Con Report: Cleveland Concoction 2019

Cleveland ConCoction logo 2019

March means a return to one of my favorite events of the year: Cleveland ConCoction! This year, I took the Tesla on her first official road trip, which involved stopping at multiple supercharger stations. We had a blast, and I am officially never taking a long trip without navigate on autopilot ever again.

supercharger selfie

My car has a moon roof. It is covered in snow.

FRIDAY

I left very early on a snowy Friday morning to accommodate the slightly longer time the trip would take for charging stops and any weather-related road issues. However, I was able to end the drive with a leisurely lunch at the requisite Steak n’ Shake visit while the car pulled a final charge to last through the weekend. After checking in to the hotel and setting up my books in Author’s Alley, I was just in time for my first panel of the weekend.

At this point I can probably do the panel on genres and genre-blending while half-asleep (and I’m pretty sure that I actually have), but it’s always fun to see what new insights my fellow panelists have and answer the often unique questions from the audience.

Afterward, I enjoyed a quiet dinner catching up with friends and excellent fellow authors Shannon Eichorn and K.M. Herkes. Once I delivered them to their evening panels, I also spent some quality time at the hotel bar with another fabulous author, Sara Dobie Bauer. The day finally caught up with me, and I crashed early.

SATURDAY

Despite my con report’s promise of getting three Dog Star Books authors together at one event, it was all a lie. Unfortunately, K.W. Taylor and Matt Betts both experienced health issues that prevented their attendance, which meant I was a poor replacement. In this case, it meant I moderated a panel on the mistakes beginning authors make on Saturday morning for Matt. We discussed issues authors face in both writing and the publishing industry, including sharing some of our own mistakes. My major take-away for that panel is always to tell the audience one thing: “Don’t be a jerk.”

I spent late morning and early afternoon hanging out in Author’s Alley, chatting with readers and writers alike. After a late lunch, it was time for my weekend reading! The audience enjoyed the first scene from Steel Time, and then it was back to Author’s Alley to sign books.

After a hasty dinner of cake in the con suite, it was time for the first highlight of my evening. Along with some of the other authors in attendance, I was invited to participate in a special episode of Prompt Joust, a web show that pushes storytelling to the limits. I dug deep for my improv comedy experience from college, and while I knew I wouldn’t make it to the final round based on the “king of the hill” competition style, I knew I had the opportunity to take out show host Marcus V. Calvert in the first round — so I did. /evil laugh

I closed out the night by moderating a panel on time travel in fiction and on screen, which was way too science-filled for my sleepy brain to handle, but I think we muddled through. Luckily, I caught my second wind in time for the late-night “author soiree,” in which I enjoyed homemade mead (compliments of the Very Vocal Viking) and lots of laughter with friends.

SUNDAY

I did not have anything official on the schedule for the last day of the convention, but due to a scheduling mix-up, I landed on a panel on urban fantasy! We had a lovely discussion about how romance, mystery, and horror can all be elements to the genre, and what reader expectations are (and how to break them).

Afterward, we wrangled a certain demographic of attending authors to take a photo. Gee, what did we all have in common?

blue hair authors

In what’s become a ConCoction tradition, I enjoyed a late lunch with a group of friends, and then I sent everyone on their way! Due to the long drive, I wasn’t heading home until Monday. Good thing, too, because the snow had started.

I closed out the evening enjoying a good book and watching the snow fall from my hotel room. It was a little creepy to realize that I was now one of very few guests in a giant conference hotel, but I passed out anyway loved my quiet time.

MONDAY

The snow was over by the morning, so I had a safe but COLD drive home to Maryland.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!


ConCoction 2019 haul.JPG

Con Report: Farpoint 2019

Farpoint2

Growing up as a military brat, I always had this sense that once I left a place, I would never be back. While looking for a house in the Baltimore area before sixth grade, my family briefly stayed at a hotel, the Hunt Valley Inn. Therefor, it’s always a bit bizarre to be back there as an adult in a completely different context, such as for a convention.

That background aside, I had an amazing weekend at my second Farpoint. Continue reading

Con Report: ChessieCon 2018

chessielogoGoing to a convention after a major holiday would be pretty crazy, but luckily this convention is local, chill, and a chance to visit with friends. So it’s easy to treat it as an extension of the holiday, and I had a lovely time at ChessieCon this year.

FRIDAY

Friday started with how all days after Thanksgiving should start, with a massive lunch of leftovers. We ate at my mother-in-law’s house, where my parents also dropped by, so by the time I headed home to prepare for the convention, pretty much no NaNoWriMo writing got done. I was not super upset about that. Instead, I made sure my con bags were sorted and that I had questions prepared for the panel I was moderating on Saturday afternoon. Even though my first scheduled event was not until 9:15 that night, I headed up to Baltimore around 5 PM so that I had time to greet friends. Continue reading

Con Report: World Fantasy 2018

World Fantasy 2018 banner

When a professional convention in your field is literally in your back yard (or at least 2 blocks away from where you used to work for 12 years), there’s really no excuse not to go. And I’m so glad that I attended World Fantasy 2018 in Baltimore, MD!

THURSDAY

I worked from home on Thursday morning, and then my mother-in-law was nice enough to drive me up to the convention hotel, where I stayed for the weekend. I could have commuted, but sharing a room was literally the same cost as I would have paid in parking fees over the course of 4 days.

After checking in, a friend dragged me to a small workshop on using Tarot cards to help prompt story ideas. While I don’t disbelieve in using Tarot for more personal means, I adore the concept as a storytelling exercise.

Following that, my afternoon workshop on Working with Editors went well. Scott H. Andrews, of Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, was a great presenter and very knowledgeable about the subject. I was pretty much there to speak from the novel perspective, and help wrangle one of the small Q&A groups we held with other editors — and I am totally okay with that!

I joined the three lovely ladies I shared a hotel room with for dinner at the Irish pub across the street. All of us are former students from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, but the best part of that is how many of those former students are now my friends and colleagues.  Continue reading

Con Report: FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018

FanX 2018 author imageWow. What an absolutely amazing trip.

[If you’re here to find the copy of my alternate history presentation, you’re in the right place! It’s included below!]

I’m not even going to recap last year, because this year blew it out of the water. I was honored to be invited back, and I hope to return again next year. Many thanks to Jay Whittaker and Blake Casselman for their continued support — I genuinely feel like I leveled up as an author last weekend, and it could not have happened without the support from both of you.

THURSDAY

My husband Bach and I traveled to the airport early in the morning, where we met two friends we were traveling with. Our trip was smooth, including the connection in Chicago and catching the new Utah train service from the airport in Salt Lake City to our hotel downtown. We checked into our hotel 30 minutes ahead of my mental schedule, and then it was off to the races!  Continue reading

Con Report: Confluence 2018

Confluence 2018I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since my first visit to Confluence as a professional writer. In 2013, I was promoting a speculative fiction anthology I had edited and announcing my contract with Dog Star Books to publish my first novel the next year. Now, my fourth novel comes out next month, and Confluence has become one of my favorite conventions. A weekend where I can relax, have fun with friends, and meet awesome new authors.

FRIDAY

Got a later start than usual because I had to get some day-job work done in the morning, but I hit the road by 11 AM. Considering I drive to western Pennsylvania a few times a year now, I have my routine down to a science. I arrived at the convention hotel in mid-afternoon, immediately got to hug some friends, and had plenty of time to check into my room before my first programming event.  Continue reading