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!

Book launch and GenreCon 2018, coming up!

This is going to be great.

I mean, if this pair of celebrities doesn’t draw in a ton of people to Guelph on the weekend of February 9th-11th, I don’t know what will. Charisma Carpenter (Cordellia) and Nicholas Brendon (Xander) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fame are coming to GenreCon.

True story time: I always loved Xander because in a way he reminded me of me in high school. Awkward, not cool, and often unnoticed. I loved the episode where he had his own adventure going on and was on his own while everyone else dealt with a “big bad” in the background. When he was described as the one who sees, I nodded with understanding. I couldn’t remember ever having a character on a show that spoke to me as much as Xander did.

So I’m having a bit of a fanboy moment right now, because I’m excited to meet Nicholas Brendon. I even went so far as to ask my wife, “Do you think he’d make a good Erwin Winston?” She looked at me and shook her head. There was some alleged relationship issue, but by the sounds of it TMZ used an old photo and got the story wrong. Still, in this day and age that sort of story doesn’t sit well, does it? But his partner said it was misreported and there were no charges, so we need to take her at her word. After all, they wouldn’t let him leave the USA if he was in trouble with the law, would they? So let’s give him a friendly Canadian welcome!

I’m not usually one to think about what actors would play the characters in my books, but that thought got my mind rolling on other members of the Buffyverse I could see stepping into roles. Alyson Hannigan as Pellin. Alexis Denisof as Marcus. James Marsters as Arus.

While I recognize it’s all a pipe dream, it’s fun to think about these things.


I’m a speaker on a couple panels at GenreCon! Both are on Saturday February 10th, with the first at 3pm on indie publishing, and the second at 6pm on world building. These are topics that I love to talk about, and I’m hoping for a great turn out! But even if we only have one person, we’ll still go ahead with the panel. We had that happen with the indie publishing panel last year, and the person who came got some great one-on-four time with all the panelists.


At any rate, I’ve got all my paperback books ready to go, and have already started selling some books through Amazon. The official launch for A Hero’s Birth was January 20th, and I blitzed social media and was humbled by the response, with many people sharing my posts. I know I reached some new people, and was happy to hear from existing fans who were excited for the final book in the trilogy.

As is usual for me when I launch a new book, sales for A Noble’s Quest increased out of the gate. Some people are going on to A Wizard’s Gambit. I expect there’ll be more A Hero’s Birth sales coming up soon. I just wanted to share the book rank graphs to show what I mean…

Book ranks – click to enlarge

A Noble’s Quest is performing far better than normal. You can see several peaks in the last month, indicating sales and people who started reading it on Kindle Unlimited. Since the launch of A Hero’s Birth, you can see that it really hasn’t had a chance to dip down at all, which is fantastic.

A Wizard’s Gambit is also doing better than usual. While not as high as A Noble’s Quest, that’s to be expected. Not everyone who reads book 1 will continue to book 2 (which is a shame, in my opinion… book 2 (and book 3) is a much better book). But also most people take time to read the book. While it’s fairly common to see someone blitz through a book in a day or two through KU, I imagine most readers aren’t so fast. So just seeing a couple peaks for book 2 at this point is encouraging.

Demon Invasion had a single sale, driving it up from a very, very long dry spell (You can tell by the nearly flat line before the peak). That long flat stretch is what the majority of my shorter works look like all the time. I’ve had very little success with short stories and novellas. That’s okay. They’re not necessary reading for the series, and I understand many people just want the full novels.

A Hero’s Birth started with a sale, and has been trailing since. I’m… a little disappointed with the performance here. I know a lot of people are waiting for the paperback copies, as I’ve been having people tell me they’ll be getting copies at GenreCon. I’ve got a package to mail today with a copy of A Hero’s Birth and Scoundrels. I gave away ARCs and a few copies for my “fans for life” from Indiegogo. But for some reason I thought it’d do better in the opening week on Amazon than it has.

I’ve also sold 4 paperbacks this week, which don’t show up on these charts because the sales go through CreateSpace. This is an interesting issue. I’d really like to try printing one of my books through Amazon to see how it works, but I’ve heard the tools just aren’t as good as CreateSpace (no author proof, for example). It’d be nice to have paperback sales count towards the rankings to help rise up and maybe get noticed by even more people. But for the time being, I think I’ll stick with the system I know that makes my life easier.

Now, I’m not done yet. My wife’s put together a media kit for me, so once I put some books in the local book store I’ll be releasing that. Maybe it’ll drum up some more interest. And it’s just a slow growth industry, anyway.

Author Rank

I really can’t complain, with what has been my best week ever in terms of sales. My Author Rank has stayed high (for me), and I’ve got two conventions coming up where I’m expecting to do well. Slowly, bit by bit, my empire grows!

If you’re in the Guelph area and would like to come to GenreCon, it’s running February 9th through 11th. Lots of fun stuff to see and do. Make sure to stop by my table in the vendor area and say hi!

Boxing Day Sale!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

If you’ve been waiting for the completion of the Empire’s Foundation trilogy before you start reading, you might want to get an early jump on it!

Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) of A Hero’s Birth are out. The paperback is formatted and I’ve submitted everything for A Hero’s Birth and waiting on their review of the files so I can order an author proof to make sure everything looks good. So long as there aren’t any delays with CreateSpace, I should have the paperback books ready to roll before GenreCon!

In the meantime, you can get A Noble’s Quest and A Wizard’s Gambit for just 99 cents today! I’ve got a Kindle countdown deal going on, and both books are heavily discounted to help people prepare for the release of book three in January!


In other news, my flash fiction Carbon Concerns has been submitted to a magazine called Futuristic Canada by Dark Helix Press.

“So what’s next?” you ask.

Behold!

 

That’s right, the Strongblade Siblings series will be at least 4 books. Maybe 5. I’ll have to wait and see how book 2 goes, because there’s a TON of content for that one, and it might need to be split into two separate novels.

With almost 75,000 words written for A Queen’s Edict, the only problem is funds. I’m banking pretty heavily on my first trilogy doing well after it’s complete. I need this series to succeed, or the next four books don’t get published. Period.

I’ve already run two Indiegogo campaigns, raising over $2000 that went toward costs for editing and art. It was necessary to complete the first trilogy, because I wanted to finish what I started. Now, after getting developmental editing notes from two different editors I’ve learned a LOT about story structure, so I think I can get away without that. But I can’t keep relying on free editing from my aunt, and I certainly can’t afford to sink money into amazing cover art. There are just too many other things that we need to focus on paying for and I won’t put my family in debt for my hobby, no matter how passionate I am about it.

If you’ve enjoyed my work and want to see where the story goes next, I need your help. I’m just one person, I’m an introvert, and not particularly good at using social media and marketing myself. What helps authors succeed is word of mouth from readers.

Here are two concrete things you can do to help:

  1. Leave reviews on my books on Amazon.com, Goodreads, or wherever else. The review doesn’t have to be long or detailed. Reviews are a numbers game, and once I have enough of them, I can have a chance of getting accepted by Book Bub, a site that promotes discounted ebooks. Just by putting A Noble’s Quest up on Book Bub for 99 cents, I can make the money back for the investment from people continuing on with the series. My books have great legs, with many people continuing to read into the series once they start. It’s finding readers that’s the tough part.
  2. Tell your friends. A quick post on social media, or even just sharing a post I make that you like, can help dramatically increase the number of people who learn about my writing.

I’ll be doing all I can to promote my work. My wife knows the journalism industry and writes great press kits, so I’ll be casting a wide net across the country with the completion of the trilogy. I’ll be doing book readings, signings, and continue going to conventions. I’d like to hit a bigger one this year to increase my reach. When people see my art, and hear how passionate I am about my books, they often buy them. I’ve had people say they’ll wait until the trilogy’s finished, because they don’t want to wind up with a series that’s incomplete.

Additionally, I’ll be submitting shorter works with the help of my Patrons. If I get some stories published the traditional way, I can start applying for government grants to offset my editing/art costs. I already have two (1100 Before Gods’ War was published by HDWPBooks in their Theme-thology: New Myths collection, and Dangers of Tensire was published by Phoenix Quill in their Scoundrels anthology), so it won’t take much more before I can apply.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. I love it and can’t imagine stopping. Who knows? Maybe some year down the line we’ll have the money and I can pay for editing. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to publish them sooner if this series does well.

So many projects, so little time

In some ways, I made great strides this month. In others, I feel like I haven’t done enough. Why? Let’s take a look at the list!

Fan Fic to Anthology

As I’ve mentioned before, I started volunteering as a Dungeon Master (DM) at The Round Table (TRT). The world that we play in was created by Tom Gofton, the owner of TRT and Lynnvander Studios. As such, I have no rights to the IP, and thought I’d just write a little story summary of the games I ran, so I could share it with the players.

Then there was some question as to whether fan fic is actually legal (it’s not. Written works are covered by copyright laws). However, after the good folks at Lynnvander Studios discussed the situation, Tom was more than happy to have fan fic for his world. I just need to sign a legal agreement, which will be done soon. Moreover, Tyler – also from Lynnvander – requested that I hurry up and polish the story as much as possible and submit it for an anthology he’s helping put out. So this 19000 word novella is off to a good home, and I couldn’t be happier with how it all worked out!

If you’d like an exclusive sneak peek at the first scene in the story, get ye to Patreon and select the $2/month donation option. You’ll see it there on October 1st!

DMing

How much work is it to create ideas for campaigns every two weeks? A lot. On our return from Quebec at the end of August, I spent a couple hours of the drive with my nose buried in a notebook, creating maps and descriptions for a dungeon crawl. The next session early this month followed up on that dungeon crawl, and led to the exciting conclusion where the party fled the mountain complex just before it exploded in fiery doom, a dracolich rising from the lava. (Dracolich: Dragon that defeats death by returning as an undead abomination that can use powerful magic)

Later in the month we were low on DM’s for our regular sessions, so I decided to try something new and run a campaign in my own world, with my own unique spin on the D&D system (more on that later). I churned out 7 first level characters for players to choose from, with the idea that I’d have around 5 players at my table, so a couple characters would go unused. This worked well, because it meant people could choose classes that were interesting to them, and everyone seemed happy with what they got.

And then I pretty much winged it, in terms of coming up with the game session. I mean, I knew the inciting event, but I had no idea what the players would do with it. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and instead of it being a “one-off,” I hope to run another session some day when we can’t run the normal campaign.

Editing A Hero’s Birth

I’ve made this project my primary priority, so it’s been swimming along just fine. No issues here. Promise! I’ve been keeping up with my editor as she sends chapters to me, and we’re 2/3rds complete!

Writing A Queen’s Decree

This … oh, this … Work on my fourth novel has pretty much ground to a halt. Why? So many other projects. I mean, I’m about 3/4 of the way through writing the first draft, and my third book isn’t even out yet. So I feel like I’m way ahead of the game. Also, I’m not sure I’ll have the finances to publish it when it IS complete, so … not high on my priority list. If the Empire’s Foundation trilogy takes off with the release of the final novel, that would bump this up the list of priorities again. However, with slow sales on existing books, and just not getting reviews from people who do buy books, I’m feeling discouraged on this front. The last short story I released had a grand total of one sale on Amazon. I hope the book will do better.

I’ll still write stories, but depending on how other things come along, it might just be at a slower pace, with no intention of publishing them unless something drastic changes. With each book costing so much to bring out, I just can’t keep sinking money into it without seeing some promise of return on investment. That sucks. I love writing, and if money wasn’t an issue, I’d keep doing it forever. But at some point you have to evaluate what you’re doing and figure out if it’s a good use of your time.

Creating board game prototype 3.0

Perhaps you remember the frantic pace I set in whipping out prototypes v1.0 and v2.0? I was like an unstoppable juggernaut of efficiency.

This, too, has slowed. There’s been a disruption with the board game developer nights, with the man who ran them looking for greener pastures. Since then, finding answers to questions has been much, much slower. I’ve still had some game testing and minor tweaks. I’ve been putting together a component list for things I need to make the game. I’ve been arranging game board and punch boards so they’re in a format fit to print. But the urgency behind it all has evaporated. This latest version has taken weeks to put together, instead of days.

That said, I’m planning on showcasing the game at my artist table at SkyCon at the end of October. So that at least gives me a deadline to have everything ready to go. I’m hoping the convention will help generate some interest in the game, which will in turn help with raising funds to make the game with a Kickstarter campaign. With the positive response I’ve had to Wizards’ War, I feel like it can do well. The trick will be getting enough people interested in it to get it funded. When you run a Kickstarter, you’re trying to generate enough funds to make a LOT of copies of the game – somewhere around 1,000.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know 1,000 people. So it’s intimidating. But I love doing it. So even if the Kickstarter isn’t successful, at least I’ll have a game I created and enjoy to play with people I know. It’ll just be the most expensive game I’ve ever owned, with over $300 already invested into prototypes!

Creating RPG based on D&D 5e

When I started writing, the first thing I did was create a bare-bones role playing game (RPG) system. Now, the games we played that inspired the writing were set in the D&D rule set, but I wanted something that was uniquely mine. So I created classes and powers with vague descriptions that I could reference while I was writing. “Okay, the party is about due to level up after all that fun stuff. What new things can they do?”

When I DM’d in my world this month (as mentioned earlier), I decided to work with the D&D 5e rules in order to flesh out my ideas. I have several standard class options to choose from: Hunter, Druid (splits later into Mending or Wrathful subtypes), Protector, Aggressor, Stealth, Fast Talker, Wizard (splits later into Air, Water, Fire, or Earth subtypes), and Priest. But the system doesn’t stop there! There are hybrid classes for every conceivable combination of classes, and the ORDER that you take them in matters, giving you different classes. For instance, a Stealth that takes a level of Wizard can create the hybrid Shadow class. But a Wizard who takes a level of Stealth can create the hybrid Illusionist class.

And then there are what I’ve coined the Ultimate hybrids, which are effectively triple-class characters. The Hero, for instance, is Protector + Wizard + Priest. The Sieger is Hunter + Wizard + Druid. And there are more. PLUS unique classes for other races. That’s right. All that stuff I’ve mentioned so far? That’s just humans.

So when I say I created 7 characters for them to play, that was a LOT of work, figuring out what all those vague powers actually DO in terms of D&D 5e mechanics. So that was a major time sink this month, but oh so worth it. If you’d like to read more about that, I posted on Facebook about the game session:

Conventions

This hasn’t taken up much of my time at all, but it’s worth noting. Tyler (mentioned earlier) attended the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival and was kind enough to bring along my books. He even sold a copy of A Noble’s Quest! So that was a nice surprise. EMWF is more of a literary event, so I wasn’t expecting anything from that one. My wife predicted that maybe someone there would have a relative who liked reading fantasy and pick up a book for that other person, and that’s exactly what happened!

I’ve also signed on for two upcoming conventions. The first is SkyCon, which is a gaming convention in Kitchener at the end of October. They’re having Ed Greenwood as a guest. If you haven’t heard of him, he created this little thing called the Forgotten Realms. It only has something like 300 novels associated with it, a chunk of those written by my favourite author, R.A. Salvatore.

I’m going to get to meet Ed Greenwood. I’m so excited. As my wife would say, “NERD ALERT!” I can’t help it. This guy’s a living legend.

Now, it’s the con’s first year, so I don’t expect big crowds, but the table prices are pretty reasonable.

Coming back for its second year (after a hiatus) is GenreCon, right here in Guelph! Last year’s event was … quiet. They kind of threw it together without much notice, they had no celebrity draw, and so it had some problems. But they’ve been working hard at it all year, because they want it to be better. No, awesome! So this year there’s rumour of some star power hitting the con. I don’t see any official posts about it up yet, so I won’t post anything more … but you’ll want to keep an eye on this one.

What’s next?

Great question!

This month I’m going to continue editing as fast as my aunt gets chapters to me, I’ve got DMing at The Round Table, game design nights (with a new one at The Dragon’s south end location), I’m volunteering at Guelph Book Bash on Sunday the 15th, I’m running a Genre Fiction Writers meeting at The Red Papaya on Sunday the 22nd at 2pm, and that should be about it.

Y’know… plus all my normal duties as a husband, father, and researcher.

Onwards!

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.

Convention-mania

This is my first monthly update, and it’s long, because it’s been an action-packed month! I think I might do two posts per month, just because this feels a bit unwieldy.

First up, I attended KW Tri-Con on January 14th.

 

Here’s my usual Good, Bad, Ugly review:

The Good

They moved the vendors to the main floor this year, so we were centre stage when people came into The Museum. This was a huge improvement over last year, where a lot of vendors had trouble being seen on the second floor.

There were a LOT of cosplayers there. The costumes were fantastic,

He’s no good to me dead.

from Boba Fett to an Ewok, two Judges, Sith and Jedi…

It felt like there was a lightsaber duel going on at least once an hour. While most of them were upstairs, there was one time we were just sitting there at our tables, and suddenly the place shook with combat! Turning in our seats, we saw Jedi and Sith doing battle nearby. I took many more pictures at the con, but can’t share them publicly because my daughter’s in them, and, well, you likely already know why we can’t post them, or you don’t, and I really don’t want to get into that whole can of crazy.

The Bad

It felt a little quiet. Maybe I was spoiled by Kitchener Comic Con being the last con I attended, where they said over 3000 people came in, but other than a sea of cosplayers, there didn’t seem to be that many people there otherwise. Ruistyfles, who shared a table with me, was busy with almost more commissions than she could handle, and she did lovely work. It was fun watching her draw all the figures that people requested. She sold a few prints, too.

And it wasn’t that there wasn’t interest in my books. I had several people approach and talk to me about the books, but there were a few people who talked to me, and then said they wished they had the money to get them and took a card. If past conventions are any indication, taking a card rarely turns over into new readers. And unlike other cons where people say they’ll probably come back to buy my books, and have, that only happened once at Tri-Con, and I’m not sure why. I still sold 6 books (all 3 to one person, 2 to a returning fan, and 1 to another vendor who made some pretty cool chainmail!), so it wasn’t a total bust by any means.

I do feel that $100 for a table for a day is a bit steep for the number of people who come through, though. I ran the numbers, and I had a profit of $39 (after the cost of printing/shipping for books), and the 1/2 table cost $56. So I was down $17 for the day, and another $15 for parking. Certainly not a disaster, but it also marks the first time I haven’t broken even at a convention.

Totally unrelated to the con as a whole, the armour I made my daughter didn’t last much more than an hour. The tape I used to hold it together just couldn’t survive my daughter’s enthusiastic running about! I had hoped she might be able to take part in the masquerade at the end of the convention, but we had no such luck. Even so, she took her crossbow out with her many times, pretending to shoot Jedi during their duels with the Sith. So it wasn’t all bad! I’ve fixed up the armour with packing tape (and lots of it), so it should withstand her enthusiasm better at GenreCon!

The Ugly

I have no major complaints about Tri-Con.

The Great

My. Daughter. Had. A. Blast!

The Museum has a nice vertical layout, and as I knew some of the cosplayers, I felt (mostly) comfortable with giving her run of the convention. We had some rules in place, like she was to check in with me regularly, but otherwise she could check out whatever she wanted. You should’ve seen the look on her face when I told her she was free to explore. Her eyes were like saucers.

Everyone in our market area was smiling at how enthusiastic she was. Every time she’d run back to the table, she’d gush about a new thing or person she saw, and then she’d run off again. Oftentimes I’d see her standing there, watching cosplayers, or chatting their ears off. To all the cosplayers who took the time to talk with her, thank you! She had such an amazing time, and I have no doubt that it’s largely because of the fantastic cosplayer community. At one point she said, “Deadpool uses whatever weapons are handy.” Ummm… thanks, Deadpool, I think? hahaha!

Also, hearing her chant, “Go Sith! Go Sith! Go Sith!” from upstairs during the lightsaber battles was adorable. When she was talking to a group of Jedi and told them her favourite character is Darth Vader, they said, “Wrong group to say that to!” I let them know that my son’s favourite is Luke, so I’ve managed to raise children on both sides of the Force.

She also spent almost all her money at two vendors:

She’s a big fan of tiny things, and she came up with a story of how all these pieces fit together. The cactus was a friend for her baby dragon. The bottle of sushi is the baby dragon’s food, and the “Fire Salts” are to help the baby dragon get its fire breath. She also bought a white dragon for her brother, so they could have a matching pair. Such a sweet big sister!

So even though I walked out with a small loss, I’m pleased to have met new people and not only found a couple new readers, but reconnected with a fan. The con was worth it just to see the joy that my daughter experienced. I would definitely take her again, even if I might think twice about going as a vendor.


Thanks to my Patrons, I got a new cover done for Dawn: A dwarven creation story:

I’m not sure how I feel about it at this point. You see, I went with a different artist this time. When I told Harvey what I wanted, and what my budget was, he said it’d be too much work for the pay. I thought that might have been the case, but I didn’t want to spend more than $50 on the cover for a short story, either. So I sought other options, and Fiverr was suggested. I put together a request and had many responses in short order. I picked someone who had a lot of positive reviews who would do the work for my budget.

What I got was … not exactly what I wanted. Despite sending my own low-quality Paint sketch, she put together her own artistic impression that didn’t fit with what I asked for. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just doesn’t capture what I wrote. On top of that, I had to ask for revisions a couple times, because the first attempt looked pretty bad. I asked her to simplify it, and change the pose on the white giant a bit, and it came out not looking like what I asked for. I put in another request for revision… but in the end, I had to make some alterations myself. I added the strand from the white giant’s hand, and the strand that’s between the shears. The “tree” in the middle wasn’t supposed to be a tree… more of just a tall pillar. “Tree” just doesn’t say “dwarf” to me. And I specifically said achromatic – white to dark grey. No gold.

I’ll chalk this one up to a lesson learned. I just hope readers don’t read that third short story and say, “Well, that cover’s false advertising. That’s nothing like what was described!”


Writing continues. I’ve made progress on A King’s Decree, and also started a new short story that looks at the origin of the Master Monk in Portsmouth (she was mentioned in 1100 BGW (Before Gods’ War), and her people will again be seen in A Hero’s Birth). I have up to 8000 words to play with, and am 1500 words in right now, with the first major conflict almost over. There’s still three scenes to go, so I should be able to squeeze it in to the maximum word count.


There’s another Guelph Genre Fiction Writers meeting coming up February 19th, 2pm, at The Round Table. The topic of the day will be Art. Given my latest experience with Fiverr, I feel like I have an even greater appreciation for finding a great artist you love working with.

Also, The Round Table has a bookshelf in their retail section, so genre fiction writers (especially those who focus on sci-fi and fantasy) can sell their books there.


Last but not least, I will be attending GenreCon here in Guelph from February 3rd-5th.

I’ve got a great location near the pool and hope to have fun! If you’re in the Guelph area, come on by and say hi! I have books, posters, mugs, and character cards available. I’m also on 3 panels:

Saturday, Feb 4th: 

12 Self-Publishing: Books, games and more! JM Frey, Thomas Gofton, Brian Clement, Ryan Toxopeus, Sarah WaterRaven MCCRAE 13:00

 

14 World Building for Film, Literature and Games. Ryan Toxopeus, Thomas Gofton, Sarah WaterRaven BROCK 14:30

Sunday, Feb 5th:

3 I have a story to tell. But where do I begin? Agnes Jankiewicz, Ryan Toxopeus, MJ Moores MCCRAE 11:00