What I wished I’d known my first time at LeakyCon

Yes, I read through many first-timers tips before attending my first LeakyCon in Denver, 2022. I even attended the Ickle Firsties meetup at the convention. While these were all good and helpful, I felt like several key tidbits of information were left out, and I wished I’d known them.

Tidbit #1: Ribbons are a thing.

Okay, I actually did find out about this really fun trend ahead of time, and came prepared with ribbons. But many first-timers knew nothing about this, I discovered. So here’s the thing: attendees at LeakyCon really love handing out and receiving ribbons to attach to their lanyard, eventually creating a very long trail of ribbons down their front, lol. The fun part is anyone can print these ahead of time (not just the merchants and shops), and you can have anything printed on them: a fun picture like Luna Lovegood’s glasses, or funny quotes from the Harry Potter books or other sayings. One ribbon simply said “Grandpa” and made me laugh. I printed three different colored ribbons with different words to help promote my book and YouTube channel (I am a fantasy author, after all). My quotes were also related to Hogwarts, just as my books are, indirectly (I’ve written a real potions textbook which probably escaped the Restricted Section at Hogwarts…)

Tidbit #2: Bring a water bottle

Even more awesome if you have a Hogwarts water bottle or one in your house colors. Yes I know I live in Colorado, and everyone in Colorado always carries around a water bottle. But I was going to be in a hotel the whole time, and who wants to carry one when they’re cosplaying? (I cosplayed Professor Trelawney.) I discovered that most attendees knew this tidbit and carried water bottles. And that the hotel was sometimes lagging in refilling water coolers in the rooms, and not all the rooms had water. I was so busy running from one session or panel to another, that it was challenging finding time to go look for liquid sustenance. I sat through the Hufflepuff meetup very thirsty. I even tried using my wand, shouting “Aquamenti!” at the water cooler several times, to no avail. The cooler suddenly refilled just as the session ended, though I didn’t see anyone fill it, so maybe my spell decided to work after all.

Tidbit #3: Remember to always carry your wand

Speaking of wands, whether you bring one or buy one there (so many cool wand shops!), be prepared to always have it on you, just like at Hogwarts. There are merchants selling wand sheaths, too. This was one of my favorite things about LeakyCon! Finally being somewhere where it’s normal to always have your wand on you! (I kept forgetting and having to run back to my room again.)

Tidbit #4: You’re on your own for meals

I was used to the writer’s conference where meals are a part of the ticket and everyone eats together. I searched and searched online, but could find no information on meals at LeakyCon. That’s because there is none. Everyone is completely on their own for all meals and snacks. At the hotel in Denver, they offered a breakfast for pay (not included with the room) and there was a pub restaurant for supper. They had wonderful service, but such limited staff at the pub that everyone had to wait 45 minutes to an hour to finally get their food. For lunch, the hotel offered several offerings in the merchants hall, for cash only (see Tidbit #4). There were a few places to eat nearby, but not very many, and I heard attendees complaining at the lack of local options. One couple ordered pizza delivery, and waited at least two hours to get it! (I’m not sure how long because I left to get ready for the Esther Earl Ball.)

Tidbit #5: Cash is king

I ended up having to retrieve cash from the hotel ATM (paying a nice fee) twice. Not only were the lunch foods cash-only, but I needed cash to leave a room tip. And it does help the merchants to pay with cash. Most merchants accepted cards, but you never know who might not. I ended up having to run to the ATM to get cash so I could buy a book from one of the presentor’s. Thank goodness he waited for me while selling and signing books to others. Next time I’ll bring cash for all my shopping.

Tidbit #6: Prepare for some culture shock, especially if alone

If you go with friends you might not deal with this so much, but I often find myself trying out new experiences, countries and groups solo. And just like in the SCA, with larping, and with international travel, I experienced bodily fatigue and feeling “out of it” just from culture shock, especially on the first day. It’s okay, just stay hydrated, try new things, take breaks and power naps if you can, make sure you eat. By the end of the weekend I was adjusted and didn’t want it to end.

Tidbit #7: How to dress for the Esther Earl Ball

One fun thing about LeakyCon’s Saturday night ball is that you can dress however you want. There were people in the same casual or house clothes from the day. Some wore modern ball gowns, some wore medieval gowns like me, and some wore Victorian-era ball gowns. Several cosplayers came right in their cosplay, allowing us to dance with Molly Weasley, Ginny Weasley, a couple of Hagrids, a glowing Patronus, and Bellatrix LeStrange. I found myself wishing I’d done the same. I even almost ran back up to my room to change out of my medieval gown and back into my Trelanwey cosplay. They were giving and having so much fun! But I didn’t. I’ll simply stay in cosplay next time.

Tidbit #8: The sessions are more fun that you think

When I was planning ahead, the panels and sessions only sounded “okay” to me, and I chose just a smattering of them to attend. But when I actually tried them, I discovered they were more fun than I expected. I ended up wishing my broken Time-Turner actually worked so I could attend a couple of them at the same time. Make sure not to miss the Wizard Rock Cafe.

Tidbit #9: Every LeakyCon is a little bit different – plan for the littles

I learned several things about LeakyCon. One is that it is a traveling con, and attendees go to wherever it is being held each year. Two is that each venue and event will be a little bit different. I heard that the one in Dallas has the four house common rooms to relax and hang out in. In Denver one “Quiet Room” was available, but no comfy chairs in there. Also, there wasn’t much for the littles to do in Denver, I noticed. There was a little craft area with two self-directed fun crafts in the merchant’s room, and that was about it. Most of the littles wouldn’t enjoy the sessions. If you’re bringing littles with you, search the panels ahead of time — they might enjoy the cosplay contest — and make a plan of what they might like to do. (I have some awesome creative ideas for sessions I want to present, and if they choose me going forward, we will have some rocking activities which even the littles will go crazy over.)

You will have fun

Everyone is so friendly, the wares so unique, the panels and sessions suprisingly interesting, the cosplay delightful, the Wizard Rock rocks, and the Esther Earl Ball is a blast. No matter what, have fun! I know you will. It turns out that attending LeakyCon is addicting. I’m alread planning on next year. (And FYI, they are going to be expanding to add more fandom things, like elves and dwarves, hobbits, D&D, and more!)


Get a Book Agent – I’ve been signed!

This journey of becoming a novelist and writer has been so fascinating. After working on my great big idea, my very unusual novel, on and off for sevearl years, I finally finished and got a book agent (also called a literary agent). This author can’t stop dancing!

Becoming a Writer

From the beginning and throughout the entire process I’ve been studying, learning and practicing the principles of the Law of Attraction – reading all the books by Esther Hicks, the original source of this material. There are also a ton of YouTube videos where you can listen to Esther Hicks answer all kinds of questions. You can also search under Abraham Hicks.

Through these principles I first asked for an original idea for my own novel. The next morning I awoke with the first few sentences in my head. The whole idea was full of magic and I’ve been enchanted with it ever since, even though my work on it was on again – off again, for many years.

Finishing the Novel

At a sci-fi/fantasy conference I took an author’s workshop. When she learned about my idea, she became so excited she offered to write the blurb on the back for me. Her enthusiasm acted as a catalyst and I began writing in earnest. I joined a local writer’s group whose main goal is to get our novels done. In about a year, and with the help of NaNoWriMo virtual camps, I finally finished my novel. Then I spent another whole year plus a few months revising and editing the novel, studying and applying the craft of writing from recommended books like The GMC, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, and Editor-Proof Your Writing.

Get a Book Agent

A writer friend highly recommend I attend the local annual writer’s conference. We have a big one here in Colorado Springs: The Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference. It is so popular and fun that even the speakers often ask to come back.

While I was still writing my novel, not quite finished, I went to the writer’s conference one evening to attend “Bar-Con,” where everyone networks around the bar. A writer friend introduced me to my future agent, though I didn’t know it at the time. But I was able to pitch my story to her and she immediately saw the vision of my unique book. She asked for the full manuscript–a miracle in itself! I told her it wasn’t quite done, and she said to take my time, not to worry. Of course, I didn’t expect it to take over a year later!

Many Queries Later

I completely finished my book, revisions and everything, finally. This year I attended the full 4-day writer’s conference and pitched my story to five agents, receiving five rejections and one literary director and editor who loved it. I sent the full ms to the original agent from last conference, and also queried it out to about 15 agents in the U.S. and the U.K. (my story is set in 1665 London). Then I waited for two months, sending it out to agents here and there.

In August my agent, Natalie Lakosil, told me she loved my book. She arranged a phone call and offered me representation! By now, I’d received enough rejections that I accepted from the original agent who saw the vision.

Next Steps

It was so exciting to get a book agent! Now I’m in the interesting phase of Natalie and I collaborating to make my novel even better with more revisions and edits. I knew going in this would happen somewhere along the line towards publishing, and I’m really enjoying watching my novel get better and better. I’m learning that a good novel is sometimes more about what the author takes out, than what she leaves in. Less can be more, allowing the reader to bring more of themselves and interpretations to the story.

So what is the big idea, what is my unusual novel? It’s a potions textbook that has accidentally gotten out of Hogwarts and into the muggle world. It looks like an old encyclopedeia, with black and white woodcuts throughout. When you start reading Encyclopedeia Magica: Volume 1 – Alchemy, you discover there is something weird and alive in this book. Without giving it away, let’s just say you will be pulled in to becoming the magical hero of the story, if you wish to take on the challenge, and learn about a young girl who had to dress like a boy and became an alchemist’s apprentice, before the book defeated her. Now it is up to you to save her!

What is the take-away to get a book agent?

  • Study and practice the Law of Attraction, to bring the right ideas, circumstances and people into your life – everything by Esther Hicks and Abraham Hicks
  • Join local writer’s groups. Go to your nearest, best writer’s conference (they offer scholarships).
  • Make yourself write, study the craft, and finish your novel.
  • Network with agents and editors at conferences. You can also query your writing to agents with the online service, DuoTrope – worth the $5/month.

Onward and upward, my writing friends!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Receiving Inspiration and NaNoWriMo Saves the Day

I learned that several famous authors received their original ideas by inspiration – from a dream or the like. So, many years ago, I prayed to receive an inspiration for a novel. The next morning I woke up with the first couple of sentences in my head, I saw it clearly: “Alpha, first letter of the Greek alphabet…Hello, my name is Alpha, I am trapped, please help me…”  Alpha reached out to me from the ether and told me of her plight.

So I received a tiny germ of an idea, just the first few sentences (I’m not including it all here since I don’t want to give the story away). The idea fascinated me, captured my imagination, sent a thrill through me. What will happen to Alpha? What happens in my story? What is Alpha’s story? I knew the book was like an old encyclopedeia with alchemical terms, like a Potions Class from Hogwarts. This novel is my answer to a deep desire to attend Hogwarts.

Thus began my journey as I worked on my first novel, on and off, for many years. It required a lot of research, which I love to do. I struggled the most with finding consistent time to make myself work on it – the first challenge of all writers. I was also running a business, then started a second, and raising four teenagers. My auburn hair began to gray.

But I continued working on my novel off and on for several years, spending the bulk of my time doing historical research and learning alchemy myself.

Then I met full-time author Susanne Lambdin at GalaxyFest and attended her writing class. I shared my story idea with her and she became so excited she offered to write the blurb on the back and connect me with her book reviewers and network. Her excitement acted as a catalyst, getting me fired up about my story again and finally figuring out how to work on it consistently.

I started participating in the various NaNoWriMo goals throughout the year (National Novel Writing Month plus their virtual writing camps) and joined a more aggressive local writer’s group. They meet every other Monday night to give feedback on each other’s works, to learn the craft of novel-writing, and to push each other to write at least 2,000 words a week and get our books done. I was encouraged to stop researching and get the writing done – the research can continue alongside the writing. I had been stuck in the research hole for a long time so this was what I needed.

I got serious with my writing and spent a year finishing the novel. Whew – I thought the main work was done. I was wrong. It took me two years of working on it steadily to revise and edit. I learned so much.

Finally in June of 2018, I finished my novel and kept dancing all day. I’m now Encyclopedeia Magica Volume 1 Alchemyquerying it out and one agent is reading it!

It’s called Encyclopedeia Magica: Volume 1 – Alchemy.