A Queen’s Edict art, Empire’s Foundation trilogy volume

This month I revealed the sketch for the cover art for A Queen’s Edict! Harvey Bunda has once again done a wonderful job of capturing the character and has brought Grace Strongblade to life. Patrons got the first look, and a few days later I did a public reveal on MeWe.

“But Ryan! What about Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, etc?”

Glad you asked. With all the privacy and data scraping concerns going on across social media, I’ve deleted both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. While Google Plus hasn’t been caught doing anything, the fact that we don’t see how they monetize their site made me feel pretty certain that they’re using our data somehow… but I guess they wanted to jump on top of the problem before it blew up, because they put together a video talking about how they use the data to target ads on sites like YouTube, but they don’t actually give the data to any third parties. So the advertisers have no idea, it’s just Google handling it all internally. So I might share stuff on Google Plus still, but as for Facebook and Twitter, I’m not going back. Honestly, I shared the promo video to show off the cover art on Google Plus, and no one even saw it. For whatever reason, despite people showing interest in the reveal, the actual reveal was swallowed up by the Google algorithm monster. So what’s the point of posting there if posts people want to see never make it to their page?

Honestly, I really like MeWe. I feel a lot happier knowing that anything my friends post comes across my Home page. Certainly, there are fewer people there right now, but I feel like there’s room for growth. G+ has been stagnant for years.. all the followers I found, I found shortly after starting, when people could share circles of people with similar interests. Since then, it’s been flat. Yes, I still have interesting conversations with people there, but I want a platform where I can easily find people, and other people can easily find me. For instance, the Genre Fiction group I started for writers and fans has been adding people steadily. At the start of the month, we were under 70 people, and now we’re up to 89. Not staggering numbers, I know, but it’s growth. And there have been a few people taking part in our weekly writing event, where we share snippets of our writing based on a theme that people vote on. So I’m happy with it!

Anyway, back to the art… half way through the month Harvey sent me a sneak peek video, showcasing the cover art with some filler text. I’m so, so happy with how it turned out. I gave him some lines from the first draft to put into the video, and he sent it to me so I could post it to my own YouTube account.

If you just want to see the art all on its own without the flashy video, that’ll be posted to my Patreon account.


In other news, work continues on Wizards’ War. I’ve nearly got a finished 2’x2′ board, and I’ve been teaching a group of friends the game, so they can teach others when they go to Origins and GenCon this summer! If you’re at either one, look for Broken Things and say ‘hi.’ They’ve got some great games they’re working on! (I really like their deck building game)


Finally, I’ve released the full Empire’s Foundation trilogy as a single volume on Amazon for the low, low price of $9.99! The books in the series have all come down in price, too.

Why?

Because I got some great news! If you’d like to find out that great news, you know where to follow me. It’s not being posted publicly, so if you’d like to know, I’ll tell you in private. But I’ve received some fantastic personal news, and am sharing my good mood by dropping prices across the board.

GenreCon 2017

That’s another con down, 2 more to go! (maybe 3, if I go to Ad Astra in May)

Without further ado… GenreCon 2017 – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.


The Good

This con was pretty decent to me. For those who judge success in monetary terms, yes, I made enough profit to cover the table and then some. Not a LOT extra… I look at it as, “I got to spend a weekend having fun, and got paid to do it,” instead of my usual paying others for me to do something fun. I mean, I got to talk to people about my books, attend panels as a panelist and talk about the writing process, meet interesting people, and – in this case – see some of the most amazing painting around. Seriously.

Nathan Salmon made this in about 4 minutes.

Nathan Salmon blows my mind. I watched him paint all weekend long, and I was enthralled right up to the last painting. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I knew I wanted something. I said I was thinking about a Star Wars space battle kind of thing, and he said, “Really? I was thinking you’d want fantasy.” So I went back to square one, and realized I have this scene in a short story I’m working on now that would look great! I gave him the description of the scene, with the big purple dragon landed atop a sandstone temple, the sea in the background, and he brought it to life. He agreed to let me use it for the cover art, and I’m so, so thrilled with it! I paid him for two paintings, and when I got home I told my wife to think of something she wanted. She didn’t come up with anything she wanted directly, but thought maybe we could get Hogwarts on the lake, since we all like Harry Potter. The painting he made is stunning. Everything he makes is awesome. He does a LOT of shows across Canada, and will be in Winnipeg next weekend. So if you ever get the chance, watch this guy paint.

You know what? Watch him now. I’m putting the videos of him painting on my YouTube channel. (Forgive me for recording the first one in portrait … my wife gave me heck for starting to record the second one in portrait, so I switched to landscape, which I learned is the proper way to record video)

 

It was also cool to see Darth Vader. I’ve seen storm troopers, Imperial guards, Boba Fett, and others, but this was the first time I got to meet Vader. He was impressive, for sure, with perfect voice modulation. It could’ve been James Earl Jones speaking. And when I saw him on the first night, he asked if my daughter was there. When I told her the next day, she felt like a celebrity, and said, “You have a famous daughter!” Hahahahaha!

There were a couple Jawas running around the place, too! I laughed every time they’d go by, speaking Jawaese. Such a great costume.

I felt like Luke, trying to dodge the gaffi stick and getting knocked out. Having one yelling at you in Tuskan is an experience I won’t soon forget! Again, amazing cosplay!

I was lucky enough to be there when Judge Brown was looking for a photo with Super Girl. I love this one!

The panels I was on were fun, although two of them only had one attendee each, with the second panel having a larger showing. We discussed self-publishing, world building, and how to start writing a story. I learned a few things at them, and have some ideas for new things to try.

I met Brad, one of the vendors who makes some cool chainmail stuff, at KW TriCon in January, and he picked up A Noble’s Quest there. He was also at GenreCon, and said he loved the book, and picked up A Wizard’s Gambit and Demon Invasion! He also left a review on Amazon, so he’s in the draw for a free mug in April! (If you’ve read one of my stories and want a shot at a mug, please consider leaving your own review, too!)

I’d also like to give a shout out to Andrea Loar, the vendor coordinator. She and her staff was attentive throughout the entire convention. Great customer service, and they were very open to vendor feedback to help make the experience better next year. I’d love to see this con succeed, because it’d be nice to have this sort of event in Guelph, and I think if they incorporate the changes that vendors suggest, it’ll help make it a better experience for everyone!


The Bad

It was quiet for the vendors. Although it was a three day convention, it probably should have been two. Friday night was dead. I had no sales, and the only reason Nathan got work was because a group of girls who were at the hotel for sports events saw his paintings and they all got some, either for themselves or as gifts for others.

Saturday I sold the two books to Brad, and that was it. I was pretty sure at that point that I was going to lose money on my table. I was also there with Targeted, a murder mystery book by Donna Warner and Gloria Ferris set in the Caribbean, and Girl Desecrated, a dark fantasy/psychological thriller by Cheryl Cowtan set in Guelph, with highlanders and vampires. I mentioned their books every time someone looked at the table, but didn’t sell a single copy of either.

Sunday saved me. Despite being even quieter than the Saturday, I had one person return to the table from the previous day to pick up all three of my books. A fellow panelist, Elizabeth Hirst, also picked up A Noble’s Quest, another person bought A Noble’s Quest, and then something that I’m calling instant-karma happened. I was coming back to the table and overheard someone saying he would love to get one of Nathan’s paintings, but he couldn’t. I asked if the problem was that he didn’t have cash, and he said yes. So I told him he could use my Square to get the painting, and I’d give the cash to Nathan. He loved that, and when he came over to my table, he picked up all three books for his nieces! Also, I had my first poster sale! Judge Brown picked up the poster for A Hero’s Birth, because he wants to cosplay as Thomas Strongblade. I think I will lose my mind if that ever happens. It’s a dream of mine to see someone cosplay characters from my books (note: dream fulfilled! My daughter makes an adorable Eliza! I was so tickled that she wanted to do that at both TriCon and GenreCon).

You’ve been judged!

That’s him in the middle, and I think he’d make an AMAZING Thomas.

In the end I squeaked out paying for the cost of the table, so I felt pretty fortunate. I know there were a lot of vendors who complained about the lack of people coming through. The layout of the Holiday Inn wasn’t great for getting people to the vendor area. That, and guests had to get the right kind of pass to even get into the vendor room, which was a point of contention for many, because they paid more for their tables, but people who paid less for the tables in the halls could have guests walk by. Even so, many people could avoid the vendors completely and still take part in the other events. I was shocked when I walked out once and saw the front lobby FULL of people, but we had hardly anyone in the vendor area. I put on my feedback form that they should look for a different venue next time, where the vendors can be accessed more easily. After all, vendors are paying a lot of money to be there. They at least need a fighting chance of being seen. If I’d made a real profit at the con, there were some other vendors there that I would have bought stuff from.


The Ugly

My wife and kids came to GenreCon on Sunday for Paw Patrol. When I asked my wife how it was afterwards, she said, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.” Although there were three pups advertised, only two showed up. And according to my wife, the only thing it had to do with Paw Patrol was that two people were dressed up in the costumes. No theme music. The pups didn’t talk. There was “some dude” with the dogs who talked to the crowd. The dogs didn’t appear to be particularly into it. Then I told her it was $25/ticket for the kids, and she got even more upset, saying there was no way it was worth that much.

Part way through my wife asked the kids if they were enjoying it. My son gave a sort of non-committal, “Yeah” but didn’t want to take part in the totally generic song & dance activities (head and shoulders, knees and toes type stuff). My daughter was much more direct, saying she didn’t like it, and never wanted to do something like that again. It was too bad, because both kids love the TV show, but this was “totally lame.”

The only bright spot was that the $25/ticket also got the kids access to the rest of the con, which leads to…


The Great

I cannot explain to you the amount of joy I felt when Darth Vader walked into the lobby, and my daughter turned to see him. She literally jumped for joy, yelling, “THERE’S DARTH VADER!” over and over again. My wife, who had been back at the table while I was wandering around with the kids, could hear her and came to investigate. The kids dueled with him, and got a bunch of pictures with him, and the grins on their faces are priceless. In a twist ending, my son – who has said before that Luke Skywalker is his favourite – said, “Daddy, guess who my favourite Star Wars character is, now. DARTH VADER!” Yes, his journey to the Dark Side is complete. He, like his sister before him, is now … Vader’s.

Also, there was an orange R2 unit operated by remote control. If anyone knows who was controlling it, please let me know, as I’d love to share the photo with him. (Thanks again to Andrea, who let me know it was Ken Stremlaw). When the R2 unit started playing the Imperial March, my son’s jaw just about hit the floor. He was completely gobsmacked.

If you’d like to see photos, let me know, and I can share them privately. I won’t post them publicly.

They also bought some toys in the vendor room. My daughter picked up a classic Dewback toy that was missing the saddle – despite my gasp, my daughter tore open the plastic bag it was in, and my wife scolded me. “It’s missing pieces. It’s fine if she plays with it.” She has named him “Greeny.” My son got an old Bumblebee (Transformers) action figure, and an original Imperial Shuttle that was missing the top fin, but is otherwise in good shape. It kind of kills me a little bit watching them play with the toys, but at the same time it’s awesome that they’re enjoying these sorts of classic toys that I would have loved as a kid, too.


Would I attend this convention again as a vendor? I think so. I’d want to know that they were doing some solid advertising to bring people through the door, and that the vendors would be more visible. Next year I’ll have my full trilogy out, so if I can get people walking by the table, I have no doubt I’ll make money hand over fist.