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

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February Wrap-Up & March Goals

Oscar WildeAck, where did February go? I guess this is what happens when I try to reduce my workload but still end up ridiculously busy. The good news is that I got a lot of stuff done. The bad news is that I still didn’t manage to complete all my goals. Oh well, March is another month.

February Wrap-Up

  • I submitted a short story to an anthology I was invited to participate in! This does not confirm acceptance, but it was fun to play with some secondary characters in my world and *gasp* write in first person. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • I got about one-third through the editing necessary on Steel Shadows. That’s definitely going to be my priority for March!
  • I had a blast at Farpoint 2019! You can read all about it at my full con report.
  • My much-needed writer’s retreat to Broadkill Resort was a ton of fun. Everyone got lots of work done, and we thoroughly enjoyed the game Bards Dispense Profanity.
  • Finally, I had a great few days in New York City for the day job, and even got to meet my little sister’s significant other! We met at a cool bar called Oscar Wilde, and I got to pose with the man legend himself.

February Book Reviews

  • Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2) by Jordan L. Hawk (5 stars)
  • Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin #3) by Jordan L. Hawk (5 stars)
  • “Remnant” (Caldwell & Feximal short story/Whyborne & Griffin #3.5) by K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk (4 stars)
  • Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey (5 stars)
  • Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5) by Ilona Andrews (5 stars)
  • Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2) by James S.A. Corey (5 stars)
  • Belle by Night (Dommes by Night #1) by Rachell Nichole (4 stars)

February Speculative Chic Contributions

March Goals

  1. Let’s try this again: Complete a full editorial pass of Steel Shadows and return it to my editor for layout. (Seriously, this time.)
  2. Write 20k words for Steel Justice. This might get me within spitting distance of the ending.
  3. Attend Cleveland ConCoction 2019! (I will literally be driving there when this blog entry gets posted.)
  4. Attend another weekend writing retreat! This one is with a lovely group of romance writers who have accepted this speculative fiction writer as one of their own (even if they do keep trying to get me to write erotica).
  5. Finally, I’ll be in Providence, Rhode Island at the end of the month for a conference for the day job.

I did do one crazy thing this month. Got my hair professionally dyed! This color scheme has been on my mind for ages, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

 

Will I accomplish all of my goals this month? Will I do anything else ridiculous with my hair? Will I get a tattoo?

WHO KNOWS. This winter has made me a little stir crazy, and I’m anxious for spring.

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!

FRIDAY

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

Annual Holiday Update

Below is the holiday letter my husband and I sent in our cards this year. Thank you to all of you for also being amazing supporters. I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you.


Dear Family & Friends,

This has been a much-needed quiet year for the Gribble household. Of course, quiet for us still means lots of work and travel!  Continue reading

November Wrap-Up & December Goals

Even though I didn’t complete the full NaNoWriMo madness this month, I still got a lot done!

November Wrap-up:

  • I successfully wrote 30k words in 30 days for my mini-NaNo attempt! I’m now at 70k total words on book 4.
  • Book reviews completed:
  • I had a great time attending ChessieCon the weekend after Thanksgiving. Check out my con report!
  • Visiting Sint Maarten for my cousin’s wedding was a lovely retreat with my husband, though I’m happy I get a break from traveling for a while.

sxm

December Goals:

  1. The end of book 4 is in sight! No, wait. I still have 20 scenes to write, because this is turning into a beast. My writing goal this month is 20k words, plus some accompanying research that still needs to be done.
  2. Book reviews, as always. I have 11 books in the queue.

Is that it?

Wow, that’s it. I mean, aside from all the holiday-type stuff that I have to do.

I think my supervisors want me to stop blogging and get back to work now. I’d rather be back on a tropical island.

supervisors

September Wrap-Up & October Goals

I know the month isn’t quite over, but I’m off to Broadkill Resort for DogCon V tomorrow, so let’s do this thing!

September Wrap-up:

  • Words were written in book 4! Specifically, 15k of them, so the goal was officially met. I’m in the swing of things now, and doing that thing where I look at the rest of my outline and panic that the book is going to be over 100k long.
  • Book reviews were completed! Not many of them, but I think the quality of my reviews is going up as I get more practice at it.
  • Speculative Chic was contributed to! This month featured more group participation along with my debut solo post.
  • I haven’t yet been to DogCon, but I did get to spend a glorious week with my husband at the not-so-glorious place where he is training! Teleworking and writing with a view of the beach for a few days was so tough.

ms-trip

October Goals:

  1. Write words! Specifically, 20k words.
  2. Write book reviews! There are currently 11 in the queue (I also did a lot of reading at the beach).
  3. Participate in DogCon V! Please continue to keep all fingers and toes crossed for Steel Victory in the Reader’s Choice Award. Less than 48 hours until it’s announced!
  4. Sell books! I will be in the Dealer’s Room at TridentCon with copies of both of my books (Oct 8-9). I have no panels or presentations to attend, so this is a great chance to come hang out and chat with me about writing and gaming.
  5. Travel! I’ll be going to Denver for work and spending back-to-back weekends in Pennsylvania and Ohio for two weddings. On the plus side, my husband is meeting me in Ohio for one of the weddings and afterward I get to bring him home for good.

pollwinnersbelt