Writing 101 Advice from Geek*Kon 2015

Quere Baby Deadpool Pole Dancing Avatar

Geek*Kon 2015 was a mixture of seeing old friends and making new ones. I did have a great time and these fans are doing everything they can to put on a great show. I was thrilled to see folks like Emma Bull, Greg Weisman, Christopher Jones, Will Shetterly, and Alex Bledsoe speak to up-and-coming writers, fans, and all around great people.

Rather than give a recap of every panel and anime-related item I purchased (*coughs* Jiji rocks!), I’d like to highlight some of the wonderful advice given during my Writing 101 panel. The panel consisted of Alex Bledsoe, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull and myself. Here are some of the nuggets of advice given during the panel that I hope inspires you to write your heart out. Please note that I made every attempt to attribute said advice correctly, and some of the comments are sub-attributed to Steven Brust. Rather than rehash many of the tidbits I’ve mentioned here on my blog, today’s spotlight is on the other authors and their words of wisdom.

  • Point-of-view (P.O.V.) solves everything. Brust/Bull
  • Story starts with your P.O.V. character. Shetterly
  • Deal with the precipitating event as the first part of your story. Bledsoe
  • What serves the story is what you don’t tell. Shetterly
  • With respect to critiques and feedback from readers, “Worry about reader problems vs. reader solutions.” Shetterly
  • I write first drafts to create a skeleton. Bledsoe
  • With respect to revisions: “I pace around my house, reading the manuscript aloud.” Bledsoe
  • Figure out what drafts are supposed to do. e.g. They can be systematic or intuitive. Bull
  • Make the story more specific during revisions. Shetterly
  • What really matters, is the story itself. Shetterly
  • It’s better to write a bad first draft, than no draft at all. Shetterly

We also talked about info dumps and the Dread PrologueTM, and how many of the info dumps can be avoided by choosing the right character when selecting which character is telling the story. We also mentioned how it’s okay to suck (you’ve no doubt heard me say that before), and how the senses are crucial to add in layers of worldbuilding. For example, Bledsoe mentioned that a sense of smell can really make a big difference.

I hope today’s wrap-up inspires you to write, write, write! And remember, you’ll never internalize or finish what you start unless you sit down and simply…write. GOOD LUCK!

    Mood: Luxuriating in this damp, windy weather.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Mostly managed!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH.
    In My Ears: Tron Legacy soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Kingdom Rush
    Book Last Read: For research, not pleasure. Ergo…
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Frozen. Because in my house, it’s a horror movie.
    Latest Artistic Project: Sewing project that turned out to be a pescatarian oni. Don’t ask! Am planning Halloween-related crafts, however.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. A new one coming soon! SOON I SAY!


My Geek*Kon Schedule

Geek Kon

I’ll be a guest at Geek*Kon this weekend. Here’s my fabulous schedule! You’ll hear more about my upcoming book, The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse, and other stories in the pipe.

Friday, August 21
7:00 to 7:50 – Spooky Scary Awesome Action
8:00 to 10:00 – Gaming with the Guests

Saturday, August 22
1:00 to 1:50 – The Shiniest Things in the Gorramn ‘Verse
3:00 to 3:50 – Fiction Writing 101 – Mendota
5:00 to 5:50 – Vampires in Fiction – Green Bay/Milwaukee

Sunday, August 23
1:30 to 2:50 – Build-a-World Game Show

My GenCon 2015 Schedule

This year, my fan-facing activities will be related to Firefly and the GenCon Writer’s Symposium. There will be several books of mine available at the show, and you can read about those here. If you are a member of the press, please contact me privately so I can find time to spend with you. If I’m currently working on a project with you and you’d like to meet up, please feel free to send me an e-mail as my schedule is pretty full.

Thursday, July 30

10:00 a.m. – SEM1577156 Craft: Where to Start the Story ICC : Room 243

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – MWP Booth #1613

6:00 p.m. – SEM1577164 Craft: RPG Tie-In Fiction ICC : Room 243

Friday, July 31

2:00 to 3:00 p.m. – Signing in Author’s Alley

8:00 p.m. – ENnie Awards to announce the winners. Nominations for games I’ve worked on can be found here.

Saturday, August 1

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – MWP Booth #1613

7:00 – SEM1577146 WB: Monsters and Other Horrors ICC : Room 244

Sunday, August 2

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Read & Critique – Room 244 with Geoffrey Girard and Delilah Dawson.

My Books and Games At GenCon 2015

GenCon Indy is less than a few weeks away, and that means its time to update you with my schedule! In the first of two posts, I’d like to share with you which of my books and games you can expect to find at GenCon. The books and games on this list are the titles I have confirmed that will be at the show–there may be others, but this is what you can expect to find. Most of them are fairly recent releases, too, and came out within the past two years.

The “G” in GenCon is gaming, so let’s start with those!

Margaret Weis Productions Booth 1613

At the MWP booth, the entire Firefly RPG line will be available for you to buy. That means, you can pick up a copy of the following:

  • Firefly RPG corebook – Nominated and won multiple awards, plus it’s up for two ENnies this year.
  • Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics won an ENnie’s Judge’s Choice Award recently. If you’re looking to get into the game, but don’t want to make the investment for the corebook and the supplements, this is your best way to do that.
  • Things Don’t Go Smooth is a GM-facing supplement that gives fans more Antagonists and tools to fine-tune your Firefly experience.
  • Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim is for players and GMs. It introduces Reputation rules, iconic characters, and more!
  • Ghosts in the Black is a campaign supplement designed by Robin D. Laws. This is the latest book in the line, and is filled with twists and turns.

Onyx Path Publishing Booth 1103

At the Onyx Path booth, four of the titles I’ve worked on will be available in print. They are:

  • Hunter the Vigil: Mortal Remains – Explore the Vigil as it pertains to mummies, changelings, prometheans, demons, and sin-eaters.
  • Vampire the Masquerade: Dread Names, Red ListDread Names, Red List explores the Camarilla’s “Most Wanted” List, naming those deemed most dangerous by the Justicars and their chosen deputies, the Alastors.
  • Gothic Icons – This was Onyx Path Publishing’s April Fool’s joke for 2015. However, so many people liked it the company kept it available for future customers. Enjoy!
  • Geist Ready Made Characters – Ready-Made Player Characters (Geist: the Sin-Eaters) includes the Crossroads Drifters krewe, who perform for the living and the dead. Characters designed to for instant use in your Geist: the Sin-Eaters game.

Signing and Miscellany

Now onto the books! I will have a signing from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Author’s Alley area of GenCon. During this time, I’ve confirmed I’ll be bringing copies of:

  • Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror – This is an anthology about ghost hunting that I edited for FR Press. Fantastic authors like Alex Bledsoe and Jess Hartley are in here!
  • Queen of Crows – Published early 2010, this is one of the first enhanced e-books to hit digital media. The story explores the gut-wrenching decision a shaman must make, once he realizes what dark future is approaching.
  • Redwing’s Gambit – This is a novella about conspiracy and paranoia in the space-lanes. Redwing’s Gambit is set in the shared science-fiction universe of Bulldogs!

I may be bringing some other books, too, but right now I’m trying to keep the options limited for ease of carrying. There may be other books at the show, like Unframed: the Art of Improvisation for Gamemasters, Gods, Memes, and Monsters, and For Exposure: the Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. Be sure to watch for them. I’d much rather spend my time signing books than selling them, so come say hello on Friday!

A Bucket o’ Fun Announcements

Good morning my fellow writers, game designers, and readers! I’m back from a wonderful writer’s retreat and am deep in the trenches. I’ve got a few announcements to make, so bear with me today.

  • Firefly RPG Wins 2nd Runner Up: In the Golden Geek Awards, the Firefly RPG won 2nd Runner Up behind Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. Congrats to everyone who worked on this game, both past and present, and to the fans for voting! If you’re interested in trying out the RPG, the corebook is available in digital through DriveThruRPG.com and in print through www.margaretweis.com and wherever games are sold.
  • Reddit AMA in /r/Fantasy: Thanks to the support and prompting by Steve Drew, I’ll be on Reddit doing an AMA on Monday, March 2nd. Celebrating my 10th year in the gaming industry, so drop by and ask questions about the Firefly RPG or my earlier work. I’m keen on answering questions about the shiny new Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim.
  • Watch for me at GTS: I will be attending the Gama Trade Show in Las Vegas and will be presenting as a game designer/developer. Very excited about this! It’ll give me a chance to connect with other industry folks and retailers, and talk about some of my experiences that I’ve had over the past decade.
  • New Reward Tiers on the Dark Eras Kickstarter: A lot of fans are really interested in expanding the existing chapters in the Dark Eras supplement, and there’ll be new reward tiers announced later today. Drop by later and check ’em out! We’re in the final throes of this wild ride!
  • Build-a-World at Mo*Con: I’m happy to announce that I’ve confirmed I’ll be running my Build-a-World Game Show at Mo*Con X! Yay! There will be shenanigans! I am hoping to find a sponsor to pick up the tab for the charity donation. Last year, Steven Saus donated $50 on behalf of his publishing company at ConText, and the winning team got to choose which charity to put that money towards.

That’s all I have time for today. To the deadlines! They won’t wait!

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