Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Feeling Eerie

A sci-fi, fantasy and horror conference that I have attended more regularly than any other conference, EerieCon (run by the Buffalo Fantasy League), is coming up this weekend (May 2 to 4, 2014) just outside of Niagara Falls, New York.

This year I'm one of the featured guests of honor, along with David B. Coe.

Here's a look at the Programming I'll be involved in:

Friday May 2nd

8 PM - People and Things Auction.  I'll be bringing a few fun things (and special surprises) to auction off this year. A couple of years ago, I auctioned off a chance to get killed by Peter O'Mallick, the hero of my forthcoming novel, I, Death in a specially written short story. (That became Collateral Damage (Kobo / Kindle), a stand-alone story in my "Sin-Eater" universe)

10 PM - Late Night Talk Show. Hosted by Robert J. Sawyer (with his sidekick Ed McClink), it'll be fun to see my friend Rob back in the host chair. I'll be bringing my own sidekick, Barnaby Bones onstage when it's my turn for a round of shameless self-promotion.

Saturday May 3rd

11 AM - You Do What for Fun? (Panel). Every author has a hobby. What is your hobby? Have you found a way to use it in your books?

3 PM - How Have eBooks Changed Publishing? (Panel). With the ease of people publishing their own novels/stories, how has traditional publishing changed?

4 PM - Did You Forget that You Had a Book to Write? (Panel). Have you ever gotten lost in your research? How do you make sure that you keep on schedule yet still make sure that you are still accurate scientifically or historically?  (I'll be moderating this one)

5 PM - What Line's Mine? (Panel / Gameshow). Our most popular panel; hosted by Amy Kauderer and crew.  Can guests recognize their own writings? (This one is always my favourite and filled with a ton of laughs, particularly when Amy pulls a quote from your writing that you can't remember writing)

Sunday May 4th

10 AM - Disney: Menance or Benefactor? (Panel). Will Disney help or hurt the Star Wars franchise? Audience participation is expected.

11 AM - Personal Ghost Stories (Panel) This hotel is supposedly haunted. What encounters with ghosts have you or a friend had? What has made you question whether or not there are ghosts? (I'll be moderating)

Noon - My Journey Through Self-Publishing & Traditional Publishing (Presentation). I'll be doing a one hour exploration of my journey through both traditional and self-publishing, outlining the benefits of embracing both, as well as some of the interesting challenges encountered along the way.

EerieCon is a place where, every year, I get to hang out with so many awesome sci-fi, fantasy and horror folks, network with amazing writers and great people who have a way of making everyone feel welcome. EerieCon is where I first met my friends Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta along with so many other great writers, played poker with Larry Niven and met Joe Haldeman (clutching my well-worn paperback copy of The Forever War for him to sign).

I went to Levack District High School, which was a small high school in Ontario's mid-north. With a population of just under 300 students our motto was "small but powerful" - I feel the same way about EerieCon, and am so looking forward to spending the weekend there.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Planning On Peaking

I'm planning on peaking this weekend.

Pikes Peaking.

I'll be one of the Conference Faculty at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, being held in Colorado Springs, CO April 25th to 27th.

Apart from getting to spend some time with an amazing group of writers and other presenters and speakers, I'll be leading the following workshops/talks:

FRIDAY:  My Journey Through Traditional & Self-Publishing

A look at my journey through traditional and self-publishing, how success in one area has lead to opportunities and success in another and the importance for writers to embrace both as they build their careers and grow readerships globally.

SATURDAY: More Things In Heaven & Earth

An examination of the importance of embracing all options as a writer - traditional publishing plus self-publishing as well as why it is critical for writers to ensure their work is available in as many different retail locations (both online and bricks and mortar) as possible to reach the broadest possible audience. The title takes it's cue from an oft-quoted phrase I use:  "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreampt of on the shores of the world's longest river."

SUNDAY:   Have Kobo, Will Travel

An exploration of the global opportunities available to authors who publish to Kobo. An exploration of where Kobo Writing Life authors are from and where, globally their books have sold. A look at details of what sells well in what global markets and how authors are leveraging KWL to grow new audiences in Kobo's 190 countries and through their thousands of retail partners around the world.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Getting Publishing With Michell Plested

I met Mike Plested a few years ago when World Fantasy Con was held in Toronto.

I listened to him as he participated in a couple of panels, and then I had the good fortune to chat with him for a while at the ChiZine party one of the evenings.

Robert Runte, Michell Plested, Emily Craven, Mark Leslie

Ever since meeting Mike and talking shop with him and a few other wonderful writer-types into the wee hours of the night, I started listening to his Get Published podcast.

Mike is the author of Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero (which I was delighted to learn is being followed up this year with Book Two), and the editor of A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil. Apart from being a brilliant author, he also shares great information with the writing community on his podcast.

Being a big fan of Michell's wonderful podcast, and having enjoyed so many great conversations that he has on his show, I was delighted to be a guest (wearing both my Kobo hat and my author hat) on his show for Episode 133.

We talk about Kobo Writing Life as well as my own experiences as a writer. Fun stuff.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writers of the Future

I just got back from five days in Los Angeles at the annual Writers of the Future celebration.

Being a writer of speculative fiction, I have long known about the awards and have even entered a couple of stories there (before I had made enough pro sales to disqualify me from entering again) - and that's one of the great things about WOTF. It is designed to provide a platform (and launching pad) for beginning writers.

WOTF Vol 30 - Kobo Link

Created in 1983 by L. Ron Hubbard as a way of discovering and nurturing new talent in science fiction, fantasy and horror, the competition has no entry fee and winners who are published received pro rates and a chance to win the grand prize of $5000. Past winners of the contest have gone on to win every major science fiction award (the Hugo, the Nebula, the John W. Campbell, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus Award) some have also gone on to win mainstream literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Newbery and the Pushcart Prize.

The stories are read blind by a panel of distinguished judges who are a veritable who's-who of the biggest most influential people in speculative fiction.

But beyond winning, what I learned more about this past week was the intensive five day master-class workshops lead by several of the biggest names in sci-fi. These workshops teach them so many of the skills that are important to a writer's success and were held in the Author Services office which is located on Hollywood Boulevard just down the street from where all the big glamour Hollywood action happens.

Me getting out of the limo-van at the red carpet

I was most impressed at the afternoon where Galaxy Press publisher John Goodwin spent four hours working with the students on their PR and self-promotion skills, helping them refine their "story pitch" when speaking with media and providing them all with professional, high quality media kits (which included pictures and video of them on the red carpet and on stage receiving their prestigious awards - similar packages were sent out to each author and illustrator's respective local media).

The buzz and business of the red carpet

I mean, my non-fiction publisher, Dundurn, is great and has a fantastic author-relations program, newsletter and digital eduction program and wonderful publicists - but wow, I've never seen a publisher do so much for beginning writers, and doubt I will ever see an anthology give such an amazing promotional platform for its contributors.

But let's get back to the red carpet, shall we.

A long-shot of when I first walked onto the stage for my talk

Yes, the awards ceremony, which were held on Sunday April 13, were held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, had all the glamour and ritz of a major Hollywood movie premiere. (The book nerd in me was, admittedly, overwhelmed with excitement and a special thrill - THIS is the type of buzz that should exist more for books)

There was a fantastic dinner followed by a red carpet entrance with buzz and media and a 3 hour gala event with musical and dance performances and black tie celebrations.

I was delighted to be invited to be a guest speaker at the event and was asked to talk about the future of publishing. I surprised the winners (13 writers and 12 illustrators) with Kobo Aura HD's preloaded with their newly published anthology.

Cool to see my name spelled correctly - and my tie is even straight!

(I have to pause to say that, though I have done speaking engagements in four different countries and on all types of stages, this was the first time I had the pleasure of being able to read my speech from a teleprompter - pretty darned cool!)

I was delighted to speak alongside people like Nancy Kress (who presented the Writer's Digest Award), Keynote Speaker Leland Melvin (Aerospace Engineer and NASA Astronaut) as well as so many amazing NYT Bestselling authors: Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason, Eric Flint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, Robert J. Sawyer and Dave Wolverton.  WOW! (Yes, I geeked out just a little, several times that evening and throughout the week when I got to hang out with many of these wonderful folks)

Here is the full video of the WOTF 2014 Awards - (I appear a little after 42:00 minutes and speak for about 5 minutes) - [EDIT: The video of just my speech - a little over 5 minutes, is here]

Below is just my talk about the Future of Publishing

Because I was set to go on stage right after Orson Scott Card received his Lifetime Achievement Award (which starts at 36 minutes), I got to watch his acceptance speech from the side of the stage.

Oh yeah, and right after the awards, I met Nancy Cartwright, the actor who does the voice for Bart Simpson. Ay Carumba! That was pretty darned cool.

Though she did the voice, which was cool, Nancy didn't have a cow when I asked for a picture

The Wilshire Ebell Theatre, which apparently was standing-room only, holds about 1200 people. And afterwards, most of the folks from the theatre gathered in the ballrooms, art galleries and courtyard of the Ebell. At this gala reception, all the writers and illustrators signed copies of the book. It was amazing to see such a gigantic lineup of people waiting to get autographs. It took me a full hour to made the circuit and get everyone's signatures. What an amazing experience for these author (for several this was their very first book signing experience - pretty awesome!)

The whole Writers of the Future was an amazing experience and the good folks from Author Services (the agency representing the literary, theatrical and musical works of L. Ron Hubbard) and Galaxy Press (publisher of Hubbard's fiction) were exceptional hosts and were so incredibly gracious and supportive of not just the winning authors and illustrators, but of all their guests.  (I was quite impressed with the amazing collection in their library of all of the books from past winners and esteemed judges).  The judges and past winners themselves were, in that same spirit, particularly generous of their time, wisdom and knowledge -- I have to say the "pay it forward" sentiment that was continually at the forefront was quite spectacular.

These folks certainly know how to promote and encourage great writing and creative achievement and it was an honour and a pleasure getting to spend time helping celebrate the amazing new talent that will help continue to shape the field of speculative fiction.