GenCon 2018 Part 3

Leonardo da Vinci, apparently caught in a stasis field at my Indianapolis hotel.

Last week I mentioned that I was, in a way, wearing four kinds of hats when I attended GenCon 2018, and spent most of a post talking about looking around at nifty game treasures and working at the Goodman Games booth.

Wearing the ‘ol writer’s hat, I approached various friends and friendly acquaintances and asked if they’d be interested in considering my upcoming novel for a blurb. As I mentioned early last week, it’s much, much simpler to approach people if you already know them, which is why it’s good to begin attending conventions sooner rather than later, although I wasn’t that mercenary or clever. I first started attending conventions to meet the writers and editors of the stories I loved and to try to find a way into the industry. Doors I didn’t even realizeĀ  opened for me when I made friends and contacts with like-minded folks.

It was wonderful to talk shop with other writers. I always find that experience helps recharge me. I spent a lot of time with Steve Diamond (with me in the pic to the left), Kelly and Laura McCullough, Scott Lynch, and Elizabeth Bear, and reconnected with Max Gladstone and Maurice Broaddus, who showed us the cover of his new book. Backstage at the Writer’s Symposium there were more great conversations than would be possible to list. I chatted with Richard Lee Byers and my old roommate Aaron Rosenberg. I talked story with David Mack, finally met the charming Alethea Kontiss in person, and heard a hilarious e-mail read aloud by Patrick Tomlinson. I chatted with Chris Jackson and Anne Jackson and gamed with Dan Wells and Steve Diamond and Jim Minz. I talked story with Mike Stackpole and Matt Forbeck, discussed world building with Erin Evans, and made a number of new friends, like Dana Cameron. I could go on and on and even then I’d leave people off!

Kelly Swails and Melanie Meadors took control of the symposium this year and did a bang-up job. Even with unexpected challenges that cropped up things ran smoothy and they maintained a calm demeanor. The panels were a blast, as usual. And the staff, both new and old, were a delight, and kept the convention running like clockwork. Despite a painful injury Stephanie Beebe was in fine spirits and joined me for some spontaneous crooning when I could no longer resist a grand piano tucked into the corner. She didn’t seem to mind that all I can remember anymore are Beatles and Badfinger tunes.

As an editor, one of the things I’m doing is seeking out the very best writers of sword-and-sorcery and adventure fiction, so I naturally approached or finalized some conversations with some authors I’ve been wanting to see in future issues of Tales From the Magician’s Skull. My editorial preferences for the Skull have much to do with future work I’d like to pursue when editing for Perilous Worlds. While I am NOT IN ANY WAY ACQUIRING FOR THE LINE (note the capital letters so that this point is absolutely clear) it’s good to get a feel for what books some of my favorite writers are working on, or are planning to work on.

Speaking of Perilous Worlds, when I left for the convention I had no idea that the overall company was going to have a presence there, so it was an unexpected pleasure when I was invited to a company reception Thursday evening. I thoroughly enjoyed discussions with the owners and many of those working for or with them. Machiavelli wrote that the first impression one has of a ruler is by looking at the people he has around him, which also speaks well of Cabinet, for they’re associating with fine folks like Bill and Cheryl Cavalier, Ennie award winner Jason Durall, Matt John, and many others. One of the highlights of the entire convention was the talk I, Jason, Matt, and Fredrik Malmberg had about Robert E. Howard and existing or potential future products. Fred demonstrated a deep and passionate knowledge of Robert E. Howard’s work that thrilled me. (And I also liked that both Fred and Steve Booth, Cabinet’s Chief Operating Officer, were fellow fans of Barbarian Prince!)

In addition to all this, I caught up with old friends, like Ennie award winning writer Sarah Newton, who gifted me with the fabulous hardbacks of two new game books, one for her excellent Mindjammer game and the other for the glorious Capharnum, a gorgeous book that really must be seen and held to be believed.

I met up with Black Gate‘s roving correspondent Matthew Wuertz, cosplaying as both Rick AND Morty, and it may be that the universe finally shifted in some way, because after almost a quarter century I FINALLY met my old friend Joseph McCullough in person. It was a real thrill. Joseph is now the mastermind behind Osprey’s Frostgrave game and living in Wales. Once, though, we were young men of about the same age dreaming of getting published, and struck up a friendship as we kept appearing in the same small-press zines of the early ’90s. It was a sincere pleasure to finally sit down face to face.

There’s plenty more that I could share, but I have a pile of work to do, so I’ll sign off and attempt to resume more regular blog updates in the coming days. I’ve temporarily put my site re-design on hold, pending some free moments, but I still have plans for a revamp, so things might shuffle around from time to time in the coming weeks. I hope you’ll let me know if you find any broken links or dead ends!