For the past two summers, I have helped raise money for the American Red Cross by playing toastmaster at Shore Leave’s Author Roast. The brainchild of David Mack, the Roast gave us a chance to do something for fun, give people a chance to make a valuable donation, and kick off the con with a bang.By being Roastmaster, I got to maintain order and avoid taking a solid 5-10 minute turn in the spotlight where I could cruelly mock Keith DeCandido’s talent or mourn the passing of Michael Jan Friedman’s career.Now, gulp, it’s my turn.Dave decreed some time back that I was the next logical candidate and asked if I would submit. How could I say no to the American Red Cross? Over the last few months, he’s been planning, because other than being a terrific writer, Dave is also a producer at heart. He pours countless hours into making this a wonderful event, as professional a product as time, venue and dollars allow.Come July 8, I will be taking the hits from a star-studded line-up of peers and peer wanna-bes. The thing that scares me the most, to be honest, is that I have to deliver the rebuttal. In previous years, Dave and Star Trek magazine editor Paul Simpson have been working with me on the overall script and this year I’ll be working without a net.The previous two years were modeled after the Comedy Central Roasts that Dave and others were intimately familiar with. I, being a graybeard, was raised on the NBC Dean Martin Roasts which were based on the Friar’s Club roasts. The humor was timely, barbed, and truly very funny without being raw and crude. Out of respect for my preferences, Dave is styling everything after those more trasditional events as you can tell by the poster.While we are raising money for charity, it also costs money to mount these and Dave is scouting for sponsors and he has the details here. Additionally, for the first time, Dave has opened a Café Press store with merchandise to help raise funds to offset the costs, with anything leftover going to charity.I gotta admit, the stickers and magnets would certainly make great campaign gear were I to run for something in Farifield’s November elections. Anyway, please consider supporting us by attending or if you can’t come, buy some merchandise or be a producer – the Red Cross will certainly thank you.