RavenCon 2015: Ten Years of Geeking Out in Richmond

Ten years ago, on the way to Stellarcon in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was asked by Nth Degree Magazine creator and editor Mike Pederson to help him start up a convention in a city was in desperate need of a convention: Richmond, VA. At that time, there was nothing happening in the area. It would be the first time in a long time that Richmond would have seen a scifi con.

Naturally, this was my reaction:

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After several years of attending conventions, I was being invited (as much as you can be “invited” when you are in a moving car) to step into the wild, weird, and surprisingly wonderful world of convention organizing. (Either that, or walk the rest of the way to Stellarcon.) Thus, with boyhood hero Terry Brooks as our Guest of Honor, RavenCon launched.

Ten years later, RavenCon is still going strong.

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This year, we welcome Author Guest of Honor (GoH) Allen Steele, Artist GoH Frank Wu, Gaming GoH Brianna “Spacekat” Wu, Special Author GoH Jack McDevitt, Special Author GoH Lawrence M. Schoen, and Special Plush GoH Barry Mantelo for our tenth anniversary. It’s been an amazing ride, these past ten years. Some years I’ve been there, and others I’ve been unable to get there; but this year you can find me…

Friday, April 24

  • 4 p.m. — The Network Without Fear (Bon Air)
  • 7 p.m. — Opening Ceremony (Rooms E & F)

Saturday, April 25

  • Noon — The 10 Best Video Games of All Time (Chesterfield)

Sunday, April 26

  • 10 a.m. — Reading (Boardroom)
  • 2 p.m. — RavenCon in Review (Anna)

johnYou may think I’ve got a light schedule, and there’s good reason. I’ve stepped back into my role as Vice Con Chair which means whenever I am not on a panel, I will be in ConOps, working to keep RavenCon on track. I’ve got to stay focused this coming weekend as the shoes I’m filling are pretty huge.

This year we lost a member of the RavenCon family and I lost a friend. John Jones had stepped into the role of Vice Con Chair after I stepped down, and he was a rock of the convention. You could rely on John for a smile, an honest opinion, and a solution to a problem. On February 3, John passed away unexpectedly. He will be sorely missed by his wife Cheryl as well as his extended con family. If this is a return visit for you to this weekend in Richmond, expect to hear many memories shared of John. If this is your first visit to RavenCon, expect to get to know our friend John.

Mike Pederson had described RavenCon as the “Con of Opportunity” when it began ten years ago, and honestly I didn’t understand exactly why. Maybe one hope was that those who attended — guests and attendees — would find what they hope to find at their first con, or finally find that defining moment at a con they always wanted. I considered that and thought “For a first time doing this, is that even possible?”

Then this happened…

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Fantasy Author Terry Brooks and English Teacher Alexandra McGrath,
the two people who inspired me to write.

This moment happened because of RavenCon.

When we started this event ten years ago, this was what Mike and I intended, and in 2015 I truly believe we still are that kind of event. On behalf of Mike, the entire RavenCon staff, and John, we hope you will join us this weekend.

5 thoughts on “RavenCon 2015: Ten Years of Geeking Out in Richmond

  1. In my opinion, Ms. McGrath and Ms. Pendergraft were the two best teachers at Monacan. It makes me really happy to see this picture.

    • Alex taught at Monacan for nearly 40 years. It was a real moment of pride to present her with my first novel, Morevi, and let her know that it was her encouragement that kept me writing. She is an amazing teacher and a talented woman. I consider myself lucky to have been in her classroom.

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