Con Panels Gone Good – My Opinion


Yesterday I spoke about the bad things you hear and see on panels during a convention. You can read all about it Here. Take your time. I’ll wait. I need to refill my coffee cup anyway.

Today (after better sleep and much more coffee), I am going to share with you some of the great things I have seen during panels at conventions. I’ve been going to cons on and off for the past dozen years, and have had quite a bit of fun during them. This is what I look for when either on a panel or going to a panel:

 

6. A nice mix of panelists.

As much as I love being on panels with authors I know, I’m sure it gets boring for an audience when we spend the time acting like goofballs and tossing out inside jokes here and there. Ideally, a panel of five (including me) should be two authors I’m comfortable with and two spanking brand new authors I want to meet. The same people saying the same things gets stale. A new voice is fun to add to the mix. I go through the panel list not only for subjects that interest me, but see who the panelists are as well.

 

5. Being on a panel with someone you admire.

And they don’t disappoint. At MidSouth Con my last panel of the weekend was about podcasting and not only were all the panelists cool, but Cory Doctorow was on it. While I was the moderator, I found myself throwing questions his way to start a good line of discussion because he’s been there and done that for years. The audience asked him many questions, and I tried to sit back and take it all in. I wasn’t delusional to think the room was packed because I was there. It was about Cory and he is such a great guy, he helped the panel move along and it wasn’t just about him. I have even more respect for Cory now, too.

 

4. Panelists with personality.

Obviously, I have a unhealthy liking for fellow authors Jay Wilburn, Brent Abell and Jack Wallen. Anytime I’ve been on panels with any of them it has been fun and comfortable, but at MidSouth I got to meet Sean Grigsby. Great guy, and he was enthusiastic on his panels. He also went to other panels, which was nice. And he rocked a Judas Priest shirt, so how bad can he really be? If i see someone on a panel who understands the role he/she plays (i.e. talk to the audience and drop some knowledge instead of talking about their own books on and on) I want to know what other panels they will be on over the weekend. I also remember them for future cons, too.

 

3. Don’t just go to your panels.

I love hanging out in the back row of other panels and learning something. At World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon I went to the podcasting panel and learned so much I started my own podcast a couple of months later. I enjoy learning from other authors. No one knows everything. The con experience isn’t about pumping up your own ego and making pretend people are there to see you, its about networking and learning as well. Take in the entire experience, meet new people, hear other authors talking shop, and go away refreshed. Also, eat some of the cookies in the con suite. They are always delicious. But please don’t kill any elves this year (inside joke, I swear).

 

2. Cons are for networking.

If you’re on a panel or sit in the audience on a panel with someone who made sense up there and gave you some insight, let them know. Logan L. Masterson was a moderator on a panel I really enjoyed, and I told him that. At last year’s MidSouth Con, after a bizarro panel I was on, fellow panelist John Hornor Jacobs came over and said he had a great time on the panel with me. Those moments will stick. Take away a few new friends from each con. Some of the people I talk to on a regular basis I’ve met at cons. Facebook is great for networking but that one on one actual meet and greet moves you to the next level, especially with publishers. I’ve had several sales over the years thanks to looking someone in the eye at a con and just talking to them.

 

1. People not being dicks. 

We are in this together. No reader will reader just one book this year, so there’s no reason to act like if they don’t read your book you’re screwed. Write a good book and maybe you’ll get lucky. I’ve had a ton of sales thanks to people who’ve read an author I am friends with that respects my work, and they’ve let people know about me. Not because they have to but because they want to. Because I’m not a dick. I spend most of my time pushing other authors, because that’s what sells my books. Not ‘buy my book’ posts on Facebook. Not trying to talk trash about another author because you think it will lead to sales of your own book. Cool people are who I surround myself with. I’ve dropped quite a few negative people over the years who couldn’t see they were being dicks. Or couldn’t help themselves. And I’m a better person for it. I’ve made some mistakes and learned from them. I also learn quite a bit at every con I go to, and so should you…

Armand Rosamilia

Panel Etiquette At A Con – My Opinion


I just got back from another great MidSouth Convention held in Memphis, and as usual I took away a lot of good and some bad from it. Today I’ll talk about the bad, because I still haven’t had enough coffee as I sit down and write this post, and the 13 hour ride home Sunday into Monday is still kicking my ass…

There are a few bad things I saw on panels, and not just this weekend. It seems like every convention I go to, or anytime I talk with another writer who’s done quite a few conventions like I have, these things come up, so I’m here to be a jerk and point out what you really shouldn’t be doing if you’re lucky enough to be invited to speak on a panel with your peers. Luckily, only a couple of these came up this past weekend, and for the most part I enjoyed every panel I was on or sat in the audience for.

6. Don’t be a dick.

You’d think this one would be obvious, but there is sometimes so much attitude on a panel. And all it takes is one jerk trying to run the panel or argue with another panelist. Back in 2005 or so, I attended a con and sat on two panels in a row where guests actually argued about some minor point. It was not fun to be sitting between them. I thought they were both dicks. People in the audience want to be entertained and learn something about writing. Often they are new or wannabe writers and want some guidance, not see an argument or someone who feels they are above answering their petty commoner questions. Trust me, no one has ever heard of you outside your family and the Facebook groups you troll, posting ‘buy my book!’ posts every hour.

 

5. No one came to see you specifically on a panel except your friends and family.

I saw a panel last year where the Guest of Honor of the convention was ignored because one idiot kept talking about themselves. An audience member asked the GoH a question and this idiot began answering, as if he had been asked the question. Again… no one cares about you, and you pissed off a few people. Be respectful of the other panelists and let them have their turn. Please don’t go into a ten minute explanation about how your dragons or elves or serial killer or demon villain is so cool and why they want to eat/kill/have sex with/rap battle with your main character. No one (except your family and your friend who came in support) has read the book, and you’ve turned everyone off about it now.

 

4. If you aren’t on the panel, stay off the panel. 

It drives me nuts when I’m on a panel and some ass-hat in the audience starts talking about their books or answering audience questions. They’re usually the people who only had 2 panels all weekend and felt they didn’t get enough face-time with their potential audience. So they try to jump into my panel, or a panel I am in the audience trying to listen to. If the con team wanted you on this panel they would’ve put you on it. It really isn’t that hard to understand, is it? You’re pissing off the other guests and everyone in the room. Just shut up already.

 

3. Books on the table.

This is bound to piss off a few people, but I don’t care. I have to say it before I take another sip of coffee. I can give you some slack if you bring your latest book with you to the panel and prop it up before you as a reference or just because you’re proud of it. But dropping a shoe box on the table and then rifling through it while other panelists are answering questions so you can find something you wrote in third grade (and this really happened) is boring and rude to everyone else. Having a stack of your nine-volume series in front of you, or having the books spread out across the table and into the person next to you’s area is also rude. I haven’t brought a book to a panel in years. Watch the bigger guests (the guys and girls with their names on the back of the con shirt not lumped in with the rest of us). They don’t usually do it because they’re there to have fun, answer questions, talk about writing and book selling, and not push their books down your throat.

 

2. No one cares about your catalog.

No one wants to hear about all seven stories you have written, especially about the six you haven’t even published yet, and probably never will. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a best seller (and not just one of those insecure ‘Amazon Best Seller’ thanks to a rank in an obscure list where there are only 12 books) talk about YOU. Answer the questions from the moderator and/or the audience to impart knowledge and show off your stellar personality. Every answer doesn’t have to talk about why someone should buy book 4 of your Were Rat series. Chances are, no one in the audience and none of the other panelists have heard about you before this moment. And they definitely haven’t heard of your Were Rat books. Sell yourself and maybe someone will buy a copy. Unless you’re George RR Martin, the audience isn’t there to see you. They just want to be entertained and enlightened about writing books.

 

1. Seriously. Stop being a dick. 

Luckily, the authors who do most (if not all) of the things on this list don’t last too long in the business. They don’t see a spike in their sales over the next few days after the con and don’t pick up too many new fans because they are only remembered as the jerk who talked about themselves. They have no long-term plan in place and that’s a shame. Maybe their Were Rat series is brilliant. I’ll never know, because I would never read a word they wrote after their selfishness all weekend. And I have a feeling neither will anyone who came in contact with them.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be in a better mood with much more coffee and I’ll write about the good parts of con panels…

Armand Rosamilia

Authors Supporting Our Troops #ASOT2015


ASOTlanded4

We had such a huge success with Authors Supporting Our Troops 2014 (#ASOT2014) that we’re doing it again in 2015 (#ASOT2015) with bigger goals! And you can help!

Let me explain the program again so I don’t have to spend so much time this year telling helpful people what we do and do not need to make this another successful year.

First off, we never really stopped collecting author-signed books, we just haven’t posted too much about it once the official end date of May 15th 2014 came and went. We collected 2,500 books from authors and publishers in the four months we promoted it. I think that is awesome.

Since then we’ve managed about 400 more books and sent out three more shipment overseas to soldiers. The goal for 2015 is to break 3,500 books collected and shipped. We can only do that with your help.

So, what are we looking for?

ASOTtroops

Author-signed books.

YOUR books. If you’re in an anthology and want to sign your story, we’ll take it. If you put out a release, sign it and we’ll take it. We don’t want you sending us your dog-eared copies of Stephen King. We don’t want books you weren’t involved in unless you’re the publisher or collecting other author’s books to ship to us at once.

ASOTBlackRed

Books only. 

While we know troops overseas could use new toothbrushes and soap and Dorito’s, we aren’t collecting them. Neither are we collecting eBooks and e-readers. Print books only. There are many other organizations who collect necessities for the troops, but we aren’t one of them. Our modest goal is to put 3,500+ print books into the hands of soldiers in remote areas of the world like Kuwait and Afghanistan. If a soldier is stationed in Germany or San Diego, they can easily buy a book or have access to TV, games, e-readers, etc. This event is for the men and women of the military who don’t have easy access to read. It’s something for their downtime between hostile situations.

A fraction of this year's book donations.

What genre(s) do you accept?

Everything but blatant porn. Nothing taboo or racist, nothing pushing the envelope. Anti-military books might not be so popular. Last year many authors didn’t think their romance books would fit, but they did. Soldiers will read anything if its the only book around. There are also many women in the military. They like to read a good paranormal romance, you know.

ASOTCraig

We ship through USPS.

We have a nice and easy system setup for us through Craig and Suzanne at Change Jar Books in Flagler Beach Florida. It gives them some business and they do all of the hard work by setting the boxes with tags and mailing stickers, etc. Last year so many people tried to be helpful and let us know about alternate ways to send books. None of them were as cheap or easy as the USPS. No carrier ships boxes for free. No carrier can get close to the cost we send them through the mail for and the ease we can ship them.  For a box of books (about 50 books per box) it costs us about $25.00 to ship. Add in the ease to ship for me and there is no alternative that makes sense.

ASOT2014

Donations are accepted and welcome.

I am not a non-profit and we are not a business. We are a couple of people who want to help soldiers. We don’t go through the USO or have contact with military groups. I’ve never served in the military but Special Gal (the other half of the team) has a Godson, James, who is serving. it started because she wanted to send him books. This all comes out of our pocket less donations and sales of t-shirts (more on that below). As an example: 3,000 books shipped means about 60 boxes. At $25.00 each to ship. So about $1,500.00 is needed. That doesn’t include buying the shipping boxes and the stickers to place on the boxes. Any monetary donation is accepted and welcomed. We really do appreciate it.

James graduation from boot camp

ASOT2015 T-shirts.

Yes, we will be doing the shirts again in 2015. The first one or two will kick off on January 1st 2015 when the event officially begins. We’ll have several colors this year. We try to keep the price as low as we can so more people will buy them and represent. The small profit from the shirt sales goes towards the shipping cost. Last year over half of the shipping was paid for thanks to the shirt sales. We’ll also do like we did last year and post your picture in the shirt and probably do some prizes and whatnot for those helping us out like give away our brand new bumper sticker we made.

ASOTbox4

Can you send books and/or donations now?

Of course. But the real fun will begin on January 1st 2015 when the event is officially open. Just send me an e-mail with ASOT2015 or something similar in the subject line asking about the information. I will not be putting my home address on this post or on Facebook. But I will respond as quickly as I can to any queries. if you have questions, contact me at  armandrosamilia@gmail.com

Troop6

How else can you help?

By helping spread the word about the event. Even though we hit so many authors the last time around (about 325 or so) that is such a small blip of the writers and publishers out there. If you belong to an organization, let them know about it. I belong to the Horror Writers Association and the late great President Rocky Wood (R.I.P.) stopped me at a convention and wanted to make sure the HWA was involved with getting me books. You can’t ask for a better comment than that. And the HWA will be a large part of the event this coming year.  Ask your publisher to get in touch. Many of them sent us boxes of books last year, which was great.

ASOTlanded3

What branch of the military do you send to?

We’ve shipped to all of them. If a soldier is in a remote area, we want to reach out and hand him/her a book. We find one contact soldier in the unit and ask them to hand out the books when two boxes arrive. We also hope they can take time to send us pictures of the troops holding some books. That is one of the best parts to me. The smiles on their faces holding an author-signed book.

ASOTbumpersticker

How do you get the soldier’s addresses?

From you. Like we said, we don’t work with a company or the military. We rely on family and friends of soldiers overseas to get in touch with them to make sure they’re interested in handing out the books. Then we need their COMPLETE address (including their name and APO/FPO) to ship to them. That’s it. The goal is 35 soldiers in 2015 or more.

Troop2

What’s the Facebook address to stay in touch and see all the pictures?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASOT2014/ and also friend me on Facebook so I can tag you in any pictures we post anywhere on Facebook, too!

The 2015 event from January 1st through May 1st will be held at https://www.facebook.com/events/1534524343483468/?ref_notif_type=like&source=1 as well!

We’re hoping the Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 blows away all estimates. Last year the original goal was to break 500 books. We did that easily. Here’s hoping 3,500 books gets passed by thanks to the generosity of authors.

Armand Rosamilia

#NaNoWriMo Day Three of Bleh


This post will be short and sweet, filled with excuses and then a bold statement which may or may not come to fruition (I love using fruition whenever possible)

Excuses

Since the calendar flipped over to November 1st I have:

1. Been very, very sick. I know I’ve been very, very sick by the amount of times I’ve complained loudly to Special Gal by saying ‘I’m very, very sick’ to the point she keeps quiet but stares at pillows and other items and imagines putting them over my face to shut me up.

2. I went to a very cool surprise birthday party and met special people in Special Gal’s life. Only it was a 4 hour car ride (damn you, Orlando traffic!) and I felt like crap the entire time. Luckily, I hardly ever drive. Another reason Special Gal sometimes stares overlong at pillows and my face. 

3. The hotel room on Saturday night took turns being too cold and then too hot and the bed was horrible. Would it kill a good hotel to spend an extra buck on pillows that don’t fold down to paper-width as soon as my head hits them? Even if Special Gal wanted to kill me with these pillows I think I’d survive. If I got 3 hours of sleep I’d be surprised. 

4. The ride back to Jacksonville sucked because… yep… now we were both sick. We spent Sunday in different rooms moaning and napping on and off. Oh, and Thug Life was also sick when we got home. Three sick people. Not cool. 

5. I woke up this morning to the neighbor delivering fill to his yard. At 8 am on a Monday. Loudly with giant trucks. Of course, behind our house is a wetlands you’re not supposed to build on. The builders were very specific. You can’t build on it. The neighbor is obviously special, because he cut down about thirty feet behind his home to put in his own pool. I hope it sinks into an evil burial ground while he’s in the pool. 

6. I have 3 Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast interviews to do today. I can kinda breathe and can talk for short bursts and can cut out the hacking up a lung parts (I hope). I also have e-mails and Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014 things to get done and catch up on… and a million other things, like finding socks because my feet are cold right now and this is Florida and ridiculous I might need to put on pants another day and…

Bold Statement

By the end of November I WILL have my 50,000 words in on this thriller novel. You’ll see. But now I am 3 days in the hole and need to catch up…

Armand

Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014 #WinterZombie2014


 1926759_10202903482088672_4630710665427646186_n

Another November means another zombie blog tour!

 

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

 Armand Rosamilia

Mark Tufo

Joe McKinney

Bobby Adair

Eric A. Shelman

Jay Wilburn

John O’Brien

Jaime Johnesee

Jack Wallen

Shawn Chesser

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1524813084430035/?ref_notif_type=plan_user_joined&source=1

 

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

 

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/11/01/winter-of-zombie-post-list-winterzombie2014/

 

 

Eve of NaNoWriMo – And I’ve Got A Problem


ONE-DOES-NOT-SIMPLY-PANTS-NANOWRIMO-Except-when-um-one-does

I was all in… I swore I’d write a brand new thriller novel in November. At least 50,000 words of it, anyway. An idea I’ve been toying with for months but never had time to write. Something a bit different from what I normally do. 

I even did a rough outline, which for me was writing out a hundred word synopsis of the main story. I did everything but buy special colored pencils to be better prepared. 

And then…

Another contract comes in on the eve of NaNoWriMo. 

I’m not complaining… trust me. I’ve been blessed with the work I get and the money it pays. But it’s a 30,000 word story which will be due in less than 3 weeks, taking up most of my November writing time. 

What’s a boy to do?

Screw it. Of course I accepted the contract (I so love eating and paying bills) and I’m revamping my month to include both projects. I’ll just have to push aside Dying Days 5 (which is about 13k done of the first draft) until December at this point. 

November should be interesting for me. It also might be what I need to get away from Facebook and wasting time and not writing as much as I want. Can I do it? We’ll see…

Armand

Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 #ASOT2015


ASOTlanded4

Hard to believe we are only three months away from the official kickoff to the second year of Authors Supporting Our Troops. I figured now would be a good time to get everyone up to speed and explain the program again so I don’t have to spend so much time this year telling helpful people what we do and do not need to make this another successful year.

First off, we never really stopped collecting author-signed books, we just haven’t posted too much about it once the official end date of May 15th came and went. We collected 2,500 books from authors and publishers in the four months we promoted it. I think that is awesome.

Since then we’ve managed about 75 more books and sent out another shipment overseas to a soldier. the goal for 2015 is to break 3,000 books collected and shipped. We can only do that with your help.

So, what are we looking for?

ASOTtroops

Author-signed books.

YOUR books. If you’re in an anthology and want to sign your story, we’ll take it. If you put out a release, sign it and we’ll take it. We don’t want you sending us your dog-eared copies of Stephen King. We don’t want books you weren’t involved in unless you’re the publisher or collecting other author’s books to ship to us at once.

ASOTBlackRed

Books only. 

While we know troops overseas could use new toothbrushes and soap and Dorito’s, we aren’t collecting them. Neither are we collecting eBooks and e-readers. Print books only. There are many other organizations who collect necessities for the troops, but we aren’t one of them. Our modest goal is to put 3,000+ print books into the hands of soldiers in remote areas of the world like Kuwait and Afghanistan. If a soldier is stationed in Germany or San Diego, they can easily buy a book or have access to TV, games, e-readers, etc. This event is for the men and women of the military who don’t have easy access to read. It’s something for their downtime between hostile situations.

A fraction of this year's book donations.

What genre(s) do you accept?

Everything but blatant porn. Nothing taboo or racist, nothing pushing the envelope. Anti-military books might not be so popular. Last year many authors didn’t think their romance books would fit, but they did. Soldiers will read anything if its the only book around. There are also many women in the military. They like to read a good paranormal romance, you know.

ASOTCraig

We ship through USPS.

We have a nice and easy system setup for us through Craig and Suzanne at Change Jar Books in Flagler Beach Florida. It gives them some business and they do all of the hard work by setting the boxes with tags and mailing stickers, etc. Last year so many people tried to be helpful and let us know about alternate ways to send books. None of them were as cheap or easy as the USPS. No carrier ships boxes for free. No carrier can get close to the cost we send them through the mail for and the ease we can ship them.  For a box of books (about 50 books per box) it costs us about $25.00 to ship. Add in the ease to ship for me and there is no alternative that makes sense.

ASOT2014

Donations are accepted and welcome.

I am not a non-profit and we are not a business. We are a couple of people who want to help soldiers. We don’t go through the USO or have contact with military groups. I’ve never served in the military but Special Gal (the other half of the team) has a Godson, James, who is serving. it started because she wanted to send him books. This all comes out of our pocket less donations and sales of t-shirts (more on that below). As an example: 3,000 books shipped means about 60 boxes. At $25.00 each to ship. So about $1,500.00 is needed. That doesn’t include buying the shipping boxes and the stickers to place on the boxes. Any monetary donation is accepted and welcomed. We really do appreciate it.

James graduation from boot camp

ASOT2015 T-shirts.

Yes, we will be doing the shirts again in 2015. The first one or two will kick off on January 1st 2015 when the event officially begins. We’ll have several colors this year. We try to keep the price as low as we can so more people will buy them and represent. The small profit from the shirt sales goes towards the shipping cost. Last year over half of the shipping was paid for thanks to the shirt sales. We’ll also do like we did last year and post your picture in the shirt and probably do some prizes and whatnot for those helping us out.

ASOTbox4

Can you send books and/or donations now?

Of course. But the real fun will begin on January 1st 2015 when the event is officially open. Just send me an e-mail with ASOT2015 or something similar in the subject line asking about the information. I will not be putting my home address on this post or on Facebook. But I will respond as quickly as I can to any queries. if you have questions, contact me at  armandrosamilia@gmail.com

Troop6

How else can you help?

By helping spread the word about the event. Even though we hit so many authors the last time around (about 325 or so) that is such a small blip of the writers and publishers out there. If you belong to an organization, let them know about it. I belong to the Horror Writers Association and President Rocky Wood stopped me at a convention and wanted to make sure the HWA was involved with getting me books. You can’t ask for a better comment than that. Ask your publisher to get in touch. Many of them sent us boxes of books last year, which was great.

ASOTlanded3

What branch of the military do you send to?

We’ve shipped to all of them. If a soldier is in a remote area, we want to reach out and hand him a book. We find one contact soldier in the unit and ask them to hand out the books when two boxes arrive. We also hope they can take time to send us pictures of the troops holding some books. That is one of the best parts to me. The smiles on their faces holding an author-signed book.

1381445_10203518780470249_1789161967_n

How do you get the soldier’s addresses?

From you. Like we said, we don’t work with a company or the military. We rely on family and friends of soldiers overseas to get in touch with them to make sure they’re interested in handing out the books. Then we need their COMPLETE address (including their name and FPO) to ship to them. That’s it. The goal is 30 soldiers in 2015 or more.

Troop2

What’s the Facebook address to stay in touch and see all the pictures?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASOT2014/ and also friend me on Facebook so I can tag you in any pictures we post anywhere on Facebook, too!

We’re hoping the Authors Supporting Our Troops 2015 blows away all estimates. Last year the original goal was to break 500 books. We did that easily. Here’s hoping 3,000 books gets passed by thanks to the generosity of authors.

Armand Rosamilia