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 Country, The 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.
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!
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 Wonder. Click 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).
Saturday morning began with my wife and I taking our Star Trek II posters to Nicholas Meyer for yet more autographs and photo ops.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
My convention season begins, as usual, with Farpoint, a con I’ve been attending since its founding in 1993 by the man would later become my publisher at Firebringer Press, Steven H. Wilson.
This year, Farpoint will be held over President’s Day weekend, February 17-19. Flip through the Program Book here with a wonderful cover by Todd Brugmans.
One of the discussion panels I’m moderating is also one that I pitched called “Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing.” My co-panelists include fantasy writer Lauren Harris, veteran speculative fiction and comic book writer Peter David, and Nicholas Meyer.
Yes, THAT Nicholas Meyer, director of such films as Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which he co-wrote), and writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In other words, three of the top-grossing Star Trek movies. He also wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven-Percent Solution.
No pressure for me there at all. Nope! Actually, it will be an honor considering Nick Meyer is a writer I’ve admired for years. Excited doesn’t describe it! Of course, con schedules are fluid, but I hope to have the opportunity to sit with Mr. Meyer for an hour.
Below is my current schedule for Farpoint. Any updates will be posted as soon as they come in.
Farpoint Book Fair. 10PM to Midnight on Friday in Dulaney I. Mix and mingle with the author guests. Pick up some books and autographs!
Firebringer Press Presents! 11AM to Noon on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Steven H. Wilson. Participants: Phil Giunta, Daniel Patrick Corcoran, Susanna Reilly, Diane Sahar. Firebringer Press authors discuss their current and upcoming releases and read excerpts from their stories, time permitting.
Author Reading. Noon to 1PM on Saturday with Steven H. Wilson and David Mack.
Autograph Session. 3PM to 4PM on Saturday at the Authors Autograph Table Area with Peter David and David Mack.
Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing. 6PM to 7PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Phil Giunta. Participants: Nicholas Meyer, Peter David, Lauren Harris. How to describe emotions, actions, and situations in your story without resorting to tired cliches and inane metaphors like “his face fell”, “her eyes followed him around the room”, or “her heart sank into her stomach.” Panelists will discuss ways for writers to avoid these often laughable mistakes.
Social Media for Authors. 8PM to 9PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Participants: Pip Ballatine, Lauren Harris, Phil Giunta. There’s a skill in presenting yourself and publicizing yourself on social media–things to emphasize and things to avoid. Facebook or Twitter? Avoid politics and religion? Panelists will discuss methods for letting the world know about your work without becoming a spam machine.
Autograph Session. 1PM to 2PM on Sunday in the Main Authors Autograph Area with Steven Kozeniewski and Steven H. Wilson.
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 social media about mental illness, domestic violence, suicide, depression, PTSD, and related issues that are often extremely upsetting
and difficult to discuss for so many.
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 lives. 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
Our new speculative fiction anthology, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity will be released on August 1!
In eternity, all stories are timeless.
Visit a dystopian future where the wealthy reside on high-speed trains-or risk certain death…
Board a space station with a team of scientists as they discover a terrifying lifeform on a remote planet…
Join the Army Rangers as they confront the deadly aftermath of a mythical creature in the sands of the Middle East…
Travel to Ireland where an ancient artifact regenerates severed limbs while healing old family wounds…
Hit the beach with two teenagers as they track down the owner of a mysterious bracelet and find the true meaning of love…
Journey from Earth to the stars with your tour guides Daniel Patrick Corcoran, Michael Critzer, Phil Giunta, Melissa Carta Miller, Susanna Reilly, Stuart S. Roth, April Welles, Steven H. Wilson, and Lance Woods. Cover art by Michael Riehl.
All aboard as we take you Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity!
Click here to see it on Goodreads
Click here to see it on Amazon
Click here to see it on Barnes and Noble
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!
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.