2017 Convention Appearances

This will be a light year for me. I traveled too much last year, and cons don’t actually pay my bills anyway. I get more submissions than I can handle (at least until I train up the new interns). I’ll only be attending the following three cons, unless something changes considerably:


June 16th-18th: AwesomeCon, District of Columbia
AwesomeCon is a comic book and pop-geek culture convention in Washington, DC. I’ve been asked to speak there for four years running, and the crowds there are great. This remains my favorite convention to speak at.
(Presentations have not yet been selected by con staff.)

June 30th-July 2nd: LibertyCon, Tennessee
LibertyCon is a small con that several authors and editors I’m aquainted with attend every year. I’m told it’s like a big party rather than a con, but without getting lost in the crowd like at DragonCon. I guess I’ll find out!
(Presentations have not yet been selected by con staff.)

August 2nd-6th: BrickFair, Virginia
BrickFair is a non-literary convention in Chantilly, VA centered around Lego bricks. Think of it as an annual art show that happens to use colorful blocks as the collective medium. It started in the Virginia suburbs of DC and has expanded to three other locations along the East Coast. (When you click on the link, be certain to select which location you want to view; the next upcoming event is always the default. The dates given here refer to the full convention, not the two days when the public is able to come in and see all the displays.)
I won’t be speaking at this convention, but I am helping to run it; this will be my fourth year leading the Castle theme.


Novel Ninja Presentations

The following is a list of current topics I lecture on, either in classrooms as a guest lecturer or at conventions. When a new topic request comes through, I’ll add it to the list.

Please note that all presentations require a projector for best effect, except for the “Ask the Editor” Q&A.


Writing Technique Presentations

  • Writing Dynamic Characters: My most popular presentation, explaining such things as the differences between main characters, protagonists, and heroes; what makes a good villain; and how to keep characters from feeling stagnant and unrealistic.
  • Writing Men and Women: It’s often hard for men and women to write the opposite gender. A woman thinks differently from a man; but how can this be portrayed in fiction without one or the other receiving a short straw? This presentation breaks down the differences to basic components involving both “nature” and “nurture,” and then shows how to build on character quirks so that no two men or women are alike.
  • Anatomy of a Plot: An examination of three act structure, showing different takes on the model and why a three thousand year old idea still works with modern audiences.
  • Writing the Hero’s Journey: A look at the “Hero’s Journey Format,” based on the work of Joseph Campbell; why it works with the audience, why it’s so prone to failure, and how to adapt it for your own story.
  • Hooking Your Audience: How do you capture and keep your audience’s attention? What makes some opening lines so good, and how many cliffhangers should you use? I lay out the six things to look at which capture an audience’s imagination and show examples from fan favorites.
  • Dost Thou Write Dialog?: The greatest and most famous author in the English language is still William Shakespeare, even after five centuries. Can we learn anything from his successes? Of course we can, but first we need to learn how to read him. NOTE: this presentation is best as a two-part event, giving an initial lecture on Shakespearean techniques and then a workshop on how to adapt those techniques to prose writing.
  • Writing Evil: Heroes are boring unless they struggle; and villains are boring if they’re only there to make the heroes work for their prize. What are the ways we can look at good and evil in fiction? What feels real, and what captures the imagination?


Worldbuilding Presentations

  • Building Other Worlds: A survey of techniques to use when creating new and different settings for science fiction and fantasy. This is an overview, looking at culture, religion, history, geography, economics, government, and more, and is intended for enthusiastic beginners and intermediate authors.
  • Culture and Government: A more focused worldbuilding lecture on how to create societies that function in interesting and different ways.
  • How to Write Religion: Religion is a part of human culture, but that very ubiquity makes it difficult to step back and examine it from a worldbuilding perspective. This presentation examines the influence of Christianity on fantasy and how to remove that influence from your stories (if desired), as well as looking at religion in contemporary fantasy and future sci-fi settings.
  • Focused presentations on individual topics can be created upon request. The above are simply the ones that I have the ability to pull out on short notice; give me a month or more to prepare, and I can talk about any of the overview topics in detail, or other topics not mentioned here.


Genre-Based Presentations

  • Sudden But Inevitable Betrayals: This presentation goes over the basics of the mystery story, as well as how to craft mystery sub-plots into a story that might primarily belong to another genre.
  • Wherefore Art Thou Romance?: This presentation goes over the basics of the romance genre and romantic sub-plots, using iconic romances like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice.
  • Being Short: Do short stories matter? This is a look at the techniques used in short fiction (stories of less than 40,000 words), why they stand out from novels, and why a good author doesn’t neglect this form of storytelling.


Other Presentations

  • Ask the Editor: A general Q&A session for conventions where attendees can ask whatever they want.
    NOTE: This was added to the list due to the volume of convention attendees that wished to ask me questions about writing and publishing in the hall after a presentation. This presentation is off-the-cuff and does not require a projector.
  • Working with Your Editor: Every editor is different, but some things are always the same. Learn what to expect, how to prepare, and when you should argue with your editor.
  • Evil GMing 101: When it comes to tabletop gaming, crafting a story that engages your players is hard work. Learn how to present difficult choices, adapt to unexpected outcomes, and make your players beg for mercy and ask for more.
    NOTE: This presentation is on a gaming track, and is not intended for literature. In addition, it can be separated into multiple or more focused presentations.
  • Heroic Gaming 101: The GM isn’t the only storyteller at the table. Learn tips on how to craft intriguing characters, play with or break stereotypes, and work with your GM and fellow players to craft an epic that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
    NOTE: This presentation is on a gaming track, and is not intended for literature.
  • Panel Moderation: This is not a presentation per se; upon request, I will act as a moderator/interviewer for a panel, ensuring that the conversation flows and that all involved get time in the spotlight. I would prefer enough time to prepare a list of questions, but can do (and have done) this off-the-cuff with panelists I have never met before.