Last week I attended for the first time the GenCon Writers’ Symposium, which runs as auxiliary programming at the world-famous GenCon gaming convention. Now that I’ve had a couple of days at home to catch up on emails, bills, and life in general, I’m excited to share my post-convention thoughts.
First, I apologize for the general lack of photos. I was kept pretty busy at GCWS, and most of the time I was having so much fun that taking photos rarely occurred to me. That said, I will remark that I found downtown Indianapolis to be quite a lovely place:
For those not familiar with GCWS, it is a comprehensive program of panels, workshops, and seminars designed to offer something of value to everyone from novice writers, authors of moderate experience, and even grizzled literary veterans. There are tracks of programming devoted to the writer’s craft, the writer’s lifestyle, the business of writing, and much more. Its participants include authors, editors, and agents, and its team of dedicated moderators are truly exceptional at their jobs.
Without exception, I found the symposium’s roughly 2,300 attendees to be knowledgeable in their questions, keenly engaged with the subject matter, and serious about improving their craft. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many attendees were not only familiar with but were genuine fans of my work, both for and outside of Star Trek. They were also very receptive to the pitch for my upcoming original novel The Midnight Front—we gave away 72 advance reader copies of the book at the show.
It also didn’t suck that my fan traffic remained steady even while I was signing beside fantasy publishing titans Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Charlaine Harris.
The Symposium’s sponsors, WorldBuilders and Archivos, were generous enough to underwrite a welcome meal at The Old Spaghetti Factory (Archivos) and snacks at the authors’ Saturday-evening hangout in The Rock Bottom Brewery (WorldBuilders). I’m also grateful to the convention’s bookseller, Half Price Books, who took a chance on stocking three of my Star Trek titles (of which we sold nearly every copy they brought, in part thanks to some hard-core hand-selling I did from their table on Saturday afternoon).
The people whose labor made all of this possible were the Symposium’s volunteers, and most importantly its director, Marc Tassin, who after this year will be moving on to new challenges and placing the Symposium into the very capable hands of new co-directors Kelly Swails and Melanie Meadors.
As for my personal experience? I was most blown away by how many wonderful new friends I met among the other Symposium participants. It was a genuine pleasure getting to meet and/or know folks like Monica Valentinelli, Elizabeth Vaughn, Kelly Swails, Jerry Gordon, Raj Khanna, Susan Morris, Dave Robison of Archivos, Anton Strout, Steve Drew, John Helfers, Beth Cato, and Maxwell Alexander Drake.
I also had the pleasure of spending quality time with such friends as Ilana C. Myer, Aaron Rosenberg, Marco Palmieri, Matt Forbeck, and Gregory Wilson.
As much as I could gush about the Symposium’s programming and events, ultimately what I loved best about GCWS was the people I met. There was just a wonderful vibe to this event. I felt the eagerness of the attendees to learn, and the willingness of the participants to share all that they could. For years I’ve heard great things about GCWS from Aaron Rosenberg and Marco Palmieri; I’m glad I finally heeded their advice and committed to this event.
This was one of the most enjoyable and emotionally rewarding convention experiences I’ve ever had, and I hope that the fine folks at GCWS will want to invite me back for many more Symposiums in the years to come.
That’s my rhyme. Peace out.