We just returned from ANTHCON (see pics end of blog), primarily a Horror Writers Convention, this year held at the Holiday Inn in Portsmouth, NH.   It was a slam-dunk success especially utilizing our favorite word sharing. We arrived Friday and immediately dumped our stuff in our comfy two-Queen beds room, socked our food in the mini fridge, then took off to see who was lounging about downstairs.

We picked up our badges and swag bags (fun stuff – T-Shirt, bag, things from other authors ranging from books, comics, pins, pens, drink cozies and postcards galore announcing everyone’s recent books) and helped set up the NEWH’s table in the Dealers room. Friday included a cocktail party (hosted generously by Sam Adams Beer) where we met new friends and greeted old and cherished ones from previous conferences. Some attendees actually traveled from as far away as India and California. Yikes!

During the conference the Dent sisters were each other’s ‘wing-man’ which is just another word for your backup. When you have one person to be there for you – you don’t need to worry if you get tongue tied in front of a publisher or agent, or if your hero of fiction happens to stop by to say hello.  A frozen moment of ‘gaaa’ can be flipped around by your wing-man as they fill in your name when you stutter or forget your credits.

AND the best part — you get to be brave for others. Introducing a writer you just met to a publisher who is looking for exactly what they write “Urban Fantasy” or “Steam Punk” is an incredible gift to both you and them.

The keynote speaker this year was Gary Braunbeck who is not only a prolific writer but one who doesn’t limit himself to one genre.  He does them all and does them exceedingly well and bowled us over with his fabulous prose.  In support of a charity Mr. Braunbeck generously wrote a short story utilizing random words, names or sayings that the conference attendees purchased. Let’s just say, he was seriously challenged – yet came up with a rollicking, riotous, crazy-ass detective story that killed! And strangely, it all made sense. For the same charity, in the silent auction, Karen won the most amazing print and one of the last treats of the weekend was to hear the singer, Voltaire and his naughty lyrics that had us all in stitches.

Our sensational three days of meeting friends, making new ones, attending panels and readings was exhilarating. Roxanne read from her new short “The Legacy,” which was included in Anthocon’s first print book, Anthology, Year One and Karen read from two of her published works, “A Case To Die For” from Damnation and Dames and “Endless Hunger” from The Call of Lovecraft. We filled out tickets for a drawing and Roxanne won not once but three times and now is in possession of eight books by authors at the conference.

One panel we thought particularly interesting was the one on YA Fiction.  Representatives from Spence Publishing and Evil Jester Publishing shared their knowledge and discussed the new trends among other helpful tid bits which we were told you can find on their websites!

There were many panels and speakers and the benefit of going with another person is you can actually walk away with twice as much information:  if each of you attend a different panel, you can take notes for the other. Or if notes aren’t your thing, meet and give the highlights over lunch.

There are numerous conventions held all year across the country, including NECON, ANTHOCON, COMIC CON, ROCK AND SHOCK, WORLD HORROR, NECROMICON, ARISIA, BOSCON (Fantasy), READER CON and DRAGON CON.  Even if you don’t have a wing-man, try and attend just one. Most conferences will double you up if you don’t have someone to share the room with.  Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a like minded writer who will be just as enthusiastic about sharing a creative life as you are.

Next week we’ll tell you how we’re doing with NanoWrimo – till then!