Chuck Wendig – Author Guest of Honor

Chuck WendigChuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and the Heartland YA series, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and his books about writing. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.

 

The Vailix – Music Guests of Honor

The Vailix

Formed in 2014, The Vailix is a female-fronted hard rock band from Charlottesville, VA, who use music, light, and art to tell stories based on the sci-fi comic book series “The Tales of the Cloud Ocean”, created by guitarist/songwriter Rob Richmond. Powerful vocals soar above riff-heavy guitars, grinding bass, and thunderous drums as they turn narration and images into songs that drive just as intensely as the story from which they spring.

The Vailix is a unique, and heart-pounding experience from start to finish!

The Vailix: “Big” Bruce (engineering, bass), Bri (pilot, vocals), Jaymi (tactical officer, drums), Corii (first mate, guitar), Cpt. Roc Robarts (ship’s captain, guitar, vocals).

Artwork by Jakub Wisniewski

 

Eric Wile – Gaming Guest of Honor

Eric WileEric Wile is a video game developer/consultant, musician, artist, cosplayer, and twitch caster based out of Colorado. Since the dawn of the Atari, Eric has been a game enthusiast. He went on to become a championship player during the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Eric has worked for both Verant Interactive and Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego, California. He has also worked with Big Idea Interactive and SCEA (Sony Computer Electronics America).

His job with Verant Interactive prompted a move to San Diego from Denver in 2002, where after a few months, the company was acquired by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). Initially hired for Tech Support, he went on to work in many roles including Game Master for EQ, Quality Assurance, Information Technology, Development, Level Design, and Storyboarding. In his career he received back-to-back Team Member of the Month awards, and was also presented the Sony Achievement award for his work on EverQuest: Macintosh Edition. While at SOE, Eric worked on the development of several games including PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest II, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

 

Chris AddottaSmith

Rev. Chris AddottaSmithFamiliar to many, Chris AdottaSmith has been active on the Virginia convention circuit for about twenty years. She attended SheVaCon when it was still in Staunton. Then she moved to the peninsula and found MarsCon where she ran the Con Suite for several years. She eventually moved up to Vice Chair in 2015, and Chair in 2016. From there she found RavenCon (where she ran Children’s Programming for three years) and Mysticon, too.

Chris is certainly a local fan. However, to define a fan, one must define her passions. Chris has many things that quicken her heart… She loves being with people, and hates sleeves. She firmly believes in feeding the hungry, but dislikes shoes. She loves kids, and is forever in “teacher” mode!

Pertaining to fandom there are many things she loves: Reading (Tarzan, Pern, Middle Earth, The Chronicles of Prydain, anything Arthurian), comics (Classics Illustrated, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Ka-Zar, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Thor, Alpha Flight, Wolverine), media (Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Stargate: SG-1, Harry Potter) and gaming (Gamma World, MERP, Vampire: The Masquerade). Chris had an original box set of Dungeons and Dragons and played AD&D for years.

Which all adds up to Chris loves cons!

Professor Sparks AKA John “Grizzy” Grzywacz

Professor SparksGrizzy, as he likes to be called, has been recognized by OSHA’s National Office in Washington D.C. as both a National Electrical Code (NEC®) historian as well as “the best electrical safety trainer in the country!” Certainly, at the very least, Grizzy has been OSHA’s electrical safety “go-to guy” and has been instrumental in shaping and interpreting OSHA policy and regulations for several decades.

Grizzy has trained OSHA compliance officers, appeared as OSHA’s electrical expert, and guided literally hundreds and hundreds of electrical fatality investigations. Grizzy continues to train OSHA compliance officers and personnel coast to coast, as well as still providing investigative assistance to the Agency on fatality investigations and significant cases.

Licensed by the Department of Education, and prior to his OSHA career, Grizzy had been both an educator and administrator for various public and private schools and held the position of Electronic Department Chairman and Director of Education at a New York City proprietary school.

In addition to being a professional speaker and nationally recognized seminar leader with over 40,000 hours of platform experience, Grizzy has lectured at numerous colleges and universities all across the US and has numerous published works in video and print which have assisted safety professionals and helped workers for decades.

Recognized nationally as preeminent in regulatory electrical safety training, Grizzy conducts training all across the country providing insight into navigating the complex regulatory requirements.

Recently Grizzy has been presenting unique and spectacular high voltage keynote presentations at conventions, demonstrating some of the rare and unique electrical artifacts and high voltage apparatus which he has been collecting for decades.

 

Dr. Charles E. Gannon

Dr. Charles E. Gannon’s award-winning Caine Riordan/Terran Republic hard SF novels have all been Nebula finalists and national best-sellers and the fourth, Caine’s Mutiny, hit bookstores in February 2017. His epic fantasy series, The Broken World, is forthcoming from Baen Books. He also collaborates with Eric Flint in the NYT and WSJ best-selling Ring of Fire alternate history series, and Eric, along with Kevin J. Anderson, will be collaborators in Gannon’s Steam, Aether, Empire web serial coming in 2017. His other novels and short fiction straddle the divide between hard SF and technothrillers and have appeared through various imprints and in various magazines. Much of this work includes collaborations in the Starfire, Honorverse, Man-Kzin, and War World universes. He also worked extensively in game design and writing, as well as being a scriptwriter and producer in New York City, where his clients included the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and PBS.

A Distinguished Professor of English and Fulbright Senior Specialist, his book Rumors of War and Infernal Machines won the 2006 American Library Association Choice Award for Outstanding Book. He is a recipient of five Fulbright Fellowships and Travel Grants and has been a subject matter expert both for national media venues such as NPR and the Discovery Channel, as well as for various intelligence and defense agencies, including the Pentagon, Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy (CNO/SSG and ONR), NATO, DARPA, NRO, DHS, NASA, and several other organizations with which he signed NDAs.

Ed Beard Jr.

Ed Beard Jr.Ed Beard Jr. has created art for over 1000 published products over the past 30-plus years. He is most recognized for his dragon art in the “Dragon Calendar”—distributed worldwide over the past ten years—plus wizards, fairies, horror and other mythological creatures, and subjects gracing the covers of magazines, books, and novelty products.

You can find his works on art prints, posters, t-shirts, mugs, puzzles, and collectibles. You will also find many of his works on custom hot rods and motorcycles from his early years and current work as an airbrush muralist for the industry over the past 36 years

Ed Beard Jr. is best known in the gaming industry for creating over 100 cards in the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game. He has also created Tolkien art (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), Dungeons and Dragons art, t-shirts for the Mountain Corporation, Skinit laptop skins, cell phone and electronic device cover designs, jigsaw puzzles, and many other licensed products.

Ed has also been a teacher for the past twenty years and has several airbrush and painting demo videos on his websites. To learn more about Ed’s diverse career visit edbeardjr.com as well as his automotive murals at edbeardjr.com/automurals.html.

 

Mercedes Lackey

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Mercedes was raised mostly in the northwestern corner of Indiana, attending grade school and high school in Highland, Indiana. She graduated from Purdue University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. This, she soon learned, along with a paper hat and a nametag will qualify you to ask “would you like fries with that?” at a variety of fast-food locations.

After spending time in jobs ranging from artist’s model to lab technician at the Mosquito Genetics Project to short-order cook, she took training and became a computer programmer. About this time she discovered science fiction conventions and the Society for Creative Anachronism, and began attending functions of both, more often in costume than not.

She had always written from her early teens, and developed this hobby by writing fan-fiction for various amateur magazines. In the 1980s she took a job programming computers for a major airline and as a consequence moved to Oklahoma, where she continued to write. At this time she met both Marion Zimmer Bradley (author of The Mists of Avalon), and C.J. Cherryh, both of whom helped mentor her from the ranks of the amateur into those of the professional writers.

In 1985 her first book was published. In 1990 she met artist Larry Dixon at a small science fiction convention in Meridian, Mississippi, on a television interview organized by the convention. They began working together from that time on, and were married in Las Vegas at the Excalibur chapel by Merlin the Magician (aka the Reverend Duckworth) in 1992.

They moved to their current home, the “second weirdest house in Oklahoma” also in 1992. She has many pet parrots and “the house is never quiet.” She has 128 books in print, and publishes between five and six books a year, alone or in collaboration. Some of her foreign editions can be found in Russian, German, Czech, Polish, French, Italian, Turkish, and Japanese. She is the author, alone or in collaboration, of the Heralds of Valdemar, Elemental Masters, Secret World Chronicles, 500 Kingdoms, Diana Tregarde, Heirs of Alexandria, Obsidian Mountain, Dragon Jouster, Bedlam Bards, Shadow Grail, and Hunter and other series and stand-alone books.

She has continued her hobby of costuming, although now she costumes Asian ball-jointed dolls as the characters from her books, because “They don’t yell when you stick pins in them.” She also does needlework and beadwork, sometimes combining these hobbies with her doll-making, usually sending these as gifts or to charity auctions as well. She always has several of these projects going at any one time, because they give her the opportunity to think about her stories while her hands are busy. Occasionally she costumes porcelain dolls as one of her characters to be sent as charity auction pieces. Her current project is a set of Secret World Chronicle dolls.

A nightowl by nature, she is generally found at the keyboard between 10 PM and 6 AM.

 

Larry Dixon

LarryDixon1Larry Dixon is a respected, funny, friendly, and completely approachable guy with a diverse and adventurous history.

Son of a Delta Force career commando and an Oklahoman farmgirl, Larry grew up in many American and European settings, usually haunting the local art museums and hobby stores. At age nine he saved up his babysitting money and bought his first typewriter, intent upon writing and illustrating his own novels. Northern Italy is where his passions for painting, sculpting and storytelling took root, as well as his interests in state-level diplomacy, early computers and rocketry. In junior high school, Larry spent his weekends learning Chainmail and D&D from some of the original mimeographed and handwritten manuscripts of the games. He has been a roleplaying games buff since the 1970s, and has illustrated or helped design many RPGs.

Educated at the North Carolina School of the Arts during high school, and then at the Savannah College of Art and Design, his story work became as popular as his artwork. He has been an uncredited co-plotter or co-writer for many popular properties, bringing jovial and energetic approaches to collaborative work. Many cover-credited novels have followed, too, including the ever-popular Gryphon series, the Winds, Storms, SERRAted Edge, and Owl books with the mighty Mercedes (Misty) Lackey. Born to Run has been hailed as a “romp with a conscience,” and The Black Gryphon has been critically referred to as “A modern classic,” and is in its nineteenth printing.

 As a birds-of-prey rehabilitation specialist, he and his wife Misty have gotten hawks, owls, falcons, herons, and corbies back into the wild from their home-based facilities in Oklahoma. Additionally, Larry is an accomplished race car driver, world traveler, aviculturist, model maker, and internet veteran.

Larry loves standup comedy; genre movies; subcultures; aikido; storms; design; SF TV; odd cars (he owns many, and a few even run); his hawks, cockatoos and owls; history; comic books; architecture; costume; road trips; woodworking; studio scale and hobby scale modelmaking; International Rally and American LeMans Series racing; dirty jokes; club/trance/electronica, synth, experimental, and ambient music; and just plain making people feel good about themselves.

Larry is the “Most Read Writer” on the answer site Quora in the topics of Comedians, Stand-up Comedy, Birds, Fiction, Sports Cars, Villains, Concept Art, Ford Mustang, Automotive Industry, Buying Cars, Ferrari Motors, and Art.

He has been a cover artist for Baen (the Secret World Chronicle series, the SERRAted Edge series, the Doubled Edge Series, and several stand-alone works) and Tor, and was tapped to create the end papers, frontispiece, and chapter headings for Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter series for Disney Hyperion (ask him about “dial it back, Dixon”).

His ongoing, ever-changing decades-long romance with Mercedes Lackey is legendary. Larry feels equally comfortable around generals, rock stars, fans, firefighters, victims, cops, media and movie makers because, hey, he’s an Okie. Definitely chat with him or ask questions at panels about approaches to your work—nothing makes him happier than helping someone with their avocations, and bringing more beauty into the world.