I've got my badge, my tickets, a hotel room, and a packed bag. I'm ready for Gen Con!
Last year was my first time and it was all-around awesome. It was so much fun, I wish I'd attended before then. I guess I held off because I never considered myself a serious gamer--aside from my hardcore Dragon Age love, that is. Yes, I've played (and enjoyed) Machine of Death and Fiasco with my writing group. I watch Table Top. I know gamers. Still, I shied away.
I was foolish. I didn't investigate further than my initial assumptions so I had no idea about all the things the convention has to offer. I'm so happy that a couple of my friends in the writing group clued me in.
Yes, there's gaming. And, honestly, it's a fantastic thing to witness. Seeing all these people tucked in corners, crowding the game rooms, talking enthusiastically about games--it's inspiring and it makes me happy. In addition to all that energy, you can find--miniatures painting, balloon art, cosplay, films, social activities, crafting, general geekery, lots of cool merchandise, and...writing related fun.
Last year I spent most of my time at Writer's Symposium events. I'll be doing the same again this time around. I'll be checking out panels on Urban Fantasy, weaponry, romance, editing, polishing...and a whole lot more. I've got a stack of tickets ready to go and high hopes.
I still have my notebook from 2013's con. It's filled with advice, diagrams, story ideas, and observations. I came out of almost every panel with something new. The experience strengthened my confidence, my conviction, and my desire to work harder.
One of the best experiences I had was at the Read and Critique panel. Everyone who signed up got a few minutes to read from a piece. Then we all got feedback from the panel. John Helfers, Kerrie Hughes, Dylan Birtolo, and Jason Schmetzer were all insightful, kind, and helpful. I learned from listening to their comments about others' work. Their comments about my selection were spot-on and I used them to revise the story that would become "Reminders" (the one that was published in Crooked/Shift).
I'm only sorry that I couldn't stick around for the whole thing because I was nervous about walking from downtown to Fountain Square alone in the dark. I'm not as courageous as Trinidad (the protagonist in my novella). This year, I'm staying close by so I don't have to face the test.
I had such a positive experience at the panel that I tried to locate their tables in Author's Alley. This is kind of unprecedented for me because I usually hang back. I was rewarded for my trouble. One of the authors, Dylan Birtolo, was there. He's a very friendly person and was great to talk to. I purchased a couple short story collections and he signed them. It was cool.
And now, one year later, I'm working with Apocalypse Ink Productions. One of their authors is Dylan Birtolo. Small world, huh?
The first novella in the trilogy owes a lot to my Gen Con experience. The core inspiration for the story was already in my head at the time, but I gathered more fuel for it. The walks I took from Fountain Square to the convention center and back helped me nail down more pieces of the setting, mood, and emotion. There's nothing like a lonely walk at dusk and an active imagination to get the heart racing. It was galvanizing and it pushed the project forward. It feels like a piece has clicked into place now that I'm returning to the convention with a draft of that story in the hands of AIP. I'm so excited to work with Jennifer Brozek and the rest of the company.
It makes me hope that maybe someday I'll be in the position to give some encouragement to another writer.
The Gen Con community was very welcoming and positive. It's a huge crowd, but most of the time I saw courtesy and fun rule the day. I want to be part of that again.
So--if you happen to be at Gen Con and you see me--come on over. I'l be sitting in WS panels with the rest of the crowd or wandering the halls. I'd love to talk writing and any manner of geeky cool stuff. I know the odds are small, but stranger things have happened.
I've got firsthand experience, after all.
Thanks for reading!