SHORT TAKES: Bite-sized Readings From Your Favorite Authors – Saturday, May 25, 2:00 PM


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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Harrison Demchick


Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

This week on Wolf Notes, we have Harrison Demchick.

Harrison HarrisonRaised in Baltimore, Maryland on a steady diet of magical realism, literary fiction, science-fiction, and Spider-Man comics, Harrison Demchick spent most of his formative years inside his own head, working out strange thoughts and ideas that would eventually make their way into stories, screenplays, and songs.

He went to Oberlin College to attain one of modern day’s most notoriously useless degrees, a BA in English with a creative writing concentration, but then actually used it, working for over a decade as a developmental editor of fiction and memoir. Harrison is also an optioned screenwriter, winner of the 2011 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, and an inaugural fellow of the Johns Hopkins University/Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund. His first film, Ape Canyon, is currently in production.

The Listeners, his first novel, was published by Bancroft Press in 2012. Short stories “Magicland” and “The Bead” were published in 2019. Otherguy, his debut EP, launched in 2018. He currently lives in Washington, D.C. with his girlfriend and their two cats with a combined seven legs. He’s working on a series of short stories, a couple screenplays, a pair of musicals, a concept album, and whatever else keeps him distracted from the dark void that will one day consume us all.

Wolf: I beat your BA in English with a Masters in Sculpture. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?

Harrison: Yo-yo. Because no one ever picks the yo-yo, and I don’t want it to feel left out.

What are we picking this for again?

Wolf: Just curious. Yo-yos are fun – and dangerous. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Harrison: Well, I’m a horror author. So.

In my genres (tossing in magical realism and dark fantasy), it’s fair to say that some very bad things are going to happen in some very weird ways. But one thing that scares me more than anything is the notion of losing yourself—of forgetting the basics of who you are, and knowing that you have. Even if your life before was terrible. That happens in a yet-unpublished novelette called Rugaru, Montana, and my protagonists are more or less faced with the choice of letting themselves forget everything or embracing the lives they were desperate to escape. That may be the meanest thing I’ve done to my characters.

Though I also do some pretty mean things to Daniel, the protagonist of my novel The Listeners.

Wolf: Forgetting who you are is mean. I’ve done that to my characters as well. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Harrison: I co-wrote a musical with a friend of mine. It was a zombie musical, so terrible things still happened, but at least they got to sing some fun songs beforehand.

Wolf: Too funny. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?

Harrison: I’m a cat person. Actually, honestly, I have a major phobia of dogs. But in my defense, this is only because all dogs secretly want to eat you and eventually overthrow humanity. My cats will also eat me, but only after I’m dead, which when you come down to it is more thoughtful than spiteful.

Wolf: Interesting way of looking at things. I hope you don’t mind being interviewed by a wolf. While walking in the woods you come across…

Harrison: Bigfoot. It has to be Bigfoot. I did a school project on Bigfoot when I was in fourth grade. I taught cryptozoology as a college class. I wrote a screenplay about searching for Bigfoot, and now Ape Canyon is my first film. I’ve earned Bigfoot.

Wolf: You have indeed. There is a door at the end of a dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?

Harrison: Well, hold on. There are a lot of variables in that scenario. First off, from which side of the door is the rumbling coming? And what sort of rumbling is it? Is it the rumbling of a train over tracks? An earthquake? The growling stomach of some unseen monster?

These latter questions will not be answered because I will be heading briskly in the opposite direction. The door is irrelevant. My characters go through these things so I don’t have to.

Wolf: Great answer. What five items would you want to have in a post-cataclysmic world?

Harrison: Oh, I wrote about one of these! The first and most important thing I would want is the most important thing Daniel in The Listeners suffers without: a friend. I happen to have a friend who owns a sword. I think a friend with a sword is a good bet in a post-cataclysmic world.

My second item would be a second friend, which is good to have in case the first friend dies or goes full-on zombie. Or if I do.

Actually, at least four of the five items would be friends. In all seriousness, there are all kinds of basic necessities you need to survive in a post-cataclysmic world, but it’s not worth surviving if you don’t have a reason to live. Friends will give you that. Friends will make the end of the world okay. One of them would be my fiancée, because she makes everything okay.

The fifth item is a guitar. I don’t know how to play the guitar, but if the world has ended I’d have plenty of time to learn.

I shouldn’t have evoked the concept of having time enough at last in a post-cataclysmic context. Now something terrible and ironic will happen.

Wolf: You want to live, not just survive. Friends are important for that. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Harrison: I’ve been writing a lot of shorter fiction the last couple years, and the nature of short fiction is such that you don’t live with an individual character for all that long. So it stands to reason that I become more attached to the ones with whom I spend the most time. There’s a special place in my heart for Cal Piker, the protagonist of Ape Canyon. Though I may identify most with Mindy, the protagonist of my screenplay Time-Traveling Idea Bandits. She’s a wildly enthusiastic aspiring writer struggling with serious self-doubt. That describes too many of my friends for me not to love her.

Wolf: What story are you working on now?

Harrison: I’ve just wrapped up a short story called “Sophie Anne” about a mother, her young daughter, and the Honey Tree Baby (think Cabbage Patch Doll) the mother gives her for her birthday. That sounds like the setup for a creepy possessed doll story. It’s not. Or not in the way you expect at least. It’s actually become one of the saddest things I’ve ever written. I’m very hopeful about it once I start submitting it to literary magazines and anthologies.

Wolf: Hope it does well. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Harrison: Wait—there are other things—?

Wolf: Perhaps not. Thanks for visiting. You can catch up with Harrison at these links:

Star Touched 


Wolf Dawn 

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Fantasy Journeys Book Signing at Cupboard Maker Books – May 18,

Looking for something to do on Saturday?

cupboard maker books flier

Join us at the Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, PA to meet three fantasy authors: Elana Mugdan; A.L. Kaplan; and Devon Taylor.

Elana Mugdan is the author of Dragon Child and Dragon Speaker, the first two books of her Shadow War Saga, the story of a crippled magic user chosen to save the world by a dragon god. Find out more about Elana and her books at

A.L. Kaplan is the author of Star Touched, the story of a healer cursed with fire powers in a post-apocalyptic world, and Wolf Dawn.

Devon Taylor is the author of the YA fantasy The Soul Keepers, the first book of his Soul Keepers series about a deceased teen finding a job aboard the ocean liner tasked with ferrying souls of the dead. Find out more about Devon and his books at

1:00 – 3:00 PM
157 N Enola Rd (Routes 11/15)
Enola, PA 17025

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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Elsa Wolf


Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

Today’s guest is Elsa Wolf.


A George Washington University graduate now living in the suburbs within the Baltimore-Washington corridor. Elsa Wolf began with a theater background, which developed into public relations and eventually into the ownership of a small equestrian business. Elsa spends her time writing, traveling, helping rescued horses, and supporting soldiers.

Wolf: I always liked horses. If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?

Elsa: If I could be any animal, it would likely be a wolf running free with my pack. However, I would like to be reincarnated several times with my companions. We could learn from our mistakes and make each life better than the last.

Wolf: Excellent choice. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Elsa: The nicest thing I’ve done for a character is help them find the lost bits of themselves through unexpected sources. In my current novel, Buried Truths-A Daughter’s Tale, the adopted daughter decides to find her birth-mother when she accidentally comes across a novel about a mother giving up her baby.

Wolf: I hope she finds the answers she is looking for. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?

Elsa: I have had cats and dogs over many decades. My cats while loving and independent, cannot match the devotion of my dogs. One in particular, gave me unconditional love and was a wonderful hiking companion. He helped me feel secure in any environment.

Wolf: I’m partial to dogs myself. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Elsa: If I had a superpower, I would want to be able to teleport at will from place to place with another person holding my hand. I love to travel and explore new sites as well as visit old haunts. Teleporting would give me lots of options.

Wolf: That’s cool. I’ve been working on a series with a teleport. What five items would you want to have in a post-cataclysmic world?

Elsa: In a post-cataclysmic world, I would have a pot for cooking and purifying water, a flint to lite fires, a pair of comfortable hiking boots, a layered water-proof jacket as well as a knife.

Wolf: Great picks. What story are you working on now?

Elsa: I am currently working on a novel with a military man who falls in love in Savannah, Georgia and then is traumatized in combat. He only sleeps a few hours a night and has mystical experiences in Savannah and then Portugal.

Wolf: I’d like to read that. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Elsa: When I’m not writing I like to take long walks or spend time with friends locally or while traveling. During my solo times, I listen to audiobooks or sew quilts and costumes.

Wolf: Costumes. Awesome. How do you find your characters?

Elsa: I find my characters while I sleep and dream, I find them out in public spaces, I find them in people I know and morph them into a new character, and I find them when I’m traveling.

Wolf: Thanks for visiting. Connect with Elsa through these links.

Star Touched

Now on audio


Wolf Dawn

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What People are Saying about STAR TOUCHED on Audible

Startouched AL Kaplan

There have been some great reviews of Star Touched on Audible. Here are a few.

Overall 5 out of 5 stars
Performance    5 out of 5 stars
Story  5 out of 5 stars
Rebecca Azizov
 “Unusual and unexpected” 

Overall 5 out of 5 stars
Performance    5 out of 5 stars
Story    5 out of 5 stars
Tracie Poling
 “Interesting, and original”

Overall    5 out of 5 stars
Performance    5 out of 5 stars
Story    5 out of 5 stars
Kayla Krantz
 “Powerful Fantasy” 

Overall    5 out of 5 stars
Performance   5 out of 5 stars
Story   5 out of 5 stars
Amazon Customer
 “Surprisingly epic!” 

Star Touched on Audible

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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Valerie J. Mikles


Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

Wolf: Say hello to Valerie J. Mikles.


Valerie cosplaying Captain Jack Harkness coming out of the TARDIS

Valerie is a PhD astronomer who found a home at NOAA working on weather satellites. She loves to travel and learn about other cultures, but considers herself a homebody the rest of the year. In September 2017, she published the first novel of her New Dawn series “The Disappeared,” and has since released several more. When not writing novels, she can be found at the community theater, acting, choreographing, costuming, or stage managing. She’s also written and produced a series of comedic short films about asexuality, inspired by her own journey of self-discovery. Her motto in life is “I can be everything I want, just not all at the same time.”

Wolf: That is a great motto. If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?

Valerie: I’d be some kind of fish living in warm, tropical waters. I love the ocean and I always feel cold, so a life at sea in a warm environment would be awesome. If I were a mermaid, I would occasionally beach myself on a rock and spend the night stargazing. I don’t know if I’d ever swim far north enough to see the Northern Lights (it’d just be too cold), but I could dip into the southern hemisphere to see the Magellanic Clouds. I think as long as being a mermaid didn’t require me to wear a sea-shell bra, I’d be okay with it. Otherwise, I’d want to be something simple, blue, and tropical, like a blue tang.

Wolf: How about a shell tunic? (Trying really hard not to start singing “Under the Sea”) If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?


Valerie cosplaying Deadpool at the Farpoint Con book sale.

Valerie: I’m stuck between knife and trebuchet. I feel like the knife is infinitely practical, portable, and reusable. As a minimalist, I also like that it can be used for many different things, like killing chickens, cutting fruit, and stabbing enemies. However, the trebuchet allows me to launch any number of weapons of opportunities a great distance, saving me the trouble of hand-to-hand combat, which I have admittedly not trained in. I don’t really foresee myself launching rocks, but I could totally launch plague-infested corpses into anti-vaxxer territory… sorry, is this getting too political? Also, if I needed an escape, I could launch myself.

Wolf: Not too political. I’m very much pro-science and pro-vaccine. You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.

Valerie: I have broad, soft leaves and bright, rainbow-colored, fragrant flowers. I love roses, both in softness and scent, but I wouldn’t be thorny like a rose bush, nor would I attract aphids and beetles. I am not the kind of plant that bugs crawl on. I naturally repulse them with my super-plant oils. I’d flourish in tropical climates with lots of humidity. When my seeds are tossed into flood waters, the water levels instantly go down, roots spread, and flowers bloom. I’m probably edible, too.

Wolf: Awesome! Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?


Sky (gray), Chase (black), and Hawk (tabby) looking up from a nap because I moved a muscle.

Valerie: I’m more of a cat person than a dog person, but one of my cats thinks he’s a dog. He barks at the squirrels in the back yard. (It’s a cat-like bark, but it’s not a meow.) I have three cats, but I’m a one-cat person. But when I adopted the first one, he was so sad and depressed, and my options were to take him back or try a friend. So, I went back to the person who’d fostered him and picked up a second cat. Things got instantly better for the first cat, but the poor second cat wasn’t able to handle his neediness 24-7. The third guy really balances the house, so now I have three happy cats and I just sit here constantly overwhelmed in my cat-crowded house. I hate when people call me a “cat mom” because I consider us to be more like roommates.

Wolf: Wow. You’re the second person who said their cat was like a dog, but the first on with a cat that barks. I’d love to hear a recording of that. While walking in the woods you come across…

Valerie: A snake eating another snake. True story. I grew up in Baltimore County, north of the city, before the houses turn to horse farms. My family went hiking with our dog almost every weekend. There were places nearby with dense woods, rocky trails, streams and rivers, and the occasional log bridge to challenge one’s balance. Once, we even did an Easter egg hunt in the woods, and left a hard-boiled egg for the woodland creatures because we couldn’t find it again. Though in retrospect, it’s possible something ate it. Which brings me to the snake. We didn’t often see snakes, but one day, I guess it was just that time of year, and the snakes were out. We jumped into a cool refreshing river after a long hike, and then jumped out five seconds later because a snake slithered in. Snakes are not the best swimming companions for humans. We bolted, and it seemed every time our heart rates slowed, another snake appeared on the path. After we crossed the snake eating another snake, we just kept running until we got to the car.

Wolf: That’s a lot of snakes. It must have been a snake holiday. What is your favorite body of water and why? (river, ocean, waterfall, puddle, bottle…)


Valerie at the beach

Valerie: How do I choose? When you swim in a river, your skin and hair get all soft. Fresh water doesn’t have waves, but it also doesn’t sting when you get some up your nose. It’s good for skiing… But the ocean is the ocean. Salt water has this whole other healing effect on the body. It’s soothing to stare at, more-so if you can listen to the waves crashing on the shore. You can choose your shoreline for gentle waves or giant ones. My perfect afternoon is at an Atlantic Coast beach, somewhere in south Florida. So, I guess the body of water is the Atlantic Ocean, at the part where it kisses Crescent Beach, Florida.

Wolf: Nice. What story are you working on now?

Valerie: I’m working on several. Book 6 of my series is with my editor, and I expect to have feedback on that soon so I can get it out later this year. Book 7 is ready for beta-readers, but I promised myself I’d slow down on the series. I also started work on two original novels. I’m super-excited about one called The Qinali Vaccine, which features an astral projecting asexual astronomer who is trying to save the human race from extinction. I don’t have a release date yet because I’m still wearing the rose-colored first draft glasses.

Wolf: Sounds interesting. Let me know when you’re ready for beta-reader for that one. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?


Ghostbuster Valerie emerging from the TARDIS with her first book!

Valerie: I do a little bit of everything. I’m a board member for my local community theater, and have filled many roles on and off the stage. My favorite role is choreographer. I love bringing stories to life through dance. I also love making films, playing piano and guitar, and sewing costumes. A few years ago, my antidepressants sent me into a hyper-mania, and I joined a gym to let off excess energy. I’ve really enjoyed getting stronger and learned some of the basics of power lifting. I can now lift a 50 lb. bag of cat litter with minimal effort. Also, I’m super excited to be able to open the fire doors at work without throwing my entire body weight behind the effort. Being strong is fun.

Wolf: It’s amazing how many writers also make costumes or another art form. The Arts are definitely connected. Thanks for visiting. Connect with Valerie through one of the links below.


Social Media Links: (books) (film) (books) (cosplay)
twitter: @valeriebean

Star Touched

Wolf Dawn

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My Balticon 53 Schedule

Balticon is only a few weeks away.

Here is my schedule.

Saturday, May 25th

Balticon Short Takes – Bite-sized readings from your soon-to-be favorite writers
2:00 PM in Kent

Sunday, May 26th

World building for Fantasy and SF Novels – Authors describe their world building process, what they have to research, and what they have to make up.
2:00 PM in Kent

Making Props – Come hear about the many techniques of making or modifying the props your costume needs.
3:00 PM in room 7006

Autographs – I’ll be signing books with Sarah Avery
5:00 PM on the 5th floor lobby near the Con Suite.

Poetry Open Mic – Come share poetry inspired by science, science fiction, and fantasy. Bring your own or your favorites.
8:00 PM in room 7029

Monday, May 27th

Readings: Authors A. L. Kaplan, Gwendolyn Clare, and Sabrina Vourvoulias read from their works.
10:00 AM in St. George

Hope to see you there.
(There may be a few last minute updates so make sure you check the schedule when you get there.)

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