Tag Archives: crazy 8 press

After Action Report: River Reads 2017

Gloomy skies and humid summer temperatures did little to diminish our spirits at the second annual River Reads Book Fair at Prallsville Mill in Stockton, NJ this past Sunday.

Over 40 writers were on hand, selling and singing copies of their books including organizer Brandi Megan Granett and returning participants Kathryn Craft, Kelly Simmons, Kerry Gans, and others. Among the new faces this year were Aaron Rosenberg and Russ Colchamiro from Crazy 8 Press, Heather Hutsell, Carol L. Wright from the Bethlehem Writers Group, and fellow Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group member, Christopher Ochs.

While the crowd was a bit thinner than the previous year’s event—and I sold only one book—the time spent with friends and fellow writers was absolutely worth the trip!

My Table at River Reads

Russ, Aaron, and Heather at River Reads 2017

Carol L. Wright & Christopher Ochs at River Reads 2017

Russ, Aaron, Phil, and Heather at River Reads 2017

Russ Colchamiro & Aaron Rosenberg at River Reads 2017

 

 

Finally, A Place of Honor…

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was just finishing the final home renovation project for the year which entailed removing the last of my home’s wallpaper and repainting. The room in question is one that houses my SF collection, and when I began putting the room back in order, I decided it was finally time to display a piece of artwork that absolutely deserves a place of honor on the wall.

Illustration for There Be In Dreams No War

ReDeus: Divine Tales

The fabulous illustration you see above was created in 2012 by renown Spanish comic book artist Carmen Nuñez Carnero for my story “There Be In Dreams No War” published in ReDeus: Divine Tales (left), book one of the ReDeus series by Crazy 8 Press. It was a privilege to be published alongside writer pals Aaron Rosenberg, Bob Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Dayton Ward, Steven H. Wilson, Lawrence M. Schoen, and so many other fantastic writers in this series.

Illustration for There Be In Dreams No War

 

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

Shore Leave 38 Convention Recap!

My trek to Shore Leave last weekend was much different from any previous year in that I arrived at the con directly from a marvelous week’s vacation in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Clear skies and sparse traffic made driving through the bucolic town of Denton, MD simply serene.

For a fisherman like me, traversing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was indeed a religious experience. Looking right and left, the view was blue straight to the horizons. Gorgeous.

Then I reached the 695 Beltway right at the beginning of rush hour. Let the road rage begin! Ugh.  Nevertheless, I finally reached the Hunt Valley Wyndham Grand, checked-in, registered for the con, unloaded my car in the blistering heat, took a shower, and missed my 5PM discussion panel.

After dinner at Noodles & Company with friends Sharon and Cyndi Van Blarcom, Lance Woods, and Renfield, we met up with fellow scribe and Firebringer Press publisher, Steven H. Wilson, with whom I had spent the aforementioned week in Rehoboth Beach along with his family and several friends (click here to see vacation pics!).

Friday night at 10PM brought the traditional Meet the Pros book fair where all of the con’s writer guests gathered to sell and sign books. It also celebrated the release of two new books for Firebringer Press–Steven H. Wilson’s fourth novel, Sacrifice Play: A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles, and Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, the second installment in our speculative fiction anthology series. Seven of nine (pardon the obvious pun) anthology writers were on hand to sign copies including Daniel Patrick “Renfield” Corcoran, Michael Critzer, Susanna Reilly, Stuart Roth, Steven H. Wilson, Lance Woods, and myself. The night was so busy that it’s all a blur to me now and I did not have the time to take too many pics…

Special thanks to Ethan Wilson, Christian Wilson, Jessica Headlee, Jill Mardesich, Tim Marron, and Cheyenne-Autumn Christine Reilly for volunteering to shlep boxes of books from Steve’s car to Meet the Pros and then from there to my hotel room afterward!

Crazy 8 Press at Meet the Pros Firebringer Press at Meet the Pros Renfield at Meet the Pros Lance and Steve at Meet the Pros Susanna at Meet the Pros Michael Critzer and Phil Giunta Peter, Bob, Michael, at Meet the Pros

Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity

Saturday and Sunday brought about a myriad of discussion panels on writing and publishing. My panel schedule was lighter than usual this year. On Saturday morning, I was a panelist on “The Whole Package” with Richard White, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, Mike McPhail, and Jim Johnson. We discussed all that goes into quality editing, layout, and cover art.

Afterwards, I made my way down to the lower lobby to meet actors Michael Forest and Barbara Bouchet who each guest-starred on episodes of classic Star Trek.  They were both very friendly and I picked up an autographed photo from each of them.

While there, I was stopped by an attendee and asked to sign a Shore Leave trading card with my picture! I was honored, because after all, as Lucy Van Pelt said in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas Special, “How can you say someone is great who’s never had his picture on bubblegum cards?”

Phil on Trading Card

I then sat in on the Crazy 8 Press panel as several of the authors, including Peter David, Russ Colchamiro, and Michael Jan Friedman read excerpts from their latest books.

Crazy 8 Press-1 Crazy 8 Press-2

At 4PM, I had the pleasure of sitting in on John Noble’s talk in the ballroom. Mr. Noble is known for such shows and films as Fringe, Elementary, Lord of the Rings, and much more. He is an eloquent and engaging speaker.

John NobleJohn NobleJohn Noble

The “Firebringer Press Presents” panel occurred at what has become its traditional timeslot, 5PM. Of course, this is opposite the con’s official autograph lines for the celebrities and the dinner hour which often results in the panelists outnumbering the audience.  Nevertheless, it was a fun and lively discussion about current and future projects as well as our brand new aforementioned anthology, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

Phil at Firebringer Panel Stu and Sue at Firebringer Panel

Steve at Firebringer Panel

After the panel, a few of the anthology writers gathered in my room for a book signing party, including Steven H. Wilson, Stuart Roth, and Lance Woods.  Once all of the Kickstarter books were signed, it was time to gather with friends for a delightful dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

Back at the hotel, it was another round of book signing with Susanna Reilly. We chatted for a few hours with Stuart and his wife, Maria, before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning saw me finally participating in Shore Leave’s Writers Breakfast in the Cinnamon Tree restaurant. Every year since becoming a writer guest, I committed to attending and every year I failed to do so. I sat with Stuart Roth and Shore Leave Co-Con Chair, Dr. Inge Heyer. Inge is a longtime friend who has been involved with Shore Leave as a magnificent writer liaison for many years.

By 11AM, I was in the autograph line for John Noble and Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica, Castle, Big Bang Theory). The lines moved quickly and both gentlemen were wonderful to meet and chat with.  Afterward, I had about an hour to relax in the comfy chairs that line the hallway near the elevators. I was joined there by veteran writer Aaron Rosenberg. We chatted for about 30 minutes about writing, vacations, and life in general before it was time for my final panel of the con.

Shore Leave 38 Autographs

At 1PM, I joined Joshua Palmatier, Mike McPhail, and Michael Jan Friedman for “Building an Anthology”.  We had no official moderator, but questions from our audience members guided the discussion, much of which was spent on the topic of how to use Kickstarter to fund anthologies.

Near the end of my day, I once again crossed paths with artist Todd Brugmans who created the artwork for several Farpoint program books as well as Heroic Park, the debut novel of Lance Woods. For Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary, Todd was commissioned to create cover art not only for Farpoint’s program book, but for Balticon and Shore Leave’s as well. Combined, the images create a triptych and I happened to have all three with me for Todd to autograph!

Farpoint, Balticon, and Shore Leave program books

Alas, it was then time for me to say my goodbyes to every friend I could find in my final patrol of the hotel before beginning my voyage home.  All told, it was yet another enjoyable, albeit frenetic, Shore Leave filled the typical cast of colorful characters.

Phil with Crazy 8 PressTrek and Roll!Orion Slave Girl Science Officer Saavik Rock on and Prosper  Klaatu Judge Q

Mon CalamariJoker with Bomb

Jill Mardesich             Jessica Headlee Cobra CommanderBorg

R2 Unit-2R2 Unit-1

 

 

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

About This Writing Stuff…

In addition to posting current events in the writing and publishing community, I’m still catching up with highlights from last year, during this feature’s hiatus.

One item in particular caught my attention: the decision of the World Fantasy committee to discontinue using the bust of HP Lovecraft as their award statue.  This was reported in November 2015, but I had not heard about it until this week and decided to share it here, objectively. I have no opinion on this matter one way or another.

From the Kill Zone, P.J. Parrish advises us to write every day while Joe Moore offers editing tips for independent writers. Think your characters are clever? Oren Ashkenazi has some questions for them. From Writer Unboxed, Kim Bullock provides a handy checklist on how to kill your darlings, and Dan Blank discusses distractions. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore reveals a bit of hindsight from her arduous journey to success.  All that, and a little more. Enjoy!

World Fantasy Award Drops HP Lovecraft as Prize Image and HP Lovecraft Biographer Rages Against Ditching of Author as Fantasy Prize Emblem by Alison Flood

Freedom of Expression? by Barry Eisler via Joe Konrath

I Was Wrong…You DO Need to Write Every Day by P.J. Parrish

Editing Tips for the Indie Author by Joe Moore

Desperately Seeking Darlings by Kim Bullock

Four Questions to Ask when a Character is Clever by Oren Ashkenazi

Don’t Worry, It Only Gets Harder by Dan Blank

Five Things I Wish I’d Known Five Months Before I Published My First Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi by BBC America

 

I’d also like to shout out to writer pal, Steven H. Wilson, who just released his SF/F novel, Peace Lord of the Red Planet, on Audible, and to Crazy 8 Press as they launch their Kickstarter to fund the publication of the second volume of their SF anthology series, Pangaea. Check them out and thank you for supporting small press writers!

 

Pangaea II Book Cover Peace Lord of the Red Planet book cover