Your Humble Reviewers took a roadtrip to Roanoke, Virginia the weekend of February 8-10 to attend Shevacon at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. The hotel is a Doubletree hotel, which means you get chocolate chip cookies when you check in. The rooms are spacious and clean, although they are a bit pricey for a convention hotel; however, the location is so good that the expense is justified. The hotel bar serves good (though expensive) food and drink, but the appetizers and entrees are big enough for sharing. If you prefer to skip the bar and try your luck elsewhere, the entire downtown area of Roanoke, with all of its restaurants, bars and shops is within easy walking distance.
The meeting rooms where panels are held are all well-appointed and some even have very comfy chairs. The con staff kept a good supply of water on hand, which was needed because the heat was running so much. We had no temperature issues in meeting rooms or any other place in the hotel, which was quite good after many convention experiences with very hot or very cold rooms.
The dealer room is quite spacious; you don’t feel crowded while browsing, and the variety of dealers means there is a lot to browse. There are also artist tables in the hall outside. This area has lots of natural light due to the windows and is very wide so people can stand in front of tables and not restrict the traffic going by.
Programming has tracks for writing, art, costuming, Star Wars, and children’s activities. As writers our focus was on the writing track. This track had several guests who have published many books with major publishing houses and some who have published with smaller presses. This variety is good because it allows the panels to cover more topics. There were panels dealing with the mechanics of writing, like plot and characterization, and a writing workshop which helps writers develop hooks. Also there were panels dealing with larger issues in your writing universe like sex, religion, world building, and villains. Panels on marketing yourself were also available. All the panels we attended were interesting and had worthwhile content, which is quite a change from some conventions we have attended. The networking was good also because many of the writers had vendor tables in the dealer room, making them easy to find when they weren’t on panels.
Overall, the venue for this convention is excellent, the food available is good, and the panel content worth the drive, so particularly for beginning writers this convention would be a good one to attend. It is large enough you get plenty of panelists, but small enough that it won’t overwhelm someone new to conventions. Also, adult content is restricted to late hours with ID checks at the door, so it is family friendly. You can get info on next year from www.shevacon.org .