Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

Hello and welcome to the May 2015 issue of Aphelion Webzine!

P&E Top Ten

I'm going to be on several panel discussions at LibertyCon in late June. Regular Liberty or AnachroCon attendees who have seen me on panels may not realize that I suffer from near-paralyzing stage fright. Sure, I look like I'm calm and collected, but I am frightened to speak in public. Why do I do it anyway? Because I am asked nicely!

A fear like this one is an odd thing. It hits different people in differing ways. Some people can't cope, some people learn to cope, and some people look like they cope altogether too well. I hope that people see me in the "they learned to cope" segment of the population.

For many years I have been going to safety meetings at work. These usually involve not only question and answer sessions, but also breakout groups that study some topic in depth for later presentations to the larger group. Almost every time I wind up being appointed the presenter. After several years of this, I finally stopped trembling in fear the whole time. These training sessions usually happen twice or more every year. I've been there for 37 years, so it has become a bit familiar. There is also a great deal of repetition in the training material itself, as you can imagine. Safety meetings and OSHA training sessions at work now feature comedic moments of the trainers looking at me and saying "someone answer this besides Dan." Because I do answer questions when my co-workers remain silent. Not because they don't know the answers, but because they *don't like drawing attention to themselves.* I don't either. I'm not a LOOK AT ME kind of guy. In fact, I rarely enjoy being in the company of LOOK AT ME people. I'd rather be invisible, truth to tell, but events often eventuate differently from my desires. So, I learned to speak in public even though I usually tremble in fear. From all reports, I've actually become rather entertaining as a public speaker. Go figure. One of my worst weaknesses has become a strength. I've grown as a person, changed, turned a fear into a talent. So when you see me on a panel, remember that I'm scared spitless, and please do be kind.

You have a better chance of seeing me on panels at LibertyCon than AnachroCon. That's because as AnachroCon has grown, a far larger talent pool developed, so my services were less and less needed. Since I've been at every AnachroCon so far, and make no mistake it is still a very young convention, the first few years saw me behind the table with other panelists. Now that the convention is no longer in its infancy, there are many more people to draw from when the panels are being planned. My services being less needed allows me to enjoy the convention more as an attendee, rather than a guest. I'm more frequently to be found wandering the halls, drink in hand, getting myself into conversations, and having a grand time.

Not that being on panels made me enjoy the conventions less, but being free of the center of attention is a freedom to be savored, so to speak. At LibertyCon, I'm one of the regulars as well, but with less seniority. I joined the LibertyCon family rather late in the game. My very first LibertyCon, I was just one of many people attending. As I made friends there, I began to stand out from the crowd a bit. Some folks were aware of Aphelion, and I'm on the list of guest writers who attend on their own dime, rather than as special guests. Because of Aphelion, I'm usually on panels about writing, e-publishing, and editing in general. Having a book out will be even more of the same. Because of AnachroCon, I'm also asked to be on LibertyCon panels about steampunk. Since more and more people are getting into steampunk, I can defer to those more expert on the various topics without fear of looking as if I'm some sort of infallible guru. There is bound to be someone in the audience who knows a lot more on any given topic than I know. Usually, I've met these people at AnachroCon and can recognize them. All I have to do is remember who is interested in what, and I'm off the hook on some difficult question.

I've also been called upon to moderate a panel from time to time. That is an even bigger challenge for my stage fright, as you can no doubt imagine. No only do I have to be in front of an audience, but I also have to ride herd on my fellow panelists. Some of whom are LOOK AT ME people, and some are just as timid as myself. Another duty of a panel moderator is to keep track of the time so a panel doesn't run overlong. Yet another duty is to conduct the question and answer sessions that usually conclude a panel. Being a moderator is more stressful than being a panelist. Yet with practice, I have risen to the occasion.

So going to conventions has been beneficial to me on several levels. I'm less fearful about being in front of an audience now. I'm getting a reputation as being friendly, approachable, and entertaining. I even get asked to sign autographs, from time to time. Another benefit of going to conventions is that I can now go to a bookstore and look at the names of writers on the book covers, and remember many of them as friends I've actually met, shared a panel with, or even bellied up to the bar alongside. My life has been made richer because I've had to overcome my stage fright.

Turning a handicap into a strength is a very human thing. Even a very minor handicap like mine has become a thing that brought me into a wider world. What is remarkable is that I fell into overcoming it by a simple accident. I was simply in the right places at the right times. I have many people to thank.

So, there is a look into my mind for you. I'm not so different from anyone else. Writers and editors and publishers are just normal people with jobs that make them look larger than life. Really, the gap between anyone out on the street and someone up on a stage is a very tiny thing. It nearly vanishes when you examine it closely, in fact. The gap you might see between a reader and a writer is much the same. We're all readers in the long run.

Time for me to shut up and let you get to the zine!



First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be useful while we transition between e-mailing lists. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

Dan's Music Page This is my promo page here at Aphelion. All the links below, and more information about the albums, are located here.

The Never Bank On A Learning Curve CD on the Create Space website. My first album, with a wide range of styles and genres, covering the past three years of my working with the MAGIX Music Maker programs.

The Second Helping CD on the Create Space website. My second album, with just as wide a range of different musical styles, showing just how much I've learned in the past three years.

Dan's Studio-D Page on the Bandcamp website. Digital downloads of the albums, or each individual song if you prefer it that way. Just click on the album cover thumbnails and you'll see a list of each song on the album. Next to the song titles are links to read the liner notes, or to download the individual song. You can listen to each song for free. There is also a link to download each entire album at one go. I cannot say enough about Bandcamp! This is an amazing website. I have Rob, and many other friends, to thank for finally talking me into checking it out.

Here are some links to pages I have up promoting my music. When my book comes out I'll add those links to the promotion page, too. So far, there are links on that page to the Create Space Preview songs, the Create Space page for each album, the Amazon.com listings, and the link to the digital downloads page.

And here's a link to my Sound Cloud page:

Dan's Sound Cloud Page where all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,



Title: Star Forming Region S106
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)