Tag Archives: bob greenberger

Farpoint 2017 After-Action Report

We’re home from yet another fantastic Farpoint where I finally had the honor of meeting someone I consider an inspiration as a writer and storyteller—Nicholas Meyer. Mr. Meyer’s directing and/or screenwriting credits include Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryThe Day After (TV movie), and much more including the new CBS series, Star Trek: Discovery. He also wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel and screenplay, The Seven-Percent Solution.

I wanna be THAT guy when I grow up! 😀

After a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at La Tolteca with Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack, Chris Kennedy, Glenn Hauman, and Eric Bakutis, it was time for the Friday night book fair, where I would have the opportunity to meet Nick Meyer.

Earlier in the day, I had purchased a replacement copy of The Seven-Percent Solution from a dealer. From my personal collection, I brought copies of the scripts for the aforementioned Star Trek movies while my wife, Evon, brought her hardback copy of A View from the Bridge, Mr. Meyer’s memoir of his time working on the Star Trek films.

As Mr. Meyer signed my items, I told him that he was one of my writing heroes, which actually brought him to a complete stop. He became momentarily verklempt, as did I.  He thanked me as he continued signing. Before having our photo taken together, I presented him with a copy of By Your Side, one of my paranormal mystery novels. He seemed genuinely grateful.

Phil with Nicholas Meyer

After that, I returned to my table where shenanigans ensued as Bob Greenberger began swapping name placards amongst nearby writers including myself, Aaron Rosenberg, Kelly Meding, Steve Wilson, and Lance Woods. Cameras, bottles, cans, even Steve Wilson’s  flask were not spared from the hide-and-seek hilarity. This added even more magic to the evening. You just can’t find a group of silly scribes like this anywhere else!

Phil and Evon at Farpoint 2017 Lance Woods and Steve Wilson at Farpoint 2017 Kelly Meding, Bob Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg Kelly Meding at Farpoint 2017 Bob Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg at Farpoint 2017

My table was part of the Firebringer Press row that included Steven H. Wilson, Lance Woods, and debut author Diane Lee Baron with her novel, Gal WonderClick here for more info on Diane’s book!  By the end of the night, I sold a few books and signed one that a reader bought elsewhere (which is always a good feeling).

Gal Wonder by Diane Lee Baron

Saturday morning began with my wife and I taking our Star Trek II posters to Nicholas Meyer for yet more autographs and photo ops.

Evon with Nicholas Meyer Phil with Nicholas Meyer

My first panel of the day was Firebringer Press Presents at 11AM.  Diane Lee Baron chatted up Gal Wonder, which had a “soft” launch at Farpoint’s book fair, but will have a full premiere at Shore Leave in July along with the mass-market paperback collection of Steve Wilson’s Arbiter Chronicles SF novellas.

Firebringer Press Presents

I spoke about Like Mother, Like Daughters, my paranormal novella slated for release in October, as well as my second-place winning Rehoboth Beach contest story, “Tower Sixteen,” which was recently submitted (with its original ending) to a paranormal anthology slated for next year. If accepted, it would be my first story to be published in two different anthologies and with two different endings!

Firebringer Press Presents discussion panel

Michael Critzer chatted briefly about his upcoming non-fiction book, Heroic Inspirations, debuting this summer. Michael has taught courses on the mythology of superheroes and this book will represent a extension of that.

Afterward, Steve Wilson and I made our way to our scheduled readings at noon. Our audience consisted of Michael Critzer and my wife. Writer David Mack then arrived to finish the hour with his reading, but with such a small gathering, we simply yammered instead.

I was then free until 3PM when I shared a table with Peter David for our autograph hour. It was wonderful to spend time talking with him about his own work as well as the legendary Harlan Ellison, another writer who inspired me and has been close friends with Peter for decades. With no sales, and with Nick Meyer speaking at 4PM on the main stage, I packed up my books early, dropped them off in my room, and joined my wife who was saving a seat for me in the ballroom.

Mr. Meyer regaled an appreciative audience with stories of his first meeting with producer Harve Bennett about writing Star Trek II. A few drafts of the script (each a completely different story) had been written, from which Bennett and Meyer created a list of the best parts. From that list, Meyer wrote an entirely new script, but waived credit for it. This was after he had already signed on to direct.

Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017 Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017 Nick Meyer at Farpoint 2017

He also spoke about working with Ricardo Montalban (whose much-debated chest was actually his own, not a prosthetic), his vituperative relationship with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (who balked at the story for Wrath of Khan), and touched on the film adaptation for The Seven-Percent Solution.

Mr. Meyer’s presentation ended with a skit in which linguist and Farpoint regular, Marc Okrand—who developed the Klingon language for the Star Trek movies—read a “communique” from the Klingon Empire, translated into English by Nick Meyer,  honoring Gene Roddenberry and all of the main Star Trek actors that we’ve lost over the past 25+ years including DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy,  and Grace Lee Whitney.

At 6PM, I had the honor of moderating (somewhat nervously and perhaps ineptly) a discussion panel called “Avoiding Cliches in Your Writing” with panelists Lauren Harris, Peter David, and the reason for my jitters…Nicholas Meyer. However, the panel was entertaining and informative, but not without each of us veering off into tangents once in a while. Yet even as moderator, I would never have the temerity to interrupt Nicholas Meyer!

Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing discussion panel Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing discussion panel

My wife and I ended our evening with dinner at the Silver Spring Mining Company (love that place!) before calling it a night. Normally,  I would have stayed up late and joined my fellow con attendees at the Ten-Forward Dance Party in the atrium, but I was exhausted and wanted to get a few things done online.

Of course, in between the book fair, discussion panels, and autograph sessions, my wife and I caught up with old friends that we only see at the cons. This is an important reason why many of us attend. In fact, for some it is the only reason.

Since I was not scheduled for anything on Sunday, my wife and I departed by 9AM and made it home before noon to enjoy our first taste of spring weather. Sunshine and 65F degrees!

It should be noted that there was still a full day of programming on Sunday at Farpoint including a 2PM showing of Time After Time hosted by Nick Meyer.

Hold On To the Light Inside of You

This morning, I learned about a brilliant initiative called Hold On To The Light, spearheaded by SFF author Gail Z. Martin. 

Beginning on September 20, hundreds of science fiction and fantasy authors began an online conversation across blogs and socialHold Onto The Light media about mental illness, domestic violence, suicide, depression, PTSD, and related issues that are often extremely upsetting
and difficult to discuss for so many.

Click here to read the first blog post from Hold Onto The Light

Over the past five years, I’ve opened up about my nearly 40-year battle with depression both on social media and at personal appearances. I sometimes discuss how depression has affected my writing and I never cease to be surprised at how willing others are to reveal their own struggles. My, times have changed. Society is finally opening up a dialogue about mental illness and that’s wonderful. The old stigmas are rapidly disintegrating.

My first novel, Testing the Prisoner, is a paranormal mystery that deals with the brutality of child abuse and the trauma that stays with the victims for the rest of their livesTesting the Prisoner by Phil Giunta. This was intimately familiar territory, but that made it no less challenging to write. I had to confront my own pain, my own memories, my own struggles with a darkness that pushed me toward a desire to take my own life at least a half dozen times during my younger days and even a few times in recent years.

Still, I knew the story had to be told for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to let others who have been victims of child abuse to know that they are not alone. Secondly, and perhaps more selfishly, I wanted to turn the tables on a demon that has persistently robbed me of happiness and instead, use it as a storytelling tool to launch my writing career.

As for surviving depression, perhaps it was faith, willpower, or a hope for a brighter future that dissuaded me from any “permanent solutions” to my problem. Much of the credit should also be given to SFF fandom and my growing interest in writing. Watching Star Trek and seeing Star Wars at the tender age of six inspired me. Later, the media tie-in novels became a gateway to speculative fiction and hard SF in my teen years. I began reading Asimov, Clarke, Ellison, Bradbury, and many others. Like many SF films and TV shows, books became my anti-depressant and while they were not an instant panacea, they helped pull me through countless dark and terrible times. They still do today.

Most importantly, the friendship and community that I found in SFF fandom has been the most enriching experience I could ask for. The best and most supportive friends in my life came from my three decades attending SF conventions such as Farpoint, Shore Leave, Balticon, and others.

More, I wouldn’t be published today were it not for the mentorship of august writers like Steven H. Wilson, Howard Weinstein, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg, all of whom I met at the aforementioned cons. I am honored to call these chaps my friends, and in the case of Steve, Bob, and Aaron, my publishers!

If you are suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out and find the help you so richly deserve. You are not alone. You have a right to happiness and health. You have a right to achieve your potential without being hagridden by a demon that wants to convince you of the lie that you’re inadequate, unworthy, or that life is not worth living. I beg you to find the light and hold on to it.

About Hold On To The Light

September/October are the months for Depression Awareness, Suicide Prevention, Bullying Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness, World Mental Health Day and Domestic Violence Awareness.

What’s our end game? We want to bring the issues, struggle and treatment out of the shadows and make it clear that no one is alone in the journey. We want to demonstrate fandom taking care of its own. And we want fandom to be a safe space for everyone.

The steering group behind #HoldOnTotheLight is made up of John Hartness, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett, Mindy Mymudes and Gail Z. Martin.

How can you help? Share, retweet and engage with the blog posts and social media outreach about the campaign and by the participating authors to spread the word. Encourage the conventions you participate in to add or expand panels on mental wellness. Learn more about the issues, so you can be an educated participant in the discussion.

If you want to get even more hands-on, please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Together, we can #HoldOnToTheLight because #FandomTakesCareOfItsOwn.

You can find updates with links to author blog posts and updates about related news here, and on the HoldOnToTheLight Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/ and on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight (note the ‘we’)

Media: Contact Gail Z. Martin via www.AscendantKingdoms.com

 

Send the Elevator Back Down

An unexpected honor came today when fellow writer and GLVWG member David Miller asked me to type up the improv speech I gave on Saturday at the Lower Macungie Library local author event. David shared it with other members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group today.
 
The exercise provided an opportunity to polish the speech, improving the focus and making it less frenetic as improv routines can sometime be. Truly, it’s a touch of personal history about my journey as a writer and to honor those who have mentored me, guided me, and eventually invited me to publish with them.


Send the Elevator Back Down

Phil Giunta

Comedian Steven Wright once told this joke: “When I was little, my grandfather used to make me stand in a closet for 5 minutes without moving. He said it was elevator practice.”

Today, I’d like to talk to you about elevators.

There’s a wonderful quote making its way around the internet from actor Kevin Spacey. “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

I began writing in the realm of fan fiction back in the late 1980s. For the uninitiated, fan fiction is generally a story based on your favorite characters from television or movies such as Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, the list goes on. I know people who wrote fan fiction based on everything from Bonanza to Quantum Leap.

I found fan fiction to be a marvelous training ground for storytelling. Of course, I couldn’t sell these stories because they were based on copyrighted characters, but I did pass them around and the general feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

It was at about this same time, when I began attending an increasing number of science fiction conventions such as Farpoint, Shore Leave, and Balticon in Maryland and I-CON in Long Island, New York. In addition to meeting so many actors I’d grown up with, I also met many of my favorite writers such as Harlan Ellison, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Howard Weinstein, Bob Greenberger, Steven H. Wilson, and others.

There I was, holding my stack of novels and comic books eagerly waiting to get them signed and to chat with bestselling authors I never thought I would meet. Little did I know that when I was waiting in autograph lines, I was actually waiting for the elevator.

Over the years, I continued to write and to glean advice from many of the aforementioned writers who would return as regulars to Farpoint and Shore Leave. I appreciated their patience and guidance, hoping I was not making a nuisance of myself.

Of particular note was Steven H. Wilson. By the time I met him, Steve had just written a few issues of Star Trek and Warlord for DC Comics and was beginning to craft what would become his science fiction audio drama series, The Arbiter Chronicles. Like me, Steve had also started in fan fiction, but was further along the road than I was. Yet not so far that getting there seemed daunting. I wanted to be that guy.

Steven also founded Farpoint in 1993, and it was at that convention where I came in second place in a writing contest. Steven personally encouraged me to keep writing. Little did I know that the friendship we were forming was also the elevator door opening.

Flash forward to 2007 and Steve had already won both the Parsec and Mark Time audio awards for his podcasts of The Arbiter Chronicles. He had also self-published his first novel based on that series and had received an excellent review from the Library Journal.

By this time, I had moved on from fan fiction and had outlined an original paranormal mystery novel. I asked Steve for the particulars of self-publishing, as the option certainly interested me. However, the business aspects of it seemed a bit overwhelming at the time (not so much today) so I asked him if he was accepting submissions. He agreed and two years later, Testing the Prisoner was published by Firebringer Press, followed in 2013 by my second paranormal mystery, By Your Side.

By 2010, I was attending Farpoint and Shore Leave as an author guest, which I still do today. The reviews for Testing the Prisoner were outstanding and I was beginning to blog.

I was now in the elevator and let me tell you, it was nice and shiny in there.

In June of 2012, I received an email from the aforementioned Bob Greenberger, who is a fantastic SF writer in addition to his long tenure as an editor at DC Comics. Along with another comics veteran Paul Kupperberg and fellow award-winning writer Aaron Rosenberg, Bob had co-created a new fantasy series called ReDeus. Deus is, of course, Latin for God. Slap the “Re” in front of it and it becomes a bit of a pun as in “Again God”. The series ponders what would happen if all of the ancient mythological gods returned to Earth in the 21st century. It was to be published by Crazy 8 Press, a small press formed by Bob, Aaron, Michael Jan Friedman, Peter David, Glenn Hauman, and Howard Weinstein.

Bob was reaching out to other Shore Leave writer guests to see if they would be interested in contributing a story to their first anthology. What an honor! I eagerly accepted, knowing very little about mythology. Bob then sent the series bible with a story deadline of about two weeks. Yikes! They wanted to debut the book at the upcoming Shore Leave convention in August.

The elevator was going up…and fast! I remember researching and writing furiously until 2AM and even writing while on a Saturday conference call for my day job. I work full time in IT. Another technician and I had to migrate a physical server to a virtual machine. If you’re not a tech geek, don’t worry about it. The point is that it became a 12-hour ordeal. When it was the other tech’s turn to take over for a few hours, I wrote like a maniac. I finally finished and submitted the piece on my birthday, July 1.

Two days later, it was accepted with minor revisions. Not only was I published in the first volume, Divine Tales, I returned for the second, Beyond Borders—where all stories take place outside of the USA. I was invited back for the third volume, Native Lands (stories of Native American gods), but was overwhelmed with recording the audio for By Your Side and planning my upcoming wedding. I politely declined, avoiding the risk of promising a story, then failing to deliver.

It was during this time when I decided to pitch an idea to Steve Wilson. I know several wonderful writers who came up in fan fiction and had moved onto crafting original fiction. Some were submitting to magazines but getting nowhere. I knew their work was outstanding and I wanted to find a way to showcase them. I asked Steve if I could submit a collection of their original genre stories with an eye toward publication. Steve agreed, as long as I edited. He and I also tossed in a few of our own tales.

At Shore Leave in 2014, we launched Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity, an anthology of SF, fantasy, and paranormal fiction. Through this book, we brought about five new authors to the public eye and showcased the wonderful work of an Allentown artist.

What a joy it was for me to see these writers at their first launch, signing books and engaging with readers. I had just barely started my own elevator ride when I was holding the door open for others to take the journey with me (thank you, Steve!). In three months, we’re launching a second volume, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, and possibly a third in 2018.

If you’re lucky enough to find success and you know talented, burgeoning artists, give them a chance to blossom by sending the elevator back down. If you’re just beginning your career, as I am, attend conferences and library events. Network with those further along the road, and learn as much as you can about your craft.

You never know what can happen simply by waiting for the elevator.

About This Writing Stuff…

This week, my publisher and writer pal, Steven H. Wilson, is interviewed by fellow podcaster James DeRuvo about copyright violations and the CBS lawsuit against Star Trek: Axanar.

Over at Mythcreants, Chris Winkle provides his POV on viewpoint characters. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss examines the Author Guild’s recent efforts to improve publishing contracts for authors, and on Writer Unboxed, Steven James encourages us to abandon strict adherence to outlines and write organically. In the Kill Zone, Larry Brooks dismisses the plotting vs. pantsing debate in favor of using the process that works best for you.

On the technical side, we get some tips on Ebook formatting and importing files into Scrivener while Chris Musgrave reviews popular writing software.

Finally, in light of the upcoming Suicide Squad film from DC Comics, Bob Greenberger discusses the recent reprinting of the 1980s comic book series, which he edited, and his contribution to a character’s backstory.

All that, and a little more. Enjoy!

doddleTALKS TECH: Steven H. Wilson and the Axanar Copyright Debate  via James DeRuvo at doddleNews

What’s Out There For Me? Part One by Chris Musgrave

Importing Files Into Your Scrivener Project by Gwen Hernandez

How to Pick the Best Ebook Format by Daniel Berkowitz

Dirty Little Secrets About the Story Development Process by Larry Brooks

How to Abandon Your Outline to Improve Your Story by Steven James

The Fair Contract Initiative by Victoria Strauss

Choosing Viewpoint Characters by Chris Winkle

I Appear to Have Been Reprinted by Bob Greenberger

Amazon Considers Opening Hundreds of Bookstores by Leena Rao

Three Brilliant Publishers Doing Things Differently by Matt Goolding

 

 

Book Review: Tales of the Crimson Keep by Crazy 8 Press

The Crimson Keep…an ensorcelled castle, ever-expanding and growing as a result of an ancient spell. Within its walls lives a sagacious and puissant old wizard known only as the Master who alone bestows his knowledge onto a gifted coterie of pupils.

In each story of this enchanting anthology, you can’t help but fall into step with these intrepid wizards-to-be as they attempt to steal forbidden spells, outwit bloodthirsty demons, suffer the consequences of cutting class, find dangers lurking in the eternally shifting halls of the Keep, and even travel through time!

Crazy 8 Press is comprised of an august body of veteran storytellers, including Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, and Aaron Rosenberg. Each  of them contributed a smart and delightful tale to this collection  introduced by SF writer, Kevin Dilmore.

Even the book itself boasts a fascinating genesis. It was at the 33rd annual Shore Leave science fiction convention in Maryland where–prompted by an opening line provided by Dilmore–Peter, Michael, Bob, Glenn, Aaron, and Howard Weinstein took turns writing a story all the while tucked in a small alcove in the lower hallway of the hotel. In full view of the public, these talented craftsmen created the engaging novella Demon Circle as a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That story is also included in Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Crimson Keep