Posts Tagged ‘Convention Report’

GenCon 50 Writers’ Symposium Wrap-up

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.

David Mack, Charlaine Harris
Sitting beside me? That’s mega-bestselling author (and truly delightful lady) Charlaine Harris. Behind her are Mary Robinette Kowal and Brandon Sanderson.

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.

GCWS participants, from left: (unknown man), Beth Cato, Susan Morris, and Ilana C. Myer.

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.

authors at dinner
Ilana C. Myer and Aaron Rosenberg, at Shula’s Steakhouse.

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.


NYCC: Post-con wrap-up

Well, the madness of New York Comic Con is now behind me. It’s been a long and busy four days, though I spent only three at the con.


I made the rounds of the major publishers and exhibitors, said “hi” to lots of folks I know, and made a tour of the show floor.  I thought the con was crowded on Thursday; the next two days made me pine for the throngs of Thursday. Fortunately, the day ended on a high note: dinner at John’s Pizzeria with my pals and fellow authors Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher L. Bennett, and Robert Greenberger.



Because of a lunch appointment that ran long, I was late to my scheduled signing, which was graciously hosted by John S. Drew and Keith R.A. DeCandido at the table for their long-running podcast, The Chronic Rift. Already feeling the drag of fatigue, I bailed from the convention early.



I got up absurdly early so my wife and I could drive out to New Jersey and meet friends for the next phase in our latest wine-making adventure.

A month ago, we met and decided on what kind of wine to make: a variation on the traditional GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend. Our concoction, we decided, would be 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Malbec.

Last week we met for “the crush,” in which we poured our grapes into the de-stemming machine, crushed the fruit to release the juice, tested it for its brix (sugar content), and added the yeast to begin the fermentation process. This week we met to sample the “must” (the early fermented juice) and press and filter the juice from the skins and solids, and pump it into a steel vat for its first racking (to settle its sediment and any lingering solids). Now we wait until March for the cask tasting; after that, in May, we’ll convene again for the bottling.

After driving back from New Jersey, I went into the con to meet with Kevin Dilmore, his Hallmark cohort Christine Taylor, and Robert Greenberger for a hasty lunch (procured from one of the myriad meat carts outside the Javits Center. Then I made a final tour of the show floor before I settled in for my last signing at NYCC 2012, again at the Chronic Rift table.

While I was there, I had the pleasure of granting two interviews: one to a Velva Carter video production, Fans: The New Moguls, in which I talked about my writing career and how it relates to (and arose from) my involvement in fandom; and an audio interview with Julio Angel Ortiz and John S. Drew of The Chronic Rift, in which I discuss my new Star Trek: The Next Generation trilogy, Cold Equations.



My wife, who visited the con today with a friend, reports that early in the day there were only four or five copies left of Cold Equations, Book I: The Persistence of Memory. I have no idea whether they sold before the end of the con’s last day, but I hope they did.

As for me, I spent today cleaning up our house; planning the menu and shopping list for the week; buying groceries; and generally decompressing from the pressure-cooker environment of the con. This week, I hope to get some more writing done on my current screenplay-in-progress. Next week, I’ll be going to see RUSH at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll be jetting south to Nashville for Geek Media Expo.

October’s proving to be a crazy-busy month for me — but thankfully it’s also proving to be a blast!