Houston’s Con-Jour 2010 opened on January 28th. I arrived the night of January 25th, to give my feeble body time to recover from the plane flight before starting in at the Con. (A good thing, too—in St. Louis, we disembarked exactly four minutes before my flight to Houston was to depart. I had to get from Exit Point 14 to Exit Point 20 in four minutes, and those of you who know my locomotion problems can imagine what a time I had, and carrying my computer, too!) Anyway, I arrived tired but unscathed, greeted by Linda, and swept away home in Z3PO, at speeds never getting below 80 MPH.

The day for the Con was clear but cold, though not as cold as the weather I’d left behind in Lincoln. My Union calvary officer’s coat was just right. Heading in to the University of Houston at Clearlake, we signed in, got our badges, and were told where we could set up our Dealer’s table. I set to… opening my suitcase and digging out books, signs, and CDs. Working on the theory that “if you feed them, they will buy,” Linda had brought candy and snacks. I had also got the bright idea of making a loop with all our trailers on it to play while customers browsed. Plugging in the flashdrive, I got my mini-lap set up and the music from “Black Swan,” Bargain with Lucifer, Dark God Descending, and our other epics was soon floating through the lobby.

Guest of Honor was Steven Karl Zoltan Brust, author of the “Vlad Taltos” series, which has been featured on the Science Fiction Book Club. The Musical Guest of Honor was Ghost of a Rose, who gave a concert. And of course, there were Linda Nightingale and Toni V. Sweeney (although they spelled my name wrong, as usual).

Opening ceremonies were on Friday night. Linda and I alternated wondering around seeing what was what. Of course, I homed in on the Con Suite and the buffet table but I was also interested in the gaming tables, too. There was an Anime Room, and an Alternate Media Room, also. I had hoped to get there so I could clue my grandson in on What’s New in Anime but I managed to get sidetracked by vegetarian chili and lasagna with a side order of hummus.

Linda and I were both scheduled for readings from our works. I had asked for an hour so when I sat through Linda’s (hers was scheduled first), I realized that was a mistake. What am I going to read for an hour? was all I could think. Linda acquitted herself well, reading from “Black Swan” and “I, Azazel.” The next reader was Glenda Boozer whose story of a little boy who gained the ability to live over and over the best day of his life was both haunting and heart-warming. My reading was…okay. I read an excerpt from Blood Sin, Dark God Descending, and the opening chapter of Shadow Lord, my new vampire novel. They were well-received, and the audience asked some interesting questions which required some thought on my part. Can’t bluff with these guys!

We were also on three panels. Our first was “Supernatural Romance,” and we arrived late because the room number was changed and someone forget to let us know. Nothing like showing up after something has started! It was also taped (as were the other panels) for a Pod-cast. (Can’t wait to hear how our Southern accents come across!) Linda and I spent the next hour batting back and forth all the ideas we had talked about into the wee hours the night I arrived. We came across as erudite, verbally witty, and masters of extemporization. (Fooled everyone!) Our other panels were in the same vein, if you’ll pardon the pun. The next was called (and I thought I heard cheers from the audience) “Cullen Must Die.” Surprisingly, this wasn’t a Twilight panel but was about “Writing Believable Vampires.” I had just finished Twilight, and found myself treating it as I would a book report I was being forced to do for an English class. I didn’t wanna! When I voiced my objections to the characters, I was surprised to hear agreements coming from all sides. Big Shock: I’d expected to be chased out of the room by angry readers. Next was “Sympathy for the Devil.” It sounded like the title of one of Linda’s books but it was subtitled “The Byronic Hero,” so wrong on that count. Again, we wowed ’em! There were three of us on the panel but Linda and I hogged the show, I’m afraid. Egad, I didn’t know we were so well-read and verbally acute! You’d think we had rehearsed.

After that, was the costume party, so I wandered around looking like Tom Jones’ grandmother in a Hogarth-inspired coat and tricorne hat, seeking out other participants in disguise. Seated on a bench looking as if the fate of the rebellion rested on his shoulders (and perhaps it did) was Obi-Wan Kenobi, (Danny Patterson) lightsaber in hand. Nearby, two of the Ghostbusters (Everett Hinote and Patrick Hankamer) were working on their backpacks. Boba Fett (Doug Sullivan) consented to pose for a picture, and I chatted with Chris Smith, disguised as Darth Vader’s apprentice Galen Marek (what a coincidence, he has the same name as my hero in Shadow Lord!) of “Vader’s Fist,” the 501st Legion. Nice chap. Very polite for a Storm Trooper.

All in all, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun. Leaving to fly back to the snow and lowered temperatures of Nebraska wasn’t something I wanted to do but as they say (and I wish they’d stop doing that) “All good things must come to an end.” Back to reality and galleys and website maintenance and all those other nuances of a writer’s life.

Now, all I have to do now is wait for next year’s con.

(PICTURES: 1) Linda at her table; 2) a slightly out-of-focus Toni at her table; 3)Doug Sullivan (Boba Fett); 4)Toni as Tom Jones' overweight grandmother; 5)Everett Hinote and Patrick Hankamer (the Ghostbusters); 6)Danny Patterson (Obi-Wan) 7)Chris Smith(Galen Marek))

(Toni's latest book Dark God Descending is available at sams dot publishing; Linda's Black Rosette Black Swan is available through The Wild Rose Press.


  1. Mary Marvella // February 6, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

    Hey, Toni, sounds like you and Linda had a good time taking the con by storm. Great job, ladies. Entertaining blog, Toni.

  2. Mary Marvella // February 6, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. Nightingale // February 6, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

    We had a great time. I didn't go in costume but wore a costume-like tunic. Toni did a great job in her costume. And it was a good experience for future (I hope).

  4. Maggie Toussaint // February 6, 2010 at 2:24 PM  

    Sounds like a really fun convention. I'm glad everything went well for you ladies.

  5. Joelle // February 6, 2010 at 3:13 PM  

    Looks like a blast. I had no idea this conference existed. I love any occassion to dress up in costume.

  6. Toni V.S. // February 6, 2010 at 4:02 PM  

    We had a great timeX2! I really enjoyed the panels where Linda and I gave our opinions and got some spirited wuestions and debates.

  7. Dayana // February 6, 2010 at 9:02 PM  

    Hi, Linda and Toni. Sounds like you have a wonderful time. Good for you:) Thanks for sharing.


  8. Mary Ricksen // February 6, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

    You both look wonderful in your pictures and you sure sound like you had a great time.
    Good for you!

  9. Judy // February 7, 2010 at 8:31 AM  

    Thanks, Toni! Sounded like you and Linda had a great, successful time! It was fun to see you in costume... thanks for sharing...

  10. Joanne // February 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM  

    What a great convention for you, Toni, and Linda. Love the pictures, too.

  11. Beth Trissel // February 8, 2010 at 6:18 PM  

    Wow! This looks like fun!

  12. Patrick Hankamer // February 25, 2010 at 12:24 PM  

    Hey, i just stumbled onto your blog (admittedly by Googling my own name). Great to see other folks had a blast at Con Jour as well!

    -"Dr. Hankamer", Houston Area Ghostbusters.