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A caveat regarding this post: This is one aspect about conventions that I've not been involved with until now. Some of promoting and touring can come down to doing a lot of what I've been talking about in other convention posts, like being on panels, and presenting a professional image, but the active promoting of a book? Well, this is where I am learning, just like you are.

With that in mind, let me tell you about some of the things that I have learned. Let's start with promotion. It is GREAT if you can have a giveaway for a convention that will remind people that your book exists, and that they might want to look it up to buy it. I've seen bookmarks, pens, pencils, cards, buttons, all manner of items. The most successful freebies I've received from authors go to Mary Robinette Kowal for her fans with card attached to advertise her historical fantasies, Jim C. Hines for his Jig the Goblin tattoos, and Ann Leckie for her spaceship lanyards. Swag should be cost effective (not too expensive), but memorable. So. I am currently looking into Egyptian swag, as The Vessel of Ra has a definite Egyptian vibe. It would perhaps also be good to go with something alchemical, or shadow-y. Here are some ideas that a casual search of the Internet has yielded.

Egyptian pencils
Team Drusus or Team Khun buttons or lanyards
Egyptian stickers
Egyptian tattoos
Egyptian beaded bookmarks

So, I will let you know whatever little thing I decide on. First, I'm waiting on my cover image, and then I will start planning.


Touring. Again, I'm in new territory. I think going to a convention can give you an opportunity to be in an area already, and if you're in a city, you might take some time before, during, or after the convention to visit a bookstore nearby. I will be playing with this as soon as the book comes out. For example, I could be in Minneapolis for a convention, and then make arrangements to have a Thursday night or a Sunday night signing with a local bookshop. Another idea I am playing with for summer of 2018 is a tour to several cities on one of the coasts. As I learn what are good tips to set this up, I will share.


Next time, I'll talk about touring. What have I heard about what works best? Stay tuned.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Hey there! I was doing the spring break thing this week, so I am just a little behind on getting this done. Nevertheless, here are the Unreliable Narrators links for the last two weeks.

Author Spotlight: Kameron Hurley

Blogging 101 with Jim C. Hines

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 5 Conventions--Image

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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As we continue our post on conventions, we would be remiss if we didn't include a budgeting post. And by we, I mean me. Sorry. I've been watching The Crown. But yes, unfortunately, it's not free lots of times when we invest in our writing. The good news is this: If you are a writer, these expenses are tax deductible against your business.

Occasionally, and especially if you become someone who is invited as a guest to a convention, or a speaker, you can get fees eliminated, if not have the whole con paid for. That said, most of the time as a beginning author, you will be paying the bill. It never hurts to ask if you can get assistance. The worst that can happen is someone will say no, and yes, you're used to that!!!

I always think it's worth it to check out the cons near you. You might be able to attend a local con for just the cost of the con. For example, I could attend Icon and commute back and forth from my home. That would mean that the cost of the con and the cost of food would make the con very cheap. I would do that if I weren't hosting a writing workshop, by the way.

So, let me break down a few costs, so you can take a look.

A Nearby Con that you can drive to: I drive to conventions in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Minneapolis, and Chicago, and potentially the range of cons I could drive to include Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis. It's vaguely about 50 cents or so for mile traveled in your car for reimbursement. Hotel, food, and the convention membership are the biggest expenses. Depending on the convention and the cost of the hotel, I might pay $500 for a 2-night/3-day inexpensive, nearby convention. I might pay $800 for a 3-night/4-day convention. Usually, this kind of con is a good investment. You can make this kind of con less expensive by staying at a friend's house, or sharing with a roommate, because hotel is usually the biggest expense.

Flying to a convention: The above convention price is pretty much the same, plus an air ticket. I live in Cedar Rapids, so some tickets might be more expensive for me than you, if you were catching a Southwest connection. In general, I pay around $400-$800 a ticket, depending on distance, access, and connections.

Ergo, the average convention will cost me

Transportation: Car or Airfare
Convention Membership

and run me about $500 for a very local affair when I stay at home all the up to about $1800 for a convention I fly to for a few days.

Are conventions worth it? Lots of opinions there. I would say yes, because you can introduce yourself in fandom and present yourself well. If you can pair the convention with some book signings, all the better. A little more bang for your buck and stretching of your travel dollar.

Next week: I will talk about conventions and promoting your book! Like I know so much about this...but I'm going to tell you what I've seen and what seems to work for other authors I know. Hint: having a unique give away seems to be key...

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Welcome to the 4th post of the Year of Living Authorly. This is the second post regarding conventions. Previous posts can be found here, and over at Unreliable Narrators. Eventually, I'll get all of these put on a page somewhere, and hopefully they can be of some use.

Last Friday, I burbled on about how much I liked conventions. Conventions are great for authors for a variety of reasons. You can connect with authors, agents, and editors. You can meet like-minded fans. You can create a good impression on people so they might buy your book (alas, the opposite is also true, so be careful out there. One of the ways authors can get involved in conventions is by being on panels.

How hard or easy is it to get on a panel at a convention? You have nothing to lose by visiting the website of a convention you are planning to visit and contacting the programming chair asking you how you can be of service. Usually, being on panels is a volunteer affair, which means you will pay. Occasionally, some cons have invited participants and are willing to waive your fee if you qualify. Those cons generally have instructions on their website and forms you might need to fill out. Remember that cons are often run by volunteers. Some cons will want to include you on programming, and some will be eerily silent. Take it all in stride.

If you've managed to contact programming, and have been assigned to a panel, here are some ideas that might help you.

Usually you're not alone. Usually there's a group of a few people who will speak to the topic with you. If you're very lucky, one of these people will be the moderator, who will control the flow of conversation between and among the panelists and the audience. Sometimes, cons are less formal, and panelists will moderate themselves.

If you can, prepare for the panel in advance. Many cons will give attendees each others email addresses, so people can discuss what individuals might cover. I've been on panels where I've gone in cold, and the panels have worked, but often preparation in advance means you can have handouts, or power points, or thought out conversation. Don't be afraid to be the first person to initiate contact if you need to be.

Many authors on panels will display their books around them like a little fortress. While it might be great to have some of your books for sale, many people feel that's a bit much. I feel that's more appropriate for a signing than a panel. Your mileage may vary. However, don't forget that the panel topic is not your books, even if your books exemplify what's being discussed. You can mention your books, but remember not to be a commercial for your books.

Try to think about speaking up. Don't dominate the panel. Don't be eclipsed. I always try to think that if I am one of a five person panel, I should probably say something about 20 percent of the time. Do your best to be clear while speaking. Always use a mike if you got one. This isn't about how loud you can speak. This is about helping people hear you. And yes, they really can't hear you in the back of the room. Treat your fellow panelists and your audience with respect.

Readings and signings aren't exactly panels, but they too are ways in which you can become more involved in a convention. A reading is exactly the place to generate interest in your work. I'll try to do a post on readings at some point this year. And signings? Well, there's some conventions around that too. But again, see if your con has such events, and ask if you can be involved.

Next up: Image. It isn't everything, but it is important.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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While the rest of the Narrators paint the town red at Boskone this weekend, I'm at home finishing my book, checking papers and prepping a script for a training project. Even my husband is getting out of Dodge and going to visit his mother. I feel like a professor or something.

Anyway, for your enjoyment, what we've been up to at Unreliable Narrators the last couple of weeks.

Author Spotlight: Yoon Ha Lee

Author Spotlight: Stephen Blackmoore


Unreliable Alumni on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List

Productivity at Any Cost?

Mission Accomplished

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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I should know about the after intense grief part too, but it often takes me by surprise. So, I will not be writing about going to cons today, although I hope to write about it soon.

After the emotional collapse of grief comes the physical collapse. Bryon had a truly intense cold during the week Mom was dying, which is rare for him. It's not rare for me though, so I was hoping that I would not get it during all the crazy hospital/funeral stuff. And I didn't, because I was running on pure adrenaline or something. On cue though, Thursday, the day after the funeral, bam! So I spent about a week with a really nasty head cold.

Strangely enough it went away quickly, in a matter of a few intense days. Bryon's is still lingering, and we thought that was when fate had cut me a break. We had an excellent weekend and I was beginning to feel better.

Then on Monday...vertigo! I recognized what it was. I've never had it, but Bryon has with an ear infection. Unfortunately, vertigo is also associated with stroke. So, I got an ambulance ride to the local emergency room, where we ruled out heart disease and stroke. I suspect strongly it's an ear infection. Also possibly it could be stress (ya think?) or it could be because I'm in my 50s, and this is one of the things that can happen in your 50s. 🙂

Anyway, two days with instances of vertigo. One day vertigo free. Lots of dizzy time and nausea time, but now I have meds! Yes! Science! And I will see my doctor on Monday to talk about my ears (which kind of hurt, so yes, I think ear infection). I need another vertigo free day before I am willing to drive myself anywhere, so we've been spending a lot of time at the day jobbe.

Good news. I've cleared out a few backlogged projects. Bad news. I haven't been getting writing done. I just haven't had it.

Right now I'm still being gentle with myself. If my body says rest, it will ultimately make sure I listen by pulling a stunt like this. But we're gonna come back, and we're gonna come back big!

Until then, well, we just keep treading water.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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I think most of you know this, but just in case the only way you connect with me is through this blog, I am letting you know that my mother, Sylvia Schaff, died of multiple myeloma, a vicious blood cancer, on January 18. She was 76. This event was totally unexpected. She went into the hospital with pneumonia, her white blood cell count was low, and a diagnosis of cancer was made. At this point, the cancer was so far along that the doctors just made her comfortable. She went from lucid to gone in four days. In some ways, I was the lucky child. I was there with her when she breathed her last in the early hours of Wednesday, and while that was excrutiating, I can take some comfort from being there to help her pass a little.

My mother and I were estranged. If you have been following my misadventures over the years, you know that my relationship with my family was strained. I've made no secret of all the abuse that happened. A very unflattering picture of my family life is published in Cookies from the Mosaic 2 anthology, which is fiction, but which is strongly based in fact. In that story, I compare my mother to a spider. It took the woman about 15 years to put my wedding picture on her wall. I think she might have hoped that if she didn't think about Bryon, he would secretly go away, and I would come back to her web.

What to say, then? I have spent a lot of time grieving my mother and my family. David, my counselor, suggested that I chose the lesser of two evils. To be clear, I don't feel guilty. I feel a keen sense of lost opportunity. If I had thought our relationship could have changed, I would have worked on it. But her decision to embrace the very dysfunction that was so damaging to her children, yet again, well, there was a finality to that. Still, I loved my mother. And she is gone. And when there is life, there is always hope. Now, all possibility is over.

Sylvia was a complicated woman. On Saturday, I did a little work cleaning out her apartment. Her closet was a weird mixture of beauty and decay. She had articles of clothing that would never fit her, garments of great beauty, which I stared at, just because they were beautiful. She had soiled and stained clothes that she would wear, holes in the garments, beyond their prime. Books warped by water. A pristine tartan dictionary. Matted clots of cheap jewelry chains. Perfect, never worn, amethyst earrings. Broken jewelry boxes. Sticky, dirty ceramic nicnacs. A Mikasa bowl, never removed from the box. On and on and on. My younger brother working in the kitchen found the same mix.

I found some happy memories of my mother, buried under all the sadness. Mostly when we were both younger, before poverty and madness and god only knows what else. When she saved Mrs. Beasley from abandonment in the airport in Hawaii after I'd forgotten her, a last minute dash off the plane. Her praising a poem I wrote when I was 10, setting me on the path to writing, Modeling her closet of clothes for me when I asked her to. No one is entirely good or bad, not even the most questionable of parents.

And so it goes. I begin to return to life, a little bit at a time. This year, our next battle is Bryon's mother's confirmed bladder cancer. She is 90 and has a very healthy attitude about it, but I suspect it will be the year we lose both our mothers, one more unexpectedly than the other. It's going to hurt.

I cannot shine up my mother's halo because she is gone. Her daughter has always been Cassandra, pointing out inconvenient truths to a family that preferred to live in illusion. I can earnestly say that I have good memories of her, I loved her, and I miss her.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Hey guys. As promised, I continue my Year of Living Authorly series over at Unreliable Narrators. We also have a little more E'ville for you and a great interview with Ken Liu.

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

E'ville Episode Six: Requiem for a Ventriloquist

The Year of Living Authorly Post 2: Online Presence

Review: A Monster Calls

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Maybe you remember that I have a book coming out September 12, 2017.

My God. That's this year.

So, how's that going? Well, I just turned back in the proofs over Christmas Break, so next up I'll get a cover and another glance at the final version, and then there will be ARCs and reviews and touring.



It goes without saying that I have a lot to learn about how to navigate a new phase of my writing career successfully. I will be posting links to excellent things I find out, writing both here and at Unreliable Narrators about what I am learning, and creating a resource page to share with you, so when you get to this point, you can start here.

So, first of all, I've uncovered what many people probably know about: Mary Robinette Kowal's Debut Author Posts There's a lot of really good information here that Kowal has collected as she has gone/goes through it. I found the entry on planning a debut party particularly useful.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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A real welcome to 2017 follows soon, but right now let me get caught up with our Unreliable Narrators Links, of which there are plenty. Three, count 'em, three episodes of E'ville!!!

Local Lore

Unreliable Anniversary

Author Spotlight: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

E'ville Episode 3: Assets and Liabilities

E'ville Episode 4: Losers Weepers

E'ville Episode 5: Missing Persons

Writer Tamago's Favorite Books 2017 (no link--right here!)

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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And now...the end of the year list of my favorite books for 2016. Please remember, these are not necessarily books published this year, but rather my top picks from the books I read this year. Mind you, I cheat a little, because I count series a couple of kinds. Ready?

All the Peter Grant Mysteries by Ben Aaronovitch. Likeable detective Peter Grant is a member of a 2 person magical police force. Characters are engaging, humor is high, police procedure is very British, and the stories are easily told. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably pick Moon Over Soho, which is like a jazz set. Consider yourselves encouraged to go read.

Animosity by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de LaTorre. A world in which animals gain sentience turns Sandhor the bloodhound and his girl Jesse's life inside out. Amazing art and thought-provoking story telling, this horror comic is worth your time, and I hope for more after the initial mini-series.

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear. Honestly, it was hard to pick between this book and Karen Memery, but One-Eyed Jack wins because it combines two of my favorite genres: Spy Fi and Fantasy. The derivative fiction in this piece is as good as the original story. I look forward to re-reading this book every once in a while.

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond. I read two Lois Lane YAs this year, but Fallout stands out as the spunky Lois makes her way at a new school story. Add an on-line relationship with the mysterious Smallville Boy, and this reboot for teens has me all in for the next book.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu. I did mention that I like books that combine my two favorite genres: Spy Fi and Fantasy? Well, this one is Spy Fi and Sci Fi. It's also a geek gets into shape/makes good story. So, I was a little slow to the party on this one, but on the plus side, I have a lot of awesome material to look forward to!

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell. As gritty as Ben Aaronovitch is smooth, these British cops are interacting with a supernatural London only they can see, and the stakes for these people are high. I truly cannot tell you the amount of times this book made me gasp and argh in frustration. It's a great, great book. The next one comes out in 2017, and I am there.

Limon, Martin. Nightmare Range. A great group of short stories, culturally authentic about two army police in post-Korean war South Korea solving murders. They don't get more engaging than George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, and the Korean and army details are obviously written by someone who's been there. I'm looking forward to reading the novels.

Liu, Ken. The Grace of Kings. So many people try to write something this mythological and epic, but so few succeed with such great success. Start this when you have some time, because you aren't going to want to put this down. Part history lesson, part mythological tome, and full-on adventures of a questionable leader, this one satisfies on so many levels.

Morgenstern, Erin. The Midnight Circus. Amazing black and white story of the battle of two magicians set against the backdrop of an esoteric carnival. Moments of great poetry and beauty.

Urusawa, Naoki. Well, what can you do, but fall in love with the adventures of the clever SAS operative/underemployed archeologist/insurance investigator Taichi Keaton, as he moves through a series of interesting adventures and human stories? A couple more volumes are yet coming out next year.

Vernon, Ursula. Caste Hangnail. A breath of fresh air to end the year on, as we follow the adventures of Wicked Witch Molly as she becomes the Master of Castle Hangnail. I love hanging out in Ursula Vernon's imagination.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Hey there! This time around, we have one interview, two episodes of our new radio drama, E'ville, and my favorite films and television for 2016. Enjoy!


Author Spotlight: Jason Porath

E'ville Episode 1: Murder Capitol

E'ville Episode 2: Small Sacrifices

Writer Tamago's Favorite Films and Television 2016--not linking to this, as this is on this site!

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Hey guys.

It's my end of the year favorite films and television post. A reminder in case you're new to this: these are films and television shows that I watched for the first time this year, not material that came out this year. I like all these and would recommend them to you. Without further ado, then, under the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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I just finished volume 8 of Master Keaton last night. At first glance, Keaton seems too good to be true. His occupation is insurance investigator, which he sort of fell into when he couldn't find a full-time teaching gig in archaelogy. He also fell into a stint in the British SAS. Keaton's father is Japanese and his mother is British. He has a multi-national upbringing, and his experiences at his three jobs combine to make him, well, a cool Renaissance guy who's handy to have around in a pinch. He possesses a wealth of knowledge and is a master survivalist.

To offset almost all this, which seems too good to be true in one individual, Keaton is hapless. Yes, he's just this guy who drifts through life. He's divorced and his teenage daughter is always telling him to get it together. Few stories in the Master Keaton comic are about Keaton. He wanders about finding ways to help others and solve mysteries. He's pretty damned cool.

What makes me believe he could be real? Two things. There are people who have lived varying and interesting lives. I love meeting them, and I aspire to be them. And...his personality is so even and friendly. He is a combination of expertise and attraction that makes reading about him irresistible.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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Two podcasts and one review. A little more low key in the holiday season, but these topics are particularly interesting.

Comedy Spotlight: Desiree Burch

Zombies Run! 101 with Naomi Alderman

Comics Review: Tonoharu

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

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It's been a tough haul working on the writing these last few weeks. We are about a month out from the election and the hits just keep coming. Yet, I have managed to get another draft of my novel done. That was a stroke of luck, largely because the first draft looked better than I thought it did.

I have to say that the question has come to my constantly. Why do I want to write a melodramatic story about characters standing up in the face of odds during these awful times?

Well, perhaps I have answered my own question.

My parents were not the best moral compass for me as a kid. I credit a lot of novels for giving me moral compass. I learned how to behave, how to be noble and ethical from books. Many of the characters I admired stood up for what they believed in the face of adversity. Many of them defied impossible odds and triumphed. Some of them held their beliefs and lost, but maintained their integrity.

I know that people are flawed. Honestly, I know some fine, fine people. I don't honestly know how most of them will behave in New America. I like to think that I do, but I've lived through a school censorship in the early 90s, so I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. The majority of people, when the chips are down, are NOT Frodo or Katniss. I am not disillusioned, but let's say I'm not the believer in the nobility of humans that I was in the last century.

But chances are better that there will be those heroic stands if people see them modeled, both in real life and in ART. IN ART. What art did for me as a girl and as a young woman, I owe it to future readers to attempt. ESPECIALLY when life is not easy. Courage in the face of fear and uncertainty is NOT easy, but good examples always make it easiER.

I write Carlo Borgia because I want the world to believe one person can make a difference. I write Drusus Claudian because I want people to know ethics cannot be compromised. And I write Octavia Klaereon because I want people to know it is never too late to make amends for a bad past. (Looking at you, Glen Beck. 😛 )

So we can understand what is good and noble and right, even if it is not sanctioned by our political or social systems. And yes, we can get all relativistic about what is right and wrong, but you know what? Deep down, I expect you know what good civil liberties and human rights are. Anything that suppresses those, that's where we make our stand. That's where our characters do too.

I want you to get out there and ART. ART HARD. Give us all something to believe in and aspire to. So we can steel ourselves for what is ahead.

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.


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