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:  ( @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...

Shore Leave on Twitter:  ( @ShoreLeaveCon ‏ )

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - Friday

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

Friday July 7, 2016

I arrived at Shore Leave 39 at 2:30 pm and checked into the hotel ( Marriott Delta Hotels Hunt Valley (formerly the Hunt Valley Inn Wyndham Grand)). A few of the actor guests were already set up in the main hall. I unloaded some of my stuff then went to the registration desk and got my badge, then unloaded the car. My group immediately went to the autograph line to snag a few pictures before the crowd arrived.

Shore Leave 39 - Friday - the autograph line with Mike Dopud and Jodelle Ferland
The autograph line with Mike Dopud and Jodelle Ferland,
both stars from the SyFY Dark Matter series

There is always a lot going on, even during the shorter days of Friday and Sunday. Since the panels overlap, it's impossible to attend them all, or even a majority of them. Here are the panels listed for Friday:

Friday Panels
The Expanse: Ring Around the Roci
As the second season ended, a surprise move could shake the solar system to its core. What’s in store for Season 3?
Lorenzo Heard (M), Annie White, John White

Public Face on Social Media
In this age of explosive politics and oversaturation, where do writers fit into social media and social responsibility?
Jenifer Rosenberg (M), Stephen Kozeniewski, Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware

Killjoys: Double Dutch
Last season saw Dutch discover a secret about her past, we meet D’Avin and John’s father, and the team went their separate ways at the end of the season. How will our favorite bounty hunters go on?
Annie White (M), John White

Holy Adam West Tribute, Batman!
POW! West is of course best known for portraying the lead role in the campy Batman series that ran from 1966 until 1968.
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall

Why We Write
Writing is hard, lonely work. It often doesn’t pay well. So why do we do it? What makes the job worth it? Or are we all just masochists?
Laura Ware (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Melissa Scott, Hildy Silverman, Peter David

DC Women Warriors: Ultimate Face-off
You asked for it! And now for the ladies! Sixteen of the most acclaimedhand-to-hand combatants in DC are squaring off for you to debate and choose who is the greatest DC woman warrior!
Andrew Kelley (M), Beverly Stark, Charles Davidson

Carrie Fisher, in Memoriam
This legendary actress played one of the most iconic characters ever. How did her loss affect you?
Rigel Ailur (M), Laura Ware, Susan Olesen, Diane Lee Baron

What’s Your Favorite Star Trek?
We fans still love Star Trek—some version more than others. What’s your favorite, and why? Come join this good-natured argument over your best (or least) loved Star Trek incarnation.
Dayton Ward (M), Howard Weinstein, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Dave Galanter, Scott Pearson, Amy Imhoff

Deep Space Nine: Star Trek’s New Generation
Many fans weren’t born when this series aired. Do the new “binge watchers” see it differently than we did?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall, Lorenzo Heard

If I Had a Publishing Empire
Everyone has complaints about how publishing works these days. So how would you fix it? Hear our panelists’ ideas—and offer a few of your own!
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Aaron Rosenberg, Mary Fan, Richard C. White

Twin Peaks: It Is Happening Again
That show you love is coming back in style! Twin Peaks: The Return picks up 25 years later. Can David Lynch catch lightning in a bottle again?
Annie White (M), John White

Star Trek Lit as Science Fiction
Star Trek authors discuss how their work—and Star Trek literature in general—fits (or breaks) the mold of the science fiction genre. Do Star Trek stories draw on classic sci-fi? Do they advance the genre?
Derek Attico (M), Christopher L. Bennett, John Coffren, Dave Galanter

The World-changing Potential of Fandom
What can the world learn from the success of fan communities?
Morgan Stallard (M), C.E. Dorsett

Star Trek Beyond: not that bad, was it?
It came out too late for discussion last year, so let’s talk now!
Michael Schilling (M), Michael Garman

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

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Past and Present
Authors from the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies discuss the contest, its impact on their careers inside and outside of Star Trek, the culture of the Trek writing community, and writing episode-length Trek adventures.
Derek Attico (M), Dayton Ward, Lorraine Anderson, John Coffren, Laura Ware, Scott Pearson, Kelli Fitzpatrick

Star Wars n’ Stuff
News from the Star Wars Universe
T.A. Chafin

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In a Mirror Darkly
This past season of S.H.I.E.L.D. left almost everyone with dropped jaws and new perspectives into the psycho emotional workings of almost every character we’ve come to love or even hate!
Andrew Kelly (M), Beverly Stark

Supergirl: Alien Central
Ever since Kara Zor-El Danvers adopted the identity of Supergirl, National City has encountered a flood of beings from other worlds. Are they as “human” as the other people in the show?
Randy Hall (M), Wayne Hall, Lorenzo Heard

In addition to the panels, there is also the art show, autographs, tea parties, sungazing, and stargazing!

I did stop into the art show. Unfortunately, there was not a lot on display compared to previous years. I was hoping to do something for the show, but time has not been my friend for the last six months. Maybe next year.

Mike Dopud was the speaker for this night. He had a lot of stories about being a stuntman (and the injuries had suffered), the challenges of the roles he's had, and about the food when shooting a movie (it was very good and he didn't have to pay for it). He said Paris was his most interesting filming location. Here are a couple of pictures of him during his talk:

Mike Dopud at Shore Leave 39
Mike Dopud at Shore Leave 39

Mike Dopud at Shore Leave 39
Mike Dopud at Shore Leave 39

After Mike Dopud finished, the comedy group Luna-C came on to do their sketches. They are a regular at Shore Leave and other conventions.

Luna-C at Shore Leave 39

Once Luna-C was done, it was 11:00 pm. The "Meet the Pros" author event was going on in the hall outside the main rooms. A couple of books were bought and signed by the authors. More on that later!

It's now almost 1:00 am and I need to get to sleep!

Shore Leave on Twitter:  ( @ShoreLeaveCon ‏ )

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, July 3, 2017

Shore Leave 39 And Free Books!

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We interrupt this blog post to present a bit of important Shore Leave news...

They have actually posted the schedules on the web BEFORE the conference started this year! This is nearly unheard of. You can see them here: Shore Leave 39 Schedules

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post...

Yes, I'll be attending Shore Leave again this year. Looking forward to the writing workshops, the art show, and meeting a few authors. I hope to do a blog post from there as well.

And if you see me there, it may pay to hang close by! Well, within a reasonable distance—I like my personal space. Anyway, I might just be handing out a few free books—not only those with my stories, but from other writers, too! Yes, I know these aren't all sci-fi titles, but the folks who attend these shows don't just read sci-fi! And if they do, I feel it's my duty to broaden their horizons. I'll have horror, romance, and more, more, more! Here's what I have lined up so far:

Some of the books to give away at Shore Leave 39

Tales From the Bully Box, an anti-bullying anthology
(with my story, One Above Zero)
Seeing What Develops, a romance by Terri Deno
Outside the Lines, a romance by Beth Rhodes
All the What Ifs, a coming-of-age story by Angela Lynn 

Some of the books to give away at Shore Leave 39

Gothic Blue Book III (Graveyard Edition), a horror anthology
(with my poem, The Ballad of Drunken Jack)
Mostly Dark, a flash fiction collection by Miranda Kate
Human 76, a post-apocalyptic anthology by Lisa Shambrook and many others
(includes my story, The Song of Aiden)

Some of the books to give away at Shore Leave 39

A Symphony of Dragons, a collection of dragon tales by Lisa Shambrook
Dead Men's Tales, a pirate-themed horror anthology
(with my story,  Skarett's Treasure)

Giving away these copies is a great way to help the authors gain a wider audience and for me to reclaim a little free space around the house, especially since I either have another hard copy of these, an eBook version, or both.

Even if you don't want a free book (yeah, like that would ever happen...), please stop and say hello—especially if you are a writer, and doubly so if you are a reader!

See you there!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 15

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

Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's 15th Mid-Week Flash challenge, you're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo prompt is actually an advert on Etsy. Antique keys seem to be popular. I have always been fascinated by keys and doors - and the metaphorical meaning of both.

Looking forward to seeing what this might inspire.

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... It's definitely horror, a little odd, and a bit gruesome, so be forewarned!

Winner Takes All

    Chloe's torments were just a merely to Reynard. He enjoyed his diversions with her inside the ancient catacombs beneath the church. They were perfectly suited for his amusements, and as a prison—for Chloe. Other than the obvious lack of freedom, there was never physical abuse in the way most would think. Reynard made sure his playmate ate well and provided for all the basic comforts. It was the constant toying with her mind that somehow brought him twisted pleasure. Taking her to the edge of sanity—then pulling her back before the next round—this was what he found exciting.
    Today, however, Chloe dared to believe her luck had changed; the game would end differently this time. While delivering her mid-day meal he placed his keys on the table near her cell, all held together by a shiny metal ring. As he talked, or should one say mocked her helplessness, they slipped to the floor when he bumped against the table, falling just out of his sight. As he continued to tease about her failed efforts to escape, she forced herself to look away from their location, hoping against hope they would remain unnoticed.
    After what seemed an eternity, Reynard left. Still, Chloe made no effort to retrieve the keys until his footsteps faded completely. When only silence could be heard, she edged closer to the bars, her slender arm stretching through. The tips of her fingers barely touched the ring, but that was enough. Once the keys were in hand, she held them up and smiled, even laughing a little.
    Reaching around the bars, she placed each one into the keyhole of her cell door, turning it as quietly as possible until one pulled the deadbolt back into the lock. She opened the door only enough to squeeze her body through. A squeaking hinge might be enough to alert her captor.
    The tunnel to the left led back to the church—and Reynard. The path Chloe suspected would lead to an exit went to the right. She had been partway down it before during one of Reynard's games. Walking quickly ahead, she soon encountered a locked door. Not long after finding its matching key, another door appeared down the tunnel, and then another. Testing each for the right key, every success provided a few more yards of freedom. Finally, Chloe came to a door unlike the others. It was much heavier. She could hear something beyond, perhaps a bird singing, though the sound was faint. She inserted each key into the lock, but none fit. She tried again. Surely Reynard would return and find her before she could escape. Chloe panicked, wondering if there would be time to try another route. The answer came quickly enough. When she turned, he was leaning against the wall, his arms folded.
    "What? Did you think I would make it that easy for you to escape? There are eight keys, but nine doors between you and freedom." Reynard sported an irritating smirk as he bent forward putting his face close to hers. "No, girl, you'll never see the light of day."
    Chloe felt the useless keys in her hand. Her anger grew as he laughed, the disturbing noise echoing through the tunnels.
    "Then neither shall you!"
    Summoning all the strength her body could muster, Chloe thrust the metal shafts deep into his eyes. He staggered backward, covering his face with his hands, painful wails filling the catacombs until he collapsed, the ornate brass ends still protruding from bloody sockets.
    Chloe sat on the floor, giggling as he writhed in agony, blood seeping from between his fingers. She had played the game well, rigged as it was, and managed to pull off a draw. Now, with both players a prisoner of sorts, the game could continue, but only madness remained to crown the victor.

 641 words without the title... 

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dear American Diabetes Association

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

I hadn't planned on writing another blog post so soon, but it seems another public service announcement is in order.

A few weeks back, I was going through my mail. It was full of letters from various charities, each asking for a donation. This isn't unusual. I get about a dozen requests per week. Most get recycled.

One of them, however, was from the American Diabetes Association. What caught my eye were the mailing labels they sent. A lot of charities give mailing labels as a bribe an incentive to donate. If I kept all the mailing labels I get from charities I'd need to rent a warehouse to store them. These were different. They had classic motorcycles and cars on them. I'm old enough that I'd actually driven and ridden on some of those machines. They are the best mailing labels I've ever received.

Cool mailing labels from the ADA
Cool mailing labels

I was hooked. I had to give them a donation. I was doing my civic duty and all that crap. In addition, another writer I know, Beth Rhodes, is a diabetic, so helping her, albeit indirectly, was a plus.

As an added bonus, if you donated a certain amount you'd get a free tote bag. Now, I need another tote bag like I need more mailing labels, but it was part of the deal and I planned on accepting it graciously.

So, I sent in my check.

A couple of weeks later I found a tote bag wedged into my mailbox.

The infamous bag for ADA
The original bag...

It's an OK tote bag. It, you know, holds stuff. So far, so good.

I thought that was the end of it.

Today, I found out differently.

After coming home and parking the car, I went to the mailbox. I could see it wasn't closed. There was a package sticking out. I removed the item. What did I find but another tote bag. Great. I didn't need one; now I have two.

I went back for the rest of my mail.

And found another tote bag.

And another.

And another.

The other 4 bags in their mailers
The other four...

I had so many bags I needed a bag to hold them. Sadly, this was not a problem.

I don't know how the mail person got them all in there. The mail I wanted was in the mailbox, too. Looked like the dog had chewed on it—and I don't have a dog.

Standing at the mailbox, I pondered the significance of this event. Had the ADA sent out five tote bags to everyone who had donated? Was the USPS about to succumb to a burden they couldn't possibly handle? Did I get someone else's tote bag? Or, should I say, four other people's tote bags? Would the ADA go bankrupt from the postage fees? What should I do? I'm not even sure if my donation is tax-deductible now since the value of the bags is probably more than what I sent.

Mailing label says the ADA is a non-profit organization - that's pretty much guaranteed now...
It says they're a non-profit organization.
If they weren't before, they are now.

Someone at the ADA had made a terrible mistake and it was all my fault because I had given a donation. I felt so guilty about what I'd done I went to the ADA website and made another donation. I figure the way they're handing out tote bags they'll need it.


And if you haven't donated to the ADA yet, you might want to—before it's too late—for them. Just make sure you say "no" to the tote bag.

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, May 6, 2017

This Month's Free Photos - In Your Dreams

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This month is going to be a little different. I've been playing around with CNN. No, not that network—Google's convolutional neural network (aka CNN). Yes, they let you do that. For free. And it doesn't hurt a bit. Let me explain...

You may have noted that I do a little artwork. Very little, unfortunately. Still, I like to check out what's happening in the art world from the periphery on which I exist. Sometimes I even draw or paint something. A while back I stumbled onto a tool that really caught my attention and I've finally had a chance to work with it.

Google has created code for modifying images called DeepDream (or Deep Dream, depending upon the source). You can read about it HERE. I've spent a little time playing around with it on the web (link below) and thought I'd share a little of what I've done with you. Literally.

It works like this:

  1. You create a user id / password to get into the app (they don't ask for a lot of info)
  2. You upload an image (I've used both JPEG and PNG)
  3. Select whether you want to do a Deep Style or a Deep Dream (and how many levels!)
  4. Pick the parameters you want to apply
  5. Click on the generate button

The picture you make can be saved, downloaded, deleted, or re-edited, and can be kept private or made public.

This is a sample of what you can do with an image:

Original image of pocket watch
Original image of pocket watch

Both of the following images were made from the original using the Deep Style algorithms.

A Deep Style modification using the Simpsons themeA Deep Style modification

This one is done using one of the Deep Dream filters. You'll have to open it to a larger size to get the full effect.

A Deep Style alteration of the pocket watch image

Here's a closeup of the dial. Slightly disturbing, isn't it? Looks like the watch is the one doing the watching!

Disturbing closeup of the pocket watch dial

Now let's see what happens when we work with some nice flowers...

Original wood hyacinth photo I took last year
Original wood hyacinth photo I took last year

For the first step, here are the parameters:
  • Type = Valyrian
  • Resolution = normal 1200x1200
  • Inception depth = deep
  • Neural network layer = inception_3b-output

Hyacinth - first dream

For round 2:
  • Type = Neuron
  • Inception depth = deep
  • Transformation = none
  • Neural network layer = inception_3b-output 

Hyacinth - deeper dream

  • Type = Spirits
  • Inception depth = deep
  • Transformation = none
  • Neural network layer = inception_3b-output

Hyacinth - deeper yet

Even though a version of the original photo is here and I've given out the parameters I used, if you tried to do the same transformation the final output would not be exactly the same. There's something in the way the algorithms work that makes it slightly different each time.

Anyway, these are my free photos for the month! Use them any way you want!

And, as promised, here's a link to the site: Deep Dream Generator

If you're so inclined, you can read about convolutional neural networks HERE. Personally, I'd skip it and just look at the pretty pictures.

Check back again when you can. Maybe I'll have something even better!

Bonus image! click HERE to see an image generated from one of my photos  of a statue in McPherson Square, Washington, DC!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Public Service Announcement: Hunt Valley Inn & Shore Leave 39

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

The last couple of years I've attended the Shore Leave Con at the Hunt Valley Inn just north of Baltimore, Maryland. My group has reservations for this year's event, too. Since we booked our rooms, the facility has been purchased by Marriot and is now a Marriot Delta Hotel.

The Shore Leave folks say all reservations have been transferred over to the Marriot system, but they encourage people to confirm their reservations nonetheless.

Image of Hunt Valley Inn by
Image of Hunt Valley Inn by

Our reservations have been confirmed, but if you are planning to stay here please make sure you are in the Marriot system. The block of rooms assigned for Shore Leave guests is already full, so don't assume you're booked and end up with no place to stay!

Shore Leave has been here for a number of years, and the facility is well suited for the convention. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes Marriot makes—both this year and for any future conventions. I hope to blog a little again from the convention again this year, so I'll post whatever info I get on this matter.

If you know of anyone attending Shore Leave 39, make sure they know about the change. And if they are staying at the hotel, ask them to confirm their reservations!

This has been a public service announcement!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Change In Strategy: Blogging

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

One of the biggest problems I have is finding time to write. I realize I'm not the only budding writer in this bind, but I've come to the conclusion that something has to change or most of my works will be published both incomplete and posthumously.

What I've decided is this: I will have to cut back on the amount of blogging I do.

You may have noticed I've already slowed a bit during the last few months. I've averaged over a post per week during the previous two years. I can't maintain that pace and make progress on my non-blog writing. There is just too much going on. So, perhaps, a post every couple of weeks is enough. That would make about 26 posts per year. Besides the time involved, I don't get a lot of feedback from the blog (except for Beth, Terri, and Tess), so I don't know if people are really interested in what I put out here or not. If you're on the edge of your seat somewhere waiting for the next installment of my wisdom-filled words, do two things:
  1. Let me know
  2. Get a life
I still hope to post the occasional short/flash story or poem, and any new stuff I have published will go here, but I won't be detailing every moment of my life on these pages. Not that I do now, but you know what I mean. I hope.

If you have any thoughts on this, or on your own blogging experience, please let me know!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 6

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

Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a prompt from Miranda Kate's sixth Mid-Week Flash challenge, you're going to get some! 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...

The Comforts of Home

Image Château à Cahaignes (Castle Cahaignes), located in Cahaignes, Eure, Upper Normandy, France. Abandoned in 1976

    The manor had long fallen into disrepair. Its magnificent halls, with their ornate decorations now covered by a layer of dust, were silent—save for the rustle of leaves or wayward bird that gained entrance through one of the many broken windows. Here and there, plaster cracked, paint peeled, colors faded. The great house was slowly crumbling, returning the landscape to its natural state, with entwining vines climbing the stone walls, their white blossoms filling the gentle summer breeze with sweet perfume. The once-stately dwelling was gradually, though inexorably, fading from existence.
    So would she, Penelope believed. This melancholy thought consumed her days and haunted her nights. She had already stayed too long. Still, the familiarity of her childhood home brought her comfort. She couldn't bring herself to leave. Each room, each carved mantle, even the play of light through the hazy windows brought back a memory. Most of all, it was the views of the countryside that thrilled her heart. The great oaks in the distance, the fields stretching over rolling hills, the gardens near the house—it had all been a part of her life. 
    To divert her mind from this sadness, Penelope took pleasure in her aimless wanderings among the rooms, delighting in the changing scenes as the days, the seasons, and even the years, passed. One room, however, remained unvisited. It was neither unique nor unusual in any way—merely a small, third-floor bedrooms in the northeast corner of the house that had seldom been used. From the lone window, however, one could spot the stone monuments of the family cemetery standing stoically on a small rise near the wood. The marble spires and obelisks, once brightly polished, now showed pitting and discoloration from age. Weeds sprouted from within the wrought iron fence that guarded the final resting place of her proud family. This disturbing reminder of how things return to nature was too much to bear. Therefore, the door was locked, the key tossed, and Penelope never again entered the room to preclude even the briefest glimpse of the cemetery in which she, too, was buried.   

 351 words without the title... 

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved