writing

My Penned Con Recap

It’s been a few days since I’ve returned from St. Louis and I feel like my brain is now finally ready to process all of the wonderfulness that happened at Penned Con 2018.

I arrived early, on Tuesday to help the event coordinators, and my co-author/bestie, Amy Miles and her husband, Rick Miles set up. There was MUCH work to be done before the swarm of 180 authors showed up on Thursday.

Thursday night was a string of Author Education Panels. Topics included, Facebook Ads, Networking How To, Smashwords Insights, Shared Worlds, Publishing Secrets, Dealing with Doubt, Pantsting or Plotting, Types of Editors, Author Frustrations and Swag. Guess which one I moderated? Yup. It’s all about the swag! hehe.

After dinner, we got to set up our tables for the signing…

Then, that evening, we had a Murder Mystery show! I was one of the actors for the night. I got to play a lounge singer/harlot. I put on a thick southern accent. Many people thought I did it. But I was innocent I tell ya! 

On Friday, we were treated to WALL STREET JOURNAL USA TODAY BESTSELLING & AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR, Amy Bartol’s keynote speech about her writing journey. What an inspiration! 

Promptly at 10 am, the signing doors were opened and the readers (about 900 of them over the course of the weekend) flooded in. I honestly don’t remember much of those first few hours. They were a blur of activity! From 1-3 the rooms closed down for lunch where the authors were treated to a 3-course sit-down lunch!

After lunch, I was on a panel for the Havenwood Falls author group (top photo.) Followed by a night of dancing hosted by Red Coat PR. There was a lip sync battle that I participated in. We performed (and won) to the opening credit song of Outlander! The cardboard cut-out of Jamie was such a hit that we decided to auction him off for the charity (All profit from this event goes to Action for Autism based in St. Louis.) Best Selling author, Jamie McGuire, bought the cut out for $155. She even slow danced with him after. It was priceless!

Saturday brought another great keynote speaker, New York Times Best Selling Author, Meredith Wild. Her keynote told us about her journey as a writer. She is a workhorse! I was so impressed with what she had achieved! 

From 10-4 we had more time for signings. One of the biggest treats of the weekend was when I got to meet a long time fan (and his boyfriend) at the event. So glad to finally meet you in person Andrew!!!! I was on a high for the rest of the day after that!

Around 3:00 I went to a panel on Flash Fiction (group photo below). Little did I know that I would be writing fiction, ON THE SPOT, with insane prompts from the audience! Thanks to Smashwords Founder, Mark Coker, for filming it all. So much laughter.

After helping break down the signing rooms so they could make way for our dinner, it was time for the Roaring 20s party. Oh, the shenanigans we got up to on Saturday!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That IS a bearded man in a flapper dress. Each year, the event coordinator, Rick Miles, does something wild and crazy to raise more money for the charity. He’s a good sport for doing all the things suggested year after year. This year, Penned Con helped raise $13,488 dollars for Action for Autism/AFA Academy. Bringing their 5-year-total to over $63,000! This is one of the big reasons I go to Penned. Yes, I have a blast, and I get to hang out with author friends and readers, but it’s also for a great cause.

I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a second on all of the food at Penned. 

Each year special cookies are donated and this year they were amazing!!! We got another 3-course meal for the Roaring 20s party (there were butter balls! Yes, I amuse easily) and tons of cupcakes! The burger was at the airport on the way home and I am still dreaming of another one. YUMMM.

Tables have already sold out for next year (within 36 hours!) If you ever get a chance to go as an author or a reader, I suggest you do. It is fun for everyone!

Danielle Bannister, author, and Penned Con attendee

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