My Schedule for Farpoint 2017

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.

Farpoint 2017 Logo

Getting Closer To The Write Stuff

The Greater Lehigh Valley Group’s annual writers conference, The Write Stuff, is just over two months away.  The conference will take place March 23-25 at the Best Western Hotel in Bethlehem, PA.

Our keynote speaker will be Michael Hauge. Michael is a story and script consultant, author, and lecturer who works with writers and filmmakers on screenplays, novels, movies, and television projects. He has coached writers, producers, stars and directors for every major film studio and network. Read Michael’s interview on the Write Stuff Conference blog.

Kathryn Craft will be conducting workshops on Friday and Saturday of our conference. Kathryn writes stories that seek beauty and meaning at the edge of darkness. Rich with material for further thought or discussion, her novels make a great choice for book clubs. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, Kathryn served for more than a decade in a variety of positions on the boards of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, and volunteers as time allows with the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Read more about Kathryn’s workshops on the Write Stuff Conference blog.

From the self-publishing side,  Jamie Saloff speaks and coaches would-be authors helping them avoid the scams and money traps many fall prey to as they endeavor to self-publish a book. She shares insider secrets that separate the amateurs from the pros. She shows clients how to keep costs low and profits high, while stressing the importance of quality and professionalism.  Read more about Jamie’s Friday and Saturday conference presentations on our conference blog. 

Deborah Riley-Magnus—author of fiction and non-fictionfocuses on helping authors by teaching them how to bridge the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. As an Author Success Coach, she produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. Deborah teaches online and live workshops, clinics, and boot camps. She writes an author marketing industry blog and coaches authors, one-on-one, for sales success. Read more about her Friday and Saturday workshops on our conference blog.

As an Associate Agent and Author, Victoria Selvaggio knows firsthand that finding representation can be as hard as or even harder than becoming published. But…having a good understanding of the agent’s role, as well as your own, as the author, is just as important as advocating further, for the right agent-author relationship. Victoria will be presenting topics surrounding acquiring writers, composing the query letter, and what she’s looking for in dark, edgy novels.  Get more details about Victoria’s conference presentations on the Write Stuff blog. 

Look for more profiles and interviews with additional Write Stuff presenters in the coming weeks!


Write Stuff Conference

Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories My Mother Never Told Me

If my mother ever told me the stories included in this collection, half of them would have put me to sleep. After reading two excellent  Twilight Zone anthologies in December, I came to this Alfred Hitchcock collection expecting stories of similar quality. Regrettably, I was underwhelmed.

Oh, there were a few gems among the 13 tales, but some, such as “Smart Sucker” by Richard Wormser and  “Hostage” by Don Stanford, built up to anti-climactic endings. “Witch’s Money” by John Collier began with an interesting plot, but seemed to lose momentum and wander off.

My favorites from the collection include:

When a young woman commits suicide from a broken heart, her father decides to exact a long, slow revenge against the man responsible in “The Wall-to-Wall Grave” by Andrew Benedict.

American author Ambrose Bierce vanished in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1914. However, his final tale was found inside an unusual bottle found in the obscure village of Oxoxoco. Will “The Secret of the Bottle” by Gerald Kersch reveal the mystery of Ambrose Bierce’s final days?

Ellen Baker returned from a train ride a very different person— distant, cold, aloof. Worse, she found an unsavory new boyfriend who is prone to violence and seems to have Ellen mesmerized. Determined to protect his best friend, Eddie follows Ellen aboard another train, only discover the eerie truth about her boyfriend during “A Short Trip Home” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

When Fred Perkins receives an invitation from wealthy socialites to join them on their next hunting expedition, his first impulse is to decline. However, his wife and friends convince him that it would be a step forward for him socially. When the big day arrives, however, Fred wishes he followed his instincts and ignored “An Invitation to the Hunt” by George Hitchcock.

Every morning before breakfast Caroline’s husband Pete is more than a bit surly, he’s literally murderous! As such, Caroline often finds herself making “Adjustments” by George Mandel.

When Robert and Janet Allison decide to remain at their country cottage during the first month of autumn instead of leaving at the end of summer as they typically do, the locals seem strangely taken aback. Worse, bizarre calamities begin to occur that make the Allisons wish they had continued to be “The Summer People” by Shirley Jackson.

Traveling through Maine on what was supposed to be a sightseeing tour, Mr. Ketchum is pulled over for speeding in the seaside hamlet of Zachary, Maine. After being detained overnight, the police take Ketchum to the judge’s house where he expects to pay his fine and finally be released, until he learns a horrible truth at the hands of “The Children of Noah” by Richard Matheson.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me


The Great Philadelphia Comic Con!

About This Writing Stuff…

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a better and healthier start than mine. This year was less than 24 hours old when I was struck with a stomach virus that left me violently ill on and off (mostly on) for three days. At least it held off until just after the Sherlock season premiere.

It’s nice to occasionally resurrect what used to be a regular feature on my blog, this gathering of sagacious and informative articles from around the interwebs.

Although I’m not convinced that Laurie Gough’s rant against self-publishing could be labeled as either sagacious or informative. Certainly Kristen Lamb and Larry Correia don’t agree.

Over at Digital Book World, Chris Syme offers a four-step program to help authors market their books effectively on social media while Jami Gold is all about helping writers choose the best editors.

Finally, we get some perspective on POV from both Donald Maass and Chris Winkle, and Anne R. Allen explains why she writes first chapters last.

All that and a bit more. Enjoy!

Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word by Laurie Gough

Author Animal Farm – New York GOOOOD, Self-Pub BAAAAD and Generation Author Snowflake & The High Cost of Instant by Kristen Lamb

Fisking the HuffPo’s Snooty Rant About Self-Publishing by Larry Correia

4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media and Why You Only Need to Sell Your Books on One Social Media Channel by Chris Syme

Spend Less Time Marketing By Setting Up Social Media Outpost Channels by Chris Syme

Picking Editors: Tips for Finding a Developmental Editor by Jami Gold

Immersive POV by Donald Maass

Choosing Your Story’s Perspective by Chris Winkle

First Chapters: Start Your Novel with Your Reader in Mind by Anne R. Allen