekend, Rebecca and I were guests of honor at Archon in St Louis.  The final panels and parties have just finished, we’ve packed up our books and suitcases, and are winding down for the evening (and a departure at 6:15 AM tomorrow).

I have been to St Louis only once before, during the Paul of Dune book-signing tour, but I hadn’t been able to see any of the city.  (I landed after lunch, and the publisher’s rep took me to several bookstores to sign the stock, then the evening book signing, a late dinner, then to the hotel for an early-morning departure.)  This time, Rebecca and I hoped for a chance to see more of St Louis before the con festivities began.

On Thursday night, before the convention began, Reb and I had dinner with Laurell K Hamilton, her husband Jon, and assistant Carri—so our first meal in St Louis was sushi…but good sushi, so we enjoyed it.

The following day, the Archon staff worked above-and-beyond to arrange for Rebecca, her sister Diane (who came along to watch the dealer’s room table), and me to go see the gateway Arch and the Mississippi River.  One  of the staff members, Jim Garrison, picked us up early in the morning to go to downtown St Louis to see the Arch.  Alan DeVaughn, the guest relations rep for the con, made some calls, and also arranged for one of his friends (who worked for the National Parks service) to help us get a tour.

We’ve seen a lot of things in a lot of different states and countries; we were looking forward to the Arch, and I have to say it was even more impressive than we had hoped.  The skies were clear and blue, and the sun reflected on the amazing, perfect stainless-steel arch.  The waning moon hovered in the sky (just a dot in the photos), framed by the Arch.

We walked around the base of the Arch, then entered the museum and exhibits below.  The Park Ranger friend of the con helped us to get into the small tram that crawled up the inside of the arch to a tiny, cramped observation chamber at the apex.

Enough sightseeing.  We got back to the hotel by lunch, so that we could meet up with Dan Barstow, President of the Challenger Centers for Space Science Education, which was the chosen charity for Archon.  The St Louis area Challenger Learning Center also sent representatives and exhibited in the dealer’s room alongside our table.  We had lunch with the Challenger Center people, then set up our tables, and went off to Opening Ceremonies.  Rebecca and I gave our popular workshop on “Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me,” then went to an open Q&A fireside chat, before going to dinner with game writer Matt Forbeck, then attended some of the fan parties.

On Saturday, after spending some time at our table in the dealer’s room, we all attended an hour-long panel about the Challenger Centers and helped with the charity auction, where proceeds benefited the Challenger Centers.  Country singer Lee Greenwood had donated some amazing items—the cowboy boots he had worn when he performed at the White House, the American flag that flew in front of his house.  Rebecca and I contributed the original first-draft manuscript of Star Challengers #1, and I also gave some advance reading copies of two of my novels.  All together, the Challenger Center received about $2000 from the charity auction.

At my Saturday evening reading, I read the first chapter of Hellhole as well as my short story “Dark Carbuncle” from Blood Lite II.  Then we went to dinner with fellow writers Mark Tiedemann and Carolyn Ives Gilman, before hurrying back for the masquerade.  While relaxing before bed, I read the last of the Star Challengers #2 manuscript, scribbling my comments in the margins for Rebecca’s next revision.

Sunday, Rebecca and I served as “victims” at the Star Wars trivia challenge, then joined the pizza party to thank the volunteers who had worked at Archon.  We spent the last few hours with Diane in the dealer’s room, met more fans, signed more books, then packed up the remainders (at least two suitcases less than we had brought).  After the closing of the con, with the rest of the afternoon available, I grabbed my recorder and walked around the hotel area and ponds, dictating half of a short story for a new Chris Golden horror anthology.  Then, while Rebecca wanted to relax in the room, I went for a quick, quiet dinner next door (and a good Goose Island IPA), where I read a couple of submissions for Blood Lite III.

We leave tomorrow early.  A nice weekend all around and a very enjoyable con.