You Just Have to Do It, Part the Second

 

 

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When I was shouldering my way into Geek Fest, April, one of my colleagues, encouraged me to donate a few copies of my book to the library, so that attendees could check them out.  Which is something I always intended to do, but never got around to, because of my shyness.  Another way I just “had to do it,” as Alys Arden said, but didn’t.

But with April’s encouragement, I did, and the cataloging department kindly had them ready in time for Geek Fest.

Of course, I earmarked a copy for my own branch that I manage.

That’s it above. One of my staff members put it on display. They were excited to finally see it.

“They could make a movie out of this!” my coworker Belami said.

(I think so too, but find the possibility unlikely.)

And now, all three copies of my book are checked out and there is even a waiting list!  I have to tell you, that makes you feel like a real author.

It was lovely to receive this support from my coworkers.  It’s encouraging.

That’s the thing about “just having to do it,” — it’s not all nerves and anguish.  It can be good too. You get support.  There are rewards. (Besides, you know, selling books.)   This is what I learned from this.

And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

So, if you are an indie author like me, you might look into donating a few copies of a book to your local library.  Particularly the first book in a series, if you have one.  It’s another way for people to discover your work.  If they like it well enough, they may be moved to buy your subsequent books.

If you work exclusively with e-books, you might look into the SELF-e platform libraries use.  Again, it’s a donation, but it’s a way to get noticed.

It’s up to the inclinations of individual libraries and librarians whether they collect indie authors or not.  Some libraries are very supportive of their local authors. Some are not.  But it can’t hurt to offer.

DON’T, however, try to sneak in a purchase request for your books as if you were just a regular patron.  We librarians can always tell, it smacks of desperation, and it just pisses us off.  Be above board and donate a few copies if you can.  If nothing else, they will go to the library book sale. You will get noticed and help the library earn a couple dollars.

 

You Just Have to Do It

I had a great time at the Geek Fest down at Main Library Saturday.  I sat on an author’s panel, and we had a really good talk, “Can Science Fiction inspire change in the real world?” (Spoiler: Yes.)

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Left to right, authors Claudia Gray, Brandon Black, Maurice Ruffin, myself, Zach Bartlett, moderator.

 

I met bestselling author Maurice Ruffin, author of WE CAST A SHADOW:

 

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Alys Arden was running the Tubby & Coo’s table, and she hand-sold my book! (Or tried to anyway.)

 

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Alys was a real team player Saturday, helping out and supporting other authors, like having an impromptu panel with Bryan Camp:

 

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Big shout out to Alys, whose third book in the Casquette Girls series, The Cities of Dead, just came out.  I appreciated her support Saturday.

Bryan’s second book, Gather the Fortunes, sequel to The City of Lost Fortunes, comes out later this month!

So I did have a really great time.  But the thing is, I had to force myself to do it.  Represent myself as an author allied with the library, who deserved to be there.

I have real issues with marketing my work.  I’m so introverted and socially avoidant, I quail at the thought of putting myself or my work out there, even if it’s just online. God forbid actually in public in front of real people.

But you have to do it.  No one’s going to read your books if they don’t know they’re there.

When my book was first published, I asked Alys, “How do you make yourself market your book?”

And she said, “You just have to do it.  You just have to put yourself out there.  It’s hard. But you just do it, and it gets easier.”

Well, I struggled and avoided it for a long time, but when I learned of Geek Fest, I thought, I have to be involved in this.  I thought, Hey, why aren’t I on that panel?

So I talked to the organizers, some of my colleagues at Main Library, and said, “Hey, I want to be on that panel at Geek Fest.”  And they said okay.

And it went well.  And there are rewards too:

 

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This is Bethany.  She came up to me after the panel.  I thought she was going to give me grief for trash-talking Laurel K. Hamilton.  (An unpopular opinion.)

But no. She said, “I’m Bethany. I work with your husband.  He gave me your book to read, and I loved it!”

Wow! My first time hearing from a fan out in the field. What an incredible moment.  Isn’t this why we write at all? To reach people, to be heard? Thank you, Bethany!

“She said, “I just wanted you to know.”  I offered her one of my cards with this website on it, and she said, “I have one, Sam gave it to me.”  So, hi Bethany! Great to meet you!  We talked about my follow-on book to Daughter of Atlas, which isn’t a straight sequel, but shows what happens elsewhere when Atlantis falls.  Which Bethany said was what she was curious about in a sequel. So that was wildly encouraging.

They say that’s the way indie authors build their fan base, one reader at a time.  The only way you can do that is by reaching out to them, both on and off-line.

So, if you are struggling with marketing your books, don’t be afraid.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Go ahead and shoulder yourself onto a panel at your local sci-fi con.  You never know who you might meet.

 

See You at Geek Fest

Tomorrow is both Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you) and Free Comic Book Day.  And to celebrate, New Orleans Public Library with have its third (I think) annual Geek Fest, a one-day mini-con of all things geek.  There will be vendors, a cosplay fashion show and workshop, gaming, snacks, and more. The Best Buy Teen Center makerspace will be open for everyone to play.

I’ll be on the Science Fiction Writers panel at 11:00 AM with other local authors.  The topic is , “Can sci-fi affect change in the real world?” What do you think?

Here is the schedule. There’s a lot going on!

GF Program Guide

Hope to see you there if you are in town!

Dungeons & Dreaming

Dreamed I was playing D&D again.  It wants to come back into my life.

My brother’s character, who was a bard of some type, had an actual animated, talking pile of garbage as some sort of familiar.

My character, who was a ranger veteran just back from the wars, said, “What the hell is this?”

Pete sniffed, “It’s a perfectly common magical construct.”

I said, “It’s a talking pile of garbage!”

Mouthy, too. It kept interrupting.

Our dad was playing, too, but he hasn’t played in decades, so he needed a lot of hand-holding.  We had another new player, too, a young lady I knew from work, I think.  She wanted to cosplay as her character, which, fine, but she was also being shy and creating a lot of drama about it. Which was a drag, but I was trying to give her a break because she was new.  Much as in real D&D, we were simultaneously our characters, and our actual selves.

Our milieu was a rambling, seedy subtropical city on the shores of a shallow sea, built on many islands.  Like a sweaty Venice.  (New Orleans in the future?)

Hopefully I can put some of this to use one day.

Probably not the pile of garbage, though.

 

SPFBO Update

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has reached its finals: the blogger/reviewers have chosen their 10 finalists, and all will read all to determine the winner.  Read about it here.

My book is not among them.  In fact it was cut during the first round of eliminations.

Ouch. That hurt.  But I have to admit that I seriously overestimated my chances on this thing.  There are many, many authors entered in the Blog-Off that are far more experienced than me.

The mini-reviw of my book on Team Weatherwax is here.  The reviewer (not sure who) said Daughter of Atlas has “pacing issues.”  Ugh.  That’s hard to hear. But no else who’s ever read or reviewed it (that I know of) has ever said that, so I guess it’s a matter of opinion.

My biggest disappointment from being cut so early, though, is that DoA didn’t get a cocktail made to memorialize it by Book Wol of Tome & Tankard.  I was so looking forward to that. There is a general cocktail for all the early losers here.

One thing I have noticed, is that most (I think eight out of ten) of the finalist books have more “painterly” covers than your usual indie-published books, with their Photoshopped covers.  It looks like the authors paid to have artists actually paint cover paintings for their books, or at least composit them in a more illustrative style than the usual photorealistic , CGI’d indie covers we are used to.  It makes the books more “professional” looking, that is, more like commercially published books.  It probably contributes a positive halo effect to the books.  They are appropriate to the genre, fantasy, and are what readers expect to see.

(Not that I am displeased by the cover of my book, or having second thoughts. I love the cover of DoA, and I have always received positive feedback from it. But it is something to keep in mind for future works.)

Author and YouTube book vlogger Quinn Buckland gave DoA a stellar review here.  Check it out. Thanks Quinn!

My interview by Michael Baker of the Thousand Scars Muse blog is here.  I did see a small sales spike from that, thank you Michael.

And I have a new review on GoodReads from XDesoto, here.

Well, there’s always next time.  My forthcoming book is science fiction, so I can’t enter SPFBO with that, but I will return to fantasy and to my series Atlantis Fallen in the future, so hopefully one day I will be able to enter the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off again.

Does anyone know if there is a similar contest for indie sci-fi?

Finally, let me extend my thanks to Mark Lawrence, who founded the Blog-Off, and to all the bloggers and reviewers, who are putting in an incredible amount of work on their own time, for love of reading and the genre, and also to all my fellow authors.  Good luck to all the finalists!

Dreams & Dragons

I had a wild dream about D&D last night. One of those all-consuming dreams that rocks my world. My dream life has been quiescent for several years, but it has come roaring back just in the last few months. Much of the dream is fragments now, but I thought I’d write down what I remembered. Maybe I’ll remember more as I write.

I had a longstanding gaming group for much of my adulthood; over twenty years we gamed together.  But some how over the last several years we just … stopped.  This dream was about that.

The dream was about a huge, epic D campaign that my old group played. A campaign that consumed our whole lives, that we ordered our lives around. Like the campaigns we played when we were young.

When I first woke up, I was sure this was a campaign we had actually played, but as I tried to remember, I realized, no, this was unique to the dream. A whole world in my dream. God, I wish I could remember it all!

The dream proceeded in stages, moving outward like the layers of an onion.

The first layer, we actually were the characters, living the adventure. We visited a lord’s halls and were feasting. We were there visiting as his guests, but we had come because we suspected something hinky was going on in his domain, and we were trying to find out what it was. We were pretending to be honored guests, but were actually there to spy on him. We attended a banquet where we bragged about our martial accomplishments and flattered the lord obsequiously to make him friendly to us. We were already at this point high-level characters and had fought many battles together, had many war stories and knew each other well.

Then the dream stepped out one level, and we were us, ourselves, my old core D&D group — myself, my husband, my bother, his roommate, our friends Charlie & Bill, etc. — playing that module. We snooped around the lord’s domain. His manor house was large and opulent, containing many rooms that were broken out on a kind of holographic map – the library, the women’s quarters. You would touch a room on the map and it would rise up as a holographic projection. Super-cool.  There was, of course, some kind of monster in the dungeons. More kind of Lovecraftian than standard D hack and slash. Shapeless, tentacles, malevolent. Yes, I am remembering things. Intense fighting and magic.

Then the dream stepped out again, and we were hanging and decompressing after the session, going over it as we used to do. It was good to see and play with our old friend Jonny again, who we lost touch with years ago. He was our Dungeon Master through all those years.  Strangely enough, we were still in the manor house, but it was us, the real people, hanging in a drawing room and processing.

Then the dream stepped out again, and it was us, now, our present-day selves, reminiscing about this campaign that had been so epic and transformative for us. I was specifically trying to recapture the magic at this point, looking over the campaign book. The campaign was contained in a thick hardback book, like the Ptolus campaign, with all the modules, maps, a bestiary and prestige classes, everything. And it was like a living book — it had printed pages, but then other pages came to life , showed animations or came off the page as holographic moving pictures. It was amazing. And we were saying to each other, “Remember when we did this, remember when we did that? Yeah, that was cool, that was great, we had so much fun.”

And I turned to my dear old friend Bill and I said, “Bill, how did we do this? How could we let this happen? How did we let this fall out of our lives? We had such a good time. It was such a big part of our lives, how could we let it slip away?”

It felt like a message from the deepest part of myself. It had that epic, mythic quality. Numinous quality.  I feel, this morning now, like, fuck writing. Fuck crafting. Fuck my job. I want to have a D&D campaign.

I wish I could remember more. Just fragments. There was a module called the Tomb of Ra. The milieu was sort of a desert milieu. But not a cheesy, Arabian Nights sort of milieu, even less Western. More like Dune, maybe? But D&D-level technology, with magic. More sort of Bronze Age. Not a howling desert, like the Empty Quarter, more arid scrubland, like Palestine maybe? People had tattoos, which were used in magic somehow. And there were magical dogs, wise and powerful dogs that people kept as familiars and used in magic somehow. But the dogs were alignment-neutral, the good guys and the bad guys both had them.

In the lord’s domain, the leaders in the town had parasites that were controlling their brains, that made them act according to some sinister plan.  Lovecraftian, as I said.

The campaign had a quality like the Dragonlance campaign, as I understand it, which my friends played before I joined; it starts with a rather quotidian module in a village, and then moves out and gets bigger and bigger until you’re in a war for the entire realm. A showdown between good and evil, very LOTR feel. Tents — many of the races and peoples were nomadic, and that brought a very different flavor to it from standard European medieval tropes. Gnolls, the default humanoid race seemed to be gnolls. Towering mountains to the north, that we adventured in for a while, looking for a vital artifact.

My brother Peter’s character was a kind of halfing, more like a kender. He was young and naive, who had been sent from a little country village to travel with a band of adventurers, to learn to fight, to overcome a monster or evil wizard that had threatened and dominated the village for generations. So he was very naive and clueless, first level, but he was a fighter after all, and he was a little scrapper — he was in the front rank and gave as good as he got every time. He earned tattoos that were warrior marks of distinction.

It’s a continual torture to me that I have this creative power in my dream state — I can create whole words, whole lived lifetimes, years of time, without even trying.  Which power I can barely access when I’m awake. Everyone does! Even if they don’t remember it upon waking.  Maddening!

But I really do have to ask myself that, what I cried out to Bill. How did we let this go? Dungeons & Dragons.  It was the best part of us in some ways. The most magical part.  And what to do about it now?

SPFBO 4 Begins!

Several of the authors, myself included, are running a 99c price promo. Check it out:

 

 

Author Ann Woodley created this video. Thanks, Ann!

Participating author Andrea Domanski put together this list of the participating authors.

M. D. Presley put together a tournament bracket for the blog-off, so readers can follow along, here.  Hah, that should be fun!

The SPFBO has a Facebook page, which seems like a good place to stay up on the action.

I only learned about SPFBO in the final rounds of the last contest, so I’m really not sure how all this is going to play out.  We will experience it together.  Fingers crossed!