In a while (2015)…

For those waiting on a sequel, I’m planning on the next Vergassy work being an anthology entitled Though Our Hulls Burn.  The cover art (done by Christos Karapanos — for it is below.  The blurb is as follows:

“In the year 3040, the Confederation of Man thought it was alone.  An interstellar incident and several hundred dead quickly proved this theory to be both false…yet wildly correct.  Though Our Hulls Burn, a collection of six novellas and short stories, unveils the origins of the Spartan Diasporan Republic, then tells the tale of how it was ultimately brought to heel by the Confederation Navy.”

Though Our Hulls Burn cover art
Though Our Hulls Burn cover art


Thoughts on Conning

I really should have done this last night, but by the time I got home I quickly found myself running on fumes.  So, without further ado, here are some thoughts on Planet Comicon (KC-MO, 15 March 2014) from an author’s (as opposed to fan boy’s) perspective.  BLUF: It is worth it for an author to go to a Con, even if for only a day.  While I know I’m preaching to the choir with many of you, for those who may think going to a Con is a waste of time/money this was my experience:

1.) RE: Artists—You will seldom find a case where you have so many artists in one place.  In a matter of hours, I found at least 2 likely leads apiece for alternate history, dystopian future, and science-fiction covers.  More importantly, whereas most of the time you hear quotes of $4-500 for cover art, most of these artists are looking to be established—and thus gave me quotes of around $100-$200.  Given that almost every booth artist has examples of their work there for sale plus info to their website, it’s not like this is a case of agreeing to work sight unseen.  Is this more expensive than buying a stock photo?  Lords yes.  But you won’t end up having something happen like the idiocy that afflicted one of our fellow authors, i.e. someone claiming publicly on your Amazon reviews.  I’ll also say that, as someone who has commissioned some artwork lately and may need to buy some more, the $35 getting in the door will probably more than pay for itself down the road.

2.) Networking—In addition to meeting artists, Cons are good places to meet other folks who might make your life earlier or give you information.  For instance, I met another independent / small press author who was able to walk me through the process if I or a collection of other authors wanted to get a booth.  Would I have ever known a booth was reasonably priced ($400 as opposed to the $1000 or so I thought) or that he’d yet to have a case where he didn’t make his money back?  Or that the trick is to bring a gimmick item to catch people’s eyes? (His was stuffed dragons that, at least from my own observation, brought little kids (and thus the paying parents) like sharks to chum.)  No, I would not have, as I didn’t know anyone who had run a booth at Planet Comic Con before now.

2a.) Some things to go with networking.  First, have something that you can leave with the person which is memorable and distinctive.  In my case I have stickers and business cards.  Second, have an “elevator” speech (or speeches) for your book.  Mine came to me in a flash of inspiration while talking to the wife/business manager of an artist while he sketched.  Last (and this may be difficult for introverts), try to wear something memorable.  In my case, I had a Kaiju-class mecha patch put on the front of a long-sleeve T-shirt.  No other copy of this shirt exists, and minus the fact everyone kept thinking I was a Pacific Rim junkie, the shirt made me stand out.  (“Wait, James, it wasn’t the shirt.”  “Shut it.”)

2b.) Some networking occurs by happenstance.  For instance, I was walking by a booth and had a chance to do a podcast.  Now there’s no guarantee that podcast will ever see the light of day, but in the process I got to meet and make an impression on the two gentlemen who do interviews for the local Kansas City science fiction scene.  Does that happen while staying home?  No, and you best believe I’m dropping them a line offering to come onto the show at their convenience.  Similarly, I was told by multiple people that my current town did not have a science fiction club.  Who should I happen to meet with a booth at the Con?  That’s right, the local science fiction club.  Just two examples of why it’s worth it to go.

There’s much more, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.  Just wanted to make sure I shared with anyone who might be pondering whether or not they wanted to go next year.

Reviews (The First Actual Meat Post)

So I’ve gotten two reviews (that I know of) up for my novel, An Unproven Concept.  I’ll post them along with a little commentary here:

One is good:

One is so-so:

As there have been some common issues raised, I’ll try to address some of them without spoiling anything:
–“Ride of the Late Rain” was actually published first (December 2012)  At  the time I was not sure what, if anything, I was going to do with the novella that eventually became _An Unproven Concept_.  Given that the short story was successful, I figured it was worth the effort to go ahead and make the novella full length.

–The aliens’ motivation, as per the humans’ limited information, will become more apparent.  Without spoiling, I intended to give the impression that the aliens had one way to save themselves–which led to some of their savagery.  At some later date, you’ll get much of the aliens’ side of the story.  Suffice to say, the series is named Vergassy Chronicles–Humanity’s going to get to meet said aliens (if they haven’t already).  😀

–The second reason the two works are separated is length.  _Concept_ clocks in at a hefty 450+ pages (going by standard paperback word count), while “Ride of the Late Rain” would have added another 60-70+.  I was assuming risk that someone would read a 400 page first novel–I didn’t want to shove it to 500 and have people be like, “Oh HELL NO…” when they opened it up on their Kindle.

–The final part of the book is wrapping up loose ends.  While other reviewers have noted that they would have preferred cliff hangers, as I hate that when authors do it to me as a reader.  Plus, if I get struck by lightning tomorrow, no one’s trying to figure out what my plan for the characters in this iteration was.

–There will likely be a few short stories to clear up some of the “subversive” back story.  I have often been chided for starting things “in the middle” with my books / stories. I often find, however, that things which may induce writer’s block at the beginning are often easily passed off as dialogue if one begins down the road a bit.  Plus when you lock yourself into things with said dialogue, it tends to focus the mind.  😀

Welcome, welcome! (House Rules)

Greetings all.  Sorry it has taken so long to get this site active.  As the commemorative post, let me say welcome to Colfax Den and I hope to keep this updated on, at a minimum, a biweekly basis.

Some ground rules before we begin:

1.) There are plenty of places to have political, social, ethical debates about current events and recent history.  This is not one of them unless said factual interjection is pursuant to discussing one of my works or another science fiction piece.  Yes, glad you feel passionately about [insert political party] or [burning political issue].  People in Hell also feel passionately about the need for asbestos underwear, doesn’t mean I want to hear them screaming about it.

2.) All constructive criticism / critiques are welcome.  Constructive:  “Hey, I don’t think that someone would react to [gruesome fate befalling fellow character] that way.  This is why…”

Non-Constructive:  “You suck.  I wish I’d never bought your work, and you have no grasp of physics.  I hope you go blind so your crap no longer pollutes the internet.”

In the case of the former, I’ll be happy to explain why I did something or say, “Crap, you know, maybe I need to fix that.  Mr. Retcon, please pick up the white courtesy phone for an urgent edit.”

The second?  Well, I tend to ignore idiocy, but just in case we’re unclear I’m always prepared to let “haters” demonstrate that they can do better.  (For those with synaptic issues, linking to your favorite author is not “doing better.”)

3.) In that same vein, everyone who comes to visit here is my guest.  I would not expect a houseguest to verbally abuse other people I invited to my home in real life, so I will certainly not tolerate it here.  On the gripping hand, I tend to trend towards sarcasm (as do most of my fellow travelers), so folks who come to visit also need to bring a thick skin and willingness to say, “Hey, that’s getting kind of personal.”  Be adults about your disagreements, in other words.

4.) Everything here is (c) myself or, in the case of artists, the original artists.  Very rarely do I consider intellectual theft to be amusing or “something everyone does.”  If you want permission to post a snippet or draft elsewhere, feel free to ask and in most cases I will say “yes” or contact someone to get their permissions.