Tag Archives: Connie J Jasperson

#amwriting: Update, and the Room of Shame

I work in a room officially designated as the Room of Shame. It is not a room of shame in a dark, Fifty Shades of Gray way.  No. That would be interesting, which this particular Room of Shame is not.

This room is a boring office that could be owned by hoarders. I’ve mentioned before that it’s haunted by the Ghost of my Feline (Past): Yum Yum (the demon-possessed cat). My little companion died died in 2009, and I’ve never had the heart to replace her. Despite my oft-repeated intention to clean this toxic waste dump out, her ghost still manifests in the fur that still lurks behind the sagging bookshelves and boxes of papers dating back to the Bronze Age. Plastic bins filled with my books, ready to take to a show or signing, are stacked atop dusty crates still bearing her furry imprint. The disgraceful carpet is proof that to clean the floor, one must be able to find it.

Somehow, despite the embarrassing chaos, I do manage to crank out the work.

Last month I finished the second draft of Billy Ninefingers. He has been through the beta reading process and is currently fermenting in a dark place while I wind up some other projects. I received excellent feedback and have a firm idea as to how I will structure the final draft.

I am making headway on the first draft of Eternity’s Gate, a new novel in the Tower of Bones series. This is the ‘how it began’ story, and it features Aelfrid Firesword, Edwin’s many time’s great-grandfather, and the unintentional founder of the College of Warcraft and Magic. Even though it is set in an established world (Neveyah), planning this novel presented an unusual problem in that the magic system had to be redesigned as much of what is canon in the later books doesn’t exist during the time this story is set. New maps have been drawn. Alf is a Barbarian, so I have learned a great deal about his culture in the process of creating this early, far wilder version of world of Neveyah.

Knight’s Redemption, a novella featuring Julian Lackland, Golden Beau Baker, and Huw the Bard, is in the final stage of the revision process.

As always, I am working on flash-fiction and poems as the mood strikes, some weeks more than others. Flash-fiction usually happens when I’m at a stopping point on my other projects and my mind just wants to roam free. This is always a good time to think about possible blog posts.

And finally, I’m in the process of rewriting a short story for an editor who likes the overall premise, the protagonist, and the way the story ends, but wants me to make some fundamental changes to the way I am telling the tale. In my opinion, any interest from an editor should be celebrated, and their requests and suggestions should be given my full, immediate attention, so that will be an ongoing project over the next few weeks.

Not being rejected out-of-hand is good, in my opinion. I see this type of interaction as an encouraging thing. The door is open to an opportunity I might not have again, so I try to make whatever changes they request. The trick is to make the changes with your own flair so that you don’t lose what they liked about the piece in the first place. Either way, whether they ultimately reject it or not, I will gain something out of this.

Also, I have been cooking. I’ve found some more wonderful food ideas to take along when I am on the road. Traveling as a vegan can be quite dicey, unless you carry your own food. Once I leave the Northwest, restaurants don’t offer vegan options. Rather than go hungry, I make my meals ahead. I’m always looking for tasty treats that travel well, and are satisfying.

Today is a good day to write. I intend to make the most of it, working on whichever project is inspiring me. Having more than one project going at a time allows me to stay productive because when I can’t think what to do next in one manuscript, I’ll know exactly what I need to do in another.

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Mountains of the Moon Launches

Map of Neveyah, for MOTM 6-14-2015Mountains of the Moon is the newest release in the World of Neveyah. It is set in the same world as the Tower of Bones series but it is the original story that was written as the storyline for an old-school RPG game, along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games.

A prequel to Tower of Bones, the book follows the adventures of Wynn Farmer as he and his companions travel high into the mountains to stop the Tauron, Bull God, and his minotaurs from overrunning Neveyah. Nothing goes as it’s supposed to, and Wynn’s general naiveté often causes his companions serious trouble.

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015Wynn is seriously ignorant of the world in general, and at the outset, he’s in over his head, and he knows it. This book also introduces several characters as young men,  two of whom play a large role in the Tower of Bones series, Rall Ivarsson, and Jules Brendsson. Both these men figure strongly in later books, and at the time of Tower of Bones, Rall occupies the office of the Holy Seat, guiding the Temple of Aeos, and is the most powerful man in Neveyah.

Wynn’s story is sometimes hilarious and was fun to write–a contrast against the frequently dark situations they find themselves in. The world of Neveyah is a harsh place at times. Magic is a fundamental facet of life there, and many of the magical creatures that inhabit the world are just as deadly as the minotaur hordes of the Bull God.

THE BLURB:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

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Mountains of the Moon is on sale at these fine online stores for $2.99 ebook and $17.99 for paperbook:

Barnes and Noble for Nook or paperback

Amazon.com for Kindle or paperback

Also available at SmashWords in a variety of ebook formats for your phone or tablet!

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FOR CARLIE M.A. CULLEN’S REVIEW OF MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, CLICK HERE Wow! She liked it!

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And also, a reminder that I will be signing books at AFK Elixers and Eatery all afternoon and evening tomorrow, Saturday the 27th of June, 2015. Please–feel free to stop in and chat! I will be there with local authors AJ Downey, Sechin Tower, Lee French,  Lindsay Schopfer, Stephen Matlock, David Moore and Jeffrey Cook.

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Filed under Books, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Heading to Renton at AFK Elixers and Eatery #Booksigning

Destination StaycationOh, my gosh–I am getting so excited! The next event, Destination Staycation is happening in just 3 days, on Saturday the 27th of June.  Eight local, independent authors will be coming together for one event. We will be selling and signing books all afternoon and evening at AFK Elixirs & Eatery  in Renton, Washington, and I can hardly wait!

HTB Stamp copyWe will be offering reading-passports and stamping them with our book-related stamps.

Along with myself, AJ Downey, Sechin Tower, Lee French, Lindsay Schopfer, Stephen Matlock, David Moore, and Jeffrey Cook are the featured authors this time around.

And wow–what a fabulous venue–a gamer’s paradise!  AFK simply means Away From Keyboard. It’s commonly used in chatrooms and online games and it basically means that you won’t be available (Not at the keyboard = Not in front of your computer). But at AFK Elixers & Eatery you may be away from your computer, but you’re never far from gaming.

My friends and fellow gamers & book addicts in the western Washington/Seattle area are more than welcome to come on up (or down) and join us Saturday, between 2 and 9 pm.

Here are some samples of books being offered by the intrepid indie authors who will be joining me:

Girls Can't Be Knights KINDLEGirls Can’t be Knights, by Lee French

Portland has a ghost problem.

Sixteen-year-old Claire wants her father back. His death left her only memories and an empty locket. After six difficult years in foster care, her vocabulary no longer includes “hope” and “trust”.

Everything changes when Justin rides his magical horse into her path and takes her under his wing. Like the rest of the elite men who serve as Spirit Knights, he hunts restless ghosts that devour the living.

When an evil spirit threatens Claire’s life, she’ll need Justin’s help to survive. And how could she bear the Knights’ mark on her soul? Everybody knows Girls Can’t Be Knights.

Lost Under Two moons, Lindsay SchopferLost Under Two Moons, Lindsay Schopfer

Alone. Stranded. Richard finds himself on Other World, a place of fantasy and horror. With no companion but a makeshift journal, Richard must quickly learn the unfamiliar dangers around him as he struggles daily to survive. From the approach of winter to eerily intelligent packs of nightmarish creatures, each entry details another trial of life or death. But when Richard finds the remnants of an ancient civilization, he begins to wonder if he is truly alone, and whether or not the lost people of Other World still hold the secrets that could return him home to Earth.

Dawn of Steam First Light Jeffrey CookDawn of Steam, Jeffrey Cook

In 1815, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, two of England’s wealthiest lords place a high-stakes wager on whether a popular set of books, which claim that the author has traveled to many unknown corners of the globe, are truth or, more likely, wild fiction. First Light is an epistolary novel, told primarily through the eyes of former aide-de-camp Gregory Conan Watts, describing the journeys of the airship Dame Fortuna and its crew through journals and letters to his beloved fiancee.
The first recruit is, necessarily, the airship’s owner: war hero, famed genius, and literal knight in steam-powered armor Sir James Coltrane. Persuading him to lend his talents and refitted airship to the venture requires bringing along his sister, his cousin, and the crew that flew with him during the Napoleonic Wars. Only with their aid can they track down a Scottish rifleman, a pair of shady carnies, and a guide with a strong personal investment in the stories.
When they set out, the wild places of the world, including the far American West, the Australian interior, darkest Africa, and other destinations are thought to be hostile enough. No one expects the trip to involve a legendary storm – or the Year Without a Summer of 1815-1816. The voyage is further complicated by the human element. Some parties are not at all happy with the post-war political map. Most problematic of all, the crew hired by the other side of the wager seem willing to win by any means necessary.

mad science institute Sechin TowerMad Science Institute, Sechin Tower

Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck is a girl genius with a knack for making robots—and for making robots explode. After her talents earn her admission into a secretive university institute, she is swiftly drawn into a conspiracy more than a century in the making. Meanwhile and without her knowledge, her cousin Dean wages a two-fisted war of vengeance against a villainous genius and his unwashed minions. Separately, the cousins must pit themselves against murderous thugs, experimental weaponry, lizard monsters, and a nefarious doomsday device. When their paths finally meet up, they will need to risk everything to prevent a mysterious technology from bringing civilization to a sudden and very messy end.

AJ Downey Shattered and ScarredShattered & Scarred: The Sacred Hearts MC, AJ Downey

She’s Shattered…

Ashton Granger is a perfect wife to her husband. She has to be, if she’s not, he will find a way to correct any perceived imperfections. Such is life, and so it has been for a very long time, eroding Ashton’s sense of self, cracking her sense of worth until she lays in a million pieces on the side of a stretch of lonely highway.

He’s Scarred…
Ethan “Trigger man” Howard is the Sergeant of Arms for The Sacred Hearts Motorcycle club. After several tours as a Marine Corps sniper overseas, he’s seen and done enough damage for a man three times his age. He’s out. Done. So over it, and home to nurse his wounds, physical, emotional and psychological with the help of his MC brothers. Now he simply deals with the scars that life handed him.

Was it more than just luck for he and Ashton both that he was the only other soul traveling that isolated stretch of highway that night?

**Mature Audiences Only (18+)**

 

Stars in the Texas Sky Stephen J. MatlockStars in the Texas Sky, Stephen J. Matlock

STARS IN THE TEXAS SKY is a story about 13-year-old Henry Valentine. He’s the school’s star pitcher, intoxicated by first love of a young girl, and all seems right with his world of 1952 racially separated East Texas. Then he is confronted by an unlikely antagonist, a colored boy who challenges him in his town, bests him in a pitching duel, and fights him in the vacant lot outside of town. A wary distance becomes an unexpected friendship when they discover a common love for Texas beauty. He is devastated when a corrupt congressman sacrifices Henry’s friend to win re-election, and receives no sympathy or help from his disapproving family, church, and town. His finds support in the feisty, independent-minded widow with a taste for liquor in her lemonade who helps him fight against the powerful using only the tools of an innocent and powerless boy. In the end he learns the value of standing for what he believes in face of opposition, and discovers that there is nothing more powerful than a boy – or a man – who knows who he is.

This book is a 2012 Amazon Breakout Novel Award (ABNA) quarter-finalist.

 

David Moore Light at end of trailThe Light at the End of the Trail, David G. Moore

This is a memoir of Moore’s early life–a life filled with equal parts light and darkness. Battling the neighborhood bullies, embracing the world of nature, surviving his mother’s depression, he finally descended into his own world of sadness. But the sadness was nothing compared to what awaited him at college. With the help of drugs and alcohol, a mysterious illness overtook him that baffled both him and the best of doctors. Meanwhile, the Moore family exploded. His parents separated, one sister joined a religious cult, the other buried herself in therapy, and his mother finally moved to the West Coast to escape it all. There were moments of bright light. At times, his illness vanished and during those reprieves he tried to live life to the fullest. But the quest for a life full of passion and joy pushed his mysterious psyche to the edge–then over the edge. It was time to enter the gates of hell.

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And these are just the tip of the iceberg–the number of books my fellow authors and I will be offering is somewhat mind-boggling to me!

Check out the Destination Staycation Facebook Page!

I hope to see you at AFK E&E in Renton Wa on Saturday June 27th!

 

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Cover Reveal: Mountains of the Moon

Mountains of the Moon will go live on June 26, 2015.

I know! What took me so long!?

Well, it’s still the wild west here in the indie publishing world. Ya gotta get your book written, then rewritten, then beta-read and revised accordingly, then edited and revised accordingly, and the cover designed and the blurb made–it all takes time!

Four years, to be exact.

A great many things conspired to hold up publication of this novel, which was actually supposed to be published before Forbidden Road, but the day is finally here.

Mountains of the Moon is a prequel to Tower of Bones. The book follows the adventures of Wynn Farmer as he discovers who he is and what he is meant to do.

Wynn is a bundle of contradictions. He is in over his head, and he knows it. Naive beyond words, and ignorant of the world in general, he says the first thing that pops into his head, does not understand the difference between sarcasm and a direct order, and tends to follow instructions to the letter. His habit of answering rhetorical questions seriously is quite aggravating to his companions.

Wynn gets his act together, though, and that is when the fun really begins.

The book also follows the paths of Jules Brendsson and Rall Ivarsson, seeing them as young men. It also introduces Devyn D’Mal, an earth-mage and (unbeknownst to him in this book) uncle of most hated villain in Neveyah.

In the meantime, here is an excerpt:

The horn blew again, and the four tired mages trooped out. “Please, Aeos, just make this misery end,” muttered Jules. “Heaven only knows what that evil woman has planned for us next.”

“That was a real thunder-lizard,” said Devyn, horror tingeing his voice. “I can’t believe they had a real thunder-lizard. What is wrong with that woman? What if it had gotten loose?”

“It was only a baby,” said Rall, sagely. “Even the holy mother’s not mad enough to bring an adult inside the city.” Internally, he was shaken. “I hate fighting those things because you can’t use magic against them.”

“I thought it was fun,” said Wynn with a tired grin. The others stopped and stared at him then resumed walking. “She’ll run out of creatures pretty soon.” He tried to conceal his disappointment.

“I hope so,” said Jules, brightening up. “I can’t think of anything she hasn’t trotted out yet.”

As the four mages reached the slope opposite the amethyst tent, a thunderous roar shook the field and the night was suddenly lit as if by the sun. An enormous dragon emerged from the dark mists, landing directly in front of the group. Flames leapt and danced along the length of its immense back. Waves of heat like that of a large house fire rolled off it, making the questers unable to get close enough to use a sword, had they been so inclined.

They were not.

“Holy…where the hell did she get a firedrake?” Rall, Jules, and Devyn scattered, giving the beast too many targets concentrate on. Fiery breath roared toward them. Blazing claws reached and slashed, first at Jules and then Devyn. The horrific head swung, looking for a victim.

Overwhelmed by the horror that now stared down at him, Wynn reacted instinctively. Without even thinking, he cast his steel-cutting bolt to crack the creature’s shields and followed up immediately with a large ice spell.

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And now, the cover:

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015

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MOTM Back Cover Final 06-18-2015

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And here is the YouTube link to my World of Neveyah, epic fantasy trailer, featuring Sway, written and performed by Margaret.

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I #amwriting

Map of Neveyah, color copyWriting is going well. I’m fleshing out the third book in the Tower of Bones series. The prequel to the Tower of Bones series, a stand-alone novel, Mountains of the Moon,  is in the final stages of production and will be published in July. I’ve also been working on some short stories in the Billy’s Revenge series, follow-ups for Huw the Bard. The re-write of The Last Good Knight went well, and the rough draft is now resting on the back-burner while I finish up the third book in Edwin Farmer’s story,Valley of Sorrows. VOS is nearly complete, and will be my main area of focus for the next three months.

Valley of Mal Evol B&WValley of Sorrows picks up where Forbidden Road left off, and is a rather dark book, although there are some moments of hilarity. We will see a great deal more of Stefyn D’Mal, and find out what sort of person Lourdan is. Valley of Sorrows will finally take Edwin home, but what waits for him when he arrives back in Aeoven? We should know by next spring!

Set concurrently with Forbidden Road is John Farmer’s story, The Wayward Son. That book deals with the issues of PTSD, survivor guilt, and what happens to the men and women who return from the war. Some wounds are not visible from the outside, and John Farmer’s story takes us deep into that aspect of a soldier’s life.

One reason writing has been so slow on Valley of Sorrows was that I had to write John’s story, so the book would make sense–so I have been writing two books.  I’ve always known John’s background, but his back-story has always remained just that–reams of untold back-story.

John, Garran, and Halee have some serious issues to overcome stemming from a series of traumatic incidents that occurred during the last days of the war in Mal Evol. Twenty five years have passed, but for each one of the three who were once so close, some scars have never healed, and John’s return to Neveyah reopens the wounds. While those problems are hinted at, they’re not discussed in Forbidden Road. In order for John and Garran to be at Braden, waiting for Edwin and ready to join the quest, I had to resolve some of those long-festering issues.

MOTM MAPAlso, several things occurred in Aeoven during Edwin’s absence, things that set him on a different course. These things are explored in the course of John’s story, and that book, The Wayward Son, will be published right around the same time as Valley of Sorrows.

During the re-editing of Tower of Bones I took the liberty of changing one character’s name. She is briefly mentioned in that book, but her part really very minor. However, she assumes a somewhat larger role in Forbidden Road, which caused some problems, as her name was only one letter off from another female character’s name, and they rhymed.

At the time I first published Forbidden Road, I was concerned about the names being so similar, but I didn’t know what to do about it. But it occurred to me that since I am an indie, I can do any thing I want, so I went ahead and changed the abbess’s name to Halee. The simple expedient of changing her name from Marta to Halee ensures she doesn’t rhyme with Marya.

So my writing life has been quite full–when I run out of ideas on one story I pull out another and work on it until it’s time to move on to a different one. My books have new interiors, new maps, and new covers. They are back on the shelves for sale, and the sequels and prequels are moving along just fine.  My writing life is good!

Twer of Bones Postcard Front

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When this job becomes work: the book signing event

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AUTHORSI must admit, I am not really a people person. I’m a bit awkward, and not really sure of myself, and I have a sense of humor that is too off-the-wall for most people. That is one reason why being an author is such a good fit for me–I can work from home and most of my interactions are imaginary.

Nevertheless, there are times when I must put on the public persona of the Successful Author. I’m not really that good at this one-on-one public thing…yet. I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in multi-author events with other indie authors, with more experience at it, and I’ve been able to see how they approach the gig.

It’s tricky–you can’t just assault people, shouting “Buy my book!”

Walking the line between being obnoxious, and telling people what they want to know about the book is tricky. The minute someone asks me what Huw the Bard is all about, my mind grinds to a halt. It’s almost like I never even read it, although I do remember writing it.

My first public event was last month at NorWesCon, and that was interesting because I was a vendor, so I was there all four days, but in the vendors’ room. For me, that was a tee-shirt-and-jeans event, because I don’t own any costumes, or ren-fair clothes (yet).

My second public event was this last Saturday. Two other local indies, fantasy author Lee French, and steampunk author Jeffrey Cook joined me at the Two Sister’s Tea Room in downtown Olympia for a book signing. This was a very different situation, and was much more pleasant. This signing was timed for the middle of one of the largest festivals in the the city, the annual Procession of the Species, so we had many people stopping and conversing with us.

Dawn of Steam First LightSeveral people really stand out in my mind–I was moved to tears by one lady from Hawaii who bought Dawn of Steam, First Light, from Jeffrey.  She said she was a new reader, that she had come from a place where reading was not encouraged. She also said she was currently enjoying Charles Dickens’ classic novel,  The Pickwick Papers. I was awed by the absolute joy she took in the written word as she looked through Jeffrey’s book, and by how happy it made her that he signed it for her.

It was really brought home to me then that reading is still a privilege denied to many people of the world, often not by their wish, but by circumstances beyond their control.

dragons in pieces lee frenchThen there was the wonderful character who was absolutely crazy for dragons. He not only bought Lee’s book, Dragons in Pieces, but insisted on buying one of the little plastic Dragon heads she had created with her 3-d printer as decorations.

Lee was selling books like she owned the only snocone stand in the desert.

I wasn’t, but I had a great time anyway, and handed out a lot of book marks.

From left: Lee French, Jeffrey Cook, Connie Jasperson

From left: Lee French, Jeffrey Cook, Connie Jasperson

For that event, I went all out clothing-wise. I went to the Goodwill and shopped the fat-lady rack on senior citizens’ half-price day, and found what seemed like the perfect, brilliantly-garish, machine-washable, fancy-label jacket to wear with my rather boring black blouse and black trousers. It was only about twenty years out of style, and was the perfect price for my tapped out pocket-book: $3.99, with my old-peoples’ discount.

I am still looking for the right event-outfits. I want something a little wonderful, but with not quite as much purple as the flashy jacket. I love purple, but as an accent color.

Our next event is in three weeks, so that gives me a lot of time to find something suitable for the comfy grandma who writes RPG game-based hack-and-slash epic adventures, and also sometimes writes literary fantasy.

Maybe what I need is a green velvet renaissance faire dress, with Cloud’s buster-sword from Final Fantasy VII in a shoulder scabbard. That  should get my style of writing across well enough.

cloud strife and buster blade

 

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Conventions: Hawking your books vs attending the convention

Lee French at Norwescon 2015 in NIWA Booth

Lee French at Norwescon 2015 in NIWA Booth

Going Indie means going it alone, and doing it the hard way. However–there are now small bands of indies coming together to help each other, and in the process, help themselves.

One such organization is Northwest Independent Writers Association, an organization of indie and small-press authors based in Western Oregon and Western Washington. We seem to be situated along the I-5 corridor from south of the Portland area north through the Seattle area.

This last week I attended Norwescon, carpooling the first day with fellow Myrddin Publishing Group author, Lee French. She is an awesome person, as well as a wonderful, creative author.

My book, Huw the Bard, was in the rack at the NIWA table, and I met some of the most wonderful people: Angela Korra’ti, Madison Keller, Jake Elliot, and Luna Lindsey were all there, manning the table and helping each person who stopped to find a book that fit them, regardless of if it was their own book or not–we were selling each others’ books as well as our own.

I ran into my good friend, fellow NIWA  member, Thomas Gondolfi , who was working his own booth.

Saturday night, Lee, Jake, Angela and I had dinner with fellow NIWA member, steampunk author, Jeffrey Cook.

Huw the Bard at NorwesconMy feet are killing me–today, I am not sure I will do it again, but I am glad I did this time.  My view will likely change as I begin to feel rested again.

Huw the Bard was not a good fit for that venue–they were more into fairies and steampunk, which Huw is obviously not. However, I think he would do well at a ren-fair, as the people who were interested in him were all ren-fair people.  Most likely my best books for a gaming venue will be my World of Neveyah series, as it is RPG game-based, and gaming of all varieties is what Norwescon is all about.

Standing in the booth for most of 4 days did me in, I do confess.  I also was somewhat of a 5th wheel, in that the booth was too small for the number of authors who were there and willing to contribute their time and energy to the project. There was only room for 1 chair, and so we stood. I felt a bit unnecessary, at times, which is not a good way to feel, but they very kindly tolerated me.

Angela Korra’ti has a knack for selling her books, and I tried to learn as much as I could from her. Jake Elliot and Lee French seemed to know what they were doing too–there is definitely a learning curve to pitching your book live and in person.

norwesconBeing an indie author, or being published by a small press means you are on your own as far as getting the word out about your books.  This means if you want your books seen at a convention, you have to pay for the table, buy your stock, and get the word out, because no one else will.

It also means you must spend the convention in the dealers’ room at your booth, pitching your product to strangers, rather than taking in the panels and hearing speakers like George R. R.  Martin. But I did see him in the lobby while I was getting coffee, and I saw many, many people who really love his work, far more than I do–and they stood for hours to get to see him.

I would have loved to hear George speak, but I had books of my own to hawk. I never thought I would live long enough to be able to say that.

This is where you discover that going indie means honing an elevator pitch that will sell your book in thirty seconds. That will be my next trick.

cashbox 3This is also where you discover that the Sparco cash-box you bought, and  that was not cheap, is nearly impossible to unlock, but it makes an awesome weapon if you are ever mugged on the way back to your hotel. Which I wasn’t, but I’m an author, and that’s how I think.

It’s also where you discover that your target audience was not at that convention.

Most importantly, this is where you realize that your poor old feet are  just not up to you spending 10 hours a day standing on them.

I understand there is some controversy regarding the Hugo award nominations–but I didn’t hear them announced, as I was trying to sell books. I suppose a shakeup is inevitable, and I will have to do some reading to find out for myself what the problem is, in the eyes of the reading world.  That will be interesting–accusations of blocks of special interest groups gaming the outcome and such intrigue me, and I will definitely want to get to the bottom of that!

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Norwescon 2015

NorWesCon 2015 - 1This weekend I am at Norwescon in Seattle, Washington, along with fellow Myrddin Publishing Group author, Lee French. This is where I get to do both the work and the fun stuff that goes along with being an author–AND Huw the Bard will be offered on the NIWA table!  How cool is that?

Norwescon is a gamer-scifi-fantasy addict’s paradise.  The guests of honor are George R. R. Martin (Author), Julie Dillon (Artist), Amy Mainzer (Science), and Random House (Spotlight Publisher) represented by Anne Groell and Tricia Narwani.

Plus, there will be a large number number of seminars and special events: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night each feature a DJ’d dance in the grand ballrooms, and Lazer Tag and many other games. Friday features an 18-and-over special event. And, don’t forget the Masquerade, complete with Children’s Masquerade. Holy cosplay!

Michael Tinker Pearce came by our booth on Thursday,  and I have to say I loved his work, Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman. I really enjoyed meeting him–he’s a charming man.

000510Of course, food is tricky–the vegan must provide for herself while on the road. One can only hope that the room she ordered at her hotel that is within walking distance of the event will have the kitchenette as she had requested. Otherwise she will be downstairs at the breakfast area using the microwave at all hours.

Feeding myself at these events is always a challenge, even at conventions where they claim to provide for “special” dietary needs.  How hard is it to bake a damned potato and garnish it with a little guacamole, and some veggies sauteed in olive oil?  Apparently impossible, as proven by my annual PNWA conference dietary fiasco at the Hilton. I look forward to seeing how they manage to screw up “special” needs every year. Last year I was literally the last person to be served at the banquet, and the food arrived cold and inedible–and my table mates had long since finished theirs when mine was delivered.

Being glared at by the servers for wistfully hoping to eventually see a plate of food was also to be expected–after all, “special dietary needs” are a selfish fad designed to draw attention to ones self, don’t you know.

But Norwescon will be different. It’s far less expensive to attend, less than 1/5 the cost of PNWA (indies pay their own way, you know) and they proved snacks but you aren’t tied to their menu.

The difference is this: PNWA is a writer-focused event with seminars, agent, and editors attending and presenting seminars. I’ve found the writers who give the seminars there to be really entertaining and THAT is why I attend. It is an awesome, inspiring conference that recharges me.

Julie Dillon will be speaking at Norwescon, and as a wannabe artist myself, I’m quite intrigued by her work. The covers art she does for mainstream fantasy authors is just as high a quality as that of the legendary Michael Whelan.

George R. R. Martin photoSo I get to hang out in the dealers area with my friends from NIWA, buy a new T shirt or two designed by some crazy-gifted people, and I will get to hear George R.R. Martin speak on Sunday morning. Don’t love his work, but I adore him as a man and as a speaker.

If I am really crafty, I can get my pristine, barely-been-read first edition of A Game of Thrones signed during one of George’s 3 scheduled signing events–wowsers.

During the hippie era, of which I was a late entry to, most hippies did not refer to themselves as hippies as that was really term used when our parents were complaining about us. Mostly we referred to ourselves as freaks, since the mainstream society considered our willful desire for world peace to be aberrant. But out of that culture grew some of the best scifi and fantasy authors and artists of all time.

And so I say, it’s good to be a freak in a land where freaks really know how to freak! Norwescon will be an adventure for sure!

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To swag or not to swag

HTB Bookmark side B copyI’ve several multi-author events coming along in the near future, and I’ve been preparing accordingly. I’m now technologically able to accept any sort of payment for my sales at these events: I actually own a portable store.

Now I have to consider swag–that portable bit of treasure to keep others thinking about you and your books.

It’s always hard to know what sort of swag to invest in, what is going to pay for itself. I can’t really afford to go nuts here, so I’m going to see what my author friends are pushing, and try to determine just what is going to be the right fit for me.  So I ordered the old standby indie swag-item, book marks.  I’ll make sure each book I sell has one in it, and if a passerby asks for one I will hand them out. Some folks like them so I’ll make sure I have some for them, but at various different conferences and conventions, I’ve observed that a lot of things like that just get tossed unless the person actually asked for it. Why invest in something that will just end up littering the mall?

I went to an event and met a lovely man from Alaska who practically forced me to take a cardboard replica of his book cover. As I said, he was friendly and nice, but…it must have been costly and I had no idea what to do with it. By the time I arrived home it was a mangled mess and went out with the recycling. Thus, I don’t even remember his name, or his book.

That incident got me to asking myself: what do I really want out of this? After all, I am selling my brand, and that brand is my author name.  I want people to remember it.

Business card MockupSO: Business Cards–These are an absolute must. They’re cheap and easy to make on my home computer and good to hand out when asked for one. Keep it simple and readable, with just the facts:

  • Your Author Name
  • Your website
  • Your Fan Email Address
  • Any other contact information you feel comfortable giving out
  • Your book title (s)

Remember: Don’t Junk It Up.  Simple and readable is the way to go with business cards.

I have another friend who is investing in postcards that have to do with his book, and each one will have a coupon to redeem a free paper copy of his forthcoming novella–and that’s a good idea, but also costly. I need to keep my costs a low as possible, so that will not be an option for me. Romance authors are encouraged to offer all sorts of little swag items–chap-stick, makeup mirrors, even tote bags–these are costly though. Whatever I do, it has to be effective and low-cost.

HTB Stamp copyI do think custom post it notes might be a good idea.  They seem reasonably priced, and fairly easy to do. Again, I think the key is to do it like business cards and book marks–keep it simple and just the facts: Author Name, website, and book title. If I decide to do those, I’ll let you know how it goes.

I had fun finding clip-art and designing a special Huw the Bard Stamp for an event that will happen in June–each participating author will have a stamp and will stamp the programs of the crowd as they pass through.  This was intriguing, and something I can use later in so many ways. Plus it was only $ 7.95 + shipping.

Anyway, I’m sure my little stamp will be great fun for the grandkids–heh heh…hold still and let grandma stamp this little tattoo on you….

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Winter Blues

The strange, dark days of winter have closed in on us. Sunrise won’t happen today until 7:43 a.m., and sunset will fall on us at 4:43 p.m.

That is 16 more minutes of daylight than on the 1st of January, but who’s counting?

This eternal darkness colors my general attitude, making me feel more like staying in bed than getting up and doing things. But then, I get involved in a project and forget how depressing the weather is.

bread machineI think I’ll make rosemary-bread today–I love it toasted. Being vegan, I usually make my own  in my bread machine. My family is used to homemade bread, and look forward to it when they come back to visit. One of my daughters commented that she missed the kind of bread we always had when she was growing up–I didn’t have a bread machine in those days-I just made it by hand. When I didn’t have time to make bread I made biscuits, which we still all love.

Today I am also making granola–another thing that is better when you make it yourself.

I do use locally sourced honey for my granola, which makes it not-vegan, but I am not a purist–honey is a good, natural sweetener and no bees are harmed in the process! For a change-up I use maple syrup. I’m not on the stevia or agave bandwagon, as I don’t really use a lot of sweeteners, and I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go.

My recipe for granola is as follows:

granolaHOMEMADE GRANOLA

BASIC INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup locally sourced honey or maple syrup
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds (or 1 cup sliced almonds and 1 cup chopped walnuts)

 

IDEAS FOR ADD INS (Mix and match–Use your imagination—Go wild!)

  • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup banana chips (dried banana)
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup small diced dried figs
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries–I’m from where these are a locally grown product, so I use these most often.
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup dried chopped mango

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, and coconut and almonds/walnuts together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated.

Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes. I set the timer so that I am called to the kitchen to stir the granola every 8 minutes–if I forget that step, our granola may be a bit dark and crispy.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruits. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container

 http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-creamy-wild-rice-mushroom-soup/


http://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-creamy-wild-rice-mushroom-soup/ (replace dairy with almond or coconut milk & Toffutti better-than-sour-cream)

Maybe I’ll make a crock pot soup too, something hearty and comforting. Then, once the house is in order I’m going to write for a while–it’s that sort of day.

Maybe the long dark days aren’t so bad–maybe they’re cozy and comforting in a way. Certainly life is simpler, and the really important things gain a sharper focus–family, friends, and food–the three ‘f’s of a full life.

Tomorrow there will be four more minutes of daylight, and the day after that, four more. Soon we will be at the summer solstice, where the sun rises at 4:11 a.m. and sets at 8:11 p.m.  (5:11 a.m. and 9:11 p.m. PDT)  How good it is to know we are on the ‘getting brighter’ side of the calendar!

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