If you read and enjoyed My Cosplay Disasters: The Step-By-Step guide to doing it wrong, I highly recommend the sequel! Trasler’s still at it, building helmets from whatever he has laying around in his workshop. He has the same relaxed, humourous hobbyist attitude, which makes the book a fast and easy read with pictures to help you see every step of the way.
In this book you’ll see him modifying existing pieces, following instructions, and going completely off the rails, winging it by sight alone. Reading this book left me feeling like there has to be another one in the future, because it’s the classic trilogy setup. The first one is light hearted and ends well. The second one leaves you in a pit of despair. Then the third one ends with everyone living happily ever after, overcoming all the terrible odds. I picture it with Trasler working away in his newly well-ventilated workshop, pondering over everything he’s learned over the course of three books – measure twice, cut once. Bondo isn’t scary and works better than wall filler. For the love of all that’s holy, measure! Read the plans when there are plans available – all the way through. And paint only highlights imperfections, it doesn’t cover them up.
And then he will have the most glorious helmet. One he feels he cannot ever beat in terms of craftsmanship, and readers will sit back with a happy sigh and think, “He did it!”
Not that I don’t think that every time he finishes a helmet. Trasler has skills that I can only dream about. But to see him reach what he believes is a wonderful success, instead of saying, “It’s good enough for my purposes.” That’d be grand to see! I know he’ll manage it one day.
But don’t worry, this book isn’t all disasters – the bit at the end is uplifting and fun. I’ve heard from 501st legion people that those helmets need ventilation, because they get bloody hot, so you’re not along Mr. Trasler.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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:
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.
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!
I have no major complaints about Tri-Con.
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.
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:
Self-Publishing: Books, games and more!
JM Frey, Thomas Gofton, Brian Clement, Ryan Toxopeus, Sarah WaterRaven