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Posts Tagged ‘Shore Leave’

A few minor updates

August 12, 2022 1 comment

First off, if anyone was wondering, I was unaffected by the incident at the Cincinnati FBI office yesterday. That’s miles away from me, and the resultant chase went much farther away. Still, it’s alarming that it happened in my city.

Better news: Yesterday morning, I received both my payment from Analog for “Aleyara’s Descent” and a small batch of royalties for my Hub books. I set up a direct deposit arrangement with Analog in hopes that it would help the payment come faster, and apparently it worked, since this is much faster than I expected.

That’s in addition to the modest royalties I got from eSpec Books last week. I wish the Arachne duology were selling better, but I appreciate eSpec’s willingness to stick with a book and give it time to find an audience. Apparently their model relies heavily on convention sales, and they’re only just starting to get back into that after the pandemic shutdowns, so hopefully things will pick up. My editor Danielle let me know at Shore Leave that she’s still open to a third novel, though I’m not sure when I’ll find the time to write it, given my need to line up other paying work. Ohh, I wish I wrote as fast as I did a quarter-century ago.

I’ve been looking over the list of the uncollected stories I’ve had published in magazines or self-published on Patreon, and it looks like I’m getting close to having enough for a second story collection. I think I’d prefer to sell a few more stories first, ideally in the Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe, which would not be strongly represented in a collection otherwise. But then, it’ll probably be a while before “Aleyara” comes out in Analog, and then I’ll need to leave a cushion of at least a couple of months before collecting it. (It would definitely be the centerpiece of the collection, the longest and IMHO the best of the stories I have available.) So that gives me time to try to write and sell some more short fiction in the interim — again, if time permits. Fortunately, selling “Aleyara” opens the door for me to revisit and revise some shelved stories featuring the Biaru, the species introduced in that novelette. That might save me some time.

Ideally, what I’d prefer is to wait until I have enough stories to do themed collections. For instance, I’d like to do a collection of Troubleshooter stories, or do enough fantasy stories to do a collection of those, or that sort of thing. But I just don’t produce short fiction quickly enough. And I don’t know, maybe that’s just my own sense of orderliness talking. Maybe it’s better to do a collection with a more eclectic range of stories and universes, to give readers greater variety and a broader overview of my work. Themed collections could come later, repackaging stories that first appeared separately. I’d like to hear opinions from my readers — what kind of story collection do you prefer?

My new coffee maker is working out okay, except the same thing happened with the coffee grounds I bought as with the free sample bag — the first cup was nice and mellow, but subsequent ones were more bitter and sour. I figured out it’s what inevitably happens once the package is unsealed and the grounds are exposed to oxygen. Now I know why my cousin Mark insists on using beans and grinder. And why the coffee bags I used before are individually wrapped. Still, I’m getting used to it, and it seems that digging out grounds from deeper in the container helps a little.

The main issue with the coffee maker is that it’s a bit messy. It’s a single-cup maker that drips directly into a coffee cup rather than a pot, so there’s a certain amount of splashing out onto the countertop. I’ve been using my preferred coffee mug, but yesterday I tried using the taller mug that came with the machine to see if it ameliorated the splashing any. It did splash less, but still some. And maybe I’m being paranoid, but I’m not sure whether I should trust an inexpensive ceramic mug made in China to be lead-free. It’s probably safe, but I’m more comfortable sticking with my usual mug. As for the splashing, it just requires me to wipe the countertop regularly, which I should do anyway.

I do appreciate the greater amount of counter space I have in the kitchen now thanks to my smaller microwave and the glass shelf I bought that goes over two of my stove burners. Being able to access the countertop and the microwave even with the dish drying rack deployed opens the door for me to wash dishes more than once a day, which has already proven useful on a day when I had more than one rack’s worth of stuff to wash. The one adjustment is that I have to retrain my reflexes a bit, since I’m often working further to the left on the countertop than I used to, which throws off my aim when reaching for the silverware drawer, and puts me a bit farther from the fridge, so it’s not as easy to hold the door open with my foot (which I probably shouldn’t do anyway).

The oven shelf is nice because I can move it to different positions depending on which burners I need to use. It can be handy as a cutting board right next to the pan. Although I found out recently that it’s not a good idea to use it that way when I’m using both of the front burners, because reaching over a hot pan to cut things behind it is not comfortable or entirely safe. Better to use my normal cutting board for that arrangement.

 

Let’s see, what else? After surviving Shore Leave without getting sick, and with the government now relaxing COVID guidelines and suggesting it’s time to begin returning to normal life (while still taking precautions to protect those at greater risk), I’ve dared to venture out for my walks around the neighborhood without wearing a mask — though I still carry one in a plastic bag in my pocket just in case I have to go into a public building or something. I realize that having a mask on just for an outdoor walk was probably overcautious, but I’d gotten used to the sense of security it brought me, and I’m still getting used to the feeling of being outside without one. It is more comfortable for my ears, though.

Journey’s end, eventually

I’m home at last, but the start of my trip today wasn’t quite as smooth as I hoped.

I got what counts as a decent night’s sleep for a motel, i.e. I woke up in the middle of the night, got up for a while, and eventually drifted off after who knows how long, only to wake up and find it was nearly 8 AM. That was good, since that was when the breakfast room opened. I expected I’d take something back to my room to eat, but the breakfast room was empty, so I had a quick bowl of cereal, coffee, and orange juice there, and also took a honey bun for later, which I completely forgot about until unpacking my food bag at home just now.

I asked the guy at the front desk where the nearest garage was, and he named one he’d frequented and thought well of, after steering me away from a closer auto parts place that didn’t do repairs. So I packed up my car and drove about a mile to that garage… and they told me they don’t do tires. Ack! I guess the motel guy never needed tire service from them.

So that garage’s guy directed me to a tire specialist about nine miles away, which meant, this being western Maryland, that it was across the border in West Virginia. They had an office on one side of the road and a garage on the other, which seems an odd setup. But they got a new tire on within about 15 minutes, for a bit under a hundred bucks, and I was on my way — after asking the woman in the office where the nearest place was to get coffee, since I’d forgotten to get a second cup from the motel before I left. That turned out to be a gas station mini-mart, which let me fill up (just over enough to get home) and get a deli sandwich for lunch and dinner. It was close to 10:30 by now, and I figured I needed both food and coffee to be fully alert, so I had half the sandwich right there.

Then I had to do a long, long drive through intermittently heavy rain. Remember how I estimated on the way out that there was a swath of about 2 hours between rest stops? Even though I was basically taking the same route in reverse, plus the ten or so miles from the gas station to the road, either I went much slower, the rest areas are asymmetrical, or I just underestimated it the first time. When I finally found a rest stop — after passing through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the northern skinny part of West Virginia and re-entering Ohio — I checked the time on my gas receipt and found I’d been driving nonstop for nearly four hours!

Well, at least that means I made good time, though I stopped more often on the Ohio part of the trip. That went about as usual, aside from several slowdowns due to construction and accidents. Or rather, due to most American drivers having no idea how to zipper merge, so they always create a bottleneck trying to crowd into a single lane. If they’d just slow down and allow room between cars, they could merge far more quickly. But in their selfish haste to get ahead rather than deferring to others, they make things slower for themselves as well as everyone else.

Also, of course, whenever someone’s going too slowly in the right lane and you try to pass them on the left, they inevitably speed up just then so you can’t pass them after all. And when you move back to the right lane behind them, they immediately slow down again.

So anyway, I initially put my phone away once I was on the last leg of I-71 and didn’t need directions. But then we hit another slowdown, and I realized I could still use the traffic info, so at a point when we stopped moving completely, I put the phone back in the clip and restarted Maps. I kept it going all the way home, and it was interesting to see the overhead map view of the route through Cincinnati that I know so well from ground level.

I was wary about getting home and finding it smelling of insecticide from the cockroach spraying, so I kept my mask on and vented out the place right away. But I saw or sensed no sign that anyone’s been in here since I left. I’d think they would’ve left a note if they’d sprayed, but there’s nothing. I guess I’ll ask tomorrow.

The phone clip is already half-broken, by the way. It still holds the phone, but one of the two springy rods that hold the movable part of the clip in place has already detached from that part. I guess that’s what I get for buying a cheap one.

And my right wrist still feels like I’m wearing the proof-of-vaccination wristband I wore all weekend, even though I tore it off more than a day ago.

But I get to sleep in my own bed again…

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…

A surprise I did not need

Well, just when I thought everything was going reasonably smoothly in the run-up to Shore Leave — car repaired swiftly, COVID test scheduled promptly and turning up negative, my own physical fitness improved somewhat in recent weeks — I got thrown a bit of a curve ball. This morning, I noticed an odd silhouette on the clock of my microwave oven. Was there a bug on it? I looked closer, and it turned out there was a bug inside the clock. And then I saw another one crawl across it.

I have no idea how, but somehow some bugs must’ve nested inside the workings of my microwave, probably slipping in through the air vents or something. I’m not sure, but they’re probably cockroach nymphs. (I took a photo to show the manager, but I don’t want to inflict it on my readers.) I immediately took the microwave out onto the balcony, and as soon as the office opened, I went to notify the manager. Apparently I’m now required to get a cockroach spraying in my apartment, which is something I’ve always managed to avoid until now, relying on plastic roach baits instead. They’ve always worked in the past, but not so much lately, and now I’m wondering if a hidden nest inside the microwave might explain that. Anyway, they’ll presumably do it while I’m away, which works out, I guess. Unless they come today, but I didn’t get the impression they would.

Unfortunately, neither the manager nor I had any idea how to get bugs out of the inner workings of a microwave. Maybe putting a chunk of dry ice inside overnight would suffocate them, but I don’t have time to sort that out when I have to make final preparations for my trip tomorrow. And I’m not allowed to leave appliances sitting on the balcony. I hated to do it with an otherwise perfectly workable appliance, but my only option was to lug the microwave to the dumpster out back.

On the other hand, I just looked back through my records, and unless I omitted something, the last entry I have for buying a microwave oven was from 2005. Which appears to be consistent with when this model was on the market. So it had a good long run. And a new one can be had for about 100 bucks or so, which isn’t too bad, though it’s not great, either. (I’ll be getting a nice-sized check after I finish my current project in about a month, but I don’t yet have any work lined up beyond that.)

I checked, and apparently Target has a sale on microwaves that’s ending today. I decided to walk up to the Target store a few blocks away, a small one serving the university, to see if they had a suitable one. But I couldn’t carry it back; I had a hard enough time lugging the old one down to the trash. I thought I might ask if they did same-day delivery, the cost of which would presumably be cancelled out by the sale price.

But the only microwaves they had were 900 watts, while I’m used to 1100. Maybe if I’d had time to think it over, I’d have decided to settle for the lower power. But it was a token effort anyway, so I just went home (then promptly went out to return some library videos and mail a package, as long as I still had fresh sunblock on).

I guess I’ll just have to get by without microwave food for the rest of today and tomorrow morning, and then an unknown amount of time after I get home. That’s easier now than it would’ve been once, since I rely less on frozen dinners (stovetop mixes, pasta, etc. are cheaper) and use an electric kettle to boil water. But there are still a number of things I routinely microwave, like hot dogs, veggie-burger patties, and single-serve macaroni pouches (which I just restocked on yesterday, and only work in the microwave). Come to think of it, maybe I should get a smaller one next time after all, since I rarely use it for anything big.

I wonder if they make smaller 1100-watt ovens. Or does it scale with size, so that a smaller 900-watt heats as fast as a larger 1100-watt? I’m not sure that makes sense given how microwave ovens work, but maybe the energy is more concentrated in a smaller volume?

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!

Watch my Shore Leave 41.6 panels!

Well, the second (and hopefully last) virtual Shore Leave weekend is over, and all the panels are viewable on Shore Leave’s YouTube channel. Here are the three I was part of:

Star Trek Adventures RPG Update

eSpec Books Presents

(Man, the screencap caught me at a bad moment there…)

What’s New in Star Trek Literature

I’m harder to see in the first panel because I hadn’t yet figured out how to frontlight myself decently at my desk. For the Sunday panels, I used the emergency flashlight in my portable car battery jumpstarter pack, resting on one of the shelves of my computer-desk hutch, with a sheet of tracing paper in front of it as a diffuser to soften the light and protect my eyes.

It was nice to see and hear from my writer friends and colleagues again, to talk about my own work and to hear what’s going on with my publishers’ upcoming projects. Hopefully some of what we talked about will lead to new projects for me in the future.

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.)

Watch my Shore Leave 41.5 panels!

While it’s too bad that current circumstances prohibit gathering for the Shore Leave Convention this year, the good news is that the virtual panels we’re holding in its place can be watched online by anyone! Just go to the Shore Leave website’s Past Events – Shore Leave 41.5 page and click on “Watch the Panel” below any one you’re interested in, and you’ll be taken to the YouTube page for the video.

For my panels in particular, I’ll post them right here. First up is the panel I participated in two weeks ago to talk about the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds TV series focusing on Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One (which, if you think about it, is arguably the first Trek series that isn’t a spinoff, since it’s finally taking the original pilot to series after 57 years).

Second is the panel I was on earlier today, the Shore Leave Authors’ Summer Book Release Party! (exclamation point included). This is the closest thing we could manage to the Friday Night Meet the Pros event, gathering as many authors as we could (13 in all) to talk about our respective upcoming projects, Arachne’s Crime in my case. This one was recorded in Zoom’s Speaker Mode rather than Gallery Mode, so you’ll see us one at a time rather than Brady Bunch/Hollywood Squares style. I show up about 31 minutes in.

Apologies for the poor image quality; as I mentioned in the first video, I have a pretty old webcam on my desktop computer. Although I did manage to improve my lighting situation this time around by using my bicycle’s detachable headlamp as a frontlight (with a tissue wrapped around the front as a diffuser).

Keep an eye on the Shore Leave 41.5 Schedule page for more panels, which are planned to come out every other Saturday into October at least. Hopefully I (and my hat) will be in a few more.

Shore Leave Summer Book Release panel this weekend!

The cool thing about Shore Leave 41.5 being online is that it doesn’t have to be limited to one weekend! Since we could only do so many Zoom panels per day, the organizers are continuing to put further events together, with the plan evidently being to do panels every second Saturday:

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

First up, this Saturday, July 25 at 1:00 PM Eastern, it’s:

STAR TREK Authors’ Summer Book Release Party!

Many of our talented authors have new books about to be released and they can’t wait to tell you about them! Join us for this preview party to celebrate all the great new stories you’ve been waiting for!

I’ll be there to talk about Arachne’s Crime, which should be on sale as soon as the cover’s done.

Remember, the Shore Leave STRANGE NEW WORLDS panel is tonight!

One last notice — I’m on the virtual Shore Leave panel discussing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds at 7 PM EDT tonight! You can register for a “seat” in the audience here, with no Zoom account required:

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

 

Categories: Star Trek Tags: ,

This year, Shore Leave comes to you!

That’s right, in the topsy-turvy Bizarro universe we now inhabit, Shore Leave, the convention named for the act of going away from where you usually are to somewhere else, is doing the opposite of that. Since none of us will be physically traveling to Hunt Valley, MD for Shore Leave 42 until (we hope) next year, we will instead be holding Shore Leave 41.5 — The Virtual Experience, using Zoom and other online means to make content available to the public.

The event will be on the weekend of July 10-12, starting this Friday, and so far we’ve got several Zoom panels lined up, as well as virtual versions of the usual filk concert and Saturday night Masquerade. The schedule is available here:

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

Since it’s a lighter schedule than usual, and they want to make room for all the guests, each “attendee” will only be doing one panel this weekend, though I gather there’s further content being tentatively planned beyond the weekend. My one panel will be right at the start on Friday at 7-8 PM EDT, a discussion of what we expect and hope for from the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series featuring Captain Pike. I’ll be joined on Zoom by John Jackson Miller, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Dayton Ward, and Amy Imhoff.

Now, what I’m wondering is, should this event instead be called Shore Arrive?

Categories: Star Trek Tags: , ,

Shore Leave on hold

Unsurprising but sad news — the organizers of the Shore Leave convention have prudently decided to postpone Shore Leave 42 until July 9-11, 2021.

They’re not calling it a cancellation, just a postponement, since the guests are still committed and tickets already purchased can be saved for next year unless the buyers prefer a refund. But effectively it’s still the same — no Shore Leave this year.

This is sad for me, since I haven’t missed a Shore Leave since I started attending in, I think, 2005. That’s 15 consecutive years, and this breaks my streak. Although in a way, it doesn’t — I’m not actually missing the convention because it’s not being held. It’s just taking twice as long between consecutive ones.

As it happens, I never committed to come this year, because I was waiting until my finances improved, and then when COVID-19 happened I waited, just in case this happened. But hopefully by next year, things will be safer and I’ll be back along with the other guests. Although I believe we’ll need to establish a thorough nationwide testing and containment protocol first, a way to identify and isolate infected people so everyone else can resume normal lives — something that still seems quite far away under the current status quo.

For now, though, we’ll just have to stay in touch online through blogs, Facebook, and other outlets. I should have Arachne’s Crime and hopefully Arachne’s Exile coming out soon, plus there’s my Patreon page and this very blog. Some people have organized virtual conventions of sorts online, so maybe we’ll see something like that happening.

For now, though, everyone stay safe. Think about it! We get to help save the world by staying home, reading, and watching TV! What could be a more worthy mission for sci-fi nerds? 😀

Post-Shore Leave wrap-up

Well, I’m home at last, recovering from my drive home yesterday. Shore Leave this year was a mixed bag for me; the con was mostly fine, but due to various circumstances, mostly my own situation, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as fully as usual.

On Saturday evening, I had hung out with my fellow authors for our annual BBQ dinner; this year, because several of us had late panels, the ever-generous Keith R.A. DeCandido and his wife Wrenn ordered a take-out catering package for us to have at a reserved suite at the hotel, instead of driving out there en masse as usual. I kind of missed the chance to get out of the hotel and experience the ambience of the BBQ place, but we were able to have a larger group of authors, and I was able to make a second pulled-turkey BBQ sandwich to keep in my hotel room fridge for lunch the next day (which is good, since it cost more per person than I usually spend at the restaurant). I also got to have a nice conversation with the charming and multitalented Mary Fan, an author, acrobat, composer, and who knows what else.

Although I got so caught up in the conversation that I failed to realize I’d bit the inside of my lip rather hard and repeatedly while eating my sandwich. I had to bow out early, and the next morning it looked badly bruised, so out of an excess of caution, I sought out the hotel’s medical staffer just to make sure it wasn’t infected or something (it was fine). Later on, I was on two consecutive panels in the same room, so I was able to stay in my seat for both. The first was a panel on toxic masculinity and alternatives to it in fiction, with panelists including the aforementioned Mary Fan (who thought Emerald Blair looked “badass” on the Only Superhuman cover, which is a great compliment from someone who’s pretty badass herself), and the second was one on trickster figures in fiction, which I only had a tenuous reason to be on (Emerald Blair can perhaps be considered a bit of a trickster, as can Rynyan and Tsshar in the Hub series).

Ultimately I didn’t really do much beyond panels this year, since the vagaries of bad timing meant that I had a novel deadline on Monday and I had to spend most of the time holed up in my hotel room revising the draft manuscript, which had come out a bit too short and needed fleshing out. Also, for some reason, the con’s book vendor didn’t have any copies of Star Trek: TOS — The Captain’s Oath for sale, and I didn’t bring any of my own since I assumed the vendor would have them. So I wasn’t able to sell many books this year, although what with all my economizing on the trip (eating homemade meals, avoiding some but not all toll roads, driving all the way to and from my cousins’ in DC rather than staying at motels), I was able to come out nearly $47 ahead on this trip. It would’ve been over $50, but I had to buy a new power cord for my phone en route.

Oh, my phone. Ugh. In addition to the power cord problem, the GPS kept crashing on me. And I’m so reliant on GPS that I don’t know the way from the Shore Leave hotel to my cousins’ place without it. Well, I have paper Google maps printouts I could’ve used, but the GPS directed me away from the printed route due to crashes on some highway, so I tried to wing it, made the wrong turn (onto I-83 instead of I-495), and ended up hopelessly lost in the middle of Baltimore. Once I got the GPS working briefly, enough to make my way back to a familiar highway, I tried to rely on my printed map from there, but made the wrong turn again at a confusing exit and got lost a second time! Eventually, after a couple of more false starts with the GPS, I finally ended up on a local road I remembered from coming in on Thursday, just a few miles from my cousins’ house, so I no longer needed the GPS — and that’s when the GPS started working reliably!!!! GRRRRRRRRR!!! I was utterly frazzled by the time I got to Barb & Mark’s, and not great company when we went over to their friend’s for dinner as usual. (Mark suggested that the problem was that I’d enabled offline maps and it was eating up my phone’s memory. I changed the settings as he recommended, and my GPS still crashed at one point on the way home on Tuesday, but it kept working steadily as long as I shut off the phone screen and put it on standby during the long stretches between notifications. Honestly, I barely needed it once I got onto I-68W, and certainly not once I got to I-70.)

Anyway, I spent pretty much all day Monday alone at Barb & Mark’s house (aside from their dog and cats), which was perfect, since I needed both a day to recover from that horrible drive on Sunday and a quiet day to concentrate fully on finishing up the manuscript before the deadline. I managed to turn it in on time and close enough to the target word count, and significantly improved by fleshing out some supporting characters who needed it. (Sometimes it’s good to add a whole subplot in a day, weaving it into the existing storyline, since it gives it cohesiveness and keeps you in the right mindset to write it.) So I’m finally done with that (until I get editorial notes), and hopefully soon I’ll be able to tell you what it was.

Thanks to my cousins buying turkey and cheese for me, I was able to make a couple of sandwiches for the drive home on Tuesday, and to take the remaining turkey and cheese home with me as well, along with an extra ice pack in my insulated grocery bag. The drive home was by the fastest possible route, which Google Maps said would take a bit over 8 hours, but it took me something over 11 hours, which seems excessive even given all the rest areas I stopped at. But then, I was caught in rush hour traffic in both DC and Columbus and at least one similar slowdown in between, so that added somewhat to the travel time.

(Though it could’ve been worse. Since Barb disagreed with the phone GPS about the best route out of town, I went with the version on my map printout and almost made a wrong turn again when it told me to go right at the fork to stay on I-495W when the road signs said that was the left fork. At first I went left, but then I had doubts, and since the road behind me was empty, I stopped, backed up, and parked myself on the marked-off triangle of pavement between the two roads, staring at the signs, before finally deciding I’d probably been correct to go left all along, so I went left again. Fortunately, it turned out to be the right call, and the trip was mostly pretty straightforward from there. I’ve scratched out the “right” on that step on the printout and written in “left” so I won’t make that mistake again.)

So now I’m home, but I still don’t feel quite settled in. The fatigue hasn’t left me, and I have to get groceries and catch up on a lot of TV. I also have an overdue video at the library due to bad timing; I wasn’t able to watch it before going because of my manuscript, and I wasn’t able to renew it because it was reserved. So I’ll have to watch it and get it back today, just one day late.

Once I’m a bit more recovered, I’ll get on with reviewing my editor’s notes on Arachne’s Crime, which have been waiting on my computer since last week. After that, I have an original project I’ve been working on that I need to get back to. And then… we’ll see. I still have some car repairs that I wasn’t able to get done before the trip. For one thing, it seemed that the wiper fluid sprayer was fixed, but it stopped working again late in the drive home.

In the meantime, I picked up some new copies of Among the Wild Cybers at Shore Leave, replenishing my stock, so I now have five copies available as part of my autographed book sale. If you buy them, I can say I made more of a profit from my trip! And don’t forget, I have a bunch of copies of The Captain’s Oath for sale too, so you can help me make up for not being able to sell any at Shore Leave.

Shore Leave news — Announcing ARACHNE’S CRIME and ARACHNE’S EXILE!

It’s Saturday night at Shore Leave, and I’m only getting around to posting now since I’ve been busy trying to revise a manuscript by its Monday deadline (lousy timing, I know, but it can’t be helped). I can’t yet say what it’s for, but I do have other big news below.

Anyway, I had a better drive in than expected; there were thunderstorms along my path all day Thursday, but by luck, I managed to stay just behind the tail end of the storms the whole trip, with just a brief period of drizzle in Eastern Ohio and clear skies the rest of the way. I stayed at my cousins’ overnight, worked on the manuscript Friday morning, got into the hotel Friday afternoon, then stayed in my room working until the What’s New in Trek Fiction panel where I couldn’t really talk about anything except the new Star Trek Adventures games I’ve got coming up in the next month or two, theoretically. Meet the Pros was fairly quiet, but I got to talk to writer friends and that was good. Today, I was on a “Batman Turns 80” panel for no particular reason (though it was a nice talk, led by Greg Cox, who — unlike me — has actually written Batman fiction), then I was on two consecutive Star Trek Adventures panels (one about the game, one about how to write/pitch for it, which I wasn’t scheduled for but crashed anyway). Then at 6 came the eSpec Books panel run by the company’s owner/editor Danielle McPhail, and though we literally had an equal number of audience members as panelists (5 each), it was here that I got to make my big announcement.

And here it is: eSpec Books has acquired my duology Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile. I’ve talked about this project intermittently on my blog over the past few years, though not under those titles. Readers of my original work may recognize Arachne as the name of the colony starship from my first published story, “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” from the November 1998 Analog, reprinted in Among the Wild Cybers. To quote the story description from my AtWC page:

The colony ramship Arachne accidentally destroys a space habitat of the nomadic Chirrn while its crew is suspended in hibernation.  Even if the colonists can persuade the Chirrn that the disaster was an accident, will they still be held culpable for negligent mass murder?  And can they get a fair trial despite the Chirrn’s mistrust of planet-dwellers?

I always wanted to continue the story of the Arachne crew in the wake of that novelette’s outcome, so I eventually settled on the idea of doing a novel that would incorporate the original story but expand on it and continue the tale beyond it. It turned out that some of the science in the original story (concerning the feasibility of interstellar ramjets) was implausible, so I eventually decided I needed to break with my usual “Keep everything consistent” policy and do a whole new version that would replace the original story in my universe’s continuity. Once I made that choice, it freed me up to make other changes and really add depth to the story and characters. (Most of the original story’s events and dialogue are still in there, though. Consider it an inaccurate account of the same event, superseded by a much fuller and more accurate version.)

The expanded and corrected retelling of AVG is just the first half of Arachne’s Crime, though. The rest of the novel continues the tale beyond the verdict, as the crew of Arachne adjusts to their new status within the Chirrn’s civilization — which includes a number of Chirrn who did not agree with the verdict and have their own ideas about obtaining justice. Both halves let me flesh out the Chirrn’s culture, biology, and psychology much more richly than in the original story, as well as intensifying the human drama far more than in the original tale.

The events of Arachne’s Crime then build to a climax that leads into the second novel, Arachne’s Exile, which opens up the narrative to a more cosmic, epic scope, bringing in more new species and exotic environments, and really fleshing out the big-picture galactic culture and history of my primary SF universe more than anything I’ve had published to date.

The reason I have a duology all ready to go, by the way, is that it was a single really long novel for years, but I was never able to sell it at that length. Eventually I started to think about submitting it to small publishers with word-count limits per volume, which would require cutting it in two, something I resisted for a while because I saw it as one story. But eventually I realized it had been trying to be two stories all along, that there were elements resolved in the first half and others not introduced properly until the second. Cramming them together probably kept the book from feeling properly focused. Splitting the tale into two distinct phases turned out to work much better, tightening the focus of each volume. Also, since the natural breaking point was less than halfway through, I needed to expand the first book to make it a suitable length, which let me flesh out a lot of Chirrn worldbuilding I’d glossed over in my rush to part 2, as well as adding a new climax to make part 1 more of a complete book on its own. I also added new material to the start of Exile to reintroduce the characters and story threads. I’ve always felt that a story told in two or more volumes should be made of distinct parts that work somewhat independently, rather than just being one long story arbitrarily divided by length (which was why I resisted splitting Arachne until I realized it worked better as two connected stories).

The current plan is to run the Kickstarter campaign for Arachne’s Crime in the early fall, with the book hopefully coming out fairly soon thereafter. Arachne’s Exile is expected to follow sometime in 2020.

Just think… this time a year ago, I had only two original books in print, Only Superhuman and Hub Space. Now I have a third (Among the Wild Cybers) with the fourth (Crimes of the Hub) due out very, very soon. By this time next year, I’ll have six original books in print. (Which are either 3 novels and 3 collections or 4 novels and 2 collections, depending on how you count Crimes of the Hub, which is three stories collected and blended into a short fix-up novel.) Hopefully I’ll have copies of all six to show off and sell at next year’s Shore Leave!

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.

 

 

The Kickstarter for my next anthology is open!

We’re at it again, folks! eSpec Books has just opened a new Kickstarter for three anthologies, including Footprints in the Stars, which features my new Troubleshooter story “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.”

The first anthology being fundraised for is In Harm’s Way, Volume 8 of editor Mike McPhail’s military-SF anthology series Defending the Future, which has a focus on rescue and recovery missions (an idea I think is pretty cool), and contains stories by Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, David Sherman, Edward J. McFadden, Robert E. Waters, Jeff Young, James Chambers, Lisanne Norman, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher M. Hiles, Eric Hardenbrook, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

Footprints in the StarsOnce that book is funded, the other two anthologies will be funded as stretch goals:

Footprints in the Stars: “A traditional science fiction collection with the theme of the discovery of evidence of other life in the universe and how those discoveries impact humanity. With stories by James Chambers, Robert Greenberger, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher L. Bennett, Dayton Ward, Russ Colchamiro, Vincent Collins, Bryan J. Glass, Gordon Linzner, Ian Randall Strock, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.”

Devil Dancers is a single-author military-SF collection by Robert E. Waters, containing reprinted and original stories in the titular universe.

The fundraising goal for In Harm’s Way is $800. Once we reach $1900, then Footprints in the Stars will be funded, and Devil Dancers will be funded at $2800. As with last time, there are also bonus stories and other rewards for people who pledge certain amounts, which will all be spelled out at the Kickstarter page — just click on the widget up above. The Kickstarter will remain open until May 19, 2019.

I’m told that Footprints in the Stars is scheduled to make its debut at this year’s Shore Leave Convention in Baltimore from July 12-14, which I expect to be attending as usual. The eSpec folks are going to be there as well, and we’re going to have a panel and stuff.

So everybody start Kickstarting! Or… whatever.

More car woes

Even though I was feeling a little under the weather this morning, and even though we had actual rainy weather this morning, I decided to take a quick shopping trip during the lull in the rain, to visit a local store I haven’t been to in a while and need one or two things from now that I have some money again. Imagine my surprise when my car wouldn’t start. I just got a new battery a few weeks ago!! Luckily the building maintenance guys were right there, and they gave me a jump start and determined that the battery was still holding a charge; it had just been drained by something. I realized my headlights were reflecting off their truck, and when I tried to turn them off, nothing happened. Somehow, they were stuck in high-beam mode.

So I drove straight to the garage, and the guy there told me he had a lot of jobs and couldn’t get to me until Tuesday. I was just about resigned to driving back home and getting another jump start on Tuesday, but he decided to take a quick look at the problem, and in trying to force the lever on the steering column to turn off the lights, he managed to break the lever altogether. So now I had to leave it in the shop. (Is it even street legal to drive without working lights or turn signals? I guess I could’ve stuck my hand out the window and signalled turns manually the old-fashioned way.) But to his credit, the guy tried harder to find a solution and promised me he could get a new part delivered and installed by tonight.

But I wasn’t up to walking home in my condition, and it had started to rain again, and I’d forgotten my umbrella. Not to worry, though; the guy offered to arrange a ride for me, on the garage’s dime. So I’ve now taken my first ever Uber ride. There was an Uber driver just a minute or two away at the university, so I didn’t have to wait long at all. So that was handy, although it meant I had to skip my shopping trip. Hopefully I’ll be up to walking to the garage to pick the car up whenever they’re done with it.

I think there may have been a harbinger of this problem on my recent Shore Leave trip. On the way back, I was returning to my car at a rest stop when I noticed the high beams were on. It took me a while to remember how to turn them off, and when I determined it was by pulling the lever toward me, I figured I must’ve accidentally done so at some point. But maybe it happened spontaneously and was a warning sign of the problem. But because I’d had that problem before, I was extra-careful the last time I used the car to make sure the lights were off when I was done with it. But it looks like there’s a problem with the internal switch, so that didn’t make a difference after all.

It’s always the way, isn’t it? As soon as you get money, new expenses crop up. Well, I guess it’s better than having it happen before you get money.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
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