One Bite at a Time




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity - Part II

Sorry to leave you hanging with the happenings at the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference. Let’s jump right back in.

Saturday 10:45 Music, Quiet, or TV? What keeps you motivated while writing? Weldon Burge, moderator.
  • Weldon Burge listens to heavy metal when writing horror.
  • Liza Brown likes to have “How It’s Made” on television. The voice of the narrator is soothing to her.
  • Rick Ollerman prefers jazz, mostly bop. Nothing with words.
  • Kathryn O’Sullivan wants silence, with a location that allows her to look out a window and see some nature.

Saturday 1:15 Fan Mail. Austin Camacho, moderator.
Alexandra Sokoloff takes feedback from readers. She’s actually rewriting some character relationships in her TV pilot based on The Huntress series to reflect reader comments.

Craig Robertson once got a letter from a fan who bought a copy inscribed, “To Daddy. Christmas 2014.” The reader was concerned Craig’s father didn’t care for his work, but it was someone else’s father. As Craig said, “I stopped referring to my father as “Daddy” long before 2014.”

Unexpected knowledge from Allan Ansorge: The tradition of signing books came from the days when literacy was a rare skill and one soldier would read books to the others. It was the reader who signed the book, not the author. (Editor’s Note: Not that knowledge is unexpected from Allan. He’s full of it. This particular morsel was unexpected.) (Editor’s Note to the previous Editor’s Note: Knowledge is what Allan Ansorge is full of. Any other inference a reader might draw from that comment is regrettable.)

Allan Ansorge gets letter from people who want to be his editors. He forwards these letter to his editor, where they are, I’m sure, greatly appreciated.

Saturday 2:15 One Star, Five Stars, or Blacklisted? The Effects of Reviews. Marcelle Thiebaux, moderator.
This panel morphed into a discussion of marketing ideas that do not condense well into sound bites. Suffice to say it was far more informational than I had expected, and I learned things I will be using soon and often, including The Secret to Writing Success™ according to Jeff Markowitz: A woman once asked him to sign her book. While he did she asked if he’d like to know why she bought his book.

“Of course,” Jeff said.

“I looked through it and saw it had a lot of italics.” And there you have it. The secret to literary fame and fortune, spelled out in a few short words! You’re welcome.

Saturday 3:15 Suspense, Action, or Conflict? The prime elements of a novel. Michael Black, moderator.
Participation in this panel was, without a doubt, second only to my first book launch as the most enjoyable experience of my writing career to date. Heartfelt thanks to Michael Black, Austin Camacho, and Reed Farrel Coleman for making this such a treat.

Saturday 4:15 Insights from a Librarian on How to Get Into the “System.” Karen Hagerman, presenter.
Again, a presentation that did not lend itself to sound bites. Key takeaways were
  • All libraries post their materials selection policy on their web sites.
  • Libraries get large discounts from the big distributors, but they are not restricted to buying only from them.
  • Check your local libraries’ web sites for how to get on their Local Authors shelf.
  • Resources to investigate:
    • SELF-e
    • BibioBook
    • OverDrive

Keynote Speaker: Alexandra Sokoloff
Alexandra Sokoloff has been successful as a screenwriter, a novelist, and was in early on the benefits of e-books. She outlined her career and showed a good balance of what can be accomplished, never letting anyone forget it’s hard work. What stuck out in my mind was how she paid her dues as a reader when she first got to LA, which allowed her to see what worked in scripts and what did not. No question a wealth of talent allowed to put those lessons to good use, but even with talent, success requires one puts in the time.

Sunday 10:45 Self-publishing discussion. Alexandra Sokoloff, originator.
Another wonderful quality of C3 is the organizers’ willingness to turn on a dime, and the atmosphere the con breeds. Alexandra Sokoloff picked up a vibe that lots of people had an interest in a self-publishing wrkshop and—voila—it happened. Thanks to Alexandra and her co-presenters, Cerece Rennie Murphy and Glenn Parris, for not only providing lots of fodder, but encouraging a spirited back-and-forth with the audience. Highlights:
  • Authors can edit their Amazon keywords and categories on the fly. Check into what more successful writers of similar topics use and learn from them.
  • Limited giveaways through Amazon work best with series books, as one book given away may lead to other purchases.
  • No one had much good to say about Barnes and Noble/Nook or Smashwords in the area of author support. Rumor has it Smashwords may be getting better.
  • Amazon’s ACX audio book platform allows authors to audition potential readers and create e-books with minimal effort. The catch is the author does not have the flexibility she would have with a print or e-book.
  • Book Bub is the 800-pound gorilla of the marketing business, but they’ve become expensive, possibly prohibitively so for a new author.
  • Cerece and Alexandra have used good e-book formatters for as little as $30. The freeware Calibre is good—I use it myself—but Cerece found a professional was very helpful in adding Japanese characters to her books.

In summary, an outstanding conference on all fronts. The facility was perfect for the size con this was, the food was excellent, the panels showed a high level of entertainment and information, and the bar situation was the best I’ve seen at a C3 yet. Keynote speakers Reed Farrel Coleman and Alexandra Sokoloff went above and beyond to ensure all attendees had a great experience. Special Guests Cerece Rennie Murphy and Donna Andrews also added energy and insights. Congratulations are due Austin and Denise Camacho, Sandra Bowman, Cynthia Lauth, Carol Markowitz, and everyone associated with the conference for pulling off a damn near perfect event.

On a personal note, it was a treat to get to renew/begin acquaintances with Donna Andrews, Allan Ansorge, Weldon Burge, Reed Farrel Coleman, Belinda Gordon, Puja Guha, B.R. Kingsolver, Millie Mack, Jeff and Carol Markowitz, James Noll, Rick Ollerman, Kathryn O’Sullivan, Craig Robertson, Alexandra Sokoloff, and Sandra Webster, as well as the aforementioned conference organizers who make C3 more of a pleasure each year. I’m ready for 2017 right now. Hope to see as many of you as possible there again.

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