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.)
Been busy this week putting the finsihing touches on two partials I’m sending out to an agent in the next few days as well as dealing with GenConCrud (yes, that is a thing), and trying to change offices at work (finishing up one contract and moving to a new one).
Got some last minute feedback from my wife and Steve Roman (of StarWarp Concepts fame), and now I’m rapidly applying their thoughts to On Wings of Steel (my steampunk fantasy novel) and Steel on Target (my Military SF story).
Now, if I could just get the damn butterflies from doing loop-de-loops in my stomach…
Back at work the Monday after GenCon. If I had been smart (and if things at work would have supported it), I would have just taken today off. So, I’ll give you the thumbnail from the show.
First panel was Short Stories vs. Vignettes. About 20 people in the audience. Since GenCon is a gaming convention, we discussed writing gaming short stories vice vingettes, which are usually used in gaming rule books to show the application of a rule without showing the dice being rolled. We also talked about how to write short (which is a skill I woefully lack), and how the shorter the piece can help a new author get published. When an anthology/magazine just needs one more piece to round out it’s word count, sometimes having a 1500-2000 word story might get you an acceptance over a 8-10K story.
Second panel was the Writer Beware presentation. Had one of the biggest crowds for this presentation that I’ve ever had – I know I had over 30 people there and it may have been more than that. It wasn’t the splendiforous presentation I’d anticipated, mainly because I swore it was scheduled for 5pm and at 3:05 the volunteers tracked me down wanting to know why I wasn’t at my solo panel — the one I have to set up A/V for. Yikes! Luckily, the room captain entertained the audience while I feverishly set up my computer and got the recalcitrant projector to work. Still managed to knock out a 50 minute presentation in 35 and had some time for questions, but I definitely was powering through a few of the slides. Still, got a lot of good questions, both before and after, and sent a few here to Absolute Write to check out the BB&R forum.
Third panel was Getting Inside Your Character’s Head. We discussed different ways to show inner dialogue as well as how to use body language to show emotions/reactions without having to constantly say, “X,” she thought. Also, we discussed techniques to show inner dialogue like the use of italics, using <<X>> to designate that the characters are speaking in a foreign language, even though it’s written in English. One of the panelists pointed out Mercedes Lackey used to use a colon at the front and back of a statement when her characters were speaking telepathically vice verbally. All in all, it became a techniques and tips panel about different things a writer can do, although the main point seemed to be “Be consistent whatever you decided to do”.
My first signing went about like I expected (no one), but I did get to spend a wonderful hour visiting with Eric Flynt, of the 1632 series of books from Baen. We talked about a number of subjects, like traveling to conventions (Eric once drove from Chicago to LA in one pull, but as he said, he was a LOT younger when he did that back in 1972), and publishing stuff in general. He gave me some tips for submitting stuff to the Grandville Gazette, which is a magazine dedicated to the 1632 series and he occasionally selects authors to co-author with from those submissions. Also caught up with Marie Brennan, whom I hadn’t seen in forever.
Fourth panel was Worldbuilding 101, with two game designers/authors and a video game designer/writer. We must have had about 60 people in the audience. Great panel, some good stories about applying world building to your story and your story to the world building (aka, you don’t need to build more of a world than your story is going to visit, but knowing a bit about what lies beyond the horizon helps make your story more realistic – if Character A has a throwaway line like “Oh, I see Joe just got in a new shipment of grapes from Ivanice,” you’ve just established the merchant’s name is Joe, there’s a country of Ivanice somewhere in this world and they export grapes. Even if your character never actually goes to Ivanice in your game/story, it still makes the world feel bigger.
Did my reading Friday evening. Not a huge crowd at 7pm, but good responses from the ones who showed up. I did a reading from “Shades of Blue”, one of the short stories from my For a Few Gold Pieces More collection, coming out this fall and I got a good feeling when Cat Rambo (president of SFWA) and Jody Lynn Nye (author of the continuing Myth-Adventure series) congratulated me on the story and asked when the book was coming out.
My last panel was “Knowing When to Quit”. Wow, what an open-ended topic. We discussed dealing with rejection, studying the market, knowing when to trunk something, knowing when to punt (but salvage good parts) and knowing when you just weren’t ready to tackle a specific story. We did not talk about knowing when to quit altogether. A couple of the panelist wanted to bring that up, but I thought we should keep the panel semi-optimistic. Maybe that’s sugar-coating it, but I didn’t feel people who’d paid to attend a panel should have their ambitions crushed before they even get started.
Did one last signing on Saturday and actually signed two of my books that had been bought over at the booksellers. Yay me! Also had a nice time visiting with Lawrence Schoen (who’s written a great book, Barsk. You should definitely check it out!) Jody Lynn Nye showed me an app I really should consider picking up for my iPhone (it lets you play the bagpipes on your phone … ah, dreams of the moors…ahem, where was I?)
Sunday I was assigned to do a read and critique session. We were supposed to have ten people read two minutes worth of their papers and then we would have three minutes to critique them each (3 critiquers). However, only three people of the ten who’d signed up made it. So, we did the initial critiques and then spend the rest of the two hours workshopping with the three brave souls (one of whom was a HS junior and her first time presenting out loud). It was a lot of fun and all of the stories were good, but not “great”, which I’m sure is why they signed up for the session. We had two editors and me on the panel, so each of us caught different things as the person read. Now, I fully admit, listening to a story instead of reading it takes a different skill and I’m not convinced it’s the most efficient way to do this since some people are good readers, some get carried away doing their voice acting, and some are just flat out nervous to read aloud, but that was the format I was given to work with, so we did what we could. Still, the presenters seemed to get a lot out of it and I think it was useful not only to them, but to me.
Oh, and the highlight of the convention, I had a pitch session with an agent. Now, luckily for me, the agent was a very patient man since I’d never done anything like this before. So, I pitched On Wings of Steel, my steampunk novel and when he asked if I had anything else, I told him I did have Steel on Target, my military science fiction story, but it was a few chapters short of being finished. He asked me to tell him about that and in the end, he asked for the first thirty pages of both manuscripts. Trying not to get too excited about this because I’ve had partials (and fulls) rejected before, but I have to admit, I may have done a fist-pump or two on the way back to the green room.
Also, talked to several gaming companies about doing some writing for them and may have accidentally gotten on the radar for a future anthology an editor is putting together. But, we’ll see about those.
So, all in all, had a great time, spent way too much money, had a less-than-stellar hotel, spent way too much money and time in cabs, and visited with a ton of writers, game designers, video-game designers, editors, and publishers over the five days I was in Indianapolis. Would I go back again next year? Oh, hell yeah.
Editing away on my steampunk novel, On Wings of Steel. Five more chapters edited and more printed out for editing this evening.
But, wait, there’s more!
I’m also going to be attending GenCon this next week for the first time ever and the coolest thing is I’m attending as a member of the Writer’s Symposium.
So, with that said, here’s where you can find me at the show:
Thursday, Aug 4
12PM – Short Fiction: Story vs. Vignette – Chamber
3PM – Business of Writing: Writer Beware – Capital I
Friday, August 5
10AM – Character Craft – Hearing the Character’s Thoughts – Cabinet
2PM – Signing – Exhibit Hall
5PM – Worldbuilding 101 – Capital I
7PM – Reading: Jody Lynn Nye and me (natch) – Congress I
Saturday, August 6
12PM – Business of Writing: Knowing When to Quit – Congress I
4PM – Signing – Exhibit Hall
Sunday, August 7
11AM – Read and Critique: Session G – Congress I
12PM – Read and Critique: Session G (cont.)
Not a bad first schedule. I should be reasonably busy but still have plenty of time to wander the dealers room (which means I probably should leave my wallet at home). I’ll be talking to gaming companies about trying to get some freelance work, checking out all the cool new things coming out, hunting down artists for possible future collaborations, and in general just having a heck of a good time.
Not a bad first schedule. I should be reasonably busy but still have plenty of time to wander the dealers room (which means I probably should leave my wallet at home). I’ll be talking to gaming companies about trying to get some freelance work, checking out all the cool new things coming out, hunting down artists for possible future collaborations, and in general just having a heck of a good time. Plus there are some author events scheduled which means more hanging out with a really cool bunch of people.
So, if you’re coming to GenCon, I look forward to bumping into you there. If not, hopefuly I’ll see you at one of my other shows (Archon/PhilCon). And if worse comes to worst, there’s always 2017.
Shore Leave 2016 has come and gone and in my (not so) humble opinion, it was quite the success.
Had a great afternoon on Friday visiting with Greg Cox, Christopher L. Bennett, Keith DeCandido, Nick Mamatas, Robert Greenberger, and Dayton Ward before the show started. Also caught up with a ton of other authors at Meet the Pros Friday night. Saw quite a few familiar faces in the fans who were attending the show also, which is always a great time and even sold a few books, which is a nice bonus. Ran into Andrew Hiller and Mary Fan at BarCon afterwards, whom I’d met at Farpoint earlier this year.
Saturday was the big panel day. I somehow managed to stumble back to Hunt Valley in time to make my 10am panel which was actually better attended than I thought it would be.
I was the moderator for the 12:00 panel which was titled, “The Whole Package”. It turns out it was about book design and covers for books. Luckily, I had some very knowledgeable panelist, so I just asked questions and hung back to watch.
The 2:00 panel was on World Building, a subject near and dear to my heart. Along with my own work on Terra Incognito, I was able to talk about world building for On Wings of Steel, Full Moon Affair, and For a Few Gold Pieces More, both during the panel and afterward. It was interesting to hear how world building differs between fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, and hard SF. Lots of good questions from the audience and I sold out of all the copies of Terra Incognito I had on hand after the panel was over.
The 3:00 IAMTW panel was a little lightly attended, but from talking to people before hand, there was some confusion what the panel was going to be about. (It stands for the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, fyi. *grin*) However, even with the light turnout, we had some really good questions and told a few war stories about doing tie-ins.
We had our writer’s dinner at Andy Nelson’s Southern BBQ after panels were over and a great time (not to mention delicious) was had by all. That was followed by the second BarCon of the show. We had a great crowd at our table and Dayton and I swapped war stories along with writing and work stories. I did manage to get home a tad earlier (2:30 instead of 3:15am, this time).
Sunday was a slow day. I only had one panel at noon, “e-books and e-novellas”. We had a great crowd for a Sunday afternoon and talked about both sides of e-books (commercial publishers doing e-books as well as small press/self-publishing e-books). There were good questions and I had to put my Writer Beware hat on a few times to remind people to do their homework before making any decisions for ANY press.
I sat in on a few panels on Sunday and cruised the dealer’s room. Unfortunately, my wallet was still in shock from SoonerCon, but there was a great Steampunk dealer, “A Steampunked Life”, and I had a ball visiting with them about steampunk (natch), Doctor Who, costuming, and anime. Also, got to hang out with Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Mike McPhail at their booth which is always fun.
All in all, the show ended way too soon and I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s show already.
I’ll be catching you all up on some of the stuff going on here, but the quick highlights:
“No Rest for the Wicked” was published by Battlecorps on their website and will be released in their “Slack Tide” anthology later.
Just finished the first draft of “The Enemy You Know” tonight. That’s a bit over 10,000 words since Saturday (and given how slowly I type, that’s saying something – unlike my friend Keith who probably types that many in-between innings at a Yankees game.)
“Paladin” will be coming out in the Origins Game Fair limited-edition anthology titled “Robots”.
Just got notification about two more stories about to be released in the near future. More to come there.
And, “For a Few Gold Pieces More” is being edited as we speak. Hopeful for a July/August release. More to follow on that also.
And possibly releasing another book through StarWarp Concepts in 2017. More to come there, mainly dependent on finding the right cover artist.
And it’s convention season. I’ll be appearing at Origins Game Fair, SoonerCon, Shore Leave, GenCon, and Archon and possibly one more convention to be named later (depends on how many draft picks they want. *grin*)
Down to the wire on this project, and I appreciate all the support we’ve been getting here. So, to reward you for helping spread the news and contributing to the project, I’m posting another snippet from For a Few Gold Pieces More, this time from the sixth story, “Pearls of Water”.
As I’ve said, I wanted to introduce people to folktales and fairy tales that were either lesser known ones, or variants from other countries. This story, while set in my own world, takes its genesis from the Swan Maiden, but this particular story is based on a Chinese Legend of a prince who not only marries a swan maiden, but has to travel through fantastic lands to find her when she is driven off by a jealous suitor.
Now, no one’s going to mistake my rogue for a prince, but he too has to help find a wife who’s fled against unjust charges to help keep the peace in this kingdom–albeit much against his better judgement and will.
So, here’s the opening scene to “Pearls of Water”:
The town of Karakuhm was strangely quiet as Yuki and I entered. The lone guard at the main gate waved a bored hand at us as we rode through. It had been a long ride, and we were searching for an inn to spend the night. Eventually, we found something that looked like it wouldn’t collapse in the middle of the night and dismounted. In the distance, we heard the rumble of an angry crowd. It didn’t seem to be moving our direction, so Yuki and I exchanged glances, and I shrugged before entering the inn. An old woman stood behind the bar, wiping the counter with a rag dirtier than the bar was. I resolved to find my meals elsewhere.
“And a good day to you too, ma’am. We’re looking for a room and some information.”
She grinned, showing off all eight of her teeth. “Rooms is five silver pennies a night. Information’s a tad more expensive. You gonna want two rooms or just one?”
For five silver pennies, I could have slept in the best rooms of the Empire, but we weren’t in the Empire any longer. Luckily, we had successfully tracked down a lost treasure hoard in the Kaladhar Mountains, so the price wasn’t the issue. The issue was trying not to look like we could easily afford it. No sense in her alerting her “friends” she had rich travelers staying with her.
I glanced around the inn with a disapproving look. “Five silver pennies. I guess that’s not a bad price for a week.”
“You deaf or something, sonny boy? I said five silver pennies a night.”
I eased a chair out from under a table and gingerly sat on it, praying it wouldn’t collapse. “Madam, I’m afraid you’ve confused us with nobility or something. Where would I come up with that kind of money?”
“T’ain’t no concern of mine. Ther’s enough people in town that’ll take the room if you don’t want it. Towns done full up of visitors.”
Yuki moved forward, putting on her best smile. “I heard a commotion when we arrived. What’s got everyone so excited?”
She fixed her one good eye on Yuki before responding. “You ain’t heerd? Shoot, it’s the prime minister. Claims he got word our army was defeated four days from here. Says the Jakali army will be here any day now. Folks coming from miles around trying to find out if it’s true and what the king’s gonna do about it. The prime minister, he’s claiming that our boys was betrayed and that the prince’s wife is the one that done it. Said she’s a foreigner and she’s got no love for this here kingdom.”
Yuki glanced around as if frightened. “So you’re saying it’s not a good time to be in town if you’re a foreigner?”
The landlady looked Yuki over with a mixture of envy and disdain. “Honey, ain’t no one gonna mistake you for a Jakali, especially with that hair. Your companion smells too good, so he probably ain’t a Jakali either. However, the prince’s wife—probably his widow if he fell with the troops—now, people says she’s from Barhon or points east of there. They’ve always been tight with the Jakali. Prime minister was ag’in the prince marrying her, but the king and queen was always soft on him. Let him do what he wants. Now see what he’s got hisself into.”
I spoke up then, “What do you think?
The landlady looked at me in surprise. “What do I think?”
I leaned forward, a conspiratorial tone in my voice. “You seem to be the type who’d know which way the wind was blowing here in Karakuhm. I wager you know a lot more than those guards we met. Just good business sense to keep your ears open.”
She grinned, obviously enjoying being the center of attention. “You ain’t as dumb as you look, sonny.” She checked to make sure no one was hanging around the doorway before returning to the bar. “Now, t’ain’t neighborly to spread gossip, but I don’t think the princess is guilty. She’d have to be an incredible actress to pretend to be that much in love with the prince and then send him off to go get slaughtered. Nope…” She paused long enough to spit on the bar before wiping it some more. “I think there’s more going on ’round here than normal. But you didn’t hear that from me.”
I swallowed my bile and kept my smile firmly affixed. “Hear what from who?”
“You know, I kinda like you, Bright Eyes. Call it four silver pennies and I’ll even throw in some fresh linen.”
“Done and done. I think we may just see what’s going on once we see the room.”
I think we can safely say, this is no four-star hotel he’s staying at for the night. *grin*
We’re down to the last push. Here’s to bringing this home successfully.
And Update #7 has just been posted to the For a Few Gold Pieces More page over at Kickstarter. Since I talked about how Shane Braithwaite and I put together the Yuki poster, I thought I’d give people a sneak preview of the rest of the art Shane’s going to be doing for this collection.
Here’s a couple of the thumbnail descriptions I’ve given him to consider and suggest revisions to:
“The Mountain of Ice”
The protagonist is climbing up a cliff, barely hanging on to the wall with his fingertips. There is a rope trailing out behind him down the cliff face. Above him, a shadowy feminine figure (Yuki) is looming out over the edge of the cliff, watching him climb. (He should be looking away from the audience so his face remains hidden.)
“Shades of Blue”
The protagonist is standing in the shadows as a ship slams into a dock under full sail on a foggy night, sending splinters and debris all over the harbor.
“Hunters in Darkness”
The protagonist and a young light-brunette haired woman are fleeing through dark woods, pursued by spectral hounds. She is dressed in a rustic style of dress (obviously torn and dirty from their headlong flight through the woods.)
If you’re interested in the rest, bop on over to the Kickstarter page, I’d love to get your opinions on them.
Just posted a new update on the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter page. I discuss how Shane Braithwaite and I conspire to put together the artwork for this project. It’s really frightening how in sync we are on the art. He was able to take a description of no more than a few lines and turn it into this sketch:
We’re also starting to come down to crunch time on the Kickstarter. I really need those of you who’ve supported this project to boost the signal once again to help me get the word out to everyone possible. I know I’ve had some verbal pledges to help out with the Kickstarter too, so I’m really hoping you’ll come through on this. So, thanks for everything you’ve done so far with both donations and support and let’s take it to the finish line.
We’ve got two more weeks to ignite this thing. Let’s see what we can do.
To read the rest of this, please check out Update #6 at the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter page.
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.
As we reach the halfway point in our Kickstarter, I want to send my congratulations to the Pangea II Kickstarter crowd for successfully funding this evening! Congratulations for all your hard work and can’t wait to see the anthology!
You all seemed to enjoy the snippet from Skin the Cat, so I thought I’d follow it up with a short cut from the opening to Shades of Blue, the third story in the collection. Shades of Blue is the first story I wrote that mashed two legends together and I hope you’ll enjoy this sample.
Our protagonist has been hired to escort a young woman to meet her future husband, but the ship she’s sailing on has just entered the harbor under full sail and has plowed into the nearby docks…
I rushed through the field of debris onto the wreck of the ship. Even among the wreckage, the absence of the crew was noticeable. Many of the deck hands could have been thrown overboard due to the violence of the wreck, but there should have been bodies among the fallen spars and torn canvas. There was nothing.
If Lady Daphne was still on board, her cabin should be near the captain’s. I rushed to the quarterdeck to check below. As soon as I opened the door, the smell of death assaulted my nostrils — not the smell of newly dead, but the stench of unfortunates who’d been exposed to the elements for some time. It was a smell not easily forgotten. I suspected what might have been the fate of the Alexander, but my first and only duty was to try and find my passenger. If I could at least report what happened to Lady Daphne, I might salvage something from my commission.
Hard-hearted? Perhaps, but I can’t prevent a pirate attack that happens before I spot the ship. Mourning people who died long before I found them doesn’t make them less dead or put gold in my pocket.
I checked the captain’s quarters first. After lighting one of the surviving lanterns, I found his body lying face down on the floor with his arms outstretched toward the door. I rolled him over onto his back and immediately wished I’d left him alone. I recoiled at the expression of sheer terror on his face, but as I searched his body, I found no obvious wounds. The only explanation I could come up with was he had literally been frightened to death. That made the scene even more macabre. The scars on his face and obvious callousing on his hands showed he was no stranger to fighting. Whatever could scare a man like that to death was something I never wanted to meet.
For the rest of the snippet, please check out Update #5 at the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter page.
And a very nice Q&A about this Kickstarter has just been published on the blog at Black Gate.
And since confession is good for the soul, I will admit, I’ve done some writing for Black Gate (in fact, I owe him a column on world building which I will try to finish as soon as possible). Still, I have to thank John for helping to spread the word about this Kickstarter as well as the rest of you who’ve shared it with family and friends. Thanks for all the support.
Just got my schedule for MystiCon in Roanoke, VA, next weekend.
Fantasy Worldbuilding – Board Room 1 – Friday 5pm
Bringing the Comic Book World to the TV or Big Screen – Ballroom D – Friday 10pm
Beginning Roleplaying – Ballroom E – Saturday 12pm
Reading – Saturday 1:30pm
Podcast: Mr. Adventure – Ballroom C – Saturday 2pm
Them’s Fighting Words – Ballroom D – Saturday 3pm
How Much Worldbuilding Does an RPG Need? – Vista Room – Saturday 7pm
Writing a Query that Sells – Ballroom E – Sunday 11am
Beyond Western Europe – Other World Cultures for Fantasy – Ballroom D – Sunday 1pm
Plus, I’ll be doing a signing somewhere in there. I was supposed to be at my table at 2pm, but it’s Mr. Adventure! I’m not missing out on a chance to be on this podcast. And if you’re not listening to it, you really should be.
Yeah, I’m insane. *grin* But, I figure it’s my way to give back to the convention by helping out as much as possible.
After an exciting day at work building Powerpoint slides, what better way is there to relax than to start working on improving the For A Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter page.
We’ve just posted the first two stretch goals for this project and given you hints to other stretch goals to go. Now, it may seem a bit early to post stretch goals while we’re still so far away from funding, but I wanted to take the opportunity to let you see, we’re thinking positive and planning on ways to make this even more enticing for you. So, be sure to spread the word about this Kickstarter to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who might enjoy some dark fantasy.
And as we get closer to the end, I’ll definitely share some of the larger stretch goals with you, but for now, let’s just say, this is a teaser. *grin*
Working with some very interesting people to bring you some cool stretch goals for the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter. Hope to start posting some of them in the very near future.
However, to tide you over, I’ve posted a small snippet from “Skin the Cat” – For a Few Gold Pieces More #9.
A young woman, perhaps fifteen or sixteen, stood before me. It was hard to tell where the dirt and stains stopped and the young woman began, which made me believe she was a servant. However, her clothing caught me by surprise. She wore a dress made of sewn skins, something I’d only seen in some of the more savage lands that bordered the Empire, yet she spoke and carried herself like one of imperial stock.
For the rest of the snippet, please check out Update #2 at the Kickstarter site.
Here’s the original cover from it’s first appearance:
Home from Farpoint 2016. Had a great time visiting with old friends and making new ones. It’s always fun to catch up and swap some new stories and think about old times.
I was on a number of really cool panels this year – Publishing on a Budget (Hmm, that sounds really familiar), Hero vs. Anti-hero (that also sounds like a certain rogue I know), Holy 50th Anniversary, Batman!, Enter the Hobbit (about writing fighting scenes and tactics), Writing for the Gaming Industry, Collaboration, and Writer Beware! I shared the podium with some incredibly talented and knowledgeable panelists and I learned as much from them as I hope the audiences did.
Also did some of the requisite schmoozing and may have a few nibbles for projects down the road.
I also had a blast Saturday night after the convention. I’d hoped to do my internet radio broadcast from the convention but, let’s just say, the hotel wifi left much to be desired. So, I meandered home and took advantage of a more stable environment and wound up rocking the airwaves from 10:30pm to 2:30am. Honestly, when I first logged in, the audience was dwindling, so I thought it might be an early night, but they started piling into the game and we were having a great time in Guild Wars. Then the requests started coming in for music I actually had (for once – these guys are good at stump the DJ), and the next thing I knew while I have enjoying myself, I was about to faceplant on my computer from falling asleep. So, we wrapped it up in time for me to get some sleep.
But, now that the convention is over, it’s time to get back on the Kickstarter grind. For a Few Gold Pieces More isn’t going to fund itself. It’s going to take getting the word out to friends, family, and aficionados of smart-alek protagonists, twisted folktales, and dark fantasy. We’ve just past the five day mark and while we’re making good progress, it’s slowing down a bit. So, every little tweet, share, or word-of-mouth recommendation is going to make a big difference here. Let’s see if we can’t push this over the top!
Thanks for your help so far. It’s appreciated more than you know.
Getting ready to start packing for Farpoint (and doing a little cleaning for our guests who stay with us during Farpoint). Farpoint is a SF/F convention with a heavy dose of Star Trek and other movie or TV related Science Fiction and Fantasy. It’s not as big as Shore Leave, but that gives me a chance to catch up with people I might only have time to say “Hi! Bye!” to at other shows.
Between it and Shore Leave, I always enjoy catching up with the other Trek authors who attend. It’s interesting to see what they’re working on these days, both media tie-ins and original works. Media Tie-in isn’t quite the ghetto it used to be among SFF writers, but working in any sub-genre draws its fans and disdainers.
I did get an interesting e-mail today. I may be talking to some people about placing another of my stories, which would be incredibly cool. Not going to spoil it by saying what or who, simply because, let’s just say, until papers are signed, everything is as solid as Jello. However, once there is a decision one way or the other I’ll let you know.
And, of course, there’s a Kickstarter update. I had some wonderful donations today and my first “Uh, sorry, I’ve changed my mind”. And you know what, I’m cool with that. Sure, I wish they hadn’t, but everyone’s got their own story and life happens. Sometimes, you get a little over-extended–trust me, I was a junior enlisted in the US Army back in the 80s, I know over-extended–so I’d rather they change their mind now than 20 minutes before the Kickstarter is supposed to close. That would be a tad more awkward. *sigh*
But, again, thanks for all your support.
(Reposted from the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter Page)
Wow, what a whirlwind first day. Thanks to everyone who’s pledged to this project. It’s enthusiasm like this that makes me really want to ensure this is going to be worth your while.
And speaking of that, I’m talking to some people to make arrangements regarding the project’s stretch goals. I didn’t post any at first because I wanted to focus on telling the story and showing you what great rewards we had planned for you, but after talking to some friends and having them run some numbers for me, I hope to announce the first stretch goals on Monday, February 15th.
I’ll be attending Farpoint as a panelist and I guarantee, I will be promoting this Kickstarter (albeit politely and understatedly…no one likes a carnival barker except in a midway). One of the panels I’ll be on is called, “Publishing on a Budget: Spending Your Money Wisely”. Not only will I be relating my experience from this Kickstarter, but I will be taking notes as my other panelists have KS experience too.
Again, thanks for your support and here’s to a successful conclusion to this campaign.
As the old song says, “It’s too late to turn back now!”
Yep, I pressed the green button and the Kickstarter for my short story collection is open for business. Over the next 35 days, we hope to raise at least $4,000 to help off-set the costs of paying my artists, editors, cover and interior designers, promotion, and printing costs (along with little things like KS fees, paypal fees, Visa fees, taxes, and shipping costs).
Keep your fingers crossed, it’s going to be a very interesting 5 weeks.
And for something different, here’s some more of Shane’s artwork, showing how we take it from a concept sketch to a digital painting.
Been an interesting week so far. Just started a new assignment at work and waiting for all my IT support to be established–so I’ve taken advantage of the downtime to get some writing in. Almost 8 full pages of handwritten script for “The Sleeping Hero”. No clue how many words that translates into – my cursive tends to get bigger or smaller depending on my mood at the time. I’ll try and transcribe it this weekend.
And, I just fired off the “For a Few Gold Pieces More” Kickstarter page off to the Kickstarter team for approval. I
received an almost instantaneous “You can launch” from them, but I decided to take advantage of getting Community Manager feedback on the page, so we’ll be officially launching the KS on 09 Feb 2016 for 35 days.
So, we’ll need your help to push this thing over the goal. I’m not necessarily asking you to contribute (not that I’ll turn it down, mind you), but I am asking for help amping up the volume. Mention it to your friends who like fantasy books. Mention it to your writing groups and on your favorite social media. The only way this is going to succeed is word of mouth. I’m not someone who’s going to spam twitter or put out a FB update every hour – that’s not why you follow me here or there – but I will certainly be mentioning it on a fairly periodic basis.
But I can’t do it alone.
Every share, every comment, every link helps. Thanks in advance and with any luck, we’ll celebrate a victory lap on March 14, 2016.
So far, we have survived Snowzilla 2016. I’ve managed to not completely fritter away my days off buried under the snow. Well, mostly, but not completely.
I heard back from my editor on Paladin who liked the edits I made to the story. Always good news. So, I suspect the next time I see it, it’ll be the galley proofs. *yay!*
I also worked on my Gale Allen story this weekend. Added 1387 words to it tonight as well as selecting specific events from the old Fiction House Planet Comics to base my story around. I’m enjoying the interaction between Gale and one of her nemeses that she’s forced to cooperate with for the good of Vanam. *evil writer grin – I love putting my characters in these kind of situations*
I spent part of this evening visiting with a fellow author/publisher who ran a very successful Kickstarter. He looked over my page and gave me some good feedback as well as highlighting what worked and what didn’t work for his campaign. I’ll be taking that advice to heart.
Also, I managed to get my badge and hotel for Gen Con, where I’ll be a part of the Writer’s Symposium later this summer. Not exactly the easiest of tasks – Gen Con seriously underbooks the number of hotel rooms they need for the show, but whatcha gonna do?
Oh yeah, and several hours of shoveling snow this weekend. Can’t forget that – or at least my back can’t quite yet. Not quite as young as I used to be back in Missouri where this might be considered a normal snow storm. Then again, Missouri actually has a good number of snow plows and drivers who know how to drive in this stuff. Maryland seems to be somewhat short on both. *sigh*
Woah, talk about a blast from the past. I just received a fan letter for my Gauntlet Dark Legacy novel that was published back in 2004. It was quite flattering, but it brought up a reoccurring question about the book – “what happened to the sequel?”
Gather round and listen to the joys and dangers of writing media tie-in work.
A friend of mine who was an editor at Byron Preiss’s iBooks, Inc label contacted me and asked if I’d like to take a shot at doing the novelization of Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Being a writer, I answered in the only way I could–of course, I’d love to take a shot at it, are you crazy?
Well, would Midway provide a copy of the game? No.
Would Midway provide (X)? No.
Would Midway provide like emoticon? No.
What would Midway provide? A copy of the Prima guide to Gauntlet Dark Legacy.
OK. I’ve worked with less background material. After all, my first professional short story sale was writing the original Avengers 1.5 (aka, I did an Incredible Hulk story set during his time as an Avenger, which was tricky since he was in Avengers #1 and quit in Avengers #2). So, with the instructions that Midway did not want me to just write a story based on playing the various levels, but to create a whole new story set in the Gauntlet Dark Legacy universe.
Then the questions started:
Me: What’s the name of the elf?
Midway: Whatever you want to call her?
Me: What’s the name of the wizard?
Midway: Up to you.
Me: What’s the name of any of the cities?
Midway: Who’s writing this?
I got the hint. This was SO weird after doing the Marvel story where everything was gone over with a fine-toothed comb. So, I’d say the novel, Paths of Evil, was 95% mine and 5% Midway material.
Now, iBooks had no expectations of good sales on this book from what I could tell, but it took off. We were getting ready to go back to a second printing and I was feverishly at work on the second novel. I’d left the first novel on a cliffhanger, because hey, it was supposed to be a trilogy. Fan reaction was reasonably favorable – only one or two major brickbats thrown at me, so I’ll take it.
I submitted “Paths of Fear”, I’d seen the rough sketch of the next Bob Larkin cover, and I was waiting to get the edits, so we could meet the Sept. 2005 release date.
Then the bottom fell out.
Byron Preiss was killed in a car accident in June 2005. iBooks and Byron Preiss Visual Productions went into bankrupcy shortly thereafter and all of the iBook licenses reverted to their owners. So, here I was with a book, not only the sequel, but the conclusion of the story I’d left on a cliffhanger, and…
it would never be published.
I certainly didn’t have the money to license the property, the person who bought iBooks wasn’t interested in the property, and no one else has ever expressed interest in reviving the book series. So, Gauntlet Dark Legacy “Paths of Evil” is a one and done of what was going to be my first novel trilogy.
So now, even going on 12 years later, I keep getting asked when the second book is coming out and I have to keep telling people, yes, I completed the second novel, no I can’t share it with them because I don’t OWN the rights to the story and if I did share it with them and one of them decided to upload it to the web, then Midway’s 600 pound gorillas, I mean lawyers, would have bad things to say to me.
Every so often I kick around the idea of shaving the serial numbers and doing something with it, but it seems like more work than just creating something original of my own. Still, somedays I miss hanging out with Morgan, Leyla, Kore, and Orlando.
And I still wonder, does the wizard need food badly?
Submitted a proposal for a new short story last night and continued refining my Kickstarter site. Spent some time visiting with a couple of friends who’ve run successful campaigns -they had very different approaches, but I see things in both that I think I can adapt to my campaign.
What I need to do now is start coordinating with people to advertise this beyond just my personal circle of friends, social media acquaintances, and convention buddies.
If anyone else out there, besides those I’ve already approached, has any suggestions/comments/brickbats they want to launch my way, (besides, “Flee, you fools”), they’ll be gratefully accepted.
Another busy evening here. Proofed a short story that’ll be released soon. Silence in the Library is re-releasing the stories that originally appeared in the 2014 Origins Game Fair anthology, Monsters to the general public. I’m excited to see this release and hope you enjoy all the stories.
Also, I am submitting a pitch/synopsis/50 pages to a publisher for a novel I’ve got a lot of hopes for. Normally, I don’t mention submissions – especially if I have to come back months later and go, “Nope, not this time”. Still, I think it’s good for people who’re trying to get started in this business to see people like me still get butterflies when we submit and sometimes things we have the most confidence in just don’t seem to resonate with an editor/agent, while the story we did a fire and forget on is the one that gets picked up.
And then, tomorrow, I need to get to work on a short story coming due here pretty soon as well as my next Black Gate blog post.
I need a few 60-hour days in the near future…aarrgh.
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.
Well, looks like it’s not quite going to be as busy as 2015 was, but I’ll be doing conventions in the local area as well as away from home this year. I’ll be going to shows partially to represent myself and also doing work for Writer Beware(R) for SFWA.
I will be attending a show I’ve always wanted to go to ever since I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons back in 1979—GenCon, in Indianapolis, IN in July 2016. I’ll be a member of the Writer Symposium, doing panels and visiting with new (and not so new) writers to talk about writing for games as well as books.
My current schedule (subject to change, of course) is:
Farpoint February 12-14, 2016 (Baltimore, MD)
Mysticon February 26-28, 2016 (Roanoke, VA)
Origins Game Fair June 15-19, 2016 (Columbus, OH)
SoonerCon June 24-26, 2016 (Midwestern City, OK)
Shore Leave July 15-17, 2016 (Baltimore, MD) – possible
GenCon August 4-7, 2016 (Indianapolis, IN)
Hopefully, I’ll add one or two fall shows, but that looks like a full year of traveling for me. If you know of a convention I should attend, feel free to drop me a line with your suggestions.
Looks like December is going to be a busy, busy month.
First of all, I have Geekonomicon coming up on the 11-13th, so I need to start figuring out what I’m going to take with me to the show.
Then, I have to finish and submit my story “Paladin” to Kelly Swails for the 2016 Origins Game Fair anthology.
And tonight, I got an invite to submit an 8,000 word story for another anthology – oh, and that’s due by the 21st of December.
And, along with that, I’m working on two novels – The Sleeping Hero and The Black Ice Affair (a follow-up novel for the Full Moon Affair short novel from Pro Se Productions).
Also, I’m still out beating the bushes for Terra Incognito, looking for some reviewers and some other places to plug my first non-fiction book – which is still doing remarkably well over on Drive-Thru Fiction as well as Amazon and other fine purveyors of literature. *subtle plug, no?*
Oh yeah, I’m also trying to put the final touches on my Kickstarter project so I can launch it in early 2016.
Sleep? *pffft* Who needs it?
You might notice a slightly new look to the web site. We’re doing some experimenting to try and bring you a cleaner site. I hope you all can sympathize with my long-suffering web master as he deals with my indecision.
In fact, I’m pretty sure some days, he feels like this:
It never fails does it. Been working on”The Sleeping Her“, which is the working title for my novel follow-on for For a Few Gold Pieces More. Unfortunately, as I hit about 8000 words, I realized, the first half of the 2nd Chapter had nothing to do with the second half.
OK, so now I have a third chapter, but I now have to go back and add some more meat onto the 2nd chapter. So, White, what happens between X and Y since Y is now a separate chapter?
Back to the whiteboard.
In better news, I heard my story Crossed Swords was approved by the editor and passed on for inclusion on the anthology. Hopefully there’ll be more news I can release to you all soon.