Convention Time Coming in 2018!

anime crowd

HEY KIDS!  I’ll be hitting the science fiction convention circuit with a force next year, as we’ve just bought our registrations for three of them that will be our neck of the woods!  And yes, I’m planning on getting myself on some panels and maybe even doing a reading of something from the New Project (aka the Apartment Complex story)!

If you’re in the SF Bay area, and are at one of these, come and say hi! 🙂

March 9 – 11: FOGcon, Walnut Creek, CA

May 25 – 28: BayCon, San Mateo, CA

August 16 – 20: WorldCon 76, San Jose, CA

[I will of course be posting this elsewhere on the blog later on under an ‘Appearances’ tab and again when it gets closer to the dates…just thought I’d share the excitement now!]

Not always on schedule, but at least consistent

fma running
credit where it’s due: Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Oh hey!  I’d completely forgotten to write up a WtBt entry yesterday!  Sorry about that, folks.  Here you go.  Sometimes the weekend gets the best of me.

Or in this case, A. and I binged on the Star Wars movies this weekend, watching the original three and following it up with The Force Awakens (which we still hadn’t gotten around to watching).  We also bought Rogue One at the mall this weekend so we’re all good to go with that series for the moment.  [Not including the prequels — that’ll be for another time.]

I’ll be honest, I’m not used to taking days off from writing.  I get a nagging in the back of my brain that I shouldn’t be wasting time doing frivolous things when I should be working on a project.  It usually goes away with a good movie or television series (British TV is really good at that for me).  But it’s worth it, especially as I have to remind myself to watch and read new things that could give me insights on my own work.

In other news, I’ve been keeping busy with Meet the Lidwells, and I’m glad to report that the word count has been consistent.  I’ve been hitting between 500 and 1000 words a night, which is alright by me.  That’s my normal average on first drafts, so I’m happy with that.   And as first drafts go, this one’s going fine so far.  Room for improvement, but I’ll let myself worry about that on the first once-over later on.  To tie in with the music metaphors here, I’m laying down Take 1, where I’ll hit a few bum notes and flub a few of the verses, but at least I’ll know what to fix when it’s time for overdubs and mixing. 🙂

Meanwhile, it’s finally dawned on me that BayCon will be in a few weeks!!  It’s probably time for me to prepare myself for that considering.

Here’s my schedule for the con…if you happen to be there, stop by and say hi!

World building techniques and approaches
Saturday 11:30 – 13:00, Synergy 4 (San Mateo Marriott)
Specifically focused on pointers for attendees to attempt rather than history of what panelists did with X.
Panelists: Margaret McGaffey Fisk (M), Kevin Andrew Murphy, Ms. Jennifer L. Carson, Jon Chaisson, Katharine Kerr

Cover Me
Monday 10:00 – 11:30, Convene 1 (San Mateo Marriott)
How to put a good cover on your book.
Panelists: Ms. Jennifer L. Carson (M), Mr. Ezra Barany, Jon Chaisson, Daniel Dociu

You Want to Build Your Own Language?
Monday 13:00 – 14:30, Inspire 1 (San Mateo Marriott)
An intro course on how to build a language.
Panelists: Jon Chaisson, Kai MacTane (M), Juliette Wade


In the meantime, back to the mundy Day Job with the hopes that I can sneak in some Daily Words later on when things quiet down!

Budgeting for Self-Publishing

Lupin III
In a perfect world, us writers would be like Lupin III here.

When I was on a FOGCon panel about self-publishing a while back, one of the things I felt I had to point out — something that everyone else was skirting around but not really touching upon — was one of the most important parts of being a self-published author.

If you’re going to be serious about self-publishing, you’re going to have to be willing to fund it to some degree, out of your own pocket.

It’s a tough thing to admit, I know, but it’s true.  You’ll need to budget to some degree.

I knew and understood this going in when I decided to self-publish the trilogy.  It’s part of the reason I wanted to try my hand at doing as much of it myself as I knew I could: the editing, the cover art, even the various promotional avenues.  [I should state now that some people aren’t interested, willing or able to do any or all of that — and that’s just fine.  This is part of what I mean: you need to budget for those things.]

As it happens, the uploading of documents to Smashwords and Createspace is free if you’re doing most all of the work yourself.  For the production, the only costs I had were the Shutterstock picture package (five for $40), and trade galleys from CS (~$60 for five).  The cost of course will go up if you need to outsource your art and/or editing and formatting.*

*There are many legit sources out there for these things…caveat emptor, of course, but a lot of fellow writers and editors online can steer you in the right direction.

The big part of the cost for me was after that — I had to be willing to budget for promotional things over the last few years such as flyers ($60 for 100 half-page cardstock flyers from, which I created and mocked up myself), short-term advertising on a website ($100 at to feature on the landing page and a mailout for a week), and cut the cost of the book for a site promotion (books 1 and 2 free for a month on Smashwords).  Recently I’ve spent some money signing up for a few local science fiction conventions (FOGcon and BayCon over the last few months), where I will be using that time to plug my trilogy as well as talk about the writing biz.  I also paid a graphic artist friend of mine to create my Mendaihu Press logo (see my blog site header, courtesy of that I will be using in the future.

I’m quite sure I’ll be spending more funds in the future — the occasional advertising, more flyers, and so on — but so far I’ve been keeping it reined in pretty well.  I know well enough that I shouldn’t be creating thousands of flyers or having hundreds of copies of my books printed.  I’m notoriously cheapass when it comes to the creative part of it; if I can pull it off well with minimum cost, then I’m happy.

Point being: if you’re going to do it DIY, do it responsibly, and be aware that you’re going to have to prime the pump a bit in order to start making any money out of your endeavor.  Whether that’s hiring an accountant or learning how to do it yourself, as long as you do it well and do it right, the end result is almost always worth it.

Going Public: Conventions

Note: don’t forget to breathe. Also: don’t tilt your head down like I did, unless you’re fine with showing off your extra chins.

So!  My first official convention as an author rather than a fan went well, all told!  FOGcon was a very good place to start, as it’s a relatively small convention attendance-wise, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by standing up in front of any large crowds.

A few things I learned:

–Dress for the occasion. What I wore is actually pretty conservative for a typical SF/F con, but my Diesel Sweeties ‘Almost There’ shirt went over well with a lot of people, including one of the hotel bartenders!

–Keep well hydrated, especially if you’re doing a reading.  There’s a bottle of water hiding behind my book in that picture there, which came in handy.

–You will always end up reading faster than you think; remember to  I forgot this and zipped along at quite a pace, according to Amanda.

–Noted: remember to say what you’re reading and give it a bit of a preface.  Due to my nerves I’d completely forgotten to do so.  D’OH.  Thankfully I had my book front and center, so I’m sure most in the room understood that’s what I was reading from.

–Reading in small rooms means you don’t have to shout; however, it’s also good to remember to enunciate and project regardless.  Try to remember to keep your chin up when reading; tilting your head down tends to muffle a person’s voice a bit.  [Yup, sort of failed here too.  Didn’t think about it until about halfway through.]

–Important:  even though I made those couple of mistakes?  I’m far from a failure.  I read my piece and got a positive response, and that’s all that really matters.

–With some conventions (like this one), you’re not doing readings alone.  This works well on multiple levels: you can choose to go last if you need that extra bit of self-preparation; you’re not up front and completely on your own; that little bit of camaraderie between authors before the panel starts really does help calm you down; and if someone in the audience is there to see their friend read, they’ll be there to hear you as well.  This last bit nicely quashes any worries that you’ll read to an empty room!

–Some are picky about it, but really, don’t worry about it:  if you want to put your book up for all to see, by all means, go for it.  I stood mine up and kept a few of my flyers next to it.  As long as you’re not doing the Shameless Salesman thing every other sentence.

–On a completely random note:  About halfway through the day, it suddenly occurred to me that, since I was now a panelist, I’d leveled up and could now visit the Con Suite if I wanted.  [I didn’t, but con suites (aka the green rooms) are quite excellent for unplugging from crowds and refueling with snacks if needed!]


And as for being on panels where you chat about a subject instead of reading?  I’d say that by far was the least stressful thing this weekend.  I was part of a panel about Self-Publishing and Marketing Strategies with three other people of varying levels of success.  [I lightened the mood by introducing myself as being a total DIY writer who’s using the Indiana Jones method of marketing strategy: “I dunno, I’m just making it up as I go along.”  That got a chuckle from the room, as I’d hoped!]  Again: talk with your other panelists before the show starts, get to know them a little and gauge how they’ll perform and what points they might hit, so you can adjust your delivery accordingly.  Keep a bottle of water nearby.  Again, no need for shameless self-promotion, but if you use your book as a prop in the point you’re trying to make, that’s fine.  [I spoke a little about visibility of covers, pointing out how I deliberately used certain colors to make them stand out.]

Granted, I lucked out in that I’m fine with speaking with large groups.  I’m always a little nervous about being the center of attention, but I pushed past that the best I could.  As the panel went on, I became more comfortable talking with both the panelists and with the audience — it felt less like putting on a performance and more like having a fun and super geeky conversation with a bunch of other like-minded people.

Will I do it again?

Hell yes!! 🙂

On Public Speaking


Thankfully, I’m a bit prepared for it.  I say a bit, because I’m talking about the Voice and Articulation and Public Speaking classes I had to take at Emerson College — twenty-plus years ago.  I know how to project my voice when need be (and I’ll admit I don’t do it nearly as much as I should when we’re in loud and crowded places).  I know how to lift the tone of my voice just a tad so it’s clear and not a droning mumble.  And I’m comfortable talking in front of a crowd.

But man, I’ll be honest right now — when I do that reading and that panel at FOGcon in early March, I’m gonna be a bit nervous anyway, because I’m not just talking about writing or reading my novel.  I’m trying to sell the damn thing.  And I am TOTALLY a n00b at that.

Still, I gotta start somewhere, right?

I’ve of course been given the suggestion that I should record myself reading to hear how I sound, but I’m my own worst critic when I do that.  I hate hearing myself talk on tape.  [I can deal with my own singing, but that’s a different avenue entirely.]  I’d be more inclined to prepare myself for talking in front of a crowd by making sure I know what I’m going to say (or read).  I rarely prepare for this sort of thing; I’m someone who feels more comfortable winging it when the time comes.  My preparation for the reading won’t be how I sound but on the pacing and the time it takes.  And I’m already thinking about points I’d like to make on the panel I’ll be on.

I’ve still got a few weeks to prepare for this, so I’m sure my nerves will be calm by then.  Hopefully…!

HARK! I will be at FogCon 7!

YAY!  I will be at FOGcon 7 this year!

I know it’s super last minute announcement, but I’d been hedging about whether or not I’d be able to go, for various reasons.  However, thanks to personal plans (and Major Editing Projects) coming together with perfect timing, I’ll be able to make an appearance.  I may have even signed up to be on a few panels and may even do a reading…!

Which means I have one month to do some serious homework and preparation for this, my first official con as a participating author instead of just an attendee fan.

This should be quite interesting.

FOGcon 7 will be in Walnut Creek, CA, on March 10 – 12, at the Walnut Creek Marriott.


Hope to see you there! 🙂