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.