Monday, October 16, 2017

Making (No) Sense Of Sales


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Most writers like to have their stories read, and we hope the readers like our stories. When you write for anthologies, however, tracking the results of your efforts can be difficult. Reviews that mention particular stories within an anthology (especially if it's your own story) would help a lot, but reviews for books published by small presses are few and far between. This situation often leaves the writer scrambling to get any feedback.

There are a couple of free tools available to authors: Novelrank and Amazon's Author Central. These are tools I generally use and are the source of the information presented here.

Amazon Author Sales Rank on October 9, 2017

This graph shows my Amazon author ranking on October 9, 2017. Considering I've never been published in anything other than an anthology, I think it's pretty good. It's been in this range for most of the last year. You can be listed as a contributor to a book and it counts toward your ranking. Unless people start posting reviews, however, there's no way of knowing if my stories had anything to do with the ranking.

Amazon author ranking by individual books on October 9, 2017

This image shows what's driving my ranking at the current time—Tales from the Bully Box. For a long time, In Creeps the Night was pushing my ranking upwards, especially the audiobook version. And there were a few sales from other books, but not enough to make a lasting difference. When sales for In Creeps the Night slowed, my ranking stayed up. I found sales of Tales from the Bully Box were picking up. I had started a small Goodreads ad in April of 2017, but I didn't expect a lot from it. The book had been out for years already with disappointing sales. Still, the numbers speak for themselves. 


Sales for the paperback version of Tales from the Bully Box

You can see Tales from the Bully Box is doing (relatively) well from the ranking on Amazon.


Novelrank's yearly sales for the paperback version of Tales from the Bully Box as of October 9, 2017

The Novelrank graph above shows the yearly sales for Tales from the Bully Box. Even with another 3 months to go in 2017, the sales for the paperback version have handily surpassed the previous three years combined. The problem I've found with using Novelrank and Author Central is that the numbers don't always match from site to site. Even the numbers within Amazon Author Central often leave me scratching my head trying to make sense of them.

Novelrank book ranking over a period of time for Tales From the Bully Box paperback edition

As I stated previously, I started a Goodreads ad campaign back in April. The increased sales is evident around that time. Sales really picked up, however, when it was named one of the top twenty picture books dealing with bullying by Teacher.org. This is what the post says about Tales from the Bully Box:
Tales from the Bully Box is an example of real life stories that can make an impact as well. The book is really a collection of short stories about bullying from students of all walks of life. The subject matter is diverse and the book also includes discussion questions for students to walk through with their parents and/or teachers. The stories also don't just give examples of bullying but also give examples of how to deal with bullying in impactful ways. There is something about the fact that these stories are from real students that help them really hit home and in many ways, the stories can help students understand the impact of their words and their actions.
While I appreciate the plug, it's not accurate. First of all, it's not a picture book. Secondly, it wasn't written by students. Well, I guess we were all students once, but that was a long time ago (especially for me). And although the stories may have taken inspiration from real-life events, some are clearly not real-life. Still, sales got quite a boost after this was posted. I can't say for certain this post was the cause, but I don't know of any other reason for the sales increase.

Amazon listing for the paperback version

Amazon listing for the Kindle version


As you can see, the book has done reasonably well for one put out by a small (tiny) press with little promotion by the authors (I've done some, but I haven't seen much from the other authors). I wish I knew if my story helped or hurt sales. Perhaps it's had no effect at all. Without reviews, I'll never know. That's a subtle hint to any readers out there. The best that I can take away from this is it's great that more folks will have a chance to read my story. This may cause them to look at (or avoid!) other stories I've written.

Tales from the Bully Box was a charity book, so I didn't (and won't) get any money from the sales, but I should get exposure. For a beginning author, I suppose that's a step in the right direction!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 24


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 24th Mid-Week Flash challenge, you're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
I think I might have unraveled a world of images I want to write for when I sourced this week's image. Sarolta Ban is a Hungarian photographer and artist, and her work is just amazing. I have always loved surreal art, but these really speak to me.

I also have a thing for keys. I don't know what it is, but they just represent so many things to me - in some ways you could say they 'unlock my mind'!
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.
And so, here is my entry for this round of the Mid-Week Flash Challenge... I had a little fun with this one.





Keyhole







    "It has to be some sort of sculpture, Greg. Nobody could possibly use a key that big."
    "Obviously. But why have it all the way out here in the desert? Who would see it except for a couple of lost hikers like us?"
    Susan circled the metal shaft then leaned against it. "We'll have to take a 'selfie'—you know, with both of us—so we can show our friends."
    "You're assuming we'll be able to find the campsite again."
    "Don't be such a worrywart. We've left word. If we don't return by evening, they'll come looking for us. And we have plenty of water."
    The wind kicked up blowing sand across the flat, featureless landscape and exposing more of the curious object.
    "This thing must go pretty deep," Greg said.
    "Do you think we can dig it out?"
    "And do what with it? It's too big to lift let alone carry back to camp."
    "Maybe there's a base with the name of the artist on it. Or a description of some sort."
    "So?"
    Susan rolled her eyes. "Aren't you just the tiniest bit curious?"
    Greg reluctantly admitted as much.
    "So we can dig it out?"
    "By 'we' I'm assuming you mean me?"
    Susan avoided eye contact. "Well—your arms are longer. It would probably be easier for you."
    Greg grumbled as he began pulling sand away from the key. He continued until he was lying flat on the ground and reaching as far as he could into the hole.
    "There's something down here."
    "What is it?"
    Greg backed out of the hole and leaned on one elbow. "I don't know, Susan. They're like leather bags of some sort. It's hard to tell without a flashlight."
    "Leather bags?"
    "Yeah. Sort of round in shape."
    Susan looked at Greg, her eyes unblinking. "Do you think—maybe—they hold treasure—or money?"
    Greg never replied. He dove back into the hole to pull out more sand. He tried to lift one of the bags, but it wouldn't budge. He grabbed one to tear it open, but couldn't. "Whatever they are, they're tough. Do you have something sharp I can use to cut them?"
    Susan searched her backpack. She brought out a small, slender piece of metal. The excavated hole was now wide enough that she could lean in next to Greg. "This is all I have."
    "A nail file? It might work."
    Greg grasped the file in his fist and plunged it as hard as he could into the round, leathery surface. The ground shifted as the file found its mark.
    Susan looked at Greg. "Oh my God! Was that an earthquake?"
    "I—I don't think so."
    Greg pulled the file out of the bag. When he did, the bags wiggled. There were five in all. A small stream of red fluid oozed from the hole where the file had penetrated.
    The two stared at each other. Susan whispered in disbelief, "No!"
    As the ground shook again, a larger voice rumbled, "Yes!"



 500 words without the title... 


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dick Blick Art Contest


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Many artists in the US are familiar with the Dick Blick art supply business. I buy stuff there myself from time to time. Unlike Amazon, what I purchase from them usually arrives undamaged. I consider that a plus.

As a promotion, they are holding a contest (or "challenge" as they call it, probably for legal reasons) for US citizens through October for pen and ink drawings.


Dick Blick Pen & Ink challenge


You can submit a new one each day. If yours is selected, you could win art supplies. Sounds like a way to get your work noticed (without a lot of effort or expense) and you might even get something for it. There is a gallery if you just want to browse the submissions.

You can get the details here: DICK BLICK PEN & INK CHALLENGE

I don't receive anything for promoting this, but I might see if I can dig up a picture to send in!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, October 2, 2017

Wording Is Important


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With all the bad things happening in the world today, I thought I would post a little humor to help get us through these dark times...

Still, this is a writing blog, so I wanted to keep on subject as much as possible. I was having trouble coming up with an idea until I looked over a flyer I got at McDonald's. Yes, my better half and I stopped at McDonald's. It's not one of our normal bistros, but everything else had a line out the door. The food was—well, we ate it. Isn't that enough?

This particular establishment was one of those remodeled McDonald's where you order your food on this big electronic menu. It couldn't have taken more than three times as long as actually talking to a cashier. That's progress for you. Once you paid (all at the big menu board), you take a plastic number to put on your table. One of the young workers brings the food right to you. Eventually.

On the tray with our food were a couple of flyers. It seems they are going to have a Family Fun Night.

McDonald's Family Fun Night Flyer


Sounds great, huh? Crafts, cookie decorating, and more, more, more! They're even having a raffle! What are the prizes, you ask?

Okay, here's were things start to get a little delicate. I don't know who created these flyers, but the wording on parts of it left a something to be desired. I doubt you can read them on the picture above, so I scanned the bottom at a higher resolution. Here it is:

A boy toy?

Personally, I think a "boy toy" might be inappropriate for a child. It might be inappropriate for your wife or girlfriend, too, but at least it makes some kind of sense. A girl toy? That could get me into all kinds of trouble. I'm not even touching that one.

Hello, McDonald's? Maybe you could hire a proofreader for these things. Just a thought...


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

ZNB Kickstarter Wrap-Up


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ZNB (Zombies Need Brains) Logo



The Zombies Need Brains anthologies are funded!

It went over $20,000 with 15 hours to spare. That's a lot of money... but it is for three books! And now it's an open call, so other writers have a chance to join in!




Yes, I have story in mind. Now all I have to do is finish writing it. Easy-peasy. 


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 21


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Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 21st Mid-Week Flash challenge, you're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:
This week's photo was taken by an online friend of mine, Stuart Hancock while he was travelling in America. It shows legs of the pier on Pismo Beach, California. I asked him if I could use it because it is begging to be written for. So many tales are glimpsed between those posts. What will yours be?
If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.
And so, here is my entry for this round of the Mid-Week Flash Challenge...





Four




    By all outward appearances, Vanessa was her best friend. She always smiled when they met, always had something flattering to say. Catherine also noticed how friendly she was with Robert, her boyfriend. It seemed innocent enough at first, but soon grew to the point of open flirtation. Although there was no indication Robert took it seriously, Catherine watched his eyes when she was around, concerned things might go further. Eventually, the situation became more than she could bear. Vanessa needed to learn her place.
    Catherine invited her for a walk along the water to have a talk and enjoy the day. The early morning air had a chill. Few people were on the beach. When Vanessa turned to look out over the ocean, the thin piece of driftwood Catherine had used for a walking stick came crashing down on her skull. It was enough to knock her down, enough to leave her helpless. Catherine dragged her to one of the pilings near the waterline. She took a length of strong twine from her pocket and looped it around the piling and Vanessa's neck, tying it tightly. The sharp edges of the barnacles cut into Vanessa's face. All the better, Catherine thought. Vanessa looked up, struggling with consciousness.
    "Robert's my boyfriend, Vanessa. I want you to think about that while the crabs chew on your toes. I'll be back once you've learned you're lesson—maybe."
    Time can get away from you when you're having a nice day on the shore. When Catherine returned, the water was several feet higher. She waded into the surf and searched around the piling, but Vanessa was gone. She looked up and down the beach. There was no Vanessa, no body—nothing. She hadn't meant to kill her—just frighten her a bit. She thought the tide was already in.

~~~

    Catherine sat upright in her bed, breathing heavily. Her hair was damp with sweat, her head throbbing. It was that nightmare again. It was always the same. She would fall asleep and her dreams would take her to the beach by the pier. Just before waking, the faceless form of a woman would appear, dripping wet and covered in green tendrils. It had to be Vanessa.
    Catherine got up to take something for her headache. She noticed how tired she looked in the bathroom mirror and turned on the hot water. The rising steam felt good. When she looked up, the words 'beware water' appeared on the mirror as if drawn by a finger. Catherine backed out of the bathroom, her heart pounding. She took a few steps when her foot touched something cold. She jumped back, then reached out with her toes to feel it again. The carpet was wet. Catherine turned on the light. Glistening footprints appeared at the foot of her bed. There was something green on the carpet. It looked like—seaweed.
    The phone rang startling her badly. It was her boyfriend, Robert. A woman's body, it seems, had been found on the beach, badly decomposed. There were no clues as to her identity or how she had died. He wanted to know if she was all right.
    Catherine broke down weeping. "I didn't mean to kill her."
    "Kill who?"
    "Vanessa!"
    "You're not making any sense, Cathy. You couldn't hurt anyone."
    "I tied her to the pier, Robert, and she drowned. She wasn't supposed to die!"
    "It'll be okay, Cathy, but we need to discuss this. Meet me by the pier around nine o'clock. And try not to panic."
    "Okay, Robert. I love you."

~~~

    Catherine was pacing and visibly upset when Robert arrived.
    "Okay, Cathy—take a deep breath and tell me what happened."
    "I tied Vanessa to the piling."
    "Here?"
    "Yes."
    "Show me exactly what you did. Where was Vanessa?"
    Catherine sat on the wet sand and leaned against the shell-encrusted wood. A cord pulled tight against her throat. She tried to scream, but couldn't. A pair of hands grabbed Catherine's wrists, pulling her arms back.
    "Cathy, I'd like you to meet Cheryl. Sorry we don't have time to chat, but—what is there to say?"
    "Oh, and nobody blames you for Vanessa, honey," Cheryl added while checking the knots. "Things like that can happen when a girl messes with your guy. I hope you understand."
    Robert looked at Cathy, then shrugged. "Well, I guess this is goodbye. You know, they say two's company and three's a crowd, but four—that's just crazy."




 742 words without the title and tildes... 


 I wonder what Vanessa's spirit will do now...if it was Vanessa.



© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Seattle Mystery Bookshop To Close


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I just saw this headline from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (SeattlePI):





It's not a good thing for authors to see book stores close. They've been trying to keep things going, but not enough people are buying books. Well, mysteries, anyway.

I once stood right where this store is located (back in 1995?), but I don't remember seeing it. I must have been looking for a coffee shop. They're sooo hard to find in Seattle...

Since their website will probably go away when they close, I took the liberty of copying some advice for writers to my site. I hope they don't mind... (if they do, please let me know).

Advice for New Authors New To Signings 
Over the decades, we’ve hosted many premiere author events. There are a few things that you, as a first-time author, can do help make your first author signing a success:

First off, understand that what for you is a moment of triumph and happiness of getting published doesn’t mean your work is over. Now you have to sell your book and yourself to the readers, who aren’t familiar with you yet! You will need to be able to tell people in a few sentences why they should take a chance on you. Be willing to put yourself forward, to explain why they will enjoy your book and what they’ll get out of it: laughs, fun, education, new views on topics, etc.

As a new author, friends and family are your natural pool of buyers. Siblings, aunts, college roommates may assume you’ll give them a copy. However much you’d like to, Don’t.

Why? After your signing event, your publisher will call us to ask how the signing went and how many copies were sold. If you’ve given away the free copies that your publisher sent, you may not sell many copies at the formal event. If you give away 20 copies and sell 4 at the signing, that unfortunately indicates to them a poor event. On the other hand, if you give only your parents and grandparents 1 copy each and sell 22 copies at the signing, the publisher will see it differently. We once had a first-time author complain about how he didn’t sell many at the signing but then allowed as how he’d given all of his author copies away. That explained why there were no sales – his natural pool of buyers was very shallow.

Plus when you give away copies, we lose those sales as well. While we – your hosts – may have a good time at your first author event, we need to sell copies to stay in business.

In the weeks leading up to your event, do all you can to promote it to those friends and family members. Use all of your resources – Facebook, Twitter, your Christmas list of e-mail addresses – anything that you use to keep in touch with friends and family. Don’t be shy and don’t think you can’t send out a first announcement and then a reminder as the event approaches.

Recommend that they call or e-mail us to reserve a copy. Little can crimp a signing as quickly as Aunt Mimi coming in at the start of the signing and asking for a dozen copies, thereby taking a third of our stock. A couple of these customers can quickly wipe out our stock, thus people who come in later have nothing to purchase. All Aunt Mimi needs to do is call ahead, we can have her dozen covered without running low on stock. Similarly, you may hear from people who love to come but they just can’t make it (Uncle Hugo is in a bass fishing tournament that weekend, or your niece Becky has a piano recital or they live in Outer Mongolia and coming to Seattle is out of the question). Explain to them that they can still get a signed copy. Just call or e-mail in advance (again, doing it just as the signing begins is a bit too late) and we can ship them a copy!

Sometimes life does get in the way of the best intentions. If you hear in the days and weeks after the signing from folks who are apologetic that they missed it and they’re sorry they couldn’t get a copy, tell no problem. All they have to do is call us and we’ll make arrangements, letting you know if we need you to come back to sign more stock.

At your premiere signing, pay attention to strangers who may be at the margins of your crowd. It is easy to spend the entire time with friends and family, if you arrange to meet them after the event you are able to focus on those in the shop who could become your readers with a little extra effort.
Back to your author copies. We’ve heard from many successful authors that they wish they still had a copy of their first book – they gave them all way and now the book has become collectable and they no longer have a copy. Keep them safe and secure, away from the possibility of water or moisture of any sort, away from dirt and spiders and sunlight. When you get them, sign and date them all on the title page and put ‘em in a safe place. In the years to come you’ll be glad you kept them.

If life does get in the way of your scheduled signing, for heaven’s sake give us as much warning as possible. We once had an author cancel the day of the signing because he just couldn’t make it. Should that happen we can reschedule, our customers are very understanding. Do as much as you can to spread the word of the change (again, Facebook, Twitter, e-mails). These things happen and we can work to make the change relatively painless if we know as soon as possible.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: you’ve spent months or years writing your first book and it is gratifying to have friends and family gathering around you to help celebrate – that’s wonderful and we like to see it. But what is a successful signing for us is measure in book sales. So the day must be good for both sides. We want you to remember the event as a high point in your life and for everyone who attends to have a great time – but we also must sell books for it to be a success for us. If we do, we’ll all be smiling! 

It's sad to see these little book shops have a hard time surviving. That's the way it is, though. Come to think of it, I've never written a mystery. Maybe I should give it a try!

P. S.

Please consider donating to the Zombie Need Brains sci-fi / fantasy anthology Kickstarter!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Did You Ever Wonder...


...how a story gets picked for an anthology?


Lots of writers do, especially when they've put so much had work into their story. While it won't answer all you questions, here's a link to what Joshua Palmatier looks for when he picks a story.


Joshua Palmatier
Joshua Palmatier

Please pass the word about the latest Zombies Need Brains science fiction / fantasy anthology Kickstarter! It it goes over $20,000 (it's about half-way there as of this posting) it becomes an open submissions call!


So, check it out! Maybe you'll want to donate and get some new reading material—or perhaps you'll get published in a quality anthology! (And, yes, I've already made my contribution—and I have an idea for a story to submit if—or when, I should say—it gets funded!)

And although I've changed the message at the beginning of my post this time, comments are still welcome!

P.S. Yes, I know I've used a lot of exclamation points in this post, but I'm trying to stir up some excitement. I'll try to calm things down in the future.


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Monsters In The Night


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It seems we're being attacked by monsters here...

Last night we had two groups of visitors in the dark. First, these beasts dropped by:

Raccoon family dropping by at night
Alien creatures attacking!

While I know a lot of folks will be saying how cute this raccoon family is—and they are—they can transmit some serious parasites to humans, especially when they use your deck or yard as a latrine. See this page from the Centers for Disease Control for more information. This morning, Marie had the unenviable job of washing things down with boiling water. Chemicals, including chlorine bleach, do not reliably destroy the parasites, but heat does. We'll have to do something to deter them. Poop decks belong on ships, not houses.

Eventually, they ambled off into the darkness.

Then, while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—only this and nothing more.”

And I was right. But it wasn't a raven.

It was this horrible creature... and a few of his friends.

European hornet
European Hornet

This is the European hornet. They fly at night and they're attracted to light. And they're big (like up to 35 mm big). They make a noise when the bang against your windows and glass doors trying to get to the lights inside. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really want them inside. I guess we'll be calling the pest control folks soon.

I like my monsters in stories, not trying to get into the house. If you don't hear from me in a few days, ask someone to check up on me... You know, just in case more monsters show up.


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, September 1, 2017

ZNB Anthology Kickstarter Follow-Up


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ZNB (Zombies Need Brains) Logo


This is just a quick update Joshua Palmatier posted on the ZNB SFF anthology Kickstarter page...

Two Days in, Nearly $8K!

So, we've neared $8K after 48 hours, which is spectacular!  Can we reach $10K by the end of day 3?  I think we can!  I'll be pushing the Kickstarter tomorrow and hopefully we'll make it to the halfway point.  Keep up the good work on spreading the word!

I'm in the midst of setting up blog posts, AMAs, etc myself.  However, if any of you have contacts at specific SF&F blogs that you can put me in touch with, message me with the information and I'll get in touch.  Also, contacts at writer groups and such as well.

Basically, send me any suggestions you have about places where we can get the word out to people that might be interested.

Thank you all for backing this project early!  I won't relax until we're funded, so anything you can do to help out is appreciated.  Thanks again and I'll be back with more posts shortly!

Joshua

Please pass the word along to any SSF fans who might be interested. This is a good start, but there's a long way to go! 


So, check it out! Maybe you'll want to donate and get some new reading material—or perhaps you'll get published in a quality anthology! (And, yes, I've already made my contribution—and I have an idea for a story to submit if—or when, I should say—it gets funded!)


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Kickstarter - Zombies Need Brains SFF Anthologies


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While at Shore Leave 39 this year, I talked with author/editor/publisher Joshua Palmatier for a while. Eventually the discussion got around to future projects. He mentioned he was going to do a Kickstarter for three new anthologies, but he hadn't come up with any solid ideas yet. He said to watch his website for a notice in August.

So I did.

He now has the Kickstarter up and running. Here are the subjects for the books!

This project will fund THREE science fiction and fantasy anthologies, titled THE RAZOR'S EDGE, GUILDS AND GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR, containing approximately 14 all-original (no reprint) short stories each from established SF&F authors in the field. The books will be edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier (SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR), S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier (GUILDS AND GLAIVES), and Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier (THE RAZOR'S EDGE).


Joshua has a number of quality books out already, and if you'd like to help out with the next round of anthologies you can donate here (there are a lot of different levels and rewards!):


You can do more than just give money to the effort. If all goes as planned, you can submit your stories, too!

As we did in our previous anthologies, we plan to include the very best stories we can find, spanning the gamut from bestselling authors to new, previously unpublished voices, including an open submission window if the Kickstarter is successful, where anyone can submit their stories featuring the current themes for a chance to be part of the anthologies. And new this year, Zombies Need Brains is officially a "qualifying market" for the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA)!

So, check it out! Maybe you'll want to donate and get some new reading material—or perhaps you'll get published in a quality anthology!


"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams, Varia Studios
"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams, Varia Studios


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, August 28, 2017

Beyond The Shroud


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Beyond the Shroud, a mummy-inspired horror anthology containing thirteen (my lucky number) stories by Horrified Press, is now available on Lulu! At the present, it's only in paperback format—I'm hoping other formats will follow.


Screen-shot of Beyond the Shroud on Lulu.com
Screen-shot of Beyond the Shroud on Lulu.com


My story, A Matter of Personal Taste, is a reprint, although I did modify it a good bit before sending submitting to this anthology. I was just a child (writing-wise) when I sent it in to the Were-Traveler; they were kind enough to publish it and give my writing "career" a boost. My lack of experience at the time explains why I felt a rewrite was necessary. I did inform the anthologist for Beyond the Shroud (Cynthia Morrison) it was a reprint.

Here's a list of the stories and authors:
  • A Matter of Personal Taste  by  K. R. Smith
  • A Plague of Persuation  by  Shane Porteous
  • Bandaged Evil  by  Norbert Gora
  • Curse of Apnu  by  E. W. Farnesworth
  • Icy Ground, The Only Hope  by Sergio Palumbo, editied by Michele Dutcher
  • I Saw What Happened  by  John Kujawski
  • Palm Wine  by  Cynthia Morrison (also the anthologist)
  • The Book of Thieves  by  Cameron Smith
  • The City of Ten Thousand Gods  by  Matthew Frederick
  • The Patient  by  Mathias Janssson
  • The Unwrapping  by  D J Tyler
  • The Witching Hour  by  Matthew Wilson
  • Wind Joiner  by  E. W. Farnesworth 

 And, yes, my story got the first spot!

Partial Table of Contents - my story in first spot!
Partial Table of Contents - my story in first spot!


It was originally listed as being through the Horrified Press imprint Pilgrim Off-Fifth Press, but the cover only lists Horrified Press, not that it matters to me.

My story is about an archaeologist who makes a unique discovery with the help of a local. He shares the news with a colleague, but before they can begin their scientific analysis, events take a bizarre turn!

Anyway, it's out and available! I'll let you know if any other formats show up.


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - The Sunday Panels


Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!


Woohoo! All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!




Group meeting image designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik


Okay, here are the panels I attended on Sunday and a few notes on each!

Sunday Panels
Scheduled times:

12:00 pm The Devil's in the Details
 1:00 pm Mixing and Matching Genres
The Devil’s in the Details
Writers build convincing worlds by including small details that pack a big punch. (“The door irised open.”) How does that work, who does it well, and what details are you hoarding for the perfect story?
Melissa Scott (M), Roberta Rogow, Stephen Kozeniewski, Glenn Hauman

Sneak in the small details; don't hammer them. Only hammer the points where, if they are left out, their absence will cause the reader to miss the point of the story.

An example of a small detail is how a character addresses others.

Skip details that will distract. A good beta reader can help here.

There are three areas you don't want to mess up if they are included in your story:
  1. The Civil War
  2. Horses
  3. Guns
If you get the details wrong on these, there are readers with specialized knowledge that will tear your story to pieces (some of the panelists mentioned personal experience here).

Details such as having differences within the same country in the same year can make a story seem more real to the reader.

On accents, a little goes a long way. Not every word a character speaks has to have the accent of the locale. Concentrate on the rhythm of speech.

You can write all the details in, then decide what need to come out (ones that don't help the story).

"Info dumps" are usually a bore to the reader, but may be useful in describing technology that doesn't exist.

Mixing and Matching Genres
Zombie cowboys. Superheros vs. vampires. Hard-boiled wizards. What are the rewards and perils of blurring genre lines? Does chocolate go better with peanut butter?
Greg Cox (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Melissa Scott, Roberta Rogow

Science fiction and fantasy work well in mixed genre stories partly because sci-fi fans will read almost anything (of any genre) if it has a sci-fi base. This is different from mystery and western fans who often want to read only "pure" forms of their chosen genre. This may be changing some for mystery readers.

While romance fans have a hard core of pure romance readers, it is another form where mixing of genres often work well. Romance lends itself to be included into many other genres (horror, paranormal, mystery, sci-fi, etc.) without feeling out of place. The only issue is which genre is dominant (which may affect how it is marketed).

Marketing was brought up more than once in this discussion. In a physical bookstore, if a book has any romance, for example, it is usually placed in the romance section. This may not be what the author wanted, but a bookstore doesn't have the space to put a book in multiple sections. This problem is somewhat eliminated with ebooks, but it still exists.

It was noted that the cover really does make a difference not only in getting a book noticed, but which readers it draws.

For mysteries, be mindful of what crimes would be committed in the period/location where the story takes place.

For all genre mash-ups, be respectful of all the genres involved.

I have to make mention of this:
While the panel was good, there was far too much giggling and joking between the panelists. There is a limited amount of time for these discussions and I really didn't want to spend it listening to the panelists laughing at jokes they were trading amongst themselves. They also started talking with, "I did a story..." too many times. It comes across as a sales pitch unless there is a strong need for the mention of their particular story. That wasn't always evident.



Final Thoughts

That's about all I have for Shore Leave 39. If there is anything you'd like to mention or for me to ask about during Shore Leave 40, please leave a comment!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - The Saturday Panels


Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!


Woohoo! All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!




Group meeting image designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik


I've been a bit busy lately, so I'm behind in posting info on the panels I attended at Shore Leave. This is all very appropriate with the panel "Your Writing or Your Life" being discussed here. So, finally, here are the panels I attended on Saturday and a few notes on each!

Saturday Panels
Scheduled times:

11:00 am Your Writing or Your Life
 1:00 pm Defending the Lighter Side
 2:00 pm The Art of Secondary Characters


Your Writing or Your Life
Writers often experience conflicts between their writing and their family and job obligations. Can one use such conflicts productively? How does one build a firewall between work and the rest of life?
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware, Kathleen David

This one was more of a confirmation that other writers have the same problems I have trying to find the time to write. It was worthwhile to attend if only for that reason. They all said that people making a full-time living writing are rare; they are called unicorns. The panelists did have a few suggestions, but admitted they won't work for everyone:
  1. Having a word goal for the day is sometimes useful
  2. See your writing as something of value 
  3. Outlining works for some writers
One of the biggest factors is having family support for your writing. They should see it as a job, and that you are working. It isn't just a hobby.

When your work is interrupted it can be hard to pick up later on. Try retyping the last few sentences to get restarted.

One of the panelists said, "Remember that any amount of time can be used for writing. It takes about 15 minutes to write a page. Do it every day and in one year, you'll have a novel."

There were lots of personal stories about the difficulties each one faced when working on a story or editing. The main point is that every writer has to work around the situations that come up in life, and you have to keep writing, even if it is only a little at a time.


Defending the Light Side
In fiction, as in real life, upbeat and happy are often equated with silly fluff lacking substantial themes and intelligence. Or dismissed as childish. Those claims are often inaccurate, however.
Rigel Ailur (M), Christopher L. Bennett, Michael Critzer, Roberta Rogow, Andrew Hiller

The point of is panel is to say, "There is a place for fluff."

Whether it is a cozy mystery, a sweet romance, or just plain, silly humor, it shouldn't be dismissed, especially if it brings pleasure to the reader. There must be a balance to the amount of humor, however. If it is overdone, only the bad effects come through and the humor is lost.

Some publishers specialize in lighter writing, such as cozy mysteries. (Note: mystery writing seemed to be the focus of some of the panelists, and the genre was brought up often.) Characters like Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple may not be realistic, but few can argue that they have not been successful—and have brought much enjoyment to their viewers and readers.

Readers often need a break from drama in either their reading or in real life. Lighter stories can bring that relief. Certain types of these stories, such as a sweet romance, can have a wider appeal and be more appropriate for a greater age range, for instance, than a steamy "adult" romance.

There was a long discussion about dark humor. One must be careful with this. There are times and places where this is appropriate, but the writer (or speaker) must know their audience. Not everything is funny for everyone, but that doesn't mean it is bad or wrong.


The Art of Secondary Characters
Supporting characters can fade into the background or steal a story. Our authors discuss how to know which is appropriate, and the craft to making such players come alive when the story needs them.
David Mack (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Richard C. White, Dave Galanter

This panel brought up the question, "How do authors decide if their secondary characters fade into the background or steal the show?"

Here are some thoughts on secondary characters:

First of all, don't hold back when creating your secondary characters. If they are strong enough, they can be put into another story or a book of their own.

There is a difference between secondary and supporting characters:
Supporting character
  1. these are more important characters in the story
  2. may appear throughout
  3. often a sidekick
  4. may be used as a POV character
  5. has agency in moving the story along
Secondary characters
  1. may only appear briefly, but more than a cameo
  2. are often used for backstory
  3. almost never used as a POV character (not in the story long enough)
  4. does not have agency in moving the story along
In a shared world, others may use your secondary characters in different ways.

Again, don't hold back with your secondary characters—they can make a good story a great story!

Up next - the Sunday panels!


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - Sunday


Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!


Sunday July 9, 2016

Woohoo! All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!



There was more happening Sunday this year than in previous years. I'm not sure why. I was there until 5:00 pm. Usually it is getting pretty empty by 3:00 pm.

Sunday Panels
Star Trek: Discovery
Can this program continue the Star Trek phenomenon, or will fans be turned off by having to pay to watch episodes of the new series?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall, Ann Harding

Representation Is Key
A conversation about the importance of fair and accurate representation for marginalized communities (including POC, LGBTQ+, diverse religion, people with disabilities, etc.) in fiction.
Jenifer Rosenberg (M), Rigel Ailur, Mary Fan, Melissa Scott, Derek Attico

Friendship Is Magic
In SF/F, heroes have friends and companions; villains have only minions. Our authors examine how cultural narratives about heroism, sex, gender, class, and community influence how we depict being alone and being connected.
David Mack (M), Mary Fan, Michael Critzer, Amy Imhoff, TJ Perkins

Why We Love SciFi
Aliens, time travel, and space opera. Action, adventure, and comedy. Noir. Thrillers. Technothrillers. Parallel universes. Alternate realities. Political and social commentary. Come talk about what we love in scifi, and what we want to see next.
Russ Colchamiro (M), Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Mike Friedman, Amy Imhoff

Marvel/DC Women Warriors: Ultimate Face-off Finale!
Its time for the final votes to be cast, comrades! Time to decide the Ultimate Woman Warrior!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson

Gotham: The Joke’s on Us
The tension in this crime drama ratcheted up a notch during Season 3. Some people have said that the program’s grim setting turns them off, but is being different actually a strength of the series?
David Brewer (M), Wayne Hall, Ann Harding

Where No Tale Has Gone Before
After over 50 years, how can there still be fresh stories to tell in Star Trek’s shared universe? Our panel of Trekspert storytellers discuss what they think makes for solid new Star Trek tales.
David Mack (M), Dayton Ward, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, Scott Pearson

Heroes: The Best . . . and the Worst
We’ve all read books where we absolutely loved the main characters—and others where we couldn’t stand them. Our panelists will reveal some of their most and least favorites, and why.
Russ Colchamiro (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Greg Cox, John Coffren, TJ Perkins

The Worf Factor
From his bridge station at tactical to Commander and becoming Chancellor and then Ambassador to the Klingon Empire, Worf has probably enjoyed the most thorough development of any other character in Star Trek.
Lorenzo Heard (M), Andrew Kelley

The Devil’s in the Details
Writers build convincing worlds by including small details that pack a big punch. (“The door irised open.”) How does that work, who does it well, and what details are you hoarding for the perfect story?
Melissa Scott (M), Roberta Rogow, Stephen Kozeniewski, Glenn Hauman

The Flash: May the Speed Force Be With You
The most popular show on the CW network added several characters in Season 3. What do you think of the way the season ended, and what lies ahead in the series during Season 4?
David Brewer (M), Randy Hall, Wayne Hall, Lorenzo Heard

LGBTQ+ in Fandom
From Steven Universe to Sense8, LGBTQ+ representation has yet to go main-stream. Let’s discuss the best and worse portrayals.Ann C.E. Dorsett

Mixing and Matching Genres
Zombie cowboys. Superheros vs. vampires. Hard-boiled wizards. What are the rewards and perils of blurring genre lines? Does chocolate go better with peanut butter?
Greg Cox (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Melissa Scott, Roberta Rogow

Chasing Our Tales
Our panel of writers share stories they’ve long tinkered with but haven’t found a way to make work. Can you help them find the missing pieces of their puzzles?
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Aaron Rosenberg, Andrew Hiller, Kathleen David, Glenn Hauman, TJ Perkins

Ghosts of Fandom Past
The evolution of fandom from the 70’s to present.
Joseph Bloch (M), Michael Garman, Michael Schilling

Marvel Comics Chokes on Diversity
Everyone wants more diversity, right? More Blacks! More Hispanics! More Women! More Gays! Well, Marvel, let’s discuss that.
Andrew Kelley (M), Randy Hall, Wayne Hall

Arrow Keeps Hitting the Target
After several members of “Team Arrow” left the group at the start of Season 5, Oliver Queen recruited several young new heroes for his group.
David Brewer (M), Lorenzo Heard

Legion M—The World’s First Fan-Run Media Company!
They just had a hit film “Colossal” and are working with Stan Lee and a host of others...
Ponch Fenwick

Ye Gods!
From Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, many acclaimed works feature deities who behave like humans. Why does this appeal to writers and readers?
Robert Greenberger (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Amy Imhoff, Kathleen David

Next Generation Celebrates 30 Years!
Three decades ago, Captain Jean-Luc Picard became the captain of the Galaxy Class Enterprise D. Let’s look back over the series that boldly went where no one had gone before!
Ann Harding (M), Andrew Kelley

Wonder Woman Lassos the Box Office!
New movie, new vision, new hit?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall

Marvel/DC Warriors: The Colossal Coed Clash of Champions!
There are no more lines drawn between genders in the arena, and it’s no holds barred to finally decide who is the deadliest combatant between all sixteen of Marvel and DC’s most superb fighters.
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson

A Day in the Life of a Writer
Panelists discuss how writing shapes their daily lives, relationships, and health. We examine the triumphs and the struggles of the creative process—how does one find balance? What makes it all worth it?
Kelli Fitzpatrick (M), Derek Attico, Andrew Hiller, Hildy Silverman, TJ Perkins

Legends of Tomorrow: Malcolm Merlyn in the Middle
What did you think about the second season finale, which featured a final confrontation between the Legends and the Legion of Doom?
David Brewer (M), Randy Hall, Wayne Hall



Sunday starts with a bit of packing—getting the suitcases and duffle (or duffel, which the Google Blogger spellcheck likes better) bags into the cars so we don't have to leave in the middle of a panel or talk to check out. At Hunt Valley, they slip an invoice under the door so you know what the bill will be. I still ended up turning the key cards in an hour late and there was no problem. All I had to do was say, "We're checking out," and they do the rest. As long as you don't cause too much trouble (I won't go into detail), they're quite friendly. Even though the ownership has changed, many of the same people have continued to work there.

Again, we hit the breakfast/brunch buffet hard. It isn't cheap, but I still think they lost money on me. It's depressingly good, although you won't actually be depressed until you weigh yourself. Or try to bend over and tie your shoes. BTW, Michael Hogan sat just a couple of tables away, so you get to hobnob with the celebrities even during your meals.

By the time breakfast was over the action in main hall had already started. By that, I mean the actors, actresses, and authors were at their tables signing autographs and conversing with the attendees. And the celebrity talks would soon start. Also, I was trying to figure out what was going on with the art show, as that was scheduled to begin checkout at 10:00 am, but there didn't seem to be anyone around. I hope to get this sorted as I plan to put a couple of things up for bid next year.

While some in my group watched a Star Wars presentation, I ran went looking for the panels. The two I attended were The Devil's in the Details and Mixing and Matching Genres. Again, I'll have a post on the panels later, but they were probably the best two I attended this year.

After the panels, I went back to the main hall to locate my friends (yes, I actually have a few) and see what was scheduled next. They were taking in the Michael Dorn talk. I quietly made my way to where they were holding a seat for me to watch the last few minutes and see him introduce Marina Sirtis for her final appearance. Marina is definitely the most entertaining speaker Shore Leave had this year.


Michael Dorn introducing Marina Sirtis at Shore Leave 39
Michael Dorn introducing Marina Sirtis
at Shore Leave 39

Michael teasing Marina during her introduction
Michael teasing Marina
during her introduction

Next to speak was Kevin Sussman. He had some good moments, but he's not as exciting as the other speakers. He does seem like a nice person.


Kevin Sussman at Shore Leave 39
Kevin Sussman at Shore Leave 39

I finished the convention listening to Michael Hogan and Luciana Carro.


Luciana Carro at Shore Leave 39
Luciana Carro at Shore Leave 39

Michael Hogan at Shore Leave 39
Michael Hogan at Shore Leave 39

Michael and Luciana get their Shore Leave bunnies!
Michael and Luciana get their Shore Leave bunnies!

Final Thoughts

Was it a successful convention? I think so. It's still impossible to get to everything you want to see. Didn't get to do the stargazing (again) this year. I would have like to have had more time to talk to some of the authors and actors/actresses, but it seems like every second is filled. I would have especially liked to have talked with Luciana Carro. I've never seen her act and don't know the shows she was in, but the more I heard her talk, the more interesting she became. She seems to be very committed to her craft.

Still, attendance seemed to be down a little, and we heard as much from some of the Shore Leave folks. The date change to July instead of August may be part of the reason. A lot of families take an extended vacation around the July 4th holiday. Also, Awesome Con had just finished up in DC, so some people may not have had the budget or time to attend both. Awesome Con will be earlier next year, so we'll see...

Speaking of next year, the 2018 convention will be the 40th anniversary of Shore Leave! There are rumors it will be a good one with some really special guests. I'll keep my ear to the ground and let you know!

Shore Leave on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShoreLeaveCon  ( @ShoreLeaveCon ‏ )


© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, July 14, 2017

Human 76 Available On The Google App Store


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

I just found out that Human 76 is available on the Google App Store! Now there's even more ways to enjoy my writing! Or not. You can get to it by clicking HERE or directly from your Android phone via the Google Play Store App!




And for even more fun, Miranda Kate's Mostly Dark is also available there!




How to read these books:
Smartphones and Tablets
Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.
Laptops and Computers
You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help Center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - Saturday


Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!


Saturday July 8, 2016

Update: All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!



First of all, I know I'm not getting these out on the same day as the events took place, but I really do need to get at least 5 hours of sleep. When you're at Shore Leave, the day starts at 7:00 am and often goes until midnight. And when it's over, you're still a little tired. Okay, a lot tired. But I'll try to post as much as I can (and hopefully better than last year) as soon as I can!

Now, back to the post...

Things really got going on Saturday. Lots of discussion panels, lots of talks by actors, and lots of authors pushing their books.

Saturday Panels
Grimm Retrospective
Let’s talk about the final season, what we wanted to see and didn’t, and what the future is for the Grimm universe.
Ann Harding (M), Annie White, John White

Serger Sewing Tutorial
A serger is an amazing, fancy machine which sews and finishes fabric edges in one easy, quick step. Find out the unique capabilities
of this useful device.
D. Jeannette Holloman (M), Ron Robinson, Ozma Ireton

Marvel Women Warriors: Ultimate Face-off!
Sixteen of the most acclaimed female hand-to-hand combatants in Marvel are squaring off for you to debate and choose who is the
greatest Marvel woman warrior!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson

Wow, I Wrote That?
Writers often discover stories they penned years earlier but don’t remember writing. It’s as close as one comes to reading one’s own
work the way others do. What have our panelists learned from this experience?
Howard Weinstein (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Lorraine Anderson, Aaron Rosenberg, Peter David

Revision or Do-Over?
Sometimes when we revise our work, we toss out the good with the bad and replace it with more first-draft content. How does one make
revision into refinement rather than replacement?
Andrew Hiller (M), Greg Cox, Laura Ware, Kelli Fitzpatrick, TJ Perkins

Indy’s Back (in 2020)!
Is the return of Indiana Jones, to be played one more time by aging but sturdy Harrison Ford, a good idea — or a bad one?
Howard Weinstein (M), Russ Colchamiro, Kathleen David, Dave Galanter

40 Years of Star Wars Costumes
Star Wars changed everything, including how we look at sci-fi costumes. How has this influenced other sci-fi? How has this changed costume fandom? What does the future hold?
D. Jeannette Holloman (M), Sharon Landrum

Outlander: From Book Shelves to STARZ!
Loving this series and speculating about what might come next!
Annie Brugmans (M), Maggie Restivo, Betsy Childs

Your Writing or Your Life
Writers often experience conflicts between their writing and their family and job obligations. Can one use such conflicts productively?
How does one build a firewall between work and the rest of life?
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware, Kathleen David

History for Fun and Profit
Lots of SF/F stories explicitly use historical models, whether it’s the Victorian Age for steampunk or Age of Sail for original Star Trek.
What pieces of the past are best for borrowing? How important is accuracy?
Jenifer Rosenberg (M), Christopher L. Bennett, Melissa Scott, Roberta Rogow, Richard C. White

Wonder Woman
Did the movie do the character justice? Was it everything you expected? What did you like about it and what would you have liked it
to have done differently?
Rigel Ailur (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Simantha Galanter, Hildy Silverman, Amy Imhoff, Susan Olesen

Crossplay Makeup Makeover
Too much style for one gender? Stephanie Kiss transforms a young man into a young woman. Learn how it’s done!
Stephanie Kiss (M) and others

Lucifer: The Devil’s in the Details
Have I ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? If you’re a fan of the devil, let’s talk about what’s in store for heaven’s fallen favorite son.
Ann Harding (M), Annie White, John White

Does Fiction Go Too Easy on Evil?
In reality, evil is often boring, ugly, and stupid. But compelling villains in fiction are often stylish, intelligent, and competent. Is fiction
doing society a disservice by giving evil a good name?
David Mack (M), Jenifer Rosenberg, Mary Fan, Richard C. White, Glenn Hauman

What are the Starfleet Marines?
Join us to learn about this active branch of Starfleet!
David Sladky

The Future and Star Trek
Where do they intersect, and how has one affected the other?
Alex Cummins

RMN Special ButRain Ceremony
You are invited to attend a formal changing of the guard within the Royal Manticoran Navy.
Martin Lessem (M), James Friedline, Laura Lochen, Bill Lochen

Planet of the Apes
With a new movie opening, the franchise approaching its 50th anniversary, and new books and comics coming out, what is it about those damn, dirty apes that keeps us coming back? And what lies ahead?
Dayton Ward (M), Greg Cox, Robert Greenberger, Hildy Silverman, Kathleen David

Star Wars at 40: Wow, Do I Feel Old!
Exploring our history with Star Wars!
Michael Schilling (M), Michael Garman

Deanna Troi, I Feel You!
Lorenzo Heard (M), Randy Hall, Ann Harding

Defending the Light Side
In fiction, as in real life, upbeat and happy are often equated with silly fluff lacking substantial themes and intelligence. Or dismissed as childish. Those claims are often inaccurate, however.
Rigel Ailur (M), Christopher L. Bennett, Michael Critzer, Roberta Rogow, Andrew Hiller

So You Want to Be a Dealer?
How do you start? What do you need? How do you achieve success?
Brad Handley

LGBTQ+ in Media: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back!
Secret Disney stereotypes and the ships that never sailed.
C.E. Dorsett

Walking Dead: Barbed Wire on a Baseball Bat
The “walkers” faced their deadliest threat in Season 7. What did you think of this season, and what do you hope will happen during Season 8?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall

Steven Universe
Discussion of the events of the most recent Steven Bomb.
Morgan Stallard

The Art of Secondary Characters
Supporting characters can fade into the background or steal a story. Our authors discuss how to know which is appropriate, and the craft to making such players come alive when the story needs them.
David Mack (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Richard C. White, Dave Galanter

Women in Science Fiction
Come join members of The Royal Manticoran Navy, The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, as we discuss and explore the
role and portrayal of women in the science fiction genre.
Christa Broley

Marvel Warriors: Ultimate Face-off
Sixteen of the most acclaimed hand-to-hand combatants in Marvel are squaring off for you to choose who is the greatest Marvel warrior!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson

Back in My Day
Authors discuss how they got into fandom, and the transition from convention attendee to convention guest—with anecdotes about who
they’ve met and the experiences they’ve had along the way.
Lorraine Anderson (M), Jenifer Rosenberg, Roberta Rogow, Susan Olesen, Diane Lee Baron, Peter David

Bigfoot Lives Matter!
Do we have the right to either hunt for Bigfoot or kill one for research?
Dean Gleason

Supernatural: Hush Little Baby!
Lorenzo Heard (M), Annie White, John White, Andrew Kelley 
The Role of Science Fiction
Does science fiction have a responsibility to be a commentary on our times?
Derek Attico (M), Stephen Kozeniewski, Andrew Hiller, Amy Imhoff

Crazy 8 Press Presents
Six years ago at Shore Leave, a group of writers decided to write what they wanted and publish it themselves. What have they learned since? What’s coming next? And why must Glenn Hauman die?
Michael Jan Friedman (M), Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, Russ Colchamiro, Peter David

Dark Matter: Getting Odd and Getting Even
What would you like to see in this program’s third season?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall, Lorenzo Heard

American Gods: OMFGs
Neil Gaiman’s beloved novel comes to premium cable.Whether you worship the Old Gods or the New, join us for a discussion of this fascinating show! (Warning: discussion of adult content.)
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, John White, Annie White

Into the Badlands: So Good to Be Bad!
Into the Badlands just finished its second season with a burgeoning fan base in withdrawal a year away from what comes next!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark

Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Proposes!?!
Do you think they’ll ever make it to the altar?
Wayne Hall (M), Lorenzo Heard

Women Don’t Write Genre Fiction! Wait, WHAT??
The numbers need to improve and the acknowledgement to increase, but why is that erroneous assertion so easily and commonly accepted? And is it worse in genre, or typical of all publishing except romance?
Rigel Ailur (M), Melissa Scott, Laura Ware, Mary Fan, Hildy Silverman, TJ Perkins

The Batman
What is it about this 78-year-old character that continues to be embraced by fans of all ages? Join us as we delve into the mythos and the man behind the cowl.
John Coffren (M), Robert Greenberger, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Derek Attico, Richard C. White, Mike Friedman

Firebringer Press Presents
Firebringer Press authors chat up their current books as well as upcoming releases. Debut author Diane Lee Baron will launch her novel, Gal Wonder, at Shore Leave. Time permitting, there may be readings.
Steven H. Wilson (M), Michael Critzer, Diane Lee Baron

Falling Out of Love with a Story
What do writers do if, halfway through writing a novel, they lose faith in it? How do writers recover enthusiasm for what they think is a flawed work? Trash it or fix it?
Mary Fan (M), Russ Colchamiro, Heather E. Hutsell, Aaron Rosenberg

Upcoming Star Trek Books
A preview of forthcoming Star Trek novels from Simon & Schuster, with some of their authors as well as other Trek-related titles due out this fall and into 2018.
Scott Pearson (M), David Mack, Christopher L. Bennett, Dayton Ward

Marvel/DC Warriors: Ultimate Face-off Finale!
Its time for the final votes to be cast, comrades! Time to decide the Ultimate Warrior! Choose your champions, and let the Ultimate Face-off Finale begin!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson
I attended the three marked in red.



The day started with an over-indulgent breakfast, as usual. Once my group had stuffed as much into our bellies as was humanly possible (we don't do lunch at Shore Leave—there isn't time), we waddled out to the autograph line to see who was available and weren't disappointed. We were able to get a number of pictures signed before the day's activities commenced.


Michael Hogan at Shore Leave 39
Michael Hogan at Shore Leave 39 signing autographs

I went to the panel titled Your Writing or Your Life and then it was time for my photo with Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi, from Star Trek) and Michael Dorn (Worf, from Star Trek). I'll have a scan of it posted here eventually.


Image from the Shore Leave web site of Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn
Image from the Shore Leave web site of
Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn

After getting the photo taken, I attended the Defending the Lighter Side (most of it) and The Art of Secondary Characters panels. I'll have more on the panels later. If I put it all here the blog posts may approach novella length.

After sitting in the same spot for almost two hours listening to the discussions, I was ready for a break. I went to the pick-up area near the Hunt Room to get my photo-op picture. Autographs will be done on Sunday if all goes as planned.

At 3:00 pm it was time for the Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn talk held in the main convention rooms. Unfortunately, I was sitting too far back to get any good pictures. There were quite a number of interesting and amusing stories from both, though Michael Dorn is definitely the quieter of the two. Although these two were the guests I was most familiar with, I can't say I knew much about them. I certainly wasn't prepared for Marina's cockney accent.


An unfortunately blurry picture of Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis - Shore Leave 39
An unfortunately blurry picture of Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis
Shore Leave 39

One young girl taking theatre in college asked if they had any tips on getting started in acting. Marina Sirtis told her to go to New York and get into actual stage acting. She said it is the best place to learn and get experience, and that could give her an edge as many actors and actresses have never set foot on a real stage.

Michael Dorn related stories about his interest in flying and his experiences with the military after being invited by many of the services to help them with publicity. His reward was often a flight in a jet fighter or with a team like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds.

Finally, it was time for dinner. The food at the Hunt Valley Inn is still excellent and I ate way—or is it weigh—too much again this year. After dinner, we went back to our rooms to rest up a bit until the masquerade started. We ended up resting a little more than planned, but we did get to see the winners!


Some of the masquerade winners - Shore Leave 39

Some more of the masquerade winners - Shore Leave 39

Even more of the masquerade winners - Shore Leave 39
Some of the masquerade winners

The plastic orange things they're holding are their trophies. I guess it's nice they got something, but it wasn't much of a trophy... By the way, the Willie Wonka guy (second image) really looked like Gene Wilder. Some of the people won in multiple categories, so they were on stage more than once.

This young lady won the "Best in Show" for her steampunk librarian!


Best in show - Steampunk Librarian!
Best in show - Steampunk Librarian!

No, I didn't dress up. Just in case you were wondering...

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© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved