Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

My Schedule for RavenCon 2018

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 | Author: jmward14 | cons, conventions, ravencon | Comments Off

It’s con season—and not a moment too soon. This year, it may be the only way to tell spring has sprung.
First up is one of my favorites, RavenCon. I hope you’ll join me and guests like Chuck Wendig, Mark Cline and Eric Wile in Williamsburg, Virginia, April 20-22. The programming, as you can see from my schedule, can’t be beat:

5 PM, Room 4
Panelists: Val Griswold-Ford and Jean Marie Ward

6 PM, Room 8
Worldbuilding: Crafting New Worlds–How to create worlds and universes that are unique and original.
Panelists: Michael Thompson (M), Jennifer R. Povey, Mark H. Wandry, Jean Marie Ward

8 PM, Room 8
How Women Challenge and Change Science Fiction and Fantasy–We’ll go over the influence of both female characters and female authors on science fiction and fantasy.
Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (M), Andrea Judy, Kettle Macaulay, Misty Massey

3-5 PM, Room 5
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading—Two hours of bite-sized readings from some of your favorite authors—with chocolate and door prizes.
Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (M), Samantha Bryant, Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Paula S. Jordan, A.L. Kaplan, Emily Lavin Leverett, Gail Z. Martin, Jennifer R. Povey, Ken Schrader, Leona R. Wissoker

5 PM, Room 8
Making the Impossible Plausible–How can you make the impossible seem at least somewhat plausible in your writing?
Panelists: John G. Walker (M), Jim Beall, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jean Marie Ward

6 PM, Room 8
Effective Writing of Historical Fiction–How to keep the historical part of your writing from flying into the fantastical.
Panelists: Sandra J. Baldari (M), L. Jagi Lamplighter, Cecilee Linke, Jean Marie Ward

7 PM, Room L
Falstaff Books Spotlight—The latest from the Misfit Toys of your favorite small press.
Panelists: John G. Hartness (M), Darin Kennedy, Misty Massey, Jean Marie Ward

9 PM, Room L
It’s a Con. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Our panelists know, and they’ve promised to tell all.
Panelists: MrShirt (M), Stacey Helton, Greg Smith, Jean Marie Ward

If you want to learn more, check out the RavenCon website and their online schedule. Or better yet, join us there. You won’t regret it.

Posted 11 months, 1 week ago at 2:43 am.

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My RavenCon Schedule, Version 2015

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | cons, gail z. martin, jean marie ward, ravencon | Comments Off

RavenCon 10th Anniversary

If it’s April, it must be RavenCon, Richmond’s home-grown con. Yours truly will be on the program again this year—as will lots of my favorite people. What you see here is only the smallest part of the whole.

Friday, April 24

5 PM (Panel) Urban Fantasy in the Real World
Room G
Panelists discuss using real-world places and historical figures in your writing. What can you do and what will get you in trouble? How do you keep a place real enough to be recognizable to people who have visited or lived there, but still make it suit your fiction needs?
R.S. Belcher, J. T. Glover, Kurrie Hoyt, Gail Martin, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

7 PM Opening Ceremonies
Rooms E & F

11 PM (Event) CJ Henderson Memorial
Bon Air
Friends and fans of CJ Henderson gather together to remember this iconic author and frequent guest of RavenCon.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Moderator), Heidi Hooper, Mike McPhail, Michael Ventrella, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, April 25

4 PM (Presentation/Workshop) Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Bite-sized readings from seven of your favorite authors.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Meriah Crawford, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Gail Martin, KT Pinto, Jennifer Povey, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

7 PM (Panel) Weird Westerns
What is it about the west that attracts speculative fiction writers? Firefly, The Dark Tower, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and The Wild Wild West; film, television, anime, and commercial fiction use the west as a setting and place for magic to happen. Why do we love this sub-genre? Where is it going next?
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, R.S. Belcher, Doc Coleman, Nicole Givens Kurtz (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward

10 PM (Panel) The Villain’s Journey
We all know about the Hero’s Journey. But is there a corresponding Villain’s Journey? Panelists will discuss the arc villains (or antagonists) can and should take through novels and other media.
Emily Lavin Leverett, Kate Paulk, D. Alexander Ward, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

Hope to see you at the con and at the book launch parties being hosted by my good friends Gail Z. Martin (Saturday, 11 PM—I love her so much I may actually crawl out of my coffin before noon to attend) and the folks at Double Dragon Publishing (Friday, 6 PM—by far a saner hour). ‘Til Friday!

Posted 3 years, 11 months ago at 9:58 am.

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Heading to RavenCon

Thursday, April 4th, 2013 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | Comments Off

Between deadlines and conventions, 2013 is shaping up as a wonderfully busy year.
For those of you who missed it, I was one of the guests of honor at James Madison University’s Madicon the first weekend in March. I had a great time with old friends and new, and as usual, I have the pictures to prove it.
This weekend will find me in Richmond at RavenCon. This year’s writing guests of honor are Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. The artist guest of honor is The Devil’s Panties creator Jennie Breeden. I’m looking forward to all their panels, but I confess, I’m especially looking forward to Jennie’s. Her web videos are laugh-so-loud-you-scare-the-cat funny, even when she’s hawking merchandise.
I can only hope to compete on my five panels. Yeah, you know what’s coming–my RavenCon schedule:


3 p.m., Room F
Steampowered–the Rage of the New Victorians
From werewolves to anti-zombie airship pilots, the Empire has struck back. What is it about this genre and time period that is so appealing. Is it the machinery? The celebration of intellect? Or is it the clothes?
Carl Cipra (Moderator), Laura Anne Hill, Jean Marie Ward, Susan Zee

11 p.m., York Room
Yes, But is it Funny? Comedy in Science Fiction
…And presumably everything else. This is the late night panel. You really think we’re going to stay on topic? Mwahahaha!
Jim Bernheimer, Bud Sparhawk, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Joan Wendland


2 p.m., Anna Room
Judging a Book by its Cover
What are the latest trends in science fiction, fantasy and horror covers? What do you love–and hate–about book covers? And what are the latest trends?
Betty Cross, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), J. Andrew World

4 p.m., Room E
Beyond Steampunk
Gaslight fantasy. Weird west. Dieselpunk. Cyberpunk. Explore the punked-out fictions that are not set in a British Victorian or Edwardian past.
Betty Cross, Laura Anne Hill, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Susan Zee


1 p.m., Room E
The Discreet Charm of the Historical Fantasy
What prompts otherwise sane writers to spend years researching Imperial Japan, the Silk Road, or the Ripper’s London. How do they know when they’ve gotten it right?
Day Al-Mohamed, Maggie Allen, KT Pinto, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

Hope to see you there!

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago at 10:00 am.

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RavenCon Schedule

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 | Author: jmward14 | jean marie ward, ravencon | Comments Off

RavenCon is this weekend! I can’t wait, and when you see the schedule they’ve given me, you’ll know why. And this is only the tip of their programming iceberg. Glen Cook and Matthew Stewart are the writer and artist guests of honor, respectively. This year the con hosts its first media guest, Battlestar Galactica’s Nicki Clyne. Not to mention an all-new Masquerade and a concert by Bella Morte, whose lead singer Andy Deane is also a writer and on the program.

And so am I:

Friday, April 14

4 p.m.
Space Cowboys and Fantasy Noir: From Shadowrun to the Garret Files to Priest, mixing genres can result in some interesting stories. What genres mix well?
John Betancourt Glen Cook, S. Reesa Herberth, Stuart Jaffe, Michelle Moore, Jean Marie Ward

5 p.m.
Creating a Timeline: How carefully should an author keep track of what happens, when, and where? What are some techniques to make this easier?
Day Al-Mohamed (m), Pamela K. Kinney, Bud Sparhawk, Jean Marie Ward, Robert E. Waters, Steve White

Saturday, April 15

2 p.m.
Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading: Tasty, bite-sized readings from the authors of Broad Universe, an international organization dedicated to promoting science fiction, fantasy and horror written by women.
Danielle Ackley McPhail, KT Pinto, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Leona Wisoker (m)

3 p.m.
Design a Superhero: What makes a superhero great? Panelists describe what they think makes a memorable superhero.
Butch Allen, Billy Flynn, CJ Henderson, Patrick A. Vanner, Jean Marie Ward

5 p.m.
Modern Fairy Tales: Lost Girl, Grimm, and Once Upon a Time all bring fairy tales to the TV screen. What makes some shows work, and others not?
Butch Allen, Flynnstress, Warren Rochelle, Suzanne Rosin, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward

Sunday, April 16

11 a.m.
Are Panels About Vampires Played Out? Every year, we have a panel asking if vampires are passé. Are panels asking if vampires are passé…passé?
Scott M. Baker, Keith R.A. DeCandido, KT Pinto, Jim Stratton, Jean Marie Ward, Robert E. Waters

2 p.m.
Military Science Fiction and Fantasy: Panelists discuss the various subgenres of military SF and fantasy, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica to Black Company.
Glen Cook, Mike McPhail, Tony Ruggerio, Janine K. Spendlove, Patrick A. Vanner, Jean Marie Ward (m)


Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 2:00 pm.

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Six Sentence Sunday: “Stealth Guest, or How to Succeed at Cons with a Cunning Plan”

Sunday, April 8th, 2012 | Author: jmward14 | jean marie ward, ravencon, six sentence sunday | 6 Comments

Our beloved Feline Overlord is ailing, and last weekend was devoted to him. But I’m back this week, with a little nonfiction in honor of RavenCon, where I’ll be next weekend–the story of my first RavenCon in 2007:

The email from RavenCon’s assistant director of programming was polite but not encouraging:

“Right now our guest list is full, but I will put you on our short list if a guest cancels…”

A lot of writers will take that as a hint. In other words: “Stay home, little girl, you’re not big enough/you’re the wrong genre to play in our sandbox.” But I’m evil and wise in the ways of science fiction/fantasy conventions. And I had a cunning plan.


If you want to read more about my first RavenCon, you can find the full story here.

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 8:00 am.


Con Catch-up

Saturday, May 8th, 2010 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | Comments Off

Finally finished my April con reports on RavenCon, the Library of Congress, Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe’s 2010 mega-signing and the Washington Romance Writers Retreat. The results, plus twelve occasions for blackmail–er, photos are now live at Beyond the Veil. That means if you want to know what Roxanne St. Claire and Charlaine Harris are doing with those sugar packets, you’ll just have to click the link. Mwahahahahahaha!

Posted 8 years, 10 months ago at 10:52 am.

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RavenCon, Retreat and Library of Congress–with links to photos!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | Comments Off

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the more fun I’m having away from the keyboard, the less likely I am to blog. Guess who’s been having way too much fun this month. We’ll draw a veil over the household’s Easter/Oster celebrations. Suffice it to say much chocolate was consumed—necessary fuel for what was to follow.

Next came RavenCon, which this year featured two of my favorite people, Rachel Caine and her husband R. Cat, as Writer and Artist Guests of Honor, respectively. And that’s not even counting the great people who run the convention. If you’re interested in a visual tour of the fun, my April 9 and 10 photos can be found here. Sunday, April 11, I was too busy to shoot. Honest!

The very next day, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Sarah Avery, Christine Norris and I upheld the honor of Broad Universe at the Library of Congress. We didn’t get any photos of the Rapid Fire Reading itself, but if you want to see the unusual suspects, click here.

On April 16, it was off to Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland, for the annual mega-signing with Nora Roberts and the featured guests of the Washington Romance Writers annual conference, “In the Company of Writers”, then the conference itself. The Retreat, as it’s called, is always a highlight of my year. I just wish the love came through in the photos. The subjects are so much lovelier than their photos.

I’ll write a longer report for my monthly Beyond the Veil blog on May 8. But until then, I leave you with this. Enjoy!

(Left to right) authors Charlaine Harris, Diane Whiteside and Ginjer Buchanan, Ace/Roc editor-in-chief at the WRW Retreat, April 17.

Jean Marie

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 7:06 pm.

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RavenCon Anon

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | 1 Comment

RavenCon 2010 makes Richmond, Virginia, the place to be this weekend, April 9-11. The con features Rachel Caine, author of the best selling Weather Warden and Morganville Vampire series, her multi-talented artist husband R. Cat and gaming guru Steve Long as guests of honor, as well as lots of other talented writers, artists, gamers and costumers you really want to meet.

With a guest list like that, you know I couldn’t stay away. Not only that, I even strong-armed—ahem, persuaded the con committee to let me play on some panels. My schedule follows. I hope you’ll join me there!


7 p.m.: Two Way Street
Writers and artists often feed each other muses. Artists talk about the writers who inspired them and vice versa.
Panelists: R. Cat (Artist Guest of Honor), James Enge, Heidi Hooper, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), J. Andrew World

10 p.m.: Where Have All the Female Vampires Gone?
Help us find out.
Panelists: Jim Blanton, Rob Floyd, Kalayna Price (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward


11 p.m.: Ghost Hunting—New Trend or Passing Fad
There’s a lot of stuff on TV and in literature—but is anyone still pursuing this at home? What makes or breaks the hunt for a ghost and how long will it continue?
Panelists: Pam Kinney, Cheralyn Lambeth, Laura Underwood (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward


10:30 a.m.: Jean Marie’s Koffee Klatsch
Come rescue me from talking to myself for a half hour after wrestling ghosts ‘til the wee hours of the morning. I will have chocolate…

Noon: That’s Bull
We all agree it’s fiction but there are times when even authors take too much liberty. Panelists discuss what they have read and perhaps their own forays across the line of believability. How far will a reader be willing to go to suspend disbelief? Does a writer lose credibility or are they just pushing the envelope?
Panelists: Laura Cory-Haywood, Sarah Harvey (Moderator), Larry Hodges, Jean Marie Ward

1 p.m.: Leyaks Don’t Get No Respect
World mythology is full of weird and wondrous beings who’ve yet to make their mark on the fiction bestseller lists. Writers and artists talk about their favorite obscure creatures and why they deserve their time to shine…or darkly glow, as the case may be.
Panelists: Iver Cooper, Kalayna Price, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Leona Wisoker

2 p.m.: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Four first-rate authors read exciting, bite-sized excerpts of their work that will leave you hungry for more. (Check out the flyer if you want to know more about the writers.)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Debra Killeen, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Diane Whiteside

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 10:06 pm.

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Going to RavenCon

Monday, April 20th, 2009 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | 1 Comment

My 2009 conference season starts off with a bang this Friday at Richmond’s RavenCon. If you’re in the neighborhood of the Crowne Plaza West, drop by and say hello–and hang around for the festivities. Mary Shelley’s going to be making a return engagement, and this time I think I can get the hair right. As for the rest, I think they’re going to get their money’s worth…


5 p.m.: Twice-Told Tales
Some of the most popular adult and young adult fantasy in today’s market are retellings of classic fairy tales and myths. What’s the allure? How do writers find something new to say about the stories we all know?
Panelists: Marcia Collette, Edmund Schubert (moderator), Jean Marie Ward, John C. Wright

7 p.m.: Writing 411: (Not Necessarily) The Usual Suspects (90-minute literary workshop)
Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Jack Bauer, Reno—chances are the thing you like best and remember longest about your favorite stories are the characters. This session will discuss the importance of characters in the creation of plot.
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Allen Wold (moderator), John C. Wright

10 p.m.: Urban Fantasy 101
Werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters—these used to be classic “horror” elements. What defines Urban Fantasy and how does it differ from classic horror?
Panelists: Danny Birt, Marcia Colette, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Hildy Silverman, Jean Marie Ward (moderator)


3 p.m.: Dead Authors Society
Four authors channel the spirits of their favorite dead authors for the duration. Talk to William Morris, David Gemmel, Louie L’Amour and Mary Shelley live…sort of.Panelists: Lyn Gardner, Laurel Anne Hill, Peter Prellwitz, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Jean Marie Ward

6 p.m.: Books on TV
Several new series are popping up on TV based on popular novels–TrueBlood and Legend of the Seeker, for example. How closely do these TV shows follow their inspiration and will book fans follow them to television?
Panelists: James Fulbright, Jean Marie Ward

10 p.m.: Love at First Bite
What is it about vampires? From TrueBlood to Twilight, vampires seem to be taking over. What makes them fun to read and watch? Oh… and do they deserve “human rights” or are they “monsters”?
Panelists: Paul Bibeau, Marcia Collette, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Jean Marie Ward


Noon: Does Blood Smell?
A panel about some of the more “icky” aspects of writing and research.
Panelists: Laurel Anne Hill, Gail Martin, Tony Ruggiero (moderator), Maggie Stiefvater, Jean Marie Ward

Posted 9 years, 11 months ago at 10:15 pm.

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The Infamous Strawberry Pic and More!

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | Comments Off

Three cons and two book signings in two weeks.  Yes, I’m crazy.  You had to ask?

Not only that, I’m crazy enough to post about all three.  With pics!  (At last, you say.)


Technically, RavenCon, Richmond VA’s very new science fiction/fantasy con, ran from April 20-22.  But unlike a lot of local sf/fantasy/horror organizations who sit around wringing their hands about where the next generation of fans are coming from, the organizers have mounted a real outreach program.  One that goes out into the local school system and…

Okay, so the outreach program is largely the brainchild of author and podcaster Tee Morris (Morevi and Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword), and it focuses on his alma mater, Monacan High School.  The point is he brings the authors and artists of RavenCon to the students where they study and read. 


On Thursday, April 18, he bused a handful of us to the school for programs thematically linked to the subjects studied in the school’s Humanities Program.  My roomie Jana Oliver (Sojourn) and I were on the hook for a 90-minute seminar on “The Use of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy”.  Ironically, many of the books and movies we discussed were cited again in Tee’s afternoon session on “Why Science Fiction and Fantasy Matter”.  I’d say great minds think alike, but since I’m pretty sure I was already starting to succumb to the Con Crud, I’m not sure I had a mind.

The Usual Suspects – (Left to right) Tee Morris, Monacan High School teacher Alex McGrath, yours truly and Jana Oliver following our Thursday panels at Monacan.  Tee credits Alex with setting his feet on the path to writing. 

The highlight of the Friday program at Monacan was a lunch-time panel discussion featuring DragonMoon authors Jana, Tee, Val Griswold-Ford and Pete Prellwitz, NASA contractor Laura Burns, multi-published comic writer and novelist Rich White, artist Bryan J. Prindiville and yours truly.  The interesting thing was how much the questions resembled those at every writing panel I’d ever sat on. 


-  How can I get my book/art published?


-  What are publishers looking for?


-  What’s the process like?


-  How can I make a living at this?


The questions came from students and teachers and librarians.  Not all of them wrote sf, fantasy or horror, but all of them were interested in writing or art.


I confess, despite having two books published and eight years of covering the genre arts scene for Crescent Blues, I still feel like a fraud answering those kinds of questions.  I don’t know how to make a living at it.  I could probably make a decent income writing nonfiction.  That’s more or less what I did in the Fed–if you ignore the non-fiction part.  But it would be a high-stress financial struggle and entail taking on a lot of work I didn’t like. 


Fiction, on the other hand…  I don’t have a clue how to become the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King.  Part of it is writing good books that scratch the itch of the moment.  But nailing that need is so much a matter of luck.  So much is a trade-off too.  It could take years before you see any returns from a print book published by even the most reputable and prompt-paying small press.  Yet a small press editor could be an important step in your development as a writer.  I can’t send enough props to Jess Bimberg of Samhain Publishing, for example. 


Pete zinged me on going into too much detail on points like these.  But this is what I wanted to know when I started out.  Not that it would’ve changed anything, but it would’ve been good to know the reality of the situation.  If you’re addicted to writing or art, as these folks plainly were, it’s good to know the challenges in advance, if only to wargame ways around them.


I wasn’t listed on the official list of con guests, because I submitted my application too late, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t snag panels.  The full story of how I weaseled my way–er, was invited to sit in on four panels can be found on the Samhain blog I wrote while I was sweating out my fever between cons.


Interestingly enough, I found myself participating on three “sex” panels:


-  Shaken… Not Stirred (Leading Men and Women in SF Films) – in which Tee opined he’d do Sam Elliot in Ghostwriter.  We will never, ever let him forget that.  We will make sure his kids never do either.

The Strawberry Pic – Jana and Tee, Shaken… Not Stirred with lots of rum.  Captain Jack Sparrow would’ve felt right at home.


-  My Lover is a Vampire… Or Maybe a Werewolf… (I Can’t Decide; They’re Both So Hot) – which was more interesting in retrospect because the panelists raised the same issues raised by the editors and agents in the following weekend’s Washington Romance Writers Retreat.


-  Vice in Science Fiction – this was a pick-up panel.  I wandered into the session largely because Programming Director Tony Ruggerio seemed desperate for participants.   It gave me my best line of the con.  Heh heh.  Moderator Greg Eatroff kicked off the session by saying his qualifications for leading it was he read a lot of porn.  I waited, a bland expression on my professional face, until the introductions came around to me.  Then I purred, “I read a lot of porn…professionally.”


It got one of the biggest laughs of the session and had the virtue of being mostly true.  I’ve copyedited several of Samhain’s hottest erotic romances.  You’ll probably be disappointed to learn I didn’t dwell on my reading habits, though.  Instead I brought up Full-Metal Alchemist and the Seven Deadly Sins.  Sometimes a Catholic education is a terrible thing for the wasted.


Tee and I shared an autograph session where we spent a lot of time talking about the marketing value of podcasting.  Ancestor, the new title by fellow Dragon Moon author Scott Sigler, debuted at Number 7 in the Amazon science fiction rankings as a result of Scott’s advance podcast readings.  The only books ahead of it in the rankings were the six current Harry Potter titles.  No eager autograph hunters showed–a far cry from the reactions of the students at Monacan.  As Tee said, it sort of put the notion of small-press fame into perspective.


I wasn’t expecting any fans.  For me a con is all about connecting with friends (Hello, Kelly, and Jay and Sherri of Elemental Life Jewelry & Massage).  I was thrilled to have books available for signing.  Period.


Creatures ‘n Crooks, the official con bookseller, deserves special props for being willing to stock and sell With Nine You Get Vanyr on such short notice.  They actually sold a copy too.  It was to a friend, to be sure, but I didn’t twist her arm or anything.  Now I’ve just got to hope she likes it.


Another person I hope likes the book is Charles Gilliland, who bought a copy of the book from me in the Con Suite.  I read his dad Alexis’s books back in the day.  How totally cool is that?


The con also boasted sf/fantasy comedy sketches by Luna-C and the Geek Comedy Tour 3000, and a costume competition.  The Masquerade seemed so small to the DragonCon extravaganzas I’m used to, but I’m sure it will grow.  Like RavenCon itself.  Last year, the con had around 450 attendees.  This year attendance topped 700, making it too big for the current con hotel.  Next year?  Well, let’s just say I plan to submit my guest application really, really early.


I crashed as soon as I lugged my suitcase through the door of Chez Squirrel.  Con crud at its finest–not!  The nurse practitioner associated with my doctor’s office shares her boss’s aversion to antibiotics, but one look at me and she whipped out her prescription pad.  I was pathetically grateful.  The meds were the only reason I managed to complete my scheduled Samhain Blog April 25, which was doubly important, because that was the week of the Romantic Times BOOKlovers Convention.  There would’ve been no one available to cover me if I fumbled the ball.  At the time, though, all I could thing about was how relieved I was I didn’t have to board a plane to Houston.  I never would’ve made it.


My signing at Boonsboro MD’s Turn the Page (TtP) Bookstore Cafe and the Washington Romance Writers (WRW) Retreat in Harpers Ferry were iffy until Thursday afternoon.  I probably should’ve stayed home, but how many times in your life do you get the chance to sign with Nora Roberts–as of today, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Important People in the World.  (Yes, I’m riffing on an old commercial for a bank that’s since been absorbed into something else, but still…  LOL)

After the Signing – Silhouette Nocturne author Pam Palmer, Nora Roberts and me.  It doesn’t get much better than this.  *smiles*


The April 27 signing was small by TtP standards, but pleasant in the extreme.  The bookstore is housed an historic Boonsboro building with an annex the staff converts into a signing area.  Twelve folks were signing April 27: Retreat guests Lisa Gardiner, Julia Quinn and Madeline Hunter, Nora, fellow WRW members Dee Davis, Sue Donovan, Diane Gaston, Donna Kauffmann, Kathleen O’Reilly, Pam Palmer, Hope Tarr, Michelle Willingham and moi. 


I even managed to sell a respectable number of books–especially considering Vanyr, a trade paperback, was almost three times the cost of the mass market paperbacks in front of my fellow authors.  Sometimes smaller is better. 


But then I blew about ten times what I made in royalties buying everyone’s books and getting them signed on the spot.  Two, in particular, were reserved for Mom’s Mother’s Day package–a Nora anthology and Michelle’s Her Irish Warrior.  It will be fun to see how Mom reacts to a story about a tall, well-muscled Irishman paired with a petite, dark-haired heroine named Genevieve.  Reader identification knows no age. 

The Ol’ Sweet Shop – Pam and Diane Gaston place their luncheon orders.  Just seeing all the desserts behind them makes my mouth water retroactively.


Pam (the angel of mercy who offered me a ride to and from the event) and I followed up the post-signing signings by joining Diane and several of the other writers at the Ol’ Town Sweet Shop across the street. The shop offered Italian Wedding Cookies!  I bought a dozen for Mom.  I should’ve bought more.  Don’t it figure they were the one sweet she didn’t share.  LOL


This year’s retreat offered little in the way of surprises unless you count the impromptu sing-along in the bar after Romance Jeopardy Saturday night.  (St. Martins editor Jennifer Enderlin and Julia Quinn know more show tune and pop standards than anybody.  Eva!) 


Friday night boasted the traditional Editor/Agent free-for-all with regulars Kate Duffy (Kensington), Jennifer, Tracey Farrell (Harlequin), Lucia Macro (Avon), Jenny Bent, Elaine English, Meg Ruley, and newcomers Shauna Summers (Bantam) and Elaine Spencer.  Emily Sylvan Kim may have been on the panel, but I was too out of it to tell.  Saturday night there was Romance Jeopardy (which is Not Fair!)

“Romance Jeopardy Is Not Fair!”  Karen Smith, Binnie Syril Braunstein, Jennifer Enderlin, Kathleen Gilles Seidel and Beth Fedorko incite mayhem in front of the Jeopardy board.  At least they weren’t singing, which they did earlier in the competition.  (Oh, the humanity!)


In between there were great speakers and programs and massages, and on Sunday we got to hear Nora’s traditional comedic closer, introduced–as has also become traditional–by Tim Bentler-Jungr, this year in the persona of Borat.  Afterwards, I took advantage of the publicity photo shoot offered by Tisara Photography.  Maybe I should’ve waited.  The lingering remains of the C-Crud left my eyes a little puffy.   But Nina Tisara, the photographer, did a great job, and I hope to post the results here and on the web site very, very soon.


I slept through more morning sessions than usual.  Couldn’t seem to rebuild my energy until I after got home.  But I still had fun, again mostly through connecting with my buds–who I will one day succeed in photographing well.  (I wish Nina could’ve had her photographic way with them.  Unfortunately, everyone needed to leave too soon.)

The Terrible Three – My roomies Anne Shaw Moran (left), Kim Headlee (writing as Kimberly Iverson, right) and me.


Friday, May 4, was the day I set aside for having dinner with Carole Nelson Douglas and Lillian Stewart Carl at Malice Domestic, the local traditional mystery conference.  I was a little worried about it.  Not about seeing Carole or Lillian, whom I adore as friends and writers, but about the con itself.  I didn’t want to pay the $200 registration fee.


Or feel the pain.  In a throw-away at the WRW Editors and Agents Panel, Lucia Macro mentioned Avon has canceled its cozy mystery series.  I half expected to walk into a cloud of psychic anguish. 


If there was one, however, it didn’t extend to Bin1700, the Crystal City Marriott’s new tapas bar.  There it was all good, from the crab cakes to the “dos-a-dos” preview book of Carole’s Dancing with Werewolves and Chasing Silver Juno Books has created to the fabulous cover of Lillian’s upcoming Juno release, Blackness Tower.


Carole was one of actors in the Malice Theater of the Air’s 2007 production of OpOp.  Her own panel (conducted in the character of her Dancing with Werewolves heroine, Delilah Street) went well too. 


The only thing remotely painful was the painfully missing Elaine Viets, who was slated to be the con’s toastmistress before her stroke earlier this spring.  Like Carole, Elaine’s a frequent performer in the Malice Theater of the Air.  I can only hope her recovery is speedy and complete.  She’s one of the good guys.

Now it’s on to the next challenges.  First there’s the final polish on my ghost cat article, then it’s the beta read of a friend’s first novel.  Part of me is thrilled.  It’s always exciting when someone takes their first writing plunge, but I never know what to say.  It’s all about the sensation of fraud I mentioned earlier.  How can I pretend to be an expert when I know so little? 


Fake it.  As usual.  LOL


Posted 11 years, 10 months ago at 10:15 pm.

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