Horror on Main Promo Image

Keith R.A. DeCandido and I are headed for Hunt Valley, MD, this weekend for Horror on Main. For us, a primarily selling event. Each of us will have an author reading, though.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail – 8pm Friday Night, Tell-Tale Library (with Mercedes M. Yardley)

Keith R.A. DeCandido – 2pm Saturday Afternoon, Tell-Tale Library (with Tim Lebbon)

All the rest of the time, you can find us in Monroeville Mall, the alternate dealer’s room. 

Show Hours
Guests of Honor 5 pm – 9 pm 10 am – 8 pm 10 am – 1 pm
Vendors 5 pm – 10 pm 10 am – 8 pm 10 am – 1 pm
Readings & Panels 6 pm – 9 pm 10 am – 8 pm n/a
Contests 9 pm – 11 pm 9 pm – 11 pm n/a


Oh, my! That happened fast… Heliosphere is just around the corner. Next weekend, in fact!

We really hope to see many of you there.

It is both my birthday and we have a book launch, so it’s going to be a non-stop party!

Here are our schedules:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

6:30 pm – 7:45 pm  – Salon D
Mythology – New Takes on Old Tales

2:30 pm – 3:45 pm  – Salon C
Making Our Monsters or Finding Them

4:00 pm – 5:15 pm  – Salon D
Story Inspiration from Breaking Science

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm  – Salon D
The eSpec Books Launch Party
8:00 pm – 9:15 pm  – Salon C
Signing (This is a group autograph session available to everyone)

11:30 am – 12:45 pm  – Library
Reading (Time shared with Hildy Silverman and Keith R. A. DeCandido)

1:00 pm – 2:15 pm  – Salon C
Marketing for Creatives

Mike McPhail

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm  – Salon D
The Biggest Mistakes Made by New Writers

5:00 pm – 6:15 pm  – Salon D
So you want to be in an anthology…
11:30am – 12:45pm  – Salon D
Writing Believable Injuries for Fictional Characters
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm  – Salon D
The eSpec Books Launch Party
8:00 pm – 9:15 pm  – Salon C
Signing (This is a group autograph session available to everyone)
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm  – Miracle Ballroom
Interview w/ Chuck Gannon

Other eSpec authors attending this weekend are James Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ef Deal, Hildy Silverman, Gordon Linzner, Amy Grech, Randee Dawn, Charles E. Gannon, Aaron Rosenberg, Jenifer Rosenberg, Russ Colchimaro, and Ian Randall Strock


Coming down to the wire, this time! Sorry, there has been so much going on.

tell-tale steampunk logo

We and a whole bunch of our authors–including David Lee Summers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Ef Deal, Dana Fraedrich, Jessica Lucci, Doc Coleman, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeff Young, Mike McPhail and John L. French–will be at the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival this weekend. In fact, we are something of a main attraction, with most of our authors present participating in the literary scavenger hunt being held during the event, and our anthology, A Cast of Crows (upon which the scavenger hunt is based) will be launching Saturday (along with our other new steampunk and dieselpunk titles).

Mostly, we will be in the dealer’s room, but here is our schedule.

Saturday, April 1 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
“Why do you think me Mad Libs.” (Tell-Tale Heart)
The Spectacles (main ballroom)
Don’t be nervous! Join our cast of crows (aka authors) for a madcap game of Mad Libs. The authors will take you on a wild ride of steampunk, Poe, and pure madness with stories that need some help from the audience to finish. Why do we insist they’re mad? Yell out while the crazy, creative, […]

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Ef Deal, Jessica Lucci, Christine Norris, Jeff Young

Saturday, April 1 @ 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Author Round Table – What’s the Big Ef Deal?
Poe’s Parlour
Meet the author of the French paranormal steampunk novel Esprit de Corpse and chat about the writing life, the joys of doing the research for steampunk fiction, and her plans for the continuing adventures of Jacqueline and Angélique, the Twins of Bellesfées.

Saturday, April 1 @ 4:30 pm – 5:15 pm
Author Round Table – Writing process with Jessica Lucci
Poe’s Parlour
Plotters, pantsers, and in betweeners: join steampunk author Jessica Lucci and learn fun, easy to follow, writing plans to execute your next story!

Saturday, April 1 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Beyond The Oblong Box Podcast taping
The Spectacles (main ballroom)
Beyond The Oblong Box is a podcast born of a need to eliminate misinformation about Edgar Allan Poe. Join your hosts Levi Leland and Virginia Poe as they discuss the loves, life, works, and the world in which Poe once resided

Saturday, April 1 @ 5:15 pm – 6:00 pm
Author Round Table – Writing Steampunk in the Wild West and Around the World
Poe’s Parlour
David Lee Summers often sets his steampunk in the western United States of the late 1800s where many cultures were meeting and colliding. Join him for a discussion of why the region appeals to him and the opportunities it presents for telling multicultural steampunk stories.

Saturday, April 1 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
A Cast of Crows: Poe-Inspired Steampunk Book Launch
Rue Morgue Panel Room

Come celebrate the launch of A Cast of Crows, the premiere volume in the Forgotten Lore series, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and featuring stories by David Lee Summers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Judi Fleming, Aaron Rosenberg, Ef Deal, Dana Fraedrich, Jessica Lucci, Doc Coleman, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Also launching: Grimm Machinations and Grease Monkeys.
Contributing authors to the three anthologies attending the launch will be David Lee Summers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Ef Deal, Dana Fraedrich, Jessica Lucci, Doc Coleman, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeff Young, and John L. French.

Sunday, April 2 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Author Round Table – Audiobooks for Indie Authors
Poe’s Parlour
Dana Fraedrich has explored every audiobook creation route so you don’t have to. From DIY to hiring a professional voice actor, ACX to Findaway, and more. Come with your audiobook creation questions and allow Dana to demystify this daunting (and rapidly growing) corner of the market for you.

Sunday, April 2 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
More than Gears and Goggles
Poe’s Parlour
Join a round table, intimate discussion with writer, editor and publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail. She will discuss suggestions for taking your writing, crafting, or costuming to the next level by paying attention to the relevant details.


cropped-FarpHeaderEvenBetterAll the cool kids are doing it, so here go our schedules for Farpoint taking place February 10 – 12 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Really hope to see you all there! We will be celebrating the release of Aaron Rosenberg’s Yeti Left Home and Keith R.A. DeCandido’s upcoming Phoenix Precinct, among other titles, as well as spreading the word about our Kickstarter campaign, Full Steam Ahead! which will be in the final days of its funding period.

Many eSpec authors will be there that weekend, and where possible, I have included links to their schedules as well.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail


5:00 PM – Salon D
Salvaging Old Ideas


1:00 PM – Salon D
Developing A World 
6:00 PM – Salon D
Build A Book Workshop


Noon – Derby
Author Readings (McPhail, Woosley, Abbott) – 

Mike McPhail

Noon Salon D
Write What You Know 
Noon Salon D
Publishing Nightmares And Cautionary Tales

Related Schedule Posts


Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!

ChessielogoThe time is upon us! We have been doing ChessieCon for years… since before it was ChessieCon, in fact. Last year I was invited as Guest of Honor, but sadly the event was forced to go virtual again because they lost their hotel and did not have sufficient time to secure another one.

This year they are at the Hunt Valley (formerly the Marriot, currently, I believe, Delta… but I could be wrong. This hotel has more identities than Sybil, but tell someone you’re going to be at the Hunt Valley, and they will know exactly where you mean!) In any case, I am invited back again this year as Guest of Honor, and I am so excited about the line-up they have scheduled. We will, of course, have a space in the dealer’s room where I can be found when I am not on panels or committed to other official things. Here is my schedule for the weekend:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail


5pm – Salon F
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Reading
7:30pm – Salon D
Basics of Crowdfunding


10 am – Valley Room
Mass Signing
11:30 am – Salon C
Bug-Eyed Monsters and Other Alien Menaces
S/FF literature is rife with all sorts of threats to humanity. From literal Bug-Eyed monsters that want to harvest your organs to ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and “The Thing”, to benign-seeming aliens that want to control your mind. How might actual extraterrestrial threats manifest themselves?
4 pm – Salon C
Alien Cultures vs Human Cultures
Aliens have often been portrayed as humanoid-sorts of beings, particularly in visual media. But what sort of cultural differences might come about if an alien weren’t at all humanoid?
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Con Suite
The eSpec Book Launch Party – Come help us celebrate our 2022 new releases, including Daire’s Devils and The Play of Light by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, The Clockwork Solution by Michelle D. Sonnier, Esprit de Corpse by Ef Deal, Chessie At Bay by John L. French, and the anthology Devilish & Divine, edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail
We will have author readings, goodie bags, books, and a prize raffle


10 am – (wherever they are)
11 am – Salon D
Stand-Alone Books vs Series, Salon D, Sunday 1100
So, you’ve written a story. It’s complete, it’s coherent, it has an interesting plot, believable world-building, engaging characters, all that good stuff. But has your story come to an actual end? If this part of the story is over, is there a need or room for another part of the story? In other words, does it need a sequel, a prequel, or a somehow related different story?

Mike McPhail

Dealers Room – Mike is taking a pass on programming this weekend to help cover the dealer’s table while I am off doing Guest of Honor stuff.


We’re Back, Baby!

So excited to prepare for another Philcon. There is a lot going on for this one. Not the least of which, Keith R.A. DeCandido, a long-time friend and one of our authors, is Philcon’s Guest of Honor! And a lot of our friends/authors are coming as well. Can’t wait to see all the lovely faces I haven’t seen in forever.

As usual, we will be in the dealer’s room, on panels, and holding a book launch on Saturday, 11/19, in the Con Suite from 8pm to 10pm, celebrating all of the books. Several are releasing brand-new for this convention, two are sneak peeks coming out next year, and several came out earlier this year and are just now getting their time in the sun. Come help us celebrate!

Also, below are our schedules because, you know, that’s what you do!

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Saturday, November 19

The Strength of the Team
Plaza 5
Tracks: Literary
Types: Panel

We’ve talked about how to write flawed heroes and likable villains, but what about ensembles? What should you keep in mind when writing for a group of characters who have to work together? How might the move away from traditionally ascribed gender roles (and the gender binary) further affect the dynamics of a team?

Why Join Professional Associations?
Crystal 3
Tracks: Literary
Types: Panel

SFWA, HWA, Broad Universe — what’s the deal with all the writers’ associations? What benefits are there for an author who joins one, or more than one?  What are the different membership requirements? 

Book Launch Party by eSpec Books

Book Launch Party hosted by eSpec Books in celebration of their newest releases.

Sunday, November 20

Readings: Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Tracks: Readings
Types: Reading

Reading by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Mike McPhail

Friday, November 18

If the Computer Generated It, Is It Art?
Crystal 3
Tracks: Art
Types: Panel

AI-generated art, or at least algorithm-generated art, is appearing all over social media, personal websites and self-published book covers.  Some has even won awards.  The computers are poised to compete with commercial artists.  But if it’s a calculation based on what is most common or most popular, is it really art?  Does art require sentience?

Saturday, November 19

External Influences
Plaza 4
Tracks: Literary
Types: Panel

How does a writer’s perception of their audience’s interests affect how or what they chose to write? How does a publisher’s understanding of the desires of readers or viewers, or their choice of target market, impact the story that is actually printed?

Sunday, November 20

Vintage RPG Discussion
Plaza 5
Tracks: Gaming
Types: Panel

Panelists discuss vintage roleplaying games.  

Other eSpec authors attending are:

Aaron Rosenberg, Amy Grech, Anton Kukal, Carol Gyzander, Christine Norris, Ef Deal, Eric Hardenbrook, Gordon Linzner, Hildy Silverman, Ian Randal Strock, Jean Marie Ward, Jim (Stratton) Reichert, Jorie Rao, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Michelle D. Sonnier, Peter Prellwitz, Randee Dawn, Robert E Waters, Russ Colchamiro, Teel James Glenn, and Ty Drago

You can find their schedules on the Philcon website.


Wow! It has been a while, but we are back! Mike McPhail and I are very excited to be attending Capclave in just a week. We hope to see all of you there. In addition to us, there will be a number of eSpec authors there this year, including Jack Campbell, Charles Gannon, Ian Randal Strock, Jean Marie Ward, Lawrence M. Schoen, Randee Dawn, and Ty Drago. You can find everyone’s schedules here on the Capclave website, but for your convenience, Mike’s and my schedule are as follows:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

10:00 PM  25 Min        Monroe 
Author Reading: Danielle Ackley-McPhail   
10:00 AM  1 Hr 30 Min  Wilson
Book Design 101 
1:00 PM    1 Hr          Truman
Anthology Builder   
4:00 PM    1 Hr          Eisenhower
Ask the Editors   
10:00 AM  1 Hr          Eisenhower
Alternatives to Traditional Publishing   

Mike McPhail

4:00 PM    1 Hr          Eisenhower
The State of Small Press Publishing 
11:30 AM  1 Hr          Truman
Gaming and SFF 


Wow… Just wow!

20220715_133636This weekend was our return to Shore Leave after the two-year hiatus. Man, were we glad to be back! We had tons of new titles and tried a few new things set-up and procedure-wise. One of which was trying out the new Square Terminal. I balked real hard at the price, but after this weekend I have zero regrets. At the last few shows, we struggled with connecting the Square to our phones and keeping it connected. This weekend, we messed with 20220622_210318none of that. All the sales went through fast and fine. And bonus, neither of us had to leave our phones/clocks behind when we went on panels.

We also got to connect with our friends/authors and meet potential new ones in person. Not to mention discuss potential projects to both produce or participate in. Beyond being on panels and chatting in the dealer’s room, there was an amazing author dinner on Saturday night, hosted by Keith R.A. DeCandido and Wrenn Simms and catered by Andy P. Nelson’s BBQ!

Our panels went well, New and Upcoming Titles, Cryptozoology: Making Our Monsters or Proving Them, and Crowdfunding Your Book for me, and panels on Anthologies, Freelancing, and Cover Art for Mike. Then there was the mass eSpec Books panel, well-represented by Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher L. Bennett, Russ Colchamiro, Hildy Silverman, Robert Greenberger, Mike McPhail, and myself. All in all, the panels were well attended and enjoyable to participate in.

20220716_100402Overall, it was amazing to be back among like-minded individuals, sharing our joys and passions, as well as networking and connecting with fans. And it seems like it was the year to show some love because every time we turned around, someone treated us or presented us with a gift. 20220716_135922Don’t worry… we won’t let it go to our heads and start expecting to be showered with tribute wherever we go, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t warm our hearts and fill us with love. Hiatus aside, it is easy to lose track in this industry of what kind of impact we have as authors and professionals because so much of what we do involves solitary work. When you tell us or show us how we have touched your life as a fan or a professional, it galvanizes us for future great works 🙂 We feel seen in a good way, and we can’t thank you enough for such moments because it is so easy to become disheartened.

20220715_20092020220717_125428Even better, we received tokens of appreciation for our staff, who greatly appreciated it, to our everlasting delight. We are so glad that Spot, Spec, Karma, and Shiloh have a soft spot in your hearts, as they do ours. They work hard to ensure you have your daily dose of cuteness and they do expect to be showered with tribute (from us) and these tokens have taken some of that burden off of us for the time being 😉

Don’t bother with the sound. It’s just background noise, but posting it to YouTube was the only way WordPress would let me share a video. Thank you, Bradi, for all of the wonderful toys! The office staff is much appreciative.


So very excited to be getting back to this convention this year. I miss mingling among my fan/family in a familiar and comfortable environment. A lot of fond memories at the Hunt Valley hotel. Really looking forward to celebrating new book releases along with many new-to-SH titles that released over the 2-year hiatus.

  • Gone to Ground (Systema Paradoxa Volume 2) by Aaron Rosenberg
  • All-The-Way House (Systema Paradoxa Volume 4) by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Found Footage (Systema Paradoxa Volume 11) by Mary Fan
  • The Play of Light (Systema Paradoxa Volume 12) by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • Daire’s Devils by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • Devilish & Divine (edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, with stories by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Danielle Ackley-McPhail and others.)

For those of you joining us for Shore Leave 2022 this year, below are our panel schedules. Outside of those times, please do come looking for us in the dealer’s room!

We are going light on the horns this year, but heavy on the books and the ginger!



Oh my! This isn’t our first convention back, but it is the biggie! Both excited and a little anxious to be returning to Balticon after two long years away. I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to seeing our fan fam after so long.  Mike McPhail is easing his way back into the circuit and coming just for support and enjoyment this year, but Danielle has a rather nice schedule that leaves her plenty of time to both man the dealer’s table and socialize, the particulars of which you can find below.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail


8:30 PM    Homeland
How to Incorporate Critique (In-person)
Brandon Ketchum (moderator), Geoffrey A. Landis, Adeena Mignogna, Wen Spencer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Someone’s read your work in progress… and they have feedback. How do you know what should be incorporated, and how can you do it so that changes feel consistent with what you’ve written? How can you deal with conflicting suggestions? How do you tell the difference between impartial constructive feedback and a reader’s personal preference?


2:30 PM     Homeland
Writing the Fight Scene   
John Appel (moderator), D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Brandon Ketchum, Wen Spencer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
A good fight scene can improve the pacing of your novel, raise the stakes for your character, and add immediacy to your writing. But how do you do it well? How do you determine what weapons your character would use and how do you convincingly portray that? Short of studying martial arts for ten years and achieving a black belt, how do you research the combat skills so essential to a pulse-pounding action scene?


10:00 AM     Homeland
Sustaining Tension in Your Writing     
Elektra Hammond (moderator), Lezli Robyn, Brandon Ketchum, Nancy Springer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Narrative works maintain audience interest through the buildup and release of tension, but how do creators balance this with the requirements of character development and plot construction? How can tension be maintained when audiences can see how many pages (or minutes) are left, or are familiar enough with genre conventions to know what to expect?
11:30 AM     St. George
Readings: Christie Meierz and Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Christie Meierz, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
The authors will read from their new and upcoming works.
7:00 PM       Baltimore Ballroom A
eSpec Book Launch 
Carol Gyzander, John L. French, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Hildy Silverman, Michelle D. Sonnier, Robert E. Waters
Please join us as we celebrate the release of our most recent titles: The Clockwork Solution by Michelle D. Sonnier, Chessie At Bay by John L. French, Daire’s Devils by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eyes of the Wolf by Robert E. Waters, Even in the Grave edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, and Devilish & Divine edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail (with stories by stories by Robert E. Waters, Michelle D. Sonnier, and Hildy Silverman). There will be authors, books, homemade cookies, fun, and prizes! (Just a little different than the launches we have a reputation for throwing, but we hope you will come to help us celebrate just the same.)                              


1:00 PM      Guilford
I Sold a Novel! Now What? 
Gail Z. Martin (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
So you have sold a novel, either through a traditional publisher or via the self-publishing route. Now what? How do you make sure that people buy (and read!) your work? We’ll talk marketing, publicity, touring, and other ways of infecting the public with your mind virus.