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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

AuthorCon 3- Williamsburg, VA-April 2024

Day one.

Arrived on Thursday Night. Got settled at our hotel then went to the Doubletree. Immediately saw my extended family, Eric Butler and Mike Ennenbach along with Jason Nickey. All of whom were waiting for Donna and Corrina to arrive.

I gave out my hugs and went inside to the Keene room for the evening meet and greet. Got big hugs from Brian, Jeff Strand and Bridgette Nelson. Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, and John Urbancik. Met Bryan Smith and Jessica Eppley. Within minutes the room was flooded with authors, led by Ron Malfi, Rebecca Rowland, Wile E. Young, Stephen Kozniewski and Gemma Amor all showed up soon after, along with Mona Kabbani, Anton Cancre, Laurel Hightower and many others. Hung out for a bit, talking and catching up with friends, old and new.

Wandered back to my hotel, where my mom and my kids waited. We snacked, we laughed. We slept. Sort of.

Day 2. Opening Day

Herded half the cats (my mom and my oldest) and got to the venue by 10:30 to set up. We had lots of help unloading and then I got to wander to say hello to folks while my minions set up my table. (I’m not allowed. My daughter says I’m horrible at it). I found another set of extended family, Kristopher Rufty and his daughter. Said hello to them. Saw Carver Pike and his lovely wife, Jules, soon after. Then Joseph Pesavento and his wife Nadia, Ben Young and his wife also got hugs. I met Cat Voleur, who is just delightful. More folks than I can name here but all were charming and excited and eagerly setting up tables.

Eventually I went back to my own table, approved it and sent my minions off to gather the remaining cats (other daughter, her boyfriend, my son, and the puppy) from our hotel. I hung out, talked more, found some snacks, and happily attended the Opening ceremony at 4….surrounded by an incredible group of family, friends, and supporters.

There was not a dry eye in the house watching Jake Lerner receive the Crystal award for his tireless commitment to the charity or watching Nick Roberts bring baby Jack on stage to receive the burn recipient donation for baby Jack's injuries. The cheers, the applause, the feeling of being home again. There’s nothing quite like it.

After that, it was off to the races! Doors opened and readers entered, more than I’ve ever seen on opening night in years before. Kudos to the BOH group who showed up en masse. I was shocked by how many fans and friends made the trip to support this event, its cause, and their favorite authors. If Scares is my first home, then the FB BOH group is definitely my second home.

Saturday evening, I moderated the Black Horror: Twenty Years Later panel with Maurice Broaddus, Cheysa Burke, Wrath James White, L. Marie Wood and Vaughn A. Jackson. This turned into a great discussion by some industry icons full of insight on what’s changed, what hasn’t, and how to continue forward progress.

From here, the night is a blur of pictures, laughing, signing, and talking to so many new fans and friends. I won’t try to name everyone I met, I will forget someone. Just know that it was an incredible first night.

Day 3- Saturday!

Major day of fans and friends, sales and signing, and more laughter. I got to meet so many people, authors and readers alike, including some authors that I greatly admire, Joseph Sale from the UK being one of those. I was utterly delighted to meet him in person. Longtime friend and supporter on the Twitter-verse, Joseph is an incredible author and someone that I truly admire in the industry.

Saturday afternoon I got to moderate my Healing Through Horror panel with my daughter, Katrina Sirmons who served as our trauma expert, and authors Kristopher Rufty, Megan Stockton, Carver Pike, Eric LaRocca, L. Marie Wood, and Kat Silva. This is a panel that focuses on trauma in fiction and how it can help survivors process and heal from their own experiences in a safe space. This is always a great discussion, and we had an almost full room which was greatly appreciated.

Later that night, we had dinner with about two dozen of our nearest and dearest friends then went back to the venue for the bra walk which raised $5k for women fighting breast cancer, and then joined everyone in the auditorium for the Gross Out contest which in a plot twist, my mother decided to join the madness by telling a gross out story of her own. The judges rewarded her with a special prize, she got a huge round of applause and spent the next day just glowing from the praise. Of course, we loved all the stories and seeing everyone try to out gross one another is always fun. After that, it was off to bed and time to recharge for the next and final day!

Day Four-Sunday!

Sunday is always bittersweet knowing it’s the last day. My family and I got to the event an hour before the doors opened. We spent time talking to more author friends, restocking the table, or rather, Katrina restocked the table, while I wandered.

Today, I made most of my purchases from my peers, spent more time networking, taking pictures, and laughing with friends. When the doors opened, I stuck close to my table as we had a steady stream of readers still pouring in.

As the day wound down, we started packing up, happy with the event, sad it was ending, and utterly exhausted. We said goodbye to friends that were leaving, loaded my car with our table supplies then made plans for dinner.

After many hugs, more pictures, and last minute checks of the tables, we left the venue to find food.

Sunday night we returned to the bar to hang out with the stragglers as usual. This is one of my favorite parts of the event. The calmness after the storm. Longer conversations with good friends, giving advice to new authors, taking those last minute pictures. I sat at a table in the back with my mom and my daughter, along with new author Dan Shrader, close friend Lucas Milliron, Donna Latham and her friend Kim, who I also claimed as my new best friend during AuthorCon last year.

Anton Cancre, and Jezzy Wolfe were also there, and many others sat at tables nearby, Wile E. Young, Tommy Clark, Stephan Kozniewski , John Urbancik and Jessica Eppley among others. It was a perfect ending to another perfect AuthorCon.

I can’t wait to see everyone in St. Louis!

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