I'm late with my convention report. I've been recuperating. Not from excessive partying this time, but from a bout with pneumonia. Which I suffered through during the convention. More about that later.

I've been to my share of these events, and two things are critical for success: the staff of both the hotel and the con.

I've seen everything from indifference to contempt at hotels were fantasy cons have taken place. At one Horrorfind a hotel staff member harshly said something like, "I stopped dressing up for Halloween when I was a little kid, you know?". I should have asked his supervisor if smug judgmental attitudes were part of his job training.

I am happy to report that the entire staff of the Hilton Doubletree in Williamsburg, VA, were awesome. Each and every member seemed anxious to help, and they all at least appeared to be delighted by the madness that invaded their nice hotel that weekend. I honestly have not seen better service.

Then there was the con staff. Again, I have seen incompetence, arrogance, indifference at various conventions. At the Scares That Care con, it was almost unbelievable that this was a debut show. The organization, the professionalism, was impressive. Thumbs way, way up.

It was a special event for me. I often took my kids to conventions when I had a family. Sadly, I am alone now, but my stepdaughter, India, confided to me a while back that horror cons were the best memories of her childhood.

I always promised to take her to another, but it has proved to be impossible up until this year. I had promised to take her to Scares That Care. No matter what.

Little did I know that I would develop pneumonia a week before the convention. Pneumonia takes two weeks to a month to recover from. I should have stayed home in bed. But I couldn't.

So I drove 800 miles and went to a horror convention while utterly miserable.

It was worth it. India just graduated high school and is off to college soon. I owed it to her.

And she loved it. Horror cons are fun for kids, but a young adult probably has a better time.

I dread listing names, because I can't include everyone and I hate to leave anyone out. But I feel obliged to call out some deserving individuals.

Brian Keene, for being a friend for so long, and for his part in making this convention so great. He orchestrated the writing programing and guests.

Laura Long, my good friend who is always there with a sympathetic ear and optimistic words on the phone when I need it. It was great to see her again.

Matt and Deena Warner (and sons). I love you guys so much and we live too close together for us to get together so seldom.

That goes for local friends Beau and Trish, too. Sorry I was unable to spend more time with you. I'm spread way too thin at these things as it is, then there was how lousy I was feeling.

Erik and Laurie Alkenbrack. Again, it had been too long, my friends.

My esteemed roomies Tom Monteleone and Jim Marshall. Had you told me fifteen years ago that Tom would become one of my greatest friends, I'd have laughed in your face. He and I met nearly that long ago, and we hit it off. We see eye to eye on many things. From our tastes in fiction, to our observations on the community, on to our views on life itself.

Jim is a collector of fine books, and he always brings amazing items to show off. But his personality and generosity outshine his collection. A dear friend and a hell of a guy.

I made some new friends this year. Kyle Lybeck, who is a forum regular, is an outstanding individual.

Jonathan Janz is one of the genre's rising stars, and he is just about the nicest, most enthusiastic and passionate man I've ever met. Read this guy, folks. Seriously.

Man. Sheri White. Skip Novak. Mike Lombardo of Reel Splatter Productions. Bryan Smith (nice Cramps tat!), Mary SanGiovanni. Kelli Owen. My mind is going blank. The last couple of weeks have been a blur.

Mostly, I want to thank India Collier, for continuing to be a part of my life, and for bringing me such joy. Let's hope we can do it again next year!

It's so hard to come home from a convention. After being around so many extraordinary people, everyone and everything seems gray and dull. Boring. The real world sucks.

Finally, I want to publicly thank Joe Ripple. He busted his ass for this con, and his hard work showed. It wasn't as financially successful as he had hoped it would be, and whether there will be another one next year is up in the air. I sincerely hope that he decides to do it.

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