Coffee, art, work, MeWe

This month I tried out a new fundraising platform that a friend pointed me towards. Ko-fi is a site that lets people give small one-time donations to someone. If you really want, you can even buy someone multiple cups of coffee at a time. There’s no fees for using the site itself, from either the person giving the donation, or those receiving, although PayPal does take a bit. I chipped in a coffee to the makers of the site after receiving 8 coffees in two days, because it’s nice to give back, especially when they don’t demand anything in return.

Now, the “buying me a coffee” thing is a bit of a ruse, because of course that money isn’t being used for coffee. I state right on my page that I’m saving up for the art for A Queen’s Edict. And I’m really close to getting there, already! The majority of the money I’ve saved has come from book sales, with donations from Patreon and Ko-fi helping, too!

I’ve added a little button on the right side of the screen, so if you ever feel like kicking in a one-time donation, it’s right there. As an added perk (?) I take a selfie thanking you for the coffee to share with you and show the world how awesome you are. Don’t believe me?¬†

So there you have it. Donate a coffee, get a picture of me thanking you. You can forget you ever saw it, doodle obscenities on it, print it out and burn it… the choice is yours!


Work continues on book 4! There’s more departures from the original D&D campaign, with added scenes to tie everything together better and ramp up the pressure on the characters. I’m trying out a new format with this one that’s worked out pretty nicely thus far. The three protagonists get their scenes in the same order, every chapter. Grace starts it out, Sardo is in the middle, and Trai wraps it up… it’s in their birth order. I don’t know if I’ll stick to that through the whole series. There will probably be times when I want one character at a particular point in time, and it won’t make sense to keep that ordering. In fact, I hadn’t expected it to work out as well as it has throughout 85% of this book. It might fall apart at some point, but I’m hoping to make it through the whole book with it.

I think my biggest worry was that it would feel clunky. For instance, in previous books, sometimes I’d end a chapter with a character, and want to continue on with that character straight away for the pacing of the novel. Some chapters a character wouldn’t have their POV come into play at all. So I like this because it forces me to sit down with each character and not play favourites. Everyone has a voice, solving that main criticism of A Noble’s Quest that the characters felt a little flat (although I like to think they come alive more in A Wizard’s Gambit and A Hero’s Birth… I’m just starting this new series out on the right foot).


There’s a new social media platform called MeWe. It’s pretty good! I’m thinking about switching over to it as my main social media site. I’ve already set up a Genre Fiction writing and reading group, a personal writing group, and a personal game design group. Quite a few people are checking it out, so I’ve dropped Facebook and am limiting Google Plus to mostly sharing posts about writing and game design, like what I used Facebook for. If you want the more personal side of my posts, you’ll have to follow me on MeWe.


Work on the audiobook for A Noble’s Quest continues! I’ve been listening to the chapters as the voice actor finishes them, and I’m really happy with his work. This is his first audiobook, and he’s really knocking it out of the park.


Lastly, I’ve been working on Wizards’ War. The playing cards came in, and they look great! I’ll be using them at SkyCon Light on April 28th in Kitchener. Additionally, I’ve been working on revamping some things for the game, and have printed off a new poster for the latest board, and some additional pieces. I didn’t have time to get the new board set up fully for SkyCon, but that’s okay. I’ll get it done in lots of time for both Origins and GenCon. Thanks again to my friends who are bringing it with them to let people try it!

 

Review: Weirdo Company volume 1 by Ben Guilfoy

Weirdo Company volume 1 by Ben Guilfoy

Genre: Modern day military fantasy

Rating: 5-stars

There are five short stories included in this collection, and they’re all a lot of fun! When it started out, it felt like your standard military story that dealt with stuff that was a little weird. But that weird got BIG AND CRAZY really fast! The stuff Weirdo Company deals with is amazing! I mean, the titles of the stories probably give that fact away… but actually following the characters through it all is something else.

I was hooked part way through the first story, with a line that I loved so much I had to make a meme for it…

And it felt like the stories were anticipating my questions, sometimes. I’d be reading, and thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder about X.” When that happened, it wasn’t long before the answer came. That built a lot of trust between me as a reader and the author early on, so I relaxed and enjoyed the stories more as the series continued.

The fifth story had a couple hiccups in it, with what I think was a missing word, and a couple words that I think were typos. I hadn’t noticed it enough to bother me in the other four stories, and I was enjoying it all so much by that point that it didn’t bug me too much.

I will definitely be checking out future volumes in this series, because this was a great read!

Toxophiles

So this month was pretty awesome. Not only has my writing started making money for the first time since I started writing, but a fan group appeared on Facebook.

Seriously.

When I was invited to join my own fan group… no words seem adequate. It was surreal seeing “Toxophiles United” and watching the group grow. At the time of publishing, it’s up to 15 likes.


On top of that, Adriel Wiggins blasted through 4 of my titles and reviewed them all on her website¬†at the same time as she posted an interview I did with her. It was fun, and I recommend reading it if you haven’t yet! If you don’t want to go through all the reviews, here’s the short version:

A Noble’s Quest: 5 stars

1100 Before Gods’ War: 5 stars (and her favourite love story)

Demon Invasion: 4 stars (-1 star for awful demon names… seriously. Who writes a story with that many named demons? I knew this was a bad idea from the start, even if I like the story :P)

A Wizard’s Gambit: 5 stars

All of that? That’s pure author fuel! If you’ve read my books and haven’t left a review yet, those things keep me going. Plus they help other people find my stories. So head on over to Amazon and/or Goodreads and let people know what you think!


New business cards! I gave away so many of them at the first two conventions of the year that I had to get more. I’m not 100% sure they’re worth having. For the amount that you spend on them (I only pick them up when I get a good deal through VistaPrint), and the number you give out with no bites, it sometimes feels like they’re not a wise investment. But at Kitchener Comic Con, one person who took a card checked out book 1 through Amazon, and liked it enough to get the sequel. I’m sure other people have used the cards, too, but maybe just enough to break even.

After giving out all those A Noble’s Quest cards, I thought I’d move on to the next book in the series. Once they’re gone, A Hero’s Birth is next. I can’t imagine going through 250 business cards faster than I can publish books, so this strategy might just continue on for the rest of my writing career. Gotta catch ’em all, or something.


I received payment from Amazon for January, and I have to say… I’m really happy with it. See, I made as much in one month as I did all last year through Amazon sales! Now, before you think, “Whoa! You must be rolling in it!” let me just say I didn’t make a heck of a lot last year… just $40. But still, I’m competing against myself, and only myself, so I’m really excited about this, especially seeing that I’ve continued to have some sales through February and March.


Work continues on both¬†A Queen’s Edict and¬†Wizards’ War.¬†

The book is closing in on 85,000 words. I’m really happy with how it’s progressing.

And I’m almost done the cards for the game. I’ll be bringing it to SkyCon Light in Kitchener on April 28th, so I need to get those cards ordered soon!

SkyCon 2017

Review Double Header: Dragon, and Harry Potter 2

Dragon (The Emerald of Light), by Dan Watt

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2 stars

I picked up this book at Kitchener Comic Con because I talked to Watt and liked the sounds of a “Monty Python Medieval Spoof” type of story. My imagination automatically went to The Holy Grail, which is a movie I’ve loved since I was a kid.

This is not that.

It didn’t even really remind me of Monty Python much at all. There were a few “silly” moments, but they were done in such a way that I didn’t even crack a smile when I read them, never mind laugh. I found the pacing far too fast, to the point that time and distance had no meaning. Add to that errors in punctuation and word use, and I found myself not enjoying the story. Characters would get a scene at one point, and then later their name pops up again, and I couldn’t recall where I’d seen them. By the end I had little idea of what was even going on, and certainly wasn’t invested in any of the characters. And this wasn’t a long book… didn’t take me long to get through. Part of it might have been that the main character, Burnwood, was utterly terrible with names and didn’t care about anyone he met. But he’d change his mind at random about something that moments before he’d been passionate about, and it just left me with a feeling of, “Why did this scene exist?”


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5-stars

It’s been about 3 years since I last read through the HP series, and now my son’s old enough that he asked to read them, and has been enjoying them immensely. This book doesn’t disappoint. As this was my third time through the book (the first time was so long ago it doesn’t count), I picked up on a lot of bread crumbs that Rowling put in place. It all weaves together quite well into an engaging story that both of my kids loved. After we were done my son walked up to me and squeaked, “Harry Potter has offered Dobby¬†clothes!” So cute.

I know there are people who complain about Harry Potter books, but if they can capture the imagination of five year olds and get them interested in reading chapter books, I think they’re amazing.

Review: Gifts for the one who comes after

Gifts for the one who comes after, by Helen Marshall

Genre: Paranormal

Rating: 5 stars

Marshall has a way with words that makes the macabre and creepy beautiful. While it was a little harder to get into a couple of the later short stories in the collection that were 2nd person, and there was a story that I’m certain had a deeper meaning (I’m terrible at finding those), each and every story was written with graceful prose. Once I started reading, it pulled me along, demanding that I continue from story to story to see what happened next.

There were a couple stories that were difficult for me to read with themes of miscarriage.

I think my favourite story was the one that told you right from the start how the story would end, but encouraged you to read through, because reading the end of the story first wouldn’t make any sense. I followed Marshall’s instructions, and I understood exactly what she meant. And even with her telling the reader how it would end, I still found it surprising.

The variety of voices and locations was refreshing, and it was amazing how she could get me to want to know more about all the varied characters in the stories.

Well done, and highly recommended.

Kitchener Comic Con 2018

You know what time it is! Or maybe you’re new around here and don’t. Long story short, any time I attend a con, I like to write up a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” report, partly so I remember what a con was like, so I know if I want to go again in future years, partly in case other people are wondering if that con might be good to go to as a vendor. Your mileage may vary, depending on what you’re selling…

The Good

Kitchener Comic Con is the biggest convention I go to, with hundreds, and probably¬†thousands of people coming through the doors. It’s a free event, so you get some really interesting experiences with people wandering through who really have no idea what’s going on. They just come in to see what’s going on, and in some cases you get people coming to get out of the cold for a while. Suffice it to say, you can have some interesting conversations with colourful people! For instance, I had one guy who might’ve been around my age walk by, and I did my usual, “Hi, how are you?” and he stopped, looked at me, and said, “You’re the nicest person in this whole place. You’re the only person who’s asked me that since I got here.”

Well, shucks. I may not win any “Pushy Salesman of the Year” awards, but I’ll take, “Nicest person in this whole place” any day!

There was another older gentleman who reminded me a great deal of my wife’s father, in terms of looks. He stopped by and talked to me about this book collection he kept at home, with some original copies… misprint copies… all sorts of things. He thought I might know something about appraising them (because I sell books?) and I suggested he might try an antique store, as they’d be able to at least point him in the right direction, if they didn’t want them. We had a nice long chat, and he showed me an “original hard cover” of Attack of the Clones published by Lucas Books, written by R. A. Salvatore. I doubt that particular volume will ever be worth anything, since I don’t expect any Star Wars merchandise after Return of the Jedi will ever be worth anything, but some of the other books he talked about sounded really interesting… some of them dating back to the early 1900’s. I wish him well and hope he finds someone who has some knowledge about appraising such things.

Okay, Ryan, that’s all well and good, but how did sales go?

In a word… adequate. I mean, I do editing work for the newsletter for KCC in return for a table, so anything I sell starts making profits for me right away. Ron Hoppe was very good to me, and gave me a whole table, so I got to showcase the prototype of my board game, Wizards’ War. That generated a fair bit of interest, and I got several e-mail addresses to add to my mailing list for when I launch the Kickstarter!

Oh, sales? Right! While I was hoping to do better this year since I have my full trilogy out now, I never took into consideration that there are tiers of spending at conventions. This was something I spoke about at length with another vendor, who pointed out that he wasn’t selling big ticket items, but had quite a few smaller ones selling. As a free event, a¬†lot¬†of people come as a family, and the kids are looking for something cute and shiny, not really giving their parents time to browse themselves. Also – many of us parents have been there – parents prefer to get their kids something over themselves, anyway, so they might not even be looking. For many, coming out to KCC is a big deal to see all the wonderful cosplayers, and there were¬†many¬†in attendance! Chewbacca, Han, the Predator, Deadpool, Spiderman, Poison Ivy, Elsa, Chun-Li… just to name a few!

This knight looked awesome, too!

So having¬†more books might have been almost detrimental. I mean, there was a ton of interest, and I went through dozens of business cards, but if you’ve done a lot of conventions, you know giving out business cards rarely translates into sales. A couple of people assured me they would¬†definitely look for my books later, and while I hope that happens, I don’t count my unhatched chickens. Having three books out for $70 total probably looks like a big investment (it is!). I just don’t think there’s a way around that, except to start doing bigger shows where people are paying to get in the door and are looking for stuff to buy. I really like doing local conventions, but it’s time to step up to play with the big boys and girls at a larger convention, I think.

On day 1 I sold 3 books, and on day 2 I sold 4 (three of which were to one person at the end of the day). It was tough. I talked to a few people who came around my table when they first got there, really liked what they heard, but said they needed to check out the rest of the convention before making any purchases… but they’d probably be back. While I’ve had luck with that sort of thing coming through at other conventions, it just didn’t materialize this time. You win some, you lose some. I covered the cost of parking and gas, and came out with a bit extra. I had some great networking, treated myself to some vendors’ wares, and had a pretty good time in general.

The Bad

2 out of 2 cons I’ve attended this year had Trouble with Tables. When I got to KCC, they hadn’t gotten all the tables they needed. It wasn’t a long wait, fortunately, so I was set up and ready to go before the doors opened. Sometimes conventions feel like barely controlled chaos, and this one certainly had some weird stuff happen. For instance, I got to the con on Sunday and was told I was late… and I certainly wasn’t the only one. Most vendors were coming in for 11am. I remembered seeing somewhere that the show started at 11am, and ran until 4pm. But when I tried to find the information on the mobile website, I didn’t see anything. The website for KCC is bad. Like, half the time when I try to visit it, I’m redirected to some other site that looks and sounds like a virus. But when I close that, and try again, I usually get to the actual website on the second try. Even once you’re there, it’s a bit of a madman’s paradise, with a lot of stuff going on and the information you’re looking for is buried. Anyway, I just checked on my desktop (got that virus-looking page first again!!!), and it does say 11am-4pm. So I dunno why anyone would have thought it started at 10am. And then they tried to say the con went until 5pm, but the vendors were all like, “What? This ends at 4pm.” And a lot of people (myself included) packed up at 4. I’d already told my wife the show ended at 4, and the con was pretty dead by that point anyway, so I wasn’t going to drag it out another hour. I was ready to go home and get some dinner. Conventions always wipe me out (but in a good way).

The Ugly

Seriously, that website needs a total overhaul. The glitchy landing page is a major cause for concern, as I could see people panicking and not trying again.

The Amazing

I was approached by Steveo Torell from Heads or Tails Gaming, who invited me to demo Wizards’ War at his shop in Brantford, and he’s interested in stocking the game when it comes out! I still can’t believe that conversation happened. After telling him the basics of the game, he said he had some people who frequent his shop who would definitely be interested in it.

Also, The Del Morgado Show was my neighbour, and Del interviewed me a couple times. It appears that Del has fans in Germany or somewhere around there, because I picked up a couple sales from the German Amazon site! Always love reaching the international audience!

I picked up this little guy from Artisan Maille, who were right across from me! Brad and I have been friends for about a year now, having first met each other at Tri-Con last year. When I saw he was bringing these little scale dragons, I knew I had to get one. I have a healthy collection of red dragon items (maybe I’ll get them all together and take a picture some time), and this little guy is the perfect addition! It’s a pin, so I was wearing it on my pocket during the convention.

Last but certainly not least, I hit a MAJOR milestone with this show… for the first time since I started keeping track, I am¬†now in the black!!!¬†That’s right! Out of the hole! Any money I make going forward is going to be saved up for cover art and editing, and buying new stock. I’m off work tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment out of town, but when I’m home I’m going to go through my stock and see how I’m doing. I think I’ve got a fair bit left. So if there’s something you want, just let me know and I’ll set it aside for you. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally see positive numbers come out of book sales. Thank you to everyone who’s helped me get to this point. I couldn’t have done it without your help. Sure, I do the writing, but without you guys buying my books and telling your friends, I couldn’t have gotten here. So thank you again, a million times!

Vendors

I like to point the spotlight at other great vendors I meet at these things, so here goes!

Artisan Maille – makes all sorts of amazing chainmail stuff.

Genesis: Battle of Champions – collectible card game. We’ve started the ball rolling on a future collaboration!

The Del Morgado Show – radio show every couple weeks on Mondays at 9pm. (Warning: Adult language)

Heads or Tails Gaming – gaming shop in Brantford.

Daryl J Ball – Author. He’s been supporting my work for a few years now! I met him at the second KCC, where he picked up A Noble’s Quest, and he’s been coming to see me ever since.

Williams Photography – I actually met William because he was selling comic books, not for his photography, but he’s a nice guy and maybe you need a photographer in the Cambridge area!

Dan Watt – Author. He’s got a medieval spoof novel called Dragon (The Emerald of Light) that I picked up. He says it’s a comedy in the vein of Monty Python, so I’m interested to see what that looks like!

 

Next up: Kitchener Comic Con!

On March 3rd and 4th I’ll be at Kitchener City Hall for Kitchener Comic Con! It runs from 11am to 8pm on Saturday, and 11am to 4pm on Sunday. With my full trilogy out, I’m hoping to do really well.


Some good friends have offered to bring the prototype of my board game, Wizards’ War, to Origins this year. I was so surprised when they offered… with the board game design nights at the local game cafe falling apart months ago, I haven’t done much work on it. But now I have a deadline, and I’m going to have to get some work done on it.

On the plus side, there isn’t too much that needs to be done… I have all the art for the cards, so I just need to fit that to the standard poker card size template, and write out some descriptions, which shouldn’t take long. I also need to finish designing the larger board, order it, and cut out the hexagons. That last part will be the biggest part of the job, as slicing out the hexes isn’t easy, and requires a lot of fiddly work. I’ll look into it more and see if there’s a way to get them pre-cut to save me the headache.


And before you worry that the game will pull me away from my writing (I ran a poll this month and the majority overwhelmingly want me to continue writing book 4), I’ve been writing, too. I shattered the 75,000 word mark on A Queen’s Edict, and also started writing a new project, which will be a stand alone sci-fi novel. At least, that’s my intent. If I had a bunch of people banging down my door for more, I could continue with it, I’m sure.

What are the two books about? I’m glad you asked!

A Queen’s Edict begins almost 450 years after the conclusion of A Hero’s Birth. Grace, Sardo, and Traithaius Strongblade are siblings living in Stowenguard, and on the night of Trai’s 16th birthday, they are summoned to meet the Queen. From there, they embark on a vague quest, seeking to fulfill a prophecy that¬†might be about them, but it’s hard to tell. Even the mission is ill-defined, but they have been assured that they are to destroy the evil Lord Torrak, King of the South.

The sci-fi story, which lacks a title at this point, revolves around the discovery of an alien that’s been frozen in the arctic. With the glaciers melting, it’s found and hauled off for analysis. It appears to be closely related to humans, a potential missing link…

I’ve only written the prologue to the sci-fi story at this point, clocking in at 900 words. There’s no timeline to get it done. It’s just something fun to work on as an aside when I don’t feel like working on my other projects. It’s like procrastinating, but still working.

Review: Scoundrels anthology

Scoundrels anthology, published by Bushmead Publishing

Genre: A mix of sci-fi and fantasy

Rating: Average of 4 stars over 7 stories, ranging from 2 to 5 stars

 

Miniature You, poem by Linda G. Hill, 4 stars

I’m not usually much of a poetry fan, but I rather enjoyed this one. It starts off as a pleasant sort of thing, and turns pretty dark by the end.

Oceanitides, short story by Laura Johnson, 4 stars

This was written well enough. I liked the Greek feeling of the half-siblings competing for an ancient relic. The twist ending fell kind of flat for me, and nothing stood out to make me say “Wow! That was 5 stars!” But it was enjoyable.

Ties That Lie, novella by Tiffany Woodbeck, 2 stars

There was a lot I didn’t like in this one. There were at least three words used incorrectly (gilding refers to gold, not silver; massive usually refers to something with mass… so a royal garden doesn’t fit the bill; cacophony isn’t one person raising their voice to argue a point, it’s a lot of discordant noises mixing together. Massive I can let slide, because I’ve seen it used this way many times, but the other two really bugged me). The phrasing throughout was bizarre. For instance, at the start of the story every person was described by their hair… and that hair was given such a lifelike quality, I almost expected the various heads of hair to pop off the people and start having interactions of their own. Mien is a fine word maybe once or twice in a story this length, but was overused here. And the “smoothing of skirts” gave me PTSD flashbacks of The Wheel of Time series. Also, so many pursed lips.

In fact, the emotion was so wooden I was fairly certain the main character was a sociopath or psychopath (which would’ve been fine, because it’s a book about Scoundrels, after all). The way she “allowed” her tears to flow at some point made what should have been real sorrow feel like she was forcing it. And then I almost laughed when her betrothed said she was very emotional, because I had seen NO evidence of this. I was figuring at that point that she had somehow fooled him into believing she was emotional, despite the fact that she’s constantly stone-faced. It was all so at odds with itself that I felt baffled when she actually broke down crying later in the story… and just realized that the emotions were poorly written, earlier. It’s the old “show, don’t tell” and I hadn’t been shown that she was emotional. At all.

There were no real twists in the story to try to save it at the end. At least, none that I cared about, as a reader. And I think this calls back to the lack of emotion and caring about the character.

Cuthburt and Crowe, novella by Drew Carmody, 3 stars

I found this story distracting for a couple reason. 1) Run on sentences. I counted 4 “ands” tying together one sentence that just never seemed to end. 2) Incorrect punctuation. When a sentence is spoken, there’s a comma that connects what’s in the quotes with the tag if the tag is directly related to the speaking. For instance, from the fifth paragraph: “Oh, don’t be such a damn stick in the bog, Crowe.” Cuthbert said with a grin, “Yeah, I’d get the princess…”

That’s all backwards. There should be a comma after Crowe, and then a period after grin. This happened repeatedly through this story and bothered me every single time.

3) It was fairly common for words to be missing letters. 4) A super-minor formatting error on the first page made me check the previous story to see what the paragraph indents were, because they looked too large (and they were). But it was only on the first page, so I’m not sure what happened there. I noticed it before I started reading, so it’s not like it pulled me out of the story or anything. Just an oddity. 5) “Massive” was so overused I actually took a screenshot to show a friend when it appeared SEVEN TIMES on one page (and again, sometimes used not quite correctly). There are other words.

All together, it felt like maybe the wrong file was used for this story, because I haven’t seen anything this sloppy in the other stories. It was interesting enough that I still liked it. It felt like a disjointed D&D party (paladin, fighter, rogue, warlock [or necromancer?], mage, and monk), setting up for future adventures.¬† There were interesting ideas throughout that felt very compartmentalized, like parts of a D&D game. A sort of, “They go here, something interesting happens. They go here, something interesting happens.” etc.

One Last Payday, short story by P.A. Cornell, 5 stars

This sci-fi story was fantastic. A thief gets a job to transport some data from one person to another, and will pay enough for her to finally live her dream and get off world… but there’s a big catch. There’s twists and turns along the way that really captured my imagination. I’d look for more from this author.

From Love to Hatred Turned, short story by Isa Mclaren, 5 stars

Brand made me think of 007 as a roguish art dealer. Suave, intelligent, and one step ahead, he’s a master tactician who knows how to manipulate people. The story was fun and well paced.

The Bridgemaster’s Daughter, short story by John Ryers, 5 stars

I didn’t see the ending of this story coming. Perhaps I should have… the clues were there all along, but I missed putting them together. I love it when that sort of thing happens. With a headstrong female lead, and a charming rogue antagonist, there’s some great, believable banter, and good action.

Dangers of Tensire, novella by Ryan Toxopeus

Come on. I’m not going to review my own story. That’s worse than paying for reviews.

But honestly, I think this anthology is worth picking up just for the three 5-star stories. I plan on looking for more work from those authors.

GenreCon 2018

You probably already know I spent the weekend at GenreCon 2018, so let’s go right ahead to the usual, shall we?

The Good

The hotel and con staff were very friendly and I had a fun weekend.

The Friday night (6-9pm) went better than I thought it would. Last year I hadn’t gotten any sales that first night, so I was pleasantly surprised to have two! Also, a trio of Jawas came running through, and one of them pawed at the character cards on my table! Jawas have always been one of my favourites from Star Wars, and seeing three of them running around acting like Jawas, looking like they were going to steal things, was so fun.

Saturday was the long day (10am-9pm) with lots of events going on, including a celebrity visit from Charisma Carpenter. She was in another part of the con, so I didn’t get to see her, but I heard good things from people who saw her. Nicholas Brendon was supposed to be there, too, but got held up at the border. That day I sold nine books, which was amazing. I had my table costs covered half way through the day, which is always a nice feeling!

I was a panelist at two panels, one on self-publishing with Sarah WaterRaven, and another on world building with Sarah again, and Tommy Gofton and Sen-Foong Lim. Both panels were a lot of fun, and well attended. I had a couple follow-up conversations with people, which were great, too! Networking at a con is worth almost as much as sales, because it’s often about who you know… for instance, I was approached by Assad, who created the Genesis: Battle of Champions collectible card game (all vendor links are at the end). We met at SkyCon last year, and chatted a bit at GenreCon. He mentioned he’s now going full-time game creation and is starting to put out feelers for working with other people – specifically authors. Now, I’m making my own board game, but I know next to nothing about CCG’s. The last one I played was the old Star Wars one from the 90’s. I’m definitely going to follow up with him and at least chat some more about this, because I want to break into gaming. With the synergy I saw happening between my books and board game prototype, I’m convinced that getting into more forms of media can only help.

Additionally, my wife and kids came and had an amazing time. They got their pictures taken with a bunch of cosplayers, from Darth Vader and Storm Troopers to FOUR Judges (from Judge Dredd). I’d share those pictures, but you know how it is…

Sunday was a shorter day (11am-4pm) and was considerably quieter, especially later in the day. I still had 4 sales, so it was a good day. The 501st was around, and it’s always cool seeing Darth Vader and Boba Fett walking through a convention.

The Bad

You know, there wasn’t anything that sticks out as being bad here. Sure, it had its quiet stretches, but I had interesting vendors to either side of me and we talked a lot to pass the time. It felt busier than last year, so you get the sense it’s growing and getting better. I’ll be interested to see what happens next year! Maybe they’ll even get some better weather! It was awful out there with lots of snow and even rain on Sunday, and I’m sure that stopped some people from coming.

I’d guess the only bad thing that happened, I wasn’t really involved with… Nicholas Brendon got stopped at the border, due to ongoing criminal investigations. I guess the con coordinators and Brendon tried to get some paperwork together to help him get across despite the charges, but they still didn’t let him across. If he’d been there, I might have spent some of my earnings on meeting him. But after I shared a post on Facebook about Brendon not coming, I learned from my cousin that Brendon has a pretty sketchy past, legally speaking. Lots of charges, including felonies. So maybe the way it worked out was for the best.

The Ugly

Nothing to put here. I had a good time.

The Great!

Launching A Hero’s Birth at the con was the right call. It was great having people coming up to the table, picking up the last book to see how the trilogy ends. I had four sales just from people I knew were coming, which covered a good chunk of the table cost by themselves. Having that sort of traffic coming in was wonderful! And Dave hung out in the area for a good part of Sunday, and cracked open his copy of A Hero’s Birth to read right beside the table. You can’t buy advertising like that – I have the best fans!

Additionally, I had a couple experiences that I HAVE to share, because they were awesome.

Two young women approached my table, one I had met at SkyCon, and she had figured her friend Nikki would like my books… so she brought Nikki over to my table and introduced us. After we talked, Nikki decided to pick up A Noble’s Quest to see what she thought.

She followed me on Twitter and posted this:

That was such an amazing feeling. But wait! There’s more! Today she came by with her nephew and while he was getting his face painted by Miss Kitty, Nikki told me that she had almost finished A Noble’s Quest already because she was having a hard time putting it down. She said she’d get A Wizard’s Gambit, because she was sure she’d be done A Noble’s Quest very soon. I offered to knock $5 off if she got A Hero’s Birth at the same time, because I usually give a discount if people get three or more books at the con. She picked it up, too! I can’t wait to hear what she thinks!

Another gentleman was walking by my table, and he¬†almost¬†got by me… until he noticed Harvey Bunda’s stunning artwork – specifically, Fyrsanthemar the God Crusher on the cover of A Wizard’s Gambit. He came to talk to me, and wound up getting the entire trilogy in one go when I told him I love dragons, too, and have them in all my books. What a high, right before I was headed to my first panel!

Vendors

There are a few vendors I’ve met before, and I met some new ones, too! The vendor community is great, and I like to share the spotlight with them.

Adventures of Lollipop – a comic where the characters explore Canada and the world, sometimes time travelling to teach kids about the world around them.

Artisan Maille – awesome chain mail stuff, from armour to dice bags and jewellery.

Critical Shoppe – cute RPG-inspired comic stuff.

Fire and Steel – for all your weapon needs. One day, if my books ever get BIG, I’m going to get the Strongblade mass produced for sale.

Genesis: Battle of Champions – a strategic CCG that uses a board game grid to lay out your armies.

Kyfak – local games and toys. (I meant to get over there and pick up some Star Wars Lego minifigures but forgot!)

Miss Kitty Facepainting and Entertainment – she did face painting and henna at the con, and also puts together parties.

By the numbers

I know a lot of people like to know the exact details of what I consider success. I recently increased the prices on my books, because a) I had someone approach me at a con and say, “Is that it?” when I told them A Noble’s Quest was $15, so I figured I could get away with more, and b) I need to start valuing my writing more, if it’s going to start paying for itself, allowing me to write more books. So here’s the details:

Books sold

2x A Noble’s Quest

2x A Wizard’s Gambit

8x A Hero’s Birth

3x Scoundrels anthology

2x $5 discounts for people who bought the full trilogy

Gross income: $325

Net, after printing costs and table fees: $100

That’s definitely the best I’ve ever done at a convention. Normally I’ll break even, or be a little bit over, which is great. It looks like my belief that I’d get better sales once the trilogy was finished is turning out to be true. My table looks WAY more impressive with five titles on it. While I doubt I’ll have the first book of the Strongblade Siblings series ready to go for next year, I¬†do hope to have my board game, Wizards’ War, ready to go. Maybe that will draw in an entirely new audience, too. One thing’s for sure… if I add any more products to my table, 4 feet just won’t be big enough!

Review: The Last Light of the Sun

The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2 stars

A funny quick of being a writer (in my experience) is that people buy you books because you write. “Oh, you write? I thought you’d like this book!”

I’ve had this one on my shelf for a while now with the intention of reading it, because I’ve heard for years that Kay is excellent.

I have a feeling these people probably really like Tolkien and other classic fantasy novels that are slow, slow, slow and hugely repetitive. This is not the style of fantasy that I enjoy, and if this is representative of Kay’s style, it’ll be the last book of his I read.

We start off with a merchant from a far distant land visiting a town of what I’d say are vikings. An event has happened, and he’s late so he’s only heard second-hand stories.

And then we never see that character again.

And this is my first major complaint about this book: It could have (and should have) been much shorter than it was. Cut down to AT LEAST 3/4 the length. There are so many throw-away characters that have absolutely no agency in the story. You get to see the POV of a single character for a single scene, and anything that you think might be an important take away from that scene simply isn’t.

All of these extra wasted scenes are interspersed with the stuff you might actually care about. There are these interesting princes from distant lands, a hint of faerie magic, viking raids, and intrigue. The stuff that’s on point is INTERESTING and good. It’s all the other bloody stuff you need to sift through to get to the good stuff that is absolutely painful. This book probably took me twice as long to read as books that I enjoy, because I just couldn’t bring myself to read outside of my rides to work on the bus (and sometimes not even on the bus). I’d finish a scene and just sigh, because I knew there was a good chance I just wasted my time learning about the characters in the last scene, or was about to start a scene with characters I wouldn’t care about. I kept hoping for some brilliant ending that tied all these one-shot characters together to make some sort of masterpiece that I never could have seen coming, but it just didn’t happen.

But then there’s Bern, this thoughtful viking who’s smart and strong and has a conflicted past with his father, who was this legendary raider, who is one of the better characters in the book. There’s Alun, a prince who’s dealing with loss and suddenly finding himself in a position he never wanted. There’s Athelbert, the oldest son of a king who’s been building his empire to beat back the viking raiders… a true warrior poet king… and Athelbert has a great sense of humour and is interesting to follow. There are a few strong female characters in the story who piqued my interest.

There were MORE THAN ENOUGH interesting characters who were central to the main story to keep this going. Thus it’s all the more baffling that these one-shot characters are dropped regularly throughout.

My other major beef with this book is that it’s highly repetitive. Like… there’s no way you’ll forget an event that’s important to the story, because you’re going to hear about it over and over and over again. Like I GET IT! BERN STOLE THE DAMNED HORSE! I REMEMBER THAT FROM THE START OF THE BOOK AND DON’T NEED TO READ IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND YES, THE HORSE IS MAGNIFICENT! AND HE SWAM ACROSS A FREEZING STRAIT!

I originally rated the book as 3 stars, but I just dropped it to two because there’s so much that irritated me about how much time I spent reading this book. All those annoyances outweigh how good the central story could have been. But no, in the middle of the climactic battle, let’s just shift to a few other characters who aren’t important at all right now. Let’s just break the flow of this event we’ve all been waiting for for over 500 pages. No reason. Nothing important, that’s for sure. But let’s remind you of the other characters who aren’t fighting.

This book is the perfect example of how not to pace a book.