May 25, 2016

BookCon Recap

This is a bit overdue. But I put so much time into prepping for BookCon everything I put off came back to double wham me.  Regardless.

BookCon was....well, not at all like I thought it would be.

I mentioned I wanted to use it for professional writing industry stuff - networking, feeling out publishers, and so on.  BookCon is, after all, attached to the Book Expo of America which is a publishing industry event. And while I had a suspicion last weekend wasn't the best place for it, I still wanted to give it a whirl. I was excited about the author guests.

Things sorta....derailed from the beginning.
The event app and 'how to' articles people shared mentioned huge book hauls. Not that I minded that. (I followed advice and brought a carry on suitcase - I needed it to bring back all my new books, as you can see.) But I was in line at 630 and learned that people had been there since 4 - signs of fans and not professionals. Indeed, I meet two parent/child couples in line. The kids were super excited to see YA authors. The parents were just drivers.

I felt a little bad for one dad - he drove from Little Rock to Chicago and his only full day in the city was at Book Con. He was so surprised to learn 'adult authors' would be there too. I have to give him parenting kudos.

The actual convention was...well...a mess. There were a ton of ARCs and galleys publishers gave away, but much of it was gone by 11. And the line was so long that even though doors opened at 10, you might not have gotten in till 10:30. A lot of the event was long lines at big publishers (which I already knew I had to be agented for and thus ignored) or mini-long lines of 20 min to get the chance for other prizes. Not to mention, I stood in line 40 minutes to get Sarah J Maas's autograph.  (It was kinda cute, the young teens behind me squealing 'I see her, I see her!')

Still, Reader Gwen was decently happy. My feet were aching by noon, but by signing up for newsletters I got arcs and small press authors were giving away books too. Most of what I was given however wasn't speculative. Who knows if I'll touch them. But I did find good deals on purchase prices.

Writer Gwen was little miffed. Lots of teens running around - pushing to get into lines and ducking under barriers. BookCon was about readers, not authors.  I did not meet my goal of passing out 25 cards - I passed out 3. And I gave my pitch once. All that work I put into pitches and queries and synopses...I'll just have to use it for the upcoming #PitMad

I didn't have a total bust of a day though - I talked to one publisher for a half hour, got a good understanding of how they worked and they'd read my manuscript for Stars if I'd send it to them. I found an author co-op, for small pub and indie authors, who pool funds and resources to promote their books. I found a publishing house linked to charity - who strives to provide copies of their books to classes for lessons - that resonated with what inspired me to write Stars. And I found another author whom I think I outlined his digital marketing campaign for...dang, he hasn't even sent me that coupon code for his book.

What really caught my eye though was the quality of books. You could tell what was self-published and what wasn't - for the most part. There were a few at the co-op I didn't realize were self-published until I was told. It's not just cover designs, but the finish, the binding, the paper. Self-pub tend to be glossy finish with nothing on the spine, stark white and thin paper. I found myself going through small press booths and just touching books, marveling at the physicality of them. Matte covers in particular. Some of them had a slight fuzziness to the touch. It helped me visualize how I want Stars to be.

All in all, it was a good experience. I'm glad I went. Will I go next year? Probably not. It's in NYC.

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May 23, 2016

Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

Goodness, it's been awhile since I've done one of these. I'm so bad. But brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish, here's 10 Books I Feel Differently About Now Compared to Then.

  1. Twilight Saga - I remember finding the first one in borders on a shopping trip with my HS librarian after a fundraiser we ran. I remember reading all of these books, quickly and close to their publication dates. I don't remember particularly liking them as books, just liking them as reads, but now I can't actually stand them. I think it's because once I left HS, I understood just how warped Bella and Edward's relationship was.  

  2. The Hunger Games (the series) - This one is quite the opposite from Twilight - I like it more now. I remember being not that impressed reading them. Book 2 was very similar to Book 1, Book 3 was a sideline story. What's changed my mind has been two things that I've mentioned before - the movies and how the story resonated with a Venezuelan classmate.

  3. The Black Cauldron book coverThe Chronicles of Prydain - When I first read these as a kid, I loved the adventure. It's a great story based on Celtic legends that follows the old tales more closely than any other I've read. My reread as an adult still made me love them, but I was shocked by a few things. There was more violence than I remembered. And it's not an adventure, it's about maturing. Not just growing up and being responsible, but finding wisdom. Dang, the whole first book is about career hopping and learning how the lessons of a craft can alter how you live your life. It resonated better with 24 year old me for some reason.

  4. 1776 - History is stuffy, and boring, and a 'dad thing'. And then Peace Corps came, I had free time, and I read this. I still am not a history buff, but I can't say this book didn't have some entertainment value.

  5.  Lord of the Rings- I remember reading these and loving them. To the point where I almost did an 8th grade book report on the Simirillain. I'm super glad my dad made me read the series before I could see the movie, because since then the movie has ruined them for me. Tolkien's prose is not a style I like reading - lots of tangents - and the movie is so much faster to get through. Still love it, but I no longer actively recommend it.

  6. Enchanted Forest Chronicles - I loved these in elementary school. A princess who would rather stay with the dragon then get rescued? Whose trusty weapon is a frying pan? Yes please! Half my childhood forests were the Enchanted Forest. Now however? I barely think about these books. They're only here because I went through my Goodreads list for this post XD

  7. Morlock Night - I remember when I read this for geek cred. I had heard all about it - the first book ever categorized as steampunk. And for that, I loved it. Until I was done and I realized it was a bit of a mess. Too many pieces moving. But it did, I think, help me realize why that despite my love of steampunk I have yet to find a steampunk novel I actually like - I'm more in love with the aesthetics and themes and ideas. The genre if you will than the plot of it. I like the openness of it - just like how Hogwarts!AUs are now fanfiction staples.

  8. Anvil of Tears - This is one of those books I'm not sure how I got. Probably in one of those flashdrives we passed around in Peace Corps. I remember liking it when I read it, but the more it sits in my head the more I admire it and keep thinking I really, really need to find the sequel.

  9. Artemis Fowl - I fell in love with these books as a kid. A 12 yo captures faeries to steal their gold in an effort to restore his family to it's former glory. I just liked that fact that the FMC was a kick ass military woman - in fact the first of her kind. I read the series several times. But now, I'm kinda meh about them. Part of it I think is the later books are no longer as interesting, not was well thought out, and part of it is I think when I reread them a few years back they struck me as super young.

  10. 1984 - I read this book for my government class in high school. Pick it myself for a book report. But I wasn't trilled with it - it was something I was reading partially for the lit cred of reading it, partially because my Dad liked it. I've never reread it either. But there are still parts of it - particularly the idea of doublethink - that have stayed with me for years. Slowly this book's ranking in my mind has been rising.

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May 14, 2016

A View That Lacks Stars - BookCon Prep

I've put all this work into synopses and pitches and query letters and a whole other stuff for 'just in case my dreams came true a publisher/agent is interested' scenarios at BookCon. I figure I should share it here so someone sees it if the other scenario happens. The 'I talked to a ton of people and no one liked it' one.  Thus, here is a portion of my Stars Packet.

Trilutha is a modified human, born with wings to work for Spire on its colonized planet. When Spire’s CFO, Allistar Mar, decides to marry her, no one can stop him. Trilutha becomes a child bride at 15, ripped from all she loves to live on Gibson Space Station.

Colby Apex is brilliant and stifled, cooped up on a space ship with his dad, Jackson. Abusive and paranoid, Jackson keeps a tight leash on Colby who dreams of his 18th birthday when he can finally set off on his own and go to university. Things turn difficult when he realizes his dad may never let him go.

Trilutha and Colby fall into a desperate friendship, haunted by Allistar's past murders of his previous wives and Colby's horrified realization of Trilutha's home life. Just as they take the plunge into love, Colby gives Trilutha a gift that links him to the recent death of someone she knows.  Add in Jackson's orders to kill one of Trilutha's few friends and neither of them no longer knows where they stand with each other.
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May 13, 2016

Author Business Cards at BookCon

BookCon logoI really wanted to bring author business cards to BookCon. I had this whole pretty set up on VisitaPrint, with a mock cover and everything. Except I kept putting off ordering the cards until I had my pitch done so I could put it on the back.

Actually, having as many people look at my pitch as I did was probably the wrong thing to do. 10 people give you 10 micro line edits and your driven crazy with the details. I noticed the same with my 250 word synopsis too.

Regardless, I didn't settle on a pitch until last night. I really should have gone to my sister first - I tend to prioritize her opinions anyway. She's the first to rip my skin and the first to pat my head typically.

What this means was my business cards had to be of the same-day printing variety. Double the cost, but oh well. There were other issues. Namely, I could only have them be one sided. Which meant I couldn't put the pitch on the back. All that waiting for nothing! I could have at least just did the cover and ordered them last week!

So today was a right mess with the woman at Office Depot sending me proofs throughout the day. There was no online system for me to play with a template, design, and positioning myself. In fact, there was no template at all. I gave her vague things like "image on the left" and "real name in the bottom corner" and then we got into a back and forth game for about four hours worth of e-mails as I edited proofs.

At least, at the end of it, I do have business cards. I'm not happy with them, but content, and beginning to think ordering 100 was a bit ambitious.

same-day business cards from Office Depot

But I must promote myself more! In writing and life! So my goal is to give away a quarter of them. And if some of them go to future blog followers instead of potential agents/editors, well that's alright too I guess.

Onward to tomorrow and lots and lots of pitch practice.
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May 11, 2016

So, my present job is a lot of website writing. My current project is an overhaul of pages about a continuing medical educational program at a local health care group. I go through a lot of copy. As I'm also intensively editing and hyper focused on word counts (a 250 word synopsis of Stars was harder to put together than I thought) in the writing part of my life, I'm finding this easy.

It's kinda cool actually, using things I've learned from a hobby about trimming word count and keeping clarity in the money-making job. But every once in awhile I come across a sentence I desperately want to fix but know, impossibly, that it's correct.

[Co] must be able to document that it owns the copyright for or has received permission for use of or is otherwise permitted to use copyrighted materials within the CME activity on the Internet.
 Ew, jargon and technical writing. I wanna add commas, but then phrases are off. I'll just have to settle for rewrites of entire sections for the laymen. Cuz no one reading these pages will be lawyers.
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