2022: the year of the short story

For whatever reason, this has been a major short-story year for me. With today’s official release of both Zorro’s Exploits and Tales of Capes and Cowls, I now have six stories published this year, with another five planned between now and the end of 2022.

Of the five remaining for this year, I’ve written “The Rat’s Tail,” I’ve outlined “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad,” I have a basic idea of what both “What Do You Want from Me, I’m Old?” and “Stop Dragon My Heart Around” will be, and I only have a vague idea what the Luminosity story will be, though I can say that it will involve several other characters in the Phenomenons milieu including Sarcastic Fringehead, Red Sky, and La Colosa y La Particula.

By contrast, I haven’t had a novel out this year, and may not unless we get Phoenix Precinct or Feat of Clay out by year’s end, but I’m not entirely optimistic about that. Sigh. Though I guarantee that both will be out before the end of 2023…..

(I still will have a graphic novel — Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness–The Beginning — and a short story collection — Ragnarok and a Hard Place — out this year, at least….)

preorder link and table of contents for Zorro’s Exploits

Bold Venture Press has put up an ordering page for Zorro’s Exploits, the new anthology of stories featuring Johnston McCulley’s swashbuckling creation. Editor Audrey Parente has also revealed the full table of contents:

  • introductions by Audrey Parente, Jan Zbicinski, and Bill Cotter
  • “The Alcalde’s Last Try” by Tekla Cichocka
  • “Courage by Firelight” by Aaron Rosenberg
  • “Fray Felipe’s Dilemma” by Michael Kurland
  • “A Fox in the City” by Jim Beard
  • “Out of the Night” by John L. French
  • “The Shepherd” by Susan Kite
  • “Life and Death” by Scott Cranford
  • “Fox Hunt” by Bobby Nash
  • “Los Hombres Buenos” by Patricia Crumpler
  • “M for Murrieta” by Francisco Silva
  • “The Road to Penance” by Ron Fortier
  • “Zorro and the Red Devil” by Teel James Glenn
  • “The Gold Bell of Canfield Featherstone” by James Mullaney
  • “A Lovely View” by Keith R.A. DeCandido (that’s me!)
  • “A Wolf in the Land” by Don Everett Smith Jr.
  • “The Kindness of Strangers” by Patrick Thomas
  • “Z” by Bret Bouriseau

The book officially goes on sale on Thursday….

two wonderful and totally different musical experiences

As is evidenced by my regular postings of songs on this here blog (among many other things), I’m a huge fan of music, and also of a wide variety of music. Over the last week, I got to experience two fantastic concerts in two different settings of two very different types of music, each with one of my favorite people in the whole entire world.

Last week, I spent a few days in Raleigh, and on Thursday night, ToniAnn and I went to one of the Candelight series of concerts. This particular one had a string quartet — two Asian women on violin and two white dudes on cello and viola — playing Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” as well as four other classical pieces that are adjacent to or inspired by Vivaldi’s classic. Both ToniAnn and I are huge fans of “The Four Seasons,” and these four musicians did an amazing job of playing it. These four pieces of music are in my DNA, and to hear them in that lovely venue performed by these four superb musicians was a treat I will treasure always.

The video above has the final bit of “Winter,” which ended the show. They wouldn’t let us take pictures or video until they got to “Winter,” which was a good compromise, I think. As you can tell from that, the acoustics in the venue — All Saints Chapel on South East Street in Raleigh, a church that dates back to the nineteenth century — were perfect for music. (Not so much for talking — when the musicians spoke between numbers, I could barely make them out…)

Truly a magical night…

The church prior to the concert
Me and ToniAnn
The quartet playing

I drove home Saturday, and on Sunday, Wrenn and I went up to Connecticut for the Round Hill Highland Games in Lime Rock Park. This was, more or less, a Scots-themed Renaissance Festival, with food (meat pies!), music, Scottish merchandise, drink (whiskey! mead!), caber tossing, dancing, and bagpipes — lots and lots of bagpipes.

Our main reason for going, though, was to see a folksinger friend of Wrenn’s named Charlie Zahm. Charlie has a beautiful baritone voice, and he’s also a fantastic guitarist. He played several sets throughout the day, singing some grand old tunes.

Besides the tune in the video above, I recorded two other songs he did, but the video was nowhere near as good (and possibly a bit seasick-inducing), and one was oriented wrong for no good reason (stupid phone…). You can find them here and here.

We didn’t buy much merchandise, though the mead merchants who were doing tastings also had maple syrup that we bought a couple of bottles of, and I found a new bourbon that I want more of (Litchfield Distillery — good stuff!). And we also got to hang out with our friends Robin and Jenny, and even got to have a lovely steak dinner with the pair of them afterward…

A cow named Charlie, who had his own very jaunty hat…
My favorite clan crest of all the ones there….
Hey, look, it’s a Clan Keith tartan!

Here’s one of the bagpipe brigades:

This was a beautiful, glorious, fun day.

Both musical experiences were stellar, and I will treasure them both. I love music….

The Umbrella Academy season 3 review

It starts with a dance-off to “Footloose,” and just gets crazier from there, all the way to the end of the universe. The plot doesn’t always cohere, but the characterizations and the examination of what family is remains strong. My review of The Umbrella Academy season 3.

An excerpt:

One element of the series that was dictated, not by the comics, but by events in real life was handled magnificently, if a little too unconvincingly smoothly: actor Elliot Page transitioned in the interim between seasons, and Blackman beautifully works that transition into the storyline, with Vanya becoming Viktor. Given everything that the character went through in 1963, including being unreservedly loved for the first time ever, it all works. They even have Luther do the whole awkward, “should we do something for him to celebrate this?” with Diego telling him to chill out and just roll with it. Before long, it’s all completely natural, which is as it should be. (Honestly, it’s a little too natural given the contentious relationship among the Hargreeves siblings, but there’s plenty of other family drama to keep them busy…)

Monday music: “Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida”

Ronnie Gilbert was one of the Weavers, the great folk quartet from the 1940s and 1950s, who were blacklisted during the 1950s, but enjoyed a renaissance in the 1960s when Peter, Paul, and Mary covered their song “If I Had a Hammer.”

Holly Near is a folksinger and activist who dedicated an album to Gilbert and then later met her. The pair of them did a lot of touring together, and one of their best songs is one that they sang on a Weavers documentary from 1980, Wasn’t That a Time? and would regularly perform live: a song about women missing and killed by fascist regimes in Chile: “Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida.”

my InConJunction 41 schedule

Next weekend, 1-3 July, I’ll be the Author Guest of Honor at InConJunction 41: The Next Chapter, to be held at the Indianapolis Marriott East in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I will have a table full of books to sell and sign, and I’ll also be doing a mess of programming:


3-4pm: “The Worst of Trek: TNG Seasons 4-7,” w/Ricky Lile, R.J. Sullivan, & Beckie Margedant (Main Programming)

5-6pm: reading (Main Programming)

7-8pm: opening ceremonies (Main Programming)


11am-noon: “Meet the Romulans: What Makes a Good Alien?” w/Jo Boone & Rachel Luluch (Main Programming)

3-4pm: “Worldbuilding,” w/Mark Wandrey, T. Lee Harris, & Sara Deurell (Indianapolis Ballroom A-B)

6-7pm: self-defense workshop (Indianapolis Ballroom C)

9-10pm: “Randomly Randy,” w/Travis Clemmons, Elizabeth Davis, & Tammy Jo Eckhart (Indianapolis Ballroom A-B)


12-1pm: Q&A (Main Programming)

2-3pm: “Character Creation,” w/T. Lee Harris & Sara Deurell (Indianapolis Ballroom A-B)

3-4pm: closing ceremonies (Main Programming)

Looking forward to seeing folks in Indy!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘s “The Elysian Kingdom”

It’s the inevitable everyone-acts-out-of-character episode, as the crew is transitioned into a fantasyland based on the book that M’Benga reads to his daughter. See Spock as a wizard! Pike as a coward! La’An as a prissy princess! Number One as a badass! (Okay, that’s less out of character…) My review of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘s “The Elysian Kingdom.”

An excerpt:

Most of the episode is an excuse for the LARPing, but eventually, the real plot kicks in, and what prompts it is my favorite thing in the episode. What makes M’Benga realize that this isn’t just a re-creation of The Elysian Kingdom is when Zymera and Sir Adya hug, and make it clear that they’ve been lovers. In the book, Zymera and Adya have never even met. But Rukiya thinks they should be friends and lovers, and yes, the whole thing is Rukiya’s fanfic that she wrote in her head, and I adore the heck out of that.

three conventions and one reading in July

After no public appearances in June, July’s going to be very busy, as I’ll be appearing in Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, and right here in NYC…..

From 1-3 July, I’ll be the Author Guest of Honor at InConJunction 41 at the Indianapolis Marriott East in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ll be doing programming and selling and signing books all weekend. Among the other guests are Artist GoH Ruth Thompson, Music GoH Marc Gunn, Toastmaster Lou Harry, and Special Guests Tammy Jo Eckart, PhD, Creepin’ It Burly, and Transylvanian Lip Treatment.

From 15-17 July, I’ll be — as always — one of the Author Guests and one of the Music Guests at Shore Leave 42 at the Hunt Valley Inn in Cockeysville, Maryland. I’ll be doing programming all weekend, and also performing with the Boogie Knights. The actor guests at SL42 include Brandon Routh, Aimee Garcia, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Laz Alonso, Gates McFadden, Jessie Usher, Robert Duncan McNeill, BarBara Luna, and Eddie McClintock, and there are a metric buttload of author, science, and music guests. Shore Leave is one of my favorite cons ever, and I’ve really missed it the last two years…

On 19 July, I’ll be reading at the July edition of the Ample Hills Rooftop Readings at the Ample Hills Creamery-Gowanus in Brooklyn, New York, which I helped inaugurate back in 2021. I’ll be joined by Hildy Silverman, Elizabeth Nunez, and C.J. Farley. Tickets are $10 and they are limited in number (for both space and pandemic reasons), so get your tickets early!

From 28-31 July, I’ll be at GalaxyCon Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ll be there with Bard’s Tower, so I’ll be spending most of my time at their booth on the exhibit floor, alongside fellow word-slingers Claudia Gray, Marion G. Harmon, Neo Edmund, and Christopher Ruocchio.

I will be doing programming at at least InConJunction and Shore Leave, and possibly also at GalaxyCon — I’ll post my schedules the week of the show. Hoping to see folks at at least one of those four events!