Con Report: StokerCon 2019

StokerCon 2019 imageIf you’re here to find a copy of my alternate history presentation, you’re in the right place! Scroll, read, and enjoy.

I might not be a horror fan, but you won’t find a nicer group of creative people. I was immediately welcomed into the fold at StokerCon 2019, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I had a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday

Since my publishers, Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson of Raw Dog Screaming Press, live fairly close to me, we traveled to the convention together. After an uneventful afternoon flight, we checked into the hotel and enjoyed dinner at a nearby brew pub. Then it was early to bed since we had some nonstop days ahead of us.

Thursday

A giant hotel room bed to myself and no hungry cats to feed in the morning? I slept in until 11 AM and it was glorious. In the afternoon, I helped set up the RDSP table in the dealer room and began my main purpose for attending the convention: chatting with people and hopefully selling them a book or two.

I slipped out later in the evening to moderate a panel on making your work stand out from the slush pile. The conversation meandered a bit, but I think I managed to wrangle the panelists into contributing some useful knowledge to the audience. The main take-away point? Read the submission guidelines. Follow the submission guidelines.

Afterward, I had a lovely dinner with some friends from the Seton Hill University In Your Write Mind program, then a quiet evening in the hotel room doing some reading.

StokerCon 2019 dealer room

With Jennifer Barnes at the RDSP table.

Friday

Coffee, then back in the dealer room! A quick break in the afternoon to attend my reading, where I shared a scene from Steel Blood. I already don’t particularly care for pistachios, but I’ll never look at them the same way again, thanks to author Jeff Strand, who read a hilarious short story.

Later that evening was the mass author book signing, then the RDSP room party! I met some people in person that I’d otherwise only interacted with online, which is always fun. I stayed up way too late, drank way too much wine, and regret nothing.

StokerCon 2019 alt historySaturday

Dealer room time again. I sold a lot of books at this convention, you guys. Seriously, it was awesome. This time, my mid-day break came in the form of my alternate history presentation. The audience was small, but intimate, and everyone joined in on creating some fun worlds. Our nexus point event centered around the Cuban Missile Crisis, and our true alternate history assumed that the Hollow Earth theory was real. Click the link below to download the PDF version of my presentation.

Creating Stories by Changing the Past StokerCon 2019

That evening, I attended the Bran Stoker Awards and got to cheer on Raw Dog Screaming Press as John and Jennifer accepted the Specialty Press Award. I’m so proud to be part of this amazing publishing company.

Sunday

Sold a few more books in the dealers room, then it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport again. By this time, I was completely wiped out and I needed some introvert time. Luckily, my husband had dinner ready at home after he picked me up and I got some cat snuggles during Game of Thrones.

Would I ever return to StokerCon? Absolutely. No guarantees on attending next year in the UK, but this is definitely a convention I’ll be keeping on my radar.


The final haul:

StokerCon 2019 haul

Purchases:

From the StokerCon 2019 swag bag:

April Wrap-Up & May Goals

I definitely had a productive month, just not in the way I originally thought. I also got to see some great friends and read some great books, so no complaints here. I’m in the middle of reading some pretty awesome book series that I’m alternating with each other, which just makes me want to read faster. (Is that even possible?)

My favorite part of the month was spending time in Atlanta for a good friend’s wedding. The spouse and I needed a weekend away together, and we had a great time exploring the city. The wedding itself was at a natural history museum, with dinosaurs! How cool is that?

April Wrap-Up

  • I’m currently trading the back cover blurb for Steel Shadows back and forth with my editor to nail down the final version.
  • I only added about 3k words to Steel Justice, but that’s okay because…
  • I completed the final proofread for Steel Shadows! I’ve also seen the cover (it’s absolutely amazing). The book will be available this summer, with more details to come as they are available.
  • I’m totally caught up with book reviews, as of this moment. I also reorganized the format of my book review page to make it easier to view.
  • I had a fabulous weekend away in Atlanta with my husband for a friend’s wedding (see pics above).
  • And I had a great few days in Washington, DC at a healthcare conference.

April Book Reviews

April Speculative Chic Contributions

May Goals

  1. Make more progress on Steel Justice. I still refuse to quantify what this means. That may or may not help with the actual progress.
  2. Of all the crazy things, this total horror wuss is attending a horror convention! I’ll be at StokerCon 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the beginning this month to hang out with my publisher and fellow authors.
  3. I’ll also be returning to Balticon 53 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over Memorial Day weekend.
  4. I’ll squeeze a quick trip up to New York City for the day job in there somewhere.

Will I see you at StokerCon or Balticon this month? What book series are you currently invested in? I obviously need more sagas to get addicted to.

We bought the cats a window seat this month. They approve. I’d chill out there with them, if I could.

cat windowseat

March Wrap-Up & April Goals

backpack pins March 2019I’m feeling pretty positive about how this month turned out, even if (as usual, these days) I did not accomplish all my goals. I did get to spend lots of time with awesome people and read cool books, which also have to be priorities in life. A person cannot always “exhale” productivity; sometimes you have to breath in life to replenish the reservoir.

March Wrap-Up

  • The final copy-edit of Steel Shadows was completed and returned to my editor for layout! I’m so excited about this book. I say this about every project, but this one is completely different from anything I’ve written before.
  • I only wrote about 10k words for Steel Justice rather than 20k, but I did get to the scenes for the grand finale and figured out that I need to seriously beef up a subplot.
  • I had a great time at Cleveland Concoction at the beginning of the month! You can check out my full con report here.
  • I also had a fabulous weekend at Bethany Beach with a bunch of romance writer friends and a successful day job trip to Providence, Rhode Island, for an editing conference. I love how my network of writer friends is so expansive that I got to spend quality time with lovely ladies during each trip: Cara McKinnon and K. Parr.

March Book Reviews

March Speculative Chic Contributions

April Goals

  1. Write the back cover blurb for Steel Shadows.
  2. Make progress on Steel Justice. What does that mean? I don’t even know anymore. We can all be surprised.
  3. Catch up on book reviews! I’m currently almost 10 reviews behind, because I’ve been reading faster than I spend time at my computer.
  4. My travel this month includes a quick weekend trip to Atlanta, Georgia, for a good friend’s wedding.
  5. I’ll also be spending a few days in Washington DC for a very cool healthcare conference on behalf of the day job.

What are you up to this month? I’m definitely excited for warmer weather. I have too many adorable geeky t-shirts to hide them under sweaters.

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

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