Get Your Geek on NJ!

20160330_geekfest_logo_300Local geeks unite again this Saturday at the South Jersey Geek Fest in Woodbury Heights.

The convention celebrates comics, video and tabletop gaming, cosplay and other nerdy fun with more than 75 vendors, plus YouTube celebrities like Living in 8 Bits and Comic Trips.

CosPlay fans will delight in the Mystic Realm live role-playing experience, while those seeking more competitive thrills can participate in the Super Smash Bros. tournaments or join in on some board game action.  There will also be a Cosplay Kickball Home Run Derby open to all costumed attendees.

For the littlest nerds there will be two “Geekster egg” hunts, one for kids under 5 years and one for children ages 6 to 10.

A wristband pass cost $8 (children under age 10 are free when accompanied by a paying attendee).  CosPlayers and folks who bring non-perishable food items for people or pets get in for just $5.

Reposted Jana Shea at Newsworks

What I did last Saturday

Gretchen Gwen Chris Clemetson LSFW
Geniuses, all: Gretchen Weerheim, moi, Chris Clemetson.

Just because I have a few books out there with a Big Five publisher that doesn’t make me a somebody. (Okay, maybe it at least qualifies me for Amateur Plus status.) But once in a while I do get out in the World for a chance to mingle with the famous and near-famous, and that can only up my cred. Last weekend I was at the seventh annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in Iselin, here in my home state of New Jersey. It’s a fun event,  with workshops and panels and editor/agent appointments, speakers like Hank Phillippi Ryan.  I even got to attend a wicked Mad Libs session given by Kate McMurray,  Tere Michaels  and Damon Suede. And who knows, maybe I even learned something.

Gretchen, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Yours Truly
Gretchen, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Yours Truly
Kate McMurray, Tere Michaels, Damon Suede at Mad Libs LSFW
Kate McMurray, Tere Michaels, Damon Suede at Mad Libs LSFW

Writers Anonymous

hand blocking cameraAre you ever ashamed to call yourself a writer? I don’t mean consciously, but when someone asks you what you do, and I’m not referring to your nine-to-five job, do you shy away from mentioning your “shadow” career, only “admitting” it to your closest friends? Or when someone asks you “what’s new?” do you tell them you’ve just finished your latest chapter, or do you toss them non sequiturs? Do you answer your partner’s “What are you doing?” with “Oh, nothing,” even if you’re neck-deep into plotting? Do you consider your writing a guilty pleasure rather than a necessary part of your overall mental health? And most of all, do you write only when you can steal some time away from the “more important” things you have to do? Does any of this sound familiar? If it does then I have news for you: you’re seriously disrespecting The Work.

Easy for you to say, you may be saying. I have a home. A family. Kids. A job.  A cranky spouse. Responsibility! Bills to pay! <Fill in this blank with your bitch.> I get it. I GET IT.  I’m not saying you don’t have any of that. And I’m not denigrating it. You are. And why’s that? Because what you’re telling me is this “secret passion” you have is not important enough for the public. That it’s just some silly little thing you do now and then. And it deserves significantly less attention than your more respectable pastimes, such as checking Instagram on your phone, watching “The Walking Dead,” or hoisting a few on the deck (I may be persuaded to reconsider the last one). And that’s fine–as long as that’s how you really feel. Do you?

Truth be told, I used to. I hid my more creative bent from my friends and family, only indulging in it during what is known as “free time,” which could be exclusive of anything in the world from chopping wood to piloting the International Space Station, as long as it didn’t involve writing. But the thing was, I didn’t write any more or less. I still devoted an inordinate amount of time to my fiction; I just accomplished it after everything else “more important” was finished, even if I had to work late into the night. Then came the ultimate paradigm shift–I began to make money. Overnight my little hobby gained immediate legitimacy. Which forced me to ask myself, Does it take making money before anyone will take me seriously? A big resounding NO, and you know why? Because if I weren’t already taking myself seriously, I would’ve never been able to write well enough so someone else–someone like an editor–would consider my writing worth the risk.

You see, good writing doesn’t spring from your laptop by chance; it’s cultivated. It’s not enough to plant the casual seed and see if something will eventually come up, like so many random chimpanzees at countless random typewriters. It’s work. And if you are, indeed, a writer, my goodness! It’s nothing to be ashamed of!




Every year my grad alma mater, Western Connecticut State University‘s Masters in Fine Arts program sponsors the Housatonic Book Awards, which are now accepting nominations for 2016 in Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and YA (fiction or nonfiction). Books published in 2014 and 2015 are eligible in Fiction, and books published in 2015 are eligible in all other categories. Deadline is June 15. Authors, publishers, editors, and agents may nominate titles. $1500 for winners, who will visit a residency of the MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at WCSU. Guidelines for the awards are here.  Spread the word!

March Madness

e81c189f8951bf90ea28fc6741cc4d04Okay, it’s March now, and I’m sorry, this month is just weird. We celebrate being Irish, but how come we don’t have a day to celebrate being Dutch like me? I mean seriously, we have great chocolate and that kid who put his finger in the dike. And long before Colorado got legal they were smoking in the streets of Amsterdam, But I digress.

And isn’t that just typical. Because things getting weird seem so apropos this most weird of months. March is kind of like being a teenager: no longer a child, but not quite an adult either, made even worse because it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. For instance: even though Spring is just two weeks away, March is still messing around with Winter. Yesterday it was sixty; Friday the weather prediction is snow. (Okay—around this part of Jersey, they’re only calling for a brief, spate of slushiness early in the morning, but it still counts.) And even though the squirrels and sparrows are chasing each other up and down and around the maples and the daffodils are sprouting, I’m still turning on the furnace at night. Plus there’s my own self, still pudgy with winter poundage, but my feet and arms and legs are yearning to breath free, and isn’t that just cruel, as I found out today my body is suffering for it. After a routine blood screen, my doctor informed me I’m low in Vitamin D, which comes from not spending enough time outside. Big surprise there! Who wants to, when the outside’s not exactly been inviting lately—except for those two days when it sadistically flirted with the upper echelon of the thermometer. But isn’t that just typically spiteful of bipolar March.

I’m just sayin’… Think about it: it’s windy, and it’s associated with a lion. And although lions are majestic and strong, realistically—they will eat you. Julius Caesar was told by a seer on his way to the Senate to “beware the Ides of March.” To which he answered, “Well, the Ides of March have come,” and the seer replied “Aye, they have come, but they are not gone.” But he’d be, before the afternoon was out And then there’s that whole “March Madness” attributed to college basketball playoffs. Is it coincidence this term of insanity is applied? If it isn’t, then why isn’t the football season called “November Nutso” or baseball, “May Mania?” Because the other months just don’t seem as off-kilter as March, so expectedly unreasonable. But then again, maybe not as interesting.

Ah, well, onto April!