Con Review: RavenCon 9

RavenCon2014by KT Pinto


RavenCon 9
April 25–27, 2014
Richmond, Virginia

Just in case the staff at RavenCon hadn’t proven in the past that they go above and beyond to make a memorable and fun con for their attendees and participants, fate threw a couple of hurdles in their way to prove themselves this year.

RavenCon did not disappoint.

The weekend started with a three-fold situation: the fire alarm went off at the same time as it was rumored that lightning struck the hotel. As the hotel staff worked with the con staff to get attendees out of the hotel and (unfortunately) into a torrential downpour, they were given word that there was a tornado warning for right where the hotel was located. People could not stay outside.

In this type of insane situation, most people would panic and add to the problems. The RavenCon staff was calm, organized, informative and all accessible. The fire alarm was false, and the con staff helped get the attendees out of the weather (and the glass-ceilinged lobby) and all into interior rooms, where security (obviously present and organized) kept people from leaving until they were given the “all clear”.

If nothing else, this situation alone would show the professional nature of the staff. But they weren’t done. On top of this occurrence, one of a more personal nature happened during the weekend that needed delicate handling on the part of the staff. They fixed the situation for all involved with what seemed like no embarrassment to or gossip from any attendees.

This year’s guests of honor were Elizabeth Bear (author) and Ed Beard (artist).

A few downsides:

The con suite. I think it was a hotel decision and not the con’s, but the con suite used to be in the middle of the programming floor, where it was easy to grab a snack on the way to the next panel. But this year it was on the top floor of the hotel; rather inconvenient with the slow elevators. The food was good though…

The signing table was in the middle of the lobby. Possibly a logistics problem with no solution except this, but authors sometimes get better sales from passers-by. No one passed accidentally by the table in the lobby in its out of the way location.

Programming. Planning and scheduling of programming seemed a little unorganized. There were three or four adult/late-night (themed, not time-scheduled) panels but they were all single-presenter panels so I had no opportunity to sign up for adult programming.

Moderators. RavenCon, like other conventions, was also the victim of bad moderators all weekend. Not being able to move conversation along when there was a lull, not giving others on the panel a chance to talk… even one where they let a member of the audience basically take over the panel first from her seat, and then by joining the panel, much to the insult of the other panelists. I’m not sure what could be done about this issue, but it seems to be a growing problem on the convention circuit.

These were minor problems in the grand scheme of the weekend. As usual, RavenCon was a great convention and a fun weekend, tornado warning and all!


Con Review: RavenCon 2013

RavenCon2013by KT Pinto


RavenCon 2013
April 5–7, 2013
Richmond, Virginia

It took me a while to do a review of RavenCon, but one of the reasons was that I was trying to figure out a way to review the convention without sounding like a huge fangirl.

The problem is… I can’t do it! I absolutely love this convention.

I usually describe this convention as follows: The con is run by a bunch of geek-frat brothers (the cool, fun ones; not the ones I went to school with) who got together one day and decided to create an intellectual party-con.

And they succeeded.

There are a handful of people who are the main core of the concomm but—unlike many other cons—there is no clique feel.

The programming was intelligent, varied, and a lot of fun! What made it even better was that the process to choose panels and events to be a part of was a breeze and scheduling was done well in advance.

Guests of Honor this year were Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, Jennie Breeden, and Bella Morte.

The parties and concerts were excellent, although the parties ended earlier than expected. But then we all met in the lobby, and the hotel staff wasn’t scared by geeks in the lobby (like a lot of hotels are).

My only complaint: it ended too quickly! Yes, it was the standard three days that a convention is, but we were all so sad to see it end! I hope to be invited back next year!

RavenCon will be held again on April 25–27, 2014.


Con Review: RavenCon 2010

ravencon2010by James R. Stratton


RavenCon 2010
April 9–11, 2010
Richmond, Virginia

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.


The Caw, Art


At RavenCon 2007, I ran a zine workshop on Friday night that explained the ins and outs of creating a fanzine. J. Andrew World, Alexis Gilliland, and Steve Stiles all helped me run the workshop. The participants then spent Friday night and all day Saturday collecting material that I laid out in a 6-page document. We printed The Caw on Saturday evening and distributed it at the Masquerade that night. A rousing success that I’d love to do again.