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Brands and otherwise August 13, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, New Mexico, science fiction, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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Writing westerns requires some knowledge of cattle brands. Not much, really, but enough to sound authentic. I have a great deal of fun coming up with ranches sporting such brands as the Rolling J. But writing has changed from merely thinking about such things and dealing with them every day. A different type of brand is needed now.

Publishers don’t promote (or advertise) much anymore, so it is up to the author to deal with this important aspect of writing. What good does it do to write the best novel ever in the history of the universe only to have it ignored? Advertising, promotion–and creating a brand for yourself. All are integral to sales now.

Some things seem obvious but aren’t. There are a lot of reasons to go to a convention. Attending as a fan is entirely different from going as a writer. How you dress, how you act, your entire persona is the face you are putting not only on yourself but your work. This is part of the author’s brand (and I’m not necessarily talking about that tramp stamp). You don’t have to be staid and sober (I’d say, sober as a judge but this is Abq and such things are rare here) unless that’s the image and fiction you are peddling. Enjoy yourself but don’t get falling down drunk or insult people unless you can do it in a humorous way not likely to get you sued or punched out. Even then….

Bubonicon is coming up. Come to my panels, come to my autographing (got lots of new titles!), see how I approach the idea of strengthening my brand. So you’ll recognize me, here’s a picture taken recently in New Orleans.

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

Been There, Done That…But… December 9, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, fantasy, ideas, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
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A couple years ago I came up with a dynamite idea. Super stuff. Still think it’s great but there’s only time to do so much, and this one has been sitting on the cerebral back burner. Imagine my horror when I came across other authors’ use of that very idea. How dare they!

Ideas can’t be copyrighted, of course, and I looked this “usurpation” over. It’s, let’s be polite, terrible. Nothing like the idea still churning away like a green chile burrito in the gut, only in my head. I may still give this a try, but it has dropped a notch or two on my to-do list because of possible perception I was just copying what has already been done (and not too successfully if the Amazon sales # is accurate, which I doubt, but that’s another story).

Harken back to 1973. I had gone to Torcon World SF Convention and had a chance to meet one of the greats in sf fandom, Bob Tucker. We’d written a few letters back and forth and he had done a couple articles for my fanzine (think dead tree blog with staples, if you will). I had the horrible, awful, sinking feeling I would be introduced and have nothing whatsoever to say to him–and vice versa. Turned out to be a misplaced fear. Tucker greeted me like a friend of a thousand years and the first words out of his mouth were, “I stole an idea from you!” What? How can that be? And we spent the next hour talking…like friends of a thousand years.

But he had only taken something I’d written and run with it in a direction I never considered. Therein lies the truth about ideas.

They are never unique. It’s how you use them in a story that’s most important. Last night a friend said that Steinbeck stole Of Mice and Men from a social worker. I couldn’t pin him down if he meant flat out plagiarism or simply using information about the Dust Bowl. One is completely different from the other. It’s hard to believe anyone could see such social upheaval and physical destruction without thinking what a novel it would make. Ideas are out there everywhere.

The old story about John Campbell assigning the same idea to 3 writers might be apocryphal but the punch line is worth mentioning. Two turned in stories so far apart in treatment it was almost impossible to figure out what the kernel had been. What you do with the idea matters. And what writer hasn’t read something and thought, “I can do better than that!” And with elements completely missed and adding a character, and getting rid of that annoying part, but I can…

You get the idea. Which is the idea.

frankernest2

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

The Black Hole Passes September 8, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, death, hobby, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science, sense of wonder.
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No, that’s not a typo. I’m not referring to Campbell’s The Black Star Passes but to the Black Hole surplus store in Los Alamos. The Black Hole was a compendium of junk and history, useable tech equipment and stuff I’m not sure anyone knew what it did.

The owner, Ed Grothus, died some time ago and was mostly anti-nuke, pro who knows what, who bought lots of surplus equipment at the Los Alamos lab and sold them. On one trip there, Gordon Garb laughingly asked for a 50kw oil bath capacitor–they had 3 on the shelf. I had less luck hunting for keyboards with the function keys down the left side–all their IBM keyboards predated fn keys. Stacks of Beta tapes (including the entire Prisoner series!). Dual trace oscilloscopes, miles of wire and coax, gadgets nobody knew what they were good for other than asking, “What’s that thing? It looks awesome, but…”

Entropy sets in, even in such backwaters of New Mexico. Alas, Hawking was right and black holes do evaporate.

A bit of irony is the closing coincides with a mini-Maker Fair here in Abq. Gordon is maybe going to come for that, which is A Good Thing since he missed Bubonicon this year.

I have been busy tidying up a lot of writing chores. More on them later. Got a short story to do ASAP, then…lots more stuff. But some of it is actually seeing the light of day this year. (And there are still prizes for the trivia contest available…hurry hurry hurry, time’s almost up!)

I leave you with the establishing shot for The Black Hole.

The Black Hole

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

Quick on the Draw–2012 SASS End of Trail July 1, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, Billy the Kid, conventions, history, hobby, New Mexico, outlaws, westerns.
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Turn left at the mailbox painted with Bill the Kid’s face, another left and a right and you’re at the End of Trail, the annual Single Action Shooter’s Society getogether. All this in Edgewood.

Come on over, pahdnah!

They have built up a great facility over the years, with a main street lined with permanent buildings. Newly added this year (or maybe in the past 2 since I missed last year’s) is a white church with a steeple. For those rootin’ tootin’ two-gun weddings, betcha.

I think something went wrong with their online coupon. Scott, Pat and I got out there and entry was free, no parking charge, the awards presentation was in full swing. The public is pretty much welcome whenever as long as you don’t cause a fuss, but the paid entry days have more of a rodeo/sideshow atmosphere. But all the shops were open. Scott and Pat are inveterate clothes shoppers. Me, I was wearing a shirt I got 30 years earlier. But they actually wear the stuff they buy, so it isn’t “costume” as much as daily wear for them.

By the big Red Rider

After meandering up and down in the hot sun, Scott suggested lunch in Edgewood at Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill (spellings are all accurate, btw) to partake of the Thunder Burger, a deep-fried hamburger. Deep fried anything is a tad repulsive sounding to me, but since I’d never done it, why not? I sorrowfully admit the Thunder Burger was not only good, but I would order it again (maybe with more green chile). The meat had green chile and cheese mixed into it before the deep frying, but it came out more like meatloaf. From the heat, I assume. Most tasty. Today, hamburgers, tomorrow…deep-fried Snickers? I hang my head in shame even as my arteries harden at the mere idea.

Me and Red Rider gunnin’ for the bad guys

Warning: the awards are for marksmanship

Last stage ot Albuquerque

The new Old West

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!