Friday fanfare: “Dragon Feeds Tonight”

Here’s another piece from the Boogie Knights 40th-anniversary concert last weekend at Shore Leave 42. This is our riff on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” John Scheeler’s mic isn’t as loud as it should be, but I still like this for the harmonies and my percussion work…..

midweek music: “Polymorph Your Mother”

The Boogie Knights were formed in 1982, a silly parody band that did fantasy, horror, or historical takes on popular songs — kind of the Weird Al of the RenFest set. I joined the group on percussion in 2006. This past weekend at Shore Leave was the band’s 40th anniversary (their first gig was Shore Leave in ’82), and in honor of the occasion, Dave Keefer wrote new verses for one of the band’s first-ever songs. Herewith, the 40th anniversary edition of “Polymorph Your Mother.”

(Click here for the entire set we did Saturday morning at SL…..)

my Shore Leave 42 schedule

As I have been every year this millennium (whether it’s been in person or online), I will be at one of my absolute favorite cons, the Shore Leave convention at the Hunt Valley Inn in Cockeysville, Maryland (just north of Baltimore) as both an author guest and a musical guest. As the former, I’ll be doing panels and autographings and such like. As the latter, I’ll be doing two Boogie Knights concerts, one Saturday morning at 10am (NOTE: THIS IS NOT OUR USUAL 11AM SLOT, BUT INSTEAD WE’RE AN HOUR EARLY AT 10AM!!!!!), one Saturday night at masquerade halftime. This con, by the way, marks the BK’s 40th anniversary — the band debuted at Shore Leave 4 in 1982.

Here’s my whole schedule:


4-5pm: “The Latest and Greatest: Come Find Out What Our Authors Have Been Working On,” w/Christopher D. Abbott, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Christopher L. Bennett, Russ Colchamiro, Heather E. Hutsell, David Mack, Richard C. White, and Sherri Cook Woosley (Salon F)

8-9pm: “Kick-Ass Heroes Who Don’t Kick Ass,” w/Rigel Ailur, Christopher L. Bennett, Susan Olesen, and T.J. Perkins (Salon E)

10pm-midnight: Meet the Pros party, w/ALL THE AUTHORS! (Hunt/Valley corridor)


10-11am: Boogie Knights concert (Valley) — PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SHOW IS AT 10AM AND NOT AT 11AM LIKE WE USUALLY ARE

1-2pm: self-defense workshop (Belmont)

4-5pm: “Anthologies Assemble,” w/Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Mike McPhail, and Joshua Palmatier (Salon A)

5-6pm: “eSpec Books Presents,” w/Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Christopher L. Bennett, Russ Colchamiro, Mike McPhail, Aaron Rosenberg, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, and Hildy Silverman (Belmont)

Masquerade halftime (some time after 8.30pm): Boogie Knights concert (Valley)


10-11am: “Writerly Accessories,” w/Greg Cox, David Mack, Christopher D. Ochs, and Scott Pearson (Belmont)

11am-noon: “Crowdfunding Your Novel,” w/some other people, I’m not sure who (Belmont)

1-2pm: “Let’s Make a Monster,” w/Andrew Hiller, Heather E. Hutsell, Hildy Silverman, and Dayton Ward (Belmont)

2-3pm: “Recurring Characters,” w/Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman and Richard C. White (Belmont)

Hope to see folks there!

my Shore Leave 40 schedule


As I have been every year since the turn of the millennium, I shall be a guest at Shore Leave, now in its 40th year, at the Hunt Valley Inn in beautiful downtown Cockeysville, just north of Baltimore.

Here’s my schedule:


7-8pm: “Anthologies: Share the Love,” w/Christopher L. Bennett, Greg Cox, Phil Giunta, Joshua Palmatier, Jenifer Rosenberg, and Richard C. White (Salon E)

9-10pm: Glenn Hauman’s wake, in honor of the release of They Keep Killing Glenn, as we all deliver eulogies, while the corpse will have thirty seconds for rebuttal (Hunt/Valley)

10pm-midnight: Meet the Pros, the usual autographing (Hunt/Valley corridor)



10-11am: Boogie Knights concert an hour earlier than usual! (Hunt/Valley)

2-3pm: “From Holmes to Sherlock,” w/Christopher L. Bennett, Mary Fan, T.J. Perkins, and Roberta Rogow (Salon F)

5-6pm: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 25th Anniversary Retrospective,” w/Derek Tyler Attico, John Coffren, Kim Headlee, Jim Johnson, and Marco Palmieri (Salon A)

6-8pm: Author Meet ‘n’ Greet (Frankie & Vinny’s)

during masquerade halftime: Boogie Knights concert (Hunt/Valley)



10-11am: “Kira Nerys: The Real Lead of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” w/Derek Tyler Attico, Russ Colchamiro, Amy Imhoff, and Marco Palmieri (Salon E)


Looking forward to seeing folks there!


down and safe

Wrenn and I had a great time at Farpoint 25 this past weekend.

It started out a bit rough. The last time I was at the Hunt Valley Inn, Dale was with us. Just in general, being there reminded me a lot of him, as he came to a couple of Shore Leaves, a couple of Balticons, and a couple of (Re)Generation Whos with us to this hotel in recent years.

Eventually that bit of melancholy passed. I did an autographing at 5, I performed in Prometheus Radio Theatre’s radio drama of the history of Farpoint at 8.45, and I did the Book Fair at 10.

Saturday was really busy: a superb Boogie Knights concert — which included a lovely rendition of my song, “Young Master Frodo” (to the tune of the traditional Irish song “General Taylor”) — and closing with a fantastic rendition of “Sailin’ with Captain Morgan. The set included several songs that will be on our forthcoming CD The Seven Voyages of Sing Bad.


That’s the band after the concert, picture by Paul Balzé.

Later that afternoon, I had a panel on fandom trolls, led by Jessica Morán, and also including Jennifer Povey and Don Sakers, which was a very good talk about a tiresome phenomenon particularly in online discourse. The audience — which included fellow author Kelli Fitzpatrick — was quite into it, and it was one of the more successful panels I’ve been on.


Don Sakers, me, Jennifer Povey, and Jessica Morán. Photo by Kelli Fitzpatrick.

After that, I did an interview for the web show Movers and Shakers Unlimited (I’ll let y’all know when it goes live), and then I had my self-defense workshop. The only attendees were a woman who’d taken it before at other cons and a fifth-degree black belt in Kempo who was mostly curious as to how I’d teach it.

After that was my reading, where the four audience members all chose my Aliens story “Deep Background” over either of the Shirley Holmes/Jack Watson stories or a bit from A Furnace Sealed. So I read the first two scenes of that.

Saturday night consisted of dinner with several fellow writers at Andy Nelson’s BBQ, followed by hanging out in the bar until the place closed. You know it’s a good night when you’ve spent it with the likes of Dave Mack, Derek Tyler Attico, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Aaron & Jen Rosenberg, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Rigel Ailur, T. Eric Bakutis, Keith Shikowitz, Bob & Deb Greenberger, Kate & Mike Pakaski, Glenn Greenberg, Brian Koczienski, Christine Czachur, and, of course, Meredith & Sas. Oh, and also Caren, Peggy, Ren, Lindsey, David, & Chris. Possibly also some others I’m forgetting. Subjects ranged from television to books we read as kids to movies to balancing day job with writing careers to college pranks (Glenn Hauman wasn’t there, but I bet his ears were burning….) to teaching things to children to what it’s like to be hit in the solar plexus to any number of other things.


Me pontificating about something in a classic “fuhgeddaboutit” pose, while halo’d by the bar lights. Photo by David Mack.

On Sunday, I had another reading, though this one was only attended by the other two people scheduled to read. So we read to each other! I read about half of my second Shirley-and-Jack story “Six Red Dragons.”

I put in some time at the eSpec Books table, got to see and catch up with some folks, and then I ended the convention proper with a panel on Marvel’s Netflix series, where I got to bitch about Iron Fist, and fellow panelists Peter David, Glenn Greenberg, Colin Caccamise, and Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg got to discourse on this most excellent ground-level corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The weekend ended with me, Wrenn, Meredith, and Sas having what has become traditional for conventions in the Hunt Valley Inn (or any of the other north-of-Baltimore hotels): late lunch/early dinner at La Tolteca.

Then we hied ourselves home to antsy cats and a happy home.

Time to watch the Discovery season finale so I can write a coherent review of same in the a.m……………………………………..

my Farpoint schedule

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As I have been every year this millennium, I shall be an author guest at Farpoint 2018, which will be my first convention of the year (sort of — LitCon wasn’t really a traditional convention….). The con is back at the Hunt Valley Inn from 9-11 February.

Here’s my planned schedule:


5-6pm: autographing, w/Ben Anderson (Hunt Valley hallway)

10pm-midnight: Farpoint Book Fair (Hunt Valley hallway)



11am-noon: Boogie Knights concert (Valley)

1-2pm: “Defense Against the Dark Arts: Fandom Trolls and How to Vanquish Them,” w/Jessica Moran, Jennifer R. Povey, and Don Sakers (Salon F)

3-4pm: self-defense workshop (Hunt)

4-5pm: reading, w/Phil Margolies and Jennifer R. Povey (Salon E)



10-11am: reading, w/Les Johnson and Heather Hutsell (Salon E)

11am-noon: autographing, w/J.L. Gribble and Alan Smale (Hunt Valley hallway)

2-3pm: “Marvel on Netflix,” w/Arnold T. Blumberg, Colin Caccamise, Peter David, and Glenn Greenberg (Salon A)


Not sure why I have two readings, but I’ll take it. I’m also listed as participating in the book launch party Saturday from 5-6.30pm, but I don’t have anything launching at the convention. Having said that, I’ll be there anyhow to support David Mack, who’ll be launching The Midnight Front. Cha cha cha.

See folks there!

Shore Leave 39 in pictures

The Boogie Knights backstage after our concert. L-r: Alice the Cooper’s Daughter (Kate Greenberger Pakaski), Sir John of Denver (John Scheeler), Theodoric of York (Dave Keefer), Mad Donna (Lynn Cunningham), Lady Pinque (Linda Swann), Krad the Obscure (me), and Lady Dionne of Warwick (Sharon M.A. Palmer). I honestly don’t remember who took the photo — maybe Bob Greenberger? — but it was with Sharon’s phone.



Me chatting with the magnificent Karen Roberson at the bar Saturday night. Photo by Russ Colchamiro.



The “Where No Tale Has Gone Before” panel. L-r: Scott Pearson, Dayton Ward, David Mack, me, and Christopher L. Bennett. Photo by Derek Tyler Attico.



The panel simply called, “The Batman.” L-r: Derek Tyler Attico, Robert Greenberger, Michael Jan Friedman, Richard C. White, and me. Not pictured, moderator John Coffren, who was on the other side of Derek from Bob. Derek posted the picture to Facebook, but I have no idea who took it.



Me in the author chimney! Signing books at the bookseller, holding up a copy of Without a License. Photo by Caren Christiansen.



Me and Laura Ware on the “Why We Write” panel. Not pictured: Melissa Scott, Peter David, and Heather E. Hutsell. Photo by Neil Ottenstein.



ASL interpreter Meredith Peruzzi and me on percussion during the Boogie Knights concert, both of us doing our best Grumpy Cat impersonations….. Photo by Neil Ottenstein.



Me, Dave Keefer (he’s behind me), and John Scheeler singing “Wanted: Harem Guard” at the Boogie Knights concert. Photo by Dawn Swingle.



Me at Meet the Pros and the handy sign that Diane Bellomo gave us to forestall inevitale “How’s married life?” questions. Photo by Neil Ottenstein.


down and safe

We’re back from a most excellent Shore Leave 39. And boy, are we tired….

The only mild disappointment was that Friday night’s Meet the Pros event seemed less well attended than usual. Having said that, I sold a bunch of books, as well as Wrenn’s stuffed things (bears, cats, catnip toys, and pillows, all in geeky fabrics, check out the Etsy shop) and signed many more things.

All the panels were very well attended and had into-it audiences. There was only one person I wanted to clobber, and that was the guy in the second row of the Wonder Woman panel who a) kept interrupting the panel and b) kept defending Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, and it’s an open question which of the two was more offensive. Still, the WW panel was a highlight — I was the token male on the panel, along with Simantha Galanter, Hildy Silverman, Amy Imhoff, Susan Oleson, and moderator Rigel Ailur, and I was also the only one wearing tights (I just came from the Boogie Knights concert). Oh, and when an audience member asked a question for each member of the panel, Rigel turned to me and said, “Gentlemen first.” It was epic.

Speaking of the Boogie Knights, we had a superlative show. They have a new sound guy, and he was magnificent. I have complained often about the sound at Shore Leave and Farpoint, in the past, so it’s only fair that I compliment them when they get it right, and hoo boy did they. We sounded great and I’m very pleased. I’m even more pleased that we had the triumphant debut of a song I wrote! We did a new song called “Young Master Frodo,” to the tune of the Irish folk song “General Taylor,” and it went beautifully. That’s only the second time the Knights have performed a song I penned, the other being “Wreck the Shrine” a bunch of years back.

Other panels I did besides the WW one included “Why We Write” with Laura Ware, Melissa Scott, Heather Hutsell, and Peter David on this strange obsession us creative folks have with our craft; “What’s Your Favorite Trek?” with Amy, Dayton Ward, Dave Galanter, and Scott Pearson explicating what aspects of the sprawling Trek franchise we love the most; “The Batman” with John Coffren, Derek Tyler Attico, Bob Greenberger, Rich White, and Mike Friedman talking all things bat; “Where No Tale Has Gone Before,” in which Dayton, Scott, Dave Mack, and Christopher Bennett talked about how we haven’t run out of Trek stories to tell after 50 years of TV shows, movies, books, comics, games, and fanfic, and we’re not likely to, either; “Mixing and Matching Genres” with Greg Cox and Roberta Rogow talking about mixing genre chocolate and peanut butter; and “Ye Gods!” in which Amy, Hildy, Bob, Aaron Rosenberg, and Kathleen O’Shea David talked about the enduring use of deities in fiction.

I also did my usual practical self-defense workshop, which was very well attended and went really well, despite being listed at two different times in the pocket program and despite Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn’s talk running over time opposite it. But it went really well.

The con ended on a bittersweet note, as Peter, Bob, and Mike did their final Mystery Trekkie Theatre 3000, which they debuted 25 years ago with snide commentary on “Turnabout Intruder.” This year, they showed a “best-of” set of clips from past MTT3Ks, then once again did “Turnabout Intruder,” though this time it was the remastered version…..

In between were gatherings, socializing, autographings in the author chimney (the section of the bookseller’s area that’s between two narrow brick pillars), the Saturday night pilgrimage to Andy Nelson’s BBQ, and hanging out in the bar. A highlight was me, Dave, Scott, Greg, and Dayton sitting in the lounge outside the bar after it closed, gossiping about the industry until the wee hours.

It was really fantastic to see people, to hang out with people, to meet up with fans and friends and to generally have a good time. It was especially nice, as always, to see a number of people who enjoy my work.

I also want to single out three cool people I got to spend a lot of time with, all at their first Shore Leave: writers Amy Imhoff and Kelli Fitzpatrick and also Karen Roberson, who is awesome. They’re all awesome, and I hope this is the first of many Shore Leaves for all three.

More anon…………..