Yeah, turns out I actually needed a better one.
For those of you who don't already know, I had to back out of Authors After Dark for this year. This was a very hard decision, and I tried to find a way to make it work, but the point came where I had to let people know so they could fill my slots. I'm very upset about this both because I feel like i let people down and because, damn it, there were a lot of people going that I really wanted to meet or see again.
The problem is, when you have a travel budget and you stretch it, that doesn't leave a lot of room for contingencies. Since my writing is not making me huge bank yet, I had to rely on my wonderful, supportive husband to front all of my travel costs. He gave me a dollar figure and said "Do what you want." (Because he's awesome like that.)
And there should have been plenty there for everything. I knew RT would be a pricey trip (and LA is a pricey town), so I actually budgeted in a little extra for that, hoping I'd have some left over. Sadly, it did all get used up. No worries though, because I still had enough for the other two trips on my agenda. I booked my flight to Scotland (which ended up about the same price as my flight to LA when all was said and done) and--Yay!--staying with a friend there, so really the flight is the only major expense for that trip. I'd already paid my fees for AAD, and it looked like we would have frequent flyer miles for the flight so it was basically paid for too. In budget with a little spending money too!
And then...it wasn't. We didn't have enough miles for the flight, and then other rocks came tumbling down where it was going to be more money (and not a little more...a lot more). I could have wiggled the flight into the budget, but not the rest (the flight was less than half of the unexpected cost). When it all came down to it, what I'd budgeted as the least expensive trip only needed one more thing to go wrong and it would be the most expensive. All of the creative math in the world couldn't make up the difference.
So last week, I sent letters to the people most affected to let them know I wouldn't be there. I want to be very clear that this decision is not a negative about Authors After Dark. I've heard nothing but great things about it as a con and had really been looking forward to attending. It's entirely my own fault for not planning for all the contingencies that I could foresee. I didn't, and several of them bit me in the ass.
To the people I was supposed to work with: I'm sorry for leaving you one woman down.
To those I was supposed to meet and hang out with: I suck, I know :( Hopefully the next con.
To Stella: Thanks for your understanding, and I hope I didn't screw up panels and such too much.
To everyone else (hell, to everyone): A piece of advice...plan for things to go wrong when you're budgeting. Lots of things. That way you don't run into this mess, and if everything goes right, you have extra spending money (which is always handy).