Funny story: I don’t actually read horror. I can do hauntings and serial killers and a little bit of cosmic dread, but overall, being uncomfortable isn’t relaxing for me. I also don’t write horror (though this might eventually change since I actually come up with some pretty decent ideas).

However, I do publish with a primarily horror publisher (I refer to myself as the “blue-headed fantasy stepchild”), and I’m friends with a lot of people in the genre because horror writers and readers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. So, I was more than happy to volunteer my time to run the Raw Dog Screaming Press table in the dealers room at StokerCon 2023, which was held last weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


I did that thing again where I stayed up way too late on Wednesday night reading a good book, but I headed west bright and early on Thursday morning with the aid of sufficient caffeine. I’ve done the drive to the Pittsburgh area so many times since 2005 (I attended graduate school at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program in Greensburg, PA) that it was a relative breeze, and even easier with the TARDIS doing so much of the work. Convention road trips were one of the main reasons I bought this car (a blue Tesla Model Y), and StokerCon was finally the first official one!

I arrived at the convention hotel after a quick lunch on the road, checked into the room I shared with some friends, and immediately got to work! I prepped the table, which was a fun Tetris game of a ton of books (and not even all the books by only the authors who were attending the convention), then attended Opening Ceremonies, followed by RDSP’s 20th-anniversary party!

A small sampling of RDSP authors and editors! Back row: Albert Wendland, Daniel Kraus, John Edward Lawson, Michael Arnzen, Jason Jack Miller, Tim Waggoner. Front row: Stephanie Wytovich, Jennifer Barns, Lee Murray, Heidi Ruby Miller, J.L. Gribble, L. Marie Wood, R.J. Joseph.

Afterward, it was back to the RDSP table for a few hours. My lovely roommate, author Donna J. W. Munro, was kind enough to bring me dinner, and when the dealers room closed, we continued to catch up at the bar for a bit. The second book in her young adult horror series comes out in a few weeks, and I’m so proud of her!


Apparently, most of the rooms in this hotel for the convention panels and readings were overly warm. I wouldn’t know, because the dealers room was ridiculously cold the entire time. Donna saved my life multiple times that day, from feeding me lunch to getting me a hot coffee to swinging by a nearby pharmacy to pick up a refill of the meds that I forgot a home.

In the meantime, I still had an absolute blast chatting with all the people who stopped by the RDSP table, whether they bought books or not! I won’t do the hard sell, but I am genuinely invested in helping to connect readers with books they will enjoy.

One of the perks of being friends with two-thirds of the convention chairs was being able to participate in the mass author signing that took place that evening. I did have copies of my own titles to sell, though despite the creepy shadow creatures in book 5, I know my books don’t fit into the horror genre. I was pleased to meet a few readers who have been following my crazy series anyway, and I promise the final book will be available next year at StokerCon 2024!

I may be biased, but they are so pretty.

The highlight of my day was definitely winning one of the raffle prizes after the mass signing! I bought tickets to support the Horror Writers Association Diversity Grants and dumped them all into one bucket. I’ve previously read and reviewed the Taine McKenna Adventures trilogy by Lee Murray in ebook form, and I was thrilled to bring the physical versions of my Kiwi boyfriend home with me.

That evening, I shared a quiet dinner with author Sarah Hans, who I’ve known casually online and through the convention scene for years but never really got a chance to bond with before. As much as I wanted to keep socializing once we returned to the hotel, I promptly went back to my room and passed out.


One of the drawbacks other perks to knowing the convention chairs is that I was also able to sneak onto programming! First thing on Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on research, which is a topic applicable to all writers, no matter the genre.

So cold yet so happy!

Then it was back to freezing in the dealers room! Between the many people who stopped by to chat and a new novella by one of my favorite urban fantasy authors on my Kindle, the day passed quickly. I shared dinner with some good friends, and then it was time for the Bram Stoker Awards!

Confession time: I was exhausted and peopled out by that point, so I spent the evening back in my hotel room and followed the winner announcements via Twitter. Five titles from Raw Dog Screaming Press were finalists this year, and congratulations to Tim Waggoner for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction for Writing in the Dark: The Workbook and Cynthia Pelayo for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection for Crime Scene!


The dealers room was only open for a few hours on the final morning of the event, but those few hours were a flurry of last-minute book-selling! We sold out of multiple titles over the course of the event, including Steel Victory!

Finally, it was time to pack up and head home. The cats were happy to see me, and I was happy to be back in my own bed.

Next up: I’ll be back in Pittsburgh for Confluence on July 21-23!

The final haul:

One thought on “Con Report: StokerCon 2023

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