Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Penned Con 2016 Highlights

St. Louis Arch
Each year, I try to pick events that would allow me to get out and meet readers, as well as other authors.  Last year I had attempted to go to Penned Con in St. Louis, Missouri. However the unexpected death of my mother-in-law made the trip impossible. But this year, I was determined to go and meet readers and authors in the area.

Even before the event started, I found myself extremely impressed with the hard work Rick and Amy Miles (along with their entourage of helpers) put into it. I actually booked my 2017 table before I had even taken part in this years event!

My kids petting stingrays
Penned Con promised to be a family friendly event (which is was) so I packed up my three kids and husband and we headed to St. Louis.  We checked into the hotel (I always arrive a day early so I can relax and beat the check-in rush) and then headed to the St. Louis Zoo. Nothing beats watching your kids pet stingrays and sharks; seriously nothing.

On a side note, St. Louis really impressed me. The zoo, science center, history museum and many other places are all free to visit. Yes, the string ray petting did cost $4 a person, and let me tell you it was worth it. If you are considering Penned Con or any event in St. Louis, it's a great way to mix business and pleasure because it's very family friendly.

Once Penned Con started, it was a whirlwind of signing books, talking to readers, taking pictures and more. The keynote speakers each morning were phenomenal and incredibly inspiring.

Speaking on the panel (I'm on the far
right of the table)
I was also asked to be on a panel. The room was full, something I hadn't expected at all. As I looked around at the authors who would also be speaking alongside me, I thought, what am I doing here? I mean I was sitting right next to Denise Grover Swank (she's seriously a goddess when it comes to getting newsletter subscribers by the way). But I answered my questions and even offer a handout (which I had only brought fifteen because I figured there wouldn't be that many needed).  If you didn't get a chance to see that panel, I have the information here on my blog.

Yes, that's my eldest (in the black and
grey striped hoodie) ducking for cover
As I said earlier, Penned Con tries to be incredibly family friendly. They even provided special gift bags for younger kids (like my two little ones) that were super hero themed. The kids went around and authors gave them candy, stickers, buttons, bracelets and more. It was like trick-or-treating!

After the signing ended the first day, a room was opened up for Nerf Gun Wars. I cannot tell you how much fun this was. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or the adults! Thousands of bullets were shot as authors and readers ducked behind barricades made of cardboard boxes.

Day two of the event was full of more surprises when I had several fans come to the event to see me personally! Nothing can feel better than that. I hope that feeling never goes away. I even had a wonderful fan bring me a card and a special necklace, which I will treasure forever. Those fans reminded me why I write. Even if only those few fans enjoy my work, I've succeeded.

I can't believe I was nominated
alongside these amazing authors!
By the end of day two, I was nearly out of books. This was a relief because the bag I used to carry the books in weighed so much, my husband had trouble carrying it!

Then came the awards ceremony. While my eldest babysat the two youngest in the hotel room, my husband and I dressed up in our Luau attire and enjoyed the festivities. I was super excited to be nominated for Best Book Cover of 2016. And though I didn't win, it truly was an honor to be nominated.

Once all was said and done, I had a serious Penned Con Hangover. I missed the friends I had made, but was happy to be home because the event left me more inspired than ever to write.

If you are an author or reader, I highly recommend you mark Penned Con 2017 on your calendar. The atmosphere is so amazing, you will not regret it one bit.

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