NerdCon: Why Stories Matter

So let me tell you a story.

Years ago, I met someone named Hank Green in an accidental way through social media. I’d watched a couple of his videos and liked them. He’d read my book and enjoyed it. He offered to help out with my charity. I offered to help out with his.

I didn’t know him very well, but he struck me as a cool person who was working to make the world a better place. Best of all, he had a fine-tuned sense of the ridiculous, as shown in the Stretch Goal he did for Worldbuilders, where he shot a video of himself seducing a tree.

When I saw that, I knew he was my kind of crazy.

A couple months after we’d met, Hank dropped me an e-mail. It went kinda like this.

Hey Pat,

I do a thing called Vidcon, and I was wondering if there’s a convention where authors and people who love books would get together and… y’know… talk about books and stuff.

If there isn’t, there really should be. And I’d like to make it happen.

You seem to know the book world and a lot of book-type people. What do you think?


Now, before I go any further, I need to point out that I’m paraphrasing a lot here. This was about two years ago, and I can easily forget what I had for breakfast any given day.

That said, I remember the first thing that came to mind, reading this e-mail. I thought, “Wow. That’s adorable.”

I’m not proud of that thought, but it’s what popped into my head. The second thing was, “Science fiction fandom is where the whole convention thing started. We’ve been doing conventions for, like, 50 years. There’s a ton of book-type conventions.”

My third thought was, “I should give him a call. Planning a convention is a nightmare. He doesn’t want to go down that rabbit hole.”

Did I mention that I’d only known Hank for a little bit at that point? And that sometimes I can be unutterably dim? My only real excuse is that my youngest boy had been born just a couple weeks before that, so I wasn’t really performing at optimum efficiency.

Luckily, my assistant Amanda e-mailed me before I could make a total ass of myself.

He’s serious,” Amanda told me. “He does this sort of thing all the time. He’s good at it.

Amanda explained that Hank wasn’t just a guy that sometimes made videos and did a charity thing. She explained about the Nerdfighters. She explained to me that Hank was one of the people who had founded Vidcon.

“What’s a Vidcon?” I asked, dimly remembering the term from somewhere in my distant past.

It’s a convention,” Amanda said. “For people who make videos on YouTube. Hank mentioned it in the e-mail he sent, remember?

“No,” I said.

*     *     *

CKuzM1VUEAA2XLN(Since then, I’ve been to Vidcon. And a good time was had by all.)

Thanks to Amanda, my vast ignorance wasn’t the stumbling block it might have been. I called Hank and told him that there were bookish conventions, many of them quite well-established (Worldcon has been happening since 1939, for example.)

But I also talked about other conventions that I’d been to over the last several years. About how the ones that felt the most electric and alive were the newer cons. The comic-cons and Game cons like PAX. While I loved meeting up with other authors and readers, a lot of the book-centered conventions felt kinda…. well… stuffy by comparison.

Hank talked about building community, about making a place where we could celebrate stories, about making a place where everyone would feel welcome.

I talked about a lot of the people I’d come to know over the years, authors who were smart and funny and full of enthusiasm. People who were good on panels.

Hank talked about bringing people in who were performers. Musicians and storytellers. Podcasters. Actors. He talked about doing programming that was more dynamic. He talked about people singing and playing games and having fun.

At first I was just chatting with Hank about general ideas. What the convention could be. What it shouldn’t be. This was easy for me, as I’ve probably hit more than a hundred conventions in recent years. Then I recommended some authors who were funny and smart and articulate. Then I was contacting the authors to see if they were interested, and to sell them on the idea of the convention.

Before I knew it I was helping plan the programming and enjoying the hell out of myself.

*     *     *

Fast forward to now. Nerd Con: Stories is happening in just a month or so. It’s October 9-10th in Minneapolis.


I’m really ridiculously excited about this convention.

It’s going to be different than any convention I’ve ever been to, and I can say that with some authority because I’ve been helping plan it. I’ve invited some of my favorite people to attend, and helped put together some of the best programming I’ve ever seen.

It’s going to be fun, folks. There will be singing and signing. There will be bad poetry and puppets. We will talk about the shape of stories. I will have a serious geek out because the folks from Nightvale are going to be there….


Cecil Baldwin, Jeffrey Cranor, Joseph Fink, and many others will be there, speaking on panels and playing games like, “Guess what’s in my mouth” on stage.


(Just a few of the cool people we have coming to the convention.)

A week ago, Amanda and I went out to Minneapolis with the rest of the team to check out the convention center, and honestly? I was stunned.


I’ve been to a lot of conventions where the events spaces are composed pretty much entirely of a bunch of stacking chairs in hotel conference rooms. And while that isn’t necessarily bad. This… well… it’s something completely different. It’s beautiful there.

Mpls Convention Center 4

Nice theater seating, comfortable chairs, good acoustics….

We’ll be talking about why stories matter. And we’ll be talking about the craft of writing. I’ll be leading an improvisational story game called The Adventures of Baron Von Munchhausen, and leading a team as Captain in a game of Artemis as well.

There’s going to be an open mic session every night. There will be book signings and a dealer’s room for you to go buy nerdy goodness in. The Worldbuilders Team will be there. Harry and the Potters will be there. Paul & Storm will be there….

Author crop2

(A lot of people will be there….)

Here’s the deal: It’s only a month away, and the con is selling out pretty quickly. What’s more, the block of rooms we have reserved at the nearby hotel is going to be gone pretty soon. So if you’d like to come (or if you want to get a cheap room for your stay) you’ll need to decide soon.

And you want to come. Trust me on this. Imagine what it would be like getting to go to the very first Worldcon back in the day. The first PAX. The first Comic-Con.

If you want to be at the first NerdCon, you can register here.

I hope to see many of you there….


This entry was posted in conventions, cool things, geeking out, signing books. By Pat42 Responses


  1. Shadow14
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 6:31 AM | Permalink

    I have my ticket and my hotel room. I can not wait for this event. I also agree that the Minneapolis Convention center is a great space. Being from MN I have been to many work and fun related events and it’s always enjoyable. On a side note my shirt came yesterday and I love it! Thank you!

  2. bookwyrmpoet
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    Pat please please please x100 make sure the Adventures of Baron Munchhausen is recorded! I would love to watch that game, heck if you put it up for sale I’d buy it.

  3. DrPerkele
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

    I deeply and truly hope that a lot of this get recorded because I

    (A) Live in Finland
    (B) Am a student
    (C) Run a music website and have to go to a bajillion shows in October

    And it sounds like the ultimate place to be so I am kicking myself a lot that I can’t be there.

    • Bobatron
      Posted September 3, 2015 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

      That makes two of us, DrPerkele.

      • Karissima
        Posted September 3, 2015 at 9:26 AM | Permalink


        I really really want to go, but it’s just not feasible economically or physically… So depressing.

  4. courtneyc
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

    So I bought my ticket after you first announced it, and I’ll admit to some moments of doubt over attending. I’ve never gone to a con of any variety. I don’t know anyone who will be there. It’s kind of an expensive thing I jumped into without giving it much though beyond, “Awesome, I love stories!”

    Your pre-event stamp of approval, which I’m pretty certain would be an embossed beard on a golden sticker, has me excited once more. :)

  5. jta068
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been signed up for months, and I cannot wait! It helps that this is happening in my backyard. Thank you Mr. Rothfuss for ignoring the fine young gentlemen of Penny Arcade (NSFW):

  6. snabelaf
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    Any chance you could slow down on sideprojects and get the work done on book 3 instead?

    • Iveray
      Posted September 3, 2015 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      Begone, foul beast!

      The book will be done when it’s done. Let the man live his life. Constantly asking “when will book 3 be done?” is just like asking a newlywed couple when they’re gonna have kids any time you see them.

      • Karissima
        Posted September 3, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

        That’s an interesting comparison…

        Seriously though, these so-called “side projects” are awesome, and many of us are grateful for them.
        Be patient.

      • pduffuss
        Posted September 6, 2015 at 11:05 PM | Permalink

        Wow look a fanboi in his natural habitat.
        Settle down white knight. Ur looking thirsty there.

        When is book 3 coming.
        When is book 3 coming.
        When is book 3 coming.
        When is book 3 coming

        • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

          Hello comment moderation queue. I’d like you to meet a few people. I’m sure you’ll get along smashingly.

    • BurntheUnclean
      Posted September 3, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

      I’ve lurked here for 4 years and finally registered just to say “Fuck you, he’s not your bitch.” Have a nice day.

  7. kyro
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    I live in Minneapolis, so trying to grab some friends and get a group together to go. Even if I can’t I’ll probably come solo haha.

    • Posted September 3, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for helping to spread the word….

  8. UrsulaK
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    *plots driving directions into google*
    *looks at drive time*

    • drockwood94
      Posted September 3, 2015 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

      This was me all the way. I can’t drive 6.5 hours to Minneapolis. And I can’t afford to fly.

      • Posted September 3, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

        Road trip?

        • drockwood94
          Posted September 4, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

          Pat, I wish I could! Unfortunately, I’m not sure my car could hold up to the distance.

          Okay… Now I’m going to have to really seriously think about this. I want to go to this so badly. Anybody in central Illinois want to carpool?

          • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

            Heh. That’s actually what I meant. In my opinion, it’s not really a road trip unless three people are in the car….

  9. Posted September 3, 2015 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    This looks like fun! I hope it works out, and you get a lot of the folks for whom paying more than the price of a four-day GenCon badge, for a first-year con, seems like a good gamble. If you sell out, then you’ve clearly priced yourself correctly and I’m a curmudgeon.

    Admittedly I say this as someone who saved up to go on the JoCo Cruise (aka the Rothfuss/Scalzi cruise), but I’ve also been wanting to get back to the Caribbean. Strangely, the JoCo Cruise is also roughly twice as expensive as it really ought to be compared to other cruises. I sense a theme….

    • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

      The theme where you actually have to pay the performers so they can make a living? That theme?

      • JuliannaUnderhill
        Posted September 8, 2015 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

        What? You mean we don’t just get all kinds of wonderful goodness from you for free because we paid a few bucks to read one of the best fantasy novels yet written? You cad.

  10. FightFromTheBlack
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    On day there will be a Con I really want to go to in Dallas that will be affordable…but that is not today!

  11. anni05920
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Oh my gosh. This is so great. That video is almost as creepy as Hank’s Helen Hunt song! I adore that man so much. Hahahaha Got my ticket months ago and absolutely CANNOT WAIT <3<3 <3 NERDFIGHTERS FOR THE WIN!

  12. HakunaMatataAndAllThatStuff
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    It’s going to be amazing and wonderful! But at the same time the rational part of my brain deduced that I can’t go, the other part that is wild and free from boundaries already had a crazy scheme planned.

    Take Thursday and Friday off from winter-internship. Board bus very early Thursday morning. Travel for 1d and 4h to arrive at NerdCon. Quickly find a place to grab coffee. Have the best time of your life on Friday. At night time, since you can’t spare any money for a hotel room, explore Minneapolis night life or play D&D until Saturday events start. Have more coffee beforehand, throughout the night and afterwards. Have the best time of your life(again) on Saturday. Kiss the cute, amazing, intelligent, funny, girl you were lucky enough to meet who also thinks of you as cute and funny, before she leaves. (Remember: Coffee=Coffee Breath. PACK MINTS. And deodorant!) After the con ends, board the bus for reality, arrive at work early Monday morning, smelly yet triumphant.
    Mission accomplished! Pat yourself on the back before you collapse.

    Note: It is not unsafe to assume that I might be over-caffeinated while writing this or excited that a version of me in a parallel universe will be attending.

  13. Gabriel Cruz
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 9:34 PM | Permalink

    Honestly I hoped there was a way I could go, seriously, I picked up my calendar and tried a million of ways to see if I could solve it but between living in Brazil and being a senior in a engineering college there’s no way I can go.
    Best of luck in this convention to everyone who can go, and I hope I may attend it next year

  14. NinjaKitty
    Posted September 3, 2015 at 11:38 PM | Permalink

    I’m like 95% sure I got one of the first 5 tickets that sold. I was registered not 20 minutes after the site went live.

    I’m also local to Minneapolis and people should definitely check out the MN Nerdfighters event for that weekend! We’re hosting a picnic and games in a nearby park!

    • Amanda
      Posted September 4, 2015 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

      Oh I am in…

  15. tarvik
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 7:13 AM | Permalink

    Even though we are going to be getting married the following weekend we are saying “f it” and flying there from Dallas! Sooo many names that excite us (and, of course, names are important). Thanks for helping put this together Pat!

  16. Valarya
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 12:07 AM | Permalink

    Dang. Wish I’d known about this before now (did I miss a mention of it here on the Blog somewhere?). I’ll have to plan it out to be there next year, if there is a next year. HAVE FUN, guys. :)

    • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

      Yeah. I mentioned it several months ago….


  17. SporkTastic
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    I’ll say what I’ve said before: I soooo wish I could go. But money. Next time, Gadget! Next time!

  18. slsmitty25
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

    I think Diana Gabaldon would be an excellent addition to the Nerd Con: Stories! I’m already so excited about the current list of awesome authors! I can’t wait for Nerd Con: Stories.

  19. JuliannaUnderhill
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    I freaking DID IT. Tickets bought. Hotel booked. SouthWest Airlines miles expended on flights for my daughter and me. This will be my first vacation in ten years, and I can’t think of a thing I would rather do. I am just glowing and full of joy.

    It had better be good.

  20. dokibatt
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:27 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,
    I just found out about this conference. I get back from a three month business trip in Tokyo at the end of September, and my wife’s birthday is the weekend of the con. Will you please help me concoct a plan where I get to go and stay married?
    Elsewise, see you next year!

    • JuliannaUnderhill
      Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

      Duh, take her with. Go for extra days, take her to a really nice reataurant, buy her a semi important peice of jewelry or a signed book or whatever males her giggle. Make her read Rothfuss’ books and listen to Harry and the Potters, she’ll WANT TO GO.

      Voldemort can’t stop the rock.

      • Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:38 AM | Permalink

        This strikes me as a solid plan. Assuming she likes books, pitch it as a “Romantic book-themed welcome-home vacation.”

        • dokibatt
          Posted September 13, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

          Unfortunately because of her job she can’t really leave town either. I hope it goes great and I’ll get there next year.

  21. Destina
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:00 AM | Permalink

    Just looked up prices for a plane ticket from Switzerland To Minneapolis.
    1200 Dollar.
    If I eat pieces of bread and cheese for lunch everyday and save the rest I`d have 200 Dollar in a month.
    Maths tells me that this could work.

  22. Ra.bennett
    Posted September 17, 2015 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

    If there aren’t shirts that say basically

    Nerdcon: Stories 2015
    Would reccommend

    I will be slightly disappointed.

    Only because I would throw too much money at such an object.

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