OK, I have just said goodbye to my last guests and after a heroic struggle in sleet managed to get my front door open - ten minutes of icy cold - what I would have paid to know Cloak of Duck's Feathers. I think I'll briefly talk about the weekned while the memories are fresh.
Firstly, I need to know who to blame. It all started with a discussion on the Berklist about Amber, and it's dedicated cons, and Volkazz casually remarked -
"I mean, the horror of Ars Magica having its own devoted conventions... No,
no, I can see why you want to avoid it..." as a joking aside. A certain Someone responded "You want the Berklist to get together for a long
weekend in your town, James?" and a certain Kevin Sides said "Quick! grab the dice bags and let's go!" and I replied "I guess that means we are organizing an mini-Ars con for Cheltenham UK in
2008 Kev. " That was February 20th. The die was cast. What is that old proverb about acting in haste, repenting at leisure?
So we planned, and because of misleading information that there were no Festivals or race meetings that weekend from reliable sources, we set the date for November 16th/17th 2007. Here was the first botch. Always use multiple Intellego spells - one can be misleading, and in fcat this weekend was a race weekend, and one of the busiest of the year - accommodation was short (to put it mildly). The two first things to put together when organising even a mini-con are reliable accommodation (DO NOT rely on friends to help out putting people up, unless your friend is Kevin Sides, as I learned the hard way) and decent gaming spaces.
While the first was definitely problematic, I think the second was remarkably successful - we had a pub basement room for the Friday social meet, a university room (and pleasant cafeteria) for the Saturday morning meet up and a well equipped community centre for the Saturday till early Sunday. No complaints on my part there.
Next up was advertising the event. I placed it here and on the Berklist, and it briefly appeared on rpg.net, but kind folks told others and word circulated fast. I became quite used to finding our event listed on lists of 2007 conventions, and i'm grateful to everyone who helped publicise it. The excellent Pitt Murmann created a very fine wiki for us, and we used a special section on the Sagalocator forum. Regular email updates i think must have reached most folks.
Then in late September disaster struck. For 9 years I had the same email address - and without warning my ISP closed it down. Many folks helped me resubscribe to the forums and lists in my new address, but I still had a real problem. I am admin on Sagalocator, and though I'd given others mod and admin status, I was now unable to log in - my password was wrong, and I could not email for another one. Unfortunately the other admin Kevin could not log me in or email people via that forum, and did not have the necessary permission to reset my password. To this day I can not post as admin! This meant my plan ot send announcements from that list failed.
Next up, we were trying to gauge the level of interest - we expected perhaps ten people - at a rough guess I think we had 32 in the end, which was great, but many only came for a few hours owing to other commitments. Still, relatively few people registered in advance - our special guests Erik Dahl, Matt Ryan, Neil Taylor, Sheila Thomas and Mark Shirley (and in fact other Ars authors appeared as well, which was delightful, on the day!) all registered, and offered to pay their own way. In return we offered accommodation to Erik and Matt, as they were coming from the USA.
Still trying to get folks to sign up was extremely difficult, but a succession of folks did just that... and the con was on!