MileHiCon 50

I just updated my appearances page, but I figured I’d throw the information here on the front page in case people only look here or only follow my RSS feed.

I’ll be at MileHiCon 50 from October 19th through the 21st. Here’s my schedule as I’m aware of it at the moment:

  • All weekend: Author’s Row — Second Floor Lobby — I’ll have a table where you can swing by and get a copy of Griffin’s Feather or have me sign a copy you already have in hand or just chat with me for a bit.
  • Friday, 3PM: Mesa Verde A — Pantsing, Grid Paper, or the I-Ching: Many roads to plots
  • Friday, 9PM: Taphouse & Kitchen — Writers Night Mixer
  • Saturday, 2PM: Wind River A — Soundtracks That Soar
  • Saturday, 4PM: Bristlecone — Homebrewers, Vintners & Imbibers Meetup

I hope to see loads of familiar faces, plenty of new faces, and make lots of friends while there over the weekend. I’m really looking forward to this weekend as this is one of my “home cons” where travel is easy, the hotel is good, and the people are always fantastic!

Griffin’s Feather Book Signing

Griffin's Feather CoverHey everyone. I’ve been silent for a while here mainly because I haven’t made much to post about. Things are going smoothly on Modern Mythology book #2, and I’m almost ready to submit it to WordFire Press. However, this post is about Griffin’s Feather! I have my first public book signing lined up at the downtown Colorado Springs Hooked on Books location. I’d love to see lots of familiar and new faces there at the event.

Details:

Date: Saturday, September 8th

Time: Noon to 3 PM

Location Hooked on Books, Downtown Colorado Springs

Address: 12 E. Bijou, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

If you’re so inclined, you can RSVP to the signing event on Facebook, but it’s not required.

Hope to see you there!

The Myths and Legends Fantasy Storybundle

I am incredibly honored to have Griffin’s Feather included in the latest Story Bundle! Kevin J. Anderson has chosen my novel, along with many others, to be in this bundle. I’m joined by some great names and luminaries in the fantasy genre in this bundle. There are fantasy stories of all sorts here. If your thing is Myths and Legends, then this bundle is for you!

You can find the bundle at: http://storybundle.com/fantasy

There are thirteen books covering classic fantasy, epic quests, urban fantasy, humorous fantasy, lit-RPG, sea monsters, ancient curses, and (of course) saving the world!

The authors you can find in this bundle are: Cat Rambo, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Jody Lynn Nye, M.L. Buchman, J.T. Evans (that’s me!), Christopher Katava, Stefon Mears, Alex Singer, Meyari McFarland, J.D. Brink, and Linda Nagata, and there’s also the Undercurrents anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

If you don’t know how these fabulous Story Bundles work, you get the initial offering of books for a mere $5. If you bump your price to at least $20 total (that’s an additional $15) you get the entire bundle of thirteen books! That’s 13 fabulous books for $20! I don’t know where you can get a better deal. To sweeten the pot a bit, you can even donate some of your purchase price to a non-profit (Challenger Learning Centers for Space Science Education in this case). Win! Win! Win!

Better hurry, though. This bundle will only be around until May 30th. Then, like magic, it *poof* goes away!

Recommendations for Running Professional Conferences

Professional ConferenceThis blog post is coming out of several requests from several different angles on how to run a professional conference. Instead of delivering a custom response to each person (which would take a considerable amount of time), I’ve made things pretty generic here, and I hope each person out there that might need this information finds it useful. If you have your own experiences or advice others might find helpful, please drop a comment.

First off, a little about me. I’ve been involved in a volunteer capacity at seven different Pikes Peak Writers Conferences. I’ve assisted at a handful of other writing-based conferences. I’ve also attended roughly 30 different conferences for both writing and in my various Day Jobs. My volunteer positions ranged from lower-levels to keeping an eye on things and helping out in major ways. I’ve seen pitfalls, successes, great conferences, and rough ones.

The point of this information is to assist those people out there running conferences get a grasp on the big things, the minutia, the traps, and the easy parts. This is, by no means, the end-all, be-all guide to how to do everything. Every conference is different and each one has special needs. I’m going to try to keep things as generic as possible. This should allow the larger audience to benefit from what I’ve seen and learned.

Definitions

  • Staff: The people running the show. These can be paid staff or volunteers.
  • Faculty: The people presenting in sessions. This includes keynotes, guests of honor, industry specialists, area experts, agents, and editors.
  • Attendees: People that have given you money to be there.
  • Venue: Where everything happens.
  • Venue Staff: People responsible for the venue, but not the event. Typically, these are hotel employees.
  • Session: A classroom-style setting where attendees learn.
  • Presentation: A single faculty member. Maybe two, if it’s a “tag team” style presentation.
  • Panel: Multiple faculty members speaking in a single session about a topic.
  • Moderator: The person that gives announcements, introduces the faculty member(s) in a presentation, keeps track of time, and then steps aside other than to remind the faculty member(s) of how much time is left in the session.
    • In the case of a panel, the moderator asks questions, guides the conversations, but largely allows the faculty to speak in fair amounts of time.

Venue

The venue is the place (or places) where everything happens. Usually you pay for access to these locations, but sometimes you’ll get lucky and land a venue (like an outdoor park) for free. However, there may be permits you’ll need to get for these free venues. Check with the local municipality on these public resources.

  • Make sure all venues are available for planned events, and that those venues are informed about your plans to use their facilities. This is pretty easy with the paid venues because you know you have to give them money for the venue and they should put it on their schedule. However, if the venue lands in the free category, then make sure there’s not a curfew (if an outdoor venue), or a closing time (such as with a library) that will conflict with your plans.
  • For the free venues, don’t just show up and expect resources to be available. Call and arrange things before you put things in your schedule, on your map, or in your programming.
  • Make sure all areas of the venues you plan to use are accessible to those people with physical disabilities. If in a hotel, this is usually already taken care of because they have to be compliant with ADA laws. If your venue is in an older part of a city that predates escalators, elevators, required wheelchair ramps, and such, then make sure to mention that on your web site, in your registration form, and everywhere else possible. Don’t wait for attendees to give you money, show up, and then not be able to partake in what you have to offer. This will only lead to an upset attendee and a potential loss of revenue because you had to refund the registration fees.
  • Make sure each room for a session is large enough to hold your anticipated attendees. If you’re doing a “single track” set of sessions (meaning all attendees are in the same room at the same time), the room for the single track needs to be large enough for all attendees to be comfortable in. (More on handling multiple track scenarios in the “Programming” section below.)
  • You need a map of your venues in the program guide. If it’s a single venue, then a single map (or one per floor in use at the venue) is adequate. If it’s multiple locations, then a map of the pertinent parts of the city are needed.
    • Speaking of maps, make sure they are on the web site, in the program guide, and include nearby, local attractions and popular places to eat.

Staff Members

  • Conference Director
    • Buck stops here.
    • Ensures everyone else is on top of things.
    • Coordinates with venues.
    • Negotiates a “con rate” with local hotels.
    • Works with the city (if necessary) for any permits.
    • Puts out word in the local community about the event for the purpose of collecting coupons, tourist events, other local events, sites of interest, etc..
  • Programming Coordinator
    • Report to the Conference Director.
    • Recruits faculty, agents, editors, etc..
    • Coordinates who is teaching what session.
    • Coordinates what room sessions are in.
    • Creates the con schedule for sessions.
    • Collects bios and headshots for all speakers.
  • Faculty Coordinator
    • Reports to the Programming Coordinator.
    • Arranges for hotel, flights, travel for out of town faculty.
  • Transportation Coordinator
    • Reports to the Faculty Coordinator.
    • More specifically is responsible for getting faculty from the airport to the venue and back again. This person usually recruits a team of drivers as well as doing some driving themselves.
  • Program Coordinator
    • Reports to the Programming Coordinator.
    • Responsible for putting together the bios/headshots into the program.
    • Responsible for putting the schedule into the program.
    • Responsible for arranging/selling advertising space in the program.
  • Handout Coordinator
    • Reports to the Programming Director
    • Gathers all handouts from all faculty and compiles them into a single document.
    • This document can be made available for a free PDF download off the web site or be sold in printed version or both.
    • The front cover of the handout document should be branded with the conference logo and year.
  • Registrar
    • Reports to the Conference Director.
    • Handles all registration issues.
    • Handles printing and assembly of badges.
    • Should be in charge of getting the registration packets stuffed with the bonus goods, program, schedule, handouts, badges, etc..
  • Admin Director
    • Reports to the Conference Director.
    • Right-hand person to the Conference Director.
    • Keeps track of deadlines, responsibilities, tasks, and goals of all team members.
    • Ensures everything gets done on time.
  • Survey Coordinator
    • Reports to Programming Director.
    • Check the pulse of your attendees. Do this via session feedback forms (you don’t want a bad speaker back, and you definitely want the good ones to return via invite from you.)
    • Do this via overall conference feedback forms (they can go in the registration packets).
    • Do this via an online survey (Survey Monkey or others) to your attendees AND faculty. You’ll want a different survey for each type of person. They’ll have different perspectives and feedback to give.
    • If possible, do a survey for each session given. This will allow you to know what topics and faculty your current (and therefore, future) attendees want to see.
  • Bookstore Coordinator
    • Reports to the Conference Director.
    • Takes books in (via commission if you do that).
    • Recruits an assistant or three to assist with sales.
    • Arranges the bookstore.
    • Runs the bookstore.
    • Orders books for sale (if necessary).
    • Returns unsold books to distributors or those that did a commission.
    • Keeps track of all paperwork (commission sheets), finances, money in, money out, etc.
    • Give information and money to the Conference Director.
  • Pitch Coordinator (if necessary)
    • Reports to the Programming Director.
    • Ensures that venues are available for pitching.
    • Ensures agents/editors aren’t teaching at the same time as they are teaching a session.
    • Provides specific pitch times to attendees that have signed up for a pitch… or keeps track of the signup sheet.
    • Handles changes in pitch appointments when attendees give up their slots or desire something different.
  • You may have other positions crop up as you mature and grow, but these are the basics.
    • As you add new staff positions, document what their range of responsibilities are, who they report to, deadlines, and who they need to coordinate with. This should be added to the existing (you have one, right?) master SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) document.

Program

The program should contain the following sections:

  • Table of Contents
  • Brief history of the conference and/or Director’s Note
  • General Schedule (just list days/times, no specifics)
  • List of Staff w/ positions
  • Map
  • Special Events
  • Keynote (Guest of Honor) headshots and bios
  • Special Guests (such as agents/editors) headshots and bios
  • Faculty headshots and bios
  • Detailed Schedule
    • This will be the bulk of your program, especially if doing multi-track sessions.
    • Include date, time, location (building and room), title, faculty involved, and a brief summary of the expected content.
  • Sponsors/Supporters Page
  • Code of Conduct
  • Scattered throughout the program will be advertisements (if you do this)

Web Site / Social Media

You need a web site! Period. Full stop. Important sections of your web site should include:

  • Overall “about” page
  • News (preferable with an RSS option)
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Location and Directions
  • Faculty Listing (with headshots and bios)
  • Planned Workshops
  • Special Events
  • Policies
    • Code of Conduct
    • Non-Discrimination Policy
    • Refund Policy
    • Bookstore Consignment Policy
    • Age Limitations (if any)
  • History

You also need social media to get the word out. There are whole books written on this, so I’m just touching the basics. Unless you have a large social media staff or a marketing firm on your side, limit yourself to these three “big hitters” in the social media world:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

What should you post? Mostly announcements and deadlines and changes.

  • Announcements of newly signed faculty
  • Announcements of last-minute changes to faculty if the faculty was doing a special event like a pitch session or some other “one-on-one” mentoring of attendees.
  • Announcements of new sessions added.
  • Deadlines for registration fee increases
  • Deadlines for “last chance” to register
  • Regularly announce the date of the upcoming conference.
  • If this is a recurring (usually annual) conference, once the dates for NEXT YEAR are determined, drop those on your social media, but clearly mark it to avoid confusion.
  • Inspirational messages to keep readers’ attention.
  • Photos of the venue, faculty, staff, and key attendees.
  • Success stories of past attendees and what they’ve accomplished since the last event.
  • Announcements of special events when they are added and/or sold out.

Registration

My advice here is to outsource your registration process to a third party. Yes, it will cost you a percentage of your revenue, but it will save you hundreds of hours of creating your own process. There’s also security involved. Some people simply won’t put their credit card into an unknown web site.

Here are some resources for you:

While I’m on the topic of some people not wanting to do online credit card purchases, I want to warn you away from the “complex interactions” with attendees. In other words, make a simple system for payment and registration and everyone uses it. It’s not worth your time and trouble to meet someone at a coffee shop to pick up a money order and then attempt to tie that payment into your registration system. If a potential attendee only trusts their local grocery story with their credit card, then have them buy a pre-paid gift card (Visa or MasterCard) for the proper amount at the grocery store. Then they can use this card on your online site. If someone wants to be difficult, put the difficulty on them, but still be as helpful as you can.

Programming and Scheduling

This is probably the single item that will consume the most time. You need to know what faculty you’re going to have, what those individuals are comfortable talking about (solo or on a panel), what topics you’ll cover as a whole, and where each session is going to be. There’s also the consideration of not booking someone for 3 sessions in a day and zero for the other days of the conference. I also highly recommend not booking someone for back-to-back sessions. This makes things rough on the faculty. Incredibly rough.

You need software to assist with all of this. There are existing sites that can help you out. They’re not free, but they are worth every penny. These sites can help you track bios, headshots, contact information, scheduling, rooms, time slots, and so on. They’ll even help keep you from double booking a faculty member! Here are some sites that you can leverage in this area:

The key to this area is communication. When you’ve slated a faculty member for a session, let them know right away. If things change, let them know that as well. If they have desires for teaching a particular type of session or for having an informal “Koffee Klatch” style meeting with attendees, work with that as well. At the end of the day, the faculty must know what they are doing before they arrive.

Registration Packets (aka: Goodie Bags)

Registration packets come in two flavors: personalized and generic. The personalized packets go to the staff and faculty, so they have a separate schedule specific to them. This will let them know when they have to be somewhere and where to go. These personalized items are usually put into a brightly-colored envelope inside the generic packet that they also receive. When you hand someone a personalized packet, make sure to point out the bright envelope, so they know it’s in there.

Things that go in the goodie bag:

  • Program
  • Personalized schedule (if needed)
  • Badge
  • Meal tickets (if you feed people)
  • Special event tickets (if any)
  • Small goodies from sponsors. These can include:
    • Lip balm
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Coupons
    • Special offers
    • Fliers or Advertisements
  • Local attraction/restaurant fliers
  • Handouts (if printed copies were purchased or are provided for free)
  • Other freebies from sponsors
  • Separate map if the venue areas are large or located in different buildings
  • The bag itself, which is usually branded for the conference year and with a sponsor or three on it as well

Make sure to assemble the bags and registration packets the night before the conference. If you can do it earlier than this, that’s fine. However, you usually have so many last minute changes (including last-minute attendee registrations) rolling in, that doing this a week ahead of conference is nigh impossible. Do not assemble the bags in front of the attendees at the registration desk. This is the very first impression you’re making to the attendees, and it’s bad to see people scrambling for the various parts that go in the bag. This also applies a high level of pressure to the assembly process (you’re being watched!) and this will lead to mistakes and missed items.

Inter-Team Communication

This is the key factor in any successful conference. If your different teams and directors and coordinators don’t talk regularly, then you’re doomed. I would highly recommend online collaboration tools and regular meetings that are in-person.

Online collaboration tools come in lots of different flavors, but my two favorite ones are Google Groups (because it’s like a mailing list and gets into my inbox) and Slack (which is like a message board where different teams can have their own channels to reduce noise). I would recommend leveraging both, if you can.

The in-person meetings are usually done monthly, but then get on an accelerated schedule as you get closer to the conference. When you’re three months out, go to an every-other-week schedule. When you’re a month out, go to weekly meetings. Maybe throw in an extra meeting the week before the actual conference to make sure there aren’t any last-minute fires to put out.

Once the conference is done, you’ll be wiped out and exhausted, but don’t send everyone home just yet. Within two weeks of the last day of the conference, hold a post-con meeting to go over how things went, how to improve, and where to go the next year.

The last thing I want to throw out about communication. Work with your venues as well. Set up some form of token or icon that key staffers hold or wear to indicate to the venue staff that a room is too hot/cold or that more water is needed in a room or whatever. This will prevent your hundreds of attendees from swamping the desk with wild requests about the public space over which they should have no control.

Bumps in the Road

Speaking of putting out fires. You’re going to have them. Period. It’s just going to happen. The important thing to keep in mind is that if the attendees don’t notice the heat or the bump in the travel, then you’re doing things just fine. At the end of the day, the most important people at your event are your attendees. Keep them happy, and they’ll come back. They’ll also bring friends with them next time and allow you to grow and shine.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Control what you can. Focus on those items. If you can’t fix something right now make a good note that you won’t lose and preemptively make adjustments so that next time it simply won’t happen.

Modern Mythology Monday: Springwort

Modern Mythology LogoWelcome to my Modern Mythology series of blog posts. If you’re not already aware, I’m a huge mythology nerd. I love the stories, creatures, deities, places, events, and general weirdness (at least, by modern perceptions), of these ancient tales. I actually love mythology and folklore so much, that it’s a heavy influence on my writing. This is especially true in my Modern Mythology series of novels. I’m going to post (most) Mondays with a new item from mythology or folklore. These are not to be considered deep scholarly write ups. I do my best to get the information correct and even point out where different reputable sources conflict on the information they provide. These are basically intended to be quick primers on a particular aspect of mythology, but I’ll occasionally add in a tidbit about how the mythos could change or be altered to interact with the modern world.

For the most part, I pick the item at random, but if you have a request for a particular mythological thing for me to research, please use the contact form on the site, and reach out. I’d love to hear from you!


Springwort

Today, I’ll be writing up a brief article about a plant called springwort. It’s a flower of medieval European folklore that is said to open doors and sides of mountains. Most often, there is treasure hidden behind these doorways. There are references to mandrake alongside springwort, but it’s unclear if they are the same plant or somehow related.

A folklore tale claims that springwort can be obtained by closing up or blocking a woodpeckers hole to the next. The woodpecker will then return with a sprig of springwort to reopen its nest. From there, the magical flower can be obtained from the woodpecker.

There is some debate on if the phrase “Open Sesame” in the Ali Baba tale talks about a magical phrase or a reference to this mystical plant.

Some definitions mention the root, not the flower itself, holding the magical powers.

Modern Usage

Many people keep keys to their house in fake rocks, false sprinkler heads, under the welcome mat, or over the door jam. I could see a flower garden outside the house with a few of these flowers nestled among the other plants being used in lieu of hidden keys to gain entry to a house that accidentally locked behind the owner.

Springwort could also be used by thieves to gain illicit entry to their target buildings without leaving a trace behind. Anyone else out there thinking of a character called “The Green Thumb Thief” by modern journalists?

References

Leach, Maria. Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. Harper & Row, 1984.

“Definition of Springwort.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 11 Mar. 2018, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/springwort.

Modern Mythology Monday: Hiisi

Modern Mythology LogoWelcome to my Modern Mythology series of blog posts. If you’re not already aware, I’m a huge mythology nerd. I love the stories, creatures, deities, places, events, and general weirdness (at least, by modern perceptions), of these ancient tales. I actually love mythology and folklore so much, that it’s a heavy influence on my writing. This is especially true in my Modern Mythology series of novels. I’m going to post (most) Mondays with a new item from mythology or folklore. These are not to be considered deep scholarly write ups. I do my best to get the information correct and even point out where different reputable sources conflict on the information they provide. These are basically intended to be quick primers on a particular aspect of mythology. For the most part, I pick the item at random, but if you have a request for a particular mythological thing for me to research, please use the contact form on the site, and reach out. I’d love to hear from you!


Hiisi

Hiisi (or Hiidet if plural) is from the Finnic folklore. Originally representative of sacred (in some sources sacrificial) groves, but with the advent of Christianity in the area, the meaning was changed to be demonic or trickster spirits.

As a woodland spirit, he was considered the guardian spirit of a special groves. He appears as an ugly, beardless man with lopsided eyes lacking eyelids. He is typically dressed poorly and is considered a scoundrel. The “scoundrel” label may be a twist of the original protector nature of Hiisi because of Christian influence.

Interesting notes are that this is the same name used for Devil, and that in modern Finnish, Hiisi and derivative words are mild profanities.

Hiisi was a giant of ancient times, and is one of twelve sons of Kaleva, the great king of Kainuu.

Modern folklore of the Hiisi have them traveling noisily down roadways and forcing their way past fellow travelers. This view also has them entering homes through open doors to steal things from the owners. If one of the Hiidet attacks or chases you, then the best option is to escape to cultivated lands. The organized manner of worked farmland is an anathema to them since they prefer the natural wildness of untouched lands.

References

Leach, Maria. Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. Harper & Row, 1984.

“Hiisi.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiisi.

 

You Can Now Buy Signed Copies From Me

Griffin's Feather CoverWhile I was in Texas, my box of 20 copies of Griffin’s Feather arrived. I plan on using these copies for some smaller book signings, but my highest priority purpose for these copies is to set up an online shopping cart where distant friends and family can purchase a copy directly from me. That will give me the opportunity to sign the book, personalize it if they want me to, and then ship the book out to them.

I’m not trying to replace the regular book sellers out there. Not by a long shot. I don’t have the infrastructure, buying power, or shipping agreements with the various carriers to make the shipping cheap. As a matter of fact, it costs me $4.50 to get a book out to someone via USPS media mail. I have to pass this cost on to the buyers. I deeply apologize for doing so, but it’s how things need to be.

If you’re interested in getting a signed copy from me, and we’re just too far away from one another to make an in-person meeting reasonable, feel free to snag a copy from me here on my site, and I’ll get it out to you!

MileHiCon Wrap-Up and Griffin’s Feather IS LIVE!

Griffin's Feather CoverI’ve been all over the social medias with the news, but I’ve not had time to sit down with this post until just a few minutes ago. I don’t know how many people follow me ONLY on my RSS feed, but just in case there are a few….

MileHiCon 2017 (the 49th one!) went great! I said smart things on my panels (so others told me). I asked smart questions on the panel I moderated (so my fellow panelists told me). I got to hang out with some old friends (some of whom I only see at MileHiCon). I made a few new friends. I bought a few books. I generally hung out with folks and had a really great time.

The highlight of the weekend, however, was not MileHiCon. The con could have easily been the highlight of the weekend, but it got overshadowed by the release of GRIFFIN’S FEATHER on Saturday! The original publication date was supposed to be Wednesday, November 1st. However, things fell into line. The book was ready, and the amazing team at WordFire Press whipping things together and got the book out over the weekend. I’m immensely grateful to the whole team. I’d thank them personally here, but there are gobs of people “behind the scenes” that I don’t know the names of, so I’d be leaving some folks out. I don’t want to make that error of omission. If you’re one of those great folks that helped me get my words out into the world: Thank you!

I can’t wait to see how the world reacts to my novel. It’s surreal. It’s exciting. It’s new. It’s…. well… mind-blowing. I’ve been trying to conceptualize the fact that I now have a published novel, and the mere idea of “published novel” with “J.T. Evans” on the cover still escapes me even though I know it’s a real thing.

You can find Griffin’s Feather at these fine locations, or order it from your favorite local bookstore.

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Ebook

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Kobo

Thanks to everyone that’s supported me over the past 11 years of effort that it took to get to this point. Here, I’m going to throw out a few names because they’re important enough to me to acknowledge:

Granny and Papa — I wish you could still be around to see this happen. Thank you for all you did for me throughout my life.

Kimberly — Without you standing by my side, I wouldn’t have the confidence to attempt this. Love you so very much.

My son — I know I “stole” some of our father/son time away from you to work on my novels. You’ll probably never know how much I love you for this.

Mom — You’ve shown me support and love throughout everything. I don’t think you’ve seen all of the struggles of the past 11 years, but you’ve highlighted the successes that I’ve had. Thank you for that. Love you.

Hank and Hollie Snider — For started CSFWG and welcoming me into the group with open arms. Relaunching my passion for the written word through the CSFWG led to this day.

Pikes Peak Writers — There are way too many people here to thank that are involved in this organization. Without PPW, I wouldn’t have been able to learn and improve as much as I did.

Linda Houser — You taught “The Tools in Your Writing Toolbox” (or something of that nature) at my very first PPW Write Brain. I learned so much in that night. It set me on the right path with the right mindset. It also showed me that others loved words as much as I do. (PS: I still have the clock hanging over my desk.)

Patrick Hester — You’ve been my rock for quite a few years. You’ve called my bullshit. You’ve told me when I nailed it. You’ve kept an eye on me and let me know when I’m “off base” mentally. Thank you for your friendship, and I promise to never type “the two women” again, unless absolutely necessary.

Craig Barnes — You took me and my family in during the Black Forest Fire. You’ve been one of the most solid friends I’ve ever had. You’re very much like a brother to me. Love you for that.

Front Range Fiction Writers — While this critique group is now defunct, it was a great three years. Thanks to all of the members over the three wonderful years that pointed out where I did great and where I didn’t.

Dave Butler — For picking up where others left off and giving me an amazing opportunity. Thank you for believing in my work as much as I do and giving it a shot.

Manny Frishberg — For taking my slew of words and pushing me to do better throughout our editorial process. You rock!

Jeff Herndon — For giving me a cover that I fall in love with every time I see it.

Kevin J. Anderson — For giving my book a shot. I hope it does WordFire Press proud.

… and there are certainly others I’m forgetting to thank. I apologize if I spaced out on you and/or your name while typing this up. There are so many people who have helped me over the years. Thank you all.

MileHiCon 2017 Schedule

I’m a bit late in getting this up, but if you want to see me this upcoming weekend at MileHiCon, swing by the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center. I figure I’ll be getting there right around noon-ish, and I’ll be around the hotel until mid-afternoon(-ish) on Sunday. Outside of the programming I’m on (see below), I’m not entirely sure exactly where you can find me.

I hope to cross paths with old friends, make some new friends, and have a good time at MileHiCon this weekend!

Here’s the programming that I’m scheduled for:

Friday, October 27 at 3 PM

Session: Author 201, Subtle Self Promotion

Room: Wind River B

Other Panelists: N. Lowell, E. Mah (moderator), C. Weaver, C. Winters

My Take: Why me?!!?! Anyone that’s met me in person knows that I’m anything but subtle. I hope to be able to give great advice to the attendees that won’t lead them astray. Maybe I’ll tell stories about what not to do. 🙂

Saturday, October 28 at 5 PM

Session: Panning for Gold in SF’s Golden Age

Room: Mesa Verde C

Other Panelists: V. Calisto, S. Jackson, K. Spriggs, J. Stith, (I’m the moderator)

My Take: I’m glad I’m the moderator. I get to ask questions about this era and make everyone else look smart by answering them. This is actually a topic I’ve had to research a bit just to not make my questions look foolish.

Sunday, October 29 at Noon

Session: Girls and Women Who Totally Compute

Room: Mesa Verde C

Other Panelists: C. Kay, S. McClune, C. Weaver (moderator), M. Ward

My Take: I’ve been in computing for 30 *cough* something years in pretty much every field imaginable. I feel qualified to talk about this based on my experiences, but since I’m not a woman….. I hope I can get up here and talk the talk without embarrassing myself too much. My angle is going to be how to encourage, support, and open door for women than other folks may be slamming in their face. In other words, “Don’t be that guy, be a better guy.” We’ll see how it goes.

Griffin’s Feather Update

My debut novel, Griffin’s Feather, is now in production with WordFire Press. The cover art is done. The cover layout is in process. The interior layout is in process. These are all great things.

I know I’m sounding a bit analytical about it all, but that’s because it’s all so surreal to me. I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept that I’ll soon have a published novel that people can buy, read, review, love, hate, do cosplay as one of the characters (that just blew my mind as I typed it), lose sleep over, or simply enjoy and escape reality with.

You figure that if I’m writing stories about an immortal Roman Centurion who works as a bounty hunter for the gods of the ancient world in modern-day San Antonio, I’d be able to wrap my head around getting a book published. Well…. I can imagine all sorts of crazy things, but nailing down the reality that I’ll soon have my name on the cover of a book is…. I don’t know. No words. Strange for a writer, right?

Let me talk a bit about the cover. I’m sure you can see it here in the post. Isn’t it beautiful?!!? I love what Jeff Herndon did for my novel. This captures a scene somewhere around the 2/3 mark of the book. Yeah. Okay. That’s a bit spoilery. Sorry. I won’t give anything else away. I love what he did with the colors and splashes of light and capturing the raw power of the griffin. The fine details are what make it for me. Check out the wing tips on the pixie (click the image for a larger version). Yeah. Aren’t those wonderful? Thank you so much, Jeff, for bringing my words to life with your painting.

I’d also like to thank Manny Frishberg for editing the novel. We went through a couple of rounds of edits, and Manny was fantastic, supportive, encouraging, and pressing through out. When I say “pressing,” I mean he pressed me forward to greatness. He really challenged me in the right spots and congratulated me where I did well. There were a few times where he put in a comment along the lines of, “I can tell you got lazy here. You’re better than this. Rewrite with X as your target.” Yeah. He used the word “lazy,” but he also told me I was better than how that scene was written. He knew I could do better. Deep down, I knew I could do better. He pressed me forward with that nudge to do better and I did. Griffin’s Feather is orders of magnitude better now than it ever was before thanks to Manny giving me the guidance I needed.

A shout out goes to Dave Butler, WordFire’s acquisition editor, for taking on the project, speaking so highly of it to Kevin J. Anderson and others, and telling me that my original title (Freyja’s Daughter) was not quite up to snuff. We brainstormed a handful of titles and finally settled on Griffin’s Feather. This title has provided me with a pattern to the novels for the rest of the series (that’s right, I said, “Series!“). Book two is tentatively titled “Viper’s Bane.” Don’t get all excited for me yet. Book two isn’t under contract. We have to see how the sales for Griffin’s Feather goes. (This means you, my wonderful readers, need to spread word and boost the signal about the book if you love Marcus Barber and his adventures. The only way Viper’s Bane hits the shelves is if Griffin’s Feather does well.)

Lastly, thanks to WordFire Press for giving me the opportunity to get my words out into the world. I’m eternally grateful for this chance, and I hope the end result doesn’t disappoint everyone working in that fine organization. Even beyond having my mind shattered by getting a novel published, joining the esteemed ranks of authors WordFire has published is boggling. I hesitate to use “peer” or “equal” or anything like that when comparing myself to these luminaries, but I’m at least standing in the same room as them. This is an incredibly warming feeling.

How did all of this come about? Wow. Long story. A Inigo Montoya once said, “Let me explain. [pause] No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

In July of 2006 (yeah, 11 years ago), I found a flier for a local critique group. I immediately started attending and joined the membership of The Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group in November of 2006. I wrote tons of short stories to get the basics of storytelling, writing, and craft down. My intent all along was to write novels, but I didn’t want to screw up a novel (and I knew I would) since that takes a year (more or less) to execute upon.

Late in 2009, I started my first novel (now trunked, sorry) and finished it about a year later. I also wrote the second book in the trilogy, and started the third book. I never finished the third book because I realized it was more an exercise in futility since book one never sold.

Sometime in 2014 (see how much time had passed?!?!) and with a new critique group, I started telling Marcus’s story and all that it entails. Less than a year later, the novel was done, critiqued, edited, and ready to hit the streets. I started querying in the summer of 2015. Lots of the usual. Requests for partials. Requests for a few full manuscripts. All ending in rejections. While at WorldCon in Spokane, I was hanging out outside a bar waiting for others to show up. Peter Wacks (acquisition editor for WordFire at the time) and I were chatting. He asked what I was writing on. I told him about my querying travails with Griffin’s Feather and about the novel. He was very interested and wanted me to send it to you. That was August of 2015.

After some staff changes, shuffling of paperwork, lots of emails, and loads of being patient (more on that in a bit), Kevin J. Anderson approached me in the bar at WorldCon in Kansas City (sense a theme with bars and WorldCon?) with an offer to purchase my novel. It was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing the nearest woman, planting a kiss on her, and celebrating. Of course, that would have probably gotten me slapped and/or beaten up, kicked out the bar, kicked out of WorldCon, and smeared my public reputation for life. Me, being aware of all of this, thanked Kevin profusely and shook his hand with a goofy grin on my face.

So… WorldCon 2017 in Helsinki just wrapped up (I was not there, so no bar stories for this year), and my novel is coming out soon. Most likely in September from what I’ve been told.

I said I’d talk about patience a bit. Here it is. Get some. Get lots of it, to be honest. The publishing industry is slow. I’m not complaining about it. It’s just the nature of the beast. There’s a bit of “hurry up and wait” going on, but mostly it’s just “wait.” As you can see, my deal took a full year to develop and then another year for the deal to turn into a novel. That’s really not abnormal from what I’ve heard from others. Yeah, there are the lightning strikes that break the mold and someone gets published six months after the ink dries on their contract. These are the exceptions, not the rule.

So… What’s next?

We wait for the book to be launched. I do plan on having a few signings in the Colorado Springs, Monument, and Denver areas. I also hope to make a few more conventions as part of the booth that sells WordFire titles. Stay tuned here for announcements on that. I’ll probably be adding an “appearances” page to the site. Also keep an eye on my social media (look in the upper right corner of any of the pages here on my site for links). Lastly, I’m hoping to land on some podcasts that’ll have me on to chat and talk about the book and just have a good conversation.

BTW: If you haven’t clicked on the image yet to see the larger version… WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR? Go click. NOW! It’s gorgeous!