Gen Con 2013

Gen Con was, once again, amazing, cementing itself as my favorite convention. I got to see tons of friends and colleagues, some amazing new products, and the enthusiasm of the fans for the things we work on. I went in with the vague plan that I needed to pick up some more creative work, and left with an embarrassment of riches to choose from. (As well as a 30 lb bag of RPG books, only 2 of which are not research for projects!)

The entire five days was a whirlwind of meetings, panels, events, catching up, plotting, resolving, pitching, brainstorming, drinking (coffee or alcohol!), and enjoying. Anastacia Visneski´╗┐ summed up our schedules the best: “The only way to tell if there’s another person in the hotel room is that the food stores go down, and the swag pile goes up.”

Unfortunately, I went in with a voice wrecked by the Purgatory show, destroyed what little remained at the Diana Jones Awards, and by Friday morning, was mainlining cough drops. By Friday night, I was being mocked by my ‘friends’ for squeaking and occasionally just failing to make any sound at all, despite my best efforts. Here’s to actually being able to talk in something other than a Marlene Deitrich voice next year.

The Writer’s Symposium was not only fun to do, but is proving its worth as a workshop worth making the effort to attend. Marc Tassin is doing a phenomenal job, and it’s worth attending the con just for the Symposium. I had a chance to talk to Marc on Sunday, and while I can’t mention specifics, I CAN say that next year will not only be even more useful for the newbie writer, but it will be worth paying attention to for developers, business owners, and creatives who write things other than books or short stories.

If you’re an author or creative professional, consider volunteering for next year’s program, too. Marc is great to work with, and the attendees are excited, cool, and eager to learn. Plus, there are fun events almost every night, just for the people leading panels and workshops.

I even got in two games this year! I had about five scheduled, but Gen Con happened. Dungeon World was fun, wacky, and worth playing even in a ‘can-I-take-a-nap-under-the-table-when-you-don’t-need-me’ state of exhaustion. I was trying hard not to buy any more RPG books, but I may have to go to DriveThru RPG or IPR to grab that. 13th Age is GORGEOUS, and I also need that. And there are a couple of card games, and and and…

I also got to play the newest World of Darkness game, Mummy. I backed this on Kickstarter a while back, but got invited to play in a game run by the line dev. The game itself was great fun, but I have NEVER rolled so poorly. Unfortunately, no one else could roll for shit, either, so the entire thing turned into a comedy of errors. At one point, Ari rolled about 20 dice…with no successes. At that point, we just gave up success and started glorying in failure.

There were, as well, some downsides, but those were far outweighed by the good, and therefore will not be mentioned. (Except for the voice issues. Those, I will probably still be whining about next Gen Con.)

It was a particularly interesting year for me to be there. I’ve been in crisis mode since April, dealing with the Nebulas, BEA, a friend’s death, and the Bulletin/Beale issues, meaning I went in with a bit of tunnel vision and disconnect. I lamented to Lucian on Friday that I hadn’t gotten to schedule much of anything, and felt I was wasting the con a little by my lack of preparedness. In classic ‘be careful what you wish for’, the next two days were nothing but meetings, pitches, and offers.

One of the things I struggle with is a lack of feedback on my own position within the industry. Marketing and PR are the redheaded step-children of most industries as it is, and I often end up feeling as if I’m working in a vacuum. The last couple of weeks have been eye-opening on what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and what I’m just not doing.

Most telling was when someone said “I wish you would start doing RPG writing”, and I shamefacedly said “Well, actually, I’ve been clearing my schedule of some things so I could take on some projects”. Often, in my push to get others noticed, I forget to communicate my own availability, interests, and direction. That’s something I’ll be working on changing the next year or so.

I give myself some leeway because the SFWA issues have been consuming ALL of my bandwidth the past few months. I just haven’t known when that would taper off and allow me time to deal with things. As it is, I’ve got five places that want to see my portfolio, which tells me that I may be doing things right for other people, but I’m leaving a lot of money and opportunities on the table. Bad publicist. Do what I say, not what I do.

And now, I have just over one week to Dragon Con, which is usually less busy, but more nuts. SFWA will have a table there this year, which I will be running, with books and information from SFWA and its members. I also know plenty of people who will be there, so my social calendar is already overbooked. Between now and then, I have a trip to Ashville with my mom, a 1920s-themed swing class (apparently I’m going to be learning to dance, now…), clients to get caught up on, chiropractor and massage appointments, Gen Con follow-up, moving plans, several pitches to write, and a Kickstarter to plan for, as well as the usual maintenance work.

I can do all that in a week, right? Oh, and I can’t talk, because being voiceless at Gen Con is one thing, but being voiceless at Dragon Con is just stupid.

See? Will still be whining about it at Gen Con next year.

Times I met Matt Forbeck on a deserted street, after midnight, coming back from the Embassy: One. (Last year was…three?)

Notable Quotes:

“She’s rules-lawyering me over a cherry stem.” (I won, AND I got the cherry.)

“The tomatoes of misogyny.”

“Look, there was no half-assing that failure. I have STANDARDS about my failure.” (Also: tagline for Mummy game, I think.)

“Oh, look, he shape-shifted into a dead guy!”

“You have to tell us about these things!”
“You wrote this section!”
“That was more than a week ago!”

“Wait. When did I become the Stripper Whisperer?”

“We can’t operate a forklift. How are we going to operate a crane?”
“I hate to say it, but this Mummy needs new cultists.”
“But we’re very loyal! We’re like mentally-challenged puppies!”

“He’s sitting there, burning.”
“Courteous of you. Wait, I don’t think I like the idea of him burning to death willingly. Shoot him, will you?”
“Put yourself out so we can kill you properly!”
“I don’t trust the burning-to-death guy!”
“This is going to sound crazy, but can I intimidate the burning guy?”
“We can get popcorn!”
“And cook it on you!”

“That sounds weird.” ~beat~ “Wait, I wrote that, didn’t I?”

30 Pound Bag-of-Death (aka, RPG books and swag):

Ptolus (Monte Cook)
Hillfolk and Blood on the Snow (Kickstarter Rewards from Robin Laws/Pelgrane Press)
Mummy core book (thank-you gift for Jacob playing minion all week, which saved me a lot of time and stress)
Hunter: the Vigil
Monte Cook’s World of Darkness
Scion: Ragnarok, and Hero (Onyx Path)
Monte Cook’s Arcana Evolved
Carolina Death Crawl (DtRPG card game from Bully Pulpit)
The God-Machine Chronicle (WoD, Onyx Path)
The Book of Nod (WoD, Onyx Path)
Scion: Yazata, the Persian Gods (This looks AMAZING, and sold me on Scion, a game I was unfamiliar with, immediately.)

Time to next convention: 8 days.

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