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An Elephant Ate My iPhone! March 7, 2013

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, fantasy, iPhone, writing.
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Not *my* cellphone, but a woman at the Arizona Renaissance Fair had one of the pachyderms reach out, snatch her phone and chomp down on it. Luckily, it wasn’t a blackberry and tasted bad so the elephant spit it out. You don’t get trophies like iPhones with elephant tooth marks at every venue.

That was only one of the stories of the fair. But hitting the rewind button for a second, on March 3 Michael Stackpole and I autographed all day long at Lady Chamberlain’s Book Shop. I don’t know how many years we’ve been doing this but it is several and always fun. This year I went in costume borrowed from Scott and Pat. A picture (and that’s me in the middle, if you get that far–Chantelle stage right, Jami on the left. Thanks, miladies!)

2013RenFaire

Another odd story of the autographing. A group of five came up, saw that I was autographing God of War and figured I knew everything about mythology. “We can’t get a crossword puzzle clue,” said one. “What god married his sister?” Between Mike and me, we came up with Osiris. I’m not sure this is exhaustive, those gods being such rakes, but the answer satisfied the group. I hope they find a good name for their kid.

In spite of it being cloudy (or I would have suffocated in the heavy velvet pirate coat) I still sunburned a bit. The common areas are watered down in the morning. By afternoon the dirt had turned to fine dust that settled on everything, books and me included. That’s what you get with 17k people walking by.

After sundown and closing. Don Juan (of Don Juan and Miguel) invited us to his birthday party. Always fun seeing the behind the scenes people and how different their real personalities are from the on-stage persona.

Books were sold, fun was had, new people were met, fans spoken to (Taos Hermit and his family stopped by) and I’m already looking forward to next year and doing it again. [For those of you who want books autographed sooner and not in Phoenix, I’ll be autographing here in Albuquerque on March 30, 1-3pm, at Hastings Entertainment, 840 Juan Tabo NE)

The book that garnered the most attention from Ren Fair attendees.

Career Guide Your Job in Hell

Career Guide Your Job in Hell

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You Don’t Have to Be Crazy, But It Helps February 28, 2013

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, awards, business, conventions, e-books, fantasy, VIPub, writing.
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Writing can be so strange. Sitting and writing is great, but no much else is required now. A writer is a small corporation, a business doing everything from thinking up the ideas to marketing them (I call this VIPub–Vertically Integrated Publishing).

I’ve spent the past month working on an sf book. It’s done, it’s sent out and when I get the okay, I will let you know all about it and the exciting project surrounding it. Since I spent most of January coughing up my lungs, not as much work got done then as I’d’ve liked. So, two months gone, only one book written so far this year.

Now that it is off to the editor, I had to catch up on other writing chores today. Updated my website. Wrote this blog. My accountant is asking where all my financial stuff is. Yeah, tax season. But then it’s always tax season when you need to file quarterlies and tons of other forms. This morning I went through a half dozen questions–Q&A–for an Writer’s Digest article on tie-in writing. Sent it off. Jeff Mariotte asked if I’d like to join him in an autographing at the end of March. Sure, it’s here in town, 4 miles from my front door and a block from the high school where I graduated, uh, er, a while ago. Looks good to get Ian Tregellis and Steve Gould there, too, plus some western fiction and nf writers. I sent out a bunch of emails and am happy at the response. Struggled with Walgreen’s over my online account, did too many mundane things like laundry and packing and…you get the idea. Not writing things.

But one writing thing I am delighted about was a fan letter from “Raven Van Helsing.” He’s the guy whose YouTube videos
I used as a guide for both God of War 1 and 2.

I had sent him a copy of GoW1. Here he is with it.

Raven Van Helsing with GOD OF WAR 1

Raven Van Helsing with GOD OF WAR 1

I’ll be autographing this, God of War 2 and Career Guide to Your Job in Hell at the Arizona Renaissance Faire March 3, all day at Lady Ann’s Book Shoppe along with the inimitable Michael Stackpole.

Stop by and see us. If you can’t make it, you can still snag the books here. Huzzah!

Scribe Award nominated novel

Scribe Award nominated novel

God of War 2

God of War 2

Career Guide Job in Hell

Career Guide Job in Hell

Slap Leather, Pilgrim October 7, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, history, iPad, New Mexico, outlaws, Texas, VIPub, westerns, Wild West, writing, zeppelin.
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The past few days have been spent getting a talk ready for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium coming up at the end of the week. I’ll be on a panel Friday morning, give my talk on New Mexico railroads both Friday and Saturday afternoons. For me talking that much is a marathon event and I’ll likely end up hoarse (horse? Sorry!)

From a writing standpoint, I’m trying some new marketing ideas. I’m turning my notes into an epub for easier use on my iPad, then will post the ebook on my store next week (for free, of course) for anyone wanting to see more details since I don’t anticipate going too deep into any one part of the talk.) Along with the talks, I’ll be selling copies of Karl Lassiter and Jackson Lowry westerns, hyping Karl’s upcoming China Jack
because it is about railroads and specifically railroads in that region of the country, and seeing how a special project goes.

Just for the getogether, I’ve done a mini-anthology of three stories about Texas Rangers, past, present and future. A memento for the event. Something easily carried (as opposed to a copy of The Traditional West)

If this experiment works, I’ll do something similar, Tales from New Mexico, for the SW Festival of Books next May. Targeted to the regional interests, relatively inexpensive, a keepsake for remembering the event. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Who knows? I might even take pictures at the symposium and lost a couple here, but it will have to be next week. Still working on finding tidbits about railroads in NM (including the 1880 tale of a fish-shaped hot air balloon dropping blue origami flowers and a teacup on the Galisteo railhead. Most inexplicable.)

More soon. Until then you might want to check out

Well, That Was Special September 4, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, contest, e-books, Free, movies, Texas, VIPub, writing.
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My mistake on yesterday’s blog. Zumaya is doing the trivia hunt but, as I can be, I was a day late and a dollar short. Actually, not $ short but days late.

Makes me feel guilty about this, though. So, a trivia contest run by yhos. Same question as before. What was my first published science fiction book? If you really don’t know, check my website. Email me the answer at rvardeman451@comcast.net You have one week. Ends midnight Sept 10. Prizes will be ebooks off my online store. First five will be winners! Not that you all aren’t now, of course,

Been doing family visit stuff and loving it. Hit a couple movies. I thought Lawless was ok but really liked Premium Rush, much to my surprise. That one’s a 90 minute chase scene–and they make it work. I was sorta rewriting lines in Lawless but only found one small scene I’d have changed in Premium Rush toward the end. Wasn’t built up before getting trotted onstage and eliminating it wouldn’t have affected the plot one iota (and, of course, in my feeble mind, would have improved it).

Odds and ends. Congrats to all the Hugo winners and what’s with the streaming company killing the feed because its bot detected DRM violation (that wasn’t there)? Welcome to world of robots telling us what’s legal. Robocop, anyone? Except without the human brain? Skynet won’t let us see Neil Gaiman? Everyone’s a critic, including the silicon brained among us…or are they among us, rather than being our new masters?

Something happened on Sep 1 to drive up my count 10x. Big search item? Texas State Flag.

Best joke recently: I set my DVR to record “The Biggest Loser” but it won’t record anything but Dallas Cowboys games.

Must return to the word mines. This is “my” month to start new projects rather than complete old ones. Want 2 novel proposals and 2 short stories done by this time in Oct, when I must get going on a new western. Which brings me to the cover on Karl Lassiter’s China Jack. Click on it below, but don’t expect terracotta soldiers in the book (I chose this from 3 since it appealed to my narcissistic sense and, besides, probably won’t see the light of day anywhere but on Kindle. It makes a compelling b&w thumbnail!)

Boo…Boo…Bubonicon. 44 August 23, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, Billy the Kid, conventions, e-books, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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This weekend. Starting tomorrow! Coming amazingly fast this year–and anticipated even more since I missed last year.

Brandon Sanderson is GoH and via reports from GenCon he will make one fantastic guest of honor. Michael Cassutt is the TM and Ursula Vernon artist GoH. Wow. And George RR Martin and dozens of other writers will be there, too. But you can read all about this at the convention web site.

Want more info? Great article in the UNM student paper about us.

My schedule is packed to the gunwales. First out of the chute on Friday (that’s tomorrow as I write this!) is the Crazy Buck Rogers panel. 4-5pm. Following that I have a reading or discussion or whatever you want for an hour, 7:30-8:30PM. I’ve got a trio of stories I can offer up. A horror story (Avian Evisceration Device) from Career Guide to Your Job in Hell,, a fantasy (Memory of Wind) or a mystery mashup with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Denis Nayland Smith (Adventure of the Greenwich First Light). I don’t like to read so I am quite willing to talk about writing in general, ebooks, e-making your own, what to e-expect and all that good stuff. After all, my ebooks are now available in India via the Kindle. I can even be paid in rupees. If they offered royalties in a hard currency (say, Canadian loonies) that would be better. But I’ll take it in soft currency, ie, USD.

But wait, there’s more. There is the Cheesemagnet Panel at 9:30-11PM, if you don’t get enough cheesy movie talk in your workaday life.

Saturday the 25th? Why, yes, I have a panel 4-5PM on marketing sf via stuffing it into a teeny little niche. Instantly following that in the same room is the 5:20-6:30PM mass autographing, if your Higgs boson provides you enough mass to autograph. I don’t anticipate having much in the way of books to sell, so stock up from Nina and Ron Else in the huckster room (Who Else? Books), but I will have a copy or two of some titles (credit cards accepted). If you ask during the autographing, I will tell you how to get 44% off e-titles from my online store. Ebooks only, please, for this offer.

For most fans this would be enough. Not for yhos. Sunday.1:00-3:30PM auction. Super stuff. Super silly stuff, all auctioned off by the Bcon team of crazies (sans Gordon, alas–doctor things prevent him from attending this year)

This is coming up over the weekend. The past couple weeks have been filled. Finished 1.5 stories in a min-anthology I am doing before I speak at the 23rd Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.

Also finished copyedits on China Jack, due out Dec 11 (you better read it quick–only 10 days from release date until the Mayan Apocalypse). And almost done on the edits for the final Star Frontier title, Black Nebula.

And work proceeds apace on the final touches for God of War 2.

Plus work on tax accounting stuff, student mss and generally goofing off. I leave you with this. My very first published book has been e-reprinted. This is it! Grab it at this low price while you can.

My first published book!


http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&index=blended&keywords=sandcats%20of%20rhyl%20kindle&link_code=qs&tag=roberevardesc-20

Writing the High Desert June 17, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, history, movies & TV, New Mexico, outlaws, Texas, westerns, writing.
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The Western Writers of America convention ended last night after a 5 day run. I passed up some of the events only because this is home territory for me (I’ve seen enough of Santa Fe, thank you, which was the field trip this year) and I had impossible amounts of catchup work to do. The Albq Comic Expo ended last Sunday, Monday was “off” for me and WWA started Tuesday.

A huge tribute to Max Evans provided some rare moments of insight into the movie biz, along with jokes and reminiscences that were touching and informative.

Max Evans at WWA

The outstanding panel had to be the innovative “New Mexico vs Arizona” faceoff since 2012 is both states’ centennial of statehood. Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble and editor Bob Boze Bell vs the NM team of Centennial Historian Don Bullis and former feature reporter Ollie Reed. Trimble ought to be a standup comic (he comes from a town in AZ that’s so small its sister city is a Taco Bell in Nicaragua). Cowboy Mike, Sherry Monaghan and I were chosen (and bribed) as a jury by judge Johnny Boggs. After great tale telling and, perhaps not a little tall tale telling, the winner was declared to be … Iowa.

Ollie Reed, Don Bullis, Johnny Boggs, Marshall Trimble, Bob Boze Bell

The writing western mysteries panel lacked a microphone and I lacked hearing acuity so I went to what proved to be a great presentation on the Civil War and various backwaters of its history that have been unexplored (or under-explored). Fascinating listening to Boggs talk about baseball and Pati Nagel on the war in NM, Jerry Poole on medicine and Terry del Bene on, well, just about everything I never knew and ought to have.

There were two autograph sessions, one I arranged at Page One Books for Chuck Tyrell (aka Charlie Whipple from Chiba, Japan), Courtney Joyner and Jackson Lowry to plug The Traditional West

Newer writer Rob Kresge was there, too, with a series of mysteries set in the west.

The other autographing, this one WWA sanctioned, happened at B&N. 73 authors officially participated but some, like LJ Martin, were signing but not at formal tables hawking their goods. This pointed out another problem with big dead tree bookstores: books they refused to order but sold on consignment will take 6 weeks to 3 months to be accounted. I am not sanguine about our chances of ever seeing money off those sales, or at least an accurate accounting.

The final panel I took in was on promotion with Steve Law, a rancher from WY, Jim Frenkel and David Morrell. You’ve heard all this via me or Mike Stackpole or Kris Rusch or Dean Wesley Smith. But simple things like QR codes were new to most of the audience. The rancher seems to have the finances to pay $800/mo for a media consultant and $300/mo to have someone do his tweets. Must be nice and, sorry, “you can start out paying less” doesn’t make it for me or most of the folks in the audience. As they say, YMMV. I am also less sanguine about doing autographings in grocery stores (I did one once sitting next to Tony Hillerman–the display of Pennzoil next to us did far better sales). High traffic, yes, but directed interest traffic seems more productive to me (such as the Albuquerque Comic Expo, the upcoming Cowboy Symposium and next year’s SW Book Fiesta.)

I survived, had fun, met lots of new people and am looking forward to doing it all again next year in Vegas (and then Sacramento and still thenner, in San Antonio). Masochistic me testing to destruction. And I love it.

Top nf writers Don Bullis and Leon Metz

ACE-ing It June 7, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, New Mexico, science fiction, writing.
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I will be off the grid, kinda, for the next few days. In a couple hours I’ll be lugging boxes of books down to the Convention Center to set up for the first day of the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) tomorrow (Friday 8) and through the weekend.

I’m sharing booth #401 with Scott Phillips. If you come in the main entrance, as opposed to sneaking in through the ventilation system, look for my Cephalobob banner

ACE 2011 booth

at the booth on your immediate left next to the signing tables for the Really Big Guests. Don’t get us confused with the likes of Adam Baldwin or Peter Mayhew. Or, if you like, go ahead and confuse us. We’ll sign about anything!

I have about two dozen titles to sell. More online at my store, of course, or Kindle or Nook. I’ll have QR codes for getting there if you prefer digital to dead tree. But you can get the dead tree books signed. Yes, I’ll do that.

If you still have trouble finding where I’ve set up shop, Saturday I will have booth babe Ashley Bryce (most recently in a Longmire episode) pointing the way. If you aren’t familiar with her work (or ACE honcho Craig Butler’s) here is something showcasing their talents.

See you this weekend!

All Fired Up and Launching (written) Torpedoes June 3, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, hobby, Texas, writing.
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That’s the way I usually feel after going to a convention. Tired, but revved up to write more. The reason is pretty simple. Listening to other writers tell of what they have being published, what they’re working on, everything about their prodigious outputs, all this makes me feel like a slacker. No matter I am hearing about a year’s output from dozens of writers. It all boils down to: I need to write more.

I am not a big proponent of writing seminars and workshops, though many swear by them. They are certainly great networking opportunities. But the cost is frightful on some for marginal advice (in my opinion). I saw one that charged $100/hr, 3 different sessions (so a total of $300) covering stuff you can figure out on your own or find online for free.

But there might be more to attending than networking or actually learning. I spoke at an East Texas writers workshop quite a few years ago. One writer told me how especially fired up she was and how much she had gotten from my talk. I asked her what she intended to write next. Answer: nothing, but she was going to another seminar in Houston in a month. Write something new? Never! Go to more seminars! Yes!

Everyone needs a hobby, I suppose, and this was hers. Going to writing seminars. A long time back Ed Bryant mentioned speaking at an annual Colorado Springs workshop where James Michener was headlining. A woman brought the same ms to the workshop every year–this was her “ticket” to meet famous authors. It gave a cachet of “being a writer, just like you” so she could meet folks like Michener (and presumably Ed, whom I consider a far better writer, but that’s just me).

Use conventions/seminars/workshops to network, maybe to learn something, but when you’re away from all the glitz and glitter, write!

You Only Live Twice…Things Done 2x May 24, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, charity, conventions, fantasy, iPad, steampunk, writing.
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Thanks to Mike Stackpole for letting me sit in for him again (even though he was there) at his office hours last night. But the title of this blog is things done twice. I will be reading in Second Life (second time in 2 days) tonight for Relay For Life. Which is the second time I have participated. Come by at 6PM SLT for my reading of a short story, “Memory of Wind.” Maybe even contribute a few pennies for cancer research.

In response to my “Strategy and Tactics” blogpost of a few days ago, I received this from Copyblogger. Sonia Simon has written an article on “the difference between ‘work’ and work that moves you toward your goals.'” Good stuff in the article and in general on Copyblogger.

For some reason the term “sprocket watch” keeps rattling around in my head. Sounds rather steampunkish. Might just be in anticipation of Steve Sullivan posting his entry into Empires of Steam and Rust–this will be passage two.

Also my second gig at Albuquerque Comic Expo is coming up fast. Get your tickets now!

The burdens of work hardly qualifies as 2x since it is pretty much constant. I need to get the story I’ll read tonight all gussied up and into epub format so I can read it off the iPad and not drop pages like I did last time I read. On this note I leave you with a Calvin and Hobbes that seems especially appropriate

Calvin the writer, waiting for his Muse

Strategy vs Tactics and Knowing The Difference in Writing May 19, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, money, Uncategorized, writing.
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Marketing stuff. Writing stuff. How do you keep them separate? Ans: you don’t. You shouldn’t. VIPub (Vertically Integrated Publishing) means you’re doing it all, so it is one huge stewpot. But knowing the difference between what goes into the stew and the pot itself is important.

A VIPub author needs to create a brand. A reader has to look at a title, see your name and think “good experiences before.” The brand is like that pot. It holds everything together. That’s your strategy, to create the brand. This is the all encompassing purpose of your career. The big picture. The brand.

How do you mix up the stuff in the pot? That’s the tactics. The little stuff all added together to be confined by your brand/strategy/stewpot. What goes in can be a lot of different genre, though it is likely you ought to make smaller pots (strategies) for different ones. This is one reason I sue pen names. A reader of a Karl Lassiter or Jackson Lowry title shouldn’t expect science fiction. The branding should cry out “Lowry writes damn fine western fiction!” Holding it all together are the tactics of short stories and novels and autographings that give the taste to the reader. Not sure if it is possible to have a strategy that works without good tactics. IOW, good branding is accomplished by producing good writing.

But good writing isn’t enough. You need that strategy of how to market, where to market, who ought to be your market to best sell what’s boiling around in the pot. Without the strategy, a writer without a surprise “fairy godmother time” breakout book won’t get noticed–the brand hasn’t been established. Consistently good work is the goal but this is only a tactic on the way to branding.

Know what you’re aiming for. Strategy for an overall writing career is necessary; your name becomes a brand. Getting to this point requires tactics. A solid body of work, ways of finding your audience and enticing them to read your work until branding is achieved–that’s tactics. Twitter and FB and Goodreads and autographings and all the rest are tactics.

Set your sights on the goal (strategy) and start firing (tactics).