Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm back from Ravencon 2007. Back to reality that is, besides actually home. It was a great weekend. I was on staff as Ravencon's Publicity Director besides as a guest. I had a great time. We had more attendees this year than our first year in 2006. I saw many fantastic guests in writing, art, comics, costuming and science there. The guest of honor were all cool. Robert J. Sawyer was very, very nice, and I liked Steve Stiles. And of course, Wombat! I met him for the first time last year and he is one of the sweetest, nicest people you would ever meet. He was our Fan GOH this year.

There were some great costumes, including General Grevious from Star Wars: Episode III. This costume won best in show for the costume contest. If you see the photo I have here I'm in it as Captain Anne Bonny, along with crew members of the DMB Dragonstorm. See the three in front? Don't they look familiar, like from a certain popular pirate movie? That Orland Bloom lookalike is a dead ringer, even close up. It was so cool.

I did a signing and a koffee klatch at the con. But I also did three panels. One was Friday night and it was called 'Is Modern Horror the Illegitemate Stepchild of Poe, Shelley, Lovecraft and Stoker?'. Saturday was Is My Lover a Vampire...Or a Werewolf and I got to meet Jean Marie Ward who was also on the panel, who I knew from RWA's FFP Yahoo listgroup. Sunday I was on the Sex in SF, Fantasy and Horror. Even more exciting, I had some copies of Forbidden Love: Wicked Women sent to me at the hotel from Under the Moon and I sold some. Talking about Forbidden Love, I got to meet one of the artists from both isues, Veronica Ash. She did the artwork for my story, "Soul Seduction" in Forbidden Love: Bad Boys and for C. J. England's in Wicked Women. I write as Sapphire Phelan for "Soul Seduction" and the story, "Being a Predator is a Bitch" in Wicked Women.

Lots of neat stuff happened at Ravencon--workshops in writing, art and costuming. All were well attended. The costume contest was a hit. I even entered as non-competition in my Tuskan costume for it. The dealer's room was full and I suspect did well in sales. There were fan tables, with Geek Comedy 3000 (a guest- and they were funny in their shows Friday and Saturday nights), the 501st (Garrison Tyranus, the local garrison), SG-9 for Stargate SG-1 costuming group, artists, CJ Henderson and more. The panels were well attended and started at 3PM Friday and at 8AM on Saturday and Sunday, with none of them ending until midnight. We also had performances by Luna-C Saturday before and after the costume contest. And there were parties too at night. Great ones.

We heard nothing but praise from attendee. I even ran into a fellow member of Virginia Writers club who was apprehensive about attending, but thank me and said it was wonderful. I even saw old friends I hadn't seen in years. Now how cool is that? And we had a special price for pre-registration at the con and already sold some!

So come and join us next year--keep Ravencon bookmarked--pre-reservations will be up very soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedy Shows How Life can be Short

The tragedy at Virginia Tech brings home to me how much we should value our friends and relatives, for life is short. It is always terrible to see lives with such promise and future cut short by someone who has problems and can't handle them. Instead of just one person, he wants to blame the world.

I write scary stuff, but this event shows that the world today is a lot more frightening than whatever I or any other author can dream up. After all, they say there's no limit to the imagination, right? But really, there is. I can't even begin to imagine the real terror in those people when that killer shot them or locked them in the room to blast at them all. I can't imagine how that killer thought or felt, not really. Hell, running accidently over a squirrel with my car alwayasc makes me feel terrible and guilty. I cried having to put my beloved dog to sleep.

So, go hug your best friend today, or bring a cup of fresh, hot coffee to a co-worker or call your grandma up. Life is short, and we should only gather closely those we know. And bring a little sweetmess and love into a scary world.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Interview With Judy Mitchell, Masquerade Director for Ravencon 2007

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?

Geez... in 1978 in college I fell in with a bunch who were into medieval history (Markland) and F/SF (Galadrim) so we were known as the 'Dragons & Lasers' crowd. That was when I first heard about conventions: Balticon and Unicon I believe.

2. How long have you been costuming? tell us of the various costumes you done over the years.

Not really forever, it just feels that way. I swore after Jr High home ec class (that I nearly flunked) that I'd never sew even a button on. My parents were shocked when I came home from college in 1978 (see above!) asking about the old cast iron sewing machine in the attic. After all, you can get a friend to make your first costume (you might get a different friend to make a second one), then they'll show you how to make your next one. So... somehow I got hooked. Well, in Markland (see above) we did what we called 'meatball sewing': as long as the seams were straight enough and it held together mostly, that was good enough. Hey, it got me over my old home-ec fear! Then I started re-enacting in the 90s and got into much better sewing - still historic though. I've done most of my competition outfits in Historic, and I try to stick with Scandinavian history for very odd reasons. I've been working on branching into the SF/F costuming and it's been fun. I also co-own the largest Lord of the Rings costuming (and other movies) website: <> but if you want to SEE what I've done, my personal stuff is at <> - you know what they say about pictures. Briefly (yeah, right), I've done viking age, 17th cent Sweden, 19th cent Denmark, 18th cent Vermont (yes I know that's not Scandinavian), Bilbo's Party Outfit, a Dawn costume for someone else, and a bunch of hall costumes because they're fun. What do you enjoy most about costuming?I actually love doing the research and the puzzling out to figure out how something goes together. So the construction is a lot of fun.

3. Tell us why you decided or agreed to do Ravencon.

I heard about it last year, probably something Pam posted (Maybe on the International Costume Guild list?) and since it's in my general area, I wrote in and asked if I could do anything to help. Silly Pam took me up on it. I lurked on the yahoo list and was really impressed with the concom: I've been on committees before and I've never seen one that was so.. professional and good natured as RavenCon! Pam had far too much on her plate last year, so when Mike asked if I wanted to handle costuming, I'd figured I'd give it a go. heck, I've been involved in enough costume sections at cons. (side note: actually I myself thought that it was beter to drop something and told Mike to let Judy have it. Being an author I was into promoting that a lot and Publicity was easy enough to do as do for myself anyway :D And yes, I still costume. )

4. Did last year's con prove everything you wanted it to be, or did it exceed beyond your expectations?

I was very impressed that a first year con pulled that many attendees and ran that smoothly. I told you it was an amazing concom.

5. Where do you see Ravencon in future, costuming, of course?

I'd love to see the costuming track grow and I'd love to see more entries in the Costume Show: there was some stunning outfits in the hall, I'd like to see them showcase themselves! So come, sign up for the Costume Show - even if you enter as Not-in-Competition (not everyone wants to compete, that's cool, you can still show off)!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Interview with Doris Manning, the Webmaster for Ravencon's Website

Meet and get to knew Doris Manning, Ravencon 2007's webmaster for the offical website:

1. Tell us about yourself.

How long have you been inFandom?I don't really consider myself as being "in Fandom". The first convention I ever went to was CastleCon 5 (July 1992) with a boyfriend that I had only known for a couple of months. At that convention, he introduced me to his friends who were already forming the foundations of two other conventions: Kaleidoscope and SheVaCon. I literally jumped out of the frying pan (figuring out what a convention was) and into the fire (being responsible actually running one).

2. Tell us why you decided or agreed to do Ravencon as Webmaster for the official website. What qualifications do you have that made you perfect for this?

I basically walked into Crystal Ritchie's (Ravencon Guest Liason) house for a regular Saturday night get-together and being asked if I wanted the job. Crystal knew that I was dependable and would make sure stuff went up on time. I work from home as a DatabaseAdministrator/Software Developer for a company just outside the DC Beltway so I'm always on the computer during the week.

3. Did last year's con proved everything you wanted it to do, or did it exceed expectations.

Having been involved with the ground floor start-up of two other conventions, I was very pleased with how well the first Ravencon ran. There were a few bumps but having a lot of convention veterans who know what they are doing really helped Ravencon out a lot. I really liked the people behind the scenes at Ravencon.

4. Where do you see Ravencon in the future?

I know Mike Pederson (Ravencon Chair) would like to see us be as big as DragonCon one day. I think I'll leave the dreaming to him...I'm just happy to be along for the ride for a while.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Meet Our Consuite Coordinator, Lee Gilliland

Meet Our Consuite Coordinator, Lee Gilliland:

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?

I do seem to remember being introduced to somebody's pet apatasaurus, vaguely, my first or second con. I guess that translates as "a while".

2. Tell us why you decided or agreed to do Ravencon. Why the consuite?

It soothes my "Little Mother of All the World" inclinations. Otherwise I tend to roam the halls insisting people put on sweaters.

3. Did last year's con proved everything you wanted it to do, or did itexceed beyond your expectations?

Hell yes, that was my first GOH. As to the "everthing I wanted it to do"... sorry, I'm happily married, further the despondent sayeth not.

4. Where do you see Ravencon in future?

Probably in Richmond, although I wouldn't mind Fredericksburg, it's closer to where I live.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Meet Rene Enders, Hotel Liaison for Ravencon 2007

Meet Rene Enders, our hotel liaison.

1. about me in Fandom - I'm head of the local StarFleet Chapter, The USS Chesapeake. I've been going to cons for about 15 years.

2. why RavenCon hotel liaison - to help out Mike, we've been friends for years.

3. What qualifies me in real life - I'm detail oriented.

4. last year's con - I attended & helped a little, it looked great!

5. future - I think RavenCon will keep growing into a major convention, but still be people friendly.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Interview With Shadow, Ravencon 2007's Gaming Director

Today's interview is with Jennifer Harmon, or Shadow, as she is known more as. She's the Gaming Director for Ravencon 2007. Come get to know Shadow.

Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?

The first time I saw Thom Christopher play Hawk on Buck Rogers I was hooked. Who didn’t think that the Hawkman and his ladi were sexy? You know you wanted to tickle their feathers *smirk* ;)

Do you love literature? Who was the one author you were excited to meet and finally did over the years? Of the genres, science fiction, fantasy and horror, which one do you like to read or watch on film or TV the most, or do you like them all?

Yes. I worked in the Library when I was 15 years old and when I was putting up the books I would sit and read all the greats especially Mercedes Lackey. I literally held my breath through Magic’s Price. Yes.

Tell us why you decided to do RavenCon.

Because I really hate the stereotype of what people think that Gamers are. They think that gamers are guys (wrong!) that sit in a room all weekend (wrong!) and are not social (wrong!). Not to mention I had the pleasure of being introduced to LARP (Live Action Role Play) by the Con Chair of RavenCon so in a sense he helped with my corruption so now I can help with RavenCon’s ;)

Did last year's con prove everything you wanted it to, or did it exceed beyond your expectations?

Last year with Gaming was a learning year to establish RavenCon as an actual event - not just for the Gaming Section of RavenCon but the whole of the staff working together for the first time. I learned quite a bit last year and hope to continue learning and growing in such a way as to provide the best gaming opportunities that we possibly can.

Tell us why you were the best to be in charge of the gaming? Give us what you did over the years with gaming. What is the most exciting thing for you to do with gaming?

I am too busy killing zombies in a mall so lets make this short: *Because *a lot *LARP (woot!)

6. Where do you see RavenCon in the future, esp. with gaming?

RavenCon is making our Gaming Section for and about ~~The Gamers~~. Our Gaming Section is open 24 hours a day (woot woot) – and hopefully as we gain notoriety (*gryns*) we can offer up every style of gaming possible (look forward to future RavenCon -Frag Wars - I will pwn you!)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Interview with Bill Truesdale, Con-Ops Director for Ravencon 2007

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?

Since 1977. Though I've always like science fiction way, when my girlfriend (now my wife of 30 years) almost left me alone one night in January and when I asked her where she was going she told me to a science fiction club called S.T.A.R./San Diego. I said I loved Star trek and science fiction so went to my first meeting. I didn't attend my first con until a couple months after Star Wars came out. My wife, Pamela K. Kinney, brought me into it. She was also the one who got me into costuming. My first costume was a Starfleet uniform, the second, an Imperial officer uniform.

2. Tell us why you decided or agreed to do Ravencon. Why as Con-Ops?

Richmond needs a convention, other than a gaming or Anime one. And because I've done con security and con-ops at other conventions over the years, it was the best choice for me.

3. Did last year's con proved everything you wanted it to do, or did it exceed beyond your expectations?

People-wise, it was beyond my expectations for a first year convention. On everything else, it proved what I expected for it. That Richmond was finally readu for a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention. Was glad we started small, as you never know either how things will pan out.

4. Where do you see Ravencon in future?

Eventually as a big convention, maybe big as Dragoncon or Comic-Con in San Diego. Not for a while, no great cpon becomes that right off the bat, but I can see it happening.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Interview With Mark Morgan, Ravencon 2007's Dealer's Room Director

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?

Well, I am a 38 year old father of 2. I served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm, and currently work as a machine operator at a large cabinet making firm. I got into 'Fandom' when Star Wars came out. Boy, I was hooked.

2. Do you love literature? Who was the one author you were excited to meet and finally did over the years? Of the genres,science fiction, fantasy and horror, which one do you like to read or watch on film or TV the most, or do you like them all?

I do indeed love literature. I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember. There are severalauthors I would like to meet, but the three I have met are Jim Butcher, Eric Flint, and John Ringo. I enjoy reading all three genres, but only like to watch science fiction and fantasy.

3. Tell us why you decided to do RavenCon.

My friend, Crystal Ritchie told me about Mike Pederson and his crazy idea to start a convention in Richmond. So, I decided to tag along with Crystal to the first meeting. After listening to Mike's idea, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to help. And the rest is history.

4. Did last year's con prove everything you wanted it to, or did it exceed beyond your expectations?

I think we did extremely well for a first-year con. Iwould like to think that there is always room forimprovement.5. Tell us why you were the best to be in charge ofthe dealer's room? I don't necessarily think that I was the 'best choice'to be in charge of the dealers room. It more or less came down to that I was in the right place at theright time. As time goes on, I think I am getting better at dealing with things that come up with the dealers room, but, like I said before, there is always room for improvement.

6. Where do you see RavenCon in the future?

As long as we can provide innovative and provocativeprogramming, I see the future as an open opportunityof growth and enjoyment for many decades to come!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Interview with Ravencon's Con Chair, Mike Pederson

This begins what I hope will be a series of interviews with the staff of Ravencon 2007, a science fiction fantasy and horror convention in Richmond, Virginia. I am the Publicity Director and thought this would be a great way for those coming to the convention and those thinking about it to meet and get to know about those behind the scenes of this great little con. Meet Mike Pederson, Con Chair for Ravencon.

1. Tell us about yourself. How long have you been in Fandom?
I've been interested in science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember. The earliest thing I remember reading was a collection of Greek myths when I was about 4 or 5. After that I couldn't get enough of the fantastic: Edward Eager's Half Magic series, Jay Williams' Danny Dunn books, Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series, and (of course) the Heinlein juveniles.
I didn't know about the world of fandom until my Freshman year of high school. A few seniors tried to start a science fiction club that lasted for about two months. During one of the few meetings we had a couple of girls who were talking about a convention they had attended and were showing off the Battlestar Galactica viper pilot jacket they bought. I was fourteen and very impressed. Sadly though I still wasn't able to make it to my first science fiction con until my Freshman year of college when a friend took me to SciCon at ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Virginia Beach. That was in 1986 and I've been insinuating myself into Fandom more and more ever since.

2. You edit the Nth Degree—why did you start doing it? How long? Tell the process of editing it and what was the best issue you did.
Nth Degree: The Fiction & Fandom Zine is a semiprozine that I started in 2002. In the past I've published a comic book (Raven) and a Richmond-based entertainment magazine (Scene). I missed the hectic fun of publishing and wanted to start something new. I was also looking for a good excuse to spend more time at SF conventions so it seemed like a good marriage. I was looking for a new spin to put on the idea of a fanzine too. My basic concept was to model it on local entertainment papers that are given away for free at bars and coffee houses. So what we have now is a free magazine that is given away at science fiction conventions. The contents are usually book reviews, con reviews, poetry, 3-4 short stories, a humorous filk, and comics. Sadly, I've had to put the zine on hiatus for right now while money is tight. Hopefully that will change soon.
The process of editing a standard issue is usually about three solid weeks of work. I decide on what stories I want to use and then drop them into QuarkXpress, where I do all my layout. After I put the stories and poems into the template I figure out how much space I have left to fill and then solicit the artists that I know for accompanying artwork. Then I spend the next two weeks writing my own part of the magazine—the Editor's Rant, book reviews, and con reviews. Fortunately I have friends that have been a huge help writing con reviews. It makes it easier to give a wider geographical sampling of conventions if I have four or five people writing reviews each issue. After that I plug in the artwork and comics as they arrive by email from the artists and do about three complete edits on the entire magazine before sending it off to the printers.
I don't think I have a favorite issue. Each issue usually has something that stands out for me—a great book review, a good mix of stories, nice layout, etc. A lot of people commented on my editorial comparing Fandom to poker, I liked the feedback. Generally though, the issue that I've just finished is usually my favorite.

3. You obviously love literature. Who was the one author you were excited to meet and finally did? Of the genres, science fiction, fantasy and horror, which one do you like to read the most, or do you like them all?
I'm not usually the rabid fanboy at cons. I enjoy the company of authors and have great fun hanging out with authors from the world of small press as well as from big publishing, so just meeting an author doesn't usually get me excited although I do get a little excited when I look in my address book and see the handful of major authors I have in there. I wish that I could have met Isaac Asimov, that would have gotten me pretty excited. Larry Niven hung out in the con suite at the first con I attended, Jack Haldeman was at the very first room party I threw, Roger Zelazny hung out at the table next to me the first time I worked a table in the dealer's room… it just always felt natural to have authors around. I think that's part of what I'm trying to recreate with RavenCon.
Of the genres, my first preference has always been for science fiction. I have impossibly high standards for fantasy; I always want something new, rather than the same generic Tolkienesque setting every time. I think that the believability of science fiction has always appealed to me. Spaceships really could exist in the future. Magic swords are less likely.

4. Tell us why you decided to do RavenCon. And why in Richmond, Virginia?
I had been thinking about a con in Richmond for a very long time. I lived in Richmond for most of 1986-2005. In that time I would go to Fairfax, Washington D.C., Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Roanoke, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham for conventions. It didn't take me long to figure that Richmond was dead center in the middle of a lot of con activity but had no convention of its own. In 1993 I started publishing the Raven comic book and decided that I had enough contacts in Fandom to try putting on my own con. Some friends and I floated the idea and generated a little interest but we were young and naive and nothing came of it. When I started Nth Degree I became much more involved in Fandom than I had been previously. I also met Tony Ruggiero and Tee Morris, two writers that go to as many cons as I do. Tony and Tee are probably the two greatest guys that I've met through Fandom. They are energetic, opinionated, intelligent, creative, and generally fun to be around. After one convention that the three of us attended I turned to them and said, "This doesn't look so hard. I bet we could throw a con." They both actually agreed with me and the rest is history.

5. Did last year's con prove everything you wanted it to, or did it exceed beyond your expectations?

Yes and yes. It proved the "If you build it, they will come" theory of putting a con in Richmond. So I felt very vindicated. It exceeded my expectations in the sense that it was hailed as an incredibly well organized con. Fortunately, I have the greatest friends in the world and they did an amazing job putting the con together. Financing was the other area where we exceeded expectations. The entire con was put together with pocket change. If we lost too much money on our first year we wouldn't be able to continue. When I woke up on Sunday morning, the last day of the con, I still didn't know if there would be a "next year". By the middle of the day all of the receipts were coming in and it looked like we would break even. Now we're making plans for the next three years.

6. Where do you see RavenCon in the future?
In the near future, we're moving to a larger hotel next year that will allow us to add an Art Show and have a larger Dealer's Room and more Gaming. Eventually, I want RavenCon to be the largest SF con in Virginia. I think we debuted in the top five (not counting anime cons). Above all it's about having fun so I don't want to be too big. But I want to be large enough to be able to continue bringing in top name authors and artists. I've been asked to sponsor a Deep South Con bid. I think that's a great idea. Further down the line I'd like to look into World Fantasy and World Con bids as well.

7. Give RavenCon's website and a little bit of promo for it. — It's a great little site. We've had three different webmaster tweaking it over the last two years and I think they've done a splendid job. Our current webmaster, Doris Manning, has kept it very up-to-date and easy to navigate. We've got a complete listing of all our guests (over 60!) on the site as well as our entire program schedule and a good portion of our gaming schedule. Check it out!