Mysticon 2012, February 24-26

Mysticon is the first convention I attend each year, and one of the pleasures of making the annual trek to Roanoke, VA, is driving down I-81 through the lovely Shenandoah Valley. Whether clothed in sunshine, snow, or autumn finery, the mountains always fascinate. Although dark clouds threatened rain during most of the trip on Friday, I didn’t have to drive through more than an occasional drizzle, and the low, dark clouds over the mountains provided a spectacular, glowering beauty.

The Dealers' Room

Nicki Clyne & Richard Hatch signing autographs in the Dealers' Room

Game tables








Mysticon is a small, hospitable convention with a beauty of its own. It’s held in Roanoke’s Holiday Inn Tanglewood, which has a window exterior wall in the main elevator that gives a lovely view of the surrounding mountains (as did the window in my hotel room). Stores and restaurants are located nearby, but there’s no need to go out, for snacks, drinks, and quick meals are available in the hospitality suite and the 10 Forward Cantina. The hotel food is also reasonably priced and delicious — especially my favorite meal, breakfast.

Panel: More Than Human with Paul Dellinger, Chris, Catherine Asaro & Tally Johnson

Panel: Care for a Chick-lit? with Alexandra Christian & Marcia Colette

Panel: Character Kryptonite with Gail Z. Martin, Allen Wold, Steven Wilson & Herika Raymer







Most of the convention activities are located in three adjoining hallways on the first floor, and each room was labeled with the panels/activities scheduled for that room. In addition, tables with all kinds of displays lined the hallways. The Dealers’ Room and Artist Alley offered items for sale, such as books, posters, knickknacks, artwork, jewelry, T-shirts, costume clothing, swords, knives, and much more. And convention attendees could bid on the impressive artwork displayed in the Art Show. I usually just admire the Art Show artwork, but this year I bid on a dragon necklace created by Mechelle J. Fox and was lucky enough to win the bid.

Panel: Far Out Scientific Concepts You Need to Know About with Tally Johnson, John L. French, Richard C. Cook, David Halperin & Barbara deBary-Kesner

Panel: Sympathy for the Devil -- Liking the Bad Guy with David Blalock, Kalayna Price, Rebecca Carter, Nancy Brauer & Greg Eatroff

Panel: Romance vs Erotica -- How Much Is Too Much with Alexandra Christian, Pamela Kinney, Catherine Asaro & Marcia Colette








Since there’s only one of me, I couldn’t attend all the panels I wanted to, but I enjoyed all the panels I did attend. Most of the panels I attended had to do with writing, but I also enjoyed two musical events: filking with Danny Birt — my first experience with filking and a lot of fun — and Mysticon*cert with Catherine Asaro and accompanist Marty Pell. Another fun event was the annual Match Game, where pairs of contestants from the audience try to win prizes by matching the answers of the panelists.

Catherine Asaro

Accompanist Marty Pell

Danny Birt






I had one disappointment when I decided to try something different — Drawing 101 and Shading 201. Both workshops had to be canceled because of the illness of the artist. I hope I’ll get the chance to try them next year. I stopped in for Allen Wold’s Plot Workshop because I’d gotten so much from his Writing Workshop (also offered at this convention) in previous years.

Allen Wold's Plot Workshop

Contestants for the Match Game

The Match Game with Danny Birt, Allegra Torres, Ursula Vernon, Richard Hatch, Nicki Clyne, Carla Brindle & Rich Sigfrit & contestants








One unexpected occurrence will make the con a bit more memorable for those of us who stayed at the hotel. At 2:00 am on Sunday morning, the fire alarm went off. My roommate and I straggled downstairs, where a hotel official told us we could remain indoors on the first floor in the lobby or convention area. A broken water main connected to the sprinkler system had set off the alarm. And so we sat on chairs in the hallway, looking like the cast of a zombie movie, while we waited for the alarm to go off so that we could return to our rooms. (I had my purse and camera with me, but I refrained from taking photos.) Most of us weren’t awake enough to talk, and we soon returned to our rooms to resume our interrupted sleep (or parties).

Costuming makeup & hair styling

Rich Sigfrit with the youngest Match Game contestants

Match Game panelists Danny Birt, Allegra Torres & Ursula Vernon







The three days of the con zipped by. While I hated saying goodbye, I left eager to get back to writing — and looking forward to the next con. Hope to see you there!

For more specific details of the convention guests and programs and more photos, check out my Author Chronicles post, Mysticon 2012.


About J. Thomas Ross

Since retiring from a career as a high school English and history teacher, I've been pursuing a career as a writer. My main interest is in writing novels, but I've also written short stories and poetry and done a little editing on the side. I am currently working on a Young Adult novel. One of my poems - "Winter" - won an award at the 2010 Philadelphia Writers Conference, and you can find my fantasy short story "A Rock Is a Rock Is a Rock ... Or Is It?" in the anthology Tales of Fortannis: A Bard's Eye View, which is available in print and Kindle format from Amazon and as an e-book from Double Dragon Press.
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