My co-panelists were (takes a deep breath) Robert Silverberg, John Scalzi, Terry Bisson, and William C. Dietz. The discussion was amazing, ranging from writing in established universes (whether literary, film, or games) to shared-worlds that are created by a group of authors to collaborations to fanfic. Silverberg shared about working with Randall Garrett in the days of John Campbell's Astounding magazine, when he (Silverberg) was a "youngster" and still a student, and with Asimov at the very end of Asimov's life. Dietz writes not only his original fiction but video game tie-ins; he talked about what it's like working with a committee of mostly very avid but very young game designers. We veered into a discussion of copyright with John Scalzi's adventure in a modern take on H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy stories (the first of which is in the public domain, but he asked for the approval of Piper's estate anyway). Terry Bisson has done an amazing range of writing, including novelizations (as opposed to tie-ins, which he has also written). One of the points that emerged over and over was the importance of your own creative vision, that some writers have the temperament and ability to Play Nicely according to a pre-set list of rules, but others will take the rules as a challenge and "do their own thing." Silverberg said that for a shared-world or sequential anthology, he preferred to write either the first story (the set-up) or the last (the wrap-up). And I held forth with my usual brilliance about both my Star Wars story and my Darkover collaborations. A great time was had by all.
After that, I entered decompression mode for lunch, attended a panel on What Happens to Your Novel After You Turn It In? which could have been about book production but kept veering into what the author can do for publicity, as several of the panelists had major chops in this area. The cool thing, for me anyway, was that this was not the "Publicity 101 For Beginners" but a serious discussion of changing role of publishers/distributors/wholesalers.
The evening's event was a mass autographing. Authors Of Note were assigned strategically-placed spots and the rest of us set up our tent cards anywhere we liked. So I hobnobbed with friends and was pleasantly surprised when a number of people brought books for me to sign. Signings, like readings, are impossible to predict. I see both as "paying my publicity dues" and a chance to meet my readers. Or reader. And in this case to also cheer the long lines for the better-known authors -- the fans waiting so patiently are buying books! and reading them!
And surely that's a good thing for everyone.
Needless to say, if you ever have a chance to attend SFWA's Nebula Awards Weekend, grab it. You don't have to be a member to attend (you just can't attend the SFWA Business Meeting, but the panels and awards ceremony are open to registered peeps).