Category Archives: Appearances

New insights on author events

Here’s something new that I have realized by stepping back, and it might seem counter-intuitive for others out there hoping to make it as fledgling authors. Before I start, I can’t take total credit for this concept since I heard another author voice this idea first – one who is more prolific and has published more than me and whose identity escapes me. He (I’m fairly certain that I at least have the gender correct) was discussing something else entirely but I realized it applied to my wanting to do all the things, so I stole the idea (as all great writers do) and twisted it to my own to share here. It is one part strategy and one part prioritization.

Here’s some background. I live in Utah, home to the likes of Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Shannon Hales, Larry Correia – all NYT Bestselling Authors that most folks have heard of even outside of Utah. Add to that, a massive amount of mid-level authors who are talented enough to make a living as a writer without the need to have an additional day job that pays the bills. Utah is also home to a multitude of writing conferences and other related events like Salt Lake Comic Con, Life the Universe and Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium, StoryMakers, League of Utah Writers, and Teen Author Bootcamp to name some of the big ones. This mecca of writing talent and opportunity means there are a LOT of events happening from single day workshops to free writing classes and author events through the public library system.

This is both good and bad. Let’s break them down for both those who attend and those who appear at these events.

For Writers

Arguably, there is far more good if you’re a writer who wants to learn or improve your craft.

Pro’s

  • Opportunities to learn – every weekend there’s an event where you can learn new skills or improve the ones you already have. This is not an exaggeration. Every. Single. Weekend. Especially in the spring – what others have referred to as “con season” – because there’s a conference or convention locally and regionally back to back for months starting in February and lasting all the way through into Summer.

Con’s

  • Money – face it, there is a downside financially when paying to attend all the things that are available. It’s the only con I could find… initially.

For Authors

I’m sure most authors will disagree with what I’m about to say so bear with me while I defend my arguments.

Pro’s

  • Opportunity to connect with readers. There’s really only one sure-fire way to make it big – write a story that people read and talk about with their friends who then also read it. They tell their friends and then everyone is reading your book. No one would argue with that. With today’s market, it is increasingly hard to get noticed amid all the new books released every day so connecting to readers directly through events and conferences is a great opportunity.
  • Opportunity to connect with other authors. Networking which fuels the old adage “It’s not what you know but who you know” is no different in the publishing industry than any other. The more connections you can make to other authors who can introduce you to agents or who are willing to blurb your book, the better your network grows. Conferences every weekend is a great way to meet and solidify relationships.

Con’s

  • Money – unless you’ve hit it big enough to be invited and paid for your appearance at a conference or convention, you’re looking at a lot of time and money to appear at conferences.
  • Over-saturation. Here’s where it gets controversial.

Make too many appearances and you become just another face in the crowd of “s/he’s always here” and people stop listening and stop caring. They start taking your presence for granted. What if you haven’t published a new book since the last conference you appeared at (whether it’s last year or last month)? If you aren’t talking about a brand new release in the last couple of months or have something brand new coming out right away, and people see you on panels and giving presentations over and over again… you aren’t going to leave an impression that you’re someone to watch.

What if you’re a mid-list author who has several successful books and name recognition? You want people to seek you out, thus limit your appearances. Why? Because then there is huge buzz about the fact that you’ll be there at the events you choose to attend and people will miss you in your absence at the ones you aren’t attending. Take Brandon Sanderson – he teaches at BYU where LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium) started over thirty years ago. He also lives in the same city where the event is held. It would be SUPER easy for him to arrange to be there every year but he doesn’t. Instead he is there every few years and it is a special treat when it happens.

Proposal

I propose that as an aspiring author, it behooves you to limit the appearances you make and be selective of the events you do. I know some will argue that you should say ‘Yes’ to every appearance once you become published and once you have more than one book to sell. But I hold true to the idea that writing a book that others will talk about is the best way to get name recognition and increase sales. So instead of spending so much time (and money!) attending conferences and seeking to make author appearances, spend that time writing the next book. Or polishing the one you just finished so it’s the best it can be before it hits the market. The career you better might just be your own.


Fall Conference 2016 Recap

What a weekend and what a crowning jewel of an event for this incredible year of the League of Utah Writers. As a committee, we faced many challenges. Biggest of which was having to change both dates and venues mid-year when it was announced that Salt Lake Comic Con was happening the same weekend the Fall Conference was also planned for.

We picked a new venue – with a price tag far higher than originally anticipated – and got to work. It was my first experience on a planning committee for an event this size and it amazes me the things we got done in the three months from our first meeting until the event itself. I was officially the vendor coordinator and kudos must be given to the incredible people who volunteered their time during the weekend to make sure things ran smoothly. They all helped me make it look effortless.

I took only random photos which speaks volumes to how busy I was the entire weekend. It was not my first time as a panelist but it was my first time doing solo presentations and I had a blast. It was humbling when both the room was full and people came up afterwards to either ask questions or tell me they were sorry they’d missed one because they’d heard it was great.

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Commemorating the event with badges for my collection

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Observing the Diversity Panel – which included three friends who did amazing jobs

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We may or may not have gotten a little lit after a very long day. I blame the wine guy at the restaurant who really knew his stuff!

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Best wine I’ve ever had!

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We were so hungry we devoured dinner before I could get a photo of how pretty it was. This is the devastation

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Sitting next to a fellow Infinite Monkey during a powerful presentation on the mindset of money. Had to snap a pic!2016-09-23-14-23-43

The very first panel I was ever on was at a League event and this guy was there. Now he’s a trusted colleague and a great friend. This is us right before the panel on Horror – our favorite subject!

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The “after party” playing makeshift version of Avalon – my new favorite game.

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Passing of the gavel at the end of the banquet. Capping off a great year and looking ahead to more greatness to come.

I’m so proud to be part of the League of Utah Writers – it is an amazing organization.


League of Utah Writers Fall Conference 2016

I’m excitedly preparing for yet another event that has taken a bunch of my time and which I should have said no to. But I couldn’t say no and I don’t regret any part of my involvement in the planning of this upcoming event. The League of Utah Writers has been around for over 80 years and this is the premiere event of the annual calendar. This year’s conference is being held in Provo, Utah September 23-24. It’s going to be a fabulous weekend and I’m scheduled as a presenter on both days of the conference.fallconfluwfinal

Because I’m a tad on the obsessive side when it comes to details (and I have mad skills with a spreadsheet) I got to put together the programming lineup after the committee picked the presentation proposals that would make up the conference. As a result, there is only one offering of the major class tracks during each hour. Which means if you’re there to learn about publishing, genre fiction, marketing, non-fiction or poetry you won’t have to miss anything. Craft classes are offered a couple of times an hour with lost of variety and we’ve got a sprinkling of self-development and other treats. Of course if you want a smorgasbord of everything I can’t really help you there other than to offer condolences since all the classes look fantastic.

The theme this year is “Write Here. Right now”. To support this we have a lounge planned where writers can rest, connect with each other, participate in word sprints, jot down their inspiration from a recent workshop or panel, or work on submissions for the flash fiction contest. In so many ways I wish I wasn’t part of the committee who will be responsible for running the event so I could sit back and enjoy as a full participant. I’m honored to be part of such a community that is going through a revitalization period focused on inclusion and community. Writing is a solitary activity but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s my schedule (subject to change of course…)

How to Scare Your Audience Panel – Friday 2:30PM

Short Stories: How and Why Presentation – Saturday 10:00AM

Maximizing Your Writing Time Panel – Saturday 11:00AM

Writing Groups 101 Presentation – Saturday 4:30PM

 

If you’re a local writer who is interested in attending, you can get details and register HERE.


The Truth In the Details

I wanted to title this “Learning to kill” but refrained from tempting the search engines and NSA quite so much. I’ve finally got time to recap the best things about recent appearances – namely World Horror 2016 and Spring Into Books.

World Horror was a convention rich in guests and very lean in attendance. It was a shame for the organizers but those of us who were there got unprecedented access to authors and other guests that normally would never happen. I’m not complaining that I’m now on hugging terms with greats like Kevin J Anderson after spending a convention weekend in Provo – we even talked politics and religion for an hour over drinks.

Best part of World Horror was the ballistics gel presentation by D.K. Goddard, a local author and publisher. He brought a lifelike slab of ballistics gel and let us all pretend to stab and maim it with weapons. All in the name of authenticity when we are writing action scenes. I learned that if you’re going to stab someone, it is much easier to push the knife into flesh than I anticipated and far more difficult to pull the blade out. Fully-engage-your-muscles difficult. Also, slicing someone’s throat – something that looks as easy as cutting through room temperature butter in the movies – takes great effort. It’s more like dragging the blade through six inches of crusty bread. If your weapon of choice is a hammer, you can do far more damage using the pointed side designed to extract nails than the blunt side. Here I am in the throws of intense research…

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Best take-away from this intense experience was realizing that the truth is in the details. It’s sufficient in my writing to say a character was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. But it’s much more intense to describe the sensations of what it feels like to wield the weapon. The lesson was invaluable and will be called upon in the future for certain.

A month later, at Spring Into Books, I got to meet an adorable eight year old who loves horror. (Shown here with permission from his mom.)

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I had the pleasure of teaching a presentation on writing for beginners, the last half of which we spent plotting an action scene where a mutant zombie destroyed a tank. We took that one sentence and showed how it happened rather than telling that it happened. It was both interactive and fun and I thrilled to see several attendees pause to take notes during the workshop. I love giving back and mentoring young writers. This annual event put on by the League of Utah Writers is a great place for young and old to find free workshops and meet local authors and I enjoyed being a part of it.


Spring Into Books

I’m teaching a free workshop on “Writing For Beginners” as part of  Spring Into Books this Saturday, May 28th. This is a free public event you won’t want to miss.

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This is a great event geared toward readers with extra fun things for writers, too. The main area will feature TONS of local authors with books to sell who love to talk to (and find new) readers. Family friendly with a children’s carnival and activities. If you’re a writer, there are workshops being taught all day – also free. I will have copies of both of my books available and would love to talk to anyone who loves to read.

I’m teaching at 3:45pm upstairs. If you’re local to the Salt Lake area, I hope to see you there!


World Horror Con 2016 Schedule

Here’s my schedule of appearances at World Horror next weekend.

Thursday, April 28th

2:00-3:00pm – Utah Horror (Come see how the horror scene has grown in Utah and where it’s going.)

8:15-9:15pm – Steampunk and Horror: A match made in hell (What is Steampunk Horror, how do you write it and how do you twist the two effectively.)

10:00-Midnight – Utah Horror Writers Party in the Con-Suite – Welcome to Utah!

Friday, April 29th

7:15-9:45PM – Book Signing

10:00-Midnight (Co-Hosting) League of Utah Writers Party in the Con-Suite – come mix and mingle with local authors

 

When I’m not making official appearances, I’ll be around – either manning a table for registration, selling books and talking about Utah Horror Writers Association, or answering questions about The League of Utah Writers.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have an official schedule of appearances at an event of this magnitude. It’s almost unreal but then I remember that I’m living my dreams… Hope to see you there!