Dream a Little Dream For Me

Pam Uphoff

 

“A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.”

Wikipedia

 

But why?

Oh, the theories are numerous. Dreams help us incorporate memories. Process emotions. Solve daytime problems. Play out our subconscious desires.

Frankly I think it’s file cleanup and de-rezing the wetware so we can function the next day, but whatever it is, I really like dreaming. It helps sort out plot problems and throws all new situations at me.

Dreams can be like brain storming—throwing out ideas as fast as possible and only analyzing them later. And they get pretty wild.

The flat-out weird dreams are my favorite.

My Zoey Ivers books? Half BSing on the internet, meshed with this totally bizarre dream . . . I mean bouncing balls that thought they were Elvis, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin?   A computer that thought it was a T-Rex? My Dad the FBI agent walking out into a cyber desert to fight a gigantic rattle snake? WTF?

I got up at 3AM and started writing that one down. Turned into a two book YA adventure. There will be a third book Real Soon Now, and maybe more later.

OK, maybe last night’s that ended with one of my fictional characters screaming in the back room while she was being tortured wasn’t one of the better ones. (Eek! Not Rael!) Was my subconscious trying to tell me I have to be more brutal to my characters? Was this a message that I’m only showing the good side of my macguffins and eliding past some obvious problems.

Maybe it was just free association in a sleeping brain. No deep messages needing dream analysis.

But you know the thing about nightmares? You can play around with the ideas. How did your character get into this fix? How does she get out of it? Be creative. The above nightmare? Oh please, Rael was screaming so the guys in the next room didn’t realize she was actually loose and beating up the torturer, collecting interesting improvised weaponry and so forth.

And yeah, that kid in the dream has a problem! Or maybe he is the problem!

No doubt it’ll all show up in a story down the road.

If I go to sleep thinking of the possibilities for the next scene . . . Okay, it mostly keeps me awake . . . but sometimes an idea falls into place.

Sleep apnea was actually great for this. Once I got that really fun overnight test, I realized that I wasn’t actually just laying there awake, thinking about the WIP. I was flipping between REM sleep and awake so fast I wasn’t recognizing the dream state. But I sure planned some good scenes that way. And typed them half-asleep the next day.

I almost miss that. But with an oxygenated brain, I have plenty of uninterrupted dreams to stock the idea cabinet.

So . . . what do your dreams do for you . . . and what do you do with them?

Oh, and the new book, a complete stand alone unconnected to anything I’ve ever written:

 

 

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Of The Giving Of Cues

Sarah’s been talking about mystery (and other) plot structures. If you’re going to market to a genre where there’s an expected structure to the story, you need to know these things. Similarly, if you’re going to market to any genre, you need to know how to give the right cues to your readers.

Some genre readers are more willing than others to accept structures that break their rules. To a certain extent, anyway. But miscue something, and you’ll have disappointed readers who’ll avoid you from then on.

Let me give an example without naming names. A few years back I was asked to give an opinion on a novel someone was trying to sell. It was an extremely well-written fantasy that used elements of epic fantasy and quest fantasy, the pacing was close to perfect, and the characters were easy to identify with. But the overall result was disappointing. It felt wrong.

It took me a while to realize: the relationship between the primary character and the hidden prince (secondary character) had all the cues of romance, but there wasn’t one. The relationship that evolved was somewhere between friendly and sibling.

The cues I saw and subconsciously noted were:

  • Female protagonist, and the first character other than the protagonist introduced is the secondary character.
  • Immediate chemistry between first and second character.
  • Subplots that are typical of romance subplots (misunderstandings between the characters causing tension, jealousy/rivalry when other characters are introduced).
  • Tension between the two characters increases over the course of the book.
  • Characters clearly like and respect each other even when they are disagreeing and/or arguing.
  • Much of the action and interaction is between the two characters.

Those of you who are familiar with any form of romance would be nodding along here and agreeing that if the book wasn’t primarily romance it damn well ought to have a secondary romantic plot line. Except that it didn’t: the author wasn’t aware that these cues pointed to a strong romance plot structure, so didn’t know why the novel wasn’t getting traction.

(Incidentally, if you think you recognize yourself in this deliberately vague description, don’t worry too much. I’ve done the exact same thing with miscuing, and then had to go and clean out all the bad cues to make the piece work. Think “learning experience”.)

The way to avoid this and make sure you’re giving the right cues in your work is to read widely. Especially read outside your main genre. You need to be aware that if you’ve got a strong mystery plot, you should be putting in the cues for the red herrings and the real culprit and all the other little goodies mystery authors tease their readers with. Similarly, if your epic fantasy does not have a strong romance subplot, take the time to make sure you aren’t throwing romance cues at your readers. That will just make the more romance-oriented ones unhappy. It could well make the non-romance readers unhappy too, because these cues are deeply embedded in our culture (yes, they do differ across cultures. The USA and other primarily English-speaking nations are similar enough that we don’t miscue each other too often, but it does happen. An Australian romance is not likely to include much if any of the really sappy hearts and flowers stuff, particularly compared to an American one. A Brit romance is more likely to include class-based differences as potential relationship block – and yes, that’s even in a fantasy or SF context).

So read a lot, work out what the heck you’re setting your readers up for, then go out and give it heaps.

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Mystery Structure – The Cozy

Before I get into the post proper, I’m going to be gone for three Wednesdays starting next week.  I have a guest post lined up for next week, and will figure out the other two.  Do not be alarmed.  I haven’t forgotten this series, and will resume after I come back.  It’s just that I won’t be here, and connecting might be iffy.

Anyway, back to our series.  So, Cozies are a subtype of mystery, and I sort of get why the glitterati try to avoid the name.  They’re convinced it means “tea cozy” or something equally stupid.

If you divest yourself of that notion, “cozy” fits.

Cozies, a subtype of which is the “Malice Domestic” are murder mysteries that take place in and are solved in a small set of people, often related to each other.  Most of Agatha Christie’s work are cozies, except for what might very well be the worst thrillers in the history of thrillers.

My favorite of Christie’s work is the Hollow, closely followed by The Moving Finger (I WAS Megan from the Moving Finger, as much as one can be a fictional character.)

The crime, which is described in glossed-over terms and where you don’t indulge in exactly what went where usually shatters an otherwise “normal” situation.  IOW, if you didn’t have a crime, that book would be a mainstream slice of life.  (Yes, even the funnier cozies which would be mainstream comedy.)

One of the objections of those who hate cozies and one of the reasons that in the nineties various people, from editors to reviewers to writers of how-to books tried to read the Cozy entirely out of the mystery genre is that they say it’s not logical. No old spinster, no funny little man, no people with no qualifications can solve a crime better than the police.  The police are professionals and have training, and writing these things is pure fantasy.

This is me rolling my eyes.  Someone pointed out that mysteries are morality plays, and the cozies are very much morality plays. What I mean is: it’s fiction.  Yeah, surely, in those medieval stories the babe at the breast didn’t talk, and if it did, it wouldn’t give the right answer.  And of course, in most cases little spinster ladies or smashed up fliers don’t solve the crime before the police.  Or do they?  Do you really know if someone with internal knowledge of the people involved did put the police onto the right track?  How would you know?

Of course you have to sell it.  Why is the police not on the right track?  There are tons of explanations you can deploy, including having all the physical evidence pointing in the wrong direction, or having the people in the group where the crime happens be so close knit and tight lipped that they’re hiding some essential point from the police.  At which point only one of them can solve the crime.

Often in the first books with a ‘detective’ this means he/she is personally and closely involved.  After that, they either become known for doing this or their extended family has really bad luck.  There are the Miss Hart and Miss Hunt mysteries by Celina Grace where one wonders why anyone employs these women as maids.  you know someone is GOING to die.

Be that as it may, the book takes place in a tiny circle, and its plot is usually spiral-form.  You go over the same people again and again, each time with something that happened or was told before forming the crowbar with which the questioner will uncover the next circle of deception.

Dreams are acceptable in pointing you at the solution, but should not GIVE you the solution because fairplay is important in these books.  it is, in fact all about pitting your brains against another “normal person” (the detective.)

The other part of the structure is that there is often a second murder halfway through.  This is so expected, I know I’m halfway through the book when I hit the second murder.  It is often the running suspect up to that time that gets murdered.  Piling on clues (false herrings, of course) against him helps you hide the clues against the real murderer, so that when you have to redirect, the reader has to re examine everything just like the “detective” has to.

How unpleasant can you make the murderer and the murder?  Pretty unpleasant.  The motives can be anything from hiding other murders to far worse stuff.  Then how is it cozy?  Well, you don’t usually dwell on filth that you’re bringing up, just mention it, matter of factly.

So… are these mysteries really depressing?  Oh, heck no.  Yeah, sure, these “normal” people are often terrible, but it is a normal person that solves the murder and returns order to the world, and this is often done to save the innocent (often two people in love) from suspicion.  In the end, good triumphs.

How to have a successful cozy series: have a sympathetic amateur detective and sidekick/s.

Take Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, the books, not the series: she is everyone’s favorite grandmother, and you want to spend more time with her.

If you’re writing about younger “detectives” it’s not bad to have a little “romance” and will she won’t she going on.  It will make people look for the next book.

Must it be murder mystery?  Well, probably not, but some ghouls like me prefer if it is.  It makes the whole thing more important and puts the detective in more “peril.”

Oh, yeah, most mysteries have a “timing clock” that is something that will happen if the murder isnt’ solved.  In cozies this is often the imminent arrest of the wrong person, or of course, the killer striking again.

I think that’s what you need to know, but I confess I’m a little scattered with the impending trip, so I’ll be happy to take your questions.

 

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Formatting for Print (Pt. 2)

When formatting your book for print, there is no one right way to do it. The goal is to make your book look not only as good as possible but to make it look “professional” or, in other words, to make it look as close to a traditionally published book as possible. Why? Because that is what the readers expect.

It isn’t difficult to do. Some methods take longer, or cost more, than others. How you get to your end product is up to you. Before we get to some of the options available, let’s go over some basics.

As authors, many of us have been programmed to write in Times New Roman or Courier or a similar font. Usually using 12 pt for type size. Standard manuscript format for submissions has usually included 1 inch margins and double-spaced lines. First line indents can be up to half an inch. We often default back to this without even thinking.

Don’t. At least not when it comes to converting your work for either e-books or print. For print you have to think about thinks like page bleeds, page size, interior margins vs exterior margins, section breaks vs. page breaks, alternating headers and footers and so much more.

Depending on which service you use as your print-on-demand source, you can choose to release your book as a mass market paperback, a trade paperback or even a hard cover. Most of those sources have basic templates you can use — and adapt — which will help you decide your margins and how to place your headers and footers, etc. If you haven’t ever put together a print file before, or if you aren’t comfortable doing so, I recommend you download one of the templates and use it. After you have your manuscript in the basic format offered by the template, you can go back and add what flourishes and changes you want. But it is a good way to start getting used to setting up a print file.

This is especially helpful if you are setting your print file up using Word or a similar word processing program.

This first shot shows basic margin information. (Click on the images and they will open in a new window in a larger format) You can see from the tabs at the top of the screenshot that I found this information in the layout tab (using Word). For a manuscript using 6 x 9 pages and coming in at approximately 270 pages total, the margins are set as shown in the image. Note also that the document has been set to mirror the margins.

The one caveat I will put here when it comes to margins, especially the inside margins is to never trust templates or what anyone tells you. You need to see what it looks like for yourself. The more pages a book has, the wider that interior margin needs to be. This is why I always recommend using a POD supplier that lets you have a physical copy of the proof before you send it to “press”. What looks good as a PDF file on your screen or even off your printer might not look the same once it has been bound. So do yourself a favor, at least until you’ve done enough print books to trust your instincts, and order a physical proof before hitting the print button.

In the same dialog box open to set the margins, click the “paper” tab. This is where you choose the size of your page. You’ll note that in Word, the 6 x 9 size is a “custom” size. This might vary depending on what word processing program you’re using.

The rest of the information in this dialog box seems like it doesn’t have much to do with what you are setting up but go ahead and make sure you have paper selection set to your default tray. This will come in handy later if you decide to print out your mss to check it yourself.

Using the “layout” tab in the same dialog box, you should get something that looks like this. I’ll be honest, this is one of the most important things you can do in setting up your print file in a word processing program. This controls the way your headers and footers will look as well as where your section breaks begin.

This is important because, if you look at traditionally published books, you may see a couple of things. First, there usually are no headers or footers on the first page of a new chapter. Second, the author’s name usually appears at the top of the even numbered pages and the book title appears at the top of odd numbered pages. (To make sure you’re setting this up right, you need to do one other thing. At the end of a chapter in an e-book file, you would have a page break. That gives the digital file the appearance of a page ending and the new chapter beginning on a different “page”. In you print file, you will replace the page break with a section break. In Word, “breaks” are found under the Layout tab. If you click on “Breaks”, a dialog box will open up. At the bottom of the box, you’ll find the alternatives for the different types of section breaks you can insert. Choose “odd page” if you want your chapters to all start on the next odd numbered page. The value of doing it this way, you chapters will all begin on the right hand side of the book and feel more traditional to your reader. However, there is a downside to this in that it can add physical pages to your book and, as the author, the amount of money you get per sale of your POD book depends on how many pages it has. The higher the number of pages, the higher the print cost. I tend to go with the more traditional approach because it is what readers expect and the pricing differential of 20 or so pages isn’t enough to worry about.)

This screenshot shows what you get when you click in either the header or footer areas of your manuscript. I wanted to show this because you can see how I’ve made sure “different first page” as well as “different odd and even pages” have been clicked. Since I’d already set them in the dialog box above, there shouldn’t have been a problem but no computer program is perfect and sometimes Word does weird things — as does any other word processing program. So it is always good to check elsewhere when possible to make sure the coding is in place.

But there is another reason I wanted you to see this screenshot. If you look at the column of options immediately to the left of the “different first page” bit, you should see as the last option “link to previous”. You want to make sure this is NOT clicked prior to your first chapter, or where you want your first page numbers and headers to appear. Otherwise, you will wind up up page numbers on your cover page, etc. If you aren’t sure where to start your headers and footers, look at print books in your genre. See what they have done.

Now, once you’ve done all this and you’ve made sure you have all the flourishes, etc., you want in place, it’s time to save your file. You’re going to do this in two steps. One, as your DOC or DOCX file. Always do this. The second will be as your PDF file. Most, if not all, POD places want a print ready PDF file for both your interior and exterior files. If you want to print your book to read through it one last time before submitting it to your POD provider, print the PDF file because it will keep not only your page size, even if you are printing on standard paper, but it will print the blank pages added in between chapters if you have your new sections always beginning on either the even or odd page.

From there, it is simply a matter of deciding if you are ready to upload the file and move on to your cover file.

Now, a couple of quick notes. If you use Word or a word processing program to create your PDF file, you need to set your margins to justify. (Of course, you can choose not to. As I mentioned above, check to see what the traditional publishers do in your genre and copy it.) If you do this, you may wind up with some odd sentence breaks. You can adjust the character spacing by highlighting the line in question, opening your font dialog box, clicking the advanced tab and then adjusting the character spacing.

One other thing you need to do is make sure you have turned off widow and orphan control. Doing this will insure your pages all end at the same place unless, of course, we’re talking the last page of a chapter where you have only a few lines or paragraphs. It’s a little thing but it makes the book look more professional.

I’ll admit there are easier ways of doing this. There are programs out there that make this a snap. Some have a very small learning curve and others have a much larger learning curve. The industry standard for years has been InDesign by Adobe. I love InDesign. I also love Quarkxpress. Both are anything but cheap and have learning curves most of us don’t want or have time for. Neither are great, at least in my experience, for designing e-books. If I’m going to put in a lot of time — and money — into a publishing program, I want it to do both. For Mac users, I’ve found one that does just that. Unfortunately, it isn’t cheap but it seems to be well worth it. The program I’m talking about is Vellum. I’m going to be buying it later this week. I’ll have a review of it next week for you guys. We’ll also talk about some of the other programs available to help streamline the process. Some of those programs include InDesign, Jutoh and Scrivener.

And now, for a bit of promo.

It’s here!

Nocturnal Rebellion is live on Amazon.

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

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I’m working on it

Just a note to let you know I am working on this morning’s post. It’s taking longer than I expected. Please check back in the next hour or so. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by then.

 

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Now and again (and again)

‘I have a cunning plan,’ sayeth Baldric…

‘Do you dare countermand my divine instruction?’ Sayeth the Emperor Mong.

And then there’s the ‘Good Idea’ fairy…

Besides all these fine helpful folk we have the generous intervention of natural disaster, plain accident (and not just the ones looking to happen thanks to the intervention of the above-mentioned) and of course illness and the natural consequences of age.

I might be talking about the core of many a great novel – which, as often as not, are about dealing with the above, or the consequences of the same. Actually, I was referring to my weekend. For a change it wasn’t me listening to the great advice of the sage Baldric, the Imperial commander Mong, and eternally charming and beguiling Good Idea fairy. I’m sure they were as busy as ever, but their great work did not result in a demand for medical help, at least not here on our island. I was doing something that really was a good idea.

No. REALLY. Not a Good Idea fairy good idea, but one designed to help with the consequences of her good ideas.

You don’t believe me, do you?

Hmph. I’ll have you know that Ambulance Officers are ranked as the most trustable people, even narrowly eclipsing Fireys. That’s why all the puppy kickers trusted and believed me, and not ChinaMike ™ ‘cause no one trusts them ‘revenuoors’. Oh… wait. Oh well. There goes another good theory.

None-the-less, it actually is true, and exactly what I spent the weekend at – Ambulance Service training. We’re all volunteers and from a range of backgrounds. Our lot, anyway, are pretty much who you’d choose to ride the river with, who you’d love to have around when any of the above factors come into play. I’m very proud to be a very minor and junior part this group. We do 10-12 twelve hour on-call shifts a month, and a call is typically three hours chewed out of your day or night. It’s stressful, enormously responsible and physically and mentally demanding at times. And, yes, we help, and at times will put our lives and health at risk, for anyone who needs it. Anyone. (Which as you know from the gospel according Irene Gallo is what people who are nasty Nazis, sexists, homophobes etc. etc. do. Good people stay at home and join PC internet lynch mobs, or, if they’re really giving a lot to society join protest marches to silence people whom they disagree with.)

I spend a lot of time worrying that I’m going to screw up, because I have (possibly) someone’s life or at least well-being in my hands. Now, I do this diving (my buddy’s life) and climbing (my second and party’s lives). But there I actually have a reasonable idea of what I’m doing and how to manage best. I’m an utter obsessive perfectionist (and a martinet to boot, to those who do these things with me, alas), which comes through in my writing – which is not a good thing. I really, really don’t know enough human medicine and ambulance practice to make this a comfortable experience for me (for what it is worth, the same is true of writing books. I still spend a lot of time and effort trying to get better at it.)

So training weekends are something I really value, that I try to put as much mental focus into as I can. Okay, so there are some very good inappropriate jokes about our new training dummy – who according to the box she came in is called Ann. We had interesting times getting her electronics working, which as I’d been thinking about a ‘some-assembly-required’ IKEA style sexbot story and talking about it, was particularly fraught with bad puns. As she appears male (she has no hands or feet… or boomps-a-daisy) she’s been renamed trans-Ann. I think the jokes kind of go with doing something terribly serious – which no one is playing the fool about. They’re common in surgery and on grim search and rescue. Not on TV of course – but in reality. TV surgery and TV S&R show awfully earnest people. Which they are… they’re also coping with stress in a very psychologically appropriate manner – which at times includes laughing at it.

This weekend, particularly Sunday, however was really particularly great – because after the theory refreshers, our trainers put us through a series of scenarios with our poor hapless second dummy (who has legs. Her arms seem to have come adrift…) where we actually used our ambulance and the gear – quite a lot of times. In daylight. Without any real fear that dummy would die or feel pain. We still worked as if she would, but it lets you concentrate better without that worry.

You get faster, better, and far more confident. You also have your mistakes pointed out (and our trainer was great, making it about learning, not ‘you idiot’.) We WANT to learn. Doing the same basic stuff – getting a stretcher into an ambulance for example, or taking obs, over and over, so you don’t have to think about it, so you can concentrate on the real medical problems. Also… you start to see your own flaws (mine: being far too inclined to take charge. Which is all very well when you are the most experienced and do know what to do. This is not true of me.)

In case you hadn’t worked out: I was also writing… about writing. A lot of us are busy writing books. Books to sell, books as a final product. If we step back at all: it is to learn about the theory, the methods (marketing for example). That’s good and valuable. But… there is enormous value in writing NOT for your book (you can use it, perhaps) Just writing, where per se, the outcome does not matter. The piece is done as best as possible, but you can shred it, you pick the story apart, you can pick up faults, you can experiment and try doing things differently. That’s what it is for. Not to sell but just make yourself comfortable with your tools and skills. So when you go back to that book… you can focus on making it a great story, because the other stuff is muscle memory.

Even if you don’t do it like this: write a lot. In my opinion it is better to push through a reasonable volume than endless fuss on two sentences a day (yes, I do know a ‘literary’ author who does just that. I think her work sucks).

I know, some people get it right first time. Most of us don’t.

 

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KENP, Click Farms, Overdrive, and Hand-selling at AMA-Con

First, a couple notes on things that have been happening in the field since last column:
1. KENP 3.0 – Normally Amazon’s big changes to KU come in July, but this year it came in August. While there was much sturm und drang, really, there doesn’t seem to be much appreciable change from 2.0 for regular indies. The KENP page counts shrunk slightly, to align closer to true page counts when the story’s in paper. The rest appears to be on the back end, invisible to us, mostly targeted at click farms and bought reviews.

2. Speaking of click farms, several indies have recently reported their accounts being locked / books taken off sale after buying “advertising” with a “guaranteed number of readers.” You know that picture of Batman slapping Robin? Yeah, picture that. Here’s how NOT to get your account locked and books delisted:
A.) You cannot guarantee buyers ethically. If buyers or readers are guaranteed, that means you’re paying a click farm to run a program on a laptop slaved to a bunch of stolen iphones, each loaded to an Amazon account, “borrowing” and “reading” them. Unless you’re paying a click farm in North Korea, in which case it’s a poor schmuck pacing down a table, manually finger-swiping every iphone.
B.) If you can’t sign up for their mailing list, it’s a click farm. Real promoters want everybody to sign up for their lists, so they can grow. Click farms say they have a list, but if it’s not obvious and easy to find, then it’s a lie.
C.) If they don’t have a website, it’s a click farm. ESPECIALLY if their only presence is a “closed facebook group.” Again, if they’re not soliciting more people to join them, they’re not right.
D.) If it’s too good to be true, it ain’t true. It’s more likely to be this: https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821

3. Draft2Digital is now able to load books on OverDrive – yes, that means Draft2Digital can now get your ebooks into a library. However, it’s not all wine and roses, and “can” is not the same as “will.” The comments at Passive Voice are illuminating: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/08/draft2digital-adds-overdrive-to-the-fold/

And now, on marketing in the flesh:

The North Texas Writer’s Association, also called the Bugscuffle Shooting & Writing Club, ran a booth at Ama-Con up in Amarillo last Weekend. This means JL Curtis, Peter Grant, Lawdog, and myself caravaned up and Alma Boykin met up with us for the booth setup. We then spent two days hawking all our books (and the night inbetween, Jim & I got some sleep while LawDog & Peter were both furiously typing away on their latest books. LawDog’s “Africa & Other Stories” is now out for sale, and Peter’s “King’s Champion” is out to beta readers.)

If there’s anything more painful than an introvert trying to hawk their wares, it’s five introverts trying to hawk their wares. Fortunately, I have plenty of sales training, and everyone else has some “dealing with public” training. So Alma and I wore our spiffy dressy clothes (She went Edwardian, I went ren faire & steampunky with exterior corsetry), attracting eyes and cameras, and the guys took turns pitching in on sales. And we had a bowl with mints and bouncy balls, which attracted younger kids (and their parents, dragged along).

It was excellent at distilling books down to their essence. Jim’s Gray Man series quickly became “Modern westerns, with cowboys versus drug smugglers!” and Alma’s Alexi’s Tales became “Urban fantasy, but with Russian mythology instead! …And a texting cat!”

Interesting divide: People over 40 bought books, and people under 40 wanted to know if it was in ebook. We sold just enough physical books to cover table rent, but not enough to cover hotel, food, and time off work. If we do this again, we’ll have book cards (cover, blurb, QR code & URL to book on Amazon) for the ones on sale, as well as the ones not there!

Also, people may pick up the entire series at once (That happened twice with Jim’s series), especially if you take credit card. (Square worked fine.) So, bring bags! We ruthlessly dumped Office Depot supplies (sharpies for autographing, pre-printed business and book cards, books stand boxes, etc.) in order to present the bag to the happy customer who’d just bought stuff. On Day 2, Alma brought a handful of grocery bags, and life was better!

However, if you don’t have book 1 of a series, people will look interested, and then put the book back down. Most casual readers do not want to start in the middle of the series. I was really kicking myself for not having book one of everything there – or a card with book one to point them toward Amazon.

(I don’t have a good feel how we did on ebook sales. For one, LawDog is through a publisher, so I can’t get those numbers, they may be buried in the tail of a sucessful release anyway. For another, I’d have to get the other 4 of us to all check our KDP accounts and check in. I should do that. Instead I spent two days not talking to anyone, because I had used up all the extro in my vert, and needed to recharge.)

You can see our table setup here: https://oldnfo.org/2017/08/06/ama-con-update/

And for new releases this week, we have two!

Tom Rogneby has taken his talents into noir, with a few hints of supernatural in the background, with The BoogeyMan:

Martin Shelby is The BoogeyMan, a private investigator and fixer for folks who get into trouble too tough and too strange for the police. People only bring him the jobs that require the body of a linebacker and the face of a gargoyle.

Now, he’s been handed a job that pays double, but that can only mean double the danger.

But when the things that go bump in the night look under their bed for HIM, how hard can it be? To The BoogeyMan, it’s just another job.

Alma Boykin has released hilarious and lighthearted stories of witches and wizards dealing with the parts nobody ever mentions in urban fantasies: taking your familiar to the vet when it’s a 100-lb skunk, the IRS won’t let you deduct robes as professional expenses, and typos in the spellbook’s latest edition mean that students get some spectacular results from the example!

Familiar Tales, by Alma Boykin!

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