Conventions in a Time of COVID

Just popping in here briefly to inform everyone of another postponement.  Soonercon, originally scheduled for June, is now postponing to June 25-27, 2021.  As I’ve been doing to help ease the pain for most conventions, I’ve merely asked to have my vendor space passed forward to 2021.  I figure it’s the least I can do.  At the moment, this makes my next event to be Libertycon where I’ll be going as a professional and a couple of small engagements in St. Louis, MO and Lawrence, KS in the summer. Given how things are going, I’ll put those dates out once they’re reconfirmed.

Against the backdrop of a pandemic, this is not a back breaker for me.  I still have the day gig and *knocks on wood* haven’t had a brush with the virus yet.  Others are not so lucky.  A lot of artists, authors, and other entertainers I know are hurting horribly from the ripple effects of this pandemic, and it’s going to take awhile for the “Con Familia” to recover.  So I implore you, if  you know someone whose primary business is being a vendor at a convention or artist, please “toss a coin to your painter / writer, etc.”  If you’re not able to see them in person this year, I encourage you to go to their internet, Etsy, etc. and buy something.

Don’t want to risk dealing with germs possibly being carried on packages?  Well, if you have the change to spare, become a Patreon for a little bit at their lowest level of contribution.  Yes, it’s probably only a buck…but if 400 friends each donate a buck, that’s a car payment, groceries, utility bill, etc..  “1000 people, sufficiently motivated, can kill a hostile lion armed only with ice picks”-definitely applies in these times of economic stress.  To be clear–by no means should you put yourself at economic risk (unlike the hunters in the analogy), but every little bit would help artists who may literally be worrying about keeping the lights on.

(For those who like Anita C. Young’s art, her Patreon is here.  I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d go to the proverbial “Special Hell” if I didn’t promote my favorite artist and booth babe.  In that same vein, if you like fantasy art, I also recommend my regular con neighbor and  DnD player, Chelsea Mann.)

Failing direct economic action, promote your favorite authors / artists on social media.  Quarantine is a great time to dive into a new book series or recommend something for a group read along.  Or if you’re so inclined, buy a book to donate to your local nursing home, cancer ward, or assisted living library.  With a lot of the restrictions in place, the inhabitants of those facilities are not getting to see visitors.  You can both help an author and put a smile on people’s face.

Things are bad, but I’m convinced that we will all collectively make it through this.  Yes, it is grim when multiple friends are not able to hold funerals, weddings, or graduations due to this. I don’t even think we’re into the worst of it yet.  But at heart I’m an optimist, and so far Humanity has managed to pull through all sorts of calamity to get to this point.  Hug your loved ones close and check up on friends who may have been suffering from mental illness previously.  Try to get outside as the restrictions of your area permits.  Take this time to reconnect with someone you might have lost touch with.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of you later this year when all this is behind us, and hopefully with more books than you saw me with last time.

The Cosmic Chuckling Continues

So the original version of this event was announcing my location and attendance at Planet Comic Con 2020, 20-22 March at Bartle Hall in Kansas City.  As usual, I was going to be in attendance with Anita C. Young with her artwork and books.

Well, as you can see if you go to the Planet Comic Con website link above, the Con has been postponed (full statement here).

 

KCPCC 2020 Location

Alas, right now the dates they’re talking about for the postponement take place in September 2020.  Given that I have a couple commitments in that month already (see Cincy Comic Con), this means I’m going to take the option to have my tables this year rolled over to 2021.

This is going to be a crazy time due to the Covid-19 virus.  I hope everyone stays safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you guys on the Con circuit when (and I do think it will be when) this pandemic is past us.

You can order Anita’s new magnets at our Etsy store.

2019 in Review

Man.  It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the imminent release of Those In Peril and preparing to go to Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Symposium in Utah.  Next thing I know, 2019 is in the rearview mirror, the Phases of Mars series is complete, and Against The Tide Imperial is…well, still not done, but definitely getting there.  Still, 3 anthologies in a year is not bad, and objectively I think it was a fair trade.  I mean, guys—I edited S.M. Stirling, Kevin J. Anderson, Taylor Anderson, Sarah Hoyt, and David Weber this year.  In books with my name on the front cover.  Shout out to Chris Kennedy for taking on a beer bet and to team “and more” for being amazing.

By the numbers, over 1,500 people visited the page this year, which was almost double the number of folks who showed up in 2018.  Thank you for coming along on this wild ride, and here’s to hoping that you continue to enjoy a glimpse inside the crazy.  Externally, this was my second year in a row over 1,000 books sold / 500,000 Kindle pages read (not counting the anthologies) both online and in person, and with at least one book coming out that will helpfully increase.  Moreover, I learned a lot this year about marketing, networking, and this profession in general.  While those could be 20 or more blog posts in and of themselves, the “Top 3 Things I Learned in 2019 Are”:

#1 Professionalism Matters—Nothing like being the chief editor for something to help you realize one’s reputation precedes you.  From the perspective of dealing with fellow authors, I was taken aback by the number of folks who do not understand some basic etiquette in dealing with their fellow human beings.  Or the importance of things like, “Hey, when the requirement says 7-10,000 words, that means you don’t turn in 6500 and cop and attitude with the editor.”  People will remember if you pull some prima donna crap when you really didn’t have to, and word spreads quickly.  Likewise, if you become, shall we say, radioactive in other venues, there will be folks who have problems with sharing a common battlespace with you.  Bottom line:  If you’re involved in a project, be on time (or admit that you’re not going to be able to do something in a timely manner), write to the specifications, and don’t be a jerk.

#2 People Plan, the Universe Laughs—I can honestly say 2019, while not the craziest year I can remember (oh hey, 2009), was up there.  Between deaths, getting forcibly invited to someone else’s car accident, a new job, and various other “What the Hell?!” things that occurred, I’ve come to realize the path to sanity involves accepting that life is chaos.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m still very much a work in project on this.

However, I’ve increasingly tried to take an objective look at what has occurred, then ask myself “Why did this happen?”  If it’s someone else’s fault, that’s usually followed by “Was this accidental, malicious, or unforeseeable?  If accidental, has the other party acknowledged their role in the negative outcome and taken measures to keep it from happening again? If malicious, is this salvageable or is it time to just close that particular airlock?”

If it’s my error, “What have we learned and how do we keep from dropping that ball again?”  This is usually followed by “How do we make amends?”  Because saying “I’m sorry…” is kind of pointless unless there’s an actual intent to make things right.

Above all these things, however, 2019 taught me this:  “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy I spent ___ minutes / hours / days dealing with rectifying this problem?”  Because having someone go from “I’m glad I’m finally going to meet him…” to “Whoa.  He’s going to be dead in less than eight hours…” definitely made me start assessing time and how I spend it.  Spend time doing what you love and with people who make time for you, as our hourglass only has so much sand in it.

#3 Network Makes The Dream Work—Among the “people who made time” for me were my writing tribe.  It really does take a village, and one never knows what connection will suddenly bear fruit.  I can honestly say that in 2019 I had positive interactions with people I first met back in the 1980s, went to school with in the 90s’, served with in the Army in the ’00s, and even folks I saw in passing at a random con sometime in the last six years.  In some instances this was expected.  In others, it was definitely one of us saying to each other or about someone else “Uhhhh, you know, let me see if _____ can help with that, because holy smokes you’re in a bad way”-response.  The outcomes were almost always great and definitely far better than I would have accomplished on my own. Whether it was fiscal (increasing royalties!), introducing me to another pro who provided a story (or stories) for the anthologies, or just providing a “morale boost” when I was questioning my sanity for even pushing on with this crazy dream, I’d like to issue a blanket THANK YOU! to the tribe and fans at large.  You all made 2019 great, and I look forward to what 2020 has to bring.

All right, that’s enough from the foxhole for today.  I’m going back to figuring out what happens when over 100 American aircraft surprise six Japanese carriers equipped with stolen British radar.  That’s right, it’s called “alternate history” for a reason, and boy howdy does the Kido Butai having decent radar change a lot of factors involved in World War II carrier fights.

 

News From the Con World

This mirrors what a lot of other vendors have said about the 2019 season and concerns about 2020. While I will be potentially doing as many shows, I’m definitely leaning towards new markets with proven performers.

This is also something to consider for the larger author community. One may have to take a deep breath when looking at overall sales numbers and also pay strict attention to marketing. Things may get bumpy for a bit.

Happy Veteran’s Day Potpourri Post

So it’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog.  I figured I’d hit some of the high points of the last couple of weeks:

Attended the Ozark Book Con down in Fayetteville this past weekend as a vendor.  First year event with all that entails, but had good panels and talks with several good authors.  I recommend attending the event for the professional aspects if you’re in the area.  If you’re coming from out of the town, it’s definitely a “Hey rando friend I haven’t talked to in years, mind if I sleep on your couch?” until it grows some.  Which, given the professionalism and drive on display, I think it definitely will.

On the way back, finally got to meet Acts of War‘s editor, Mary, in person.  In addition to being long overdue, the fact it’s been 5+ years since that book went through her able hands made me marvel at what modern technology makes possible.  Although her current work with medical journals precludes her from working on anything else, I’m glad that a mutual acquaintance said “Hey, I know someone who might be able to help you…” many moons ago.

Speaking of the Usurper’s War series, Against the Tide Imperial continues to move along.  Unfortunately, after getting read the riot act by an author mentor, I’ve had to accept that the Phases of Mars anthologies are 100% my “books for the year.”  Combined with the new day job’s obligations (oh, yeah, I got promoted and changed positions), the process of putting out Those In PerilTo Slip the Surly Bonds, and Trouble in the Wind has pretty much sucked up a lot of available time.  So, rather than put out a substandard product or skimp on marketing, Against the Tide Imperial is slipping to the right again.  The manuscript will get done this year (which means preorders will be up), but the actual _book_ is probably going to be out in 1st Quarter 2020.  *angry author noises*

This dovetails to a professional lesson that I am learning again, but in a different dialect:  Projects are rarely as easy as they may initially seem.  At the beginning of the year, with Those In Peril shooting up the charts, “Suuuure, we can do two more of these this year…” seemed like a good plan.  What I now realize is one can do three books in a year, it just means one probably shouldn’t also do cons and other creative projects if there’s also a fourth book one would like done.  So, for 2020, the lesson will be, “No, I think that timeline doesn’t work for me, thank you…” as I get solo projects back in line.  (Feel free to remind me of this in the comments when my hair is on fire again this time next year.)

In addition, having now done editing three times, I cannot emphasize enough that you should always pay your damn editor.   It’s a whole different animal than writing, and I will issue a blanket, heartfelt mea culpa for some of my past sins to my editors.  In addition, as an author, understand that your editor’s job is to polish up your work.  “Polish” implies that you have done a grammatical read through, researched the technical aspects of the work, and are basically giving the editor a complete story that just needs a set of professional eyes to look upon it.  This goes doubly so for an anthology submission.  Indeed, I’m just going to let John G. Hartness take it away…(language alert…NO REALLY!):

Anyway, it’s Nano (and yes, I’m counting these words), and I’m going back to US CVs about to go to guns with an Italian Fleet.  (Yes, that’s a teaser.)

Metal Monday: The Return of Korn & More News

So I didn’t realize it’s been almost three years since Korn graced a Metal Monday.  (Man I wish the sound system had been better for the Topeka concerts.) So, without further ado, we’re going to go back…way back.  😀

Apparently Jonathan Davis wrote the song as an aid to fight against domestic abuse.  It’s lyrics are pretty raw, and I’ve had it on as background music for many scenes dealing with an oppressive boss or overlord.

Great Plain Ren Fest this weekend! If you’re in Wichita swing by to say hello!

 

Cincinnati Comic Con 20-22 September

So I’ll be doing Cincinnati Comic Con 20-22 September.  The general floor plan is below:

Cincy Convention Hall

Booth #520, my digs, is zoomed in on in the following pic:

Cincy Floor Location

 

I hope to see some of y’all there!  I love meeting fans in the wild, and this will be my first time in Ohio!  Provided Amazon doesn’t botch the shipping, I’ll have copies of all my own books and anthologies there, to include To Slip the Surly Bonds.  Which, btw, now has an “orange tag” signifying it was #1 in a category (no, that doesn’t get old typing it!):

ORANGE TAG 2

Hope to see you guys Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!

Music Monday: A Classic Gets the Epic Treatment and Some News

It’s the third Monday, and you know what that means–SCORE DAY!

A big trend in trailer music lately has been to update classic, recognizable songs and give them the “Epic” treatment (i.e., soaring instrumentals and drum tracks).  If you can hear the “Trailer Voice” guy narrating your book trailer to one of these songs, that’s kind of the point.  😀

Speaking of climatic scenes, two bits of info.  First, just a reminder, To Slip the Surly Bonds dropped last Friday (print cover shown to cover the additional cover art awesomeness!):

Print Cover

It has been climbing the charts and was #1 on the Historical Fiction New Release Chart last night (Sunday 15 September 2019 in case you’re reading this much later).

ORANGE TAG

Second, I’ll be at the Cincinnati Comic Expo this week!  I will (thanks to the Amazon gnomes getting it done early) have print copies of To Slip the Surly Bonds as well as the first copies of Anita C. Young’s State of Mind artbook!  Stay tuned during the week for location and maps!