Writers: Go To Conventions (a guest post by Matthew W. Quinn)


Yes it’s been a minute. Here is a guest post by my friend Matt. Listen up. He’s got good advice here. (JRT)

 

By Matthew W. Quinn

One lesson I’ve learned in the years I’ve been writing professionally is attending conventions is a really, really good idea. Since I live in Atlanta, I’ve been blessed to have conventions like DragonCon, AnachroCon, and JordanCon (although I’ve never been to that one) easily accessible.

Firstly, conventions are good places to do business. I didn’t even know the BattleTech science-fiction franchise even still existed, but I ran into the staff of Catalyst Game Labs — the current holder of the property — at the 2008 DragonCon. I spent the subsequent year writing a short story entitled “Skirmish at the Vale’s Edge” for the site BattleCorps based on something I read in an old Clan Wolf sourcebook and submitted it to them just before the 2009 convention. I let the staff know I’d done this and soon afterward they wrote me to tell me they’d purchased the story. It’s still up there, and it’s now the canonical account of the Battle of Jallington Vale.

At a later DragonCon (either 2011 or 2012), I met representatives of another small press and received permission to send them my secondary-world fantasy/steampunk novel Battle for the Wastelands. I submitted in March 2013 and after not hearing back for some time, queried the company’s representative at the 2013 convention. I eventually received a rejection that November — they said it had good writing, but wasn’t for them. Although this wasn’t an acceptance, it was still feedback and a contact made for future projects.

More recently, I volunteered at the 2015 World Horror Conference. There I met representatives of two small presses, one dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, and horror and the other “bizarro.” I got the go-ahead to submit my teen Lovecraftian horror novel The Thing in the Woods and a rather strange tale involving little people. I’ve already submitted the former; I’ll submit the latter once I finish it.

Secondly, one can learn a whole lot about the craft of writing from panels. I found panels at DragonCon 2013 so informative on topics like pulp writing and putting together anthologies and collections that I ended up blogging about them. At the 2011 DragonCon I attended a panel on characterization taught by none other than Michael Stackpole. Another panel, with S.M. Stirling, provided some valuable advice about short stories and the most profitable use of one’s time. DragonCon 2010 gave me enough material for multiple blog posts. AnachroCon, though much smaller, taught me some valuable information about Norse culture and the state of Lovecraftian media.

Finally, conventions are a good place to sell your wares. James and I have a mutual friend named J.H. Glaze who’s very, very good at moving his product at conventions. I’ve purchased books at the World Horror Conference and DragonCon. If you’ve got books to sell, try to get a table either by yourself or with other writers to share the load.

-Matthew W. Quinn is a freelance writer, editor, and soon to be holder of an M.A. in World History from Georgia State University. Check out his speculative fiction here and follow him on Twitter here.

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I MAKES BOOK COVERS (it’s true. I do.)


I do covers. If you want one hit me up. You get print layout and ebook cover.

james AT jamesrtuck DOT com

(replace AT with @ and DOT with . and close the gaps)

On my personal books I did the artwork and took the photos….for FLASHING STEEL FLASHING FIRE I used a stock image I bought……for INTO THE WEIRD the artwork came from Karl Comendador (find him HERE)

If you want to buy any of these click the pictures and you can buy them in ebook and print!

My stuff:

hired gun 5 x 8 jpeg internet special features FLATTENED internetviewable THAT WAY LIES MADNESS FULL COVER 5X8 INTERNET VERSIONand for other people:

 

FLASHING STEEL FLASHING FIRE PRINT COVER for posting on the internet JAMES PALMER  INTO THE WEIRD PRINT COVER FOR INTERNETZ

TA HELL WITH A MASS MARKET (my opinion as a reader on why I love Trade Paperbacks)


I have a ton of books.

I don’t know how much they actually weigh, but me and the Missus have a book buying problem. Actually, the phraseology on that is wrong. We have NO problem buying books. Ignore the fact that my TBR pile numbers near 100. Ignore also the fact that there are easily 20 current releases I have NOT purchased simply because I know when I do I will immediately read them thus pushing my TBR pile even further int he background. (Yes, I’m looking at you COLD DAYS by Jim Butcher. Fuck you, don’t make me feel guilty for not bathing in your sweet sweet cotton-candy scented literature. I’ll get to you. I will. I PROMISE. It is inevitable.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, books.

Here is a pic of our new, grown folks books shelves and our library at the house.

ALL the books on the left two shelves are mine.

ALL the books on the left two shelves are mine.

 

So earlier I was thinking about books. The physical form of the book. I decided that I am totally over mass market paperbacks. I much prefer the size of a trade paperback.

Mass market paperbacks are now the cats of the publishing world in my opinion.

Now I’ll still buy a mass market, hell I bought one last night (SHARP by my good friend Alex Hughes). But if I can, I’m buying trades from now on.

Book four of the Deacon Chalk series will be trade paperback size.

My double anthology of sword and sorcery stories that I edited for Seventh Star press will be trade paperback size.

I’m actually going to push for any book released by me to be automatically in trade paperback size. I may not get it for everything, but it’s what I want.

They are easier to hold, easier to read, and easier to shelve. They are narrower, so you can fit more on a shelf, and with a mass market, you lose the 3-4 inch difference in dead space between the top of the book and the bottom of the shelf above it.

This post has no real merit. It was just a musing I thought I would indulge because, hey, fuck it, it’s my internet too.

So what’s your choice or opinion on this hot-button issue?

I DON’T KNOW IF I MISSPOKE OR WAS MISHEARD (I have an opinion on which it were of course)


Sorry, I started editing an anthology that became two anthologies and I looked up and a month was gone. I’m also about to remodel the tattoo shop I own (Family Tradition Tattoo) in Marietta, Ga so lots and lots has kept me away.

Anyway, I’m at JordanCon this weekend. This is a nice con. Real nice. Easy to work, 20 minutes from the house, the staff is super nice, and it’s loaded with folks I like:

Delilah S. Dawson

Alex Hughes

John Hartness

Deb Dixon from Bell Bridge Books

Anthony Taylor

Stuart Jaffe

Jana Oliver

I was on a great panel with Delilah, Alex, John, and Seanan Mcguire today where the topic of what we read came up. We gave our list and I said that I have been concentrating on reading some classic literature and award winners to see if they were worth the hype, ala, Hemmingway (yes), Falkner (yes), and others.

After saying it I felt the need to clarify that I wasn’t putting down genre in any way. I didn’t want anyone in the room to walk away with the impression that I think genre books aren’t “real” literature.

In my clarification the audience mistakenly thought I was putting down one of my co-panelists books which is the exact opposite of what I was saying. Now I’m not slick, but I don’t often misspeak (and I am never shy about an opinion) but my point that a good book is a good fucking book no matter where the publisher puts it and to be prejudiced by genre is dumb and limits you and no one else.

One of my literary heroes is Robert E. Howard. I have made no secret to that. He’s considered a hack by the wide, wide literary world. He wrote pulp, a LOT of it. He wrote about swords and barbarians and wizards and boxers and pictish kings and magic.

He also wrote about destiny, morality, love, valor, and metaphysical concepts such as genetic memory, immortality, reincarnation, and others. His wordcraft equals the greats of literature and I place him next to Cormac McCarthy.

Kurt Vonnegut is now considered literature, but trust me, he wrote science fiction and speculative fiction. The literati loves Neil Gaimen but he writes magical realism. It’s all genre dammit. Both of them are on the level of Harlan Ellison and the literati turns a nose up at him.

Genre is real writing folks. It just is. It’s not all vampire smooches and shit blowing up.

Go click the links in this blog if you don’t believe me. Order some books. Get your read on.

YO, HO, HO AND A BOTTLE OF TORRENT (or my contribution to International Please Don’t Pirate My Book DaY)


The other day, hell yesterday, the abominable snowman that is Chuck Wendig did a kick ass post on internet piracy. He ask for authors to join in the discussion and post up a blog with their thoughts. Here’s mine:

Okay I’ll admit it. I’ve pirated a lot of stuff in my day. Clicked it, downloaded it, thought nothing of it.  Music, tv shows, movies, damn near nothing was safe from my greedy grasp.

I had a lot of reasons, some where that ti didn’t matter, some were that stuff was unavailable in a way that would benefit the artist (I mean, did Muddy Waters really care that I downloaded his performance in London? I mean, being dead and all he probably didn’t care)

I heard a lot of talk from pirates about the fan aspect. The “if I try it and I like it then it helps get the word out.”

Well that works for music but it does almost nothing for an author.

I’ve worked in the music industry in clubs and owning a tiny (and I mean freaking tiny) record label with my best friend Kevin in the 90’s.

HERE is a link to one of the albums we put out.

And now I’m an author.

Here’s the gig: If you download a band’s record (one released through a label, not independant) then often they don’t care. The reason for this is that the band made their money on the record already. They got an advance which is theirs. Yes it goes to the recording of the album but if they get 10 grand and spend 2 then they pocket the rest.

This advance is recouped by the record label keeping the royalties earned from sales.

So far, this is the same way it is in the publishing industry.

But that shit is about to change.

Now the band has their record out. It’s up on Itunes, Amazon, on the shelves of the few Best Buys out there. If they are big enough they go in Walmart and all the other places CD’s still live. The band then books a tour, hit the road, and play gigs. Sometimes they get paid for the gig, sometimes not, but while they are out there they are hawking t-shirts and other merchandise.

This is where a band makes a living.

They get in front of fans, even the fans who pirated their album, and then sell them the two things that CANNOT be pirated, a live performance and a piece of merchandise.

Now remember how I said that this was just like publishing? Well, here’s where it ain’t.

An author gets their book out. It goes live on Amazon, B&N, and on bookshelves across the world. The author hits the road promoting the book. They work conventions and do book signings and speak. They bust their ass to entertain the fans who come, even the ones who pirated their book.

BUT OTHER THAN THE BOOK THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SELL YOU.

If you go see an author live at a convention or a signing then they are NOT getting paid for that. It is coming out of their pocket. It COSTS them money to be where you are, even if they are local.

So now you know. Buy the book. It’s the only real way that supports an author. The only way that matters.

And don’t pull the “I want to try it to see if I like it first” crap. There isn’t a book out there that you can’t read a preview for free. If you pirate it and it doesn’t blow your socks off then you won’t pay for it.

But you like books. You like writers. Put the money on the table.

We all appreciate it.

REBLOG: 25 Thoughts On Book Piracy « terribleminds: chuck wendig


25 Thoughts On Book Piracy « terribleminds: chuck wendig.

Go read it. I’ll be here tomorrow with my thoughts on the whole gig.

Reblogging a great article: 8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer | Jane Friedman


I am reading BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy because he is a total literary badass and I want to write like him.  I ran across this article, which by title sounds vaguely manipulative, but actually just gives some great advice (with examples) of how to write better.

8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer | Jane Friedman.

HAVING A FRIEND OVER FOR THANKSGIVING (or A Guest Blog Up In Da House By Matthew W. Quinn)


Today we have my friend Matt Quinn on the blog. Matt is a member of my writing group and he has just sold a story to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (“Nicor”) that will appear after the first of the year. He’s a fine fellow, a gentleman AND a scholar, so listen up as he tells you about researching as it pertains to writing.

Things I’ve Learned about Writing Research

The Author Himself Matthew W. Quinn

By Matthew W. Quinn

One of the most important aspects of writing is research. If an error throws the reader out of the story or provokes them to throw the book against the wall, you have failed.

For my novel Battle for the Wastelands and its companion novella Son of Grendel, I had to do a lot of research on Civil War battles and weapons. Both Wikipedia and YouTube proved quite useful, as I could quickly find out about different guns, then go to YouTube to watch them being fired.

However, my current hard science fiction project (which does not yet have a title even though it’s already spawning sequels) will require even more. There are plenty of books about the Civil War that won’t be hard to find, but finding a book from the 1980s about the Strategic Defense Initiative and in particular a proposed nuke-pumped laser is harder. Furthermore, it’s set in a future space-based United States Navy, so there’s an extra layer of research that simply Must Get Done if I want to sell to military and former military people.

My most helpful resource has been the public library system. Although you can get a lot of superficial information from the Internet, books are what’ll help you go deep. When I lived on the South Side of Atlanta, the statewide PINES library system was extremely helpful in getting me the information I needed. When I moved to the North Side, the Atlanta-Fulton library system became my new mainstay. Libraries often have books that bookstores don’t. One of my big research sources for Battle for the Wastelands was the series Daily Life In…, in particular the ones about Victorian England, the United States during the Civil War, and the 19th Century American frontier. Those books were apparently fairly limited in terms of press run, since the Amazon price for each one is around $50. They’re especially valuable because although many history books cover big-picture items like wars and the reasons behind economic shake-ups, they won’t go into detail about how people lived, what they ate, etc.

Writing groups are another source. Different group members often know a lot about particular topics. For example, James knows a lot about firearms. During a critique of Son of Grendel, he pointed out that I should depict insurgents firing modern assault rifles on full auto reloading, since this goes through bullets VERY fast. Although I’d depicted them having to fight the guns dragging upward, I’d forgotten about that even though it’s fairly common sense. Another group member is a retired Army sergeant who’s been quite helpful in areas of military protocol and tactics, including a scene in Son of Grendel where a colonel is directing soldiers during a firefight while on horseback — he might as well be wearing a sign that says “Kill Me” — and a scene in Battle for the Wastelands in which a sergeant oversees shooting drills.

Meanwhile, at least three members of my other writing group are retired military. One provided some good advice on portraying a military policewoman’s reaction to being hit on in a bar (probably not a good one), while another — a former petty officer on a submarine — provided a lot of material about Navy culture and protocol. He also informed me of the “one crew one screw” rule in which collective punishments are used to give all members of a unit incentive to keep troublemakers under control. I was sure to use this in Battle for the Wastelands when a sergeant makes all members of a squad do “gaspers” (what I describe as “an unholy mix of squatting, push-ups, and jumping to their feet”) when three members get into an argument.

However, you’ve got to make sure you’re using quality material for your research. I remember (hopefully incorrectly) a history of Anglo-Saxon England I read in high school implied the Normans imposed the infamous “first night” on England after their conquest, but the historical evidence for this “right” even existing is rather spotty. If something seems weird, I would recommend looking for corroboration in other sources.

Matthew W. Quinn is a published writer of short stories and currently shopping his novel: BATTLE FOR THE WASTELANDS. His horror tales “Melon Heads,”  “I am the Wendigo,” and “The Beast of the Bosporus” and his science-fiction story “Coil Gun” can be found on Amazon.com, while his licensed BattleTech story “Skirmish at the Vale’s Edge” can be found on BattleCorps.

Matt’s blog is HERE

WRITE YER DAMN BOOK (advice from others or link salad)


Okay Loyals and True Believers of the writing persuasion, come gather ’round for a heaping helping of advice.

Now I spend entirely too much time on the interwebz and in doing so I find a crap ton of writing advice that I enjoy and find helpful. Well, you know me, I’m not greedy, I will share the wealth. I will give you links to the best ones I have found recently.

So go ahead. Click these links. Go read. Comment on the blog. Check out the writers. Stalk them. Buy their shit.

You know the deal.

So here goes.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

This blog should be on your check often radar. Not only is Janice Hardy a helluva writer, she is also a helluva a traveling companion for the coming zombie apocalypse. This blog is PACKED with wayyyy to many awesome articles to pick just one. Hell, this blog is just about to turn the corner on ONE MILLION PAGE VIEWS so you know it kicks some serious ass.

HOW I WENT FROM WRITING 2,000 WORDS A DAY TO 10,000 WORDS A DAY

You read that right. Rachel Aaron has a truly kick ass blog about how to use a tiny bit of logic and planning to turn your daily wordcount into a bloodbath. Go now and read and then repost.

GENRE AND AESTHETIC

Sara Taylor Woods is a pre-published writer. That won’t stay true for long. Her blog is a great place to get the sense that you are not alone and the problems you are running into are real. This blog is a fresh look at how we can fall into the traps of affecting an aesthetic instead of truly exploring a genre.

HOW TO KILL YOUR DARLINGS

Delilah S. Dawson, writer extraordinaire of steampunky vampire smut and third party of the FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE DOOMPACALYPSE, has a great voice when she blogs. I guarantee you will chuckle while she smacks some sense into you.

And last but NOT least in any way shape or form is

WORD WHORES

This is the group blog I am damn lucky to be a member of. It’s a great group of authors who kick ass and take names and then tell you all about it. We have turned our blogging to writing advice. We pick a topic and EVERY DAMN DAY a new writer tackles it. It’s like daily wisdom. I post on Mondays. Tune in and check us out.

EYEBALLS, NEEDLES, BURLESQUE GIRLS, AND INK (or an interview with Author/Tattoo Artist Julia Madeleine)


Loyals and True Believers HARK!

Today I bring you an awesome interview with a strange and unique person. She is one of the rare folks who are both a writer AND a tattoo artist like yours truly.

Julia Madeleine is Canadian and one helluva interesting Dame. Tune in and pay attention and at the end there will be FREE stuff.

Q&A with Julia Madeline

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Let’s start off with the good stuff, tell us about your newest book. It’s a prequel right?

There is a prequel called Scarlet Sins, which is a novella about a burlesque queen in the 1960s, her troubled marriage, and what she chooses to do to save it. Then there is my novel, The Truth About Scarlet Rose, about the subsequent murder of her husband and her grown daughter who has to help in the investigation.

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So why do you write such dark stuff? I mean you are a girl! Shouldn’t you be writing about love and stuff?

That’s funny James. Love is good. I write about love, but it’s usually love gone wrong, where someone is going to end up dead. Much more interesting that way, wouldn’t you say?

Now why did you choose to go the way of Amazon exclusivity? Would you recommend it to others?

I’m currently selling exclusively through Amazon because Kindle Direct Publishing allows for some great marketing tools like making your book free for a limited time which is a great way for new readers to find your work. I might eventually list my books with other eBook retailers like Kobo and Sony for example (never say never) but the market share for them is pretty small and they have a habit of discounting their books which affects the price on Amazon . The new king of the jungle is Amazon and they very author friendly.

 

What books or authors do you think influenced you as a writer? And what are you reading now?

I’ve read a lot of literary fiction since college and I think it influenced my writing considerably. Mary Gaitskill, Evelyn Lau, Joyce Carol Oates, Janet Fitch, Margaret Laurence. These days I’m pretty much reading just in the thriller genre. Currently I’m reading Hillary Davidson’s debut The Damage Done and Tumblin’ Dice by John McFetridge.

Okay, let’s switch gears to your other career. Like me, you are a professional tattoo artist. Your pinup work is super nice. Is that your favorite style?

 

Definitely. I love the classic pin-ups and I enjoy doing them in colour especially. They make for great tattoos. Gil Elvgren and George Petty are two of my favourite pin-up artists.

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Tell me how you got started in tattooing? Did you serve an apprenticeship or just sell your soul at the crossroads for the ability to tattoo?

 

I blackmailed my tattoo artist. Ha, ha. No, I just married him. When I lost my job as a match maker at a dating service, I started hanging around my husband’s shop answering the phones. I’ve always had an art background but never thought of doing anything professionally with it. Then I started to work on custom designs for clients and eventually that led to my husband teaching me to tattoo. He made that decision after the first time he had to cough up for my car payment. So basically tattooing found me, I wasn’t looking to be an artist at all.

How is the tattoo scene in your town? How is the author scene?

The tattoo scene is awesome. My husband Fabien, has had the shop, Malefic Tattoos, on the west side of Toronto for about 18 years so we’re well established and have worked at building a good reputation and a loyal clientele. I’ve been a tattooer myself for about 12 years. We’re in a big city, about 700,000 so no shortage of flesh. It’s cool to go through generations of families; the kids of parents we’ve been tattooing for years starting to come in now. Love seeing that. We’re doing the NIX tattoo show in Toronto this summer for the first time. So that’s going to be lots of fun.

The crime writing scene here is pretty good as well. We have an annual convention in Toronto called Bloody Words. It’s like a mini Thrillerfest. Lots of great Canadian writers.

Do you have any other creative outlets like painting or photography? Or do you stick with only the two of tattooing and writing?

I do but I’ve had to give them all up to feed my writing obsession. I used to paint and was into photography as well. I also used to design clothing and sew, garden, bake, make jewellery. All visual arts; I don’t sing, dance, or play music. But alas, writing is all consuming and in order to have the time for it, I’ve had to sacrifice all other creative mediums. Except for tattooing of course because that’s my career. It sucks sometimes because I still want to do all those other things, especially when I see things that inspire me. I really need to be more than one person.

 

Any advice to a person wanting to get into the writing gig?

Devour all the books on the craft of writing that you can get your hot little hands on. They will take your writing light years ahead. I’ve got Stein On Writing in audio book on my iphone and listen to it over and over. And I’ve got books with highlighted passages that I refer to regularly. You can never stop growing and learning, especially when it comes to writing. The same goes for tattooing. There’s always more to learn.

Thank you so much for coming by and sharing all your awesome with us!

Now, here’s the free stuff.

First, go check out Julia’s website.

http://www.juliamadeleine.com/

and then go pick up one of her books for FREE. Hell yes, you read that right, FREE on AMAZON but only March1-March3 2012. CLICK HERE TO GET IT..

STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE is a collection of 17 short stories of mayhem that are not for the faint of heart. These stories, one of which was nominated for a Derringer Award in 2011, have been featured in a number of crime fiction magazines. Buckets of blood are spilt between these pages, and some nice (and some not so nice) people die horrible deaths. Here you will meet a pedophile who picks the wrong little girl to try and molest; a clown who gets bullied by his wife one time too many, a serial killer who likes to take postmortem photographs of his victims, more than one angry wife/girlfriend seeking revenge on the other woman, and more than one escaped mental patient with murder in her heart.

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