Fun at FenCon VIII for The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat

Last weekend I attended FenCon VIII, a fan-operated science fiction and fantasy literary and filk convention in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Metroplex. They were hosting DeepSouthCon 49 this year, which added to the attendance and guest appearances. Guests of Honor included: Gail Carriger, Joe Bethancourt, Steven H. Silver, Les Johnson, Vincent Di Fate (who actually had to attend via video conference due to other commitments). Also there were Bradley Denton as Toastmaster, and Special Guests Lou Anders, who held a writers workshop during FenCon, and Stephan Martiniere.

My friend and fellow author, John Manning, had reserved space at a table in the main hallway right outside the dealer’s room, for us to sell and sign copies of the shared world anthology Lawyers in Hell, in which we both have stories published. He was also selling his novel Black Stump Ridge, that he co-wrote with Forrest Hedrick, who couldn’t attend FenCon, but who I had met at AllCon earlier this year. We had a lot of fun promoting the books, selling a few, and meeting fans and potential fans who we hope will buy the books later. We handed out a lot of promotional cards for both books, which are available online at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com and Lawyers in Hell is also available from our printing publisher Kerlak Enterprises.

I only started attending literary fan conventions earlier this year, but so far my experiences have been very favorable. FenCon was no exception. There were a lot of really interesting discussion panels. Some of my favorites were the Small Press Roundtable, and Still Not Panicking: Douglas Adams Remembered. I have been reading Douglas Adams’ books since I was about 13, and I have everything he has written. I brought along a rare book,The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, to show the panelists and audience. Hearing other fans talk about his work was really enjoyable, and brought back a lot of memories, as he is one of my favorite authors. He died in 2001 and his wit and humour is sorely missed but his work in books, radio, television, and video games, will not be forgotten.

Another fun thing that I got to do was audition and rehearsal panel for a radio play that Generic Radio Workshop was performing live on stage Saturday night after the awards ceremony. I was selected to play Richard Hammond, in an 1899 steampunk version of the BBC show Top Gear. Myself and the other three performers had a great time reading our lines before the packed room at the convention. Afterwards, I had a lot of people, who I don’t even know, come up to me and say that I and the others had done a great job! Being able to perform in front of an audience, and actually pulling it off pretty well, really made my day special. And it wasn’t any old ordinary day either. Saturday was my 40th birthday, and I had a wonderful time!

I got to meet with friends I’d made at previous conventions and through online networking. Great folks like fellow Lawyers in Hell author Brad Sinor, and his wife and author, Sue Sinor, both who I had met in person earlier this year at ConDFW. Also Amanda Green, author and Senior Executive Editor at Naked Reader Press, who was in the Small Press Roundtable panel, who I know from being a member of her Bedford Library Friends Writers Circle critique group. Author Sarah Hoyt, who I met last year when I attended her writers workshop, which I will be attending again, this weekend. Matt Sims, who ran the Gaming Room at FenCon, who I had met at another convention earlier this year. 

I also made a lot of new friends, like Stacey Irish-Keffer who was in the radio play with me, Tiffany Franzoni, owner and founder of online game store Roll2Play,  author Ric Locke, and author Michele Bardsley. If I met you and you didn’t get a mention here in my blog, please don’t hold it against me. I met many, many great people, most of whom I’m sorry to say I either didn’t get their names or can’t remember what their names were. I’m sure I’ll see most of you at the next convention, and hopefully take down names better next time.

I also met some editors in the Small Press Roundtable  panel, like Kevin Hosey, author and editor at Cliffhanger Books, Maggie Bonham, with Sky Warrior Book Publishing, and Elizabeth Burton, with Zumaya Publications. One of the most important things a writer can do at literary conventions is meet with editors and publishers, to develop a relationship with them, and potentially open the door to being able to publish your work with them in the future. Maggie Bonham went as far as to declare that she wouldn’t take an unsolicited story submission from a writer she hadn’t first met in person. Even in this digital age of online social networking, person to person contact is still very important in the publishing industry.

Another goal I had in mind while at FenCon was to talk to the organizers of other local area literary conventions and try to get on the roster as a guest and be included in discussion panels at their next events. This is not only to become more officially involved with the conventions but also a great way to promote myself as an author, and my published works. I made some good  contacts with a couple of Texas conventions, ConDFW and AggieCon, so we;ll see if they decide they want me or not as a guest. Otherwise I’ll just attend as a patron and promote myself as best as I can. One of the cool things about conventions is the promotions tables set up in high traffic areas. These include cards, posters, flyers, and even free magazines, and books. It’s a great place to find out about authors, publishers, conventions, and events. This year there was a copy of Realms of Fantasy magazine’s 100th issue that published in March this year on the table for the taking. I had bought this magazine’s first issue back sometime around 1994, when I was working in an independently owned bookstore. I used to subscribe to it back in the 1990’s, but hadn’t read one in years. I was glad to see it was still in publication and had hit its century issue mark. As soon as I have a full-time job again, other than writing, bringing in regular income, I will subscribe to it once more.

Another cool event at FenCon VIII was a viewing of the Japanese live action movie Space Battleship Yamato which was released in 2010. For those of you not familiar with, or too young to know about it, this movie is based on the anime show, Starblazers which aired in the early to mid 1980’s. It was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. The movie was pretty awesome, and although the character names had changed, the premise of the story hadn’t. Even watching the movie in Japanese with English subtitles didn’t deter me from liking this movie. I watch a fair amount of independent foreign films so subtitles don’t really bother me.

The whole FenCon experience was fun, energizing and tiring all at the same time. There was always plenty of good food and drinks in the Con Suite available free of charge, to patrons and guests alike. All the organizers and volunteer staff were friendly and helpful. The art room was amazing and the dealer’s room with all the books, t-shirts, pins, costumes games, and other stuff was great. The gaming room was incredible, with  a lot of games running almost the whole time. There was a really cool table-top strategy war game of Axis & Allies that was set up with beautiful maps and miniatures. There were all kinds of board games and role-playing games, and card games going on all weekend. The gaming room ran pretty much 24 hours a day during the three days of the convention.  I didn’t get to spend much time in there unfortunately, because of attending panels, selling and signing books, meeting with people, listening to the bands play filk music (fantasy/sci-fi fan folk music), and wandering in and out of the many party rooms Saturday night. Meeting so many new people and walking around the convention all day for pretty much three days straight, staying late Saturday night for the parties.  It wore me out and by Sunday afternoon I was ready for some rest at home, even though I hated to see it all come to an end.

Well there is always FenCon IX to look forward to next year, and I will definitely not miss it for anything. I hope I will see the same friends next year, and meet a lot of new ones. I hope all of you reading this blog will be there too, to share in the fun! I’ll be the short pale writer wearing my long black coat again, so look for me and say hello!

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The Unconventional Author, or The Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat

“When I am dead,I hope it may be said: ‘His sins were scarlet,but his books were read.’ ” – Hilaire Belloc

This weekend, Sept 23rd through Sept 25th, I will be at FenCon/DeepSouthCon, a science fiction, fantasy, literary and filk convention in Dallas, Texas. I will be selling and signing copies of Lawyers in Hell, the shared world anthology edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris that has my short story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” included within. I’ll be at the promotions tables Friday 2-4 PM and Sunday 2-4 PM with fellow author John Manning whose story, “Disclaimer” is also in Lawyers in Hell. I’ll be at the convention most of the weekend promoting the book. I’ll also be promoting the Irredeemable Order of Hellions, the official fan club for Perseid Publishing which publishes the Heroes in Hell series,  The Sacred Band series, and many more great series soon to be announced in the future. Those of you who read my post last week know I’ve been thinking about what my look, or brand, should be to promote myself as an author. Since the weather cooled off, I’m thinking of wearing the trenchcoat this weekend. Look for the short pale man in the long black coat. It will probably be me. I hope to see you there!

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Branding the Writer

No, I’m not talking about the kind of branding you do on cattle. I’m talking about creating an image for yourself as a writer to use in promoting yourself. Some writers create a persona or alter ego for themselves that makes them stand out, and be memorable. They will even go as far as creating a costume or particular outfit to wear to public appearances, book signings, conventions, so they are easily recognizable. 

An example is fellow author, Zombie Zak. He has branded himself as a cookie eating, world domination scheming, verse spewing zombie who writes poetry, horror, and fantasy. He has done such a great job of promoting himself that he has become quite well known with this persona.  So much so that I don’t even know his real name. Another is Louis Agresta, writer, role-playing gamer, entertainer, who wears a loud orange suit and hat to conventions, making him visibly stand out among the crowds. Author Richard Evans utilizes an online persona of a dwarf named Brodder Foamymugs, complete with an illustrated profile picture of a fantasy dwarf in armor with a tankard full of beer.

A fellow author and I were discussing promoting our works and ourselves as writers. We were talking about how projecting a certain memorable image can help you with book sales, and certainly make you stick in the minds of readers and fans. It got me to thinking about what my personal image, or persona as an author might be, or what I could develop to become more memorable.

My interests in life are quite diverse. I am a paranormal investigator, Qi-Gong Kung Fu martial artist, writer of poetry, fantasy, horror, science fiction, non-fiction among other things.  I am known for collecting  and repeating famous or infamous, quotes. As far as clothing goes, I have a penchant for wearing a full length black trench coat when weather allows. I also like to wear a lot of black or dark colors.  I own a long black cloak for a costume based on my dark fiction novel main characters called The ShadowRogue. I  have a pirate costume that I wear to renaissance and other historical faires, at Halloween and to costume parties. Also I’m actually quite short,  just over five feet tall, and people often remember me for that. Larry the short, story writer?

But which of these things makes me stand out, and will make me memorable? Do I want to be known as The Pirate Writer? Not really, since I don’t usually write about pirates. Although I did write a short piece of fiction creating a character based on my pirate costume. When I finish my ShadowRogue novel, I can see that dressing up as my main character to promote the book makes sense, but I’m not ready to do that yet. Paranormal investigation and martial arts are both things people identify me with, but how to develop those aspects into an image?

So what is my outstanding characteristic that typifies my brand? I don’t know. Larry the Quote Meister? Larry, the short guy who writes short stories? Larry the paranormal Kung Fu author? The black trench coat is certainly something I’m known for, but it’s not always practical when the weather outside, or the temperature  inside even, is too hot. And do I even need a theme or a  “look” that is representative of who I am as a person, or as a writer? Again, I don’t know. But it’s fun to think up ideas for it, and maybe by the time one of the next sci-fi, fantasy conventions rolls around, I will have figured it out.

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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Inspiration & the Writer

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” -Jack London

I seldom have trouble coming up with ideas about what to write stories about. I seem to have a knack for luring the Muse into my thoughts. The trouble starts when I have to sit down and write those ideas into a workable, readable story, with believable characters, and plotlines that make sense. Once I’ve started, I persevere eventually, albeit sometimes painfully. Birthing these stories is not always an easy task. Being a slave to Mistress Muse is often demanding, as she pours so many great ideas into my head, and there is never enough time to write stories about them all. I keep notebooks full of these ideas and inspirations, so that one day I can write about them, or at least the ones that hold the most promise for a genuine story.
By no means do I generate these ideas alone either. Sometimes my daughter tells me about her dreams, or about an idea or thought she has,  and I incorporate these into stories at times. She is the first to say that she has no patience to write down any stories so she gives me permission to borrow these from her.
Ideas come from everything around me; news articles about planets discovered, ancient ruins unearthed, some new species of creature found and catalogued. If I keep my eyes, ears and mind open there is inspiration all around me.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”-

Pablo Picasso

 

Published in: on September 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Comments (1)  
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