Gen Con Schedule and Workshops and Oh God My Heart

So, the easy part: I have a schedule for all the Gen Con stuff! The full schedule can be found over at the Symposium site. (Oh, right, I forgot that I was moderating that panel. And that one. Erm.)

SCHEDULE!

Not a Minority Anymore
Kameron Hurley, Ana Visneski, Maurice Broaddus
Noon, Thursday, Room 243

Gaming and fiction are becoming more and more diverse, bringing a new set of challenges, and adding extra weight to old challenges. How do you handle that around the gaming table, in your fiction, or in your business?

Monomyth Making (Moderator)
1pm, Thursday, Room 243
Dave Wolverton, Bill Willingham, Greg Wilson, Aaron Rosenberg
(Yeah, so I volunteered for this one before I spent a few weeks in intensive monomyth research for a nonfiction piece. Expect some bitterness on the subject…I’ve beaten that horse back into a zombie state.)

WORKSHOP: Publicity, Marketing, and Public Relations (Leading)
Kameron Hurley, Melanie Meadors, Ana Visneski
3pm, Thursday, Workshop room

Sign up here!

Come one, come all! We’ll teach you how to create a publicity and/or marketing plan for your company, deal with crisis, and generally push yourself into a positive public spotlight. Free tips: don’t hire bigots, never use the words ‘if’ or ‘but’ in an apology, and don’t be an ass.

This is a workshop for people who are working in the industry already, or getting ready to launch projects, so there will be lots of crunchy bits!

Creating Anthologies
John Helfers, Kerrie Hughes, Toni L.P. Kelner, Gabrielle Harbowy
5pm, Thursday, Room 244

Hey, I’ll have copies of War Stories to show off! And a TOC of Genius Loci!

Non-Medieval Fantasy
Brad Beaulieu, Kameron Hurley, David B. Coe, Brian McClellan
7pm, Thursday, Room 244

Creating Your Image
Elizabeth Vaughn, Geoffrey Girard, Dave Wolverton, Maxwell Alexander Drake
11am, Friday, Room 243

WORKSHOP: Game Design to Fiction (Leading)
Dave Mattingly, Steven Long
1pm Friday, Workshop Room

Sign up here!

Dave, Steve, and I’ll talk about the business aspects of loading up a fiction line, from contracts to deadlines to editing. This is a heavy-duty class, so be prepared to talk legalities, worst-case scenarios, and more crunchy stuff.

WORKSHOP: Kickstarter, Social Media, and Standing Out From the Crowd (Leading)
Steven Saus, Melanie Meadors, Stephen Hood
3pm Saturday, Workshop Room

Sign up here!

This is the real deal: how you can manipulate people, time, data, and trends to succeed. It’s not going to be pretty, and it may ruin Kickstarters for you, but it will be useful!

Other than that, it’s mostly catching up with people and enjoying talking to people I won’t see for a while. I”ll also have copies of War Stories for backers who will be attending!

If you’re there, and want to see me, drop me a note. I’m going to try to be more social this convention.

Now, for the heart-stopping stuff…

If you’re reading this, you probably saw at least some of the flood of panicked tweets and FB messages I posted over the last couple of weeks. If not, or if you were wondering if I lost my mind, here’s why I’ve been a mess the last few days.

I went up to DC to take a few days to help a friend settle in/paint the city red. The drive up was exciting, since I hit one of the big storm fronts that’s been moving through. Good rule of thumb: if I’m going the speedlimit in bad weather, it’s *bad*. If I’m going 20mph UNDER the speedlimit? Probably shouldn’t be on the road.

Anyways, got there, settled in to sleep…and had a panic attack, which is unusual for me, especially when traveling. I *love* traveling. So I started Friday out on no sleep and a bad feeling.

As Ana and I were getting ready to go meet some of her friends, I got a message from my best friend, who lives near my family property: “There’s a wildfire right by you. Chad’s family (my next-door neighbors growing up) were just evacuated.”

The phone lines were down, and my grandparents weren’t answering their cells. All I knew was that the evacuations for that entire area were mandatory, that they didn’t have the means to move the horses, and that the area the horses were likely in was densely forested. In the drought conditions, those trees go up like tinder at the best of times, and this was already reported to be a fast-moving, anomalous fire even for the conditions. If the fire went over our property, the horses would, as a best-case scenario, go through barbed-wire fence. That’s the *best* scenario I could think of, and I know full well what barbed wire can do. Even barring the fire coming straight through, these evacuations can last for days, and in the high heat, they were in danger of running out of water very quickly.

I spent the next day listening to the scanners, helping coordinate animal evacuations and general information for the residents in the path of the fire, and chasing leads on my horses. About 3pm, I finally got a call from a woman who was out of the mandatory area. She and her family were going around the area, checking on stock and doing everything they could.

It was the first time I even knew my horses were alive, much less okay. To put this in context: the two older ones are rescues, the two younger ones came to me when they were 3 months old. I’ve had all of them since my teens. These are my babies.

Anyways, her son moved them all into the safest pasture, filled the water troughs, and put feed out. This is also when I learned that the fire department was staging Division 1 out of my front yard, and the supervisor had my number, so at least it was as safe as could be.

That night, it broke containment and made a hard run for my house, as well as flanking my best friend’s family. The retreat line for the firefighters was half a mile from my house, I told my best friend to get to her family before the roads were closed, and I made the call to not risk my older horses or their handlers by evacuating them.

And then I got *drunk*.

On Sunday, I made the call to stop driving my hostess up the walls, and headed home with a hangover. You know what’s a great cure for hangovers? A solid jolt of stress. Two weird warning lights lit up on the dash, which turned out to be a faulty sensor, but I didn’t know that THEN. Also, it meant 7 hours of driving with no cruise control.

The fire was finally brought under control, and although they’re still working to contain it, residents were allowed to go home Monday night. I also found out that everyone took a shine to my boys, and so they had my people feeding them, and the fire department giving them grain, and a news crew from Fox going back out to feed them. So, as far as THEY’RE concerned, this was great.

My heart, however, lost a few years.

All told, the fire burned about 4000 acres between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, wiped out 50-some structures, displaced hundreds of residents, and took an immense force to contain. Over 2000 firefighters were on site, and they were still under-staffed. Air Assault was coming in from as far as Montana, refueling at McClellan AFB. (There were some shots of the DC10 they brought in. Think a 747, flying just above the treeline, dropping thousands of gallons of bright-red fire-retardant.) The fire made BBC World and Time.com. My grandfather was interviewed twice, and apparently had some woman recognize him from TV, which is amusing.

On the good side, watching the community respond was incredible. From coordinating rescue runs for livestock and pets to organizing food and clothing donations for the evacuees, the response was immediate and unstinting. When we got word that the livestock being housed at the fairgrounds–including a large number of horses–was without feed, everyone came together to donate to a special fund set up by a local feed store.

We have a lot of clean-up to do now. Next time I’m out there, Felicia and I are going to go see the scars left on the land, and I’m admitting now that I’ll probably cry a bit. This came too close, and highlighted how poorly I respond to being helpless and out of the loop.

But, it turned out okay, and to everyone who put up with me or helped or just listened…thank you.

**Edited** Found out this (Thursday) afternoon that the fire has been EXTINGUISHED, almost a week ahead of schedule.

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