Category Archives: Conventions

You Want The Write Stuff? We Got You Covered!

Write Stuff Writers Conference 2018
One of the best writers conferences around, and I’m not just saying that as a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group or as a past conference chair. If you want to become a writer and you’re serious about your craft, I highly recommend attending the Write Stuff. Our keynote this year is Bob Mayer. 
We have a full roster of sessions covering craft topics, marketing, social media, and more including opportunities to pitch your work to agents. Want to learn about World Building, Weapons in Fiction, How to Write Realistic Fight Scenes, Time Management for Writers, and so much more? We got you covered. 
Best Western Hotel and Conference Center
300 Gateway Drive
Bethlehem, PA, 18017

After Action Report: Chiller Theatre

The interminable rain did nothing to dampen our spirits at the semi-annual Chiller Theatre convention in Parsippany, NJ today. I drove to the con with long time friend, Kevin Miles.

As usual, nearly 100 celebrities turned out, but there were only three on my list and one (Ed Begley, Jr.) cancelled just two days prior. Still, my main reason for attending was Michael Des Barres, perhaps best known as Murdoc, the charismatic, eccentric assassin on the original MacGyver, and Lou Diamond Phillips who requires no introduction, but is currently starring in the hit  TV series Longmire.

I also managed to snag up two more Star Wars figures I’d been looking to add to my collection. We finished the day with lunch at the Clinton Station Diner on the way home.

Phil with Lou Diamond Phillips at Chiller Theatre

Phil with Michael Des Barres at Chiller Theatre

Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Des Barres

Star Wars Black Box Lando Calrissian and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker

If You Have No Respect For Me, I Have No Time For You

Since I’m already fired up about other bullshit today, I thought this would be an apropos time to discuss this topic.

I’m about to make a request, one that I have never found necessary to make among any other group of people I spend time with. I find it disheartening that I need to even need to broach this subject in fandom, a group that was once renowned for its welcoming, accepting attitude.

Wherever I go in life, I consistently treat the people around me with respect, courtesy, and kindness. I can’t imagine doing anything less. It’s not even about making an effort to do this, it is simply how well-adjusted human beings get along.

In the case of the Maryland con scene as of late, I have not always received such treatment in return. This was the main reason why, in February, I walked out of Farpoint on Sunday morning without a word to anyone and stopped attending conventions so early in the year. To be frank, I was sick of putting up with assholes and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. You know what you said and you know how you behaved, not just at Farpoint, but at previous cons.

I’ve tolerated it long enough. No more.

So permit me to make a simple and polite request. If the thought even crosses your mind to walk up to me, or yell across a room, with a disparaging, dismissive comment about me, my books, and/or most especially my wife, SAVE IT for someone else who might not be so readily inclined to rip your face off in the middle of a room. Believe me, at my age, I have no inhibitions about doing so. I don’t give a shit anymore.

To put it bluntly, don’t fucking speak to me if you’re going to be a disrespectful douche bag. Go away. Fuck off. Get back in the wind and get out of my face. I have no time or tolerance for you. I don’t give a fuck that everyone else who knows you keeps excusing your behavior as a joke or tolerates it because of your “status.” I don’t care how arrogant and self-important you are. Fuck you. Don’t talk to me.

I hope I made my point clear. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to send an email, a Facebook PM, or see me at the next con.

Thank you.

A Star-Studded Monster Mania 37

It was the perfect day for a drive to Cherry Hill, NJ for the semi-annual Monster Mania horror convention. This particular show was their 37th and certainly one of their most star-studded with such celebs as Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Peter Weller, Daphne Zuniga, Jennifer Carpenter, Chris Kattan, Ke Huy Quan, Jeffrey Combs, Stephen McHattie, and oh-so-many more.

On my list were Kilmer, Weller, Quan, Carpenter, and McHattie. I was not able to have my photo taken with Mr. Weller or Mr. Kilmer this time around. However, I did meet Mr. Kilmer about eight years ago at a comic con in NYC where I did have my photo taken with him. As for Mr. Weller, maybe next time.

Happily, I was able to pose for photos with Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, Exorcism of Emily Rose), Stephen McHattie (character actor from just about every TV show), and Ke Huy Quan (Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) at their autograph tables.

My wife and I then roamed the dealer room and stopped to chat with artist friend Michael Riehl and his wife Kate Phillip Riehl at their traditional spot in the room where Mike’s hand-painted ornaments depicting characters and vehicles from TV and movies never fail to draw eager attention from the fans.

The crowd was not as intolerable as I had originally anticipated given the caliber of stars signing at this con. All told, it was a wonderful day for my wife and I to spend with friends, fellow fans, and celebrities. Onto the next!

Phil with Jennifer Carpenter

Phil with Stephen McHattie

Phil with Ke Huy Quan

Val Kilmer Autograph

Ke Huy Quan Autograph

Ke Huy Quan Autograph

Jennifer Carpenter Autograph

Stephen McHattie Autograph

Peter Weller Autograph

What? No more cons for the rest of 2017?!

Sorry for the delay since my last post.  Once spring arrives, my workload around house and yard often becomes all-consuming. I was also a writer guest at the Great Philadelphia Comic Con for two days and had a great time with writer pals Bob Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Peter David, Russ Colchamiro, and new friend, Heather Hutsell.

Phil's Table at Great Philly Comic Con

Crazy 8 Press at Great Philly Comic Con

It was great to see some excellent celebrity guests as well including Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, TRON, and more) and Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark, and more). There were many others, but those were the only two gents from whom I sought autographs. I had met Mr. Boxleitner about 15 years ago at Shore Leave where I had a Babylon 5 photo signed, but this time around, I wanted to get a few TRON items autographed.  As an Indiana Jones fan, it was fantastic to meet the gracious and genial Paul Freeman (Belloq).

Bruce Boxleitner (TRON, Babylon 5) Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

One lesson I learned at this con is that I’ve reached a point where I’m starting to run out of room to display all of my books. I know, that’s a good problem for a writer to have!  So, the display is going vertical, ladies and gents. I ordered a six-shelf book rack, which just arrived today.

Book Rack

Although I’ll rearrange the books for better visibility. I was just toying with ideas when I set up the above picture.

Even though I’m not doing any more cons for the remainder of 2017, I do have three or four single-day library events and book fairs lined up where I can use this and of course, when I’m back on the con scene next year.

My reasons for taking a hiatus from the convention scene are many. First, I’m doing two fairly expensive home renovations this summer. Secondly, the sheer number and complexity of upcoming projects at my full-time job are daunting and will require some weekend and after-hours work. Thirdly, my writing time has been significantly drained by the editing work on the third volume in the Middle of Eternity series. Finally, I’m just burned out and I simply cannot do everything and be everywhere.

The first draft of my science fiction novel was supposed to be completed last year, but again, home projects and prepping the second anthology for publication consumed the first half of 2016. I managed to complete only the first four chapters in the novel. Disappointing.

Even after Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity was released in July 2016, I ended up spending a large portion of my writing time recording two of my three stories from that book on audio for podcast, which turned out to be an utter waste of about three weeks since a decision was made not to podcast anything unless ALL of the stories would be recorded. Well, most of the other writers either had no time, no interest, or no resources to record their stories. Thus, the podcast was cancelled.

I did manage to complete four short stories for various publications and contests between August and December. Then, as now, my novel saw only a modicum of progress, but two more chapters have since been finished. Still, the paltry progress is frustrating.

On the bright side, I shall be stepping down as editor of the Middle of Eternity series after book three is submitted to the publisher, which should permit me to fully focus on the SF novel.

What else have I been up to in my writing life? Well, one of those four short stories that I wrote in the latter half of 2016, “Once More, With Feeling,” was just published in a mixed genre anthology titled, The Write Connections, published by the Greater Lehigh Valley Publishing Group.

Two more of those stories have each been submitted to separate contests, the first (“So Hungry…”) to the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable paranormal fiction contest, and the second (“The Celestials”) to the annual Rehoboth Beach Reads short story contest sponsored by Delaware publisher, Cat & Mouse Press. I took second place in the 2016 Rehoboth contest and my story was published in the anthology, Beach Nights. Even if I don’t win one of the top three monetary awards this time around, I hope to at least see my story published in this year’s anthology, Beach Life.

The fourth story (“The Forest for the Trees”) will be included in the upcoming Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity, tentatively slated for release in July 2018. That tale is an 11,000-word fantasy piece set in late 17th century Finland. So much research was involved in the great famine of the time as well as Finnish mythology.

Speaking of Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity, I am off to edit a few more submissions this evening. The good news is that I have a three-day weekend ahead of me and maybe—just maybe—I can make some time to write…

Lastly, there is a good chance that my paranormal mystery novella, Like Mother, Like Daughters (written and submitted to the publisher in 2014), will finally be released in October as an ebook and audio book! Many of my readers have asked when the next story starring psychic-medium Miranda Lorensen will be released. Well, this is it, folks! It’s Miranda’s origin story and also involves her daughter, Andrea, who has a paranormal adventure of her own. Catch more of Miranda in my first two novels, Testing the Prisoner and By Your Side.


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