Zoom Readings and Short Stories and Kickstarters, OH MY!

Tonight I took part in my very first zoom reading out of my very first editing attempt….the anthology NEVER TOO OLD TO SAVE THE WORLD!

I am so incredibly proud of this.

The stories were wonderful as they came in.

We made suggestions. The authors? They ran with our suggestions even more than we hoped….such that the stories are cooler than we even thought when they first came in! There’s not a bad story in this anthology!

Guys, seriously, go check this out.

My “Soccer Mom Saves the World” story is related to four other short stories I’ve sold, that all appear in DEMONS, HEROES, AND ROBOTS, OH MY! my collection of short stories available now on Amazon.

AND….one of my current novel WIP (works in progress) is ALSO related to the same stories….current working title is GIRL VERSUS DEMON; DEMON DEADLY SINS!

Advertisement

Updatery and Sundry Details

Ok. Deep Breath. And another one.

So….I haven’t posted in a while because life has basically reached up and grabbed me by the nose and basically shook me around quite a lot. Many of you may have kept up with me on social media, but writing took rather a backseat to a lot of other details while living in Pandemic World.

Yes, I’m still here.

Yes, I’m still writing.

I had both Moderna shots and a Moderna booster, and got COVID myself in February. The last two years have been a giant trainwreck. Every court in Ohio set up their own policies for how to handle COVID safety and distancing, and they all changed their policies at least twice. Every attorney in this area has been under a massive amount of stress and anxiety trying to make sure each policy and each case is dealt with. The amount of cases have jumped, and the number of attorneys are not growing. It’s insane out there. In the midst of that, the Boy is now done with his sophomore year of college and the Girl is about to finish kindergarten.

That said, I have gotten some writing done, and here’s my updatery.

  1. RING OF FIRE (second book in the Hochenwalt Files series, sequel to SHADES OF GRAY); The end of the book is in sight. I’m in the final third of the book and bringing all the different threads together towards the end.
  2. “Nimbledigit and the Belief Meter” (short story, will appear in ON WINGS OF STEAM anthology from Winter Wolf Publications. I do not have a release date for this yet, will share when I have it.
  3. “Butterflies Through the Gray” (short story, will appear in ROGUE ARTISTS anthology from Origins Game Fair/Atthis Arts). This will release at the Origins Game Fair June 8-12, 2022.
  4. “Soccer Mom Saves the World” (short story, will appear in NEVER TOO OLD TO SAVE THE WORLD anthology from Outland Entertainment). I do not have a release date for this yet, will share when I have it.
  5. DEMON DEADLY SINS (First book in GIRL VERSUS DEMON series) still in progress.

I will also be appearing at Origins Game Fair all days June 8-12, 2022.

I will also be appearing at the Marysville MiniCon on August 27, 2022.

No other events are scheduled at this time.

WOW Where has the time gone?

Okay….

MASSIVE changes in my life.

As of August 1, 2018, I opened my own law firm in Urbana, Ohio. It’s been a wild ride. And business is going GANGBUSTERS. It’s made it hard to find time to write, but rest assured, I am making progress.

To answer some questions…

YES I am still writing the sequel to SHADES OF GRAY. (Title right now is RING OF FIRE) It’s my current WIP, and will be the next thing I finish. I’m in the middle right now. No, I don’t have a release date just yet.

YES I am still writing GIRL VERSUS DEMON; DEMON DEADLY SINS. This, however, is not under contract; it will wait until RING OF FIRE is done and turned in.

UNRELATED to that, I am putting together a collection of my short stories. My cousin, Todd Hostetler, cover artist extraordinaire (he did the original cover for SHADES OF GRAY, is working on cover art, and I’m working on collating and doing the final interior design and draft for DEMONS AND HEROES AND ROBOTS, OH MY! We are hoping to release this later this year. Some are reprinted short stories, some have never been published before, but THREE of those stories are related to GIRL VERSUS DEMON. TWO of those are set in Urbana, Ohio.

And the Boy is a junior in high school, in lots of activities. The Girl is three, and into everything. We bought a building for the law office, and are working on renovations, and I still have book events all over the place.

NEXT EVENT is WITTCON on March 23! See you there!

Selling at Conventions Part Three

Okay, so I covered having stock, having a table buddy, having stuff on the table, and some basics for finding conventions, having a card reader, and in general being prepared. Here’s a few more thoughts.

1) Bring change. Remember to consider sales tax issues.

Not a joke. And especially if you aren’t using a card reader (which you really should),  there’s nothing worse than losing a sale because you can’t make change. Remember that at the beginning of a con, everyone has freshly minted 20s from the ATM. If your stuff costs less than 20 bucks, and you don’t have change, you might lose that sale…and they might not make it back with cash in hand before the end of the weekend. My stuff is generally priced at 5,10,15,20,25 dollar increments, and I’ll pay the sales tax out of that price at a con…because it’s easier to give a slight discount than having to bring rolled coin to a con. If I take a credit card payment, I charge full price…because I also have to pay the credit card fee. Most people don’t care, but I’m up front about that.

Also consider what state your event is in and look into properly licensing yourself as a transient vendor and obtaining whatever permits you need, as well as actually reporting and paying tax timely. If you have questions, contact the convention; they probably have someone who knows this information for their vendors. If you aren’t sure, contact the state tax department where that convention is located.

2) Keep good sales records.

Tax purposes. Business records. Also if I’ve been at a con before, I can look back on the previous years sales to see if I’m up, down, or sideways and try to see if there’s a common denominator. I also use those records to determine which cons are ones to return to, or which ones might not have been worth the investment, and aren’t worth the money to attend in the future.

There’s an ongoing neuroses among authors at a con to compare sales numbers. I’m guilty as well. This can be tricky. Someone with a really off the wall and well received project that just released might not get the same sales numbers as those who might have books that have been out for a while (good or bad). Someone with ten titles on the table is going to have different numbers than someone who is there with their first book. And please don’t feel like low sales numbers when compared to someone with highly pushy sales tactics make you look bad. I don’t know about you, but I want readers…who like me, like my stuff, and go looking for my newest project, rather than someone who just gets that immediate sale. I’m good with sales numbers being slightly lower…because I may have hooked someone who will pick up the rest of the series…and start the next series…and tell people about my books and….you get the picture. It’s good to know if you’re the only one having a good/bad weekend, because you might want to mix up your approach, or not…but don’t obsess (easier said than done).

3) It’s not just about the immediate sale.

I said earlier that I don’t want just sales…I want readers. The kid out of money that picks up a sucker with my business card on it…and later checks out the sample chapter on my website, might then ask their parents for my book for their birthday, or Christmas…or might drag their parents back to pick up the book before the weekend is out.

I give out samples of my writing to hook people. Generally, it’s a first chapter that can give someone a flavor of what I do. If people want more, but don’t have a lot of money to drop, I might steer them towards a couple of short stories that I have on the table that I sell for five bucks each for a print version. If they like, they might be back, they might order online, they might check out more later.

My point? You go to conventions, not just to sell a certain number of copies, but also for the promotions aspect. I’ve had people come back to me at later conventions, who saw me…even in a different state…and remember me, my books…and buy. I have postcards, I have business cards, I have freebies, I have buttons and ribbons and mints and suckers and….and…and…because I want to be remembered.

Your mileage may vary. I do try to have fun with it. My GOT FROG? Buttons and ribbons or frog temporary tattoos are freebies that I give out. If kids come up to my table, I have something other than candy that they can take away (Kids always love candy, but some kids are diabetic, or hyperactive, or have other issues, so the mom in me always wants to be able to reach out to everyone). People collect buttons. Some conventions have fascination with badge ribbons. They aren’t crazy expensive, and they appeal to a lot of people. I’ve had people see the buttons walking around and see them on the table and come over to ask about the books (that’s kinda the point!).

3) Remember your own needs. Don’t ignore them.

I was the breastfeeding/pumping mom who set up alone for a convention and ran to the bathroom every two hours with a rolling cooler to pump. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to do the convention…no way could I have brought a very active seven month old baby and set up and fed her and done what I needed to do for the books. I did what I had to do to keep myself going and not have issues. I’ve seen another mom who had to do this as well about a year later, and we spent some time commiserating.

My husband tries to stick to a very specific diet; and to be honest, packing a cooler for lunch when we go to a con means I eat healthier, too. Drinks at convention centers are expensive. Taking a water bottle and a few caffeinated drinks in a cooler is way cheaper. Make sure you take breaks when you need them. Stay hydrated. Don’t forget pee breaks.

That also goes for those who need medications, insulin injections, inhalers, etc. Be prepared. You will be taxing yourself. Wear comfortable shoes. If walking is an issue, bring what you need to get in and out. I’ve seen one author bring her own chair…because of ongoing back issues. I’m considering it.

4) Take some time if you’re traveling to a new city to do something outside of the con.

Look, I go to Columbus and Dayton all the time; probably wouldn’t fuss about being in and out there, because it’s not new to me. But if you’re traveling somewhere you haven’t been, find one thing that you can go do that’s neat for that city. My husband and I went to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade just before Wizard World Cleveland started one year, and went through the Soldiers and Sailors Monument before the parade started. We walked to Fountain Square in downtown Indianapolis one evening while in town for Indiana Comic Con. It’s a little sad to spend money for travel, even if it is for business, and realize that you haven’t seen anything of the town you’re in.

And enjoy yourself. Because cons, as crazy as they are, are still fun.

 

Things Learned When Traveling With Minions

Over the last couple of years, we have done quite a bit of traveling with the kids…between vacations and soccer tournaments, wrestling meets, and conventions. Here are the things we have learned. (I actually meant to post this several months ago, but it still holds true).

1) Cabbage anything for the teenager? Not a good idea two days before a long road trip. Unless we pack clothespins for the noses, or are prepared to keep the windows down quite a bit.

2) The toddler will hide goldfish crackers in her crotch, so that we don’t know she has them. And will cry for food…only to find a pound of crushed goldfish crackers between her legs when taking her out of the car seat. Apparently she hoards them.

3) Watching Jaws with the teenager? No problem. Right before a beach vacation? Not so much.

4) If the teenager has gas, the toddler thinks it’s funny.  And she will make fart noises with her mouth to make it worse. And her brother? Well, he’ll keep doing it to make her laugh. It’s smelly and funny at the same time.

5) If you did not pack extra pants, the toddler will pee on you.

6) Swim diapers don’t hold much.

7) Seawater is a great sinus rinse.

8) Anything tastes better to the toddler with ketchup or cocktail sauce. And woe to the person who forgets a sippy cup. Cause that won’t stop her from being thirsty and wanting your drink. And pouring it all over you.

9) The teenager definitely enjoyed watching people at the beach. We enjoyed watching him trying not to show us how much he was enjoying watching people on the beach.

10) It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, or how much effort you put in. The memories will not be the planning; they will be the off the wall things you could never have predicted.

Publishing News, Updatery, and Stuff and Junk and Things

Okay…so life has pretty much jumped up and bit me. I’ve wanted to post a lot of things here lately, and I haven’t…but here we go.

FIRST of all…I announced it on Facebook and Twitter, but didn’t post it here (not sure why, just too many things going on I suspect) but I’ve signed contracts with Hydra Publications for the entire HOCHENWALT FILES trilogy. Book one is already out; book two in progress, and book three is in the planning stages. See the announcement HERE.

SECONDLY, I am still working on GIRL VS DEMON. Really. But finishing book two in the HOCHENWALT FILES is taking priority. The minute the werewolf book is in the publisher’s hands, the demon book will rise directly back to the top of the list.

I just recently appeared at Cleveland Concoction last weekend; I have to say that I truly love that convention. There’s tons of great people on wonderful panels, awesome attendees, and I actually had people who showed up for my reading time excited to hear from ME. That makes the inner author do a Snoopy dance and squee a bit! Those who showed up got to hear the first chapter of the demon book…and I’m thrilled to say that it was well received! And Author’s Alley is just so freaking awesome. I would truly love to see other conventions follow their lead. It made for a place where the authors could sit down, talk to readers, sell some books, and network with each other…which we certainly did a lot of!

NEXT UP will be a trip to the GREAT PHILADELPHIA COMIC CON April 27-29, 2018. I will be there with plenty of books for sale, Hubby in tow, and swag and promo stuff and etc. Please check it out and come see me if you’re in the area.

STAY TUNED to this page and my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Organizing a giveaway in the next month or so…YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!

 

 

Eighteen Goals for 2018

  • Finish both in-progress novels and at least one short story this year.

The Demon book and the werewolf book have been slow going. Actually the werewolf one needs to be on the front burner, with the demon book shortly behind it.

  • get better writing schedule. I’ve been sucking it when it comes to actual butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
  • HOUSEHOLD PROJECTS!!
  1. Finish upstairs bathroom
  2. Turn downstairs closet into computer nook/recording space for audio books
  3. Maybe another project or two as time permits…
  • PURGE/CLEAN the entire house. That’s ten rooms.
  1. Living Room
  2. Dining Room
  3. Kitchen
  4. Upstairs Bath
  5. Downstairs Bath
  6. Man Cave
  7. Boy’s room
  8. Girl’s room
  9. Our room
  10. Hallway
  • Clark Howard Savings Challenge
  • Lose thirty pounds. Yeah, I could stand to lose more than that. Still, set manageable goals.
  • One date night a month with the Husband. We need to make this more of a priority.
  • One on one time with each kid at least once every month.
  • Pay down debt.

Since there’s actually ten rooms in the house, that makes this a total of eighteen goals. I’ll try to update as I can.

 

 

Selling at Conventions Part Two

Take enough stock.

But, if it’s your first time, how do you know what’s enough?

My rule of thumb for most conventions is to take 20-30 copies for the first book in a series, and 10-15 of each subsequent book in the series. If I have anthologies, I don’t take more than 5 copies each; they aren’t huge sellers, but I’m surprised sometimes at how they do sell.

But your mileage on this may vary.

This is generally more than enough. Even at my best selling events, I haven’t sold out completely taking these numbers. I also have t-shirts and mugs that I sell with my book information/covers on them. Don’t invest into these until you’re versed in how your book inventory will do at different events.

While there’s a part of me that says it’s better to take too much than not to have enough, remember that books are heavy, and there’s only so much room in a vehicle. You also must leave room for yourself, any luggage, and any other bags you are bringing.

Don’t forget as well to leave room for a table buddy to join you. Life is a whole lot easier if you have a buddy going with you to help watch the table so you can get a pee break. If you’re taking a buddy, you must also leave room for the buddy’s luggage. You SHOULD provide transportation, badge, and lodging for your buddy for helping you…but it’s okay to share the hotel room you’re already paying for anyway. (Part of why my husband is my favorite table buddy. He works in retail/sales anyway, so he’s got an eye for this kind of stuff for set up and marketing, and well, I get to go on weekends out of town with my best friend and other half, while deducting the expenses on my taxes. Win/win, that’s for me.)

And it is not worth renting a uhaul or trailer for books unless you’re Patrick Rothfuss or someone with a big online store that has more than just book merchandise. Seriously. His store is wicked awesome. It’s here. But Pat’s not setting up in Artist Alley…he’s setting up a full blown vendor booth. It makes a difference.

It’s hard to find a happy medium.

BUT if you’re new to this scene, and you’ve taken more than two large plastic totes full of books, you’ve probably taken too much. (FYI…that’s just books, there’s also a big tote full of other supplies plus signage, plus my t-shirts and other materials). I drive a Ford Focus. I can pack all of my display materials, books, and miscellaneous supplies as well as my suitcase and a small cooler in my car. It’s tight, but I can and have done it. It’s a whole lot easier in my husband’s crossover vehicle, so we take his car when we are both going.

FUN TIP…Invest in some decent plastic totes or bins. Outdoor events can get soggy, which aren’t good for books. And cardboard boxes fall apart with heavy books sometimes.

FUN TIP 2…make sure you have signage of some kind, with your name at the very least.

IMG_4504[1]

Selling at Conventions Part One

I’ve had a few new authors ask over the last few years…what do I need to put together to sell from a table at a convention, book event, author fair, or other non-bookstore event? What do I need to prepare? I say non-bookstore event, because bookstores are awesome. Most of the time for a bookstore, you just have to show up with your favorite signing pen. For an independent bookstore, you might want to bring your own banner, and might need to bring your own stock, but they provide the table, and probably have it set up the way that works for them. Don’t dictate to a bookstore, but ask lots of questions to make sure you’re on the same page.

For comic cons, book fairs, art events, and other non-bookstore events, here’s where to start…

  • Do your research. In more ways than one…

Talk to authors and see what conventions or events give the best bang for your buck. There might even be a Facebook group in your area of writers who share this kind of information; ask.

You’ll, in most cases, have to pay for your table. Some events offer free tables to authors. Some events are reasonable, and some are wicked expensive. Some are just not worth it. Be smart and ask around before you plunk down the money for a table.

My rule of thumb is that I’ll try just about anything I can afford. My first year at an event I need to have enough in sales (not profit, but sales) to cover my table cost. The next year, I better sell more. If I’m not bringing in that much, the event isn’t a do again. You’re NOT going to make back your costs for your expenses by selling at conventions. It’s a promotional expense. You are, however, going to be getting your name out there, selling books, and giving out bookmarks and promotional material. You may see a sales bump after the convention. If you do, your marketing efforts are working.

Over the course of the year, I have some free or low cost events, I have some local events with little or no travel costs, and I have some with hotel fees, expensive tables, and also the potential for new readers. If I make enough in profit to cover all of my expenses, I’m ecstatic. I normally do 10-12 events per year. Remember that the profit at the low cost, local events will make up for some of the losses at the bigger, expensive events, but the bigger events further from your home help get word further out about your books. I do a mix to cover all of my bases.

Is this a juried show? Do you need to be approved? Start the application process early; don’t wait until the last minute, as last minute might cause issues if they are full, and getting a last minute no means there isn’t enough time to look for another event to fill the weekend.

Once you’ve signed up, you also need to figure out what you need to do to report/pay sales tax and/or have a vendor’s license. The convention should have someone you can ask about this.

Get a credit card reader. I spent the money to get a chip card reader because I do enough of these events to justify the cost and minimize the exposure; that’s a decision that you’ve got to make on your own. PayPal and Square are the ones I see most often. I use PayPal, because I also have a PayPal business debit card tied to the account that can help with travel emergencies. I also run some of my writing income through PayPal, so it makes sense to have all if it in one account, but your mileage may vary.

Plan ahead. Understand the Load-In and Load-Out policies and ask questions. No question is stupid if you’re new to this.

 

 

The Pursuit of Busyness

It’s a little weird right now not to have a contracted deadline. But that’s probably a good thing.

I took a bunch of time off from having book events and such in the last half of pregnancy, and after The Girl was born, and for the first year of her life, I didn’t do anything that involved tons of travel.

This year will be different. I’m doing more travel. The Husband is going with me to some events; and will stay home with the Kidlings for some events. I’m actually branching back out to some of my previous haunts, to Cleveland, to Indianapolis, to Louisville, and actually getting some travel time outside of a one hour radius from my house. I’m looking forward to it, and to be honest, I think the Husband is, as well. We haven’t had a weekend out of town together since well before The Girl was born. We will be using some of my book events to get some time for just us.

I’m also way behind where I wanted to be on the DEMON book. Mea culpa. This is the first night in a long time that I’ve had the Kidlings in bed, the Husband otherwise occupied (he’s working late some nights, working on some projects for sidework…even if he’s in the house, he’s occupied), and not ready to drop from exhaustion myself or working on deadlines for the side job. I did get a short story out, and it will be published in June.

IT IS RELATED TO THE DEMON BOOK.

If you’ve read my short story, “Welcome to New York”, you’ve heard of Andrew and Gregory. They are two characters in that short story, and they are also secondary characters in the DEMON book. In both that short story and the novel, they are adults, with careers and a propensity to get involved in demon fighting. (“Welcome to New York” has appeared in two different anthologies, please click on BIBLIOGRAPHY above to get the links).

The short story coming out, “The Dragon Made Me Do It” will be published in the Origins Game Fair anthology, entitled DRAGONS! on Father’s Day weekend. It’s a wicked fun story about Andrew and Gregory as pre-teen altar boys dealing with a demonic presence that takes the form of a dragon.

LOCAL PEEPS…YES it does take place in Urbana. I didn’t make it obvious in the short story. But it is Urbana, Ohio. AND THAT’S WHERE THE DEMON BOOK IS SET. If I ever get it done. And I plan to. It’s turning out awesome. No, seriously…I’m in what writers normally refer to as the saggy, soggy, middle of the novel, the point at which most writers think anything they are working on sucks…and I still think it seriously rocks. That’s weird. Most of my writer friends will totally get what I’m saying. I cannot wait to share it with you. But first I gotta finish it. And then I gotta sell it.

And the brain worms for the project I have AFTER that are also intruding. I always have a million and one ideas…but this one is starting to get insistent. Better get the DEMON book done, so I can write the CARAVAN book (Working title, THE CORPSE BEHIND THE CARAVAN).

So…even though you haven’t heard much from me because I’ve been in the sleep-deprived new mom stage, doesn’t mean that the wheels aren’t turning. The problem hasn’t been the ideas. It’s been the time, and the exhaustion level. But The Girl is now sleeping through the night (and she’s turning into a big fan of books, but more on the GOODNIGHT MOON level than on Mum Mum’s books level), which means that I get to be Writer Girl again from time to time.