Archon 40

OK, post-Archon hangover is done, so it’s back to the regular grind. Archon was a blast. My daughter came along this time and I had a hall table as well as doing the panel/schmooz thing. We had the best sales at a show that I’ve had in a couple of years and it’s interesting that my non-fiction book, Terra Incognito, was far and away my best-seller. Next best selling were my four pulp fiction books (fantasy noir, 40s super heroes, Musketeers, jazz musicians), then my graphic novel, and then my SF/F anthologies. If I’ve learned anything about signings/book selling is there is no rhyme or reason to what sells – stuff that does great at one show can’t be given away at the next and vice-versa. My daughter did yeoman’s work keeping the table running while I was off doing panels or fetching food (you didn’t think she was going to buy lunch for me, did you?), and seemed to enjoy herself at the show, even if there weren’t any panels that interested her (which surprised me).

I did five panels at Archon.

Advice for New Writers was fun – I had Ellen Datlow on that one along with three other acquiring editors. Outside of telling people to run while they still could, the advice was more on how to properly submit, how to research prospective places to submit, how not to annoy the acquiring editor within the first three words, etc. Very little about writing tips, but then again, I was the only one on the panel who was primarily a writer.

How to tell a Good Indie Publisher from a Bad Indie Publisher – Not quite as well organized as the advise panel. There was a lot of digression into self-publishing, which I thought took some of the strength out of the panel, but there was good advice for those interested in self-pubbing. I did manage to get a good plug in for Writer Beware, the Beware’s board at Absolute Write, and Preditors and Editors.

The Golden Age of Radio – A fantastic panel, plus I got to fanboy a bit because I was sitting next to Christopher Stasheff, (the Warlock Series). We discussed how not only specific radio programs (Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Dimension X, Lux Radio Theater, Jack Benny, Dragnet, Lone Ranger, Suspense, The Whistler, etc.), but the social effect of radio in the 40s and 50s. Plus, we discussed the “theater of the mind” effect of radio versus TV where you see everything that’s happening. Also, we discussed the classic radio sports play-by-play announcers (Mel Allen, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Jack Buck) and how they made the games come alive as they described what was happening for the hometown audience. We easily could have gone on for hours about the subject and they’re hoping to do multiple radio panels next year (and maybe try to include some of the modern podcasts that feature doing performances).

The Marvel Cinematic Universe panel was probably the weakest one I was on, but it was no fault of the moderator. We had a huge crowd (probably sixty people), but certain elements kept wanting to try and drag the current comic story lines into the discussion and complain the movies weren’t following their (interpretation/favorite arc/insert complaint de jure here). I tried to explain that the movie audience was much larger than the current comic audience and most had not grown up with Marvel comics so of course, the stories were written adapted for newcomers, but that’s not what the “rabid fanboys” wanted to hear. So, there were some good discussions, but not as many as I’d hoped.

My final panel was Writing Realistic Combat, which went very well. We had all different levels of experience on the panel, but everyone had their own sources to go to for finding information (and I copied down several people to go check out on YouTube). However, we all agreed, if it comes down to doing a completely realistic combat scene and writing an entertaining one, always err on the side of entertaining. Let the pedants dissect every error Errol Flynn made with his duel with Basil Rathbone. Me? I’ll just enjoy watching it. Same with Westley and Inigo.

So, good panels, good sales, and a weekend hanging out with my daughter. Can’t ask for much more than that. (Well, I could have sold out of all my stock on Friday and had the rest of the weekend to just hang, but that’s being greedy.)

MystiCon 2016 trip report

Officially recovering from MystiCon 2016. It was a whirlwind of a convention and came and went in a blur. It was fantastic catching up with so many friends and acquaintances and getting to meet several new people who I’d enjoy hanging out with in the future. It seemed like I was constantly running from panel to conversation with someone to another panel to yet another conversation and so on. I know I saw a whole lot of people that I really, really wish I could have spent more time visiting with and I apologize if it feels like I slighted any of you.

The World Building panel was a blast. All my fellow panelists brought some good thoughts that I’m going to have to steal … I mean consider when I’m working on my next columns for Black Gate.

The Comic Books to the Screen panel went very well also. Even though we didn’t cover all the topics the moderator hoped to get to, there was no question the panel (and the audience) had a passion for the topic about what’s been done right and what could be improved.

Got invited to a couple of new conventions and promoted my Kickstarter (politely), and have several people interested in buying books at my signing tonight. So, along with having fun, the business-side of the convention is going well also.

Saturday started with the Beginning Roleplaying panel which went incredibly well. All of the panelists were well versed in either tabletop or live-action roleplaying and we did briefly touch on on-line roleplaying. The best part was a young man who we let know about the game demos going on upstairs – his mother let me know later that evening that he’d basically planted himself at the demos and was loving every minute of it. Now, that’s a great con memory both for that kid and me.

After that, I caught up with a few friends and then did the Mr. Adventure Podcast, where I got to play Doctor Richards, who was a scientist helping out the superheroes. However, the gentleman playing Atomik Fist flat out stole the show! What a phenomenal performance. I apologize for not remembering your name, but my hat is off to you, sir. And Rich Sigfrit, thank you again for inviting me to contribute to this podcast. I can’t wait for it to be released (and I don’t envy your producer trying to splice all the asides and laughter out).

I went from that to “Them’s Fighting Words”. We talked about different styles of fighting, where to do research on weapons, fighting techniques, etc., how to make fight scenes believable, how much is too much detail and so on. It was really an interesting panel and we had a great audience who asked really good questions, so that always is a pleasure.

I went back to the room to collapse a bit and then did the How Much Worldbuilding Does an RPG Need? panel. For a panel going on against the Masquerade, we had quite a decent crowd – in fact, one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever had when I wasn’t on a panel with the GoH. I was the fill-in moderator, but we quickly opened the floor up to questions, which considering we’d already done a world-building panel the day before was probably wisest. There was well over 100 years of gaming experience among the panelists, so we could not only give good suggestions, but we all admitted a few times when things had gone wrong, so they could avoid our mistakes.

After that panel, I had my reading and read from Shades of Blue, part of my For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter. Got a good reaction from the crowd and we talked about the Kickstarter more afterward. From there I went down and did my signing. It was in the hallway near the concert, but with the doors shut, the music was much more manageable for my poor ears. Since no one was following me, I just lounged out at the signing area and actually made more sales after my signing was over than during it. Go figure, right? I’ll attribute it to the music. *grin*

Finally had time to dump my gear and spend sometime visiting with friends and crawled into bed way too late. The Sunday morning alarm and i did not agree it was time for me to get up, but it eventually won.

My first Sunday panel was Writing a Successful Query Letter and the panelists talked about what had and hadn’t worked for us and then took more questions from the audience. I made sure to plug Query Letter Hell on Absolute Write, Writer Beware, Query Shark, Evil Editor and the Miss Snark archives. There were a lot of follow-up questions afterward with audience members who had more personalized questions, but I think (hope) we answered them as best we could.

I took a short break to sit in on the Valentine Wolfe concert. I met the members of Valentine Wolf Friday evening and had a blast visting with them. I heard them at the Saturday night concert, but their ambient performance on Sunday sealed the deal for me. Wow! What an experience.

I had to run from the concert to get to my last panel, Beyond Western Europe. I had hoped it would be more of a “here are some myths and legends that get overlooked and you should really check them out”, but there was a certain amount of “how to avoid cultural appropriation” that sidetracked the panel. Not that it is/wasn’t an important topic, but that’s not what I thought the panel was supposed to be about – I generally try to avoid panels that look like they’re going to get political one way or the other – but in the end, I was able to promote Folktexts at the University of Pittsburgh’s web site and “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” by Amos Tutuola as things the audience should definitely look into.

I’d love to list everyone I had a ball talking too and meeting for the first time (or maybe for the fortieth time), but I’m sure I’m going to miss someone. Still here goes – thanks to Mark Macdicken, April MacDicken, Meredith Lydia Thoroughman, Davey Beauchamp, Michael Ventrella, Gail Martin, Mike Allen, Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit, The gang from Skeleton Key, Valentine Wolfe, Christopher Axlthem, Caroline Axlthem, Peter Prellwitz, Allen Wold, John L. French, Tiffany Trent, Ashley Chappell-Peeples, Steven Peeples, RS Belcher, John Watts, and a host of others that I blame a definite lack of coffee and a mind like a steel sieve on.

Believe me, after a great convention like this, it was tough to go back to the real world this morning.

Happy Holidays

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus, Solstice, or any other celebration that falls in this time of year, this is a wish from my family and myself to you to have a fantastic holiday season and the best of things to you in the upcoming year!

Take a moment to give those closest to you a hug and remember, family and friends are what makes this life special.

Rocket City Lit Fest Day 0

Holy frijoles, what a drive. It’s a whole lot further to Huntsville, AL than I thought it was, even after looking at the map before I left the house.

Still, even with construction zones, demolition derby wanna-bes, semis driving side by side up a hill at 45mph, and the occasional bear in the bushes looking for speeders, i arrived this afternoon. I’ll give the convention credit, the convention hotel is way worth the price. I am not kidding when I say my hotel room has more floor space than my first apartment in Monterey. Hell, it may have more floor space than the second one we had three years later. I do not foresee having to worry about space for the book launch party tomorrow evening.

Made it over to the Von Braun Convention Center and got my booth set up. Even after checking my checklist, I find I’m either down a few things OR didn’t bring enough of some things. I swore I had X in my box and I did, but not anywhere near as much as I thought I had (and left the rest on my desk back in Maryland *sigh*). Still, we’ll figure something out and I now know what to specifically look for next time I have a booth.

Hit a local supermarket on steroids called Publix and picked up a few things I needed for the con and the party. Just pulled into my parking place when some people I’d been visiting with during set-up spotted me and invited me to dinner with them. We found a neat hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with fantastic food and had a great time talking about cons we’d been at before (specifically DragonCon), and the comic/book business in general. While this is the first time I’d ever met them, we have enough friends and acquaintances in common that it was easy to find common ground.

Now, I’m enjoying the leftover chips and salsa, enjoying a nice Dragonhead Stout and thinking it’s time to call it a night.

So, Rocket City Day 0 was quite successful. Here’s to tomorrow being the start of a great con.

Once upon a time, I thought this was a good idea. . .

Finished this latest set of proof revisions. Hopefully that was the last pass, but we’ll see. Submitted a possible better picture for the author bio page, and now we’re at the 90% point on having a finished cover.

Also coordinated with someone about helping do the e-book layout.

One of these days, there might even be writing done in this house, but it’s not looking good for today.

Post addendum:

Between this experience and the joy of trying to organize the Kickstarter for my short story collection, if anyone ever asks me if I want to self-publish again, I pray that you’re either faster than me or at least wearing a metal cup.

That is all.

 

 

Shore Leave 2015 is in the books

Back and (semi-)recovered from Shore Leave this past weekend. It was a fantastic time and it was good to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while as well as making new ones.

Wound up getting there late Friday but still plenty of time to set up before the Meet the Pros. Had fun talking to the people coming by about my stuff (both old and new), but they were showing Guardians of the Galaxy in the ballroom, so the crowd for the Pros was a lot lighter than usual. Unfortunate, but I guess tight schedules are tight. *sigh*

Enjoyed visiting with everyone after the gathering (even if they do close the bar at the Hunt Valley Wyndham way too darn early. *sigh*). Hung around the lobby until almost 2:30 and then drove home just in time for the alarm to go off to start the next day.

(Well, it felt like I had just laid down before the alarm yelled at me.)

The Saturday panels were well worth dragging myself out of bed for. I was on the Alternate History panel where we discussed steampunk, gaslight, secret history, alternative history, dieselpunk and why the heck we write in any of those genres, where we get info, and how do we choose what we want to warp.

That was followed by Writing Tips for Aspiring Writers. We had a varied group on the panel. If the audience got anything out of that panel (and there was a LOT of good advice given out) is that there is no magical button. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. You have to experiment to see what you’re most comfortable with. Also, you must “write” to be a writer. Thinking about writing doesn’t count. Research doesn’t count (although it’s fun), Plotting doesn’t count. Only writing counts, so get your computer/tablet/pen and paper/papyrus/stone and chisel and get to work!

The Crowdfunding panel was VERY useful for me (and hopefully for the audience too *grin*). Everyone on the panel, but me, had run one or multiple successful Kickstarters or Indygogo’s. I felt like I was in the Shark Tank because all of them started asking me about my planning, how I was going to advertise, etc., etc., etc.. Yikes! However, I now think I’m ready to start moving on this once I get finished getting Terra Incognito out there and can concentrate on For a Few Gold Pieces More.

Last panel of the day was the Writer Beware panel. Good audience with good questions. I have to thank Kathleen David for helping me out on that panel. Her experience as a former editor really helped the new(ish) authors in the audience see how the “other side” of the business sees things.

I didn’t go to the masquerade because I was doing my radio broadcast for the Gaming World Entertainment Network. It was amazing. People would come by and talk to me, but as soon as I asked if they wanted to talk about SF or the con to my audience … poof. It was like watching the Roadrunner vanishing with just that little puff of smoke left behind. Still, the show went well and I had fun visiting with all the off-air people.

Sunday didn’t quite go as planned, but the Writing Short Stories panel was well attended for a Sunday and I hope we answered most of the questions people had. I had hoped to get to do the Historical Fiction Writing Workshop, but it was scheduled against the Short Story panel. *sigh again*

Still, all in all, it was a a fun convention. Of course, the best part about Shore Leave is it’s a fantastic chance to catch up with everyone. Had a fantastic visit with Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, David Mack, Scott Pearson, Allyn Gibson, William Leisner, Jim Johnson before the panels got going on Sunday. Also enjoyed speaking with Rigel Ailur, Glenn Hauman, Christopher Bennett, Peter and Kathleen David at breakfast that morning. Got to hang out with Kelly Meding, Phil Giunta, Steven H. Wilson, Steve Lesnik and Renfield at Meet the Pros, and Dave Galanter, Keith DeCandido, Mark MacDicken, Howard Weinstein, Marco Palmieri Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-Mcphail and Mike McPhail, John Jackson Miller, Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman, Joshua B. Palmatier, Amy Griswold, and a host of others to whom I apologize for not remembering your names.

Can’t wait to do this again next year.

Everytime I think I’m out, they keep pulling me in . . .

Still stuck in production hell. This is why I got out of publishing years ago, but it’s still fun in its own way. Been working with a rather patient graphic designer and I think we’re getting *holds up finger and thumb near each other* this close to going final on some things.

Then, I received an email from my artist, Shane Braithwaite, who gave me the last piece of art I had coming before we get ready to go with the Kickstarter.

Wow.

*Yes, I know that’s my default response to his art. I can’t help it. I’m always amazed at seeing my words come to life.*

So, here’s a sneak preview of the interior art for “The Demon’s Head.”

Maybe this publishing thing isn’t so bad after all.

Interior Art for "The Demon's Head"

Interior Art for “The Demon’s Head”

Tempting the gods

Now, this was a good day. The wife and I went out for lunch with a friend, then caught Inside Out at the theater, (I’d seen it with my daughter, but Joni was in San Angelo, TX that weekend, so this was a make-up date), and then we drove down to Ellicott City and walked around visiting the various antique shops and such. A very relaxing day off from work and a well-needed break.

After dropping my daughter off at work, I decided to see how much I could get written before I had to go get her. Knocked out 1766 words in an hour and a quarter on the secret project, which considering I type about fifty words a minute, isn’t too shabby.

Took me a bit longer to get going after I came back (wound up watching the last three innings of the Royals/Twins ball game), but wound up finishing tonight at 2,449 total for today. That brings the project up to 4,480. With a little bit of luck, I should finish this by EOB tomorrow (I see three more scenes to go). Then, the fun starts (editing/rewriting). Still, I don’t see any issues getting this to the editor by the deadline of 17 July.

Famous last words, right?

They like me! They really like me! ;)

Well, someone must be liking The Dark Leopard. Just glanced over at Amazon and saw it was #663 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Superheroes.

Hey, I know as well as anyone, you can slice the Amazon rankings enough to make anything look good. Still, it’s nice to get into triple digits with the book.

And speaking of liking things, I’m making progress on the secret project. I’m pleased with the tone I’m capturing with this story and hope to get at least the first draft finished by the end of the week. Definitely need to take advantage of the Friday holiday (one of the advantages of being a defense contractor is getting the Federal holidays off). Added another 1300+ words to the story and really getting into the swing of where I want this to go.

But, given the lack of sleep the past couple of days, I really should call it an early night. Nodding off at home is one thing, nodding off in the client space is quite another. *eeps!*

Besides, my cat just fell asleep on top of my mouse. I’m going to take that as a sign.