RavenCon ... a sci-fi/fantasy/horror/mystery/writing convention. Ambitious. And I'm sure there were those who were worried that the tone of the convention wouldn't 'sell' as well as straight sci-fi (or straight other-genres, even). If there were any such worries, they were unfounded. The con did have a bit of a rickety start, but for a first year, it was impressive.
First, the hotel. For something this size, a good choice -- it was the Doubletree Inn at the Richmond Airport, which seemed a bit odd to me at first, but held everything very well. There was no true Main Programming (as regular congoers think of it) to speak of, but with the number of guests, it wasn't terribly necessary this year. The programming rooms there, though, were on the large side, to accomodate the large panels. (Better attended than the Saturday night show, in most cases.)
As for panels. Being as it was a first-year con, I can understand the necessity for spreading out the guests over as many panels as possible. However, as one of those guests, I should point out that I missed one or two, simply because of the sheer number and back-to-back-ness of them. It's something I regret, but it's also a problem I think will fix itself once more guests and panelists join up, and as the con gets well enough known to recruit people to fill in the gaps.
The selection of guests was pretty much solely authors. I don't go much into the horror genre, so I can't speak for how well things were represented, but I do know they were pretty much all pleasant, intelligent people. Getting Terry Brooks for the first year was impressive, too -- leading me to wonder what they'll be pulling for Guests of Honour in the years to come.
Cons are expected to have masquerades, but I wonder if this is the right sort of con for that. If they'd like to have one on a regular basis, it might be wise to play up the costume angle a bit more than they did this year (admittedly, there were costuming panels, one of which I sat). Failing that, simply doing a Saturday night variety show and bringing in some extra performers might do the trick ... although that might involve getting a bigger performance space even so.
Brief note on the hotel -- I was ill for the better part of the weekend, and room service brought me dry toast, crackers, ginger ale, etc. free of charge and checked in on me once in awhile. Being an airport hotel, it probably houses a lot of sick travelers, so this is likely nothing new to them. So thanks to the very kind staff.
The part of the con that seemed to be ready to go with no tweaks (that I could see) was the dealers' room. The other aspects of the con were a bit wobbly with future promise, but this was good from the start. I do hope to see it grow a bit over time, but I don't see that being an issue.
Thumbs up for this, but on the down-low, because as good a start as it had, I want to see it improve over time. This is a tiny con that has huge potential ... we may see it in a convention centre in a few years, as far as I'm concerned. There will be a RavenCon 2, so here's hoping they'll step it up and continue to move upwards.