Book Review: Beyond Belief edited by Richard J. Hurley

I came upon this anthology of eight SF stories while volunteering to sort used books for my local library’s annual book sale. I was intrigued when I saw some of the names included in the collection, especially Asimov, Clarke, Sturgeon, and Matheson.

There were only two stories I would consider weaker than the rest, “The Invasion” by Robert Willey and “Phoenix” by Clark Ashton Smith. The other six were well done, including…

“The Hardest Bargain” by Evelyn E. Smith.  Earth is a remote planet without diplomatic relations with the other solar systems. While still led by humans, the planet is primarily managed by robots. Food is purchased purchased or bartered from alien traders since radiation from the last global conflict sterilized much of the soil. However, when one alien visitor offers technology that can remove the radiation and make the land fertile once more, it’s a good idea to give him exactly what he asks for in return…

“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” by Isaac Asimov. In a utopian future, a device known simply as a Door has been invented that can teleport people to the location of their choice. Yet when a Door malfunctions, one boy discovers the mystery and wonder of actually walking outside in the grass under the sunlight. When he comes to prefer this over the Door, his teacher recommends psychotherapy…

“The Man Who Lost the Sea” by Theodore Sturgeon. You lay there in your spacesuit, half-buried in the sand while someone chatters at you about a toy airplane with pieces that break off. All you want to do is listen to the ocean in the dead of night and watch the satellite pass by overhead in the white-speckled heavens, but perhaps you’re not really near the ocean and perhaps that airplane that broke apart wasn’t truly an airplane…

“Third from the Sun” by Richard Matheson. A rocket scientist convinces his family and neighbors that their world is doomed, but he knows of a planet in a distant solar system where they can start a new life. They just need to get to the ship…

“Keyhole” by Murray Leinster. Mankind intends to settle on the moon, regardless if the native population of small, furry creatures wants them there or not. After an astronaut is killed by one of the lunar creatures,  a scientist captures one in an attempt to learn its species weaknesses. However, humans are not the only ones who gain knowledge from the experience…

“History Lesson” by Arthur C. Clarke. Sensing their doom in the encroaching ice covering most of the planet, the last members of the human race store a number of relics in a stone vault atop a high mountain. These relics are found 5,000 years later by an expedition from Venus, but when the reptilian scientists run a film showing an example of life on Earth, they’re not quite sure what to make of it…

 

Beyond Belief book cover

Beach Nights Takes Two Awards!

Many of you might recall that my short story, “Tower Sixteen,” won second place in the 2016 Rehoboth Beach Reads contest and was published in the anthology Beach Nights by Cat & Mouse Press in October.

I’ve just been informed by editor and publisher Nancy Sakaduski that Beach Nights has won two first-place awards in the 2017 Delaware Press Association Communications Contest: short story collection published by entrant (multiple authors) and book edited by entrant (Nancy Day Sakaduski).

Congratulations to all the Rehoboth Beach Reads authors! The book will now advance to the national National Federation of Press Women awards.

 

The Power of Presentation

The Write Stuff writers conference this weekend proved my point yet again about the power of presenting. After delivering a fun and engaging session first thing Saturday morning on “Writing the Compelling Short Story,” I proceeded to sell 10 books at the afternoon book fair. Compare that to last year where I worked only as a volunteer and sold one book.
Going back further in the time to 2014 when I last presented at the Write Stuff, my sales at the book fair were higher than one year later, when I was the conference chairman. 
 
With one exception, it never fails that delivering a quality solo presentation—or participating in a discussion panel—and connecting with an audience will generate books sales for an up and coming writer. Whereas merely showing up and sitting at a table with your books without first building a rapport with the attendees will almost always fail to generate decent sales unless you’re already a well-established name/best-selling author. 
 
After decades of attending conventions like Shore Leave and Farpoint and becoming a regular participant in discussion panels there, I can always count on selling at least a few books at these conventions. Whereas at Philcon or Balticon, where I am a relatively fresh face, sales are few or nonexistent right now. These things take time. 
 
The aforementioned exception to my rule was last year’s Great Philadelphia Comic Con in April in Oaks, PA. There, I had no presentations or discussion panels. I merely set up a table and proceeded to sell about a dozen books. It was an amazing weekend and I will be returning to the Great Philly Comic Con again in two weeks along with writer pals Steven H. Wilson of Firebringer Press and Bob Greenberger, Peter David, Aaron Rosenberg, and Russ Colchamiro of Crazy 8 Press.
All told, the Write Stuff conference was a fantastic three days filled with brilliant presentations, excellent information, and most of all, camaraderie with generous and supportive writers. Keynote speaker Michael Hauge was outstanding.
Kudos to two-time Conference Chairman Charles Kiernan and the entire Write Stuff committee for their herculean efforts!
Michael Hauge at Write Stuff 2017
Michael Hauge at Write Stuff 2017
Write Stuff Book Fair 2017
Write Stuff Book Fair 2017

Once More, With Feeling

At the Write Stuff writers conference next Thurs-Sat (March 23-25), I will be leading a 50-minute session on “Writing the Compelling Short Story.”

Additionally, the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group will launch their 2017 anthology, The Write Connections, which includes my vignette, “Once More, With Feeling,” about a dying man’s final conversation with his guardian angel.

The Write Connections marks my first publication of 2017. Hopefully, there will be at least two more short stories and a novella coming out from me this year.

 

The Write Connections anthology

 

 

Monster Mania!

In what was the most jam-packed Monster Mania convention I’ve ever attended, I had the honor of meeting actors John Cusack and Wilfred Brimley. There were, of course, about a dozen other actors and personalities at the show including Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things, Danny Lloyd and Louise and Lisa Burns from The Shining, a few professional wrestling legends, and others. There were also a few celebs that I’d met at previous conventions such as Nick Castle (director of The Last Starfighter) and Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Star Trek: DS9).

Despite the frigid temps outside and unbearable throng inside, it was a great day overall. In addition to Cusack and Brimley, I wanted to get autographs from the Stranger Things kids, but I did not have the energy or patience to wait in another immense line after doing so for Cusack—twice!

My wife and I met John Cusack at Monster Mania!
My wife and I met John Cusack at Monster Mania!
With Wilfred Brimley at Monster Mania!
With Wilfred Brimley at Monster Mania!
John Cusack autographs
John Cusack autographs from Monster Mania!
Wilfred Brimley autograph
Wilfred Brimley autograph from Monster Mania!