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.  Continue reading


Con Report: Farpoint 2018


Last weekend, I attended my first Farpoint convention! You could say that I got my start in speculative fiction as a Star Trek fan, so it was nice to get back to my roots, as it were.


Since this is a “local” convention for me, I commuted from home rather than staying at the hotel. After working half a day in the morning, I headed north of Baltimore by mid-afternoon to get the lay of the land. My first panel was at 4 PM, which involved a fantastic discussion with other authors and readers about creating immersive worlds in speculative fiction (and writing in general). We discussed how to incorporate just enough detail (but not too much detail!) to allow a reader to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride in any genre.

My second panel was immediately after, where I switched gears into fan mode and discussed “All Things Winchester.” Supernatural is currently in season 13, and not everyone was caught up, so we kept it general in our discussion of how the show is successful thematically, various character issues, favorite episodes, and theories regarding the upcoming spin-off, Wayward Sisters.

I didn’t have any of my usual writing tribe at this convention, so I steeled myself and asked if I could join one of my fellow Supernatural panelists, cosplayer Jessica Crouse, if I could join her group for dinner. I’m so glad that I did, because I made some amazing new friends over the course of the weekend through that one act of courage! We had a great dinner and evening of hanging out, then it was back to the hotel for the evening book fair.  Continue reading

Con Report: ChessieCon 2017

ChessieCon 2017The curtain has closed on my final convention of 2017. For all the other drama of the year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every convention (new and old) I’ve attended this year, and I can’t wait to do it all again in 2018.


Since ChessieCon is held less than half an hour away from my house, I commuted instead of staying at the hotel. After seeing Coco with my husband and mother-in-law in the afternoon, I ate a quick dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers and headed north. The first thing I did was reunite with my friends Cristin Kist and Jeff Grittman, of the science-fiction comedy Prison Dad series and Silly Talks About Science Fiction podcast.

My two events that evening where the rapid-fire reading with Broad Universe, where I read the prologue to Steel Blood. Then, I participated in a panel on “What We’re Watching on TV.” I plugged my current favorite shows, such as The MagiciansThe Expanse, and The Good Place, and learned about some other awesome series to check out. The conversation didn’t just stick to the usual sources of television shows, but also branched out into YouTube series and short discussion about why SF/F has had a bit of a renaissance on television in the past decade.  Continue reading

Con Report: Salt Lake Comic Con 2017

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.  Continue reading

Con Report: Confluence 2017

signing at Confluence 2017I was thrilled to once again be invited to Confluence, the annual SF/F literary convention hosted by Parsec. I have a ton of fun, and this year was no exception.


Road trip company is the best, and this year a friend drove to my place outside of Baltimore on Friday night to join me for the weekend. With her company, the 4.5 hour drive to Pittsburg was a breeze. We arrived in time for a late lunch at a bagel place up the street from the hotel, then I dove into my three panels for the afternoon and evening.  Continue reading

Con Report: In Your Write Mind 2017

IYWM logoLast night, I got home from one of my favorite trips every year. In Your Write Mind is a writer’s workshop/conference hosted by Seton Hill University, as an offshoot of their Writing Popular Fiction graduate program. (Basically, the graduates wanted an excuse to come back every year, so we created one.) The workshop is open to all writers, and features lectures and panels on a variety of writing-related topics, a talk by a bestselling author, and pitch sessions with agents and editors looking specifically for genre fiction. Hopefully my recap will show why you should come join the fun next year!  Continue reading

Con Report: Balticon 51

balticon logoSince Balticon is my “local” convention, I was thrilled to finally be invited to participate as a panelist this year. I hadn’t been back since 2006, but the convention was just as great as I remembered, filled with fantastic panels, extraordinarily nice people, and amazing hall costumes.


Since I work in a nearby part of Baltimore, I headed over to the hotel after work. Checking in to the con was very easy, and I wandered the dealers room(s) for a bit, catching up with friends.

Later in the evening, I moderated a panel on world building in SF/F. Everyone on the panel was lovely, and the audience asked great questions. Main takeaway: Research, research, research (but be careful of whacking your readers over the head with it).

Afterward, I met one of my best friends for dinner and we had a lovely time catching up before I headed home.  Continue reading