Captain’s Log: LibertyCon 31

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Opening Ceremonies: Brandy Spraker, convention chair

Yet another family reunion has come and gone. Yes, family reunion, because that is what LibertyCon is to me. These people are my tribe. No, we don’t necessarily agree on some things, but what family does? The beauty of LibertyCon is that we don’t judge each other by our differences… and in this time in history, the very lack of toxicity is something to be cherished.

Sadly, I will have to miss this assemblage in 2019. The only way I will be able to attend is at the cost of someone else having to miss it then. For the very first time in the history of the convention, memberships sold out in a single day! In 6 hours, no less! I am on the wait list, but there are many more besides me and ahead of me. (You snooze; you lose.)

Hopefully, I will be able to secure a membership for 2020.

This year, however, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I actually made my first book sale of the convention before I even got the books into the building. a young woman by the name of Keesha, stopped me at the corner and asked me about the convention. She was disappointed she hadn’t know about it beforehand in time to get a badge. I told her where to find it online, and we both bemoaned the local media’s habit of not reporting about the local sci/fi cons until the last day of the convention (Oh, by the way, there was a science fiction convention this weekend. By the time you read/see this, it will be nearly time for them to close up shop.) Then, because I was in my real clothes for a change instead of my work costume or street clothes, she asked me if I was portraying a specific character or what. When she learned I was an author and that I write about pirates that aren’t nice and vampires that don’t sparkle (among other things) and that my Waves of Darkness series is currently out of publication, she bought one of my few remaining copies of Blood Curse. (I honestly think she would have bought the entire series if she could’ve done so without feeling guilty about it. 7 books in one shot can be a bit overwhelming.)

Over the entire weekend, I sold 9 books and am completely out of book 1 until I can get them back in publication (hopefully with the help of an experienced agent).

I learned some valuable tips and information on furthering my writing career, one of the things I prize this convention for. After all, not only is it a sci/fi con, it is a literary con. MY TRIBE READS BOOKS!

While I didn’t get to attend Terry Maggert‘s workshop on Writing Effective Amazon Ads for Indie Writers due to a schedule conflict, he has promised to send me a copy of the presentation.

I did get to attend John Van Stry‘s workshop on How to Become More Successful as an Indy Author. I took notes.

I honestly believe my current writing and self-promoting slump… no, I know the slump is due to the massive overtime I’ve been working the past month and am still facing for the next 3 months, at least. It’s just hard to make the time for it, when all one has time to do when they get home is eat, shower, and sleep. I’m simply going to have to make at least a half hour every other day to work on what I have to in order to keep my stories alive, both in my mind and in the minds and eyes of my potential audience.

That’s another thing about LibertyCon I love; it recharges my creative batteries and determination.

Two other panels I make a point to attend every year are the Space Update and the Mad Scientists’ Roundtable, both of which are moderated by Les Johnson, author and real-life rocket scientist. Both are so info-packed as to be too much to cover in a single post.

I thankfully was able to attend Atlanta Radio Theatre Company‘s performances of Robert A. Heinlein‘s The Man Who Travelled in Elephant’s (dedicated to the late Harlan Ellison, who first performed the role of The Ringmaster in ARTC’s first performance of the audio adaption at Dragon*Con 20 years ago) and George Alec Effinger‘s Terrific Park.

I followed this up with Writers Telling Sea Stories, an assemblage of former Navy authors sharing their fish tales and how they aided them in their writing (especially if writing military s/f). Of course, there wasn’t a deck ape among them, just snipes, IT, carrier personnel, and submariners.

As expected, my shared reading at 2pm Sunday didn’t happen. Sunday afternoon panels rarely get attended, because about half of the con-goers are heading to the airport or on the road so they can be home in time for work Monday.

As soon as I get around to it, I’ll post the 2 filk songs I recorded, performed by Gray Rinehart, on my Viksbelle channel on YouTube.

All in all, great con!

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Holy $#!t

First, the important news: The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe: 2 The Truce went live on Kindle last night! I plan to run a one-week sale once I get episode 3 published.

Secondly, unless someone cancels next year, I will not be attending LibertyCon 32. Tickets went on sale 8am EST July 4th and were sold out by 2pm the same day! Wow!

LibertyCon Looms Large and Other News

That’s right kids, it’s almost time for LibertyCon again — this year in a new venue, the Chattanooga Downtown Marriot adjacent to the Chattanooga Convention Center. The current owners of the Chattanooga Choo Choo have made it fairly obvious they aren’t interested in continuing business with any of the three sci/fi and fandom conventions which have called it home for the past decade or so. The Marriot is a temporary home for Libertycon, as it is my understanding the convention will be contracting with the historic Read House Hotel next year.

I will once again be pushing my books in Authors’ Alley as well as sitting on a panel or two. It also seems I’ve been cemented in as part of the crew for the children’s masquerade again. If you attend LibertyCon often enough, you WILL be put to work. Just ask Brandy.

Here’s my updated bio and schedule for this year. I would say drop by if you’re in town that weekend, but the con has been sold out for a few months now. Still, if you think you’ll be in the Chattanooga area around the last weekend of June (when they usually hold it if it doesn’t conflict with other events at the same venue) next year, be sure to log on to libertycon.org and get your tickets starting as early as July this year. They sell out fast.

In other news, I have finished going over the edits for episode 2 of The Adventures of Pigg & WoolfeThe Truce. As soon as I get a satisfactory cover put together for it, I will upload it to KDP.

I have already received my first rejection letter in my current agent hunt. Truth be told, that’s all I would expect to get this early in the game. Most of the agency websites I’ve looked at tell potential clients to expect to wait 8 weeks or more for a reply. I plan to send out another wave of queries over this holiday weekend.

Happy Memorial Day to all my U.S. readers and followers.

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Captain’s Log: ConNooga XI 2018

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Hey, I’m a pirate. I’m taking the Iron Throne AND the dragons! (Props courtesy of Prop House 42, who were doing photo ops for donations to the STARS charity.)

I decided some time last year not to run an author’s table at ConNooga this year. My sales last year just didn’t bear up the expense. Instead, I opted to be a “book pusher” carrying a few copies around in my roller bag. I did that the first year the books were available in print and had good results.
I didn’t do as well as I did that first time; but I sold as many books as I did last year without the expense of a table. I’m happy with that.
Since I wasn’t tied to a table, I was able to really enjoy the convention this year.
I noticed some improvements in the placing of vendors. Authors were dispersed throughout the dealer room as well as a few in the main hall.
In addition to the convention center’s concession stand and the food trucks from Rolling J’s, Chick-n-nooga, and Spill the Beans, I saw 2 or 3 stalls selling pocky and other Japanese snacks along with anime collectables. Copper Kettle Gourmet Nuts was in the dealer room, and Bayou Billy’s Sweet Tea in the gaming room. There were a few gaming groups and a game vendor in the gaming room, too.
Most of the other conventions advertising themselves had tables in the main hall.
Plus, there were a wide variety of photo backdrops to choose from throughout the convention center.
I attended maybe half of the panels I’d planned on. Canvassing the dealer room and costume hunting ate more of my time than I thought it would. I still enjoyed myself and went to the ones most important to me.
First panel I attended was On a Budget: Self Publishing Overview with Gil Hough, Kenyon T. Henry, and Paul Cagle. I followed this up with Self Publishing 101 with Gil Hough and Jim Hodgson. Both panels were very informative and helpful in making some decisions about my self publishing options.
Even though I wasn’t slated to be a panelist this year, T. J. Morris asked me to help out with his panel, How to Develop Your Science Fiction Character. Honestly, I think he just wanted someone for backup in case he choked  (which he didn’t). I did contribute a little, but he had it well in hand. I picked up a few pointers which will help me improve my own skills.  (I also need to get the info on his cover artist; those were the type of covers that grab you by the eyeballs, remind you they are directly connected to your wallet, and say, “You. Need. This. Book!”)
Of course, I attended the Dark Princess Theatre panel. They gave some teaser performances of upcoming and new stories for their podcast. Sunday, I caught a glimpse of Hope “Lady Gwendolyn” Holloway’s husband, John, cosplaying a mundane. I have photographic evidence in my photo gallery of the convention on FB.
While I didn’t make it to the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (ARTC) show, I did stop by both their booths and visit. Picked up a copy of their adaption of Treasure Island. Been waiting on that one. This was their first year at ConNooga. I usually catch them at LibertyCon.
I spent most of Saturday morning wandering the dealer room. That afternoon, I went to the first half of the Radio Cult concert then to the Gender in Fiction by Authors panel with panelists Alice Turner, Sandy Giamportone, Shannon Chandler  (no relation that I’m aware of… she may be a distant cousin), and Sophia Smith.  The concert was fantastic, as usual. The panel was interesting and raised some questions I hadn’t thought of.
Went to the costume contest as I do every year.
The last 3 panels I attended were all comics related: So You Want to Make Comics, with Dana Ortega, Matt Murphy, and Tara Hamilton; Okay Then Let’s Make Comics, with the same panelists; and How Comic Books Changed My Life, with Jared Jordan and Mark Compton. It was a fun evening.

I spent the entirety of Sunday roaming the dealer room and main hall on a costume hunt and pushing my books. I collected a TON of business cards to glean for more listings in the Smugglers Cove and Hucksters Haven.

I’m also keeping an eye open for when pre-registration opens for ConNooga XII.

Pre-con Diversion

Vik

Sorry for such a drop-down to the image. While I was able to clean up the clutter on the original sketch, I couldn’t get my ancient computer to let me crop the darn thing. Maybe because I saved it as a .png? I’m really not that tech savvy, and I don’t have the kind of time needed to play around with programs to truly get the hang of them. (I used MS Paint to edit the pic, for crying out loud.)

Anywho, this is a sketch I drew of Viktor during one of the slow times at my table at Chattacon last month.

While I will be attending ConNooga this weekend, I am not running a table this year. Finances are a bit tight with the new house and learning the hard way I have the highest charging water and electric utilities in the county.

That being said, I do still have several copies of all 7 titles in the Waves of Darkness series available. If anyone is going to be at the con and is interested in purchasing them, look for the middle-aged pirate wench pushing a roller bag around. If I don’t have the title you want with me Friday, we can just set up a time to meet Saturday or Sunday, and I’ll bring it/them then.

Captain’s Log: Chattacon 43

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Author D. Alan Lewis (Blood In Snowflake Garden) tries on a yarn Krampus hat from Spinner’s End Studio (Joy Wandrey, knitnick@gmail.com).

Chattacon 43 turned out quite enjoyable and much more cozy at The Chattanoogan hotel. While the space for the Dealer Room was a bit snug compared to the space we had at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, it was still plenty of room for a wide variety of vendors. For the first time since I’ve attended this convention, all of the book vendors were individual authors; no travelling book stores. Artists, crafters, costumers and leatherworkers, jewelry makers, memorabilia and collectibles dealers, steampunk prop makers, and a t-shirt vendor rounded out the group.

Programming covered literary and writing topics, art, film, costuming, fandom, and gaming. I picked up several ideas and pointers as well as offers of future advice for my plans to go  into self publishing some of my works from some who have already made forays into that aspect of the publishing world. I hope I was able to offer some useful tips to the budding authors I met who are just now entering this often frustrating and occasionally rewarding world.

I only attended one room party (Libertycon’s party) Friday night and none Saturday. I’m not sure how many there were, but I don’t think the hotel management really wanted any of them. Room parties don’t mesh well with hotel security features. Convention security had to maintain a person at the elevators in order to enable them. One cannot make the elevator go up from the lobby in this without a room key card. This is great for keeping someone from off the street gaining room access for burgling, but it makes for an inconvenience for convention goers wishing to enjoy the tradition of circulating among the room parties.

Thanks to convention staff for running a con suite at this con; a tradition I hope never goes away. If not for them, some of us would have gone hungry. The main restaurant in the hotel was NOT what I consider affordable; a sentiment I heard echoed frequently by the second day. This may also have played a factor in the low sales in the dealer room. Does one buy books and nifty stuff or something to eat? (I only sold 4 books; even authors with better sales said the numbers were lower than what they were used to.)

On a side note: I plan to set up a page on this blog dedicated to sharing links from business cards, post cards, and bookmarks I’ve collected at conventions over the past few years. These are for your use at your discretion. If I’ve actually purchased from any of the vendors or authors linked, I’ll give my recommendation; otherwise, it is purely free signal boosting for those who’ve worked the cons I’ve attended.

So watch for it.

New Year New Beginnings

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I hope 2018 will bring good things to all of my fans and followers as well as to myself, family, friends, and coworkers. Happy New Year!

I’ve just completed my first month in my forever home. (The lawn furniture left with the previous owner, but that’s okay.) All my adult life I’ve been a renter. Finally, I have a place of my own.

The new (to me; the place is 40 years old) house is not the only new beginning I’ll face this year. At work, I’ll be going on permanent night shift. I volunteered for it when we voted to have non-rotating shifts.

Around February or March, I will be releasing the first episode of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe under the aegis of Steele Rose Press.

Steele Rose will be my personal, self-published imprint, which I plan to run as professionally as I can. Friends from my AB:VH fanfic days will know the story behind the name for the publishing venture. This is a new venue for me, so I ask for your patience as I learn the ropes. (There will be MUCH brain-picking of other indie and self-pubbed author-friends at conventions this year.) As I get things in place, I will set up shop on this site or possibly build a separate WordPress site just for the publishing.

I have the first couple of episodes of TAoPaW out to an editor-friend who was soliciting free editing in exchange for permission to use samples in their portfolio (she has since received more than enough manuscripts to keep her occupied for some time, so the offer has been closed). Lori Alden Holuta is also the author of a series of Steampunk YA stories set in Industralia; specifically, the city of Brassbright.

Another change to this site I plan on is going through the con swag I’ve picked up over the years and highlighting the authors, publishers, artists, musicians, and others whose cards, bookmarks, postcards, and such which are in my collection. After all, isn’t advertising/marketing the purpose of such items? I haven’t made up my mind yet what frequency these types of posts will have.

There are a few more new beginnings I will announce later in the year. I still have some serious prep to do before I can reveal what I’m up to.

Next week, I will post pictures of my new library (formerly a dining room; but I don’t USE a dining room, and haven’t for decades). Here’s what it looked like before we bought the place.

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(Yeah, I saved the pictures from the real estate listing for comparison purposes.)

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE FOR MAELSTROM OF FATE FOR BEST HORROR NOVEL IN THE PREDITORS AND EDITORS READERS POLL! Voting closes on January 14th. Current standings have the book tied for 9th place. I think we can do better than that, and I heartily thank you for your support.

Also, don’t forget I will be in the Dealers Room at Chattacon, January 19-21. I will have multiple copies of all seven titles in the Waves of Darkness series available, and will be more than happy to sign them. Chattacon has a new home this year, BTW. They are now housed at The Chattanoogan hotel.