My Gen Con Schedule

If you know me, you know how much I’m looking forward to Gen Con 50. My schedule for it is already filling up. It’s not all been announced yet, but here’s what’s on the slate so far:

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one and don’t know about it, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19

Sunday, August 20

  • Playing games with my kids.
  • Heading home!

Registration starts on Sunday, so get your wish list filled fast. I’ll see you there!

Go See Of Dice and Men!

This week, I’m heading to the Nexus Game Fair, and I hope to see you there. Either way, if you can make it over to Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend or the next, do yourself a grand favor and go see Of Dice and Men at the Bartlett Theatre. I went to see it with my daughter, Helen, on Saturday night, and it was fantastic.

It’s the story of a long-time gaming group hitting a crisis point that’s gong to determine the fate of both its players and their characters. If you’re a gamer, you’ll love all the references and in-jokes, but you don’t need to have ever rolled a d20 to appreciate the great job the cast and crew do with the damn fine script. While gaming makes the framework for the story, it touches on universal themes like love, loyalty, and friendship, making it the kind of play that anyone can appreciate.

And hey, it includes pretty stunning cardboard-box dragon as part of the set too.

Helen and I loved it.

Producer Justin Schober had asked me to do a talkback after the show, and about a third of the audience stuck around to chat while I sat on stage with Justin and the cast. I had a wonderful time cheering on gaming and explaining some of its history, and Justin and the cast were warm, funny, and fun.

The show continues this weekend, May 25 through 28, and then it concludes next weekend, June 1 through 3. 

Tomorrow night, May 25, and my friend Skip Williams of Dungeons & Dragons fame is hosting the talkback. My pal John Kovalic (of Dork Tower, Munchkin, and Apples to Apples renown) steps up to help after the May 26 show. The playwright himself, Cameron McNary, will be there after the performance on May 27.

If you can manage it, find some time to see it. You’ll love it too.


Worldbuilders at Gen Con

My friend Pat Rothfuss is a top-notch, best-selling fantasy author, but he’s also the man in charge of Worldbuilders, a charity that gathers geeks together to do some good in the world by raising money for Heifer International, Mercy Corps, and First Book. On Friday afternoon at Gen Con (August 18), Pat and his crew are putting on a gaming party with 18 different gaming and fantasy luminaries running a variety of games.

You can find the full list here (although you’ll need to be signed into your Gen Con account to read it). It includes games with Dan Wells, Mike Selinker, Mike Underwood, Brian McClellan, Steve Drew, Mike Mearls, Bruce Cordell, Brad Beaulieu, Max Temkin, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maxwell Alexander Drake, Susan Morris, Karen Bovenmyer, Kelly Swails, James Ernest, and (of course) Pat Rothfuss. Plus me.

Most of the guests are playing various board and card games, although Mearls will be running Dungeons & Dragons, of course. Selinker will be running Apocrypha, which I wrote the original story bible for. Pat and I also helped out on it writing the flavor text for the base set.

I’ll be playing Exploding Kittens by Matthew Inman (the Oatmeal) and Elan Lee. It’s a great little game that was funded by the most-backed Kickstarter of all time. My kids and I have played it loads of time, and I’m sure we’ll all have a blast (HA!) with it at the party too.

Seats at these tables are pricey, at $130 each, but all proceeds go toward Worldbuilders. If you can afford it, it’s your chance to have some fun and do some good at the same time.

Tickets go on sale on Sunday, and I suspect they’ll go fast. Go get your events added to your Gen Con wish list, so you can be first in line when registration opens.

Nexus Game Fair 2017

This weekend, come see me in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the Nexus Game Fair. I’ll be a guest of honor there again, along with a fantastic list of other gaming luminaries. My schedule looks like this:

  • Saturday, 2 PM: Crowdfunding (a seminar about how to get it done)
  • Saturday, 4 PM: Writing for Worlds: Navigating IPs (a seminar with Rob Weiland)
  • Saturday, 6 PM: Pitching: Getting a Publisher’s Attention (a seminar on how to pitch your ideas to publishers)
  • Sunday, 12 PM: Brave New Worlds demo.
  • Sunday, 2 PM: Brave New Worlds demo.

For those last two, you might have heard that I’m planning to run a Kickstarter for a second edition of my Brave New World RPG, which was first published back in 1999. Those two events will be me getting my feet wet in real time with the game system once again as I prepare for the new edition. Expect to watch me flounder my way through the old rules as I get ready for the next version. It’ll be fun either way — I hope!

Anyhow, if you’re anywhere near Milwaukee, come on out and play some games!

Gaming on Stage: Of Dice and Men

Tomorrow night (May 20), join me at the Mercury Players Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, for a performance of Of Dice and Men. I don’t have anything to do with the play itself, which was written by Cameron McNary and directed by Suzan Curry, but I’ll be there after the show for a talkback segment about games, gamers, and gaming.

There’s a great article by Aaron Conklin about the play over at Madison Magazine.

If you’re not able to make it tomorrow, you have lots of great options still. Opening night is tonight, which is always fun. Skip Williams (of D&D fame) tackles the talkback after the May 25th show. John Kovalic (of Dork Tower, Munchkin, and many other things) stands up for the chat on May 26. And Cameron himself handles that duty the night of May 27th.

With my son Marty going off to the University of Wisconsin—Madison in the fall, you can probably expect to see a bit more of me up in Madison over the next few years. Next up after Of Dice and Men, though, is the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee next weekend. Hope to see you there too!

Halo Signing at C2E2!

This weekend is C2E2, the biggest comic and geek convention in Chicago. I don’t make it down there every year, but this year, I’m blasting in on Saturday to sign Halo: New Blood and Halo: Fractures at the Simon & Schuster booth (#518).

The signing starts at 5 PM. I won’t be around too long, so if you want my signature on that book—or anything else—don’t be shy. Grab me and put me to work!

Whether you have a book for me or not, I hope to see you there. It’s always a fun show

Aliens: Bug Hunt Out Now

I’ve pretty much given up on writing short stories. I love writing them, but they just take too long to work on, especially compared to the kind of progress I can make on a novel instead. Just think of all the groundwork that goes into writing a story: coming up with characters, doing research, and so on. And then you have the choice between writing a 5,000-word short story or a 90,000-word novel. The novel makes a lot more sense.

Sometimes, though, an offer comes along that’s too good to refuse. When bestselling author Jonathan Maberry asked me if I’d be interested in writing a short story set in the Aliens universe for an upcoming anthology he was editing, my heart shouted out “Hell, yes!” long before my brain could cut me off.

Sometimes, you gotta listen to your heart instead. So, yesterday the anthology finally came out. It’s called Aliens: Bug Hunt, and it features stories from a fantastic platoon of writers, including Brian Keene, Christopher Golden, Dan Abnett, David Farland, Heather Graham, James A. Moore, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Larry Correia, Marina Lostetter and Mike Resnick, Paul Kupperberg, Rachel Caine, Ray Garton, Scott Sigler, Tim Lebbon, Weston Ochse, and Yvonne Navarro. If you need something to warm yourself up for Aliens: Covenant, this is the book for you. Go grab it!

Rogue One Junior Novel Hardcover Out Today

The ebook edition of the Rogue One junior novel I wrote came out on the same day as the film, back in December, but the print edition is finally shipping today! It’s a snazzy little hardcover with eight pages of color photos from the film tipped into the middle of it, and it tells the full story of the film, with additional little tidbits added here and there.

I’m pretty thrilled about this release because while lots of adults read ebooks, most kids still seem to prefer getting their hands on an actual book. This is when they’ll finally be able to find the story in libraries and at book fairs and really dig into it.

I want to thank the folks at Lucasfilm for asking me to write this book, especially Jennifer Heddle, Sammy Holland, and Michael Siglain. They were a true pleasure to work with and gave me every bit of support I needed along the way to make the book the best it could be. I hope every kid who reads it enjoys it as much as I did writing it.

While I have your attention, I’d like to also reveal that I slipped into the book a tribute to my pal Jeff Mackintosh, a brilliant graphic designer who died of brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme) last fall. With the approval of Jennifer Heddle and the Lucasfilm Story Group (to whom I’m extremely grateful), I named one of the characters Toshma Jefkin in Jeff’s honor, making him forever part of Star Wars canon.

A well-veiled (as in hardly at all) spoiler below.

In the film’s final scene (and page 185 of the book), a rebel hands a data card through a door that’s stuck cracked open. We barely see the unnamed person on the other side, but he carries that card on and delivers it to the captain of that ship, making him a vital link in the stealing of the Death Star’s plans and that station’s eventual destruction. That’s Toshma Jefkin.

May the Force be with him. And, well, with us all.

This Weekend: The UW Writers’ Institute and Gary Con

That’s right, I’m going to hit two different events this weekend, much like a kid in a bad sitcom with two dates in the same night. Annnnd the metaphor breaks down there, so just cue the “Yakkity Sax,” and let’s get to it.

First up, you can find me this Friday at Gary Con IX, in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. My first event is “Game Design Metaphors,” at 8 AM with Doug Niles and Skip Williams. Right after that, at 10 AM, I’m talking about my book Dungeonology. Then I’m taking the rest of the day off until the Gen Con 50 reception that night, which is set to kick off the year’s celebrations for the milestone show.

Saturday, I’m teaching at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute, which has me on a more rigorous schedule.

9:40 AM: Writing Comics and Games and Tie-In Books

11:10 AM: Dream Worlds: Creative World-Building

12:35 PM: Book signing

2 PM: Writing Fast and Well

I’m told that the last one will be live streamed, which means that if you’re not fortunate enough to make it to the Writers’ Institute, you can still check it out. It’ll be one of the very few slots for which that’s happening, though, so don’t think of it as a substitute for attending if you can.

On Sunday, I head back to Gary Con with the kids to actually play some games!

I hope to see you at one or both events. They’re sure to be lots of fun, each in their own ways. I wish they hadn’t been on the same weekend in two different cities, but fortunately the organizers for both were able to work with me so I can attend each. Double the fun!

Gen Con’s Industry Insider Applications Now Open!

Actually, the applications process to become one of the featured speakers for Gen Con’s Industry Insiders slate has been open since Sunday, February 26, and more than twenty people have already applied. The closing date is March 19, though, so if you’re a gaming industry professional, you still have more than two weeks to get your application in.

To apply, just go to the proper part of the Gen Con website. You need to setup an account and login to the site to be able to start digging into the process. For your convenience, I’ve reproduced some of the most pertinent information below.

To sum up, if you’re deeply involved in the games industry and have the time and inclination to share your expertise with others, please apply! And if you’re not, please spread the word!

I’m on the panel of people who select the presenters (along with Ajit George and Nicole Lindroos), and we love having a wide and varied pool of talented applicants to choose from. This is Gen Con 50, so we’re hoping to have some truly special speakers and panels to share with our fellow gamers.

What is the Industry Insider Program?
Gen Con’s Industry Insider program is first and foremost a program based around all things gaming related. It consists of a curated track of events made up of seminars, panels, and workshops that are suggested and hosted by industry insiders themselves, events which are then highlighted by Gen Con. Each year the topics/events differ as the industry insiders’ change, but they always remain based around games.

What Does It Mean to Be a Featured Presenter in the Program?
It means you have a point of view about a subject and are willing and able to share your knowledge with others by sitting on panels discussing topics you are familiar with and/or hosting seminars. Basically having discussions on topics you are know about. It also means you’re interacting with fellow professionals and attendees interested in learning more about the industry and/or shaping its future.

What Do You Look For In a Featured Presenter?
Gen Con strives to bring as much diversity to the Industry Insider program as we can; we want people from all backgrounds and understandings to submit to be a featured presenter. The Advisory Panel makes every effort to reach out to all individuals representing all aspects and different experiences in the industry. We encourage people from all backgrounds and experiences to submit. If you know someone who would make a good fit, please encourage them to submit as well.

What Subject Matter Does Gen Con Look for With Submitted Topics?
The Industry Insider program is made up of topics that are submitted by the featured presenters themselves, along with some suggested topics from the advisory panel and/or Gen Con. Topics are suggested by the presenters, so each year the program is different, but similar!

What is Required of an Industry Insider Featured Presenter?
Industry Insider Featured Presenters must attend Gen Con and are asked to …

  • Participate in 3-5 seminars/panels over the course of all four days of the convention; flexibility is key.
  • Submit topics you are interested in and would like to host at the show. We encourage you to host interactive events such as workshops. The topics you submit will be incorporated into the events being offered under the Industry Insider program. Topics should be broad enough for other featured presenters to participate with you.

What do Industry Insider Featured Presenters Get In Return?Gen Con offers the following to those accepted into the program …

  • A complimentary “Industry Insider” badge (good for all fours days of the show)
  • Highlight, including a picture and bio, on our website and in a dedicated section of the program book
  • A hotel code that allows access to an exclusive block of “self-pay” rooms just for Industry Insider Featured Presenters (you are responsible for acquiring your room and covering the costs)
  • Access to the VIG Lounge located in the Convention Center. The VIG Lounge offers relaxed seating areas, free Wi-Fi, and complementary drinks among other things.
  • Early access to the Exhibit Hall on Thursday morning

How the Process Works …

  • Interested individuals introduce themselves using the online form. (Please note that submitting does not mean you are automatically accepted into the program.)
  • The Industry Insider Advisory Panel reviews the submissions and makes selections (based on the individual and topics submitted)
  • Individuals are notified either way regarding their status
  • The Advisory Panel selects the topics, based on the submissions, which makes up the event programming being offered for the Industry Insider program for the current show. The panel also recommends panelists (from the current Industry Featured Presenter list) who will take part in the discussions.
  • Featured Presenters will have an opportunity to review the topics and fellow panelists they have been selected for.