Second off, some of you may know that Kendra E. Ardnek has, this past week, hosted a virtual convention called Indie e-Con, where over a dozen indie authors came together to share advice on different aspects of writing and publishing, critique writing, answer questions, play games, and generally have a grand old time. It's been pretty awesome. Hard to keep up with, since I've had an exhausting week preparing for a speech and trying to figure out next semester's schedule and starting research for a paper and all that, but still awesome. And as part of the e-Con, Kendra's revived Character Encounters! This month, we're meeting our characters at- where else?- Indie e-Con, only we're pretending that we've got a big convention center in Dallas so we can actually, y'know, meet them. Anyway, enjoy!
The hubbub of excited voices, cheerful conversation, and dramatic book quotes flows around me as I push my way through the crowd of authors, readers, and costumed fans. I weave my way around a trio of girls dressed- very convincingly- like Petra, Sarah, and Amber and wave to C.B. Cook, who's currently at her booth. Actually getting to meet her in person might've been the best part of this convention so far. Not only is she a fabulous author, but she's a good friend.
But as amazing as the convention is, I'm exhausted from trying to take in everything and still keep up with my classwork- deadlines wait for no man, after all- and overheating, since even March in Texas is far hotter than it is at college. So I soon collapse onto a bench in a less-crowded hallway off the main convention area. I can hear voices from down the hallway, and it sounds like someone's started playing Celtic music over the loudspeaker, but despite these things, it's peaceful. I lean back and shut my eyes. All I need now is a cool breeze and I'd be set . . .
A voice- male, edged with teasing sarcasm- interrupts my solitude. "What's this, Taleweaver? I thought you didn't nap."
"What the-" My eyes shoot open and I stare at the person in front of me. He's tall and wiry, with dark, somewhat shaggy hair and a faint smile that suggests he sees all the absurdity of life and finds it quite amusing. He's also in medieval-ish garb: dark green doublet with a lighter green tunic underneath, a brown cloak, and a belt with a long, narrow sword hanging from it. Quite honestly, he looks like a character from my imagination come to life, and ordinarily I'd complement him on his realistic costume. Only problem: there's no way in the nine worlds that anyone would cosplay as this particular character. After all, he's from my books- one that isn't even out of the first edit, let alone published!
"I don't nap," I finally say, unable to come up with something more intelligent. "And I wasn't napping. I was thinking. Who are- Are you-"
"Jarek Gilleth, at your service." Jarek raises an eyebrow. "I thought you'd done this before, Taleweaver."
"Yeah, but not in ages." I sit up straight. "How are you even here? There are no portals leading directly from Aralan to this Earth, or from that version of Earth to this one!"
"Not quite sure about that yet." Jarek's tone only hints at his displeasure with this fact. "A couple of the characters of the girl running this place managed it- Laura, and one of the ones who looks like the author-in-charge. I'm going to corner her later and find out, though."
Whether "her" refers to Laura, Amber- it has to be Amber; and now thinking back to the trio I saw earlier, I can't help but wonder- or Kendra, I'm not certain. And Jarek doesn't give me time to figure it out, instead grabbing my arm and pulling me to my feet. "But right now, the kitten's going to turn shadow and kill me if I don't find you and bring you back so the two of you can have a chat and then probably wander around being strange together. Come on. There'll be pie involved."
"You could've just asked." I pull my arm free and follow him as he leads the way back into the crowd. "I would've come. Even if you didn't bribe me with pie." Now that I'm looking, I think I spot other people whose costumes seem too realistic to be just costumes- there's Reuben, or possibly Robert, conferring with one of his brothers, and I'm fairly certain that the girl in the green dress over there is Caitlyn from Blood Ties.
I realize I've slowed in order to try to spot book characters when Jarek calls back to me, "Are you coming, Taleweaver, or do I have to come back and drag you again?"
"I'm coming!" I speed up my steps with a grin. Awesome as Indie e-Con already was, it just got a whole lot better.