My 2018 Heliosphere schedule

Heliosphere is a fairly new convention just outside of New York city. The second one will be held on the weekend of March 9th, and guests include Charles Gannon, Eric Flint, Tom Kidd, Cecilia Tan, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Lori Perkins, Mike McPhail, my wife Heidi Hooper (who was artist guest of honor last year!) and many more. Baker Street 2

My latest book Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot! will be promoted there. We’ll be having a raffle for prizes and although the book has not yet been released, the publisher has allowed us to sell Advance Review Copies (ARCs) for a discounted price. You can also meet some of the writers who have stories in the book, including Keith DeCandido, Hildy Silverman, R. Rozakis, Gordon Linzner, and Derek Beebe.  Autographs are free!

Here’s my schedule:

Solicited Advice: Editors Share Their Thoughts (Friday 5 pm): Get inside the editors minds and see why they accept and reject certain work. With Bjorn Haessler, Mike McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, and Ian Randal Strock.

Hogwarts House Party (Welcome to Heliosphere) (Friday 8 pm): A grand opening ceremony where all the major guests are introduced. I’m the emcee! We’ll also be placing the Sorting Hat on our guests and con attendees to see which Hogwarts House they’ll end up in.

Books ‘n’ Brew (Saturday 11:30 am): A time where you can sit down with some of your favorite authors over tea or coffee and just talk. With Laura Antoniou, Russ Colchamiro, and Hildy Silverman.

Ka Pow! the Art of the Fight Sequence (Saturday 4 pm):  How to integrate action scenes into your story without them taking over. With Keith R.A. DeCandido, Charles Gannon, and Mike McPhail.

Readings (Saturday 5:30): Authors read from their recent works. With Laura Antoniou, Carol Gyzander, and Hildy Silverman. 

Raffle (Saturday 10 pm): We’ll read off the raffle winners for the Baker Street Irregulars prizes!

Through the Ages With Sherlock Holmes (Sunday 2 pm): A not so elementary discussion of Sherlock and how he’s changed through the years. With Elizabeth Crowens, Teel James Glenn, and Mercy Van Vlack. 

Murder Your Darlings (Sunday 3:30 pm): Gerorge RR Martin has taken the art of killing off fan favorites to new heights. Others have tried to copy his style with…. mixed results. What makes this work for some stories and just plain suck for others? With Griff Barber, Eric Flint,  Charles Gannon, and Hildy Silverman.

Why no one is going to steal your work

Whenever we have a Writers Conference, there’s always at least one person in attendance who asks about copyrights and worries about sending their manuscript out because they think someone might steal all their hard work.

While I can understand the worry, it’s just not going to happen.


First, remember that your ideas aren’t really that important. Seriously, everyone has ideas. It’s the way you put them into a story that matter. It’s your writing style and your voice that make the ideas yours.

There have been anthologies where the authors are given the same plot and then each writes a story, and every single one is different. How you tell the story is more important than what the story is.

As soon as you write your story, it is copyrighted. You don’t have to put a copyright mark on every page. It’s on your computer and there are ways to tell when it was written. I personally email my work to myself as I’m writing it. That way if my computer crashes, I can retrieve it. Note that this also clearly establishes that I am the author.

No one is going to steal your stuff. It’s very easy for you to prove you wrote the thing, and a lawsuit just isn’t worth the trouble.

Also, think of this: If you’ve written a really great story and you’ve sent it off to an agent or an editor, do you think they’re going to say, “This is great! I think I’ll steal it, invite a lawsuit, ruin my career, and never be able to work in publishing again!”? No, they’re going to say, “This person writes great! Let’s buy this story and get this person on our side so they can write more great stuff for us!”

There is no reason for anyone to steal your stuff and lots of reasons why they would want you to be on their side so you can create more.

Finally, for God’s sake, don’t send in a query letter that says “All this work is copyrighted by me!” or otherwise emphasize that point, because that is a red flag that agents and editors will interpret as “This person is not professional and may give me a hard time when I ask for changes.”

My turn to be interviewed

The Monkees Live Almanac page has a nice interview with me, discussing the book’s goal and origin. Check it out!

My turn to be interviewed

Co-author Mark Arnold and I were guests on the Blue Plate Special, a podcast, where we discussed the Monkees’ music and our new book.

It’s a half-hour interview full of laughs. Check it out!


My new book about the Monkees

While other kids wanted to be astronauts or doctors, I watched the Monkees and wanted to be in a rock band, playing music and having wacky adventures (because clearly the two went together). While I did eventually play in a number of bands, I never got my own TV show. And I still listened to my Monkees music even as an adult, along with my other favorites, Beatles, Elvis Costello, XTC, They Might Be Giants…  (I’d better stop here before this entire post is a list of favorites).MonkeesFrontCover_preview

I interviewed Mark Arnold here on this blog a while ago after he had written a book examining the Beatles’ music. “We should write a similar book about the Monkees,” I said.

We discussed the fact that there was already a book like that about the Monkees music, but then, after a few months going back and forth, decided that since there were dozens of Beatles books like that, the Monkees could stand to have a second one.

The plan was not to do a learned treatise, but more of a “fan’s look” at the music, by fans for fans.

We discuss each song in order in which it was recorded so the progression of the music can be seen. Mark and I come at this from different angles and disagree quite a bit; I talk a lot more about the music itself — the way the song was written, how the instruments were mixed, decisions the producer made — and that provides a contrast to Mark’s comments which hopefully makes a better read.

Then we list which Monkee played or sang on each song along with other trivia and information about the song’s position of the charts, whether it had significant covers done, and what albums you can find it on.

The book also contains a short history of the band, a listing of the Billboard charts so you can see how the songs and albums performed, a list of all their live performances and TV appearances over the years, and an extensive index so you can easily find the song or album you want to read about.

Part of the fun of doing this book was interviewing some of the musicians who were influenced by the Monkees, so I got to speak to Howard Kaylan (who wrote the introduction), Tommy James, Gene Cornish and Dean Friedman, and Mark spoke to Peter Noone, Ron Dante, and Butch Patrick. Their comments are side bits in the book.

Animation historian Jerry Beck (who assisted in the release of the Monkees’ movie Head on DVD) wrote the forward, and Emmy-Award-winning cartoonist Scott Shaw did the cover, filling it with all sorts of inside jokes for Monkees fans.

Like the title itself. There’s a Monkees song (written by Peter) called “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?” so we used “Long Title” to start off ours as well. There’s a Monkees song called “Looking for the Good Times” and their final album was simply called “Good Times” after a song Nilsson wrote for them with that name.

The book was released a few days ago and immediately shot to number one on Amazon in the category of “Music Reference” so now I can brag that I am an “Amazon #1 Best-Seller” I suppose, if I wanted to be kind of cheesy.  Nah.

Anyway, this is certainly a special thing that won’t interest everyone but I hope if you are interested, you’d enjoy it. You can order it from Amazon or directly from the publisher (at a slightly cheaper rate)!

monkees cover

Isn’t this a great cover?


My Philcon 2017 Schedule

I’m looking forward to the Philcon science fiction convention the weekend of November 10th. It’s Philadelphia’s oldest literary convention. It’s in New Jersey.  (Look, it was cheaper, okay?)philcon_logo

I’ve been a guest at Philcon for years, and it’s always great to go back there and see so many of my friends.

I’ve got a nice schedule and it seems that they have me moderating each of the panels except one. Here’s my schedule:

MEET THE PROS (Friday 9 pm): An informal gathering where guests can meet all the panelists, writers and artists.

EYE OF ARGON INTERACTIVE: CHAPTER FIVE (Friday 11 pm):  Since everyone is usually laughing too hard to get through reading what has been dubbed the worst piece of published SF of all time, we thought we’d start where we left off last year. We’ve got a roster of pros to get it started, but after that, audience participation is expected. With David M. Axler, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ef Deal, Peter Prellwitz, and Hildy Silverman

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PROS (Saturday 10:00 am): More and more, social media has become valuable — even necessary — as a means of making oneself known to potential readers (and publishers), promoting your work, and engaging with fellow professionals. Which platforms work best for each of these aspects? What are some things you should be aware of before engaging with your fans in such a direct and potentially interminable way. With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eric Avedissian, Russ Colchamiro, and Keith R.A. DeCandido

HARRY POTTER, TWENTY YEARS LATER (Saturday noon): How have the Potter books and movies held up over time? What are some of the plot problems we’ve seen since then? And what will the future hold? With Hakira D’Almah, Anna Kashina, and Christine Norris

HOW TO PLOT A STORY (Saturday 1:00 pm): You have a genre-busting world, a villain to make your skin crawl, and a sympathetic main character whose life you’re about to make very, very difficult.  But how?  When should the major conflict happen, and what happens on the way there?  Every story is different, but satisfying ones tend to follow some time-honored structures that can help you shape your story long before you draft your prose. With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Roberta Rogow, David Walton, and Steve Wilson

AUTOGRAPHS (Saturday 5:00 pm): In which I will be sitting with my books for anyone who didn’t have the opportunity to speak with me at other times.

GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7 (Saturday 11:00 p.m.): So, what did you think of [redacted]? Or when [redacted] ran into [redacted] again? How about the deaths of [redacted] and [redacted]?! (Warning: panel will contain actual spoilers.) With Diane Kovalcin, Rock Robertson, and Jay Wile



My Turn to be Interviewed

There’s a very nice interview with me in Local Flair magazine today.  Check it out!


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