I spent the past weekend at Anthocon, a multi-genre literature and arts convention, focusing on speculative fiction and art. This is my second time attending and definitely not my last.

Anthocon is held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I would love to tell you how awesome Portsmouth is, but for both years, the only thing I saw in Portsmouth was this:

Chillin’ at the Holiday Inn…

The entire convention takes place at the Holiday Inn, and as I am not the most adventurous person, I tend not to branch out too much.

Maybe that makes me lame, maybe not; I like to keep this a judgement-free zone.

I don’t think Kelly Kapoor got the memo about judgement-free…

This year, however, I got a little wild and decided to go out to dinner Friday night. Beyond the actual walls of the Holiday Inn. Seven of us went to the Portsmouth Brewery and had a great time. We sat here:

I felt like one of the knights of the Round Table. Although if you have an inner math geek like me, it’s more of an Elliptical Table.

Anthocon is put on by a great group of guys known as The Four Horsemen. When I Googled “four horsemen” to find pictures, one image was cooler than the next. I couldn’t pick just one.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Not counting the LEGO, the general bad-assery of the work above is overwhelming (Although for LEGO, that’s pretty bad-ass, too).

The images are  foreboding. Scary, even. The stuff that nightmares are made of. And maybe that’s what the guys were going for.

But here’s a little secret: not one of those four guys is scary. Not even a little bit.

Now, I’m not saying they’re anything like this:

Although Rainbow Dash is pretty bad-ass.

But still…I’m not afraid they’ll bring the world’s end… In fact, they are four of the friendliest guys around. And pretty talented, too. (Ask jOhnny to sing for you one day…holy cow!)

The guys are, in no particular order, jOhnny Morse, Tim Deal, Danny Evarts, and Mark Wholley.

Class acts, all four of them.

Their con is well-run and professional, and, at the same time, intimate and laid-back.

On the professional side, I sat in on some great panels about what editors want (basically, read the effing guidelines) and how life experiences inform a horror writer’s work (basically, don’t ask). They also had many pitch sessions.

And I got to sit in on some great readings. Among the best I heard were by Chris Irvin, Errick Nunnally, and Bracken MacLeod.

Chris’s story, “Blind Spot,” knocked me out. And although his delivery was more subdued than the other two, he registered just enough emotion to enhance the awesomeness of the story. Learn more about Chris here.

Errick read from his new novel, Blood for the Sun, which is set to come out in March. Delivered with ease and style, this reading made me want to buy the book right then and there. I had a beautiful picture of the scene and characters and was captivated by their fantastical nature. All in a five minute reading. Learn more about Errick here.

Bracken read his story, “Mine, Not Yours,” which can be found in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

In a word: wow.

With his theatrical delivery, Bracken kept us on the edge of our seats; with his wonderful story-telling, he broke our hearts. I’ve also read his debut novel, Mountain Home, which is a fast-paced and amazing read. Check him out here.

I did a reading from my story “Mommy’s Not Perfect,” which is also in Anthology: Year Two.


Although I look like I just consumed lemons, I’m pretending to be my protagonist—a 5-year-old boy who’s dealing with his nightmares.

Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out is available here.

On the laid-back side, Anthcon provides good opportunities to have extended conversations with many people. I spoke to too many awesome people to list, but I will say if you ever run into Tony Tremblay or Jacob Haddon at a con, do yourself a favor and talk to them…both are the embodiment of nice.

Like Necon (see that post here), a fair amount of drinking goes on at Anthocon. So those laid-back moments can go from this


to this


pretty darn quickly.

That’s me with (L to R) Gardner Goldsmith (great writer and super sweet guy…plus, he does a kick ass President Obama impersonation), Tracie Orsi (my awesome con roomie, writer and owner of the restaurant Ragin’ Cajun), and Michael Bailey (writer and editor and artist and proof-reader and mentor and IT guy and way cool person and…cyborg?? that would explain the never-ending list…). A photo credit needs to go to the fun and lovely Kelly Rumble Westrope. Thanks for the great shots, Kelly…I think…

Truth be told, though, I think among the five of us, we only drank one beer at this point…so maybe we really just need some supervision of this nature:

The bottom line is, Anthocon is a great convention. If you are looking to learn more about speculative fiction and art and, at the same time, be surrounded by amazing people, this is the place for you.

Thanks Four Horsemen!