Con Review: RavenCon 2010

ravencon2010by James R. Stratton

 

RavenCon 2010
April 9–11, 2010
Richmond, Virginia
http://www.ravencon.com/

RavenCon in Richmond is a new, up-and-coming SF&F convention that was first held in 2006. At that time they had a paid attendance of several hundred, but because of the excellent organization, and the personal touch the con can offer its members, RavenCon has prospered. I’ve attended RavenCon for the last three years, and have been a guest panelist for the last two. My experience probably typifies the general experience of the membership.

This year RavenCon was held in the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Richmond, a larger venue that was necessary because of the con’s growth. The con had multiple tracks running throughout the weekend, including programming tracks for filk, gaming, science, art, writer’s workshops and, of course, literature. The hotel itself is clean and well run, with a spacious convention area. My only complaint would be the restaurant service, which apparently was not told of the convention by the front desk, and was absolutely overwhelmed by the crowd. However, this is typical for many con hotels, especially when they are new to such events.

I arrived mid-day on Friday and checked in with a minimum of fuss. The hotel is located along a major commercial highway, with a number of malls and shops within minutes. I was able to get a haircut and pick up a few odds and ends I forgot in roughly an hour. At 5:00, I joined Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Bernie Mojzes for the launch party hosted by Dragon Moon Press for the new anthology Rum & Runestones we were all in, along with a number of the other authors. Several other books were featured as well, and the event was well attended as there was plenty of food and drink available. I understand sales of the new releases were brisk, so all were pleased with the results. I met up with some friends at the room parties afterwards, and had a late night.

Saturday was a busy day for me with five panels scheduled. At 9:00 I was part of a panel on the pros and cons of wanting to write and publish novels. This was an odd experience for me as the other panelists were the Guest of Honor Rachel Caine and established author Nancy Halger. So we had me (who is working on the publication of my first novel), Nancy (who has several out) and Rachel (who has 30+ novels published and 10 more under contract). It was quite a contrast. At 1:00 I was on a panel on whether you need an agent (opinions were mixed), at 2:00 “Don’t Give Up Your Day Job” (good advice for any new author), at 3:00 “How Not To Get Sued” (with myself and other lawyer/authors on the panel), and finally “Why Contribute To An Anthology” with major author/editors like Bud Sparhawk, Lee Martindale and Chuck Gannon. I did another round of room parties to top off the night.

Sunday was my slower easier day. I joined the AM koffee klatch with Valerie Griswold-Ford, the editor of Rum & Runestones for Dragon Moon, along with many of my fellow authors, for a chat with any and all who joined us. I sat in on some panels, and chatted with folks I hadn’t had a chance to catch up with earlier in the weekend, then headed home.

Probably the most important part of the weekend are the bits that would seem fleeting to most folks. I met an agent who now knows me by first name, I got invited to submit to a themed anthology I otherwise wouldn’t have known about, and I was asked to collaborate on a short story with an author friend who was stuck midway through a fantasy tale. None of this would have happened otherwise. Given the small and friendly atmosphere of RavenCon, this is what I have come to expect. It certainly is not something that would happen at any of the larger cons with thousands in attendance.

So if any of this interests you, please plan on attending next year, same weekend, same venue. You won’t regret your decision.

 

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