Part 2 of the last con report of 2018, from not-very-sunny Jacksonville, Florida. But hey, it was alot warmer than where I flew from, so I’m not complaining!
I wanted to end this year on a high note, remembering the good moments and reminding myself of all the reasons I love this show and this cast and this fandom. I hope the pretty pictures and the amusing memories will brighten the last day of 2018 for you too!
Part 1 left off with Saturday night, so that’s where we’ll pick up here. Then it’s Sunday, which means Jared and Jensen, along with panels from Ruth Connell and Richard Speight Jr.
Saturday Night is always special at a Supernatural con, because it’s the concert that caps off the day. I love the Saturday Night Special because I can just enjoy it in between taking pictures and don’t have to do any live tweeting – maybe that’s why it’s usually one of my favorite parts of any con.
Louden Swain kicked things off, then Mark Pellegrino introduced Matt Cohen, who can rockstar out with the best of them. Remember when he was hesitant to sing at the SNS? You’d never know it now!
This was the last Supernatural con in Minneapolis (at least for now) so it seemed like everyone in attendance was determined to make it the very best one. The cast and the band love the giant theater with its for-real stage, complete with floor to ceiling (like 100 feet up ceiling) thick velvet curtains. There are layers of them, so finding your way onstage from backstage is a bit of a challenge – but it also makes everything seem like real theater and adds a feeling of professionalism to everything that happens.
It was also a great place for taking pictures, even for a non-photographer like me, so this post will be broken into two. First up, Thursday through Saturday, including Misha Collins and the Saturday Night Special!
Minneapolis is a funny city, interconnected by indoor walkways that tie all the hotels to the convention center like a network of human hamster habitrails. I was outside the first day I was there and then never ventured out again as the weather took a turn for the cold and rainy.
Thursday, after setting up in the vendor room, I got to watch the new Supernatural episode with some fellow fangirls at the honors floor guest suite in one of the hotels. There was wine and cheese and crackers and even sandwiches custom made by the lovely gentleman in charge of the suite. I’m not sure what he made of the four women shrieking with screams and then doubling over with laughter, but he seemed to be amused enough to want to make us sandwiches, so that’s a win. And we were grateful!
Most of the “vendor squad” was there, so I spent a little time catching up with friends, and then met lots of new people who hadn’t yet read Family Don’t End With Blood or any of our other books. And some familiar people who I haven’t seen in a while too, one of the best part of cons.
Predictably, I stayed up way too late chatting, then grabbed a bagel and latte and headed back to the convention center for the start of the con on Friday. SPNMinn kicked off with our hosts Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict.
And then with Rachel Miner, who is always a ray of sunshine every time she takes the stage.
The Supernatural New Jersey con is the closest I get to a “home” con – a less than two hour drive from Philly. The key word there being “drive” – as in, no airfare! Woohoo!! I packed up my car with many boxes of books and headed out on Thursday up the NJ Turnpike to scenic Secaucus, happy not to have to deal with airport and parking and TSA. Apparently I got a bit too cocky though, because no sooner had I arrived at the vendor section of the gigantic Meadowlands convention center than I realized that I hadn’t brought my usual backpack for flights to cons – so I had only part of what I needed for my vendor table!
NOOOOO! Luckily the convention center is adjacent to a giant Walmart, so I trekked over and had my promo pics reprinted, then trekked back to finish setting up. (My friends and I returned to Walmart later that night to stock up on supplies for the con weekend, which included an alarming amount of Beefaroni and ramen noodles, bags of chips and possibly some Lunchables but hey, con weekend!) We love Embassy Suites with their mini kitchens in the room and free breakfast buffet every morning – between that and the Walmart, we were set. And it’s a good thing, since I was on my own in the vendor room – luckily fandom is always wonderful and generous, with fellow fans offering to grab me drinks and pretzels or time for a bathroom break.
This con was special because it was the 100th Creation Supernatural convention – also christened Schmelke Con for the one person who has been at all 100 and taken over 250,000 photo ops to prove it — the one and only Chris Schmelke! There’s no overestimating the difference Chris has made to these conventions – photo ops are a special thing and nobody knows how to make them more special than Chris. We interviewed Chris for one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, and it was immediately obvious that he truly cares about fans’ experience – he gets it. And so he does everything necessary to make sure those few moments allow a genuine connection. Chris will be the first one to say that Supernatural conventions are unlike any other, and in part that’s because these actors also go out of their way to make the photo ops special.
There were all sorts of special decorations celebrating the 100th con and Creation even handed out bracelets to commemorate the occasion, so it was very cool to be there!
Richard introduced Friday’s first guest panelist, Rachel Miner, by giving her well deserved props for her work with Random Acts. She was asked about her initial reaction to her character Meg, and said that she got to read her audition scene with Jared and Jensen. Eric Kripke was there too, and they both ended up laughing; she knew right away that she loved the character.
Shakespeare wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Little did he know that would apply to me, as I write yet another recap of Louden Swain’s Saturday Night Special. It is a struggle sometimes, to find new words and new sentences and new ways of telling you just how much I love Louden Swain and their incredible concerts. The band and the music may be familiar, but each concert is special and new and unique, and I am completely overwhelmed with excitement as I walk into the theater each time. I can’t wait to catch the little smiles from Borja as he plays bass. I can’t wait to watch Stephen behind the drums, even if I repeatedly fail to get any photos of his performance. I can’t wait to swoon as Billy plays that guitar, making me feel all kinds of emotions. (hashtag allthegasms) I can’t wait to see Rob, to watch Rob, to be in this moment with Rob… this two-hour-long moment of excitement and heartbreak and love and pain, all told through lyrics and music.
I simply cannot count the ways, Sir Shakespeare. I am filled, completely and immeasurably, with love for Louden Swain.
Louden Swain began the show with two high energy songs, “Present Time” and “Taxi Driver.”
Matt Cohen joined the band to sing “Joker and The Thief.” I love that he gets so hyped for the concert!
I don’t usually do conventions back to back, which explains why I wasn’t going to do the Supernatural Denver con – because there was a Supernatural con in Charlotte the very next weekend and I already had tickets. But some of my friends (you know who you are…) are filthy enablers, and I ended up going to Denver after all. That turned out to be a wild and wonderful weekend, but let’s just say that I arrived in Charlotte already pretty tired – and that’s before the con had even started! Luckily I was too busy having fun to really feel the exhaustion until Sunday rolled around and the adrenaline rush that always happens at a Supernatural con was over. (Then I pretty much slept for 12 hours in an attempt to avoid con crud – so far, successful!)
Thursday I flew in and got to meet a friend and fellow fangirl (and fellow writer) who I had only known online – which is always such a treat! Gail Martin is a talented writer whose fantasy genre novels are very popular with the Supernatural fandom, so I couldn’t wait to talk writing and SPN with her. She’s also a Charlotte local, and that means we had delicious barbeque for lunch – and hush puppies! YUM! If you know something better than sharing your mutual love of Supernatural with a new friend over great food, I’m listening.
Gail dropped me off at the con hotel and I had time for a quick dip in the pool, then it was time to set up my vendor table. My friend and partner in crime (and brilliant photographer) Kim Prior and her bestie arrived by car (which means Kim also brought a car full of food and a cooler full of drinks, so yay!) This con was at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte. I think every Supernatural con should be at an Embassy Suites – not only do you get a little mini kitchen in your room and a separate bedroom and living area with sleeper sofa, but you get FREE breakfast and dinner time snacks every day!!! Not one to ever turn down free food, I set my alarm to get up early enough to partake of the buffet breakfast every morning – they even had an omelet bar and a waffle station! Friends, fangirls, free food – I was in heaven. Oh, and the Supernatural cast too…
Thursday night in the vendor room I got to meet lots of people who had read Family Don’t End With Blood and been touched by it. Over the course of the weekend, dozens of people confided to me that the book had changed them in some way, or had even inspired them to keep living. I hope that I somehow convey how much that means when someone says that – that is what we hoped the book would do, that it would inspire people to “always keep fighting”. That’s why the fans who wrote chapters and all the actors who wrote chapters were brave enough to share their own struggles with depression and anxiety and addiction and so many other things – to validate others’ struggles and inspire them to keep fighting. I know it takes courage to walk up and say that to me, a stranger – but I am so honored by it, every single time. So thank you.
Friday morning, after the free buffet of course, the con kicked off with Rich and Rob, who showed off the traditional new Borja shirt for the con. Charlotte, get it?
And then we had a panel with the adorable Rachel Miner.
I will never get over how Rachel’s face lights up when she comes onstage and hears the roar of applause. She has become one of our favorite guests, and has inspired so many people to look at life in a positive way and to keep going no matter what the obstacles. I am so so glad she wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood — she’s a role model to many in the fandom, and she understands the importance of representation. At Charlotte, Rachel reiterated something she’d talked about the weekend before in Denver.
Rachel: If I was back on the show, I’d want to be in the chair. Representation is important.