Thursday, November 7, 2019

Deanna Boling: Artist Meet And Greet


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


UPDATE: I was at the reception on Saturday, and it was well attended. If you missed it, that's okay since Deanna's art will be featured through the end of this month. Her works are selling, however, so you might want to hurry!




This post is about an artist friend who is having a meet-and-greet this weekend.

We've know Deanna for a few years and have come to really enjoy her work. So every time she is the artist of the month at the Loft Gallery where she displays her work, I'm going to tell you about it! She's fun to talk with, whether it's about art or any other subject. And you may even find her working on a picture if you stop by the gallery.

From the Loft Gallery website:

Deanna Boling

Deanna Boling (Pastels) is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America.  Her love for the medium started when she enrolled in her first classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at age 10.  Although she has worked in many media, she prefers pastels for their immediacy, control and portability, with graphite as a close second. Since her primary subject matter is animals, her sketches from life must be quick.  Reference photos and research back up any details she may need for a painting, such as the shape of a paw pad or the color of an eye, but observation from life is key.

Painting wildlife is her passion. Bringing to life the animal beneath the fur or feathers is an energizing experience each time.  Deanna paints in a realistic manner, distilling the essence of the animal and seeking to create an intimate relationship between the viewer and the animal by capturing the feel of the fur, the flutter of a feather, the grace of a gesture or some nuance of behavior.

Still-life paintings and urban landscapes are other areas where Deanna likes to work.  She has even included birds in still-life settings, dubbing them her “not-so-still-lifes”.  The live animal becomes an actor on the stage relating to the surrounding props and narrating the scene.

While she draws many types of wildlife, this show will focus on birds.

Here are the details:


Exhibit Title: WINGS

Pastel Paintings and Drawings by Deanna Boling

Dates: Tuesday, November 5 through Sunday, December 1, 2019

Meet-The-Artist-Reception: Saturday, November 9, 2019 – 1:00-4:00pm.


Here a link to the Loft Gallery website. This is a link to samples of her work.

I'll be there myself sometime on Saturday, so I hope to see you there! And, no, they don't pay me for promoting her. If they would like to, however, I won't stop them!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, November 4, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 131


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


Flash fiction lightning streak image

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post: This week's photo prompt was taken by American photographer Phil Koch He has some incredible photographs and they are also available to buy on his site (click on his name) and you can also check out more at his page on 500pxHere's a link to the prompt image. This is a very short story, even for a flash fiction. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has only 202 words for those who are counting (not including the title, scene break marker, and byline). There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site (with free access to the story).





The Homecoming     by K. R. Smith William stood motionless while gazing into the sunset. It was stunning. Then again, it often was. This view was one of the reasons they moved here years ago. The autumn colors, the dark, star-filled skies at night, even an occasional aurora filled their lives with beauty and peace. The shore by Lake Michigan would make a wonderful place to spend their last years together. Lifting a container from the bag he had brought, William held it up to the fading light. He whispered a few words. His aged and shaking hands struggled with the top before finally removing the lid. Carefully tilting the heavy urn, a tear fell down his face as the ashes drifted over the shore. Once empty, he replaced the lid and put container back into the bag. His job was complete. After a moment, he turned away from the lake. Lights from the house they had shared sparkled invitingly in the cold, still air, but he just shook his head. This shore was where she wanted to spend eternity, and he wanted to be with her. William sat down on the snowy beach and closed his eyes. There was no point in going home. He was already there.



© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 127

Flash fiction lightning streak image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo is from American photographer Jerry N Uelsmann. He has some interesting pieces, definitely work checking out. This particular image is not on is site, but is on other art sites attributed to him. 

Here's a link to the prompt image.

A little dark magic in this one....

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 678 words for those who are counting (not including the title, scene break marker, and byline).

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site (with free access to the story).



The Disappearance of Lori McCarter

K. R. Smith

    "Everyone picks on me, Kristen. Everyone. My parents, the teachers in school, even the other kids—well, most of them. I'm no worse than anyone else. Why do they always notice when I do something wrong? Or dumb. And sometimes they pick on me for no reason at all. Why?"
    "It'll be okay, Lori. I have a friend who can help. She knows how to do stuff. Meet me down by the water at sunset."
    "Who is she? What can she do?"
    "It doesn't matter. Just be there."
    "Okay. If you're sure it will help."

###

    When Lori arrived at the shore, Kristen and several others were waiting. One girl was holding a box, though she couldn't see the contents. She waited at a distance unsure what to do.
    "Come on, Lori," Kristen said, waving her closer." Then, pointing at a girl with long, dark hair, she said, "This is Maeve. She's going to help you."
    "Hi," Lori said. Her voice was weak. "You can really help me?"
    "What, exactly, do you want?"
    "For the people who pick on me not to notice me, not to see me when I do something wrong so I don't get in trouble all the time."
    "How strongly do you want this?"
    "More than anything."
    "Are you sure?"
    "Yes. Can you do that?"
    "I can." Maeve looked around at the group. "I need everyone to form a circle. Lori, you should stand at the center."
    As the girls formed a circle around Lori, Maeve placed items at the four points of the compass around the outside: a stone, a feather, candle, and a bowl, conveniently filled from the bay. She then gave each girl a small candle and a crystal. All the candles, including the one outside the circle, were lighted.
    Maeve took a position at the northern point of the circle and instructed Lori to face her. She told the others to hold the candles in front of them and follow her lead with the crystals. Maeve called on the spirits of Earth, air, water, and fire. She twirled her crystal in front of the flame; the other girls did the same. A thousand colors danced over Lori as Maeve asked for protection from the sight of her enemies. The chant was repeated with some of the girls adding to Maeve's voice. Lori turned within the circle at Maeve's command. She then called for the circle to be closed and pressed her palm onto the candle extinguishing the flame. With some trepidation, the girls emulated her action. With only the small candle outside the circle burning, Lori disappeared into the twilight darkness of the evening.
   As Maeve was thanking the elements, a man came up the beach, walking briskly and grumbling.
   "Have any of you seen Lori? Stupid girl should be home by now. She has chores to do. Someone said she was headed this way."
   "Who are you?" Maeve asked.
   "I'm her father, as if it's any of your damn business."
   "She was here earlier," Maeve replied, "but she's gone now."
   "Figures. Stupid, lazy girl." He mumbled as he continued down the beach.
   The girls waited until he was out of sight, then started giggling.
   "It worked!" one said.
   "Lori, did you see that!" Kristen squealed. "He didn't even notice—"
   The girls stood open-mouth as the consequences of the spell became obvious. They looked around while calling Lori's name, but no voice answered. Then they turned to Maeve.
   One of the girls asked, "What did you do?"
   "What I was asked to do." Maeve replied. "Were some of you the same ones who teased her, tattled on her?"
   The girls exchanged glances, but only Kristen spoke.
   "Maybe." Her voice quivered.
   "That would explain much," Maeve said. "Next time," she continued while walking away, "think long before asking my help."
   "Wait! Can't you bring her back?"
   Maeve turned and looked into each girl's eyes. "No. Only you can do that."
   "How? We don't know magic!"
   Maeve shook her head and smiled. "There is no magic required to be a good friend."




Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available: If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!


Thanks!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Poem: Roadie


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


I haven't posted for a while (I promise to do more), so I'll link to a poem I posted on Patreon.

It's called Roadie. (Click the title or the image below to go there).

Thumbnail image for poem Roadie on Patreon

If you're not on Patreon and wish to leave a comment, you can do so here.


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Shore Leave 41 Videos


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


As promised, here are a few videos from Shore Leave 41!


I apologize for the shaky video. I was a long way from the stage with a small point-and-shoot camera and no tripod. And I had to move at times as people walked into the line of view.

The first is Andromeda/Stargate actress Lexa Doig telling a dating story (as Michael Shanks listens):



This is a short clip of Lexa telling what sci-fi tech she would like to use:



The final one is a discussion by a few members of the Smallville cast (John Glover (Lionel Luther), Erica Durance (Lois Lane), Laura Vandervoort (Kara), and Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen)):



Thanks for viewing!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Does Twitter Really Help Beginning Writers?


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


I don't get a lot of feedback via Twitter about my writing and I've often wondered if others writers at a similar level have the same experience. Obviously, I don't have a huge following like the major authors, so I'm sure that's a large part of the problem. Yet some (all?) of my tweets with the most interactions are those having nothing to do with writing. Perhaps the folks on Twitter aren't looking for what I'm offering.

Twitter logo

Recently, I saw this and knew there were others experiencing the same response to their tweets about writing.


I know there are many variables involved here, most of which I have no control over. Are folks on Twitter really looking to find out what new writers are doing? I'm sure some are, but 99% of what I see on Twitter is:
  1. Hey, look at my new book/story/poem (I fall into this category)
  2. (fill in name of politician/leader/celebrity) is a (fill in expletive)
  3. Here's my cat/dog/nature picture! (Okay, I do this, too, sometimes...)
I see many more authors hawking their wares than people who are only looking for a book or story to read. I'm sure they're out there, but I wonder if Twitter is the best way to reach them. With so many writers competing for attention, the chances of getting noticed are pretty slim. If I was Stephen King or a large publishing house, my tweets might reach the desired audience. I am neither.

I've cut back a bit on Twitter because I'm not receiving a lot of productive responses from my tweets. Getting feedback is always tough for beginning writers, so I'm looking around for new ways to get the word out. For example, I'm watching Terri Deno's use of Medium to see if that is a better way to gain an audience. I'm also exploring other outlets for flash fiction and poetry.

And, yes, I do need to produce more, both writing and artwork. It's difficult to do while working a full-time job and dealing with life's other responsibilities. Still, a reliable flow of material keeps people involved.

If you have any thoughts on this, please pass them along!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Shore Leave 41 Saturday Summary


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


When we last left our hero (and heroine), they had just turned in for the night after a busy day at Shore Leave 41...

The Shore Leave rabbit


We woke up on Saturday morning still fairly tired from the preparation leading up to Shore Leave and the previous day's marathon. We knew it wouldn't get any better; we rarely get much rest during this convention. It's non-stop from early morning until late at night.

The first order of the day was breakfast. They seem to have scaled back a bit from the last two years, but the Cinnamon Tree Restaurant (inside the hotel) still did a good job. You have to work hard to get away from their breakfast buffet and still be hungry. And you have to take in a good meal to start the day because you may not get a chance to stop for lunch.

After breakfast we made a quick trip back to the room to pick up what we would need for the day. I grabbed more books for the giveaway. Most of these would be set out, but I stuffed a couple of Beth Rhodes' books in my bag to go with the sign I was carrying offering a free book of hers if anyone asked. As it turned out, I didn't get asked, but maybe Beth got some free publicity.

Remember that foreshadowing I'd mentioned? Alex Mallari was still trying to get to the convention. Nobody seemed to know when he would get there. As he was the first speaker of the day, his arrival (or late arrival) would affect the previously well-planned convention photo-op and speaking schedule. Which would snowball into the panels I planned to attend. And there was more to come.

Anyway, before the photo-ops and talks started, I headed off to a couple of writing panels. I'll have more details on these later.. The first was The Worth of Workshops and Writing Classes. I got a good lead for courses recommended by the panelists in this one. From the program:
Panelists who have attended writing workshops and/or classes discuss what they got out of the experience, what they wish they would have known going in, and the impact it had on their writing practice and/or career.
Panelists: Kelli Fitzpatrick, Jim Johnson, Derek Attico, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware
The second was Beta Readers—How to Choose Them and What to Expect. From the program:
Feedback is helpful to almost every writer. But are you getting the notes that actually help you improve your WIP? Your craft? This panel discusses how to vet beta readers and set up a process so you get the most out of the experience.
Panelists: Joshua Palmatier, Lorraine Anderson, Peter David
No matter the subject, one of the most important things to take from these panels is that even successful authors have problems and difficulties to overcome—you are not the only one.

I left the last panel slightly early to get to my photo-op with Nichelle Nichols. Unfortunately, there was a delay, so our group was left waiting. If I'd known, I would have stayed until the end of the discussion on beta readers. Marie and her friend decided to get whatever autographs they could until the talks started. Since the autograph area is in the same place (generally) as the photo-op line, that seemed to be the best option.

Anson Mount (Captain Pike - Star Trek Discovery) interacting with a fan
Anson Mount (Captain Pike - Star Trek Discovery)
interacting with a fan (Marie) in the autograph area

Now, I'm not a big one on getting autographs from or photos with actors and actresses because, quite frankly, I don't know most of them. I don't watch TV except when I'm at someone else's house (as I don't own one myself), I don't stream shows on the Internet (don't have time), and I seldom go to movies. I did, however, want to get a picture with Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek's Uhura. It seems a few other people did, too.

The line to get a photo with Nichelle Nichols (Ohura)
The line to get a photo with Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)

Because Nichelle's photo-op was now running late (and no one seemed to be sure when it would take place), we had to keep checking with staff as to when the line would form. Eventually the call came and, even though we had been monitoring the situation, we somehow ended up at the back of the line. Well, nearly. Author Mary Fan got in line right behind me. Even though Mary is a Shore Leave panelist she didn't get any special treatment from the photo-op staff. We made jokes about staying near the doors so we could catch a bit of cool air from inside the building as we waited (see photo above showing where we were waiting). Once things started moving, the line slowly snaked around until we were in the photo area. That all took a while. Time was not on my side...

I had wanted to attend one of the art workshops (Draw Your Own Shuttle (Sat, 2-3 pm) by Robbie DubBryan), but due to changes in the photo-op schedule, I couldn't. Missing the photo-op would mean throwing away a good bit of money, so the photo-op was what I did. I wasn't sure how much time we would need, and it turned out I would have had to miss a lot of the workshop, so I it was the right choice.

After the photos, we went to pick up our pictures for autographs plus a quick trip back to the room for a short break and to get more books for the giveaways. I could hardly set them down before folks were taking them away. I think we stopped in the CafĂ© for a quick bite to eat. It's all a blur now... Then it was back to the autograph line.

As you may know, Nichelle is in rather frail health. Yet when she saw the line of people waiting for her autograph, she refused to be taken away to rest (she physically stopped anyone from moving her wheelchair). She was supposed to break for lunch and to rest. Nichelle was having none of it. Her fans were there and she refused to disappoint them. She stayed, signing picture after picture, until everyone who was waiting had their picture autographed. Only then did she take a break. Later on, she came back and signed more! Tough lady!

Nichelle Nichols (Uhura - Star Trek TOS) signing autographs at Shore Leave 41
Nichelle Nichols (Uhura - Star Trek TOS)
signing autographs at Shore Leave 41

Because the schedule for some events had changed, we had to rethink the talks we could attend. And which we would miss. And what panels would be missed. And we had to re-evaluate as to when we could go back for autographs since some the people who would have been available were now speaking. Remember that foreshadowing? So many events overlap that you have to make choices, and when the schedule changes, it can really mess things up...

And so it did. Because of the talks starting up, attending any more panels for the rest of the day (of the ones I wanted to go to) was out of the question. And I would have to wait until later to check back with the art show. I had also planned to go back to the room to get more books to give away, but that would have to wait until the evening, or Sunday if any were left. But we made the best of it.



Starting at 3:00 pm, Lexa Doig and Michael Shanks gave their talk. Although they were briefly in Smallville, but they are better known as Dr. Carolyn Lam and Dr. Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. Lexa is the more animated of the two, while Michael often keeps a deadpan expression while answering questions or listening to Lexa's responses. But there was a good bit of playful husband-wife banter which had the audience laughing. They were asked who was the smartest of the two. Lexa said Michael is the smart one and the one to go to for homework problems. I'll have to take her word for it, but Lexa has a quick wit and is a good speaker.

Here are few pictures from their talk. Sorry about the poor quality, but it is always difficult to get good pictures in the hall due to the lighting and distance.


Lexa Doig (Dr. Carolyn Lam) and Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson)

Lexa Doig (Dr. Carolyn Lam) and Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson) at Shore Leave 41

Lexa Doig (Dr. Carolyn Lam) and Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson) at Shore Leave 41




Lexa Doig (Dr. Carolyn Lam)

Lexa Doig (Dr. Carolyn Lam)




Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson)

Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson)




Between 4 & 5 pm, the other Smallville cast members attending gathered in the Hunt Valley ballroom to give their talk and Q&A session. They answered questions from the audience and told stories about the making of Smallville. By the way, John Glover really is a bit crazy, but in a good way!

Here are pictures from the talk with John Glover (Lionel Luther, Lex Luthor's father), Erica Durance (Lois Lane), Laura Vandervoort (Kara), and Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen). Again, sorry about them being a bit grainy. The lighting isn't the best in the hall and I was quite far away.


Smallville panel with John Glover, Erica Durance, Laura Vandervoort, and Aaron Ashmore




John Glover (Lionel Luther) and Erica Durance (Lois Lane)

Erica Durance (Lois Lane) & John Glover (Lionel Luther) during the Smallville panel

Erica Durance (Lois Lane) & John Glover (Lionel Luther) during the Smallville panel

Erica Durance (Lois Lane) & John Glover (Lionel Luther) during the Smallville panel



Laura Vandervoort (Kara) and Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen)

Laura Vandervoort (Kara) & Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen) during the Smallville panel

Laura Vandervoort (Kara) & Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen) during the Smallville panel

Laura Vandervoort (Kara) & Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen) during the Smallville panel



Laura Vandervoort (Kara)

Laura Vandervoort (Kara)




Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen)

Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen)




Erica Durance (Lois Lane)

Erica Durance (Lois Lane)




John Glover (Lionel Luther)

John Glover (Lionel Luther)




With the talks over, we dropped by the art show room to see if any more bids had come in. To our surprise, Marie had sold a few more pieces of jewelry and I had a second bid on my little On Edge painting. And my dragon illustration for the charity auction had sold at the 'quick sale price' which was $10 over the minimum bid. The quick sale price is like the 'Buy it now' price on eBay. I honestly didn't think it was anything special. I put it together a short time before Shore Leave just so I would have something to offer up for the Loretta Shaneybrook charity auction. And yet it was the piece that got the most attention. I'll have to do more dragons for next year... And maybe cats. They tell me cats are big at the Shore Leave art show. Don't know why. Not that I'm going all commercial, mind you. I'll still have my spacescapes.

Okay, maybe I'll do a space-cat.

That's all for now, but I hope to have some videos available with the Smallville cast for the next post!

Here's a link back to the first Shore Leave 41 post in case you'd like to read what lead into this post.


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 117

Flash fiction lightening streak image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo prompt was taking by Thomas Hawk, I think he has captured this particular sculpture really well from this angle. He called his shot, Woman. The sculpture is by mixed media artist Karen Cuolito and stands 30 feet high. The California-based sculptor’s towering figure of a woman titled Ecstasy is made of 9 tons of salvaged steel. When this was taken it was being exhibited in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, but is now part of a private collection.

Here's a link to the prompt image.

A post-apocalyptic story for this round.

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 744 words for those who are counting (not including the title and byline), and I had to do a lot of chopping to get it down that far!

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.


Legacy

K. R. Smith

    Beneath a rocky overhang, an old man was carving strange marks into the stone. Trilla had watched him before, though she'd never had the nerve to approach. Her curiosity had finally overcome her fears, however, and she moved closer, hiding behind bushes as she advanced. Then the crack of a twig underfoot gave her away, or so she thought. The old man didn't react. She peeked out to see him running his fingers along the stone.

    "It seems I have a visitor."

    Trilla ducked down, afraid to move.

    "There's no need hide. I won't hurt you."

    A dirty face with dust-brown hair popped up as the man waved his hand, inviting her to join him. She stopped about ten feet away and sat on the ground.

    "What's your name?"

    She hesitated, then spoke almost inaudibly.

    "Trilla."

    "Hello, Trilla. My name is Miklos. You've come to watch me work?"

    Trilla nodded.

    "I hope you don't mind if I continue. There is much to be done."

    Before the old man could strike his chisel, Trilla asked, "Why?"

    He replied with his own question. "Why?"

    "Why do you make marks on the rocks?"

    "For you. And those like you. It's a story."

    "A story?"

    "Yes. And a warning. Someday you'll be able to read these marks and understand."

    "I like stories. Can you tell it to me?"

    "You may not like this one, but I can give you a short version."

    Miklos set down his tools and gazed into the distance.

    "The life we all live—gathering what we can, some farming, and hunting at times—it wasn't always like this."

    "How?"

    "Life was easy. There was little to do outside of the arts. And plenty of food and drink, a thousand flavors to enjoy. Most people spent the day with friends and such."

    "Plenty of food? Where did it come from?"

    "Have you heard of the Valley of Death?"

    Trilla's head bowed. "I was there once. I was afraid. The dead metal monsters where there."

    "I see. Do you know where those metal creatures came from?"

    The girl shook her head.

    "We made them. Then we taught them to make others like themselves."

    She looked up at the man, her eyes wide open and unblinking. "Why?"

    "They did the work. They farmed, cleaned, built things. Soon, few people knew how to do the work the creatures did."

    "Didn't anyone know?"

    "All our knowledge, all our history, was stored in what were called clouds."

    Trilla looked up at the sky.

    "It wasn't quite the same, but it might as well have been. And the creatures were the ones who maintained those clouds."

    "Did they forget, too?"

    "Not exactly. Do you know what a comet is?"

    "No."

    "It's a pile of rocks and ice that comes from space, high in the sky. One struck our land. Although it wasn't very big, there was damage to a few cities."

    "Cities?"

    "It's where a lot of people live together."

    "Oh."

    "The damage wasn't enough to destroy our world, but within that comet was what they called a protovirus. It wasn't a problem for people, but the creatures you saw, now just metal, had a coating of living tissue, sort of a fake skin. They looked very much like us."

    "Really?"

    "Yes. I was not much older than you when it all happened, but I remember well. The protovirus attacked that tissue and quickly spread. Soon the creatures we made where nothing more than the metal you saw in the valley. Everything, all the work they did for us, soon came to a stop."

    "Why didn't you make new ones?"

    "Why." The old man laughed. "You're quite fond of that word, aren't you? That's a good thing. You'll do well."

    Trilla grinned even though she didn't understand.

    "Because the creatures were now the ones who made others of their kind and controlled the information to do so. Without their labors, the world turned into chaos. There was fighting. Many suffered. Many died. We were helpless to help ourselves. We had grown lazy and useless. This is why I carve these symbols. To tell others what happened, and to warn them. Few remain who know. And I am growing old. There is not much time left for me to finish."

    Trilla picked up the chisel and handed it to the old man.

    "I will read them. And tell everyone."

    The old man smiled.

    "You know, Trilla, I believe you will."




Author Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.

Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available: If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!


Thanks!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, July 19, 2019

Shore Leave 41 Friday Summary


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


I know it's unusual to start a series of posts on a subject with a summary, but in this case I felt it is justified. Or maybe it's a prequel. Perhaps you'll understand once I'm done...


You always hope the events like this will proceed in an orderly manner, and despite the best efforts of the Shore Leave staff, I should have noticed the foreshadowing the convention muses were tossing my way when they started posting the guest list. We had been hopeful as Shore Leave posted event schedule before the opening. That's a big help and I'd never seen that for previous conventions. But, back to the guest list...


First, they listed John Glover as a guest. Then they said he couldn't make the convention due to scheduling conflicts. Then he was back on as a guest. I figured I'd just wait to see who showed up.

And it was time for the trip to begin!

As Marie and I both had items for the art show (and also being accompanied by a friend attending the show), the vehicles (yes, multiple vehicles) were packed with more stuff than usual. That also meant unpacking more stuff than usual. I arrived first, checked into the hotel, picked up my badge, then started dragging our junk to the art show room.

The Fates were already toying with me as not a single luggage dolly was in sight. From previous conventions, I know they have a number of them, but I only saw one the entire time I was there. And somebody else had nabbed it. This meant multiple trips from a distant parking location in the heat. So I grabbed as much as I could and headed for the art show.

Having arrived right after opening (9:00 am), I was surprised that much of the art show space had already been claimed. The manager wanted me to hang my art first, then get to Marie's jewelry. Check-in took longer than expected as other participants had a large number of items to register. I only had four pieces to hang, so I ended up waiting for a while before they checked in my items. Then another trip back to the car for the first part of Marie's jewelry.

While the jewelry doesn't take up much space, the setup, with shelves, trays, and manikin heads, requires time. Then more waiting for them to check bid sheets, arrange the bid sheets, and other such things.

Finally the registration was finished. Or so I thought.

We had brought items to donate to the auction for Loretta Shaneybrook. Her surviving husband was having a difficult time due to medical and other bills which came as he was starting a new job. This is from the STAT website

We are saddened by the passing of our friend and long-time STAT club member, Loretta Shaneybrook. Loretta was a constant presence at Shore Leave, working behind the scenes for decades, and also at STAT club meetings as chair of the social committee, organizing holiday parties and the club’s annual picnic. If you ever volunteered at the convention, you likely remember Loretta as the lady on the scooter, bringing snacks and water to the people working at the event. She will be missed. She is survived by her husband, Randy Bruner. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he goes through this difficult time.
Loretta Shaneybrook passed away on Wednesday, June 12.
The items we donated were my dragon illustration, three mineral specimens, a pearl necklace, and a bracelet. Here are two of the mineral specimens donated, an amethyst from Uruguay and a Kundalini quartz (citrine, from the Congo). The other specimen was a large chunk of rose quartz.


Amethyst donated

Kundalini quartz (citrine) donated


These also required bid sheets with pricing and descriptions. By the time all was done, it was about noon. Marie and her friend were still on the way to the hotel, so went up to the room to change out of my sweaty shirt. I'm glad I brought extras.

It seemed like I was carrying a lot of heavy items in the heat this year,: the jewelry shelves, luggage, and the box of books to give away. I had nearly thirty books to pass out, and after carrying them a good ways from the car, I almost passed out myself. Here's a partial list of what I had (in order of last name of author):
Terri Deno - If It Was New York, Summer 2009, Seeing What Develops
Miranda Kate - Slipping Through
Lizzie Koch - Dreaming of a Happy Ever After
Angela Lynn - Of Lies and Zombies
Beth Rhodes - All of her Hawk Elite Security series (Beth donated them for me to give out - and sent a signed copy of her latest for me to read!)
Lisa Shambrook - A Symphony of Dragons, Beneath the Rainbow: Freya's Story (with the new cover!)
K. R. Smith - Tales From The Bully Box, Dead Men's Tales, Tales By The Tree*, Human 76*, Grimm & Grimmer Vol 3

I'm sure I missed a few. There were also 6-8 hardback mystery books that were my mother's. In most of the books I added a flyer with QR codes linking back to the author's Amazon page and a short description. Maybe a few folks will check them out.

* which includes stories by some of the authors previously listed
I had hoped to have copies of the Lonesome Train anthology with my latest story, Momma Knows Best, to give away. Unfortunately, they arrived while I was away at the convention.


But I'm early for next year!

At this point, the art show items had been set up and everybody's luggage had been moved to the rooms. It was mid-afternoon, so after a quick break for lunch, we stopped back at the room to make a rest stop and sort out what we needed to bring with us for the rest of the afternoon. I also took the first batch of books to set up a giveaway near the elevators.

As I was placing them out for display, a man came up and began looking through the books. After a brief sales pitch, he reluctantly replied, "If I bring home one more book my wife will kill me." He walked away, though very slowly. That was okay as others began to check out the offerings. It doesn't take long for them to disappear.

On the way downstairs, I stopped by the front desk to ask if they had any of the small portable refrigerators available for our room. They weren't sure they had any left, but they took down the room number and said if one was available they would send it up.

Soon thereafter, we went to check out the autograph row to see who was available to sign. We nosed around there until I left for the Effective Cover Design panel. More on that later.

I met back up with Marie and company after the panel and we headed down to the art show to see if any bids had some in. I had a bid listed on my tiny painting "On Edge" and Marie had sold a couple of bracelets. Not bad.

On Edge - 5x7 Acrylic on canvas, framed
On Edge - 5x7 acrylic on canvas, framed

Marie and I went up to the room. When I walked in I noticed something different. Remember the refrigerator we had requested? Well, here's what we got:

Refrigerator? Um, no...
Refrigerator?
Not exactly what I was expecting. Couldn't keep anything cold...

After resting up for a little bit, we went to listen to the guest speakers. Unfortunately, Alex Mallari's flight had been cancelled (not his fault), so he wasn't there. The staff announced he would be there the next day. That was part of the foreshadowing, by the way. This event would have implications later on...

Marie decided to wait for John Glover to speak while I went to check out the filk concert.

I was curious about the filk concerts. In all the years I had attended Shore Leave I had not attended a concert, sometimes because of schedule overlaps and sometimes because the sessions are scheduled in the evenings I was just too tired. Think of it as open mic night with the songs having a sci-fi or fantasy based theme. This theme can be tenuous at times. So can the idea of having the songs be based on a folk-music style. Or music in general. I'll leave it at that. Singing along is encouraged. Knowing the words appears to be optional. Author Roberta Rogow did perform a couple of good songs.

I have thought about participating in filk. I don't think I could do any worse (and probably not any better), although that would be a matter of opinion. It's best to have sense of humor if you're either a singer or in the audience.

Anyway, I sneaked out between acts and caught the final minutes of John Glover's talk. The last part of his session was taken over by a young audience member. I may have a video of that for later posting. I will certainly have more pictures!

John Glover at Shore Leave 41
John Glover at Shore Leave 41

After that came Luna-C's quickie version of all the Harry Potter books done in a 45 minute period. There were some good moments, but you have to be up on all the Harry Potter details to get some of the jokes. I'm not.

Luna-C's Harry Potter play
with Dumbledore and Harry in the background

It was after 11:00 pm when Luna-C finished. We took a walk through the Meet The Pros area, then called it a night.

I'll have more details (and pictures) later! And keep that foreshadowing in mind...


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

It's Almost Here


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


Yes, in a few days I'll be attending the Shore Leave sci-fi convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

The Shore Leave hare

Every year I say I'll be ready ahead of time, and every year I fail to be prepared. I'm still working on the finishing touches on a painting and trying to get other stuff together.

There was a minor miracle, however. The Shore Leave folks have posted the convention schedules before the convention starts this year! There have been times when the event is underway before anyone knows what's going on. This is a big plus to have the info ahead of time so you can plan what you are going to do.

There are a number of new panels this year, too. I'm hoping to attend a few of them. For example:

The Worth of Workshops and Writing Classes
Panelists who have attended writing workshops and/or classes discuss what
they got out of the experience, what they wish they would have known going in, and the impact it had on their writing practice and/or career.
Kelli Fitzpatrick, Jim Johnson, Derek Attico, Danielle Ackley-McPhail,
Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware
Effective Cover Design
Whether you are creating your own cover or working with the publisher’s art department, how to come up with an effective concept everyone can be happy with. What works, what doesn’t, and how much does it matter?
Mike McPhail, Aaron Rosenberg, Greg Cox, Joshua Palmatier
Beta Readers—How to Choose Them and What to Expect
Feedback is helpful to almost every writer. But are you getting the notes
that actually help you improve your WIP? Your craft? This panel discusses
how to vet beta readers and set up a process so you get the most out of the
experience.
Joshua Palmatier, Lorraine Anderson, Peter David
There are plenty of other new ones to choose from if my schedule allows.

And I'll be putting up some items for sale in the art show again. Well, it all depends on whether I can get that last painting sorted out if it's three or four pieces. That one in the middle is giving me fits...


I'll also be putting up Gear Girl again since it didn't sell last year (it was the one I thought would sell!). And there will be a dragon illustration (and a few other items) for charity.

I hope to post some pictures and such from the convention, although Saturday night may be too busy to post then. I'm playing everything by ear this year.

Since I'm running out of time here, that's all I'm saying for now. But I'll be back!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

It's Alive!


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


It took a while to get here, but the Lonesome Train anthology has finally arrived!





Do you hear that train a-comin'? Comin' round the bend...? Our authors did! Step into an anthology filled with demonic trains and disastrous encounters. Ghosts, time travel, giant spiders, wagon trains, space-transport--whatever you are interested in, we've got you covered. Sit right back and enjoy the ride.

My story in this anthology is called Momma Knows Best. It's a Southern Gothic tale about a young woman having difficulty accepting her mother's advice. Kids can be like that, you know. But when a photographer drops by to take pictures of the old train station where she's hanging out, things take a dark turn.

At the moment. it's only available in paperback on Lulu (check for coupons or promotional codes). If (when, I hope) that changes, I'll post an update on my My Works page.

I'll be giving away a couple of copies at the Shore Leave sci-fi convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland this year, but if you can't make it there, check it out on Lulu!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, July 1, 2019

Fireworks Without The Hassle


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


Should you lack enough pyrotechnics in your life (and who doesn't?), I've put a short video of a local fireworks display online. It's available through my Patreon site (free access!).


Some of the fireworks at the Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA, June 29, 2019
Fireworks at the Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA, June 29, 2019


The show took place at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia on June 2, 2019. There was supposed to be a performance by the The United States Navy Band Sea Chanters, too, but it was rained out. We did get to see them warm up—then the rains (and lightning and thunder) hit throwing the event's schedule into chaos.

Things did clear up in time for the fireworks, however, and it was a great show. Check them out HERE!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Final Judgement - Part I


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


I've put the first part of my short story Final Judgement on Patreon (sorry, patrons only). It's a mix of sci-fi and horror.

Dr. Mischner is pulled in to assist a government project where people's minds are extracted and stored electronically. Unforeseen problems, however, put the lives of the participants in jeopardy. Although the doctor is unsure of the morality of the scheme, he reluctantly joins the efforts to help those taking part. Little did he know there would be a few surprises for him, too...

If you're a patron, click the title below to start reading Part I!







© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 110


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


Flash fiction lightening streak image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo prompt was taken by Alan Chaput, a Cozy Mystery author who lives in Savannah Georgia. I really love this image.

Took me a while to find something original, I had a couple of false starts, but I like what I finally came up with. Hope you do too.


Here's a link to the prompt image.

Somewhat of a classic-style horror tale this time. Not sure where it came from. That's how it works with me. I don't sit down to write a story about (fill in with any subject), whatever that may be. If a story is there, it just pops into my brain.

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 729 words for those who are counting (not including the title and byline).

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.


Behind the Blue Door

K. R. Smith

    The old building had stood on the corner for as long as anyone could remember. It had always been shuttered. On occasion, workers would come by to do small jobs on the exterior. No one ever went inside. It was only basic maintenance, however: fix a downspout, paint the doors in the same gaudy blue as before, or, more rarely, replace pieces of the old metal roof that had degraded.

    It was the roof that initially spurred my curiosity. Metal roofs last a long time. How many years had passed that it now needed repair?

    Still, it was just an old building. There was nothing of particular interest about it architecturally, and no known local history was associated with the aging edifice. Perhaps a century ago it might have been an important place of business or thriving hub of a community, though there was no visible indication of that now.

    One day, a group of children were playing in front of the building. It was a favorite spot as little traffic passed along that street. A ball, driven with considerable force, struck one the painted panels comprising the main entry doors. The wood, dried from age and weak, shattered. In the opening appeared another layer of brick. The entrance, apparently, had been sealed for decades.

    I pondered this. Why block the entrance with such a massive amount of masonry? There had never been a problem with vandalism in the area and this would certainly make showing the building to any potential buyers all the more difficult. Why go to such lengths to keep anyone from entering?

    This puzzle consumed my mind on an almost continual basis for several weeks. One evening, while walking home from my position as a junior clerk, and as it was not too far out of my way, I stopped by the building to see if I might have missed some detail that would explain the situation.

    I negotiated my way around the exterior, twice I should note, before stopping at the entrance with the broken blue door. An inspection of the remaining woodwork showed excellent workmanship; only the age of the materials had allowed it to fail. I reached through the opening and into the shallow space between the doors and the bricks. With much effort, I found a sliding latch that, in normal conditions, would release the door allowing it to open. Multiple coats of blue paint were now all that was holding the doors closed. I tugged at the doors repeatedly. Eventually, the old paint cracked, and the doors swung open. Although pleased with the results, I was still no closer to entering the building than before; the brickwork was still in place.

    This did, however, give me an idea. Since the doors would also close and could be latched shut again, the removal of any bricks behind the door could be hidden. With the appropriate tools, and in the cover of night, I might gain my way into the building. Few people passed by there after dark, so my chance of being detected would be small. Once an entryway was made, I could close the doors, and no one would be the wiser.

    Within a week, I had acquired the tools necessary to gain entry, then waited for a moonless night. This reduced the chance of being spotted and I needed little light for my task. I placed a piece of heavy carpet against the brickwork to muffle the sound. A few blows from my heaviest hammer on the deteriorating lime mortar were more than enough; accuracy wasn't important in this case. Although stronger than expected, the bricks soon gave way, falling into the building. I climbed through the hole and pulled the doors closed behind me as best as I could to hide my clandestine pursuit.

    Finally, my curiosity would be sated. I lighted a candle. To my surprise, the entire building consisted of a single room which contained nothing except a small box on a table in the center. Setting my candle down next to it, the glow from its small flame illuminated the box. I brushed away a heavy layer of dust from the top. The box was finely finished and had an inscription on the lid. Just before opening it, I smiled. How quaint, I thought as I read the words aloud. "Pandora Box Company, Established 1817."




Author Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.

Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available: If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!



Thanks!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved