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


The painful things I do for Penned Con…

I leave soon for St. Louis, where I’ll spend about a week in the company of some of my best friends, who also happen to be authors, at Penned Con. An author/reader signing/conference/charity event.

Penned FINAL Banner

This list has a whole lot of awesome on it. Our event takes up the entire 13th floor of the hotel. I have a blast each and every year (though this will be my last for a while due to a scheduling conflict next year.) I’ll be fly down early to help them set up and stay a little longer to help them clean up. That is not the most painful of things to which I refer…

In addition to being a signing author, this year I’ll also be hosting a game show, acting in a murder mystery, leading a panel, and participating in a lip sync battle. Yes, pictures will be had. And no, still not the most painful of the things.

There are a lot of unpleasant tasks that I have to do to make it to Penned Con, like waking up at 1 am to catch a flight, enduring long layovers, and having to wear not one, but TWO dresses. GASP! These things are all horrid, to be sure.

The biggest annoyance of all these things? The shoes I picked will be a high heeled sandal. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS? I have to paint my toenails!!!!!!!!!!!!


So?  I have to paint my toenails. Big whoop. Little back history: I hate being barefoot. Like, hate, hate, hate it. I MIGHT STEP ON A BUG! This means having to wear a dress, heels, AND have my toes exposed (toes are just weird, y’all) is painful for me.  Now, my toes are usually polished because, as I said, toes are weird looking. Polish makes them a little less freaky, BUT, toenail polish lasts forever so you really only need to do it once in your life and you’re good to go. However, the dark plum I had on would NOT match the bright red dress I have to wear so I had to redo the toes.

People, I’m not that bendy anymore. The level of dexterity required when painting your toenails in your forties is no laughing matter. It should be an Olympic sport (for which I would never qualify.) Now you might think, I should just go to get a pedicure. Problem solved. No need to bend. Um no. NO. ONE. TOUCHES. MY. FEET.

Seriously. I will throat punch you. With my foot. Purely reflex, of course. I am extremely ticklish on my feet and hate having them touched so, yeah, that means, only I can paint them. Fine. FINE! I will paint my toenails.

Thirty minutes and a half a bottle of nail polish remover later…the toes are done. For the next year and a half.


Danielle Bannister, author and fuzzy sock wearer


Penned Con prep has begun…

This is my 5th year doing Penned Con, and you’d think I’d be used to how much stuff I have to bring. I’m not. Flying to any signing makes things hard. That pesky 50 lb suitcase limit is a nail-biter every time.

Er…I don’t need clothes.


The big case has my pre-ordered books, that ziplock monster is all swag, then some table display stuff crammed in. My smaller case will have more swag, my book rack, and somewhere in there, some clothes to wear. I’ve shipped to a friend 4 boxes of books and a box of my heavy swag. Let’s hope I get rid of the books AND the swag or else the flight home is going to be interesting…

Even though Penned isn’t until next month, my stress for making sure I have everything packed begins now. Whether or not everything I NEED will FIT into two checked bags remains the question of the month. Stay tuned.


Danielle Bannister, author and Tetris-bag-stuffing-machine


Countdown Time!

Fall is always a busy time of year for me. School/work/kids sports…but this year I have three uber fun things to count down for!  Here they are in order of occurrence:

1. Penned Con

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This is my 4th year attending this event and it is, by far, my favorite signing to go to. It’s hosted by one of my besties and her husband Amy and Rick Miles, and all of the profits from the event go to a local St. Louis Charity: Action for Autism. Their son has autism and they wanted to find a way to give back. What better way than to get the book community together!

Check out that author line up! It’s a huge two-day event that is likely to bring in over 1,000 readers! Plus, it’s not just a signing…oh no. It’s a conference too. They have kick-ass Keynote speakers, panels for authors and readers alike, a PJ party, a casino night, a DJ dance party, awards, and three-course meals! Not to mention it’s a weekend that I get to see so many of my online friends, meet fans and make new connections. I have so much fun with it that I’m actually flying out early so I can help set up. Wanna learn more, you can do so here: https://pennedcon.com/ 

2. Netherworld Releases

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This release has been literal years in the making. It was set to come out in 2014, but, well…that’s a long story. A story some of you know if you’ve followed the blog. Suffice it to say, this baby has been through hell and back. After many re-writes and character tweaking, we are ready to release it into the book world. If you follow me on Facebook Amy and I are releasing new information about the book every Thursday leading up to its release. If you aren’t following me and would like to, you can do so here: Facebook Author Page

Wanna pre-order your copy? You can do that here:

3. Books in Vacationland

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October 14 from 10:00-3:00 in Portland, Maine

I’m really excited for this signing. There are so few that happen in my own home state and this is only a few hours away! This is an opportunity for me to touch base with some of my favorite local authors and to meet some out of state ones traveling to our beautiful state to do so. If you’re local and wanna come say ‘hi’ you can find out more about the event and tickets here:

If you’re driving down and wanna pre-order a book to make sure I’ll have what you want on hand, you can do so here.

Phew! So much coming up! I think I need a nap. Hehe


Danielle Bannister, author and busy-bee



Penned Con 2016, the countdown is on

10 points if you sang that
10 points if you sang that

In just a few weeks, I’ll be loading my tired butt out of my house before the sun rises to catch a plane to St. Louis to attend Penned Con. An epic reader/author event. It started 3 years ago, by my author pal, Amy Miles, and her husband, Rick. They wanted to host an author event that would benefit a local charity: Action for Autism, a charity close to their hearts as their son is autistic. When she asked me to come aboard that first year, of course, I said yes.

Now, 3 years later, it remains one of the best signings I’ve ever attended, year after year. It’s the best, not only because they give all the profit of the event (which they also fund-raise for) to Action for Autism, but it’s also a two-day event that is more than just a signing. Check out this schedule! 

It’s two days to look at books, connect with authors, vendors, meet new readers, pick up fun swag, and attend fun and informative panels. This event is rather unique, as it gives readers and authors several opportunities to engage with each other in fun and exciting ways. There is even a Nerf war planned where readers and authors will battle together at! The event is finished off with a Luau themed dinner (complete with a roasted pig!) and awards show/dance party.  It’s no wonder it’s my favorite. I mean, check out this floor plan, we’ve taken up an entire floor of this hotel!!!

penned-con-floorWith roughly 150 attending authors and 900 tickets sold to date, it’s going to also be the largest event I’ve ever been to. I have been honored to be nominated for one of the awards: Best One Liner, and will be speaking on one of the panels, ACK! To make my heart pump a little harder, we also just got our seating chart. The row I’m sitting in has some pretty heavy-hitters, so I’m wigging out slightly over here.

You can bet that I’ll be taking lots of pictures to share with you. Until then, I can only hope I packed enough books and swag!

Danielle Bannister, Author and Penned Con Attendee


Penned Con 2015 (the aftermath)

My dear friend, and author, Amy Miles, and her husband Rick Miles, put together a signing in St. Louis last year to help raise money for autism, a cause close to their heart as their son, Landon, (an awesome kid) also has autism. I went to their first signing last year, and when they decided to host another this year, of course I had to go.

Penned Con is the only signing that I will fly out to. As you can imagine, a trip like this is pricey. Air fair, hotel, food, then purchasing the swag and books …it’s not the sort of thing you plan to make money back on. It’s a trip to meet readers, network, hug authors you’ve only met on facebook, go to panels and have fun. Which is just what I did.


One of our speakers, Author Denise Grover Swank, urging us to take RISKS!Gandolf

This was the ball that happened on Saturday night. This is just a few of the authors that were at Penned that were also represented by Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.Julie and JDMy table neighbors and pals, Julie Cassar and JD NelsondanceThis is a few of the authors practicing for a secret flash mob of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. It was our way of surprising the readers and giving back some of the love that we feel for them! We all practiced for months in the comfort (and embarrassment-free) homes to a tape Amy Miles had put together for us. We had one block of about 30 min to practice it all together. It went off flawlessly! Everyone was surprised and had a great time!
supermanOne of the event coordinators, Rick Miles, even volunteered to dress up as Superman if we raised an additional $1,000 for Action for Autism. Well, we did that, in the first day of his challenge, so he had to up his game by adding first a Tutu, then a Tiara for $2,000. All in all, they raised just over $10,000 for the cause.  the galsThis is me with pals, JD Nelson, Julie Cassar and my roommate for the event, Casey Peeler. Much fun (and booze) was had by all.penned my tableSo will I go to Penned Con again? You betcha. I already booked my table. 😀


Danielle Bannister, Author and sometimes boogie down dancer.