So, under advisement and with someone else to drive so I could write, I decided to make a day trip to the Virginia Festival of the Book. Not only did the event have people there from the industry along with authors of all flavor, two of the authors that I ALWAYS pre-order books from were going to be there–Kim Harrison and David Morrell. Different ends of the spectrum. I know, right? I am eclectic after all.
So, I had a choice of two things to go to when we first arrived: Digital Publishing For Your Book or Promoting the Smart Way. The first one dealt with how to edit, publish, and promote digital books. I went to that one, hoping to get some secrets I hadn’t heard of. Turns out, everything they had to offer I had either scooped out of the internet or through the various groups I belong to. Turns out skipping through sites filled with writers who live and breathe it is a good thing. It wasn’t a total loss, however, as I got to introduce myself to Stacey O’Neale, the publicist for Entangled Press. They’re on my list, once I write something that fits what they sell (fantasy…duh!), I want to send it their way. She was very nice and cordial, giving my a card with her web address on it because she’d already run out of business cards.
The discussion went from how important cover art is, especially when it’s shrunk to thumbnail size, to formatting and good editing. Some people can pay through the nose for these services when self publishing. Oh and fuck Vanity Presses… authors get paid, they don’t pay. They also said something that had me nodding–don’t self-publish because you got a couple of rejections. There’s always a reason why you got rejected. Hell, I looked at the first piece I ever got rejected and, even though I brooded for days, the company who said ‘no’ in a form snail mail letter was in the right. ‘enuff said. While I didn’t learn anything new, I thought the whole panel did a great job in informing up and coming writers of what to expect, what to do, and what not to do. Like, for example, don’t troll the trolls giving you a bad review. Turn them into a lizard in your next book and kill them off.
Next I whisked away for Romance: Strange Brew. Paranormal Authors “Sell” Out Their Secrets. Oh yes, I got to meet Kim Harrison. SQUEE! Okay, before I get too much into that, I want to mention each author that was on the panel. In no particular order they were: Pamela Palmer, Jeaniene Frost, Kim Harrison, and Vicki Pettersson. What a delightful group of ladies. They talked about how they got into the paranormal business. I laughed, almost to tears, and they joked around. I agree with them on paranormal creatures–you can make shit up. Now, as with this genre, the question of sparkling vampires came up and whether or not ‘traditional’ lore should be the basis of these creatures created. Much as it pains me to say, they hit it on the head when they noted changing it up hasn’t hurt you-know-who’s bank account. They have a point.
They also said one thing–write what you love. Jeaniene Frost, in particular, noted she’d started her vampire books before the vampiric craze swept the nation. She got rejection after rejection before and a bit of “riding the bandwagon” after. It goes to prove that you shouldn’t write something because it’s popular or in demand unless it’s something you believe in. Great advice! I loved Kim Harrison explaining how Al’s full name is pronounced. The whole evolution of the characters they created was also nice. Some of them were pantsers too! YAY!
Unfortunately, dummy me left the camera in the car so I didn’t get a picture with Kim. Maybe next year. I did get a copy of her last Hollows book (Ever After) signed. So that’s staying on the bookshelf while I read the Kindle edition. Again, all of these ladies were engaging and nice.
Next was lunch before I passed out. The last thing I wanted was the local papers to announce “Crazed David Morrell fan passes out on best-selling author, cracking two vertebrae”. So we found this awesome burger joint called The Citizen Burger Bar. Great service, excellent food. I was even surprised to see Tröegs beer on their extensive beer selection. I mean, you cannot buy this beer outside of Pennsylvania. No, I didn’t have one. I prefer Yuengling Lager which they had none. Poh. The burger and fries made up for it. I highly recommend this place if you’re in the Charlottesville, VA area. Just make sure you have a shit ton of money for parking. Geez.
My last event made my geek level go to eleven. Scenes of the Crime. Hank Phillippi Ryan, Ed Falco, David Morrell, and Martin Walker. Again, what a great panel to listen to and honestly, I could have listened to them all for another two hours and not get bored. While it’s not a genre I’m interested in writing, I love reading it. Crime and espionage books, when written well, suck me in. That was one of the topics that they mentioned as well and these scholars of writing on the panel couldn’t stress it more. Do your research!
Finally I got to meet David Morrell (Proof in the first photo!). Actually I thought saw him earlier but I turned into some tween-aged dope and didn’t have the nerve to approach him. What do you say to the man that helped inspire you to pursue your dream of writing and was the first author to take your hard-earned burger flipping money when I visited the book store without parental supervision? Yep, Brotherhood of the Rose was my first purchase. Until then, I’d read whatever my dad gave me or bought me. Not to say I didn’t enjoy those books. I’m a reading fiend at heart.
Again, every one of these authors was so engaging and very approachable. I love hearing how someone wove their stories. About the adventure in their research. Some of it actually lives outside of the internet. One thing this panel mentioned was though social media is a great way to connect with fans, it’s also a time sink. So like anything else, chose what you do wisely. I’m looking forward to going next year and donating some of my hard earned royalties to the cause. Yep, it’s free because of donations so consider tossing money their way.
The piece of advise was to keeping writing and not let that unfinished manuscript mock you. Speaking of which, I’ve got a few snickering at me. Time to whip them into shape.
So what’s your favorite geek author moment?