Monday, April 4th, 2011

I Shouldn’t Try to Do 2 Cons in 10 Days…

…because it leaves an awful hole in the blog. When time is at a minimum, this is where I usually cut first.

So: I owe a few words about Day 2 of the Don Maass class at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group Workshop in Allentown, PA last weekend, and a brief report about SynDCon in Rockville, MD this past weekend.

I’ll start by saying that if you get a chance to take a workshop with Don Maass: don’t pass it up. He’ll have you critically thinking about your manuscript within minutes…and by the end of an 8-hour session, you’ll feel like you’ve run a marathon.

His style is to tell to you choose a character or a situation in your book and then ask several questions designed to spur your muse to deliver a better product. When you’re done, you’re muse will want to hunt down Don and slap him – instead of your characters wanting to hunt you down for putting them in peril.

(And if you don’t understand that reference, you need to take a writing workshop with A. C. Crispin.)

Don gave a thought provoking address at lunch on Saturday, notably about the merging of genres in today’s market and the ease of e-publishing. One comment stuck with me: if you self-publish in today’s market, rather than go with a “traditional” publisher, you stand to make make more money in the short term, but you’ll fail to grow your audience base.

That’s something I hadn’t considered. It bears thinking about.

My favorite panel on Saturday was Jonathan Maberry’s Building a Writing Career. He offered several tips for making money in non-fiction while continuing to feed your fiction habit, and showed, as in his case, that if you keep at it, the jobs will come looking for you. Jonathan is a highly entertaining speaker, and he made what could have been a dry, boring seminar a delightful experience.

But there was much more than Don and Jonathan on Saturday: there were costume seminars, meetings with agents and editors, advice on your story’s opening, a writing contest, panels on marketing your work and more.

I highly recommend the GLVWG Workshop. I’m certain I’ll attend again.

SynDConSynDCon is a gaming convention held in Rockville, MD. This was the second year for it, and it attracted about 300 gamers. A few authors (Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Vonnie Winslow Christ and Diane Whiteside and I) were invited to host writing seminars this year as an added tract to the gaming agenda.

Diane and I had planned to host World Building 101 – a cross-over gamer’s-author’s workshop on how to create a fantasy world – but there were scheduling conflicts on Saturday and it didn’t work out. However, I spent a huge amount of time in the Dealer’s Room, and that’s always a plus.

(And this just means that Diane and I have plenty of time to gear up the seminar for next year. In the meantime, if you have any questions about mapping, climate, weapons, flora/fauna, peoples, etc., drop us a line and we’ll answer them here.)

Of course, we got to read from our work. That’s always exciting, particularly when you read to a rapt audience, as we did on Saturday. There were children in attendance, so I stuck with The Dragon’s Clause, rather than Blood Soup. (It doesn’t hurt that dragons are ever popular with gamers!) It was well received.

As for the gaming aspects of the con: a definite “something for everyone” kind of place. There were board games and card games in addition to the expected Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games – which ran all hours of the day.

And if you had no experience regarding a particular game or gaming system: no worries! Exhibitions and learning games were hosted just as often as the tournament play. The best part: something for everyone at all age and experience levels.

Will I be back? Definitely. Next year I plan on gaming as well as ‘authoring’ at the con.

You can see a few author photos on my Facebook page.

2 comments to I Shouldn’t Try to Do 2 Cons in 10 Days…

  • It may have been tough for you to do two cons in 10 days, but I’m glad you chose to do so. We enjoyed having you at synDCon!

    • Hi Rob! Thanks for stopping by…and thanks for having me.

      I wouldn’t have missed SynDCon for the world. I learned a lot about some new games (and some new-to-me games) and met some fabulous people: yourself included!

      I can’t wait for next year!

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