If you’ve never attended Penned Con in St. Louis, Missouri, you are missing out. Every year I leave thinking it couldn’t possibly get any better, then the organizers at Penned prove me wrong the following year. This year was certainly no exception.
I want to start off by saying a huge thanks to Rick and Amy Miles for their hard work and dedication to not only this event, but to the charity Action for Autism. All proceeds from Penned Con are donated to AFA to help improve the lives of autistic children. To date, this event has raised over $50,000! I also want to say thank you to Nikki Bunch and all the volunteers for keeping things running smoothly and making sure we were taken care of. You all are the best!
Things kicked off on Thursday night with a VIP Pajama Party! Authors, assistants, and readers with VIP tickets all joined up for a few hours of games, silly pajamas, and a cash bar. There were lots of things happening at once, but it was so fun. My hubby John went all out and wore an old-fashioned night shirt and cap, with work boot slippers. It was adorable. 🙂 I was less adventurous and wore regular PJs with monster foot slippers. Others wore outrageously cute adult one-piece pjs with hats. It was a lot of fun. My sides hurt from laughing so much.
Friday started with a signing for the Real Book Boyfriends calendar. If you missed the 2017 calendar, make sure you keep an eye out for the next one. These guys are a hoot and it all goes to charity.
We had an amazing key note speech from Rachel Van Dyken. She gave an inspiring talk on overcoming fear and if you missed it, Smashwords has been kind enough to share the transcript here.
The signing rooms opened shortly after that and we all had a great time, took a break for lunch, then back at it again with the signing room and panels. At 3:00 pm there was a fun panel that John and I took part in called The Not So Newlywed Game. LOTS of laughs there. So many wrong answers from us all.
We had a short, but fun Havenwood Falls Meet and Greet Friday night. Those of us HF authors in attendance hung out with readers of the series, had drinks, did some Q&A, and even had a Purple Pig Plate Painting Contest!
Friday night was the always anticipated Red Coat PR party, complete with lip sync battle. It was an epic success. The lip sync battle will return next year!
Saturday we had another amazing keynote speech. This time from my lovely cousin and friend Jamie McGuire. She killed it as she talked about people not believing in her and how she pushed forward anyway. So encouraging!
Saturday followed a similar schedule – signing room, panels, lunch. That evening we started things off with the Awards Ceremony. It was so exciting seeing all the amazing talent nominated, as well as the announcements of the winners themselves. There was a very moving moment near the end where the late Ednah Walters won an award for Best Book Cover. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.
After the awards we had the casino party. Dancing, drinks, raffles, the cupcake bar, and several gaming tables open for everyone. (BTW, I learned I suck at Blackjack.)
Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I’m so excited for next year. The author slots are already full for 2018 and I have no doubt it’s gonna be another amazing line up. I can’t wait! If you’d like to see my entire photo album, you can find it here.
If you want to purchase tickets to the 2018 event, you can learn all about it at this link. Be sure to check out the VIP tickets! They go fast and are limited, but so worth the extra money. And again, it all goes back into charity! Hope to see you there!