Three Years Ago Today I Was A Panelist at Comic-Con

Ever have a bucket list item become a reality? Ever have two of your wildest dreams come true simultaneously? That was me in 2018.

I had always, always dreamed of becoming a published author, and in 2017, I marked that off the bucket list when Macmillan published my YA Fantasy, TRAVELER. I longed to be on a high-level author panel, and was hopeful an invitation would open up somewhere. TRAVELER’s sequel, DREAMER, had just come out when a fellow author approached with an offer I had to pinch myself as I read: would I like to be part of an author panel at San Diego Comic-Con International?

Holy shit! Comic-Con International! THE Comic-Con. The big time!

Of course, being a life-long geek girl, that answer should have been an instant and thunderous Yes!

Except I read that email from a hospital bed, with my wheelchair sitting a few feet away. I had just survived a brain injury that damn near killed me and left me crippled, overwhelmingly exhausted, often fuzzy-brained, and unsure if I’d ever be able to successfully write again or retain any semblance of a “normal” life.

So I thought it over for a good long while, weighed all the pros and cons, and after roughly 90 seconds I responded Yes. Yes, I’d be thrilled to do it. I left off that I’d likely be overwhelmed and exhausted doing it, be terrified the whole time I did it, and my team of physical therapists told me there was no way I could do it yet. Comic-Con, at that point, was only three months away, and I had only just begun walking short distances or standing for more than a few minutes. But I had faith in my own resilience, and I wasn’t about to let this go by.

Three months later, in July of 2018, I flew solo across the country, my limp still pronounced. I navigated busy airports in Philadelphia and San Diego, and I picked up my Speaker Badge at the main pavilion.

For the next two days, I wandered in a daze, sat on every panel I could, even got invited to a couple of author mixers, sat down a LOT in hallways, and went to bed as early as I could. And the day of our panel? Full house!

It was terrific, and the audience was so engaged. I got a serious thrill when I set my book up to display on the table in front of me and an ooooh! went through the crowd. (Not that I blame them, my book cover was voted one of the most beautiful covers of 2017). And when the moderator asked my fellow panelists who they’d recommend for reading, one of them paid me the supreme compliment of pointing at my book and shouting it out. As we left the panel, I was getting stopped repeatedly by people asking where they could get my book. It was amazing, and more than a little surreal.

And then I stepped into the hallway and there was Jason Momoa, not ten feet away, heading to his signing event. One more bucket list item to check off! *swoon*

No one noticed I paused every few words for a split second as my brain processed the auditory input. No one noticed my phone was clutched very tightly in my left hand to keep people from realizing it was curled into a claw and mostly useless. No one cared that I limped – in a hugely crowded venue full of people wearing costumes with uncomfortable shoes, I certainly didn’t stand out for limping. And no one knew it took me the better part of a week to recover physically after over-taxing myself.

But I did it. I made my own personal history. I’m still here, still moving forward, and yes, still writing. Don’t stop believin’.

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