#CMCon17 Wrap-up & #Giveaway: Four reasons why Coastal Magic is still the best little reader con out there
Putting together a conference is a tremendous amount of work. And it doesn’t really pay…in money, at least. Being a Featured Blogger gives you access to some opportunities and experiences normal convention-goers don’t get, and being behind the scenes really sheds light on the sheer insanity just waiting to bubble over in the background. I have rarely seen such selfless dedication to a cause as Jennifer Morris and her so very generous family members when it comes to Coastal Magic.
This conference only accepts 300 readers total, in order to keep the author-reader ratio generous and intimate. There is, without a doubt, something magical about Coastal Magic. CMCon17 did not sell out, but I’d wager it will start to in coming years, and here’s a glimpse of why you want to be on the leading edge of that wave of reader enthusiasm…
Location, location, location
Coastal Magic takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida—literally right on the beach. Half the rooms in this rather luxurious Hilton hotel have a view just like the ones above. And boy is it peaceful. From my room I was able to see beach-side weddings (with some very yummy-looking Marines!) and morning joggers and watch the sun rise. I only had to open my sliding window to hear the waves crashing and the gulls calling. So beautiful, so invigorating.
Dynamite panels & activities
If you attend the crazy, massive Romantic Times convention, you’re probably familiar with Damon Suede’s Cinema Craptastique, a social media snarkfest that targets a truly terrible mainstream movie each year. The practice run for RT’s Cinema is at CMCon, and the setting is much more intimate. Many people find this to be one of the highlights of the convention.
Lunch with an Author is also a highly coveted event, giving readers a chance to eat lunch with a Featured Author of their choice in a small-group environment (4 readers to one author). And you never know what other authors will be seated at your table. For instance, last year I sat with Donna Herren (Kit Rocha) and Lorelei James. This year was Lara Adrian, Lisa Kessler, and Tonya Burrows.
This year’s party theme was Movie Magic, and attendees showed up in an array of unique and striking costumes…
The Flash Fiction panel draws a HUGE crowd every year. Who wouldn’t want to watch some of the funniest authors at the con making up the most ridiculous(ly dirty) stories on the fly?
One of my favorite things about being a Featured Blogger for this con is having the opportunity to moderate panels. I always enjoy the Music panel, but totally forgot to take a group selfie. Shout-out to Lisa Kessler, Kathleen Collins, Chudney Thomas, BA Tortuga, and Shannon Bell for being such great fun! I also completely neglected to snag a photo op with the Super Bad vs Supernaturally Bad panel—Kait Ballenger, Damon Suede, JA Souders, Rebecca Zanetti, & Amy Lane—you guys were awesome! Here are a few of my other favorites from this year:
Some of the con’s activities are even more special, set up by the authors themselves as a thank you to their fan groups. Huge thanks to Chelle Eden (author duo Chelle Olson and Tigris Eden) and Lisa Kessler for including me in their smaller parties! <3
Making personal connections
This might seem like a duh, but—aside from the incredible location—most of the appeal of Coastal Magic for me is in all the personal relationships I’m able to form with authors, bloggers, and readers. And those relationships last, partly (I believe) because the quality of the time you get to spend together at CMCon is so high. Below are some of the highlights of my shenanigans this year, but in no way covers all the awesome. This post is long enough already! 😉
Winning fab prizes
When I say “fab”, I truly mean fabulous. One of this year’s raffle baskets was a super classy Coach purse. I might have put all my tickets in it. I might have not won it. *pout* Still love you, Dee! <3 This year’s raffle raised $1236 for Habitat For Humanity. We had twenty less baskets donated than last year and still raised the same amount of money. How incredible is that?!
I contributed two baskets for this year’s charity raffle, one from GraveTells—full of crazy awesome swag and books signed by CMCon’s Featured Authors—and one from all my ladies and gents over at the San Francisco Area RWA chapter—full of more awesome signed books and swag.
TC Blue is known for her wild animal hunts at Coastal Magic, and this year’s target was the elusive sparkly-horned unicorn. These adorable little guys had raffle numbers that TC used to give out her own prizes. I brought home two and am sending one out in each Prize Pack below (forgot to put them in the pictures, doh!).
Speaking of prizes, let’s give some away now. =) Leave a comment on this post (pretty please?), then fill out the prize widget below to enter. Open to world-wide shipping. I’ll draw one winner for each Prize Pack. Good luck!
Prize Pack #1
- (Signed!) The Alpha King by Victoria Sue
- Free ebook download from Kathy Lyons (the postcard in the middle has a code)
- (Not pictured!) One of TC Blue’s unicorns
- Notebook & pen from Katie Reus and Chudney Thomas
- Mini notepad from Jennifer Estep
- Shoe key chain (SO ADORABLE!) from Cynthia D’Alba
- Portable measuring tape from Asa Maria Bradley
- Sampler booklet from Gail Z Martin
- 1001 Dark Nights sampler booklet
- 1001 Dark Nights 2018 Cruise magnet (I’m going! Will I see you there?)
- Ellys in Faeryland postcard from Chelle Eden (cover preview – these are very rare right now!)
- Postcards from Julie Kenner and KC Burn
- Bookmarks from Alyssa Day, Rising Storm serial, 1001 Dark Nights novellas
Prize Pack #2
- (Signed!) Rising Storm, Episode 8 by Dee Davis
- (Not pictured!) One of TC Blue’s unicorns
- 1001 Dark Nights coloring book with coloring pencils
- 1001 Dark Nights sampler booklet
- Free ebook download from Gail Z Martin (the postcard on the right has a code)
- (Signed!) Short story booklet from Kathy Lyons
- Goodie pack from Hildie McQueen
- Mini notepad from Debra Jess
- Vampires pin from Shannon Bell
- “Clean hands, dirty books” hand sanitizer from Kiernan Kelly
- “Shh I’m with my book boyfriend” door hanger from Julie Kenner
- Drink coaster from Evelyn Lederman
- Postcards from Nancy Northcott and Diana Marik
- Bookmarks from Rising Storm serial and 1001 Dark Nights novellas
- Preview card from HD Smith
It was my friends and I’s first time at the convention. We will definitely be back. I totally agree about the buffet lunch not being very good. But great friends make up the difference. My best friend and I are actually in the picture from the table with Tonya Burrows and Lara Adrian.
It was nice to meet new authors to read and old ones I still enjoy.
Thank you for the giveaway.
Oh! Is that you two between Lara and Tonya? You were so close and we didn’t get to chat! I”m so glad you guys were able to make it. This is literally my favorite convention. It just rocks. Hope to see you back in 2019! (I can’t make it next year)
My TBR list just expanded by about 25 books. Oof!
It’ was great seeing you at the Coastal!
You too!!! <3 We missed you at the Night Angel dinner!
It was great to meet you! Hope to see you again in 2018
Cynthia! <3 Did you notice I put one of your little shoe keychains in a Prize Pack above? It’s just so darn adorable. And I just realized I didn’t get a pic of us together at the con! Hopefully you’re back in 2019 and we can rectify that. Thanks for stopping in to comment! *hug*
My first time at Coastal Magic and I will definitely be back. You did a great job moderating your panels. I had a lot of fun.
Thank you so much, Liz!! *hug* That’s great to hear. The first time I ever moderated a panel was last year’s CMCon and I was PETRIFIED. Introvert here, right? 😉 But once I got the hang of it, it’s so very much fun. I’m glad people in the audience enjoy it too! Next time I go to Coastal Magic, I want to do a GraveTells dinner night so we can all meet up! I’m glad you had an awesome first visit. Hope you can make it back again next year!
This sounds like an amazing and fun convention!
It’s so much fun!! If you get the chance to go, you definitely should! <3
Coastal Magic is one con I have to get to some day. I wish it wasn’t so expensive for me to fly out to the East coast. It looks like you had an absolute blast, I’m really impressed with how many fantastic events CM manages to slip into a small con.
It’s definitely not cheap for a West Coaster. I have to bow out next year because I’m going on the 1001 Dark Nights Cruise, which is also out of Florida (Orlando!). And RWA Nationals this year is in Orlando! I can’t seem to stay away from that place! Haha.
But Coastal Magic is totally worth it. I’ve met some AMAZING people there, readers and authors, and I so look forward to it. If you can ever make it happen, you should absolutely go. Maybe it’ll be on a year I’m going too and we can hang out. =)
It really is a fabulous conference! This was my second year as an author-guest and I just loved seeing you.
I loved see you as well!! It’s so surreal getting to spend personal time with authors who have written so many of the fantastic stories I’ve enjoyed over the years. <3
This is one of those cons I’ve always wanted to attend. It is always on my birthday weekend, but I can never get free in the winter.
I hope you get the chance to go soon! What a great birthday treat! Imagine all those free, signed books… 😉
It looks like such a fun time.
It is definitely that! Sore feet? Meh, I hardly remember all the aching from all the walking. =p
Aw– I had the best time with you! It’s getting so I want to check your schedule before signing up for a con! (Stalk much, Amy? No, only a little, thank you…) Seriously enjoyed this con and your company too 🙂
<3!! You can stalk me all you want. I might be doing a little stalking of my own… =D
So glad we got to hang out again!! *hug*
Also, Beyond the Stain sequel. I needz it.
Ahhhh, I do wish more conventions were in this area! There is one coming to Baltimore in July but I’ve already missed tickets and such. Gah! I hope to attend conventions like RT and ALA in the future. So many authors to meet!
Thank you for the chance! =)
Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!
I feel you! I’m always lamenting that there aren’t many (any?) romance cons in the San Francisco area. I’ve been seriously tempted to host one, but OH the WORK involved! Knowing what goes on behind the scenes made me realize what a monumental task organizing a multi-day con is!
Thank you for commenting! <3
I swear I am going to try to go next year. I always manage to be stuck with something I can’t get out of every year…
Here’s hoping you can make it work in 2018! The con will actually be on a different date next year (the fourth weekend in Feb rather than the first) due to some Nascar shenanigans, so maybe that will work in your favor. If you’re not already a member of the Facebook group, this is a great place to get up-to-date info on the event details and news (like when registration is opening or when room blocks at the hotel fill up): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1493110704280867/
Thanks for leaving a comment! <3
Looks like you had a blast! I would love to meet Rebecca Zanetti, Lara Adrian, Katie Reus and Alyssa Day!
It was SO much fun! (Do all the smiling faces give it away? Hah!) Rebecca Zanetti is one of my favorite authors and someone I’ve been lucky enough to remain friends with over several years of conference meet-ups. She’s just so down-to-earth and friendly. This was my first time meeting Lara, Katie, and Alyssa, and they were all SO SWEET! I’m hoping they all make it back in the next few years to CMCon! Hopefully you can come hang out at the beach too. *hug*
Oh wow! I’ve never been to a con. And there are so many i want to go to both here in the UK and abroad. This one looks like it was so much fun! And the pictures on the coast look absolutely beautiful. I’ve never been to Florida. I always love reading about what goes on in Cons – big or small – and love seeing pictures of people having fun. And that Katnis costume is utterly fantastic!
It looks like such a wonderful experience – especially surrounded by so many people loving the same thing as you and meeting your favourite authors.
Glad everyone had fun – I wish I could have been there! 😀
And thank you so much for the chance to win a swag pack – especially as I’m ‘international’ ;D
Thank you again – an absolutely great post to read – and good luck every one else entering 😀 x
*hug* So glad you enjoyed the post! After Coastal Magic I always fall into a sort of hangover or withdrawal, sadness at being away from the incredible energy and enthusiasm for my favorite subject: romance. Chelle’s Katniss costume was LEGIT. That woman could make some serious bank selling costumes on Etsy if she wanted to!
I hope you get a chance to hit up a convention soon, and maybe Coastal Magic one of these coming years! If you see me there, give me a holler and a wave! <3
It’s been too long since my last convention! Thanks for the report, and the chance to win.
I adore this convention. And I am an excellent assistant, except maybe that one time it was so early I almost forgot how to count. But you are a kickass moderator. I loved hanging out all weekend with you. And I need a bottle of the wine you had.
And I had no idea there was a 1001 Dark Nights coloring book.
You were a fabulous assistant, even at stupid o’clock in the morning (I really don’t do mornings). I’m always happy to share wine recs, although I can’t remember what we drank that afternoon haha! I’ll be sad to miss you next year, but planning to come in 2019. Also, if you’re near Orlando, RWA has a public signing with some fab authors in July and I’ll be there if you want to meet up. <3
Coastal Magic is definitely one of a kind.. I love it! 🙂 And it was SOO much fun to see you again Sue! 🙂
We’ll miss you next year!!!
Thanks for all the great pics! And that music panel was GREAT! Thanks for all your hard work to make everything go smoothly!
<3 Thanks so much, Lisa!! I always love hanging out with you. Hopefully I’ll see you at RWA in July to make up for missing CMCon18!
It looked like you all had a Blast! It’s on my Bucket list to attend ones these
Totally a blast! I seem to travel to Florida a lot lately, but I am only willing to go completely across the country for a worthy event, and this is definitely one of those!! Hope you get a chance to check it out! <3
would love to win thanks
I so would love to go someday! It looks like so much fun! And all my favorite authors in one spot? Heaven!
That’s pretty much how I feel! <3 And, of course, I always find new authors to obsess over there too. This year it was (among others) Victoria Sue, who handed me a stack of signed books to give away. So I read one. And LOVED it. Biggest downside of going to a con like this? I need a suitcase just for the swag and books I bring back! Thanks for commenting!
It looks fun maybe one day I can go
I hope you get the chance, Stephanie!! Much <3 for commenting and entering the giveaway!
The prize packs look awesome! Would love any of them.
Thanks, Kristen! Deciding what to part with for these prize packs was HARD! Haha! I hope you guys (whoever wins them) enjoy them as much as I enjoyed putting them together! <3
I’m dreaming of attending such a convention, thank you so much for sharing some of that magic with us
You’re very welcome, Miki! I’m glad I had so many great moments on camera to share. The people at Coastal Magic are generally not too shy, so that makes it easier to help share all the fun! Thanks so much for leaving a comment, and good luck in the giveaway! <3
That looked liked a fabulous convention!!! Thank you for posting xx
Claire! <3 Thanks so much for chatting!! Best of luck in the giveaway.
Wow, loved all the pictures and seeing different authors I know by name only. Seems everyone had a grand time. Wish I was able to go to one of these. Thanks for sharing with us and thank you for the awesome giveaways.
It’s always to great (and a little nerve-wracking!) to meet an author for the first time, especially when you’ve been reading and blogging about them for years!! This year I got to meet Katie Reus and Lara Adrian for the first time, and they even more amazing in person than I could have expected. That’s one of the reasons I love CMCon. We get the chance to actually meet the authors who are such a big part of our lives. And seeing how appreciative they are of their readers makes me feel all warm and glowy. <3