I attended Gen Con in Indianapolis again this year. It's mostly a gaming convention, but there is a huge writing track designed to help people improve their own writing. It's where I learned practically everything I know. Now, I'm a member of the Writers' Symposium, and we give over 70 hours of instructional panels to the attendees over 4 days. This year was particularly awesome for many reasons.
The coolest event for me was on Friday August 16, 2013. There was a reading attended by about 26 people, and we witnessed a master of his craft, Lawrence C. Connolly, perform his story, "The Fourth Sign," which is featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 5.
I wish I would have made a video.
Author Lawrence C. Connolly and Paul Genesse
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Author Wesley Chu went on next and rocked it by reading a scene from his debut novel, The Lives of Tao. He was funny, dramatic, and proved why his book has gotten so many five star reviews.
Reviews of The Lives of Tao
"Few books begin more engagingly than The Lives of Tao
, a science fiction romp which wears its principal strength -- the wit and humor of the narrative voice -- on its sleeve." - The Huffington Post
you want something to read on a plane or settle into over the weekend,
this is the book you want to pick up. But like most great stories,
there's a little more going on under the surface." - SF Signal
"Note to James Patterson fans: this is how to write a sci-fi page turner." - Sci Fi Bulletin
good-natured adroitness with character development is matched by his
thriller-style plotting, a fine blend of gentle humor and sharp
suspense." - Barnes & Noble Review
fiction story that is one part spy novel, one part buddy flick, one part
comic book, one part eye-opener history lesson...among many other
elements. Yes, it's a lot of parts, but they blend together quite well." - Examiner
your usual “I’ve got an immensely wise alien in my head who wants me to
become an international man of mystery” story. Which is to say,
Page-turning homage to other classic SF like Hal Clement’s Needle
. Recommended.” -Steven Gould
, author of the Jumper series
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Up next was author George
Strayton. He's an accomplished screen writer who worked on some big movies (Star Trek, Transformers, Xena) and a game designer (the award winning Secret Fire role-playing game). I'm so pleased George
was able to make time in his busy schedule to write a story for my anthology. He read the first scene (pasted in full below), a flash
forward from "Eyes Only" featured in The Crimson Pact
Volume 5. "Eyes Only" tells the story of
a pair of super-spies and ex-lovers from opposing agencies on an “eyes only”
mission. Will these demon-agents get together for another tryst or send each
other back to Hell?
George wrote a fabulous and exciting story. Check it out.
New York City. 22 May 2018. 23:38.
One hand held Finn on the
steel railing of the Freedom Tower’s rooftop, which was lit up with spring
colors. The rest of him dangled thousands of feet above the ground. He saw his
Sig 226 flipping as it fell at terminal velocity. Gusts of wind threatened to
rip him off the Tower and send him flailing after it.
He looked up to see her
standing over him just as her boot came down on his fingers and ground them
against the edged steel of the railing’s lowest crossbeam. Her extra-human
strength would’ve instantly crushed a normal human’s fingers into a messy pulp.
But not Finn’s. Though he felt the agony just as intensely, he did his best to
retain his grip. His other hand was bleeding a river through the hole she had
blasted in it, the same shot that had blown the pistol out of his grasp.
He locked eyes with her. Even
her look of anger was somehow alluring. And he hated her for it. He hated
everything about her. He wanted her dead.
But at the moment, she had
the upper hand—his upper hand, to be
precise. And clearly, she wanted him dead, too.
And yet he knew her twisted
mind better than that.
“Let me up! You’ve had your
fun!” he shouted up to her over the wind.
“Give it to me!” she
responded. Then louder, more intense. “Now!” She was emotional, chaotic. Too
much had happened in the past twenty-four hours for her to maintain any
semblance of composure. She had lost all control. Which wasn’t surprising. She
lived her entire life halfway to irrationality to begin with.
With his free arm, he pressed
the object inside his jacket closer to his chest. “Fuck you!”
In a blur, she brought her
custom silver Varjag 9mm to bear, aimed at his forehead, and pulled the
The sanctified bullet struck
home. He released the railing and dropped toward the earth far below, his body
passing in and out of the light spilling out of the windows of the Freedom
Tower as he fell, black suit rippling in the increasingly strong air currents .
* * *
(This story is so much fun, with twists, turns, and an incredible ending. I loved it.)
* * * * *
Lawrence C. Connolly
The main event of the evening was the performance by a legendary writer who has been published by pretty much every top tier sci-fi, fantasy, and horror magazine in existence. His novels are highly acclaimed and he earned his Stoker Award nomination for his collection, Voices: Tales of Horror. Author Lawrence "Larry" C. Connolly is a great writer and he couldn't be a nicer fellow. Getting to know him over the past few years has been awesome. I've had the good fortune to hear him perform a few times and he always brings down the house. You see, Larry does not 'read' at his readings like the rest of us. He memorizes the story beforehand and performs, like an actor doing a monologue. It's fantastic. For his 12 minute 'reading" I learned that he spent 20 hours memorizing and practicing.
Listening to him live was awesome. Larry performed a variation of his story, "The Fourth Sign" in The Crimson Pact Volume 5. It actually takes place at Gen Con in Indianapolis. A writer is offered a large sum of money and is asked to write a story on a very tight deadline by a mysterious woman. She has certain stipulations about the content of the story and requires that certain images be placed within the body of the text. Three images to be exact. The fourth image will be displayed at a later time and will cause something that defies explanation. Oh yes, bad things could happen.
The performance was awesome. Larry had all of us on the edge our seats as the story unfolded. My only regret is that I didn't make a video. If you ever get a chance to hear Larry perform, at a writing convention or at a club (he's a musician as well), seize the moment.
Check out his author page on Amazon
and purchase something. You will love his work, or go ahead and check out The Crimson Pact Volume 5
, and read "The Fourth Sign."
* * * * *
After Larry's performance, I was hesitant to go on, as one does not simply follow Lawrence C. Connolly. I asked him to speak for a few minutes and we asked him some questions. I considered cutting myself from my own reading. This was my 30 minute block and I had asked George and Larry to read with me. Monica asked Wesley Chu to read with her. I wish I could have also let Karen Bovenmyer read. Next time, Karen. Anyway, I let the crowd think about the coolness of what they had just witnessed, and I hoped they would forget a little bit, and welcome me to the stage.
They did, and I read from "Sealed with Fire" the finale story by Patrick M. Tracy featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 5
. This story wraps up five books, 106 stories, (674,000 words total) published over 2.5 years. I came up with the outline for this story, but Patrick created the opening scene all himself--which is what I read. I think it went really well, and afterward I gave away five copies to the crowd, then the five Crimson Pact authors posed for a picture.
From left to right:
Lawrence C. Connolly, Karen Bovenmyer, Paul Genesse, Patrick M. Tracy, Stephanie Lorée, George Strayton.
This reading was a big highlight for me and I am so grateful for all the support from the authors and fans.
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Gen Con was a lot of fun and many things happened. I posted a few pics below, but you can view the rest of the pics on Facebook
Author Saladin Ahmed and I to held a meeting of the Society of Short Mediterranean Fantasy Novelists!
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Medusa tried her magic on me! Don't worry, I got better.
This is Cheryl, a great friend and one of my biggest fans. She dressed up as Medusa for me, in honor of the novel I wrote, Medusa's Daughter.
Thanks to everyone who made Gen Con awesome!