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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

Pricing and Discoverability

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 30, 2014

Session Two: Yo! Here I am! Buy Me!
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

The general reader mindset changed with the advent of lower-priced, self-published books. One speaker encouraged higher prices than $.99. For that low price, he feels readers aren’t as vested and are more likely to give a lower rating. Also, the reader may not stick around to read a $.99 book as opposed to a higher priced book. Customers like lower prices, but that doesn’t mean they won’t pay more for what they perceive as value. Millions of customers are willing to pay as much as $15 per book. Traditional publishers can price lower and indie pubs can price higher. These two have to come together.

You can use pricing as a discovery tool. Price lower for your backlist titles or for one day as a marketing promotion. BookBub is where readers download free or cheap books to discover new authors. If a reader likes the book, they will buy other books by that author. The audience who subscribes to BookBub trusts them to offer books of a certain quality. Multi-author box sets can also drive discoverability. [Author’s Note: Also check out The Fussy Librarian]

So the $.99 deal is a great way to meet readers and get acquainted. Don’t feel you have to price every book as low as $2.99 or $3.99. You must have a pricing strategy. For example, make the first book permafree and price the others at a higher rate. Making the first book in your series free helps all your sales.

Kobo promotes the first free in series. They say an average of 54% of people who finish reading a book will go on to read more books by that author. Kobo curates the front-page material for their website.

Books in a series will sell better than standalones. But you don’t have to have books in a series per se if you can link them in a smart way. For example, one author had “the first kiss club” for clean, teen romance although each book is a standalone.

Your e-book is a living document, so put links in your new books to your backlist titles. The back matter is very important.

An average of 18 audio books is consumed by Audible subscribers in a year.

One speaker feels that subscription readers (for services such as Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, or Scribd) are a different market than readers who would buy your book.

It’s not easy for librarians to find indie authors on Overdrive. But another speaker said profits from the library market are relatively small compared to the retail market for successful indie authors. The following services were mentioned regarding libraries: Overdrive and BiblioBoard.

Lunch was served next, tempting us with deli sandwiches and an array of desserts. We had time to schmooze with friends before moving on to the afternoon panels.

Here I am with Ann Meier from Florida MWA and there’s Leanne Banks at the dessert table.

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See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I will mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Future of Publishing, Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 29, 2014

Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

The Novelists, Inc. (Ninc) conference is the only writers’ conference focused solely on the business of writing. To become a member, you must show proof of two published novels. This is not the place to promote your work, pitch to agents or pick up new fans. It’s primarily a learning experience. You go here to learn what’s new in the business, what’s to come, and how to approach the many aspects of running a small business in the publishing field.

Of course, meeting old friends and making new ones is the benefit of any conference and this gathering was no exception. People came from across the country, enjoying the perfect Florida weather and beachfront setting.

Photo 1: Nancy J. Cohen, Annette Mahon, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laura Resnick
Photo 2: Nancy J. Cohen, Terry Odell, Karla Darcy

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Photo 3: Donna Andrews, Carole Nelson Douglas, Nancy J. Cohen
Photo 4: Sophia Knightly and Nancy J. Cohen

Tradewinds Resort

First Word Thursday: The Future Of Publishing, Part 1

Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I will mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

Nine industry guests discussed the partnerships between authors, publishers, and agents. Journalist Porter Anderson moderated.

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A partnership is a power relationship. Consider where the power lies in each transaction. Ask yourself what your skills are, what partners have complementary skills, and who has the scale to utilize these skills to your benefit. Partnership implies equality, but at the end of the day, it’s your business and what you, as the author, have created. You want partners who can connect your book with a wide audience in new ways. Also, know the financial health of your potential partners.

One speaker was concerned that companies with enormous “scale” had their own agendas. They focus on profits rather than on promoting each title in a sustainable way. Publishers are making more profits today and more margin on e-books even when they say they’re hurting. Incumbents like the Big 5 are the least likely to innovate.

As an author, try to retain as much control as possible. Allow for new avenues to explore but examine them from all angles. With the advent of new technologies, look for shorter terms in your contracts so these new models can be tested and evaluated.

The key to partnership is mutuality. Traditional publishers must be more willing to let their writers go, because once your titles go backlist, you lose the mutuality. Print on demand and e-book publishers should not keep a book in print unless the author is making real money.

Competition drives innovation. Google could become a viable competitor to Amazon.

The most important relationship an author has is with his readers. What you write has to connect with your readership. Write consistently. Target your audience and determine how to reach them. Continuance between the author and reader is important whatever the distribution route. Unfortunately, often authors talk to other authors and sell to other authors. Focus on your readers.

Bringing back the mid-list has been the biggest benefit of digital publishing. However, there’s a glut of writers out there, so the solution is to increase demand. Society and culture need to make reading a valuable pastime. Let kids read fun books instead of classics in school. Every one of us should be involved in turning people into readers. How to sell books in a sustainable way is a critical issue.

One of the keys to self-publishing is for bookstores to open to indie authors. The recent deal between bestselling author Barbara Freethy and Ingram is encouraging.

BookLamp analyzed the contents of a book and gave recommendations to readers based on the text. (This startup has been bought out by Apple.) Authors collectively have power and should ask more questions about their data.

A discussion came up on the pressure for authors to produce more and faster in the digital age. Quantity should not be versus quality.

The author on the panel spoke about how iBooks is her number one retailer. She is totally self-published. After taking years to write her first few books, she put them all up at once. Now she’s a self-sustainable, bestselling author. She has an international Street Team that helps spread the word about her books. Her encouraging words: “You can make a living without being a household name.”

What do international readers want? Amazon is starting to look at the translator marketplace.

Coming Next: Yo! Here I am! Buy me!

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

SleuthFest 2015

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 28, 2014

Sleuthfest 2015 Early Registration Ends September 30! October 1 everything goes up $20-40. Get in Now!

 

SleuthFest 2015

• Four tracks of great programming for every of level writer from beginner to best-seller:

Need to polish your writing skills? Try Write On! With sessions on Writing for TV, Nautical Mysteries, and Spy-Fi, in addition to dialogue, plotting, and setting, even the most experienced writer can find something to round out their writers’ toolbox.

Looking for critiques on your writing, or practice on your pitch? Try Feedback Forum. Get feedback on your latest scribbles, your story structure, your pitch, and much more, from those experienced in the industry.

Want to get the scoop on what agents and editors are looking for? Try Finding the Money. What’s selling, what’s not, how to get published, indie vs. traditional, hybrid authors, and all the hot topics in the industry are covered in this track.

Need to brush up on your forensic knowledge? Try Scene of the Crime.

PLUS:

• James Patterson will share some of his writing philosophies.
• Four of the top literary agencies are eager to hear your pitch.
• James W. Hall will tell you how to write a worst-seller.
• Four of the top publishers are looking for mysteries and thrillers.
• The real Miami CSI’s are here to show you the latest and greatest.
• Dave Barry will entertain us at the Sunday brunch.
• Get critiques of your work by established authors and agents.
• And what really did happen to Amelia Earhart?

Early Registration Ends Tuesday!

Register Now at http://SleuthFest.com

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Malice Domestic 2014

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 14, 2014

What is Malice Domestic? As it says on the Website, Malice is an annual fan conference that focuses on the traditional mystery or “books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.”

Malice Banner

Although I’ve been attending Malice Domestic for a number of years off and on, this was the first time I participated in Malice-Go-Round. What a fabulous event! On Friday morning, 200 people filed into a room with 20 tables. At each table sat 2 authors and 8 readers. As an author, I had about two minutes to give a pitch about my book and then the other author at my table took a turn. I was lucky to pair with Linda Joffe Hull who writes the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series. We hopped from table to table repeating the same spiel twenty times. I lost my voice by the end but was exhilarated by meeting so many mystery fans. This event was worth the price of registration alone. If you get in, bring enough promo items for all the tables.

Nancy J. Cohen and Linda Hull  Malice Go Round

Friday night was a dessert party. This gave me another way to connect with old friends and make new ones. I chatted with Marilyn Levinson, author of Murder A La Christie, waved hello to Toni Kelner, and caught up on news with Carol Nelson Douglas, who writes the popular Midnight Louie cat mystery series among others. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Barbara Graham, a quilting enthusiast who combines her talent with writing mysteries.

Carole Nelson Douglas and Nancy J. Cohen   Maggie Toussaint, Nancy J. Cohen, Barbara Graham and Polly Iyer

Saturday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. About 160 members attended from 50 chapters nationwide. The Guppies (Great Unpublished) wore colorful boas. Besides this program, SinC offers a monitoring project, quarterly newsletter, grants for chapter events, subsidies for members to attend Writers Police Academy, writing courses, educational seminars and an annual Publisher’s Summit.

Sisters in Crime President   Sisters in Crime Breakfast

Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke about the Writes of Passage collection of essays, and each member received a copy.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Later that morning began the panels. I attended one on Book-Themed Mysteries, ate the box lunch available at the lobby bar, checked out the Dealer’s Room and laid out my promo materials in the Hospitality Room at the end of the corridor. That afternoon, I spoke on a panel about social issues in mysteries. Fellow panelists were John Clement, Judy Hogan, and Linda O. Johnston with Debra H. Goldstein as moderator.

Panel on Social Issues at Malice Domestic  Nancy J. Cohen

At five o’clock, the afternoon speakers gathered at the Mezzanine level for a mass book signing.

Booksigning   Nancy Signing

Later that evening, Maggie Toussaint, Barbara Graham, and I headed to the famous Agatha Banquet where the awards were presented. Everyone looked their best.

Agatha Awards  Maggie Toussaint and Barbara Graham

Sunday morning had more panels. I enjoyed the talk on Paranormal Mysteries with authors Carolyn Hart (“Death at the Door”), Molly MacRae (“Spinning in her Grave), TJ O’Connor (“Dying to Know”), and Maggie Toussaint (“Gone and Done It”) and moderated by Aimee Hix.

Paranormal Mysteries   Maggie Toussaint

They discussed the rules and limitations of their paranormal element and why they write about it.

Why are these stories so popular? They offer an escape from reality to readers who want to experience something new. Readers can enter someone else’s imaginary world that’s fun, exotic, and touches upon the unknown. As mystery fans, we want to solve a puzzle, and what greater puzzle is there than “What’s on the other side?”

Do ghost stories and detective tales go together? “Death is a mystery,” Molly replied. Maggie Toussaint, a Five Star author and member of Booklovers Bench, agreed. “These stories engage your senses and your mind.”

See Photos here: http://bit.ly/1jX7QVy

Coming Next: Our Trip to Maryland and D.C. and the beautiful flowers of Brookside Gardens

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Are you following my Blog Tour and entering my Contests?  Please click on these links for my guest posts, interviews, and chances to win some free books plus a Hanging By A Hair tee-shirt!

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Laura Lippman

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 26, 2014

Lunch with Laura Lippman at SleuthFest

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Laura Lippman

Bestselling Author Laura Lippman discussed what it means to be a professional writer. Publishing has changed in terms of e-books, self-published writers and hybrid authors. “The conversation has become so charged and so vitriolic. I’ve yet to see any reliable numbers on either side.” The argument for traditional publishing is couched in money and control.

No one argues that self-publishing will lead to better books. This avenue can produce as good a book as traditional publishing. But where is the true masterpiece in self-publishing? “Show me a masterpiece that could only have come” from a self-published work.

Find someone you can trust to tell your dreams about publishing. What are you prepared to do to get there? Professionalism is taking your work seriously, and being respectful of other people’s time and expertise.

Laura calls indie publishing “a less precise euphemism” for self-publishing. The key is in doing the work and reaching a reasoned decision to self-publish but not for instant gratification. Is the work ready? Be a ruthless critic of your own work. The goal has to be to write the best book you can. Your words are your legacy. Make them precise. Make them good.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Preparing for a Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 21, 2014

How long does it take to prepare for a conference? Soon I’ll be heading to SleuthFest in February, Lake County BookFest in March, Malice Domestic in April, the Florida Library Association Convention in May, and Mystery Writers Key West Fest in June.

It can take me several weeks to get ready for each event and another couple of weeks to decompress and get caught up upon my return home. That’s a lot of time lost, not to mention money for gas, lodgings, registration fees, promo materials, etc. However, it’s time and money well spent from the benefits you receive by meeting other authors, booksellers, fans, and industry personnel.

FLA2013 Mystery

Conferences necessitate a lot of preparation, especially if you’re going as a speaker. Aside from determining your particular goals for this event—i.e. attending specialized craft sessions, learning about new publishing options, meeting editors, making new author friends, greeting fans—there’s the physical prep. Here’s a checklist of things to consider.

  1. Prepare for your talks. If you’re a panelist, it can be easier because you might not have to do much prep other than jotting down some notes about the points you want to get across. Moderator-run panels in general mean more work for the moderator but less work for the panel guests, unless you are each expected to present your material for xx minutes.
  2. If you are conducting a workshop on your own, you’ll need to compose or update your material and get copies made of handouts.
  3. If you’re speaking on different topics, assemble each handout in a separate manila envelope to keep them organized.
  4. Order business cards unless you have them already. Consider updating them with QR codes or with your social network URLs.
  5. Design, order, and pack brochures, bookmarks, and/or postcards about your books. Bring along display containers so they don’t get strewn across the tables.
  6. Design, order, and pack swag for the promo tables or goody room. These are items such as magnets, pens, door hangers, candy, and other giveaways.
  7. If you are driving, toss a box of extra books into your trunk in case the on-site bookseller doesn’t get your books in time or is unable to obtain copies of a particular title.
  8. Bring a checkbook in case the bookseller offers to sell you leftover stock at a discounted price.
  9. Pack a book or two to display at your presentations and panels.
  10. Consider giving a couple of books away at the Q&A sessions for your talks.
  11. If you’re donating a raffle basket, either get your materials to the coordinator ahead of time or bring the basket prepared and ready to go.
  12. Bring a signup sheet for your newsletter to put out at signings.
  13. Print out the conference workshop schedule and highlight your appearances. List these on your website and other online sites and include these papers in your suitcase.
  14. Bring a highlighter along so you can go through the conference schedule and mark sessions you want to attend.
  15. Print out contact info for friends you want to meet at the conference.
  16. Decide which outfits to wear to the different events. Business attire for daytime, dressier clothes for evening? Don’t forget matching shoes, handbags, and jewelry.
  17. Determine what gadgets to bring along: iPad or Laptop? Kindle or Nook? Camera to take photos for your blog? Charging devices?
  18. Pack a notebook to take notes. Later, write blogs about the sessions you attended to share your knowledge.
  19. Include Sharpie pens for signing books and ballpoint pens for note taking.
  20. If you belong to a professional writing organization, bring along chapter brochures to hand out to potential members.

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And the countdown begins. What else would you add to this list?

To see my upcoming conference appearances and virtual blog tour, go here: http://nancyjcohen.com/appearances/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

SleuthFest 2014

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 23, 2013

February 27 – March 2, 2014 Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek Orlando, FL

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO SLEUTHFEST 2014?  

New York Times bestselling authors, Edgar Award winners, and many of the top mystery and suspense writers in the country! In addition to our amazing keynote speakers—Laura Lippman, Ace Atkins, and Hank Phillippi Ryan—here are just a few of the talented authors who will be joining us on panels on Friday and Saturday, February 28 and March 1:

Wendy Corsi Staub, Jennifer McMahon, Lisa Unger, Alison Gaylin, Michael Sears, Susan Elia MacNeal, Chris Grabenstein, and Heather Graham.

(For a complete list of attendees, please visit the SleuthFest Attendees page.) 

And you won’t want to miss our ‘Third Degree Thursday’ workshops on February 27!

Craft workshops will be taught by fabulous author/instructors Elaine Viets, Nancy J. Cohen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Greg Herren, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Wallace Stroby, Kristy Montee (PJ Parrish), and Joanna Campbell Slan. We will also have special workshops led by author/professors Neil Plakcy and Christine Kling on creating a successful eBook program and on Scrivener, a powerful writing software tool. Click to see the Thursday workshop schedule.

But SleuthFest isn’t only about the craft of writing!

This year we’ll be ‘Thinking Outside the Book’ with some of the most respected publishers, literary agents, and industry professionals in the business.  Meet with and pitch your book to editors and publishers from St. Martin’s, Putnam, Berkley Books, and Five Star Mysteries, and literary agents from The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, McIntosh & Otis, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, and Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Click to read more information about the publishers, editors and agents attending. Also joining us will be representatives of Kobo, Autography, Bookigee, and WriterCube, to talk about changes and opportunities in the world of publishing.

Register today to reserve your place at one of the most exciting writers conferences in the country! 

Rates for the 3-day conference are only: 

  • $285 for MWA members, $305 for non-members—includes luncheons, cocktail party, Sunday breakfast
  • $85 for Third Degree Thursday, a full day of workshops
  • Rates go up after January 15, 2014 

See you at SleuthFest!

 www.sleuthfest.com

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

FRW Cruise Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 1, 2013

FRW Cruise Conference
Liberty of the Seas
Feb. 24-28, 2013

Click Here to See Photo Album

Day 1, Thursday

Ninety registered guests attended the Florida Romance Writers Cruise with your Muse conference aboard the RCCL ship Liberty of the Seas. We boarded easily, getting right onto the ship after parking and checking our luggage at Port Everglades. Upstairs at the Windjammer Buffet, we ate lunch and waved to fellow FRWers who’d already arrived. We checked into our cabin and then set out to explore the ship. This is a beautifully appointed ship of the fleet with its traditional interior Promenade, ice skating rink, and usual bars and lounges. Downstairs at the conference center, we picked up our registration materials. Then we hustled to the lifeboat drill before departure time. At 5:00pm, we met our conference shipmates at a Welcome Aboard party in the Sphinx lounge on deck five. The editors and agents shared industry news and writing tips.

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Editor/Agent Tips
Get rid of the prologue
Hit the ground running
Avoid clichéd writing
Shorter works, less than 100,000 words, are more desirable these days.
Don’t overuse dialogue tags.

Next, my husband and I dashed to the Diamond Club lounge where, as repeat cruisers at a certain level in the Crown & Anchor Society, we enjoy benefits like free drinks and appetizers. Of course, this was my favorite activity and we made it up here on deck 14 every evening. Our dinner seating was late at 8:30 so we had plenty of time to meet fellow cruise enthusiasts.

Day 2, Friday

This morning, workshops were held with authors Traci Hall, Kathleen Pickering, and Karen Kendall. I found some time for walking the decks with my husband. We sat the pool and watched the action or lounged on our balcony to stare at the ocean.

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Along the way, I got a glimpse of an interesting lady who would intrigue me for the entire trip. On previous cruises, I always spotted a character who would be great in my books. Thus the elegant white-haired woman from a prior voyage became the Countess in Killer Knots, my cruise ship mystery. I haven’t placed the witch lady from our previous cruise yet, but she’ll make her way into one of my stories. On this trip, I saw someone who definitely had an air for dramatics.

This woman had blond hair that she wore teased and curled atop her head like a poodle. I swear, she even had poodle bangs. But this wasn’t all. No matter the time of day or place, she wore a chiffon dress with spaghetti straps and sparkles and high heels. One day her shoes were black velvet with rhinestones. Her dresses glittered and the hemline swayed as she moved. I saw her in ivory, burgundy, and gold variations of the same dress, often with sequins. She wore a heavy application of makeup as well. I assumed she must be European. She just had that air about her. We always saw her clinging to the arm of a dapper gentleman who looked fairly ordinary in comparison. Neither one of them were youngsters. She’ll end up in one of my stories for sure.

Later that afternoon, I sat in on a workshop with bestselling authors Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris. Here’s what they said about writing humor:

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Charlene: “When you’re writing sex, there is no dignity, and it can be funny.”
Heather: “It’s fun to have supporting characters where things don’t always go well. You can make jokes with these people.”

Floridian Idol followed, where the editors and agents tore apart submissions from attendees. You could learn a lot by listening to their comments, and this session was well attended.

Day 3

Saturday, we arrived at Cozumel. My husband and I took a taxi into town for $8.00 each way. Even though I had vowed not to buy anything, I ended up with a pair of earrings, rum cakes, and Mexican vanilla. That evening, we went to the show on the ship. The entertainer was a magician who kept the audience laughing.

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Day 4

Sunday morning was my workshop on Mystery Writing 101. I had a great group and the time went fast. We hustled out to attend Charlaine’s keynote speech where she talked about her long career history and provided inspiration for the rest of us.

keynote    NanCharlaine

That afternoon, ten of us authors held a booksigning in the dining room. Since the notice had gone into the ship’s daily newsletter, readers flowed into the room to buy our books. I couldn’t believe it when I’d sold my last copy! It was one of the best conference booksignings I’ve done.

NanRoz  P1020251  SandyMary

We hurried off to see Saturday Night Fever in the main theater while others went to the ice show.

At the end of the day, we had a farewell party led by our FRW president Rose Lawson and the hard-working conference planners before our final dinner together.

The four days went by too fast. We hung out; we talked; we learned and we shared. We got to know each other and the editors and agents who had nowhere else to go. We watched a dazzling parade of famous animated characters on the Promenade, sampled as much food as our stomachs would allow, and explored the hidden nooks of the sleek vessel. We each came away with something different—an invitation to submit pages to an editor/agent, a sense of peace, a few extra pounds.

I hope you can join us next time.

Nancy  TracHeath Kristin  SharKar

 

Posted in Conferences | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Necronomicon, Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 1, 2012

Necronomicon, Part 2

Getting Started: Writing Believable Dialogue with Nick DiChario, K.L. Nappier, M.B. Weston, Nancy J. Cohen, and William Hatfield. A lot of good advice came from this panel. Be true to your character. Determine your target audience because it makes a difference in the language you can use. Listen to the people around you to get ideas for speech patterns. Read your material aloud to see if it sounds stilted. For more detailed advice, see my Blog on Writing Effective Dialogue. Below: Author Gary L. Zeiger and his lovely wife selling his book in the Dealers’ Room.

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I skipped out next to roam around the hallways and to stop in to the hospitality room for a snack. You could attend such subjects as Higgs Boson [Particle] and You, Steampunk Invasion, Author/Publisher Contract Do’s and Don’ts, the Music of Science, and Anime Timeline. Then I met up with my husband for lunch and we strolled across the street where a farmer’s market was in full swing.

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Why Sell Your Books to a Small Press with Eric Beebe, Lucienne Diver, Ed Howdershelt, and K. Piet. The reasons are many. First of all, Lucienne said the term Indie Author applies to writers who are published by an independent press. This is different from self-published and authors who are published by small presses or by vanity presses. One advantage of going with a small press is the individualized attention you get that you may not receive from one of the Big Six. You can build up your following and increase your readership. You may also have a say in your cover art. Discoverability is always an issue, so see what the small press publisher will do for you in terms of marketing.

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Lucienne said the best chance for a high level of success is still with the big presses, with some exceptions. She discussed the agency versus the wholesale model in regard to pricing. Brick-and-mortar stores may devolve into smaller boutique shops over time. Humor can be a hard sell in today’s market, but anything erotic is still hot. Science fiction and fantasy aren’t doing as well in e-book format as romance and erotica, which are the biggest sellers. YA Paranormal doesn’t sell well in ebook either, because not all kids have e-reader devices. This genre is also hard to sell right now because Barnes & Noble has decreased demand for them.

Getting it Right: Paranormal Elements in Fiction with Nancy J Cohen, Lucienne Diver, Pamela Labud, Will Ludwigsen, and Brandy Stark. As I was on this panel, I didn’t take notes but we each talked about the elements we use in our fiction. My new series deals with Norse mythology. Being consistent in your world building is essential.

Getting Started: Writing Fight Scenes with Richard Byers, Johanna Bolton, R.M. Garcia, T.S. Robinson, Michael Joy, and William Logan. One of the recommendations is to give glimpses of your hero’s special ability along the way. Build anticipation and get to know your villains. Johanna writes spaceship battles, and she visualizes the scene ahead of time. Richard suggests that you consider the level of realism you want to achieve. Consider scene length also. Is this meant to be the grand finale or merely a build-up to the end? The fight scene should have a purpose, such as showing team work. And don’t forget physics. When you hit a wall, what happens? Does the wall crack? What are the results on your body? Michael says his fight scenes serve as the action around the dialogue.

Problem areas can be giant battle scenes with multiple armies, unfamiliar technology, mercenaries for hire, psychic combat, lack of experience with weapons. What are some common mistakes? If you use very specific terms such as Japanese martial arts moves, you are appealing to a narrow audience. Either rename the move or qualify it through action. A general audience won’t understand the jargon. Fight scenes can go on too long. Get back to the people. Factual errors can be a problem, like when the gun is putting out the wrong caliber bullet. Or the choreography can be wrong. Make sure the sequence of events is physically possible. Also if somebody gets killed, give a definitive ending for that person before the story moves on. And remember that injuries need time to heal. It’s unrealistic when your hero pops up the next day after a major fight scene, and he’s perfectly fit.

Your hero’s background will determine how he approaches the scene. A trained fighter will observe how the enemy holds his weapon, and that may tell the hero how to confront the guy or if it’s wiser to get out of his way. Women can fight for different reasons than men, so keep that in mind. Alternate moments of high tension with those of low tension but don’t ever completely let go.

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On Saturday night, the Masquerade brought out characters in all sorts of costumes, including the bagpipe artist in a kilt and the dog. We skipped outside to have dinner at a restaurant just past the yacht club and alongside the marina. It was breezy but clear with a full moon. I’d had a great time but left early Sunday to head over toward Orlando and a revisit to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

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Necronomicon, Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 31, 2012

Necronomicon was the first SciFi/Fantasy convention I’ve attended. In many ways, it’s similar to a mystery conference. There were more men than at a romance con. The panels were professional and moderated by a host. Aspiring authors attended in abundance. However, here’s the biggest difference: Gamers. One darkened breakout room held 3 rows of computers where people sat all day and sometimes all night playing Halo. Other guys sat at round tables engrossed in role playing games. And the hospitality room was open 24/7 with free food and soft drinks. A guard on sentry duty made sure you were wearing your badge if you walked by. The mode of dress differed, too. At a mystery con, many of the men would be wearing sport coats. Not so much here. No editor/agent appointments either. So it was a curious mix of writers and fans of the genre.

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Authors who paid for a table sat in Author’s Alley down the hallway at tables with their books for sale. The Dealers’ Room was similar to the ones at mystery cons, where authors have to hope one of the vendors has their books for sale or else make a consignment deal. Few booksellers showed up here; vendors sold mostly jewelry and games and other knickknacks. Did this mean people weren’t booklovers? I only sold two books. Granted, my name isn’t known by this crowd, but I’m thinking most readers of this genre probably buy e-books since they’re tech savvy. Or else they are just not familiar with sci fi/paranormal romance. This convention was unlike those huge SciFi cons with celebrity stars. The cost is reasonable to attend and many panels are geared toward writers.

Instead of a forensics track like at a mystery writers con, this event had a science track led by scientist guests. All in all, it was a valuable introduction to an entirely new audience. People were very welcoming and if I went again, I’d start to recognize familiar faces. The panels were all interesting and parties ranged into the night if you were so inclined. We arrived the night before to settle in and become familiar with the hotel. Across the street was a big sports arena where a soccer game played on Saturday night. Down the road was the Dali museum. And nearby was a popular Mexican restaurant, the Red Mesa Cantina, where we had dinner. The food was delicious and the Halloween decorations really neat. I had grilled mahi mahi on a bed of plantains with mango salsa and my husband had shrimp with beans and rice and veggies.

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Now here’s what I learned at some of the talks.

Friday

The Resurgence of Fairy Tales with Tracy Cornett, David Berger, Lucienne Diver, Kat Heckenbach, and K.L. Nappier.

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How did you get interested in the genre? Kat replied that she wanted to see how contemporary fantasy fit the fairy tale model. Lucienne was interested in anthropology and how creation myths are similar and different for various cultures. Comparative religion sparked her interest. David was inspired by books and mythology. A high school English teacher, he mentioned how many mythologies are similar to each other regarding the Hero’s Journey.

What’s the difference between fantasy and fairy tales? David said both can have magical elements, but fairy tales are lighter. Our exposure is Disney-fied. Lucienne mentioned that the original fairytales were dark and cautionary. They were meant to strike fear into people and their dangers still apply. For example, the big bad Wolf could be considered the serial killer in the woods today. People are trying to recapture the earlier mythos and not the sickly sweet tales we’ve come to know. We would rather have the Princess save herself these days.

Can things swing too dark? Not if the demand is there, Lucienne advises. “Dark really sells.” She said that fairy tales don’t teach kids that there are dragons. The stories teach kids how to defeat dragons. David writes about Greek mythology. The kids in his classes write dark stories with vampires, werewolves, and dragons. The dark experience in literature can be safe and cathartic. K.L. Nappier added that the overall plot arc and character growth are important. Fairy tales derive from folklore, while mythology has religious origins. For example, myths have gods that are similar in the various creation myths. Legends have heroes, while folktales are more achievable by human standards.

Romantic Elements in F&SF: The Male Perspective with Nancy J. Cohen, William Hatfield, Chris Helton, Rick Wilber, and Linnea Sinclair. In this panel, we discussed the male viewpoint in romantic relationships. Some of the men write female protagonists. Linnea suggested you have to target the audience to know what readers you are trying to reach. And Chris gets into the emotional depth of his male characters so he has no problem showing their feelings. You can show characterization through dialogue as well as action.

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The Future of “Star Trek” was a fun panel where we discussed the recent movie that reinvented the series. People had vocal opinions on whether they liked certain elements or not, and a lively debate ensued. You could tell from the episodes bantered about that the audience members felt great affection for the show, whichever version we discussed.

A delicious Italian buffet dinner followed the last panel after which Guest of Honor Linnea Sinclair gave an inspirational speech. After 8 PM, you could either attend more panels such as Settling Mars: The Next Great Challenge; You call it Urban Fantasy, I call it Horror; Dr. Who and the 21st-Century; It’s the End of the World: Apocalyptic Fiction. If you are still awake at 11 PM, you could attend Sex and Science Fiction/Fantasy or still other topics. There were ongoing sing-alongs, cartoons, art shows, and role-playing games into the wee hours. Pix below: Linnea Sinclair on left. Bestselling author Timothy Zahn with me and Linnea on right.

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More to Follow.

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