Reflections of PennedCon ~ by Marj Ivancic

Since last month’s blog ended with me and my two pals setting off on a great adventure, I feel a bit obligated to tell the story of the aforementioned escapade in this installment and put an ending on that cliff hanger. So here we go…

Let me begin by saying—Penned Con isn’t an event; it’s an experience!

Husband and wife duo, Rick and Amy Miles have to be part wizard, part sleepless zombie in order to bring so many people and resources together so seamlessly. And the event isn’t just a few hours or a single day. It’s three whole days! That’s seventy-two hours of dealing with a multitude of problems and personalities.

Insert flabbergasted head shake here!

It’s really quite miraculous.

Sadly, Alex, Darlene and I missed Day 1’s five educational sessions/panels. We were on the road for the majority of the day—me at the helm, Darlene co-piloting, and Alex prairie dogging out of the occasional nap to add a quip or two to conversation or to compare jerky-tasting notes with Dar. Thankfully, the eight-hour trip flew by with no mishaps or hiccups or major road construction.

Upon arrival, we dumped off our suitcases and made for the ballrooms where we unpacked our books and swag and set up our tables. Then it was off to grab a quick bite before 80's Trivia/Game night with a great gang of readers who joined our team. Overall, our collective brain did…okay. I’ll blame the hotel network speed for our not-so-great showing, because our cesspool of useless 80’s knowledge was pretty darn deep. (Did I mention that this year’s event theme was the 80’s?)

Day 2’s six-hour signing was book-ended between a keynote speaker and a pride-stripping lip sync contest…which WE WON!
Photo: Courtesy Amazon
(our individual match). The three of us teamed up with the totally tubular Savannah Verte to compete against a formidable rendition of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Who would have thought half-melted, spray-painted Styrofoam discs could make such convincing DEVO hats? I SAY WHIP IT! WHIP IT GOOD! (And yes, there is video of it, but I’m not saying where!)

Day 3’s signing again kicked-off with a keynote speaker and wrapped up with an 80’s prom that featured some way rad costumes. Folks really dug deep in the closet or at the thrift shop to find that perfect puffy-sleeved prom dress or jean jacket! I think I even saw a cummerbund or two. Oh, and the hair! So. Much. Hairspray.

If you’re interested in seeing just what this event is all about, The  PENNED CON FACEBOOK PAGE has a lot of great pictorial evidence many of us photo dodgers wish would just quietly disappear.

So, when all is said and done, Penned Con is fun time. But as we drove home, Alex, Darlene, and I reflected on how it’s also much more than that.

Penned goes beyond authors selling books/readers buying books. Scattered throughout the three days were opportunities to bridge that distance across the book display table and allow readers and authors to get to know one another... To laugh and joke and just be people at a party, making friends and having fun. We met some colorful, funny, sweet, wonderful people throughout those three days.

This event is also about raising funds for Action for Autism, a 501
(c) (3) charity based in St. Louis, Mo. The profits from Penned Con are donated to a scholarship fund that helps lighten the financial burden of families with attending children. This year’s proceeds would be applied to help a set of triplets participate in the program and hopefully, someday, merge back into a mainstream school. Rick announced that the 2019 event raised $13,366, which was then MATCHED by an anonymous donor. How amazing is THAT? Because of this person’s generosity, Penned will now be donating a grand total of $26,732 to an incredible program. (Dear Anonymous Donor – THANK YOU!)

It’s now over two weeks later and I’m back to the real world. Back at work. Back to cleaning the house. Back to trying to get the next WIP done. But it took a good seven days to recover both physically and mentally, as well as a few more days to unpack after Penned. But it was worth it. Every crazy moment of it.

To view Marj's other blog posts, visit her MEMBER PAGE


  1. Sounds like you had a great time! Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  2. It was! Wish you could have joined us! Would have been great to be with you!


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