GenCon Report

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Well, it’s been a few weeks now since I was at GenCon, so I know I’m late with a report, but I’ve been busy! I traveled from Indy up to Milwaukee and flew straight away to Sacramento for a work gig (I work for IBM).

GenCon was a lot of fun. I was invited to the Writers Symposium there and I sat on several panels, gave a reading, and had an autograph session in the Author’s Alley. The panels were quite a bit of fun, and I think they were pretty informative for the attendees (at least, I hope they were). Anton Strout was on several of mine, as were Jean Rabe, John Helfers, Kerrie Hughes, Tim Waggoner, Linda Baker, Luke Johnson, and several others. I even got to semi-moderate one panel (which essentially means that I asked one question to get the party started. The conversation wandered from there for the full hour). Oh, and my reading went pretty well. None of the throat-closing-up problems I’ve experienced at times in the past. And I have a bone to pick with one Michael Furlong, my Clarion-mate from last year. He came to the reading and then zoomed out before I had a chance to talk to him. He was probably off to join a rousing game of Call of Cthulhu, I’m sure, so perhaps he can be forgiven.

There was a party held for Paul Genesse and Anton on Wednesday night to celebrate the pending release of their books next year. I was pretty bummed that I missed it. (I was traveling, once again, for work until late Thursday evening. Urgh!) But congratulations to them both! Keep an eye out for The Golden Cord from Paul Genesse (to be released in April of next year, I believe) and Dead to Me from Anton Strout (to be released February of next year). I did make up for it a little bit by going out for a quick meal with Paul, Anton, John Helfers, and Kerrie Hughes. John and Kerrie are two of my editors with Martin Greenberg’s outfit for a handful of anthologies I’m appearing in, plus they’re just all around great people. It was a lot of fun catching up with them, even if I didn’t see them for all that much time at the con.

I also met Patrick Rothfuss, who’s got quite a bit of buzz going for his book, The Name of the Wind. I picked up a copy, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I attended a couple of readings where Don Bingle, Beth Vaughan, Jean Rabe, and John Helfers read. All of their stories were great, and humorous. (I wish I had the knack for writing humor, but alas…) It’s a lot of fun for me to attend live readings because (a) you get to hear it as the author wishes it to be heard (unless they happen to be a bad reader, which none of these people were), (b) I was not brought up in a reading family: I wasn’t read to (that I can recall), and so hearing live readings opens up a world that I’m still not quite accustomed to, and (c) I pick up various reading tricks by listening to others read. Beth Vaughan is an especially good reader. If you ever get a chance to listen to her, do.

What else? I wandered the exhibit hall and art show as much as I could. I love to see all the new stuff that’s come out, plus gaze nostalgically at the old things I used to play. And the artwork. I love looking at artwork. I like buying it as well, but I have to admit that I’m very picky when it comes to actually purchasing. There are very few pieces that fit my particular sense of style, but I suppose that’s true of anyone, isn’t it?

The signing was a lot of fun. I got shown up by Mr. Marketing, Paul Genesse. Lesson number one: if you’re hosting a signing, have enough foresight to bring a pen. Any pen would do, but a good one would be best. I brought a total of zero pens, and had to, in embarrassing fashion, ask to borrow Paul’s when I had to sign the anthologies a few kind people asked me to sign. Paul went way farther than a pen, though. He had business cards (I had those at least, but my email was still my old one. Doh!), cards for the pirates anthology he’s in, plus big 18×14 color prints of the pirates anthology cover, plus bookmarks. Jeez. He put me to shame. Sigh. I can only blame it on the extreme rush I was in both before and after the con. I need to prepare better for World Fantasy and GenCon next year. I will, I will!

The highlight for me was when two nice young people came up to the signing (both of them had attended some of the panels I was on) and bought a copy of Man vs. Machine and asked me to sign it. Cathy and Logan. They were so nice, and it was wonderful to connect with people who love specfic and will hopefully enjoy something I wrote.

All in all, a great convention. If you’re into gaming at all (board games, role playing, LARPs, miniatures, historicals, etc.) then GenCon is the place to be. Don’t miss it. And if you’re a would-be writer as well, then it’s doubly worth it. The writers tracks have grown and grown over the years, and at this point I would say it rivals small local cons in that respect.