big tardisGetting to Salt Lake Comic Con was a hell of a ride. Some back story:

A year ago, you may remember that my husband headed to the wilds of Mississippi for 6 months for work. While Erik was there, he met a very cool guy, comedian and actor Jay Whittaker.

A few months ago, Erik and I were trying to figure out what to do for a vacation this year. Between both of our work schedules, we had some leave built up, but neither of us felt like blowing it all on a cruise for a week. Since Jay had talked up SLCC so much, and neither of us had ever been to Salt Lake City or a giant comic con, we decided to go for a shorter trip this year. We told Jay we were coming, and he asked me to send him my media kit so he could try to get me on programming. Which would have just been a bonus — honestly, we were going anyway at that point, and had even bought the fancy passes that came with the cool t-shirt.

But I sent Jay my media kit (after frantically putting one together), and lo and behold, I got an email from the person in charge of author guests! It was official — J.L. Gribble was going to SLCC, not just Hanna. 

After flying in Wednesday evening, we reunited with Jay! He was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. We had some time to settle in before dinner, so we visited the convention space and I picked up my guest badge and package. We took advantage of the gorgeous weather (it was gross and rainy the rest of our visit) and lack of crowds to get some pictures with the life-size TARDIS! (Unfortunately, this one was not bigger on the inside.) Later, we treated Jay to dinner and did some catching up. Of course, this included very serious discussion of theories regarding Rick and Morty over pizza and beer. Alas, jet lag hit hard and we headed to sleep early.


Since the events didn’t start until early afternoon, I was able to do my favorite thing about conventions: meet up with fellow SHU writers! We met author C.R. Langille for lunch at an excellent brew pub, where he and my husband bonded over life in the military.

Then it was show-time! We checked in at the con and wandered around the enormous vendor hall. I didn’t have any panels that day, but I did have something even more important — my photo op with John Barrowman! He’s just as handsome in person. I handed him a small TARDIS, asked if I could add him to my TARDIS collection, and he answered, “Absolutely.” As you can see from the picture later in this post, I was a little goofy over the whole situation.

My husband was not about to wait around with me in the long photo op lines, so he headed to a panel about his favorite television show, The Expanse. Afterward, I met up with him for a panel that Jay was on, about unforgettable characters in Harry Potter. Jay tried to cause some trouble with his opinion about how terrible Dumbledore is, which he backs up with his experience in the military. As a fellow troublemaker, I led a round of applause at his remarks.

We booked it back to the hotel for happy hour, then literally ran back to the convention (significantly less sober at this point) to attend a panel on diversity in the video game Overwatch, which is one of my husband’s favorite games. To round out the evening, Jay introduced us to more friends for dinner, then we finished up at a bar featuring costume karaoke. I never knew Ned Stark and Khal Drogo were so up on their modern rock.


The best thing about conventions is getting to sleep in without loud Siamese cats stomping all over you early in the morning. Erik and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then headed back to the con in time to get books signed by Claudia Gray, our favorite Star Wars author. (She says a sequel to Lost Stars might come after Episode 9 is released and the powers that be open the planet of Jakku up for more stories!)

Then, time for my first panel! It could have gone…better. Not the worst panel I’ve ever been on, but certainly not inspiring for such a large venue. Typically, one panelist tried to hog the spotlight, and another panelist seemed to enjoy telling the rest of us that our opinions were wrong (though without providing a reasoning why). Good times.

(My favorite part was that, apparently, urban fantasy cannot feature more than one supernatural creature or element. I think Victory might have some words about that. Syri would have some colorful ones.)

But I could relax the rest of the day! We alternated between wandering the vendor hall and attending more panels (“Racism in Geek Culture” and “Ready for Ready Player One“). By complete surprise, we found my husband’s favorite comic artist! Erik finally got his own anniversary present in the form of a commissioned drawing.

To round out the day, we attended a live taping of the Geekshow Podcast, which Jay is part of. Their hilarious audience Q&A show has already been posted.

We wandered the vendor floor, bought more stuff, hung out at the hotel, and crashed after a late dinner.


First thing that morning, I had my book signing. Many thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for hosting my books for the weekend. Subaru, one of the major convention sponsors, had their car display across the aisle from me — featuring carpool karaoke! This time, I got to enjoy a zombie Ariel sing “Part of Your World,” Deadpool rocking Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and Rick and Morty stumble along to “Baby Got Back.” I think the surrealism started getting to me at that point.

My husband described himself as my “arm candy and sherpa” all weekend, and he did an amazing job. After picking me up from my signing, Erik fed me pizza and espresso to get me through the rest of the afternoon.

We spent a whirlwind few hours in the Grand Ballroom watching a dual interview with Sean Gunn and Chris Sullivan (the guys behind me were a bit perturbed that the majority of the audience questions were about either Gilmore Girls or This is Us rather than Guardians of the Galaxy, which amused me greatly). Later, I got to see Catherine Tate and John Barrowman, my very favorite companions from Doctor Who! Tate was hilarious, but Barrowman was…well, fabulously over the top. Dressed as Wonder Woman, serenaded us to “Copacabana,” and stuck the idea of him playing a human version of the car in Supernatural in my head. I loved every minute. Erik wasn’t sure what he was getting into, but afterward declared that worth the cost of the convention.

I was on my own for the final part of the convention, as Erik headed to a nearby club for another live taping of the Geekshow Podcast and I attended my second panel. This one, “So I’ve Written a First Draft: Now What?” went much smoother. And we didn’t even have a moderator! One writer stepped up to wrangle questions, and I acted as our timekeeper. I love it when a group of authors are able to share a variety of ideas, without any egos trying to proclaim that their way is the best way. We answered great questions from the audience, and I hope we were able to help some aspiring writers find their next steps.

I caught up with Erik for the end of the second Geekshow Podcast live taping! It was so awesome to meet all these cool guys after hearing their voices for months.

Sunday, we had a final brunch with Jay and then flew home. I was happy to see my cats and my bed, especially since con crud had set in by that point. Thousands of people mean I was destined to catch a cold.

Crossing my fingers that I’ll be back in Salt Lake City to do it all again next year.

The anniversary presents!

  • My photo op with John Barrowman
  • My husband’s commissioned artwork from comic artist Ryan Ottley

The final haul!

And finally, the man who made it all happen. Go check out Jay Whittaker’s new podcast, Incredibly Vocal Minority! You might hear a familiar voice in an episode soon.