J. “Cal” Baldari

J. "Cal" BaldariProf. Cal Baldari is a retired U.S. Army Sapper and military instructor turned professor of philosophy with a focus in applied and normative ethics. His research credits include alternative military ethics, Aristotelian excellence, moral conflict in literature, implicit bias, modern heroics, RPG morality, and many others. He has published both academically and creatively, with author credits in short military science fiction and fantasy as well as his academic specialty. As an avid tabletop role-player and game designer, Cal has run games for over a dozen systems professionally. He specializes in the design of moral systems in role-playing and moral conflict in storylines, modules, and canonical backstory. He also provides expert services for authors, game designers, and comics writers; advising on ethics and continuity concerns. Finally, Cal is firmly entrenched in the battle to bring diversity and inclusivity to fandom. His work on implicit bias often references the broadening of “geek culture” and the awesome efforts many geeks have put forth to make this hobby one in which everyone, absolutely everyone, can enjoy it with impunity.

Cal regularly speaks at science fiction, fantasy, anime, comic, and similar conventions on his wide array of expertise. These can include subjects as diverse as “writing the best battle scenes” to “D&D alignments, are they all just Chaotic Stupid?” to “The strength of diversity in modern cinematic superhero culture.”


Greg Smith

Greg SmithGreg Smith is a writing coach, editor, and publisher. He founded the Agile Writer Workshop in 2011 with the mission of finding a method to help beginning writers complete a first-draft in six months. His seminars on the Agile Writer Method have informed and delighted thousands of writers, scholars, and university students. Greg is a developmental editor and coaches authors through the self-publishing maze. Greg also writes for the movie-review blog ReelHeroes.net. Greg can be reached at greg@agilewriters.com and AgileWriters.com.


Tangent Artists

Tangent Artists started out back in 2006 as a webcomic company that updated once a week. Since then, they’ve grown into a fantasy genre powerhouse with comics, game aids, and books. Creators of The Handbook for Saucy Bards and other Guild Guides, they’re also known for their comics, Skeleton Crew (a macabre comedy) and CRIT! (swords sorcery & sarcasm) as well as the Fate Accompli erasable game aids. What will Tangent Artists cook up next? It depends on how many hours of sleep they can replace with tea and coffee.

Featuring: Monica Marier (writer/head artist) David Joria (writer) and Rachael Hixon (writer/colourist/print maven)

Tangent Artists

T. Eric Bakutis

T. Eric BakutisT. Eric Bakutis is a professional videogame designer and author based in Maryland. His first book, Glyphbinder, was a finalist for the 2014 Compton Crook Award, and his short story “Splitting Arrows” recently won 1st place in the 2018 Farpoint Convention Writing Contest. His latest “grimsnark” sci-fi thriller, Supremacy’s Shadow, is now available. You can find links to sample chapters from his books and also read his cyberpunk police procedural, Loose Circuit, for free at tebakutis.com. He has played over 200 hours of Skyrim VR.


Catherine Asaro

Catherine AsaroCatherine Asaro has written more than 25 books in science fiction, fantasy, and near-future thrillers. She earned her doctorate in chemical physics and master’s in physics, both at Harvard. Her works The Quantum Rose and The Spacetime Pool are both Nebula® Award winners. Among her other distinctions, she is a multiple winner of the AnLab from Analog Magazine and the RT BOOKClub Award for “Best Science Fiction Novel.” Her most recent books are Undercity (Baen) and Lighting Strike, Book II. Her latest book, The Bronzed Skies, came out from Baen. A former ballet and jazz dancer, Catherine has performed on both coasts and in Ohio. As a musician, she performs at various cons and jazz clubs. She has appeared at cons and other venues as a Guest of Honor or author guest in the US and abroad. For more information, see her Facebook page at facebook.com/Catherine.Asaro.


C. McDonnell

C. McDonnellChristine McDonnell has been creating fictional worlds since her elementary school years, and her passion for fantasy has existed her whole life. After having ten short stories and three novels published, that passion hasn’t faded one iota. She currently resides in Virginia with her fiancé, Brock, and dog, Buddy, and continues to create worlds of fantasy, magic, and friendships that transcend life and death.


James Ford Allen

James Ford AllenJames Ford “Butch” Allen is a nobody, but is best known for his work as Chairman of MarsCon, the longest running science fiction convention in Tidewater, VA, and has a long history in Virginia fandom. He served as Chairman for Sci-Con, president for The Hampton Roads Science Fiction Association, and editor for The Liberated Quark, the clubs fanzine.

Butch recently retired from NASA Langley in Hampton, VA with 35 years of service as an Aerospace Technician. He is married to his beautiful wife Beverley, and is the favorite boy toy of their cat Priscilla.


JM Beal

JM BealJM Beal started writing back in the dark days before smart devices, on pieces of receipt paper while working behind a drug store checkout counter. She’s currently halfway through a series of children’s books based on Edgar Allan Poe stories retold by animals. She also writes paranormal and science fiction books for adults. When she’s not pretending to write, she pretends to co-run Golden Fleece Press. She lives outside DC with one-point-five humans and three cats.


Harry “Jack” Heckel

Harry HeckelHarry Heckel grew up in Mechanicsville, VA, and after leaving home, strangely found his way back there, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and two cats. He loves roleplaying games, tabletop games, painting miniatures, and superheroes.

Harry started his career writing roleplaying games. He has authored, co-authored, or contributed to over thirty products for games such as Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game and Star Trek. He still freelances today, and his most recent roleplaying work was for Mummy: The Curse. He also writes for tabletop and miniatures games with work done for Arcadia Quest: Inferno and Arcadia Quest: Pets along with the miniatures game Dark Age.

His first novel was set in the grim darkness of Warhammer 40K, when he was selected to co-author two Space Wolf books under the name Lee Lightner. He wrote a few books that came from completing Nanowrimo over the years and published through indy presses under his own name.

Currently, Harry is a co-author of comedic fantasy, being half of Jack Heckel. The Charming Tales, which are collected in A Fairy-tale Ending and Pitchfork of Destiny, are novels that blend a bit of The Princess Bride and Shrek, while his current series, The Mysterium, has fun with epic fantasy, roleplaying games and university life. The first book, The Dark Lord, begins the story of Avery Stewart, a wizard grad student experimenting in a sub-world as a Dark Lord. The second book, The Darker Lord, was released in paperback on September 4th, and the final volume, The Darkest Lord, comes out this winter.


Patrick A. Vanner

Patrick A. Vanner was born into a Marine family, and after attending Penn State, majoring in aerospace and electrical engineering, he enlisted in the Marine Corps like his parents before him. After a successful military tour, he earned a degree in network administration and began a career in telecommunications and information technology. in 2010, his novel, Ragnarok, was published by Baen Books. He divides his time between his family, working, reading, and gaming. Patrick currently lives with the love of his life, Heather, his two boys, Corbin and Logan, and seven insane cats and one dog that make their lives interesting in every sense of the ancient Chinese curse.