Report on the First Ever Bard's Brunch.
By Joseph Connell, Brunch Master of Ceremonies.
This unique undertaking actually began early on Thursday, the 20th, with the arrival of the main organizers, Brenda Barton and Kate Goodman. The MC arrived the following day and immediately linked up with the organizers, going through last minute format and scheduling checks. They spent the remainder of Friday searching out the thirty-plus bards, illustrators and other special guests. Some - such as L lachlan, Lunar, Missy Good, T. Novan, and XWPFanatic - had arrived early to take advantage of the con. Others -- like Penumbra and Miguel Cura - were delayed en-route and didn't make it in until Friday evening.
Saturday morning rolled around and set-up for the Brunch began early. The organizers and MC arrived at the room by nine, with guests starting to file in by nine-thirty. The Holiday Inn staff were outstanding, managing to set out the tables and food around the guests. The Brunch itself was scheduled to kick off at eleven. This was delayed a bit by a large number of late arrivals. What few unsold tickets there were sold within fifteen minutes, giving the event its capacity of 250 but forcing us to turn away close to a dozen more guests.
The food was served buffet style and opened at 11:30. In hopes of keeping orderly (and prevent the poor cooks from being mobbed), groups of tables were directed to serve themselves rather than allow a free-for-all. Scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, home fries, fruit and other treats were in abundance. Coffee and water were consistently replenished by the waiters. Everybody, including the over-worked and sometimes-frantic-looking organizers and MC, had their food within about twenty minutes.
At noon the MC took the stage and began the formal part of the function. After a few introductory comments, he began introductions of the bards and other guests. Moments of cheap comedy were injected in, including several small objects being tossed at the MC by various bards he managed to embarrass with (richly deserved) accolades and the occasional appearance of rubber chickens. Several bards, Llachlan, T. Novan, and Penumbra among them, received sustained applause while bard Tonya Muir was the sole recipient a standing ovation.
It was found that a few who had committed to attending, including Sword-n-Quill, were absent. This was off-set by the appearance of several bards not originally on the guest list, including Zena and Silk. The entire process took a little under half an hour and was followed by brief comments and thanks from the head organizer, Brenda Barton, and special guest Mist from Sword and Staff.
There was a break in the action to allow guests to write questions to individual bards. Many sprinted over to the Con to catch the re-play of Lucy and Renee's "Welcome" video, and consequently were a bit late in getting back. The Q-and-A segment was headed by bard Susan "Smitty" Smith. Fortunately there were only a few questions, ranging from the basic ("Is somebody going to finish "Dark Promise"?") to the specific ("Will you ever try publishing the "Kink" series?" to Penumbra) to the rather personal ("Do you write in the nude?" to Redhawk).
It was learned among other things that Sharon Bowers has committed to finishing "Dark Promise", that Redhawk does not write in the nude, and how Penumbra has been approached by two different publishing houses to publish the "Kink" series and has rejected both offers, preferring to be known as a 'professional computer geek' rather than a 'professional smut writer'.
The event moved on to its last phase: a charity auction for Sword and Staff. All proceeds were dedicated to Children at Heart, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to assisting American couples in the process of adopting orphans from overseas, specifically from Russia and Eastern Europe. Mist was assisted by the MC and the bard WordWarior. Items auction included: autographed copies of Jules Mill's "Nano" series, an autographed compilation of Penumbra's "Kink" series, the "Raising Melosa" series by T. Novan on tape, various stories by WordWarior and Missy Good on tape, unique original artwork by Miguel Cura and signed by the artist and T. Novan, and autographed, annotated, and accessorized stories by Bat Morda. Various pieces donated by Sword and Staff were also auctioned, included various photos and publicity items signed by Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Conner themselves. The auction had to close before all items were sold due to time constraints. Unsold items were given to Mist to be taken to later auctions. A total of $4845.00 was raised by the event. This total was matched Sword and Staff, totally close to $10,000 for Children at Heart.
The Brunch formally ended at three that afternoon, a roaring success by any measure.
As both MC and participant, I would like to formally thank both Brenda and Kate for organizing this unique event. Without their dedication and vision, none of this would have come to pass. I encourage all who read this, whether you attended or not, to please write them and let them know how much their efforts were appreciated.* Tentative plans are in the works for another brunch next year. If you can volunteer your time and energy to help organize it, please contact them. If nothing else, we've learned how much blasted hard work all this is.
See you all next year,
*Brenda can be reached at email@example.com
Kate can be reached at KateG@aol.com
A Message from Joseph Connell:
"I have just been made aware of circumstances surrounding the absence of Sword-and-Quill from the Brunch two weeks ago. It seems there had been a severe breakdown in communication between the oragnizers (myself included) and the bard herself. Sword had in fact communicated several weeks in advance that her attendance would not be possible. However, this message was lost or accidentally deleted by those compiling the final guest list, and so was still listed as committed to attending at the time of the Brunch. I cannot and will not offer any excuse for this, save to say it was a honest mistake.
"Sword has shared with me the message history, including officially bowing out of the function. I sincerely apologize to the bard for this misunderstanding and for the phrasing of my report. It was NOT my intention to either single her out nor slur her reputation in any way. Sword remains among my favorite bards, and I can only hope this does not sour her to the prospect of attending future functions.
"I take full responsibility for my error and apologize sincerely for whatever unintentional slur or insult my report delivered. I can only promise future such functions and events will be planned with greater care so to avoid this situation in the future.
"To Sword-and-Quill, once again I apologize for my mistake. I shall make every effort not to repeat it."
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