Sunday, July 13, 2014

Con Report: ConGregate, Winston Salem, Friday (Day 1)

ConGregate is a first-year speculative fiction convention (“con”) held this past weekend in Winston Salem. A first year con, but experienced con runners, and it showed. Smooth registration, a slew of interesting panels, a full dealers room, well attended costume contest and charity auction, and more.

When the con was announced, one of the things that excited me most was word that the founders, Faith Hunter, David B. Coe, and Misty Massey, would be leading some writing panels and a small-group workshop to critique the first 2500 words of a manuscript. I was the first person to sign up for the workshop!

I arrived later than originally planned on Friday, so I missed what looked like some interesting early panels. As a con runner, I know what a challenge Friday programming can be, balancing incoming guests and attendees interests and availability. Next year, I will definitely plan to arrive earlier in the day!

So my start to the con was with David B. Coe reading from his (under the pen name of D.B.Jackson) newly released novel Plunder of Souls, third in the excellent Thieftaker trilogy, a historical urban fantasy based in my old hometown of Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War. David has a smooth and expressive reading voice, and the story begins in the middle of the action, so he carried us right along for almost 30 minutes. The other people in the room were all fellow fans, so he didn’t need to engage in much explanation or Q&A.

A.J. Hartley followed with a reading of an entirely new novel. He said one of the main challenges in writing it had been getting into the voice of a 17-year-old girl. We all agreed he did an excellent job. Her “voice” came through loud and clear in this beautiful tale, set in an historical African city. I found myself thinking about the story frequently throughout the weekend. That lingering sensation is one of the strongest signs of a compelling story, for me, and I am very hopeful this book will be successful – I want to read more!

One of the first people I saw out in the hallway was Sharon Stogner, of, featuring reviews of paranormal books, movies and comics. I stopped her to remind her I had attended one of her panels at Mysticon in 2013 – turned out it was her very first panel – and to ask if I could pick her brain at some point over the weekend, as I want to grow my social media presence as a writer and blogger. She’s super friendly and agreed to sit down with me sometime during the con.

Making my way downstairs to the hotel bar, I found John Hartness and Emily Leverett already settled in with several other friends. I spent the rest of the evening chatting with them – when I wasn’t jumping up to say hi and offer hugs to friends coming in. It was suggested I could be the con’s official greeter. Which sounded great at the time, but on reflection sounds more like being a WalMart greeter…

I was having such a good time, I didn’t’ make it back upstairs to any other panels on Friday night. The other hazard of cons – there’s always too much going on to do *everything* you want to. *wry grin*

I actually didn’t stay up that late Friday night, knowing I wanted to get an early start with a 9am panel (yes, that’s wicked early in con time). Making arrangements to meet friends at 8am for breakfast, I bid everyone good night.

Tomorrow, con panels, the MW workshop, and more!

Continued on Day 2...

Time writing
~1 hour, interrupted

July word count

1 comment:

  1. Writing report (two days worth):
    Novel editing, Ch15a, Ch27, Ch28

    Time: ~30min each day