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A Magical Weekend - Shore Leave 36

Now in it's 36th year, Shore Leave is one of the most popular SF media and literary cons on the east coast.  This past weekend also marked my 20th anniversary as an attendee and fourth as a writer guest...and I couldn't have asked for a better experience!

My Friday began with moderating a 5PM panel called "Judged By Its Cover".  Panelists included Mike McPhail, Aaron Rosenberg, Eric Bakutis, and Leona Wisoker.  We discussed the elements that comprise solid book cover design, the importance of developing cover art that is discernible as a thumbnail image on the web, and shared personal tales about changing covers on books and why.   It was a fun and edifying chat!

At 7PM, Crazy 8 Press author Russ Colchamiro moderated "Why We Love SF".  By coincidence, the panelists just happened to be three of the writers from the new anthology that we launched later that night at Meet the Pros.  Those folks were Susanna Reilly, Daniel Patrick "Renfield" Corcoran, and myself.   Russ proved to be a deft moderator, asking excellent questions, covering science fiction in movies, television and literature, and generally keeping the discussion moving at a rapid pace.

After that, it was over to Pei Wei Chinese restaurant across the highway. Susanna, Renfield, my wife, and I were joined by fellow anthology writer Amanda Headlee and my friend Dan Torok who was returning to Shore Leave after a five-year absence.  At the restaurant, we met up with the rest of the usual suspects, Steven, Renee, Ethan, and Christian Wilson along with Sharon VanBlarcom, and June Swords.  It was such a delight to reunite with everyone!

We were back at the hotel in plenty of time to prep for the Meet the Pros book fair kicking off at 10PM.   The launch of our anthology turned out to be far more spectacular than I'd imagined!  Between the six writers present (Steven H. Wilson, Daniel Patrick "Renfield" Corcoran, Amanda Headlee, Susanna Reilly, Lance Woods, and myself), we sold an estimated 40 copies of Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity in about an hour and a half.   Success was ours!

During that time, I had the chance to reunite with the Crazy 8 Press gang including Michael Jan Friedman, Aaron Rosenberg, Peter David, and Bob Greenberger.  Along with Russ Colchamiro, they were launching an anthology of their own called Tales of the Crimson Keep.   I tried to purchase a copy, but Bob generously offered to trade signed copies of our respective anthologies.  At the same time, I paid for my pre-ordered Crazy 8 Press polo shirt.  I had the pleasure of writing for the ReDeus anthology series in 2012 and 2013. The series was created by Aaron, Bob, and Paul Kupperberg.

It was nice to finally meet Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward as well.  Dayton and I both contributed to the ReDeus anthology series by Crazy 8 Press, and are friends on Facebook, but we hadn't met until Shore Leave 36.

Saturday morning found my wife and me in line to have our photo taken with Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG-1, MacGyver).  Mr. Anderson is one of the top three actors I've always wanted to meet, so this was a special moment for me.  During the photo op, we were not permitted to chat as the line was long, but I managed to tell him how honored I was to meet him.  He was a genuinely nice guy, as we later learned that day in the autograph line when I effusively gushed, telling him how much MacGyver meant to me, how I was a fan of Stargate SG-1, and how thrilled I was to finally meet him.  He thanked me and took the compliments with a smile.

My wife had her own hilarious experience right after that.  Mr. Anderson kept a spare photo beside him to scribble on to ensure that his pens worked before signing.   My wife's SG-1 cast photo was accidentally moved atop that spare photo and he scribbled black Sharpie over Daniel Jackson's face!   Mr. Anderson was immediately embarrassed and profusely apologetic, but I assured him that I could clean that off (which I did with ease after the con).

My first panel on Saturday was "The Writing Process", moderated by Russ Colchamiro and co-hosted by Lorraine Anderson, Amanda Headlee, Leona Wisoker, and yours truly.  Once again, Russ did a fantastic job of keeping the panel on track, asking excellent questions of the writers regarding our techniques for developing ideas into stories (such as plotting vs. "pantsing"), how many drafts we normally write before we reach the final one, and what our self-editing approaches are.   It was an informative and lively discussion.

At 4:30PM, my wife and I had front row seats to Richard Dean Anderson's stage talk in the ballroom.  He began by asking the audience to sing "Happy Birthday" to his daughter, who turned 16 that very day.  He recorded the event on his phone...or tried to as he struggled with the device.  It took two attempts, during which a few audience members shouted, "MacGyver it!"  Mr. Anderson was a good sport about it and during the rest of his talk was one of the friendliest, honest, and most outgoing guests I've met in my 25 years of attending conventions.  Truly a positive experience.

We rounded off Saturday at 6PM with our traditional Firebringer Press panel where we chatted up the new anthology as well as future projects, including a second anthology slated for 2016/2017!   In attendance were Firebringer publisher and writer Steven H. Wilson, Amanda Headlee, Susanna Reilly, Renfield, Lance Woods, and me.   Proofreader and voice actor, Paul Balze, gave a hysterical reading from Renfield's vampire comedy short, "Apartment Hunting".   After that, the group split up with some attending the masquerade and the rest of us going to dinner.

I awoke Sunday morning feeling a bit ill from overeating at the local Greek diner, something one should not attempt after shedding 40 pounds.  My body was just not accustomed to that.  Thus, I was forced to skip Ann Crispin's Memorial at 10AM, where I had hoped to share an anecdote about how Ann had solved a 13-year-old mystery surrounding my experience with Harlan Ellison at an I-CON in Long Island, NY.

By noon, I was on my feet and checked out of the hotel.  My wife and I caught up with old friends and I did some shopping in the dealer room.   We sat in for Eve Myles's uproarious and ribald talk at 1PM.  She began by crank-calling her Torchwood co-star Kai Owen and asking the audience to sing "Happy Birthday", replacing "Dear Kai" with "Dear Shithead Loser".   Kai immediately called her back via FaceTime to converse with Eve and the audience from a pub in the UK as she held the mic close to her phone.   After that, Eve launched into a few raunchy tales of working with John Barrowman before fielding questions from the audience.

After that, my wife obtained her last autograph of the weekend from the lovely Teryl Rothery on a Stargate SG-1 photo.  We then chatted with our friends at the Farpoint table and made dinner arrangements before heading back upstairs to visit with artist and friend Mike Riehl at his dealer table.  Mike had created the phenomenal cover and interior art for our anthology.

It was then time to moderate my 4PM panel on "Writing Novels vs. Short Stories" alongside Mike McPhail, Leona Wisoker, and Eric Bakutis.  We had a very informative discussion ranging from characteristics of a short story versus a novel, how small presses, contests, and self-publishing have rejuvenated the short story market, and how to develop your own writing style and voice.  Audience participation was excellent and generated several talking points.

Back in the dealer room my wife and I regrouped with Mike Riehl and his wife, Kate, before heading over to California Pizza Kitchen where we joined Farpoint con-chair Sharon VanBlarcom and her family for a wonderful dinner before hitting the road home.

Below: Pics from our book launch at the Friday night Meet the Pros party.


Above: "Hey, you! Get over here and buy a book!"
Below:  The lovely ladies of our new anthology.

Below from Left to Right:  Steven H. Wilson (seated), Daniel Patrick Corcoran, and Lance Woods

Below: Award-winning writer Aaron Rosenberg of Crazy 8 Press gives us his best Incredible Hulk look.  Aaron is co-creator and editor on the ReDeus anthology series to which I contributed two stories.


Below:  Russ Colchamiro and a smiling Robert Greenberger of Crazy 8 Press.  Along with Aaron, Bob is co-creator and editor of the ReDeus series.

Nearly the entire Crazy 8 Press team was in attendance including Peter David (front), Michael Jan Friedman, Aaron Rosenberg, Russ Colchamiro, and Bob Greenberger.

Below: Bob Greenberger reveals his secret for assimilating information quickly!

Below: Chatting about book covers during our "Judged By Its Cover" panel.


Below: Award-winning writer and graphic artist Aaron Rosenberg discusses book covers.


Below: Our Firebringer Press panel, introducing our new anthology and discussing future projects!

Firebringer Panel1
Firebringer Panel3
Firebringer Panel5

Below: My wife and I with actor Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1).  Several pics of Mr. Anderson on stage.

RDA Photo OpRDA_Talk_8
Below: Eve Myles (Torchwood, Doctor Who) during her hysterically ribald stage talk.

Below: A nearly full-scale Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica was parked outside the hotel for the weekend!

Cylon Raider3
I love the Cylon raider. I'm guessing it's not street legal, though.
It was a nice alternative to the Stargate and ST:TNG bridge sets that used to be on display in the past down at the end of the hallway outside the ballrooms. I miss those!
Oh, I plan to do a proper review once I'm finished reading, and I'm almost there. Most of my reviews go on Amazon, but I'll keep Goodreads in mind. Keep up the great work! I loves me a good anthology. :)
To me, there's just no such thing as a "bad time" at Shore Leave. That said, I know there will always be people who enjoy their misery and will complain no matter what, but I mean, really. The con com works very hard to make sure there's something for everyone (*literally*), and anyone who's unhappy should've stayed home. **Diane steps down off soap box** hee
Diane, I meant to write earlier and thank you for your lovely review on Amazon for our anthology. See you at Farpoint in February perhaps? Again, many thanks!
Hey Phil,

No need to apologize for not thanking me for the review, silly guy! That review was from the heart. I like the book. :)

Proably won't make Farpoint. In truth, I always forget about Farpoint - ain't that a shame? But that time of year, I'm usually VERY busy at work, so I don't have a lot of spare time to spend in another realm. Besides, to me, Farpoint just ain't Shore Leave. But I wanted to tell you I was at the Baltimore Book Festival this past weekend and I talked with a guy named Alex Shvartsman, with UFO Publishing in Brooklyn. I bought a copy of his anthology, "Coffee," which is self-described as "Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic," and indeed they are! I put in a plug for your book, but he seemed more familiar with the guys from Crazy 8 than Firebringer, which is unfortunate, because your book, to me, is clearly the better of the two. (And I say that with a good deal of sadness, because I really wanted to adore "Tales of the Crimson Keep," but it was hard getting past the slipshod editing.) In any case, "Coffee" is another fabulous anthology. Who knew coffee could figure so well into so many different tales?

Take care!