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Posts Tagged ‘convention’

Stranded after Shore Leave

Remember how ten years ago, on the way home from Shore Leave, I took too wide a turn into a driveway and gave myself two flat tires, so I had to stop for the night only a few hours into my trip home?

This time, at least it wasn’t my fault.

I was just over a hundred miles out from the convention, on I-70 just a few miles short of taking the exit to I-68, when I noticed something a bit wonky with my steering. I figured it was probably just the vagaries of the roadway, but then I started to hear an increasingly loud groaning sound. I vainly hoped it might just be the engine of the semi behind me, but the truck wasn’t that close. From the car’s performance, I realized I must have a flat. I kept going slowly forward in hopes of reaching the next exit, but I realized it was on the left and I couldn’t get over there. Plus I was starting to smell burning rubber (or maybe I just noticed that after I stopped and am rewriting the narrative in my head). I had no choice but to pull over to the shoulder, which seemed alarmingly narrow. I didn’t feel safe getting out to try to fix a flat on the driver side of the car, with other vehicles racing past behind me at 70 MPH or more. (It was a 70 MPH limit on that road, but of course, many freeway drivers interpret speed limits as lower limits.)

Feeling stuck in the car, I tried phoning my insurance agent, but it was after 5 PM on a Sunday, and their voice menu advised calling 911 in an emergency. I wasn’t sure mine was enough of an emergency to warrant 911, but I didn’t know what other options I had. The 911 operator directed me to the state police, who called a tow service for me.

As it happened, while I was waiting for the tow, a good samaritan (and a former Saturn owner, so I guess he felt a connection) pulled over and offered to help me put on the spare. He didn’t get too far before the tow service guy came along, and basically the latter guy just contributed his superior jack to make it go faster, and the good samaritan kept working on the tire until the small spare tire was in place. I guess that’s why the tow guy didn’t charge me. He was on his way before I even got to ask the question.

But I did ask how long the spare would last me, and he advised it was no good for more than 30 miles. It was also raining, another good reason to stop early. The tow guy told me of a motel a few miles away, which I then confirmed on GPS.

I’m typing this from my room there, which looks nice and clean even though the motel seems unimpressive on the outside. Still, I opened the window to let it air out before taking my mask off.

I was hoping the motel might be in the book of coupons I picked up from a rest area on the way out, something I always do in case of emergencies like this. But I couldn’t find it in the book. Still, the price isn’t bad, considering. I just hope the nearby garage doesn’t charge me too much tomorrow for a new tire.

The thing is, I asked the garage back home to check my tires before the trip, and they said they looked good. Still, the last entry I have in my computer for a new tire purchase is seven years ago. I was a bit concerned about their age before I left, and I guess it was warranted.

Still, all things considered, I got lucky. I had a tire blowout at 70 MPH on the freeway, and the car and I are otherwise whole and unhurt. I guess I’m lucky it was a rear tire on a front-wheel drive car. Otherwise, who knows? In any case, I’m grateful to the gentleman who stopped to help a stranded motorist. Thank you, sir, whoever you are.

So anyway, the last day of Shore Leave went about as I expected. I got a pretty good night’s sleep, thanks to remembering to sleep on the folded-over comforter. Being stuffed from Andy Nelson’s BBQ and a slice of chocolate cake the evening before probably helped. Still, I hung out in my room all morning, getting in a bit of writing and getting ready to go, and I got my leftover BBQ sandwich and carrot sticks out of the room fridge for lunch. Then I went and got some ice to preserve the second half of the chicken sandwich I bought yesterday, which I was saving for dinner. I checked out before my noon stint in the “writer’s chimney,” but hit a bit of a snag when they disabled my room key early and I still had two bags in my room, since I was taking two trips to the car. So I had to go to the desk and ask them to reauthorize a key for me for the few minutes it took to get my bags out.

Things were slow at the author chimney, and I only sold one book. I only sold three in total this year, all Star Trek, even though I brought a bunch of my original books to sell. Still, I got to finish off with a nice panel talking about Sherlock Holmes. And I got to have some informative conversations with other writer guests, a couple of which might lead to new work opportunities. Here’s hoping.

And then I hit the road and drove for a while, and stopped at a rest area to have the chicken sandwich and some trail mix as an early dinner. Then I hit the road again with the goal of trying to make it at least halfway home before stopping. So much for that idea.

I guess now I should rest, recover, and count my blessings. Hopefully I’ll get a new tire pretty quickly in the morning and get home without further incident.

But wow, two post-Shore Leave flat tire events ten years apart. I’d better be careful after Shore Leave in 2032…

Well, that was fast…

As I mentioned in my Shore Leave post earlier today, I dropped off my car this morning for the electrical repair work I needed done. The guy at my regular garage, which is about a one-mile walk from home, told me that they couldn’t identify the problem there, so they recommended that I take it to a shop about four miles away, a bit harder to get to, but a few minutes’ walk from a bus route. I’d been hesitant because I was reluctant to take the bus during the pandemic, but I finally had to get around to it to be ready for Shore Leave.

As it happened, I just missed the bus I should’ve taken and caught another one that used to go the same way past the university, but it turned out it actually goes a different way now. But the point where it diverged, a bit over halfway to home, was within what I consider manageable walking distance, past Burnet Woods and through the university. So I got off at that corner and walked the rest of the way. Two weeks ago, it might’ve been harder, since it’s uphill nearly all the way. But I’ve been taking pretty much daily walks lately and I’m feeling more fit.

I’d been worried that the electrical problem would be some complicated thing that they needed time to fix, or that there’d be a big backlog, given that I needed days’ advance notice to schedule the dropoff. I hoped it wouldn’t take so long that I’d be late for the trip. But as it turned out, they called me less than four hours after I dropped it off and told me they’d already fixed it, and done the basic maintenance and safety checks I asked for too!

Apparently they did a point-by-point inspection of the electrical system to try to identify where the fault was, and didn’t find an answer, which I guess is as far as my regular garage got. But then they looked a little deeper and found that there was simply a fuse missing! Apparently it’s so elementary that they didn’t think to look for it at first.

So it was an easy fix, but it left me with the need to travel to that garage twice in one day. I rested up a bit more, then tried to walk as far as I could. If it had been my only walk that day, I could’ve probably made it the whole way. But I only made it about a third of the way, maybe, before my knees advised me they’d had enough. So I sat and waited and took the bus the rest of the way, though I had a fair walk from the bus stop to the garage, this time through unfamiliar territory (though I had a map printout to follow).

So that went fine, except that on the drive back, the GPS tried to make me turn onto a closed road, and I had to do some awkward circling to try to get out of it. A police car went right by me while I was veering around confusedly, but fortunately didn’t seem to think it looked as dangerous as it felt to me, because they went right by. Oh, yes, and when I was nearly home, a cement truck blocked the intersection I had to pass through, but fortunately I was able to make a right turn to squeeze past it and then go left onto a parallel road… which was blocked by a delivery truck, so I made another left and a right to get back onto the intended road.

But now my car is back, and it’s fixed, and that’s one major thing off my pre-Shore Leave checklist.

Preparing for Shore Leave

We’re only five days from Shore Leave now, so only four days before I head out. I’ve been taking a few steps to get ready.

For one thing, I decided it was finally time to buy one of those things that lets you mount your smartphone in your car. For years now, I’ve just kept the phone in the cup holder between seats when I used GPS, which meant I had to look pretty far down to see the screen, which is less than ideal. Since I’m concerned with safety after being out of practice with long drives, I figured a phone mount would be a real help.

I couldn’t afford one of those elaborate stem-and-base ones that mount atop the dashboard, but I went looking at local stores for one of those little clips that you stick onto the air vent slats, which generally sell for only a few dollars. I didn’t find anything suitable at the stores I checked, but I did pick up some iced coffee and trail mix for the trip.

I got really gung-ho about this problem the other day for some reason, and after taking two separate walking trips to local stores with no result, I got caught up in trying to figure out some way to rig up a homemade phone mount. There are internet videos for such a thing, but I didn’t seem to have the appropriate parts. I realized, after experimenting a bit in the car, that the phone (in “widescreen” orientation) would fit neatly into the depression at the base of the ashtray/lighter compartment, which of course I never use anyway. (It’s a 2001 car, so it still had an ashtray/lighter.) That was only a little bit forward from the cup holder, but it might have given a somewhat better angle. It only fit in loosely, though, and might fall out from car vibrations. So I had the thought of creating some kind of lip around the depression to hold it in. I noticed I had some rope caulk lying around, and thought that might be worth a try.

I never got around to the attempt, though. Yesterday, it occurred to me belatedly that I should really get hold of some N95 masks. I picked up my allotted three free masks when the government handed them out months ago, and haven’t actually used any of them yet, but three isn’t enough, and the masks provided don’t seal well around my nose, so I don’t trust them not to fog my glasses. (Plus an imperfect seal defeats the purpose anyway.) So I did some research into what some of the best masks were, and ordered a set of 10 NIOSH-compliant masks from Amazon yesterday. While I was at it, I went ahead and bought a 6-dollar phone mount clip. However, since my previous Amazon order was delayed by a few days due to a delivery mixup, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I paid extra for one-day delivery.

As it happens, the Amazon driver was timely, but it’s fortunate that I was tracking the van on the site and was watching out from my balcony, since the driver left my delivery on the wrong doorstep, two doors down in my apartment complex, even though the building numbers are quite prominently displayed on the front windows. I didn’t have a chance to get out the front door and call to him before he was gone, but it was easy enough to pick up my items just after he left.

I promptly took the phone clip down to my car to see how it worked, and it took a little trial and error to determine that it needs to be mounted low on the vent grille, otherwise its weight tilts the vent downward. It also doesn’t clip the phone quite as firmly as I’d like, but I think I just need to make sure it’s fully inserted and completely flat against the back of the clip, since if it’s at an angle, the spring pressure pushes it out. I also have to clip the phone a bit below center to make sure the clip isn’t depressing the on/off button on the side. (Maybe I should put the clip around the phone first and then attach it to the vent.) Still, it looks like it should work adequately, and should be at least a somewhat better placement for the phone/GPS than the cup holder was, or the ashtray depression would’ve been.

As for the N95 masks, they’re still sealed in a bag, but they clearly have some pretty heavy, robust metal nose clips built in, so hopefully that means no fogged glasses.

Usually on my trips, I bring along a metal flask of filtered ice water, plus I put my 2-quart plastic jug of filtered water in the freezer overnight beforehand so I have replacement ice water all day. Now, in the past few years, I’ve started buying iced tea bags, the result of a grocery substitution mixup that turned out to my advantage. So it occurred to me that I could make a batch of iced tea, pour it into a washed-out empty 2-quart juice bottle, and freeze it overnight as well. That way I get a bit of extra caffeination on my drive.

The biggest thing I have yet to do is to take my car in for maintenance, which will be tomorrow morning. As I mentioned last time, I hope they can get it fixed promptly, since I’m cutting it kind of close.

In short, I’m spending a fair amount for this trip. Gas prices seem to be on the way down at last, but it seems unlikely that I’ll sell enough books at the con to turn a profit for the whole thing. As I mentioned before, though, readers can help me out through PayPal donations or Patreon subscriptions.

Shore Leave is back

Well, it’s been a few years, but the Shore Leave convention in Baltimore is finally being held physically again, from July 15-17 at what’s now known as the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley. I plan to attend.

https://www.shore-leave.com/

I’m actually rather nervous about it, because the pandemic is still raging. But the convention’s COVID policy requires all attendees to be vaccinated, and I just got my second booster last week. I’m concerned that masks are encouraged but not required, but I’ll certainly be staying masked.

Honestly, I’ve been sorely tempted to cancel and just stay home. I’ve become quite a hermit since the pandemic started, and I have a strong urge just to remain here in my cocoon and not take any avoidable risks. It’s not just COVID; this will be my first long drive in three years, and not only are gas prices high due to the fuel companies’ price gouging, but I gather the rate of traffic accidents has risen sharply since the pandemic.

But I think the strength of the fear I’m feeling is exactly why I need to resist it and do this anyway. I can’t let myself be paralyzed by fear for the rest of my life. These are scary times, but life has to go on even in such times. I do miss seeing my writer friends, and Shore Leave can be an opportunity for networking, which is important as I seek to line up new work for the latter part of the year and beyond. Plus it’s my first chance to promote the Arachne duology and Tangent Knights in public, and sell signed copies of Arachne and my last couple of Star Trek books, which will hopefully let me turn a small profit from the trip (assuming gas and car maintenance don’t eat it all up). And with my vaccination freshly updated, I’m probably about as protected as I can be. Besides, if so many of my fellow writers feel it’s reasonably safe to do this, I guess I’m at no more risk than they are, and the only difference is whether I let my fear control me. Fear has held me back too often in my life, and I’ve regretted it too many times.

Indeed, these past few years have been a rough patch for me and I’ve been dealing with depression. If I backed out and missed the chance to see my friends and my readers for the first time in three years, I’d regret it and maybe sink deeper into depression. And that’s a health risk as much as COVID is. I need to take a chance on living my life again.

Anyway, I just did some browsing, and it looks like the traffic accident rate is in proportion to the number of miles driven, so maybe it’s not a real increase in danger, just a statistical artifact of people driving more (perhaps because they’re flying less?). It also seems to be linked largely to speeding and not wearing seatbelts, and I’m a pretty safe driver as a rule. I’ve been driving since 2008, and I’ve only been in one accident, on the way home from Shore Leave a decade ago, which only resulted in two flat tires and a cracked side mirror.

Still, my car is way overdue for maintenance and a significant electrical repair I’ve been putting off. I’m trying to schedule an appointment with the garage recommended for that repair by my usual garage, but apparently they can’t see me until next week, and I hope I haven’t put it off too long. I always procrastinate and cut things too close.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll get the car sorted and I won’t chicken out, and will see some of you (or at least the top halves of your faces) at Shore Leave a bit over a week from now.

And just a reminder, if anyone would like to help out with my transportation expenses, you can use the PayPal “Donate” button here on Written Worlds, or subscribe to my Patreon.

Booster engaged

December 16, 2021 1 comment

I am boosted! I just got back from the hospital, where I got my COVID vaccine booster. I went to the same hospital as last time, but things have changed. The vaccination center was a huge, crowded operation last year, but today it was just in the pharmacy inside the hospital’s little bookstore/souvenir shop, and only a couple of other people were there. I hope that means that most people have already gotten their boosters, or that they’re taking advantage of the free vaccine clinics at the board of health or getting them from their local pharmacies. I tried going to a walk-in vaccination clinic at the board of health a week or two ago, but the parking lot was full so I gave up. A good sign, I guess.

Since it was a relatively warm day, I started to walk to the hospital, which is only a 15 to 20-minute walk from home. But I started out too late, and once I’d gotten a couple of blocks, I decided I wouldn’t make it in time, so I walked back home and took my car after all. As it turned out, what with parking and all, I ended up ten minutes late anyway. I’m not sure I really saved myself any time. Still, that would’ve made more of a difference last year, when so many people were making appointments that a slot might be snatched up between the time you saw it and clicked on it on the hospital’s site. This time, it wasn’t busy at all, so I guess being late didn’t matter.

Another thing that turned out not to matter was the identification number and QR code they e-mailed me and told me to keep on hand. The pharmacist explained that was just a backup if they couldn’t find my name in their system.

Anyway, I got the Pfizer vaccine for my first two shots, but now the hospital only offers Moderna. Apparently the science says it doesn’t really matter which one you get as a booster, and mixing and matching might actually increase immunity a bit. The one cause for concern is that I know I had a mild reaction to the Pfizer vaccine, while Moderna is an unknown quantity. So I might feel kind of bad for the next day or so. No evident symptoms yet, though. My arm isn’t sore, but then, it took some time for the soreness to set in the first time (there was none the second time).

I mentioned before that my first shot hurt significantly (at injection, not later) while the second was so painless that I wasn’t convinced I’d even gotten injected (I never look). I figured the difference was that I was too tense the first time and more relaxed the second. So I made sure to relax my muscles this time too, and I just felt a mild jab and then nothing.

When the pharmacist advised waiting around for 15 minutes, I said, “It’s a good thing I’m in a bookstore, then.” But it turned out to have at least as many of its shelves devoted to tchotchkes, toys, candy, etc. as to books and magazines, I guess for the benefit of patients or visitors buying them gifts. Still, I got to browse through a science magazine, something I don’t do enough anymore.

So now my immune system should be reinforced, which is good, since they’re tentatively planning to hold the Shore Leave Convention in person again in 2022, after going virtual the previous two years. I don’t know if the rise of the omicron variant will force them to change their plans, but for now, I’m hoping to be there if I can. Here’s hoping!

My schedule for (virtual) Shore Leave 41.6 (Updated)

UPDATE: The Trek Literature panel has been moved from 10 AM Sunday to 3 PM Sunday (Eastern Time), for the convenience of our panelists who live further west. I’ve edited accordingly.

I should’ve begun hyping this sooner, but the second virtual Shore Leave convention is being held online this weekend, July 10-11. (Hey, it’s not like you need to make travel plans.) The schedule has just gone online, and it looks like they’re organizing the Zoom panels into “rooms” corresponding to the usual panel rooms at the convention hotel, though I’m not quite sure how that will work. You can find the schedule here:

https://www.shore-leave.com/schedule/

I’m only going to be on three panels, to talk about my various works. They include (all times Eastern):

Saturday July 10, 7 PM

Star Trek Adventures RPG Update: Salon D

Jim Johnson, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Dayton Ward, Derek Tyler Attico, Scott Pearson, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

Modiphius Entertainment’s Star Trek Adventures RPG heads into its fifth year. Check in for the latest news on current and upcoming releases and Q&A with the STA project manager and several STA writers.

Sunday July 11, 11 AM

eSpec Books Presents: Tack

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jenifer P. Rosenberg, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Mary Fan, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Robert Greenberger, Russ Colchamiro, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

eSpec Books shows off a wealth of new titles, including the brand-new Systema Paradoxa novella series featuring a whole host of cryptid creatures rarely seen before.

Sunday July 11, 3 PM

What’s new in Star Trek Literature: Salon D

Scott Pearson, Dayton Ward, John Jackson Miller, David Mack, Kirsten Beyer, Christopher L. Bennett

[ Register ]

Authors of current and upcoming Star Trek titles discuss their work.

As for the wider convention experience, you can learn more about the options here:

See you there! (Figuratively.)

My Shore Leave 2019 schedule

The Shore Leave schedule is now online here:

https://www.shore-leave.com/programming/schedule.htm

Here are my panels, with descriptions quoted from the convention booklet:

FRIDAY 7/12:

What’s New in Star Trek Fiction — 6 PM, Salon E/F
What are the latest plans for Star Trek publications?
John Jackson Miller, Dayton Ward, David Mack, Christopher L. Bennett, Scott Pearson
Meet the Pros — Hunt/Valley Corridor, 10 PM – midnight
The usual mass signing event for all the authors, where I assume I’ll be at the eSpec Books table for the convention debut of the Footprints in the Stars anthology. I also plan to have copies of older books to sell and sign, including Only Superhuman and some Star Trek back titles.
SATURDAY 7/13:
Batman Turns 80! — 1 PM, Salon E
2019 is Batman’s 80th anniversary. What is it about the Dark Knight that accounts for his longevity as a pop-cultural icon? And where does he go from here?
Greg Cox, Russ Colchamiro, Christopher L. Bennett, Glenn Hauman, Keith R.A. DeCandido
Star Trek Adventures RPG Discussion & Workshop — 3 PM, Tack Room
The newest Star Trek RPG is running full speed ahead! Come learn more about the game and its upcoming releases from developers and writers. Also learn about professional RPG writing processes and how to pitch adventure ideas for possible publication.
Jim Johnson, Derek Attico, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Christopher L. Bennett, Scott Pearson
Meeting eSpec Books — 6 PM, Derby Room
The publishers, editors, and authors of eSpec Books discuss their new and upcoming releases, including novels by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christopher Bennett, and Bud Sparhawk and new volumes in their ever-popular Defending the Future and Beyond the Cradle anthology series.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, Robert Greenberger, Dayton Ward
SUNDAY 7/14:
Toxic Masculinity and Its Alternatives in SFF — 11 AM, Derby Room
Panelists explore their own concepts of masculinity as it relates to their writing, as well as how they address toxic gender expectations and stereotypes in their stories and worldbuilding.
Kelli Fitzpatrick, Mary Fan, Amy Imhoff, Dave Galanter, Christopher L. Bennett
Meet the Tricksters — Noon, Derby Room
Trickster characters populate myth, religion, and fiction. How do tricksters influence storytelling and societies? What do they tell characters (and us) about possible ways of navigating the world?
David Mack, Jenifer Rosenberg, Christopher L. Bennett, TJ Perkins

 

As usual, be sure to check out the book vendor’s table on the lower level, where some of my books will be on sale and where you might find me and other authors doing signing stints.

 

 

Shore Leave 40 — my schedule

The Shore Leave 40 schedule is now up at the main site:

https://www.shore-leave.com/programming/schedule.htm

Here are my panels, with descriptions quoted from the convention booklet:

FRIDAY 7/6:

Anthologies – Share The Love — 7 PM, Salon E
What attracts readers to short story collections? Do you prefer themed collections, single author collections, or a Whitman’s Sampler of stories? What draws authors to write for anthologies?
Greg Cox (M), Phil Giunta, Jenifer Rosenberg, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, Joshua Palmatier, Richard C. White
Meet the Pros — Hunt/Valley Corridor, 10 PM – midnight
The usual mass signing event for all the authors, where Among the Wild Cybers will make its formal debut. I also plan to have copies of older books to sell and sign, including Only Superhuman and some Star Trek back titles.
SATURDAY 7/7:
Science Fact — 9 AM, Derby Room
What really cool recent technologies and scientific breakthroughs or discoveries will shape our near future reality, as well as the way we tell genre stories?
Kelli Fitzpatrick (M), Phil Giunta, Christopher L. Bennett, Glenn Hauman, Mary Louise Davie
Star Trek Adventures RPG — 12 PM, Salon E
Starfleet needs a new crew! Come hear about how you can boldly explore strange new worlds at the game table with friends.
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Jim Johnson, Christopher L. Bennett
SUNDAY 7/8:
Christopher L. Bennett Q&A — 1 PM, Derby Room
In connection with the Shore Leave premiere of Among the Wild Cybers, the author talks about his 20-year career writing original and tie-in fiction.
So pretty much just Salon E and Derby for me, both relatively small meeting rooms. I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd for my solo panel anyway, not on a Sunday afternoon. But it’s a chance to talk about AtWC and its stories, including the new Only Superhuman prequel story “Aspiring to Be Angels.” Aside from the panels, I’ll probably do a stint or two at the book vendors’ table.

And finally, Erlanger LibraryCon followup

November 12, 2017 1 comment

Yep, the Kenton County Public Library’s Erlanger branch held its LibraryCon yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well-attended, at least not by people interested in my books. Maybe I should’ve remembered to remind people of the event a couple of days ago. But the cold weather was probably the reason not many people came out. Or maybe this is just a lean year — the current economic uncertainties may make people more reluctant to engage in recreational spending. This is my second signing in a row to have a disappointing turnout.

Still, I got some things out of it. I got to meet a few local creators and publishers, and I got to meet the “other” David Mack — the comics artist/writer known for his work on Kabuki, Daredevil, and the comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, as opposed to my friend David (Alan) Mack who writes Star Trek novels for Pocket and the upcoming Dark Arts: The Midnight Front for Tor. I hadn’t known that the comics’ David Mack was originally from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. He’s a lot more down-to-earth than I would’ve expected from his rather ethereal art. Anyway, it was nice to meet him at last.

I also got a free meal out of it, at least. I actually brought my own lunch, since I didn’t know they’d be providing one, and since my metabolism’s still on Daylight Time, I ate it early, just before the convention formally started at 11. Not long thereafter, they passed around the catering order sheet from Chipotle — d’oh! Although lunch didn’t arrive until after 2, so I would’ve been starving by that point if I hadn’t eaten something earlier. And the burrito I ordered was so big and filling that I didn’t even need to have dinner later on, just an evening snack.

Anyway, the Erlanger branch was a pretty nice library, and it’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to take more of a look around. It’s a bit too far from home to drop into casually. But even with the underwhelming turnout, I’m grateful to the Erlanger staff for having me, and maybe they’ll have me back next year. The library’s apparently having an extension built, so it should be an even bigger space by then and hopefully able to host a larger convention, or so they told me. Maybe I’ll be able to sell more books next year. I should have at least one new thing to offer by then, which I’ll hopefully be able to announce pretty soon.

Shore Leave 39 schedule

I’m sitting in a motel room in Western Pennsylvania right now, after driving through increasingly heavy rain throughout the day. I stopped about an hour earlier than I planned because I was fed up with the weather — and of course the rain stopped shortly after I checked into the motel. But then, I had a coupon for this motel (which I’ve stayed at before), it cost less than my other option, and my right foot felt like it was about to cramp if I didn’t rest it and get some dinner soon.

So here I am, and I see that a lot of other Shore Leave guests have posted their schedules for the con. I figure I’d better do the same. Here’s the overall, final schedule (as final as these things get, anyway):

https://www.shore-leave.com/programming/schedule.htm

And my schedule specifically (copying the panel descriptions from the pocket program because I’m tired):

FRIDAY 7/7

Star Trek Lit as Science Fiction — 7 PM, Salon A
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

Meet the Pros — 10 PM to Midnight, Hunt/Valley Corridor

The usual mass signing event. As with last year, I intend to have copies of Only Superhuman and a few older Trek paperbacks for sale, and I take credit cards.

SATURDAY 7/8

History for Fun and Profit — 11 AM, Derby Lounge
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
Defending the Light Side — 1 PM, Chase Ballroom
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
Upcoming Star Trek Books — 5 PM, Belmont Lounge
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. (Note: It’s likely to be more a “Recent and Upcoming ST Books” panel, because there aren’t that many upcoming books currently scheduled. But the next upcoming book is my Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference, so I’ll have that to talk about.)
Scott Pearson (M), David Mack, Christopher L. Bennett, Dayton Ward
SUNDAY 7/9
Where No Tale Has Gone Before — 11 AM, Chase Ballroom
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

I’ll be at Books By the Banks on October 28!

My attendance at the annual Books By the Banks festival here in Cincinnati has been intermittent over the years. There was one year where a communications breakdown kept me from completing registration in time, and last year, for whatever reason, I simply forgot to apply. So I made sure to get my application in this year, with help from Pocket Books’ publicist, and I’m happy to announce that I have been accepted as a guest for this year:

http://booksbythebanks.org/authors-confirmed.php

The event will be held Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati, OH. I’ll provide more info as the time approaches, but since I’ve just been announced as a guest this afternoon, I wanted to get the news out.

 

Of course, next weekend, July 7-9, as most of you probably know already, I’ll be at the Shore Leave Convention in Hunt Valley, MD. I got my car checked out and my vacation hold filed at the post office, so I’m just about ready.

Report from Cleveland ConCoction

It’s near the end of day 2 of ConCoction, and I’m taking advantage of some downtime in my hotel room to post this. The drive up yesterday went okay, except for a few minutes’ slowdown due to construction near Columbus. It only took about two hours longer than Google Maps’ theoretical drive time, what with the stops I made for gas, rest, and lunch. So I made it here in time for the opening ceremonies, and in time to see my Uncle Clarence, who drove in from Detroit. That’s two conventions in a row where I’ve had a relative visit. Anyway, his stay was fairly brief, but he’s a man of few words, and I’ll see him again tomorrow when I go to visit Aunt Shirley and Uncle Harry in Detroit for the last time (they’re moving).

The con staff got me all set up in Author’s Alley, and checked the books I brought for sale into their system so they could sell them for me when I’m away, a nice service. But I kept a stock of Only Superhuman hardcovers on hand to sell myself, and I’ve sold a decent number of copies today. I’m benefitting from the use of one of those credit card swiper attachments for smartphones, which I got for this trip, since on past occasions I’ve missed out on a few sales due to not being able to take credit cards.

The giveaway copies of the Rise of the Federation books showed up from Pocket as well, including Live by the Code, which I got to see for the first time in person:

Me with Live by the Code

Sorry, not a great shot. I’m not accustomed to taking “selfies.”

I was also given a gift basket by the con staff, including a box of specialty chocolates like these:

Sci-fi chocolate!

Yes, that is a chocolate Serenity.

(And thanks to my new laptop, I’m able to upload these direct from my phone through the USB cable. Apparently this one has the right connection software built in, whereas I could never get it to work on my old laptop. On the other hand, though, I discovered today that the right arrow key on my laptop keyboard has come loose.)

I’ve also gotten to meet a couple of people with whom I have common professional ties — Larry Nemecek, who’s a big name in Star Trek nonfiction, and scientist/author Geoffrey A. Landis, who got his start as a professional writer in Analog the same as me, though he’s done considerably more since. So that’s been cool.

I’ve had a couple of panels that went pretty well. There was a panel at 11 PM last night on SF/fantasy heroines, and though there were barely more audience members than panelists, we had a good, lively discussion about writing women effectively, and then I and a few other panelists and guests just hung around the room chatting until nearly 1 AM. (It’s not like I was gonna get any sleep on my first night in a hotel anyway.) This morning we had an author showcase, and I had been planning on reading the first scene of Live by the Code, but I hadn’t found time to rehearse and I was afraid it’d be too long, plus the audience seemed more interested in Only Superhuman, so I fell back on performing a scene from that which I’ve done before, and which I had fun doing again, though I got so enthusiastic that I gave myself a headache. Then there was a panel on creating characters that I somehow ended up assigned to moderate without realizing it, and though I didn’t have many character-creation anecdotes to offer, the rest of the group made it a pretty lively discussion.

I’ve got another panel coming up shortly, then one more tomorrow morning. More to follow soon, I hope.

LIVE BY THE CODE to debut at Cleveland ConCoction!

February 27, 2016 1 comment

We’re just under two weeks out from the Cleveland ConCoction convention at the Cleveland Sheraton Airport Hotel, at which I’ll be the author Guest of Honor, a first for me. And on the subject of firsts, I’m pleased to announce that my new Star Trek novel will be making its debut a few weeks early at the convention.

Live by the Code cover

Simon & Schuster has agreed to provide a limited number of copies of Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code (book 4 in the series), which I will sign and give away on a first come, first served basis. The book doesn’t officially go on sale until March 29, but the folks at S&S were kind enough to work with me and the convention staff to make this happen. There will also be a larger number of giveaway copies of books 2 & 3, Tower of Babel and Uncertain Logic, though unfortunately S&S doesn’t currently have book 1 in stock.

Tower of Babel cover ROTF Uncertain Logic cover

The plan is to split the supply into three lots so that there will be giveaway books available on all three days of the convention. But they’ll probably go pretty quickly, so if you plan to attend, I suggest you try to come early. I’ll endeavor (pun intended) to keep folks posted about my schedule.

While these three ROTF volumes will be given away, I also plan to have various books from my own reserves which will be for sale, including some older Trek novels, but mostly featuring hardcover copies of my original novel Only Superhuman. The last time I was at a comics-oriented convention, I was able to move a fair number of copies of OS, so I’m hoping the same will be true this time.

Only Superhuman by Christopher L. Bennett

I’ll also be on several panels over the course of the convention. The schedule can be found here. My own scheduled appearances include:

FRIDAY, MARCH 11

  • 5 PM, Orion Ballroom: Opening Ceremonies
  • 11 PM, Lyra Room: “My Favorite Heroines”: Panel about female protagonists in SF/fantasy.

SATURDAY, MARCH 12

  • 11 AM, Lyra Room: Author Showcase: Includes Q&A and a reading from one of my books (which means I’d better pick out a scene to read!)
  • Noon, Authors’ Alley: Autograph session following up the Showcase.
  • 3 PM, Pegasus Room: “Strange Stories About Coming Up with Characters”: Speaks for itself, I guess.
  • 8 PM, Lyra Room: “Shaping the Short Story”

SUNDAY, MARCH 13

  • 11 AM, Lyra Room: “Best Worlds in Sci-Fi”: Talking about the SF universes we love.
  • 2 PM, Orion Ballroom: Closing Ceremonies

I’ll also be available at my Guest of Honor table (ooh, I like saying that) in Authors’ Alley at various times throughout the weekend. I gather the other Guests of Honor (actors, musicians, gamers, cosplayers, etc.) will be gathered in their own area, but I feel that being with the other author guests will be a better fit, since that’s where the book fans will presumably be.

For more Pocket Books news, you can follow their Facebook fan page, and their Twitter address is @Pocket_Books.

I’ll be at Cleveland ConCoction in March

The folks behind the Cleveland ConCoction science fiction/comics/gaming convention have invited me to appear this year as their Guest of Honor on the literary track, as they’ve just announced on Facebook. The convention will be held from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13, 2016 at the Cleveland Sheraton Airport Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. You can find more information at their website here.

I’ve never been a Guest of Honor before, so I’m not quite sure what that will entail, but in some respects it won’t be too different from my annual Shore Leave appearances. I’ll be on at least a couple of panels (as well as their opening and closing ceremonies, apparently), and I’ll have a table where I can sell and autograph copies of my books for as long as they hold out, and I’ll just generally be around for the weekend. Hopefully the timing will be right for me to have copies of Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code for sale, but we’ll see.

It’ll be nice to attend a convention that’s actually within my own state, although it’s a big state and Cleveland’s pretty much in the opposite corner, so it’ll still be a fair drive. I don’t recall if I’ve ever actually been to Cleveland before. Well, now I will have been.

Book signing: Cincinnati Library Comic Con, May 16

Once again, I’ll be signing books at the Cincinnati Library Comic Con on Saturday, May 16. Here’s my post on last year’s event. I did much better selling Only Superhuman and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder there than any of my Star Trek stuff, so this year I think I’m going to focus mainly on my superhero stuff. I still have a good supply of Only Superhuman hardcovers (which moved pretty well last year), and I’ve got a very few copies remaining of Drowned in Thunder and X-Men: Watchers on the Walls that I’ve been holding on to “just in case” for long enough that it’s probably time I did something with them. (And I’ll probably bring a few Trek books too.) So anyone who’s in the Cincinnati area and wants signed copies of those books — with a portion of the sale price to be donated to the library, so it’s for a good cause — should be at the Main Library on 800 Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati between noon and 5 PM on May 16. Here are directions and parking info.

I’ll be at Cincinnati Library Comic Con May 10

I have another signing coming up at the Main Library in Cincinnati, as part of their Cincinnati Library Comic Con event going on now through May 10. The Main Event is on Saturday, May 10 from 1 to 6 PM, and I’ll have a booth there that afternoon with copies of my books on sale. A portion of the profits will be donated to the Library. I just got a new carton of remaindered copies of the Only Superhuman hardcover, so there’ll be a bunch of those on hand, along with assorted copies of various other books of mine.

As before, here are directions and parking info for the Main Library.

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