Monday, August 8, 2011

My adventures at Gen Con 2011

First lesson of being a parent of a toddler and attending a convention: Never make a definite schedule.

We started out late on Thursday. I scheduled myself for a 9:00 seminar, but we didn't even leave until 8:40. It takes an hour to drive to Indianapolis from our house. That's one seminar I missed.

We found a good parking spot and got inside. The line for SWAG bags was short. Not a terribly good bag of stuff this year. Not even a die. I had to go pick up my tickets at Will Call. I've done Will Call the past few years. Last year, it took me two minutes to get my tickets. This year, I waited in line for three hours. My feet still hurt. I couldn't do anything without my event tickets. Another writing seminar was missed.

We managed to get into our hotel early and get my son down for his nap. The hotel staff was great all weekend. Some of the ladies snatched food from the kitchen to give to my son because he was blowing them kisses! He even got a free milkshake from Steak & Shake for being so cute. He knows how to work people.

I made it for "Stealing One Hour of Anton Strout's Life." It was a lot of fun. He was hilarious and Elizabeth Vaughan did a fantastic job of going James Lipton on him!

We had dinner at Scotty's and then I had the boy for the rest of the night. I discovered it's very different to take photos and wrangle a toddler in a crowded convention center. He's quick like a ninja! I didn't get very many pictures.
My son was tuckered out the first night. I took him to visit the Beholder in the largest of the D&D rooms. He crawled up under the Beholder and looked like he was going to fall asleep right there. Several people took pictures.

We had a better start on Friday. I made it to two morning seminars.

"Urban Fantasy" - The people on the panel were good, but it didn't get into anything more than what was the definition of Urban Fantasy and what wasn't. I was hoping more for tips on the market.

"Villains as Heroes" - Great panel. They were hilarious and made a lot of jokes. They talked about how to make villains sympathetic and ones that are just bad. 

One of the things I really like about writing seminars is listening to the panelists talk about their own experiences. I've attended seminars more than once various years and I still had a good time. I don't get to talk about writing often at home, so it's fantastic to be immersed in an environment where everyone is talking about it.

I had my son again that afternoon. I took him with me to Anton's book signing. After, we had to go play with the troll.
There's the boy showing the troll how strong he is. Every time we passed the troll, we had to stop so he could honk its nose. Later on, he added giving it five. A bidding war for my son started amongst other attendees after seeing him flex his muscles for the troll. We got up to $100. So tempting!

I did the "Write & Critique" on Friday evening. It was fun, but I felt I flopped. Hey, we all have our off days, right? To top it off, I was the last person to read. (Tickets were chosen at random.) We were given a topic and we had fifteen minutes to write something. The topic was: a ride in the country. Totally not what I expected. I played around with a few ideas in my head and then I went with something urban fantasy. Two monsters in a Bonnie & Clyde situation, having just eluded the cops, and are driving down a country road as they're talking. I didn't have enough time to explain the setting of the world or what sort of monsters they were. A few other writers did urban fantasy, too, and they were hilarious. It added to the feeling that mine flopped. The panelists were confused as to what my two characters were, but they got the basic premise of it. They liked the subtle juxtaposition of what seemed like an ordinary outlaw couple with the supernatural weird bits. I didn't go overboard with it. I wanted the focus to be more on the characters and their situation rather than the fact they were monsters. The panelists said that subtle isn't always good, though. In a short story, you have to plainly say such things and say them up front. They said nice things about my clean style, but that was it. Since my story didn't impress me, I don't think it made a big impression on anyone else. The best thing to come out of this workshop for me was listening to the panel critique all the stories. I've been learning a lot about critiquing this year. I hope it's making me a better critique partner.

I missed two more seminars on Saturday morning because I was sick. Something I ate for breakfast didn't sit well with me. Yet after my stomach was emptied, I felt better.

I attended one seminar with a bit of a headache. "Make it Steamy: a look at the steampunk genre." This one was a lot of fun. They talked about the definition of steampunk and its history. There was a new author on the panel who recently published a short story called "Pimp My Airship." He's writing a novel in a new sub-genre called Steamfunk!

My headache cleared in time for me to do the True Dungeon in the afternoon. This was my first time playing through with a group I didn't know. Usually my husband and I do it together. Thankfully, I got a wonderful and experienced group. The girl who played our rogue was dressed as Sailor Moon! I played the cleric. We survived the Lair of the Sea Lich and acquired the amulet to fight the Draco Lich next year. (Unfortunately, my husband didn't get a good group when he went through later that night and didn't survive. AND he was forced to play the bard. Poor guy.)

I had two seminars scheduled for Sunday morning. It was a rough morning as we were packing up. Once again, I missed them. Yet we managed to get down to the exhibit hall and I got some more books signed. I talked for a little bit with a couple of authors about proper book signing etiquette. When you're doing a signing for an anthology, the author is suppose to sign the page where their short story starts. Only the editor is suppose to sign in the front. Yet, of course, it all depends on what the customer wants.

The weekend was a blur. I wish I had gotten more time to do writing stuff, but being a parent must come first. It will be even more fun when the boy is older too.

Thank you, Gen Con. It wasn't my best year, but it was fun.


  1. Brandon's so cute and worth way more than $100. Most kids would've been scared of the troll.

    That's a shame you didn't get to go to as many writing seminars as planned, but it happens.

  2. Sounds like you benefited from the trip anyway! You'll know how to plan for next year now.

  3. Your boy is so adorable. Love the one of him sleeping under the monster head. lol

    Sounds like you had fun and got to sit in on some good stuff. Too bad the panelists didn't go more into urban fantasy. I'd be interested to hear.

    My birthday fairy is in October, too. :)

  4. How cute...I know what you mean about spending time with your kids. We do what we must. LOL

  5. Hey Christine,

    I gave you an award on my blog if you want to come by and pick it up.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.