Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | February 27, 2018

Mysticon 2018

Mysticon, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross

Panel: “Contemporary Fantasy” with Shawnee Small, Liz Long, Pamela K. Kinney, Fraser Sherman, Stuart Jaffe, and Joe R. Lansdale, 2-23-18


In its eighth year, Mysticon 2018, a science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and horror convention, was held from Friday, February 23 through Sunday, February 25, at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia. The convention once again sold out. As an extra bonus, the weather warmed up far above normal for February.

Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Avoiding Fantasy Cliches” with R. S. Belcher, Darin Kennedy, Jason T. Graves, and J. Kyle McNeal, 2-23-18

Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Avoiding Fantasy Cliches” with S. C. Houff and Crymsyn Hart, 2-23-18









Special Guests:

Special guests at the convention were Media Guests of Honor Clare Kramer and Zach Callison, Author Guest of Honor Joe R. Lansdale, Artist Guest of Honor Shawn Durington, Gaming Guest of Honor The Library Bards, Independent Film Guest of Honor Jaysen Buterin, Wrestling Guests of Honor Monique Dupree and Tommy Dreamer, Musical Guest of Honor Bella Morte, Fan Guest of Honor Geek Radio Daily, and Master of Ceremonies Rich Sigfrit. This year’s Mysticon scholarship winner was Maggie Draper.


Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Collaborating in a Shared Universe” with Tera Fulbright, Steven S. Long, Erin Ashley, Richard C. White, Melissa McArthur, and S. H. Roddey, 2-24-18


Convention Activities:

Special events at Mysticon included the opening and closing ceremonies, guest of honor interviews, author readings and book signings, Mark MacDicken’s magic show, the Drum Circle, the Flabbergast Show, the Scholarship Auction, and the Art Auction. Activities available throughout the convention were the Independent Film Festival, the Art Show, and the Dealer’s Room. Attendees could also participate in fun activities like the Author Dating Game, Iron Author, The Author Match Game, Giddy Geeker’s Speed Dating, and Keep Calm and Carry Yarn.

Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Bachelor characters on “The Author Dating Game” – Darin Kennedy, Michael David Anderson, and Jason Gilbert, 2-24-18

Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Bachelorette characters on “The Author Dating Game” – Samantha Bryant, Kim Headlee, and Erin Ashley with moderator The Giddy Geeker, 2-24-18










The wide variety of gaming activities available throughout the convention ranged from board games and card games to role playing games, video games, and a starship simulator.

Three special activities were scheduled for Saturday evening: the Rocky Horror Picture Show performance, the Masquerade, and the Scholarship Auction.


Panel: “Beyond Western Europe – Other World Cultures for Fantasy” with Fraser Sherman, Steven S. Long, Amanda J. McGee, Richard C. White, and S. C. Houff, 2-24-18

Costumes, 2-24-18

Panel: “Time Travel and the Butterfly Effect” with Jim Beall, Michael David Anderson, Peter Prellwitz, and Fraser Sherman, 2-24-18










Special performances during the convention included the Steampunk Jamboree (music), Final Form Fusion (belly dancing), and the Mysticon Musical Extravaganza.


Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “No Sympathy for the Devil – Protagonists Beyond Redemption” with Darin Kennedy, John L. French, Panela K. Kinney, S. H. Roddey, and Alexandra Christian, 2-24-18


In addition to panels on many topics scheduled all three days, participants could attend workshops: armour patterning, Allen Wold’s writing workshop, the Roanoke Robotics Workshop and Demonstration, the Spare Time Editing Workshop, the Plotting Workshop, the CSI 101 Workshop, the World Building 101 Workshop, and the Makeup Workshop.


Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Stayin’ Alive – Deep Space Edition” with Jim Beall, Darin Kennedy, and Dr. Daniel Wallace, 2-24-18

Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Military Psychology” with Darin Kennedy, Erin Ashley, and Richard C. White, 2-25-18









Convention Panels:

Here’s a sampling of the panel topics at the convention:

  • Art: Politics and Economics of Cover Art; How to Draw Your Favorite Cartoon Character; Art in Science
  • Costuming: Cosplay 201: Surviving the Masquerade; Oddball Costuming Supplies: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Costuming Form, Function & Fantasy
  • Fandom: Con Survivalism 101; Fan Fiction; Shiny!; Groupie Gathering; This One Time at the Con
  • Fantasy: Contemporary Fantasy: Setting the Fantastic in the Everyday World; Pottermore and Beyond; World Mythology in Contemporary Fantasy; The Legacy of Frankenstein
  • Film: B Movie Panel; Ghostbusters Crossing the Streams; Women Rocking Hollywood; Step One: Write the Script; Ready Player One; Marvel Cinematic Universe; Cult Movies
  • Gaming: Introduction to Roleplaying; Podcast: Talk of the Tavern; Hey! Let’s Kill All the Orcs: Morality in RPGs
  • Horror: Pretty Scary; A Touch of the Macabre
  • Media: The Quest for Gem Magic; The Last Racebenders/Genderbenders
  • Music: Write a Song with Bella Morte; It’s the Final Countdown
  • Paranormal: Ghosts, Wizards, Witches, Magic: Shakespeare and the Supernatural; Haunted Soundscape: The Roanoke Valley
  • Podcasting: Audio Podcasting and Internet Radio 101; Geek Radio Daily
  • Science: The Science Hits of 2017; Grid Wars; Techniques for Teaching STEM, Parts I-III; Staying Alive: Deep Space Edition; Time Travel and the Butterfly Effect
  • Science Fiction: Star Trek Discovery; Let’s Take Flight
  • Self-Publishing: Successful Indie Publishing
  • World-Building: Beyond Western Europe — Other World Cultures for Fantasy
  • Writing: Astrology and Tarot as Writing Tools; Dynamic Story Creation in Plain English; Avoiding Fantasy Cliches; Writing Up Close and Personal; Collaborating in a Shared Universe; Military Psychology; Epic Scale Fiction
  • The Writing Business: The Business of Writing; Creating an Author Platform to Promote Yourself on Social Media; Judging a Book by Its Cover; Out of the Box [Marketing]; So You’ve Got a Manuscript?


Mysticon, J. Thomas Ross, The Author Chronicles

Panel: “Epic Scale Fiction” with R. S. Belcher, Kim Headlee, Michael David Anderson, Jim Gaines, Peter Prellwitz, and Amanda J. McGee, 2-25-18


Interesting Things I Learned:

* It’s easier to break bones in space because of the lack of gravity. Bone density decreases with long exposure to low gravity. (Staying Alive: Deep Space Edition)

* The chemical make-up of the soil on other Earth-like planets might be different enough from Earth’s to cause problems with growing crops. (Staying Alive: Deep Space Edition)

* Cosmic radiation in space is more dangerous to astronauts than solar radiation because it contains heavy nucleus atoms that can penetrate materials solar radiation can’t. (Staying Alive: Deep Space Edition)

* The biggest obstacles to extraterrestrial colonization may be social challenges rather than scientific challenges. Science and technology cannot ensure a colony’s success if conflict exists among the colonists and they cannot work well together. (Staying Alive: Deep Space Edition)

* One aspect of time travel not often addressed in fiction is whether or not there is also travel in space or location. For instance, what would happen if you traveled backward or forward in time to the same location and arrived in the middle of a building or other physical object that exists in that time but not in yours? (Time Travel and the Butterfly Effect)


Panel: “Out of the Box (Marketing)” with Shawnee Small, Erin Ashley, Stuart Jaffe, and Travis Sivart, 2-25-18

Panel: “Oddball Costuming Supplies – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” with Matthew Penick, Angela Pritchett, Anita Allen, and Meredith Bowman-Shelton, 2-24-18










Panelists’ Tips for Writers:

* In writing a series, the sequels should contain just enough backstory so the reader can understand the story. One way to do this effectively is to relate the backstory from another character’s point of view. (Michael David Anderson, Epic Scale Fiction)

* Write each book of a series so that it could be read alone and in any order. (Peter Prellwitz, Epic Scale Fiction)

* It is well worth the expense for Indie authors to pay for a good cover and a good editor (or more than one). Make sure your cover looks good in a thumbnail size because the cover photo will be that size in much of your online marketing. Also make the cover clickable. (Travis Sivart, Out of the Box)

* Shawnee Small predicts that this will be the year of the audiobook. (Out of the Box)

* What’s the difference between marketing and promotion? Marketing is selling your book. Promotion is selling your brand. (Out of the Box)

* Think of social media as an extension of the writing process, not as a separate thing. (Creating an Author Platform to Promote Yourself on Social Media)

Panel: “Dynamic Story Creation in Plain English” with Pamela K. Kinney, Crymsyn Hart, Stuart Jaffe, Alexandra Christian, and Michael David Anderson, 2-23-18

Panel: “Graphic Novel Storytelling” with Rob Richmond, Richard C. White, and Joe R. Lansdale, 2-23-18










Join the fun at next year’s convention, February 22 – 24, 2019!


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