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

Anti-NaNoWriMo Rants – Shut Up Already


I am a big fan of NaNoWriMo. I do it most years as an added writing exercise because I try to hit the goal each month regardless. I have fun because many of my friends also do it and we encourage one another, I get a chance to go out around town and meet other writers who are doing it, and it is just a fun time. 

Then I read a bunch of posts bitching about how stupid it is and writing is not a race and they wouldn’t be caught dead doing it because they are seemingly too good and write all year and blah blah blah. 

Shut up.

The first year I did NaNoWriMo I was working a full-time 60 hour a week job. I wanted to see if I could do it. I was far from becoming a full-time writer and I just wanted to finish a longer story. So I did it. And then never stopped writing. I consider that 2007 November the kickstart to my writing career. 

And if everyone who ever said ‘I want to write a novel’ decided the motivation was to start it this month, why is that such a bad thing? Your post about them basically being pretenders to the throne you don’t occupy (how’s that day job?) sounds like sour grapes. What if someone else succeeds and jumps over you? You’ll still be trapped in that cubicle working 9-5 and daydreaming you’re a real author, I guess… 

Every author is quick to point out how much they help fellow authors… but your posts prove once again why your career is where it is… practice what you preach. You want to help out fellow authors?

Shut up and do your own shit quietly and let the rest of us doing NaNoWriMo have a fun month of writing and community…

MandoWriMo – Slight Change Of Plans


Just a quick update for ya…

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that…

I love planning out my month, because it usually changes halfway through… which is exactly what August did to me, but I roll with the punches and adapt and survive… and totally stress out. 

The changes:

1. The 30k movie adaptation ended up being PRIORITY #1 and also ended up being 38k and written exclusively for quite a few days, which is always odd for me. I like to work on 2-4 projects each day if possible, but this one needed to be released. And it was. Zulu Six: Origins is the expanded book version of the upcoming independent film (they tell me a later 2014/early 2015 release) and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. Readers who remember my Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun novel will enjoy this. Coincidentally (or not), I wrote it for the same people. 

But adding an extra 8k to this forced me to drop some other stories I wanted to finish… keep reading, you’ll see it…

2. Children of The Grave short story is done. 10k and I liked where the story ultimately took me. I just need to clean it up and send it off to the publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, for the editing round now. 

3. Change Jar Books Part 3-5… I finished Part 3 and sent it to my editor a week late due to other deadlines. It was supposed to be out last week, but I’m hoping I can get it released this week. I wrote only 1k on Part 4 so far, a victim of adding to the movie adaptation. I’m hoping to finish at least part 4 before next Sunday, when August ends.

4. Necromance 5 is done. 5k and I just got it back from my editor. Now it will go to Hazardous Press for their turn before releasing it in their Hazardous Encounters horror erotica short story series. I’m really beginning to have fun with the main character, a sexy demon hunter who loves Metal and guys and gals. 

5. Dying Days: Origins 2 was another victim this month, but it is my main focus this week to get as far ahead on it as I can. I only managed 5k, so I have almost 11k left to write to hit 25k, although the story looks like it will be longer. I also set up a pre-sale page on Amazon at 99 cents (when the book is released it will go to the normal $2.99, so get yours now). The cover should also be ready in a week or so, featuring David Monsour and his back-story.

How am I doing? 54k in 25 days so far… a bit ahead, but need to finish as many projects as I can, because I just signed another huge movie adaptation contract, which will begin on September 1st and run until October 30th… 100k in 60 days. Can I do it? Of course I can. But I’m hoping I can also find the time to write everything else I want to write in September. 

Regardless, this is going to be fun…

Armand

Day 4 – MandoWriMo


I’ve just completed the first four days of my August 60k in 30 days goal. Yeah, I know how many days August has. 62k in 31 days doesn’t sound right, though. It gives me a day to rest…

Anyway, I’ve listed the 7 projects to complete on my dry erase board for the month and so far so good… I should be 8k into the writing and I’m already breaking 10k in the four days. Not too shabby, especially when you consider I lost all of Saturday to a birthday party and then watching a 10 Things You Didn’t Know About… marathon starring Henry Rollins. Still love this guy. 

But I feel really good. I’ve been jumping from project to project and knocking down the words needed each day. A couple of the shorter ones will be done in the next day or so, and then I can work more on the longer pieces. I’m writing in whichever one I want, and not adding anything else to the pile right now. 

I’ll keep you posted… and keep myself writing. 

Armand

Don’t Believe Your Own Hype


the thought process

Open letter (OK, blog post, get off my case) to Myself today from Me three years ago… 

I’m damn proud of you. It is unreal how much you’ve accomplished and how many goals you set before you and have surpassed. If you’d said three years ago you’d have over 100 releases on Amazon, worked with some great small press companies, attended World Horror and other conventions not just in Florida but in many other places, had stories published in some great anthologies with other great authors, had a couple of your story ideas turned into upcoming movies, signed a thirteen book deal with a Hollywood production company, got on the actual radio to talk and play the songs you grew up with, met the woman of your dreams and STILL own the beat-up Kia AND it still started, I’d have laughed. 

All amazing things, and a ton more you’ve accomplished in the last 36 months or so. You got away from a horrible, mind-numbing relationship filled with daily fighting, jealousy over a potential writing career and following dreams you’ve had since you were twelve years old. You set many goals and keep setting goals, and you are easily in the best place you’ve ever been in your life. 

Pat yourself on the back, smile as you sip $20 a pound Death Wish Coffee and eat expensive meals in fancy restaurants and live comfortably in a big new house watching the 55 inch TV you bought with some of your earnings over the 36 months. Pat that growing belly, filled with that expensive food and coffee, and keep smiling. 

And then…

Stop acting like a Big Shot, because you haven’t written a damn word in the last three days and your daily writing goal of 2,000 words a day is kicking your ass. When is the last time you actually hit the goal, or hit it feeling good and not just relieved you actually made it but dreading what tomorrow was going to bring?

When was the last time you actually shut Facebook off or didn’t answer an e-mail immediately? How many Pinterest and New MySpace followers do you actually need? Is breaking 70,000 Twitter followers really more important than writing today? Right now?

Remember Joe McKinney at World Horror Convention? While you drank and laughed with a bar filled with other authors, Joe was upstairs in his hotel room writing. Yep, working. Why? Because he gets it. You have a deadline, remember? Which is now getting closer and closer. 

Sure, you finished Dying Days 4. It only took you about 14 months since Dying Days 3 was released, which you swore wasn’t going to happen. God forbid you start on Dying Days 5, right? By the time that comes out Mark Tufo will be on Zombie Fallout 19

So… sit back and Google your name again and read another wonderful review about a release you wrote two years ago. Enjoy the praise from your many, many followers and your peers in the writing world. 

Who, if they are better than you, got that way because they don’t stop writing and doing the important things, the top three…

1. write

2. write

3. write

Now, shut up and turn off the damn internet and get in your work before you check your Amazon sales for the fifth time today. 

Armand Rosamilia

snoopy