Gen Con 2013 Overview

As has become my custom since my return to the show in 2010, I spent about half of my Gen Con scheduled time at the Writers’ Symposium, which is a surprisingly great convention-within-a-convention. Not only does it draw big names like Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson, it has become one of those events where you recognize almost all of the other participants from other conventions. It’s only a matter of time before it’s considered “part of the circuit” by writers with no connection to gaming.

Special thanks to Marc Tassin, for scheduling me to read beside Pat Rothfuss, and eternal gratitude to those Rothfuss fans who followed me down to buy not one but all four of my Pathfinder Tales novels. You made my weekend as much with your kind words as with the purchase.

A close second to my scheduled time was signing and hanging out at the Paizo booth. I’ve been blessed three out of the past four years with a book released at Gen Con, which makes a huge difference in the number of folks stopping by for an autograph, as you’d expect. This was the first year I felt the jealous eyes of my Pathfinder Tales colleagues burning stripes down the back of my neck, though. For that reason alone, it’s probably good that I don’t have a book scheduled for next August. Howard Andrew Jones probably wouldn’t hurt me, but Chris A. Jackson is a pirate.

I did a very brief signing at the Pelgrane booth for my tiny contribution to Hillfolk. Like most booths, they aren’t really set up for half a dozen writers to sign books, and I have that kind of agoraphobia that makes me itch if I’m caught in a small space by other humans. A couple of short visits to the Privateer booth where I signed cover flats with Larry Correia, Miles Holmes, and Howard Tayler could have ended up the same way, but  they had seats and a counter in front of us, so the close quarters never triggered my flight or fight response. Plus we had a great view of the demo area with its enormous warjack and a good Coleman Stryker cosplayer posing for photos.

The “real” action at Gen Con is always at the parties, where I spent most of my time enjoying the company of people I see only once or twice a year. My favorite function there is introducing people who ought to know each other, and I had plenty of opportunities for that. And I got to meet some folks I’d worked with but never encountered in fleshspace, notably the aforementioned Privateer writers and Scott Lynch, a fellow contributor to the Tales from the Far West fiction anthology.

Scott, Howard, Lou Anders, and Saladin Ahmed, whose work I’ve admired, playtested a new game with a scenario designed and run by Howard Andrew Jones. HAJ and I had already become friends over the past few Gen Cons, but the others were all new to me, at least in person. Playing an RPG is a great way to break the ice and get some inkling of someone’s personality, albeit through the veil of their character. And it was a special treat to play a game at Gen Con, which almost never happens to me anymore. HAJ’s Nordic-inspired scenario drew from familiar legend, letting us focus on the fairly simple game mechanics.

As has become my custom, I caught the con crud early. Fortunately, it put me out of the game only for Saturday night, although the cough persists. If I still have it when I return from Worldcon, it’s time to petition my new doctor for a course of antibiotics.

I went to the show intending to say “no” to all new offers of work, but I walked away with two maybes leaning yes and one yes because the setting is right in my wheelhouse and deadline is so far away. I guess the only way to stop this happening is to cease attending conventions until my desk is completely cleared sometime in mid-2014. I’m just a boy who can’t say no, and I’ve got to accept that and work around it.

While I have no events scheduled for Worldcon, please say hello if you spot me.

King of Chaos: Amazon Release

Launch dates for Pathfinder Tales novels are a fuzzy business. King of Chaos was available at Gen Con and via the Paizo website on August 15. Today it should also be available via and other online retailers, despite the listed September 10 date. And if past experience is trustworthy, it’ll also soon start showing up in brick & mortar stores, at least in the US. With luck, it’ll reach Canadian retailers before my September 7 reading at Audrey’s Books in Edmonton.

Once or twice people have asked me where’s the best place to buy my books. There’s no one answer.

If you buy it directly from Paizo, they (and by extension I) make a little more money.

If you buy it from Amazon, my author ranking goes up a bit, and a lot of folks see that. It’s especially good if you post a glowing review there, as someone has already done.

If you buy it from a local brick & mortar store, they’re more likely to keep my books on the shelf, where they might catch the eye of new readers.

Personally, I like to support the local book stores. They are crucial in spreading the word about new or mid-list authors, and buying from them feeds your local economy, which is important everywhere. Plus, they are booksellers. There are few better humans than booksellers, so that’s my first choice.

However, if you are planning to buy from Amazon, today is a great day to place that order. A little spike at the beginning always helps a recent release.

Gen Con Pre-Report

Chances are I won’t have the time for a comprehensive incident report, but I’ll likely touch on some highlights once I recover from exhaustion, the bug I picked up, and the unexpected company outside. Perhaps it’s time to catch up on the TV I missed.

In the meantime, if you have tried contacting me through this website and haven’t received a reply, please let me know via email, Twitter, or Facebook. I found one note from a real person in spam, of which there’s an awful lot since we launched this site. I don’t want to leave anyone else hanging.

Short form of the report: Good convention, very busy. Must wear a biohazard suit if I go again.


Gen Con Saturday

The big day! In addition to several cool panels, I hope everyone can spare at least a few minutes to visit me at both the Privateer Press and Paizo Publishing booths. It’s a short walk between them.

08:00-09:00 WS: Sharing Worlds (M) (Room 245)

  • Larry Correia, Richard Lee Byers, Ari Marmell, and Dave Gross. Three of these men have written in the Forgotten Realms setting. Three of them have written in the Iron Kingdoms. Three of them have written for the Pathfinder setting. Only I have written for all three. It’s like I have the one ring. Wait, no. That makes me Gollum, doesn’t it? Never mind, then. We’re going to talk shared worlds, and we’ve some experience in that arena.

10:00-12:00 Signing @ Privateer Press (Booth 609)

  • Just like the same event on Friday, only better because now it’s Saturday.

12:00-13:00 WS: Reading (Room 243)

  • I get to read alongside a promising up-and-comer named Pat Rothfuss. I think tickets are already sold out. Do you think the audience will let me read for more than 10 minutes? Somebody start a pool. I want $10 on 3 minutes.

13:00-15:00 Signing @ Paizo (Booth 203)

Here’s where the 200 people who showed up to my reading with Pat Rothfuss come down to buy all four and a half of my Pathfinder Tales novels. Right?

Where’s Dave? The first person to find me in the convention center and call me “Boss” wins a prize.


Gen Con Friday

10:00-12:00 Signing @ Privateer Press (Booth 609)

  • I’ll join fellow Skull Islanders Larry Correia, Miles Holmes, and Howard Tayler for a meet & greet with all you fantastic readers and readers-to-be. I’ll be signing  the Devil Dogs novella The Devil’s Buy and the Cygnar vs. Convergence novel, Dark Convergence. How does one sign an electronic book? Privateer has that covered. Even if you’ve already bought the books, it’ll be worth visiting to learn the secret.

11:00-12:00 WS: Magic and Mysticism (Room 244)

  • Lou Anders, Brandon Sanderson, Elizabeth Vaughn, and yours truly will discuss how magic works in a fantasy setting, because it sure as heck doesn’t work in an SF setting. 

12:00-13:00 WS: Government & the Rule of Law (Room 244)

  • Whether you’re a reader, writer, or gamer, here’s a subject that’ll help you understand or flesh-out your fantasy theocracies, oligarchies, plutocracies, or whatever. Richard Lee Byers, Jim C. Hines, and Howard Andrew Jones will wax eloquent on the subject, while I interject about watery tarts and the violence inherent in the system.

14:00-15:00 WS: Pitches, Proposals, and Promises (Room 245)

  • Jennifer Brozek, Jaym Gates, Monica Valentinelli, and my token Y chromosome will share our experiences as editors and writers in how best to pitch stories and novels, and why it’s important to deliver what you promise.

16:00-17:00 Signing @ Paizo (Booth 203)

  • The signings today and tomorrow will include some or all of this lot: Richard Lee Byers, Ed Greenwood, Howard Andrew Jones, Chris A. Jackson, James Sutter, Jim Zub, and Yours Truly. Don’t tell any of us that you like our books best while the others are sitting right there! Unless it’s me. The others have thick skins. They’ll be all right.


 Where’s Dave Friday? The first person to shoot me the tines at the convention center today receives a gift.