Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gen Con 2013 Review

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

 The Reading Begins
Author Monica Valentinelli got the crowd warmed up with selections from a couple of different stories. It's fun listening to strong readers like Monica. She read from "Fangs and Formaldehyde" a smart vampire story featured in The New Heroes edited by Robin D. Laws. I had already picked up a copy and it's awesome. She also read from a Lovecraftian story she wrote that was patently evil.

The cover for this book rules. Find it on Amazon.

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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

"If 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

"Chu's 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

"a science 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

“Just 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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George Strayton
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.

Eyes Only

by George Strayton

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 trigger—

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."

View The Crimson Pact Volume 5 on Amazon

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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!