It has been a busy year and Phoenix Comicon 2017 was no exception. Four days of meeting a host of interesting characters. My latest novel, Battlementals: Quest for the Harmonicon grabbed the attention of adults and youth. In the words of Alan Skousen (pictured below), a book for children of all ages. The boys were interested in reading about Thunk Hogs that attack using exploding snot and the parents were happy that their boys wanted to read. Although, I don't think they were quite as psyched about the exploding snot.
My lovely daughter, Lucy (also pictured below), turned out to be consummate sales person. She connected especially well with the other young women and sold more books than the rest of the crew combined. Way to go, Lucy.
Thanks to Daelyn Skousen (pictured below) for letting her husband come out and play all weekend. I don't know what I would have done without all three of these amazing individuals.
This year I hosted four panels at Comicon. Three on writing and one on public speaking. All of the writing panels were near or above capacity for the room and I had a host of individuals stop by the booth afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed the presentations. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth.
I didn't do the panels alone. Adrienne Quintana, T. M. Williams, and Matthew Cerra were also part of the fun and education. The four of us had excellent chemistry together and several requests were made by the audience to have us return next year. Thanks guys for all your insightful writing advice and willingness to participate.
With Adrienne Quintana standing next to me for most of the event, the conference turned out to be an extended planning session. We discussed the release of three more novels by the end of this year. That's right. Three more novels this year.
Battlementals: Pounce and the Riddle of Fire is a novel that takes place in the Battlemental universe, but follows the adventures of a young Saber cub named Pounce. It will be a perma-free book and you can sign up for it on my other website. (WWW.RanTheStoryMan.com) It will have some wonderful artwork inside and is the first in a series of six stories with Battlementals as the main characters.
The Devastation: America Crumbles is the third novel in The Gathering series and is the best one so far. I expect to release that towards the end of summer. It has been two years since the last book in the series was released and I know there are a lot of fans waiting to find out what happens to Robert and the rest of the Williams family.
Closer to the end of the year I will be releasing my first novel under a pen name. While I don't write anything with foul language or sexual content, the stories I write under my alias will be grittier and have more violence than the stories I have already published. More on the alias and title in later posts, but it is the first novel I wrote and people have been asking me for years to publish it.
We are two months into 2017. Headed into the year, I expected this to one interesting ride with many new experiences and opportunities. A lot of that is fueled by the fact that I released Battlementals: Quest for the Harmonicon in January. Battlementals is my first foray into the exciting world of middle-grade fiction and I expect it to be quite an adventure. And so far it has.
Entering a new market meant that I needed to develop a new marketing campaign, create a new website (www.RanTheStoryMan.com), research new merchandising options, master the skills of indie-publishing, and adopt a new mindset for my brand. Although that meant a lot of work it has been interesting and fun most of the time and challenging on occasion. As of last Saturday, I can add one more item to the list—extremely rewarding.
Saturday, was the Local Author Fair at the Red Mountain library in Mesa. All of the author events I attend are fun, but this one was special because I had the chance to see my good friendly Emily.
Emily and her mother participated in one of my very first workshops and it has been a delight to see her and the rest of the family whenever I can. In the picture below you can see Emily, Quincy, me, and Meagan. Because of the developmental challenges they all face I’m super excited to see them interested in reading. I hope that my new direction as an author will continue to provide me with many more experiences like this one.
February also saw me visiting the Young Author club in Avondale. Adrienne Quintana invited me to speak with the students and I had a blast. We talked about elevator pitches and the children all had the chance to pitch a story to me based on a writing prompt. If this group represents the future of the writing industry then I think we are in good hands.
Fans of The Gathering series will be happy to know that I submitted book three to the publisher at the beginning of the month. In my opinion, this is the best book in the series so far. I can hardly wait to share it all of you. The working title for the book is The Devastation: America Crumbles. Any further information about the book will have to wait until after I hear back from the publisher.
In December, I ran a contest. Anyone who left a comment on the Ready-Set-Write podcast site was in the running to win a free book. The contest is over and here are the winners.
Becca wins a copy of My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly.
Anika wins a copy of An Uncommon Blue by R. C. Hancock.
Sara wins a copy of The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Ostler.
Jarlell wins a copy of The Gathering: End's Beginning by Randy Lindsay.
If the winners could sent their addresses to me at ReadySetWritepodcast@ gmail.com I can get those prizes sent out to you.
Thank you to everyone who participated. I really enjoyed the comments.
The answer to whether you can hear me now is . . . Yes. Not only can you hear me now, but authors Janette Rallison and Brock Booher as well. The three of us are part of the Typeractive author group that has published a collection of clean fiction and hosted the annual Ready-Set-Write writing conference for the last two years. Apparently that wasn’t enough for us and we have put together a podcast to help writers succeed in their goal of becoming published authors. We call it the Ready-Set-Write Podcast and all you have to do is click on the link and you will be magically transported there.
Well, what are you waiting for? Aren’t you enticed by the sage advice that Brock Booher offers? Then what about the chance to spend time with the talented and funny Janette Rallison? If you close your eyes while you listen it’s just like hanging out with Janette in person—in a pitch black room where no one can see anything. I’m on the podcast too. There must be a reason they let me participate. You can listen to the podcast and try to figure out why.
Just in case that doesn't convince you to check out our podcast we are giving away books. Ah, ha. I see that caught your attention. Janette is giving away books on her website. You can find out the details of her giveaway at http://janetterallison.com/blog/podcast-launch-book-giveaway/.
Wait . . . I’m not done. If Janette is going to have a giveaway then so am I. The rules are simple. We currently have four episodes available. At the end of the month, I am going to pick my favorite comment for each episode and send a book to the person who wrote it. For episode one I am giving away My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly. The prize for episode two is An Uncommon Blue by R.C. Hancock. The episode three prize winner will receive The Shapeshifter’s Secret by Heather Ostler. And the person who submits the winning comment for episode four will receive an autographed copy of my first book, The Gathering: End’s Beginning.
Feel free to leave comments on all four episodes. We would love to have questions about writing that we can use in future podcasts. As you can probably guess, comments that include details about the actual episode are more likely to be chosen.
That’s it. Go win some books.
Since I bothered to put a News and Views section on my website I thought I might as well mention a couple of news items. The first is that I finished the third book in The Gathering series and am in the final editing stages before I submit it to my publisher. The tenative title is The Devastation: America Crumbles. Fans of the series should be happy to know that I think this is my best work so far.
My other big announcement is that Battlementals: The Quest for the Harmonicon is scheduled for release January 21st, 2017. This is my first effort at writing middle-grade and according to my critique group I have found my true calling as an author. I'm already working on the second book in the series and have the basic plot in mind for the third.
What's it all about? Here's the back cover blurb to intice you to check it out when it is released in January.
Chase Freeman is a boy with a heart for adventure stuck living in dull Drifter Flats. The only exciting thing that ever happens in his small town is Eclipse Day and even that isn’t enough for Chase—until he sees the strange ball of light streaking across the sky. Enlisting his best friend Jordan, her little brother Luke, and Harlan the smartest boy in school, they follow the light to an American Indian medicine circle. Drawn into the middle of it, the four friends are suddenly teleported to the Battlementals dimension along with the school bully Brendan and his friend Lena.
Once there, they find an elemental people desperate for them to accept the grand quest to save the universe. A deadly alliance has pulled it out of balance and, soon, everything will vanish altogether. Friends and enemies will have to find a way to work together to assemble the Harmonicon, defeat the Salt Giant, and find their own undiscovered abilities that will help them complete their quest. But when dark secrets are put in the wrong hands, their mission unravels and time is quickly running out. As the universe systematically starts to disappear, Chase and his friends race to put all the elements they’ve gathered together, but will it be too late to save it?
The Time Out for Women conference was this weekend and I’m thinking that ANWA should really be AN-WOW. The organization provides a safe environment for LDS writers to pursue their craft. Those of you familiar with ANWA might notice that I did not state that it provided LDS women with a safe environment and that is because the members voted to allow men to join this wonderful organization. Marsha Ward gave a inspiring speech about the decision that not only made me feel welcomed, but helped me to realize what an honor it is to join forces with these spiritually-guided women.
Over the weekend, I managed to make several new friends. The speculative fiction table at the Thursday night workshop had a brilliant group writers gathered together. It was my job to act as “mentor” for the table, but these folks certainly didn’t need me to guide them. My thanks go out to the following people for making it so much fun: Dustin Thompson, Tamara Thompson, Christine Walter, and Sean.
Then there were the friends that I made during lunch and dinner. Matt Peterson, DeAnn Huff, Kathy Cowley, and Chanda Simper. What many of you may not know is that I’m a shy person and it is difficult for me to put out the energy to meet new people in a social setting. However, at this event lunchtime became an enjoyable opportunity to make new friends because everyone was so kind and approachable.
Last year I attended the ANWA gala and left early. Not because it was boring or the people made fun of me, but because that sort of environment is my kryptonite. Lots of people I don’t know, in costumes that I do a horrible job of guessing correctly, and having conversations that I hesitate to interrupt. Also, all of the background noise makes it difficult for me to hear what people are saying and I feel stupid when I’m not sure how to respond. But this year the friends I mentioned above made the event enjoyable for me. That includes the part where I didn’t recognize Kathy Cowley and she totally dismissed my gaff as inconsequential. Thanks, Kathy.
The wonderful Janette Rallison introduced me to Brad McBride and my life is already better for it because of a discussion we had while waiting in line for dinner. Then there are the wonderful ladies who were an integral part of the conference who we all get to meet and know better as they do their job; Nan Marie Swapp, Deb Eaton, Bonnie Harris, Melinda Sanchez, Kari Pike, Lisa Crandall, and Nikki Wilson.
Before any of you have a chance to accuse me of name-dropping because I know all of these super cool writers, let me say that I had fun presenting the classes I presented and learned helpful tips on how to improve my craft in the classes I attended. More importantly though, the conference as a whole put together several pieces of a puzzle that has given me direction in my writing career. The keynote speech from Jeff Savage, my lunch conversation with Chanda Simper, and a combination of what Brad McBride taught in his class and the subsequent discussion I had with him about it all came together in a powerful way.
My thanks go out to everyone I mentioned. In one way or another you have helped me along my path as a writer. And for those of you who didn’t attend the Time Out For Writers event—I hope to see you there next year.
If you live in Arizona, I have good news for you. The Time Out for Writers conference is only two weeks away. I am excited to be part of this event. ANWA does an excellent job of putting on a friendly and instructive writing conference. If you have never been to a writing conference then this is definitely the event for first time attendees.
Just follow the link above to register. If my words of encouragement haven’t been enough to convince you to attend then please check out all of these great classes which are part of the conference.
Anika Arrington with Crafting the Siren’s Song: Deep POV and Narrative Voice
Aprilynne Pike with Writing (Un)Realistic Dialogue
Melanie Jacobson with Push Her Off the Roof: Escalating the Stakes
* Warning * Melanie has advised us that she plans to torture characters during the class and for attendees to expect a rather brutal experience. (I’m so going to attend.)
Melanie Jacobson with Fast Drafting: The One Thing That Will Boost Your Productivity Overnight (and a Few Others That Help)
(No mention of torture in this class description.)
Bradley McBride with Taking Over the World, One Friend at a Time: Building a Loyal Community via Social Media
Katherine Cowley – Optimizing Your Author Website for Google, Facebook and Pinterest
Katherine Cowley with Rule-Based Worldbuilding for Fantasy, Steampunk, and Science-Fiction
J. Scott Savage with Am I Writing a Middle Grade Novel or a YA Novel?
J. Scott Savage with Four Part Pacing
J. Scott Savage with From Idea to Marketable Pitch (Two-Hour Intensive, Thursday Workshop)
James A. Owen with Why Eggs Benedict is Crucial to Your Success as an Author (Two-Hour intensive)
Annette Lyon with Self-editing and Revision: Dig Deep to Learn the Nit-Picky Stuff—And Make the Best Impression (Two-Hour Intensive Workshop)
Annette Lyon with How Scrivener Totally Rocks & Will Make Your Writing Easier & Faster
Jennifer Lunt Moore with Research: What’s the Point?
Jennifer Lunt Moore with Elements of Swoon-worthy Romance
Matt Peterson with Copywriting: The Perfect “Day Job” for Writers
Dr. James Blasingame with Doubling Down on the Resolution: How to do the Best Young Adult Authors Create and Interior and Exterior Conflict Resolution?
Catherine Jones Payne with The Indie Dream Team: Choosing Your Self-Publishing Team
Heidi Taylor with Elevator Pitches: Take Them to a Higher Level
Heidi Taylor with How to Craft a Query Letter
Patricia Nelson with What’s Working in YA Now?
Patricia Nelson with Rookie Submission Mistakes
Janette Rallison with Scene Structure: What it Takes to Make Your Writing Work All Novel Long
Michelle Wilson with Getting to the Heart of Non-Fiction
Michelle Wilson & J. Scott Savage with Conquering the Devils in the Writer’s Mind
Randy Lindsay with Jumpstart Your Creative Juices Workshop
(Woo-hoo! That’s me. Should I be worried that my titles aren’t longer?)
Randy Lindsay with Keep ‘Em Reading
(Here’s your chance to heckle me with a workshop I’m still getting used to presenting.)
Heather Flaherty with Action Over Expository Workshop
C. J. Anaya with Guerilla Marketing: Launching Your Book to Bestseller Status
Tamara Passey with Friends Don’t Let Friends Publish Junk
Agent/Editor Panel with The Inbox
Indie/Hybrid Author Panel
That is an amazing amount of great information for writers at any point in their personal journey with the written word. Come on out and learn some new skills, network with other writers, and make some new friends. Hope to see you there.
Fans of The Gathering series will be happy to know that I am making great progress on the third book and I think it will be the best yet. If you have even half as much fun reading book three as I am writing it, then you are in for a treat.
For those of you who have read book two, Call to Arms: Nations Fall, there is an opportunity to help me generate some interest in the title and thusly increase the chances of Cedar Fort publishing then next book in the series. The best part of it is you have the chance to win some books at the same time.
New LDS Fiction is hosting their annual Summer Book Trek contest. You can hop on over to the website for full details, but the basic idea is that participants read any of the books on the list and help spread the word about the book you read. The first part is super easy—you read a book by an LDS author. Then you get points for posting reviews of the book and mentioning it on your social media, which is also pretty easy. This is a chance to help your favorite LDS author receive the exposure we need to continue writing the stories you love. Please, help us out.
The second item I wanted to mention is the Time Out for Writers conference in September. If you are an author or an aspiring author this is a chance to learn more of the writing craft and spend some time networking with individuals in the publishing industry. I personally believe that this is the best conference for Arizona authors.
Did I mention that I will be presenting two classes at the conference? If not, I have now. I will be teaching the popular Jumpstart Your Creative Juices where I will show how writers can use writing prompts to generate original story ideas. My second class is Keep ‘Em Reading which is new to my teaching list. The class discusses cliffhangers and how to keep your readers hooked throughout the entire book.
The Time Out for Writers website has been posting spotlights on the conference presenters. I am the spotlight this week and had the opportunity to answer a few questions about my writing journey. Check it out.
I can’t believe that Phoenix Comicon has been over for a week and I haven’t posted a report on the event. Not to worry—I’ll take care of that little detail right now.
Phoenix suffered record high temperatures during the convention and then dropped down to the normal warm summer days as soon as it was over. It didn’t seem as crowded this year as it was last and the heat may have had something to do with it. There were still a lot of people in attendance and a lot to do. On the positive side, I didn’t see any vacant artist tables this year.
The convention was a different experience for me this time. I went with the perspective of an author hoping to participate in the event next year. In the vendor room, my eyes were drawn to artist’s tables and the possibility of having them design the cover for the Battlementals book. Several of them had art that fit my sense of what the cover should look like. They include Adrew Bosley, Spencer L. Brinkerhoff III, and Travis Hanson.
I also stopped to talk with several authors in order to get a better idea of how I should approach the event as an author/vendor. The best information of the day was from Howard Tayler who writes Schlock Mercenary. Howard participates in the Writing Excuses podcast. I was able to get some valuable insight that should help when I start a podcast of my own later in the year.
But the highlight of the convention was the horror panel I sat on Sunday morning. Even though the first two stories I sold were horror, everyone seemed surprise that I write horror. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that my friends know I’m really wimpy when it comes to gore. The panel was Suspense vs. Gore and I’ll leave it to you to decide which side of the argument I came down on. The event had a surprisingly good turn out for Sunday morning. I expected most of the people to still be asleep in their rooms after a late night of revelry with their friends.
After the panel I went and sat with my friends and fellow panelists T. M. Williams and Ray Torres III. The chemistry between the three of us during the panel was wonderful and we talked about doing more events together. Will that mean more horror in my future writing? You never know.
Mostly, I gathered ideas for what to do with a table/booth of my own. If I go the indie-publishing route, I will have The Land of the Battlementals: Quest for the Harmonicon published in time for Comicon next year. And I am super excited about all the panel ideas, booth decorations, and promotional events that I have in mind.
Hope to see you all there next time.
You and Me
Let's make this about you and me. I'll go ahead and write some articles and then you jump right in and share your thoughts on the matter. How does that sound?