Con Report: Cleveland ConCoction 2018

Cleveland ConCoction 2018 logo

As always, I had a fantastic time at Cleveland ConCoction this year! It’s one of my favorite cons, for the people I get to see, how many books I tend to sell, and especially how well this convention treats the authors they invite to participate in programming. I wish other conventions would take note!


My flight from Baltimore to Cleveland was smooth. But after collecting my bags in Cleveland, it was time for something totally new. Since ConCoction moved hotels this year, I had to rent a car to get there. I’d never rented a car before! But the process was smooth, and I drove a nice Ford Focus hatchback out of the rental lot.

Luckily, the snow had tapered off and the roads were clear, so I only had to deal with flurries during the drive. I arrived at the hotel with enough time to drop my bags off in a friend’s room, then it was off to three panels in a row!

First, I moderated a panel on coming up with characters, where we discussed elements of character creation and everything from basing characters on real people to effective ways to leave things up to the reader. Then, I launched right into a panel on mistakes that beginning authors tend to make. This discussion touched on both writing issues and submission issues, and we got some great questions from the audience. The themes I tend to push on panels like this are “Don’t be a jerk” and “There’s no one, right way.” Finally, supported by soda and chips acquired by a friend, I headed for a discussion on author perspectives on fanfiction. We never really reach consensus, which is totally fine. All authors have different goals with their careers and different ways they are willing to get others play in their sandbox. 

I’ll admit that my brain was turning to mush at that point, so afterward I grabbed my bags and checked into my own hotel room.

That’s when disaster struck.

While walking the maze of hallways to find my room, I felt moisture on the back of my legs. The soda bottle that I’d barely drank from had come open in the leather shoulder back I use for cons. LUCKILY, I’d already moved my laptop and Kindle to one of my suitcases during my panels, and my phone was in an exterior pocket. So I only lost a single copy of Steel Blood and the majority of the postcards I’d brought to the con. It could have been a hell of a lot worse, so I wasn’t as distraught as I might otherwise have been. Once in my room, I emptied my bag to dry out and headed to dinner with friends. I deserved a drink or three at that point.

After a lovely dinner with my ConCoction besties, authors Brent D. Seth and Sara Dobie Bauer, it was time for more panels! My last panel of the evening was on repurposing mythical creatures for modern fantasy literature, which was a lively discussion on the different ways that vampires, werewolves, gods, etc. are still relevant in contemporary storytelling. We also delved into how trends seem to cycle and even into the sociological impetus behind them.

I was getting pretty tired, but I stuck around for the late-night adult “NSFW” discussion, where various authors talked about how they incorporate language, sex, and violence into their writing, the reasons behind why they might use each, and where their personal limitations are.

Finally, time to crash.


Since I had nothing official on my schedule until 5 PM, I was a lot more relaxed on Saturday. One of my favorite things about ConCoction is the way they set up their authors alley. The convention sells my books for me, and I am welcome to just set up shop and chat with readers and other authors. It’s incredibly low-stress, and at the same time, I sell more books at this convention than any other. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

ConCoction 2018 photobomb.PNG
When you forget to take a picture of your own book-signing, but luckily you photobombed someone else’s. With author Weston Kincade, with Sara Dobie Bauer‘s awesome books.

For more information, check out Weston Kincade’s book on Build Your Authors Alley: A Convention How-To Guide.

That evening, I participated in a group reading and shared one of my favorite scenes from Steel Blood. After a late dinner, it was time for round 2 of the NSFW panel. This time I was one of those in the hot-seat, and I participated in a great discussion that built on the previous evening’s topics.

To round out the night, I hung out at a chill party with many of my fellow authors.


Of course, that potent combination of wine and daylight savings time ended poorly the next morning, but I powered through! My final panel of the weekend was on examining genre, which was way more intellectual than I was prepared for, but it seemed like a successful discussion.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye. I treated myself to a quiet lunch at Steak ‘n Shake, my favorite Ohio treat, then headed back to the airport. My rental car adventure was successful, as was another trip to my favorite con. I can’t wait to see everyone again next year!

ConCoction 2018 besties
With Brent D. Seth and Sara Dobie Bauer. Authors who support each other are the best.

The final haul:

ConCoction 2018 final haul

Published by J.L. Gribble

Author, Editor, Worldbuilder

4 thoughts on “Con Report: Cleveland ConCoction 2018

  1. All I can say is we’re recycling. 😀 I look forward to working with you again in 2019.

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