First and foremost, I cannot stress how awesome it was to see friends I only get to see a couple of times a year. It is always a blast to see friends from far away and play games with people I don't see often. Codenames was intensely popular, as I knew it would be. I brought it to introduce some writer friends to it, since I thought it would be up their alley. I first pulled it out when a bunch of the writers were gathered at the Three Legged Mare for dinner. As we were about to head back, the rain started to come down in veritable sheets. A bunch of us decided to wait it out and stay in the bar rather than run through the downpour. We wound up picking two people from the bar who saw the game and said "We love that game!" Our immediate response was "Why don't you join us?" We played a couple of rounds and loved it. By the time we had finished, the rain had tapered off and we were able to make it back to the hotel without getting drenching wet.
Aaron Rosenberg and I were amazed that the powers that be let us sit next to each other in the library. Not only that, but we were allowed to sit next to each other on panels. That was incredibly fun and entertaining! But, I don't know if we will ever be allowed to do it again. I will say, he is an extremely helpful panda.
Working the table went well, and I was up to my usual antics. Traffic seemed slow, but as I tallied up my final numbers, it appears that I actually sold almost as many books as my previous year at Origins. Only two less in fact. So from the business side, it was good. In addition, this was the first year that I had my trilogy available at my table at Origins. Last year, I was able to have the hardback version at Gen Con, but this is the first time I had the paperback version and the first time that I had either available at Origins. The joke that I received (and told) a couple of times was that it was the first time I had a book on my table at Origins with my name on the cover. According to the final numbers, over 2/3rds of the books that I sold were my trilogy. I am excited about this and I feel that it reinforces my decisions to focus on my trilogy moving forward rather than continuing to have a large collection of anthologies. I will still bring new ones as they come out, but in a lot less quantity and with a more decided focus on my books.
While I was there, an author that I very highly respect took a moment out of his day to pull me aside and speak to me. He said that I was a good writer (which was a HUGE compliment) and that I had the skill to make a major career out of my writing (which was an even larger compliment). He told me that I was reaching a point where I needed to decide if I wanted to focus on my antics, or let my writing stand for itself. This was a very sobering conversation, and something that meant a lot to me considering the source. It also gave me a lot of faith in my writing and what I am going to be pursuing from here on out.
Following the example of Robyn King, I need to say that I had a massive bucket list item crossed off this weekend. I had the honor of sitting at a signing table at the Catalyst booth. You can see a picture of it here. True, true, I finally got an opportunity to use my head. Nonetheless, that did not dampen my excitement for being part of this. I am officially a Shadowrun author now. There is nothing that can be done to take that back. There is official evidence! And you know that once it is on the web, it cannot be removed. Catalyst even invited me to sit at their table and watch the Origin Awards.
Even with all of these highs, there is one thing that trumps it all. I designed a board game and had the opportunity to demo it in front of a major publisher. It was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things that I have done at a convention since I first started going to conventions as a professional writer. It was AMAZING.
It went as well as I thought it possibly could have. I was astounded by the feedback that I received. I received some critical feedback, but I was told that the amount of feedback I got was less than the players give for some published and released games! There are some few adjustments that need to be made, but it is still in the development and balancing process, so I expected as much. Still, it was not a lot of criticism. They even enjoyed playing a three hour long game without complaining about the length or wondering when it might be over. That alone is a huge compliment!
The next morning, I received an update, which made things even better. After that, the next day, I received even more updated information, and it was even better than I had hoped. It literally was a situation where I thought it was as best as it could have possibly been, and then it kept getting better. I do not have words for how excited I was and still am! The current update is that I am going to be running a demo for it in the near future here in the Seattle area. The people that I need to run it for live in the nearby area, so it made sense to wait until after Origins when we have more time and the play through wouldn't be as stressful. I am looking forward to that and can hardly wait to set it up!
Whew. I think that is most of the highlights. It has been an amazing weekend and even with as much as it burnt me out, it was well worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you everyone for making it such a wonderful convention, with more stories, more games, and more good times all around! Convention-wise, next stop is Gen Con!