Publishing

I’ve neither died nor faded away…

Of course I haven’t! I’m not an old general! I have, however, been very busy with an annual project at work as well as working on final revisions for Scars of the Sundering, book 3 – Salvation.

When I get busy like this, I often will still update my Facebook page, so if you’re not following me over there, you might want to stop by.

And with that, I must apologize. For while I let people on Facebook know, I neglected to show things off here. I was going to go for a whole fancy cover reveal to build hype, but it seems like that works better for authors who have a larger readership than me.

Last month, Lily Yang delivered the cover art for SalvationBook Cover 4

The cover design is being worked on now and Salvation will be available for sale prior to Gen Con in August. I’ll announce an exact date once I work on the interior layout.

In addition, I’ll have a new short story available for sale at Gen Con. “Burble’s Big Day” will be available in print EXCLUSIVELY at my convention appearances. All of the art is by Brian Patterson of d20 Monkey fame.

Burble Page Cover for web

If you’re going to be in the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area on July 8th, I’ll be at Beachside Authorfest (despite what the Facebook link indicates, it’s not hosted by me; they’re just slow in updating the official sites for this year, so the link to the event I set up is about all I have right now). Both Salvation and “Burble’s Big Day” will likely be available from me there, barring any printing delays.

Look for the official launch announcement for Salvation in the next few weeks.

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Handicap Awareness at Gen Con

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Originally posted at my Doctor StrangeRoll gaming blog.


Gen Con is nigh! With less than a week to go before the best four days in gaming (as of the time I’m posting this), I’m not going to rehash what so many others have put out there; there are tons of blogs and articles out there with advice regarding large conventions like Gen Con. My advice is going to be different. I am going to rehash what I’ve posted in previous years (they’re my most popular posts!). To most of it, Wheaton’s Law applies. For those of you who are link-averse, Wheaton’s Law is this: Don’t be a dick.
However, the things about which I’m going to speak, are the sorts of things people are not aware they’re being dickish about. They’re not being malicious; they just don’t have any personal experience with these sorts of issues, so when they start breaking Wheaton’s Law, they don’t know they’re doing it. My job here is not to castigate, but to educate.

Specifically, I’m talking about dealing with those who have physical challenges at conventions. The handicapped, to be blunt. People like my wife. She can walk, but conventions like Gen Con are too big for her. So, she uses a wheelchair to get around. She has a snazzy metallic red electric wheelchair, but in years past, I’ve pushed her in a manual wheelchair. This gives us a unique experience at Gen Con.

Be Aware of People Around You

The average con goer is, shall we say, Plus-sized. OK, that’s fine. I’ve been there; I lost nearly 50 pounds a few years ago. At conventions, people often have large backpacks. Sometimes, everything they brought to the convention is in this backpack. People are not always aware that this backpack adds two to three feet to their girth. They spin around quickly. If you’re in a wheelchair, those backpacks are level with your head. More than once my wife has narrowly avoided being clobbered in the head by an unaware con-goer suddenly spinning around because something caught his or her eye. When I pushed her, I watched for this sort of thing. Now she drives herself, and I worry she’s going to get beat up.

Step to the far sides or into a booth space, if possible, to have conversations with friends or on your phone, or to look at the map, in your backpack, etc.

Moving through large groups of slow moving people is a challenge in a wheelchair. Sometimes people back up unexpectedly. Worse, they often stop unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s because the crowd in front of them has stopped. Sometimes it’s because something caught their eye. Sometimes it’s because someone caught their eye, and they’re stopping to chat. If this happens to you, look ahead a bit and see if there’s a spot in a booth where you can divert to stop. Please, please, please don’t just stop in the middle of the aisle to root through your backpack or catch a Pokémon. You’re not in a high school hallway; stopping in the middle of the aisle is hugely disruptive. Also, if you’re pushing your kids in a stroller, you really need to watch where you’re pushing them. My wife almost got t-boned by a stroller a few years ago because the mother had her head turned one way, watching something, and was pushing and walking in a different direction… in a CROWDED hall way (not even the Dealer Hall). She also almost got run into by a guy walking very fast and not watching the direction he was walking. His friend yelled to get his attention, otherwise he would have tripped over my wife’s (in motion) wheelchair. She had no chance to take evasive action because he approached from an angle that was mostly behind her. Situational Awareness is a thing. You don’t have to be a fighter pilot to practice it. Seriously.

Bathe regularly. Use deodorant.

Shower regularly and use deodorant. This has been covered by almost every blog and podcast I’ve seen on the subject. I bring it up because something most people aren’t aware of: Gamer Funk is worse when your head is at waist level to the average con goer. Think about it: you sit on your butt every day during the con, often for four to six hours at a time. Frequently, walking around the city during the Con can be like walking on the surface of the sun (i.e. it’s HOT). The chairs don’t breathe. The A/Cs in the convention center will have trouble keeping up with a roomful of gamers when it’s hot and humid outside. Except for a very few, select people, most attendees have the crotch region covered completely by a couple of layers of clothes (basically, I’m talking about everyone who can’t get away with wearing something like a swimsuit or lingerie to Gen Con). Sweat happens. Funky things happen in dark, warm, moist areas. This is not shameful, it’s just a fact of bio-chemistry. Cleanliness saves noses.

Give wheelchairs a wide berth; don’t step over them.

Often, those of us using wheelchairs move a little slower than others in the Dealer Hall. Sorry, it’s just difficult to push a large mechanical object through a crowd. Sometimes, we have to stop for a moment to wait for an opening to cross an aisle. I know you’re in a hurry. I know there’s a demo you think you’re late for, or a game in another room. But FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY: DO NOT STEP OVER THE LEGS OF THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR. This happens to my wife at least once a year. Someone will get the bright idea that they can cut a corner if they just step over my wife’s legs. That is 100% NOT OKAY. For one, these people usually misjudge how much space they need and end up kicking my wife’s feet or the wheelchair. She’s not paralyzed, OK? She has feeling in the lower half of her body. In fact, because she has a degenerative spine condition, she feels these jolts acutely. IN HER BACK.

Pain is a funny thing (and I mean funny like a heart attack). In my wife’s case (and I know many people experience this same thing), it’s like gas prices. It’ll spike very quickly, and then take FOREVER to come back down. If you kick her wheels (however accidentally) or kick her legs because you felt stepping over her was quicker than going around, or accidentally knee the back of the chair because you’re standing too close in line, all of those jolts go right into her back. The extremities are ALL connected to the spine in some way. That jolt of pain doesn’t just go away. It takes HOURS. Often, it takes her lying down for hours before it gets back down to a manageable level and it’s not something that can be alleviated by popping a couple of ibuprofen. Chronic pain does not work that way.

More than once, she has missed out on a half-day or a whole day of a con because of this pain. When you are the cause because you carelessly stepped over her wheelchair and kicked her legs, causing a flare up of pain in her back, you have taken a day at Gen Con away from her. Is that worth saving five seconds to you?

Don’t tie up handicapped accessible bathroom stalls unless you have a Potty Emergency.

A comedian once proclaimed the virtues of the handicapped rest room stall, saying it was “the Cadillac” [of the stalls]. While it is true these stalls are often very roomy, there is a reason for that. Here’s a hint: the reason is NOT SO YOU CAN USE IT TO CHANGE INTO OR OUT OF YOUR COSTUME. I respect cosplayers. What they do is AMAZING. But if you’re tying up the accessible stall chatting on the phone, changing clothes, having a quiet moment, you may be preventing people who need to use it for its intended purposes from using the facilities they require. From what I hear, because I don’t have first-hand experience with the ladies restrooms, for every ten to twenty standard stalls, there are one or two handicapped stalls and one or two “family” stalls (if you’re lucky). The family stalls are slightly smaller than the handicapped stalls, but larger than a standard stall so that a mom can stand and assist her toddler. Handicapped attendees don’t expect the handicapped stalls to only be used by handicapped people. With some 50,000 – 60,000 attendees anticipated, it is understood that sometimes there will be a line for the facilities. People expect to have to wait their turn. The main point is to use a non-handicapped stall if one is available and to be aware that people in wheelchairs cannot choose one of the smaller stalls.

Look, I get sometimes you need a quiet moment, or have to change clothes, but that stall is that big so that wheelchairs can get into it. My wife told me of an experience last year where she was in a line three wheelchairs deep waiting for the accessible stall while two young ladies were changing clothes and giggling and were pretty much oblivious to the fact that they were not the center of the universe.  Apparently, of the twenty or so other stalls, only two others were occupied at the time, so it’s not like these young ladies had no choice (and couldn’t wait). One woman had to get out of her wheelchair, crawl along the floor, and into a non-handicapped accessible stall because she could not wait any longer. My wife confronted them and politely made them aware they were holding up the line and they cried and accused her of being rude.

When people abuse the handicapped restroom, handicapped con goers risk wetting their pants. That shouldn’t have to be one’s main concern in a public restroom.

It’s a safe bet that most cosplayers are from out of town and have hotels. Perhaps they see the bathroom, the handicapped stall in particular, as a more convenient place to work on their costume than going back to their hotel. Well, tough. That stall is for handicapped people to pee and poop. You don’t get to act put out when one of them calls you on it. Besides, have you SEEN what’s on the floor in a public restroom? I certainly wouldn’t want to get that on my costume.

NX_senior_man_wheelchairDon’t be a Dick

This last thing actually is castigation because this happens every Gen Con and it’s not a matter of people being unaware; it’s a matter of people being rude jerks. If there’s a person with a wheelchair waiting for an elevator and they were there waiting when you and your group of friends arrived, WAIT FOR THE NEXT ELEVATOR IF YOU ALL WON’T FIT. More than once we have had our elevator poached by a group of rude assholes who rush to get into the elevator before we can. That’s being a dick. That’s being rude. You are bad people and should feel bad. When that happens, we hope the elevator breaks down with you in it. Don’t make me be a bad person for wishing bad things upon you.

Let’s work together to make sure the Best Four Days of Gaming are the best days for ALL attendees!

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New Page for Art

KaleDelilahFinal-CharReedFrequent visitors may notice a slight change to the site. I rearranged the options on the menu bar at the top of the page and added one: Visions of Art.

Visions of Art is the page on which the various pieces of character art, maps, and concept art will reside. I already posted everything on Pinterest (including logos and covers), but if you don’t have an account, using Pinterest can be kind of a pain.

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ConQuesT 47 Wrap-Up

2016-05-27 11.48.41-2Sadly, ConQuesT 47 was not as successful as I had hoped. Last minute staff shake-ups, last year’s harassment scandal, plus the close proximity of Planet ComicCon and Mid-America Con II/WorldCon resulted in a fraction of the expected attendance. There was also a noticeable breakdown in communications between the con staff and the vendors (like a surprise 2-hour extension to Dealer Hall hours while we were packing up for the night on Saturday).

I sold between 14% and 25% of what I did last year, and that’s with two new titles at the show this year. The gulf in uncertainty is due to not being able to correlate several Kindle sales with Con activity (i.e. They could be coincidental).

I had high hopes for the first con of the season for VFF Publishing. Such a massive disappointment is difficult to deal with when you invest that much time and money into something that ends up being less than was promised.

I’ll stop short of saying the convention was abysmal, however. I felt the panels I was on went well, despite the reduced attendance. I would be reluctant to return as a vendor, but I might consider returning as a program participant/panelist. I made a few good connections, as well. The Undergophers did a great job in the gaming area. If I return next year without the commitments of the Dealer Hall, I will definitely spend more time in the gaming area and maybe even run some games.

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ConQuesT 47

Are you going to ConQuesT 47 in Kansas City, MO over Memorial Day weekend (May 27 – 29)? I will be there all three days selling & signing my novels and short stories. But that’s not all! I will also be on three panels on Saturday.

Success vs Accomplishment SAT 11 AM
A philosophical, and hopefully informational, discussion about what it
means to make it as a writer or an artist. What are your goals? How do you
measure yourself? What do you need to do next? How do you get there?

Dealing with Writer’s Block and Other Hurdles SAT 2 PM
With every book I write, I find there are more than a few periods of
internal conflict where the story is trying to break free but doesn’t
quite make it to my keyboard. Writer’s block is something many struggle
with. Join me as we discuss what works for me, for other writers, and for
you!

Independent Publishing 101 SAT 4 PM
A nuts-and-bolts primer in how to run a business as a 21st-century
creative entrepreneur — there’s more to independent publishing than just
“self-publishing”!

You won’t get these topics at the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium! At least, not from me. You also won’t hear what I have to say about these subjects here, at least, not before ConQuesT.

… mostly because I’m not sure what I’m going to say yet. I’ll try to make it profound and useful. I hope to see you there!

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Seven Galaxies stories now available!

Forgotten Dreams Cover for webA few years ago, I wrote two short stories for Fear the Boot’s Sojourn speculative fiction anthologies. The rights have reverted back to me, so I am making “Forgotten Dreams” and “The Pleasure Pools of Persiphia” individually available on Kindle.

They are $0.99 each. If you prefer print, they’re still available in the Sojourn anthologies, but I will also have a convention-exclusive flipbook version available starting at ConQuest 47 in Kansas City, MO.

The flipbook has both stories bound together, but they’re upside down with respect to each other. When you finish one story, you close the book, flip it over, and start the other. Since they’re not sequels (though they share a setting), it doesn’t matter in which order you read them. I plan on selling the flipbook for $5 only at conventions (ConQuest, Gen Con, whatever other shows I exhibit at). I will likely also offer direct sales of these, so if you can’t get to one of my convention appearances, I’ll have something set up for you to send me $5 +shipping via PayPal and I’ll mail a signed copy out to you.

Pleasure Pools Cover for webYou may ask, “Well, why not make it permanently available in print on Lulu or someplace like that?” Very simple: they won’t guarantee consistent results with the flipbook. Automated systems don’t like seeing half of a print file upside down. Plus, I would have to sully one of the beautiful covers with a barcode and since each side is upside down with respect to the other, placement is problematic. Later this year, I may investigate making individual print copies available, but the price I’d have to charge to make it cost-effective may not be worth your while for a 10,000-word short story.

Please note: production of these is not in any way holding up production of Scars of the Sundering, book 2: LamentLament is currently with my editor and Beta Readers. Cover art has been ordered and everything is on track for a Gen Con release. Scars of the Sundering, book 3: Salvation is written. Editing will begin on that once Lament is published.

 

 

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Gen Con – Where I Will Be

If you plan on looking for me at Gen Con (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?), then take a gander at this map. I’ll be at the little red square most of the convention. That’s table AF on Author’s Avenue, around 1250, if you’re proficient navigating by the row numbers dangling from the ceiling. Just look for the 6′ tall minotaur banner and my ruggedly handsome face!

ExhibitHall2015

 

I will have copies of all of my books for sale, including the first novel in the Scars of the Sundering trilogy, Malediction (making its world debut at Gen Con!). Purchasers of Zack Jackson novels will get their very own Junior Ranger patch, too! (I’d sell ’em, but Gen Con won’t let me at an Author’s Avenue table.)

You can also see Anna B. Meyer’s beautiful map in poster-sized. There might be a Valtraxian at the table, too. Hope to see you next week!

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Best of Indy 2015!

bestof_nomme-instgrm_800x800It’s that time again! Time to nominate me for Nuvo’s Readers’ Choice Best of Indy – Best Local Author.

From now until July 10, you can write in your nomination at http://nuvo.secondstreetapp.com/l/Nuvo-Magazine-Ltds-Voters-Choice-12/Ballot/ArtsandEntertainment. Unfortunately, you have to create a log-in, but if this isn’t a deterrent to you, then have at it! You can nominate ONCE PER DAY.

Actual voting begins on July 27th, but I need daily nominations before I even show up on the ballot!

Thanks for your support. Now, back to work on Scars of the Sundering: Malediction!

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One Quarter into the Experiment & Upcoming Book Signing

VFF Banner for webBack in January, I pulled the entire Zack Jackson series from all sales channels except Amazon.com and made them all exclusive to that platform. In that time, my sales have actually increased. I can’t really claim it’s because of that, since sales increased across all titles, and my fantasy series is not exclusive to Amazon. One thing that I can attribute to the change in my strategy, is that I am actually get borrows through Kindle Unlimited now. Even though every book I’ve ever released has been exclusive to Amazon for the first 90 days of its release cycle, this is the first time I’ve started seeing borrows.

I don’t know why that is. I did monkey with my keywords a bit, and I suspect that is the reason. I can’t prove it, however.

In other news, I will be appearing at Indy Reads Books on April 19th! I’ll have copies of all five of my novels for sale and will be reading from my upcoming novel Malediction, the first novel in the Scars of the Sundering trilogy. I’ve never done a reading before and I’m a little nervous about picking a piece of this novel to read. Hopefully, I’ll actually have an audience.

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An Experiment for the 43rd Century…

Zack Jackson page banner flat

Well, it’s not really a experiment that will be that long reaching, but what I’ve done is pull all the Zack Jackson novels from Smashwords, DriveThru Fiction, and Kobo. Since I released Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos back in 2012, I have had ZERO sales in from those three vendors on this line. So, effective immediately, they are Kindle exclusive and part of Kindle Unlimited. I intend to keep them there for the rest of the year, at least.

This will enable me to take advantage of their promotional tools and attempt to get some movement on these titles. They sell well enough at conventions and signings (as do all my titles), but I’ve heard YA is a very challenging market in ebooks. My experience is bearing that out.

There is another Zack Jackson novel on the horizon, but I’m committed to getting the Scars of the Sundering trilogy finish first. The first novel, Malediction is in the editing/revisions stage. Lament‘s first draft is finished. I still need to write Salvation. I figure Spring 2016 will see the fourth Zack Jackson novel, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus.

I’ve added all the convention and signing appearances I have scheduled so far this summer to my calendar on my Facebook page. Stop by anytime and check them out (and maybe give the page a “Like” if you haven’t already; it helps get my posts there seen by more people).

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