What happens at GenCon…

…doesn’t have to stay at GenCon! This isn’t Vegas, people. So here’s a rundown of amazing things that happened to me at GenCon this year, recorded for posterity because I have a notoriously crummy memory.

  • I got to hang out with lots of awesome people I don’t see very often, which was fantastic. I even got to play some games! Indianapolis is a beautiful city full of great people; If I were ever offered a job there, I’d be fine with moving.
  • I was lucky enough to be on one panel for the Writer’s Symposium, which also entitled me to a reading and a signing. I actually sold a copy of Sidekicks! at the signing! That’s one more copy than I expected to sell. Of course I also managed to injure myself on an errant staple, but that’s pretty much par for the course when you’re me.
  • I attended a panel on novel outlining that completely blew my mind. All the authors on the panel outlined in different ways, but it was Brandon Sanderson‘s method that spoke to me the most. He calls himself a “discovery writer,” and writes to learn about his characters and explore their perspectives. He doesn’t do exercises to establish the personalities of his characters or outline beyond the events that must occur to make sure the book actually goes somewhere (instead of just meandering, which is one of the dangers of being a discovery writer). This is exactly how I write. I usually have a vague idea of what’s going to happen, but I always instantly know everything about my characters, and I drop them into a situation and see where they’ll go. If I do a ton of exercises to learn about my characters and setting, I lose interest in the book or story entirely. It was incredibly heartening to hear that a professional writes the same way I do! I’m not alone in the woods!!
  • My reading was scheduled alongside the delightful Elizabeth Vaughan, who read a great piece from the anthology Chicks Kick Butt. I read my story “Invincible” from the anthology Heroes! (Heroes! was only available at Origins Game Fair, but I have a few copies if you want to get your mitts on one). I’m really proud of that particular story, and Beth was incredibly complimentary about my reading, which meant a lot to me. I enjoy reading my stories to an audience as much as I enjoy writing them, and it’s a thrill when other people (especially accomplished, talented novelists, ahem) also enjoy it.
  • Marc Tassin, the fantastic author who also runs the Writer’s Symposium, said some very kind, generous things to me on Saturday at the Writer’s Hangout. Things I’ll never forget, and which will motivate me for years to come.  I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations, Marc!
  • Author, professor, and musician Gregory Wilson very kindly recommended me to someone who edits and coordinates fiction for a particular gaming company. Assuming that I don’t screw it up, hopefully that means the opportunity to work on some fiction for said gaming company. Cross your fingers for me! Hopefully I’ll owe you one, Greg!
  • I got to hang out with lots of great authors, including the aforementioned folks as well as Lucy Snyder, Lucien Soulban, Brad Beaulieu, Maurice Broaddus, Jennifer Brozek, Gary Kloster, Kelly Swails, Bill Bodden, and Doug Warrick, who I was especially glad to spend time with, because he’s moving to Korea. To write children’s books for ESL students! I’m pretty much totally jealous of everything he does. There was also a little meetup of the Ladies of the Crimson Pact, which is a real thing now, because I say so.
  • For the culmination of an incredible weekend, I met the illustrious Larry Dixon, who had me sign one of my Steampunk World postcards for him, and who said he hoped we will get to work together someday. Squee! He also introduced me to his wife, the singular Mercedes Lackey. And then John Scalzi compared the color of his ukulele to my hair! And I had a little writer-gasm and died. The end.

Next year, I hope I’ll be able to do more panels, because I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and teaching is kind of my Other Calling, so I want to do it at every opportunity. In the end, however, not having many panels to do was pretty great, because I got to see gobs of my friends and I wasn’t constantly stressed out and exhausted. So even if I’m still doing only one panel (or none), GenCon will still be worth it next year. I would really like to check out that True Dungeon thing though. Lots of people were doing it this year so I guess it must be pretty great. So that will be my goal for next year: dungeon crawl!

And now, I need to go do some writing, because Marc Tassin believes in me, and Brandon Sanderson says I’m doing it right, and being around so many successful creative people is, as always, so inspiring that I came away bursting with ideas and motivation. Let’s do this thing!

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