You are currently browsing the archives for the “GenCon” tag.


The Portal Closes: Looking Back @ GenCon

August 23rd, 2013

GenCon 2013 crowd 2Imagine 50,000 people packed into a single indoor space. Now add a 20-foot tall Cthulhu (made entirely of balloons), a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (in a top hat, no less), armies of warriors and monsters, and a roster of top sf and fantasy writers. Yes, it got crowded. But that’s GenCon.

Never mind that the Indiana Convention Center provides 500,000 square feet of sprawling indoor space. There were still times when I found it impossible to walk without bumping into someone or something.

And did I mention that there was also a motorcycle convention in town. Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up. I can only imagine what it must have seemed like to the residents of Indianapolis, seeing their city overrun with bikers and mythological beasts (there’s a high-concept Hollywood film in there somewhere). Indeed, it must have seemed as if a trans-dimensional portal had opened.

I was in town as part of the GenCon Writer’s Symposium, a large writing convention that coexists within the sprawling wonder of GenCon. Its panels, readings, and workshops often attract standing-room crowds, and the attending writers provide a fine cross-section of the field.

Larry Dixon and Matt O'DwyerThe Symposium kicked off with a Wednesday dinner, where I shared a table with writer Brandie Tarvin, editor W. H. Horner, and up-and-coming novelists Jeffery Brooks and Matthew O’Dwyer (both MFA candidates at Seton Hill University). Along the way, we were joined by Larry Dixon, who contributed to the digital effects on Lord of the Rings and collaborated with his wife Mercedes Lackey on a number of terrific fantasy novels.

the writing process according to Oscar WildeThe next morning W. H. Horner and I launched Fiction Fundamentals, three days of workshops covering the essentials of genre writing. The sessions explored writing as a process rather than a product, looking at how the experience of reading a novel (moving page-by-page from beginning to the conclusion) has little in common with the act of writing one. The graphic on the left illustrates this difference, showing how the manuscript for one of Oscar Wilde’s plays progressed circuitously from concept to finished work – passing through a series of handwritten and typing-pool drafts along the way.

I also did a couple of readings, one featuring selections from Visions and This Way to Egress, the other centering on an abridged version of “The Fourth Sign” from Paul Genesse’s The Crimson Pact. I did both readings from memory, a form of delivery that harkens back to the roots of storytelling (think Homer or the Beowulf poet).

The Crinson PactI particularly enjoyed presenting “The Fourth Sign.” It’s a rather subversive story, one that gradually removes the wall between reader and story. It opens with a few references to the reader’s world and builds from there, drawing the reader in until it becomes clear that he or she has been a character in the story all along, and that the act of reading the story (or attending the reading) is actually the story itself.

It was fun watching the audience as they sensed everything coming together, and having the story memorized helped me keep the performance in synch with their dawning realizations. You can read Paul Genesse review of the reading (and the convention) at his blog.

I also took part in panels on Steampunk (where Jennifer Brozek, Paul Genesse, and Sara Hans talked about ways in which Victorian-age science fiction can reflect 21st-century inclusivity) and Hard SF (where Wesley Chu and Jason Sanford urged beginning writers not to get bogged down doing research). I may go into more detail on these topics in future blogs, but right now I sense the portal is closing. I need to get out while I can.

Till next time, I’ll see you between the pages.

Scop on!

Image Credits:

GenCon Crowd by Mike Olson Spirit of the Blank.

Larry Dixon and Matt O’Dwyer by Lawrence C. Connolly.

The Writing Process According to Oscar Wilde by Lawrence C. Connolly.

Lawrence C. Connolly, Karen Bovenmyer, Paul Genesse, Patrick Tracy, Stephanie M. Lorée, and George Strayton at the Crimson Pact reading. Photo by Tammy Lyn Genesse.

The Portal Opens: GenCon Preview, Part 2

August 13th, 2013

GenConThe portal opens, and for one week the city changes, reality morphs, fantasy rules.

The event is GenCon, the massive fantasy and science fiction gaming convention that takes over Indianapolis each August.  Attendance this year is projected to break past records, which were well beyond 40,000 attendees.

Part of the event is the GenCon Writer’s Symposium. That’s where I’ll be spending most of my time this week – conducting workshops, serving on panels, doing readings, and (most importantly) hanging out with other science fiction and fantasy writers. It’s always a blast.

I’ll post additional reports this week (provided I get the chance). In the meantime, here’s my schedule for the convention. If you’re there, be sure to say hello.

THURSDAY

8:00-11:00 AM

Fiction Fundamentals Workshop (Room 243): The first installment of three days of intense fiction-writing workshops that I’ll be presenting along with W. H. Horner – editor in chief of Fantasist Enterprises. Topics covered on this day will be Structure, Outlining, World Building, and Character.  If you’re seriously interested in learning to write fantasy, science fiction, or horror fiction, you’ll want to be sure to attend.

12:00-1:00 PM

Book Signing (Dealers Hall): The best place to get your V books signed and get promo material on the upcoming Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle. I might even have a copy or two of the newly released Crimson Pact: Volume 5, which editor/writer Paul Genesse will be launching later in the week.

FRIDAY

8:00-11:00 AM

Fiction Fundamentals Workshop (Room 243): Today’s topics will be Tension & Pacing, Connecting with Characters, Dialogue, and The Power of Details. Professional secrets will be revealed!

12:30-1:00 PM

Reading (Room 243): I’ll talk about writing, share some stories, and offer a preview of Vortex. Not to be missed!

5:00-5:30 PM

Crimson Pack Reading with Paul Genesse (Room 243): I’ll be joining Paul for a special presentation of a story that takes place in a city very much like Indianapolis, at a convention that just might be GenCon. Yes, you’re in the story, too. Be there!

SATURDAY

8:00-11:00 AM

Fiction Fundamentals Workshop (Room 243): Today’s topics will be Revision and Editing – the most essential steps in the writing process.

12:00 Noon

Exploring Genres – Steampunk (Room 245): I’ll be moderating this panel discussion of Victorian-age science fiction with Sara Hans, Paul Genesse, and Jennifer Brozek. This panel broke some attendance records when I took part in it two years ago. Looking forward to doing it again.

2:00 – 3:00 PM

Exploring Genres – Hard SF (Room 244): I’ll be moderating this panel discussion of science-based science fiction with fellow writers Wesley Chu, Jason Sanford, and Geoffrey Girard. I’m looking forward to this one.

There are also a number of mass author events planned. I need to get the dates, times, and places for those. Again, I’ll update this report as time permits. It’s going to be a busy week.

Got to go. The portal’s opening.

See you on the other side!

GenCon Preview: Part 1

July 31st, 2013

CP5CoverIf you plan on being one of the 40,000+ people attending GenCon in Indianapolis this summer, you’ll want to be sure to be a part of my reading with Paul Genesse, taking place at the GenCon Writer’s Symposium on Friday, August 16, at 5:00 PM.

I’ll be reading a portion of “The Fourth Sign,” my contribution to Paul’s latest anthology The Crimson Pact Volume 5. The story centers on a deck of cards that may or may not be the premise for an elaborate role-playing game with very high stakes.

The book launches today at Amazon. Pick it up, bring it along, and get ready for a scop performance unlike any I have done .

Hope to see you there.

Scop on!

Airships and Sherlock Holmes

October 22nd, 2011

The master sleuth and Master of the World.

What’s not to love?

The World Fantasy Convention has just released its program schedule for 2011, one that offers an impressive blend of topics centering on this year’s theme: Sailing the Seas of Imagination.

At the con, I’ll be joining a discussion about airships and reading from my latest Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Executioner.”

First up, I’ll be joining  Jetse de Vries, Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, and Cliff Winnig for a panel titled “To Sail Above the Clouds: Airships.” Here’s the description:

With Steampunk’s popularity, airships are rising too. Sometimes they’re treated just like sailing ships. (Airship pirates!). Sometimes more like trains or planes. What is unique about this form of transportation that’s grabbed the attention of Steampunk? What has literature done with it and what does literature get wrong and right? (Friday 2:00 PM)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about airships, working on a new story tentatively titled “Zeppelin to the Moon,” which brings together Professor Challenger (The Lost World), Mr. Bedford (First Men in the Moon), and Count von Zeppelin (the renowned airship designer) on a mission to rescue the inventor of cavorite from the clutches of the Grand Lunar. Sound interesting?

 “To Sail Above the Clouds” will mark my second appearance on a steampunk-themed panel this year. The first was two months ago when I joined my good friends Paul Genesse, Anton Strout, Gregory Wilson, and Maurice Broaddus at GenCon for a presentation titled “Make it Steamy: A Look at the Steampunk Genre.” That event really packed them in, with nearly 100 people in attendance. One of the highlights was Maurice’s account of his forthcoming “steampunk story with all black characters.” It’s title: Pimp My Airship. Looking forward to that one!

Paul and I also got the chance to reminisce about works that introduced us to the tropes of steampunk. His was the Ray Harryhausen 1961 film Mysterious Island (soon to be released in a limited-edition Blu-Ray  from Twilight Time). Mine was Karl Zerman’s 1958 Vynález zkázy, released in the States as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. I remember catching that one at a drive-in near Philadelphia. The world has never been the same.

Also on the bill at this year’s World Fantasy will be a Saturday night book launch and party hosted by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.  This will be the big debut for Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, the third in the critically-acclaimed series of anthologies edited by Charles Prepolec and J. R. Campbell. I understand that Paul Kane will also be there, reading from his entry “The Greatest Mystery” – one of the anthology’s standout horror stories.

And of course, as always, there will be the WFC mass-autograph session on Friday night, where I’ll be looking forward to meeting old friends, making new ones, and signing copies of Gaslight Arcanum, as well as Veins, Vipers, Visions, and last year’s collection This Way to Egress. (All titles will be available in the dealers room.) I also hope to have some preview material for the forthcoming Voices: Tales of Horror, which Fantasist Enterprises will be releasing later this year.

If you’re one of the thousand or so people lucky enough to be attending this year’s World Fantasy Convention (memberships sold out last winter, making this year’s con one of the hottest tickets around), I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Oh yes, and did I mention Neil Gaiman is this year’s Guest of Honor? Should be a good time.

Whether you’re attending or not, please consider leaving a comment below. I’m particularly interested in hearing about when you first encountered the wonders of steampunk.

Perhaps it was Mysterious Island or The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, or maybe it was with more recent works, ones actually published under the steampunk banner. Either way, feel free to chime in.