Post-Con Report: RavenCon 2023

This past weekend, I went down to Richmond, Virginia, to join a bunch of creatives for RavenCon 16. It’s a small science fiction and fantasy convention celebrating Edgar Allen Poe. Hosted this year at the Virginia Crossings Tapestry Collection, it’s a campus-style hotel, with three buildings around a courtyard. I’d originally been accepted as a panelist for 2020, and finally made it down to the con last year, thanks to the pandemic. To my delight, they accepted me back again this year.

Before the con

After I got home from last RavenCon, I let them know I’d love to come back. In November, I heard that I’d been accepted as a panelist, and was invited to fill out a survey about what I’d like to talk about. I got my reminder email in February to get my survey in. I got my welcome email in early March. We got a tentative schedule in early April, with panels listed, but many panelists had not yet been assigned. Like me! I looked through the schedule, and let programming know which panels I thought would be a good fit for me, and the next day was added to them.

The week before the convention, scheduling conflicts had opened up slots on a few panels, so I volunteered for one more. And was accepted based on my “the time I bit a friend while watching a horror movie” anecdote…

While masks and vaccinations were encouraged, they were not required. As I don’t mind masking, I ordered a bunch of KN95s in cute plaids to wear over the weekend. I planned for a cool, but pleasant weekend. And then it got hot. Luckily, I’d brought layers, so it worked out.


Last year, I’d shown up Thursday night to avoid missing anything. But, since registration didn’t even open until 2pm on Friday, I took a more leisurely approach this year. My first panel was at 6pm, so I showed up at 3pm. I checked in, promptly misplaced my car keys, dropped my stuff in my room, went back to my car and found my keys, then went to registration.

Last year, the left building was where the attendee registration was, the hotel restaurants, the vendor hall, the gaming rooms, and half the panel rooms. The central hotel building held the rest of the panels and the art show, and the right building was predominately hotel rooms.

The panelist registration had been in the central hotel building last year, so I headed straight there. Where they had set up Children’s Programming this year. And they sent me to the left building. There was no line, so I got my badge, said hello to my friends Sean and Lou Ann, and did a loop around the vendor hall.

When I swung by to say ‘hi’ to CapClave, I heard them worrying because the hotel had switched their room. They’d ended up in the wrong room with not enough beds, but the hotel had made it right by giving them a free second room. However, they were worried about the poor, unsuspecting attendee who was going to end up stuck between two party rooms. And then, they mentioned the room number. “Oh! That’s me.” They were relieved because they knew I knew what I was in for. I was going to hit the room parties anyway! (Note: At fan-run science fiction and fantasy conventions, there is often a party board with open-invite parties listed by their hosts, all located on the ‘party floor’)

Off to the vendor hall, where I promptly bought an antlered dragon in a tumbler. I went back to my room to drop off my find, finish unpacking, and get my notebook before my first panel. Then, I got a chair massage.

There was a small guest reception out back, so I got the hotel buffet and joined the small gathering. I set down my plate with Jennifer Povey and Hildy Silverman, just as we were warned off the seats due to ‘red bugs’. I spotted one on my cushion, so I moved it out of the way before I took my seat. I’m not a fan of chiggers – tiny red ticks that leave you itching for weeks. Between scarfing down food, I lightly chatted with new friends before I had to dart off to my first panel.

I was the moderator for: “Winning” NaNoWriMo, so I got there early and tried to make sure I had a few notes of questions to ask and listed out the different NaNo projects I’ve completed, so I could remember them all. Cass Morris and Debbie Kupfer joined me in sharing our advice with the audience. We had about four people attending the panel — which is double my best Friday panel from last year, so I felt as though I was off to a good start.

I followed Cass down to the main restaurant, to RavenCon’s Opening Ceremonies. After awards, introductions, and a geek rap, it was time for my second panel of the day: Con Survivalism. The other panelists were Semetary Cosplay, Dave Harlequin, and it was moderated by O Hai Mark (who I’d met at dinner). You know I had a lot to say about this one! We had a good 10-15 audience members, which was my average for the rest of the weekend.

At the panel, one of the most amazing things (in my opinion) happened. One of our audience members, Kelly Griffiths, came up to let me know that she: a- was from Ohio, b- had heard about the convention in part because she follows this blog, and c- in her prep, had run across my review from last year. And d- this was her first-ever convention! And e – she was going to be on a panel, with me, tomorrow! Meep! (I hope you had a great time!)

I floated around for the next couple hours, including loaning my air filter/fan to my neighbor, O Hai Mark, who was hosting a playlist party, and whose AC was, shall we say, lackluster?

My final panel of the night was the one I’d volunteered for last minute: This Panel IS For The Faint of Heart, where we talked about horror books and movies, which ones we were willing to read, and un-suggestions for muffling your screams of terror. (Oh, wait. Maybe that last part was just me). Moderated by Ashley R. Hall, the other panelists were JM Beal, Carol Cowles, and Stormraven.

After that, I swung through the main parties, rolling the dice to get dubbed an “Epsilon”, but ended up in CapClave’s food-half of their party, chowing down, where it was a little quieter and there was sitting space. At one point, Sean and Lou Ann showed up with “Alien Peril”, a traveling party with jello shooters. I might like parties, but conversations are my favorite part. That said, the hall was far too loud to even try to sleep until the parties shut down at 2am.


I woke up, got ready, and made it to my first panel on time: Creating Content for Social Media. This one was moderated by Joey “GiddyGeeker” Starnes, and I was joined on the panel by Angel Vaughn. There was plenty to share, but you know I’ve got a lot to say about this one as well. After darting out for lunch (and having my parking spot still waiting when I got back!), and another lap of the vendors’ room, it was time for my next panel.

I was the moderator for The Beta Reader, with first-time panelist Kelly Griffiths from the day before, Sandra Baldari, and Alex Matsuo. They had great suggestions for beta readers, but I didn’t do my best moderation job. As this is a topic I’ve talked extensively about, and have given workshops on, I had a lot of information to share. So, instead of balancing contributions, or even just asking questions and letting them answer them (which I do on larger panels!), I had a few monologues. I did let everyone have a turn, but should have cut myself off a little more. They were all very gracious about it, but I know I could do better.

Next, I stuck my head into Con Operations headquarters to ask a favor — since the con wrapped at 3pm on Sunday, and very often hotels don’t need the rooms right away… would there be any rooms available for me to live stream my weekly productivity sprints from? I was hoping to avoid streaming from the lobby — or my car. I’ve done livestreams from my car before, but never without a cohost in the vehicle with me! And they said they’d let me know.

Then, I got struck by a nap-attack. I knew I wasn’t going to be getting an early night with the parties next door, so I rested up. When I woke, one of my Facebook friends I’d never met had messaged about tagging up. I replied just before she got to her car, and after a few rounds of tag, I got to meet Christine and her toddler! They were on their way out, when I bumped into a college buddy, Inigo, and got to catch up real quick.

Next up? The first convention panel I actually just attended, rather than being a panelist for! For long-time readers, you know that having my first panel at 6pm on Saturday is a super slow weekend for me. I even thought about not attending any panel I wasn’t on… but let’s be serious.

First up was: Creating a Political & Moral Universe with Dr. J. “Cal” Baldari and Phillip Pournelle, (which was not in the left building, but in the central building, so I was a couple minutes late). Following that, in the same room: There’s a Reason You’re Afraid of the Dark with Tina Glasneck, Jennifer Allen, Alex Matsuo, and Bishop O’Connell.

I swung back by O Hai Mark’s room for Bill Mulligan’s book launch party (Raum). Then, I darted out for some highly recommended poke bowl (well, at least Bill said it was good), and ended up with unagi (eel), my favorite food, that I scarfed down as panels switched over, and made it to: Quantum Mechanics, Solar Sails, or Hyperdrives, with Charles Pellegrino, moderated by Angela Giddings. It was a roller coaster of a panel.

My final panel of the night was a huge line-up at: Ask a (Mad) Scientist, with Charles Pelligrino, Dr. Anthony El-Khouri, Brent Roeder, Dr. Ben Davis, Angela Giddings, LR Gould, Daniel Wallace, and Darcy Wold, moderated by Jim Beall. A fun panel, where I was asked to ask more questions from the audience! Too bad they needed us to clear out so they could clean the room before bed — otherwise, I was about to get them all to give their best mad-scientist-laughs!

I swung through the parties again. The tunnel party was fun, but echoey and loud, so I was favoring the snack-party of CapClave, before they closed, then hanging out at O Hai Mark’s playlist party until closing time.


Luckily, my first Sunday panel wasn’t until 11am. I scrambled to get packed up and checked out in time, and was within a minute of on time for my first panel of the day: A Writer’s Life: Discover Your Process, with moderator John M. Gaines. I found myself vibing with panelist RS “Rod” Belcher and Mary Terrani’s approaches. And Belcher later told me he enjoyed my advice (stolen from better writers than I), that you don’t have to include the whole conversation, just the relevant chunks. And I met Travis I. Sivart in person! I’d stumbled across his writing livestreams on twitch a few times but had no clue he was going to be there. Or was local. Or anything.

Darting down the hall for my last panel of the weekend — well, with me behind the table — I made it to: So, You Want To Start A Podcast, with Bill Mulligan, Angela Pritchett, and moderated by Maya Preisler. I learned that Spotify is now offering free podcast hosting, so I might be looking into that!

After my last panel, I checked the schedule and had a little time. After making sure I was fully checked out, and confirming I could use a room for my live stream, they let me pick the room! I picked the Map Room, which, on second look wasn’t the best choice. The fridge hummed loudly and the lighting was lacking. Next time, I think I’ll go for the library.

I grabbed lunch at the hotel — but I’d already checked out! At most hotel restaurants, that’s not a problem, but their system had been down all weekend. I needed to either charge my room or use cash. I realized my mistake right after I ordered, but reassured the bartender that I could grab cash at the ATM. Except… I only had my credit card with me. What’s a girl to do? Apparently, go buy a copy of Poe For Your Problems: Uncommon Advice From History’s Least Likely Self-Help Guru and ask for cash back.

Lunch sorted, I checked the schedule and realized I could squeeze in one more panel — from the audience! Off to: Legends and Myths in Urban Fantasy, with Esther Freisner, RS (Rod) Belcher, Jennifer Povey, and Tina Glasneck, moderated by Bishop O’Connell. And then, the con was over.

I took several walks around the courtyard, scouted the space, and finally, set up for my live stream. The chat was a little light, but we had a bunch of people come and chat virtually. I snacked, edited, and then packed up to head home. With just a little traffic around Fredericksburg, I made it home by 8pm, where Catticus was very happy to see me.

So, that was me on 7 panels, attending 5, 1 Opening Ceremonies, 1 book launch party, and more! Another successful RavenCon. I hope to be back next year!

Did you make it to RavenCon or another convention this past weekend? How did you like it?
If not, do you have any questions?


    1. It was great to meet you as well! And your dinner recommendation was delicious as well as hilarious because of their musical selections. Gangnam style followed by what does the fox say.


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