So it’s the day after I got home from the long trek back from the United States. It was the second convention I’ve attended and nowhere near my last. We rolled into the hotel late on Friday but still in time to catch up with a lot of our friends. I wanted to get to the readings, but I ended up just being the social butterfly the entire night and meeting as many people as I can. We ended up outside on the curb, drinks in hand and people watching. (I love that part.) I ended up crawling into bed WAY too late, or is that early in the morning… but not without setting a few alarms on my cell phone.
The alarms go off WAY too early, but that’s why I set more than one. I know me and I’m bound to turn off the first one and then miss whatever I’m supposed to be waking up for. I sit up in bed, trying to clear the beer fog out of my head, or maybe I’m still drunk… I’m not sure, but I know I have to wake up for something. Oh yeah, I finally work past the temporary memory loss and remember I wanted to attend Tom Monteleone’s reading, which was at 10am.
*(We chatted later about him getting stuck with a horrible time slot… People do like to drink at these things.)
I had my first reading this weekend, and Kelli Owen told me I had to see Tom read. She was right. He really keeps the audience interested, he walks around the room, and even uses voices for different characters. I was really impressed. (Not that I would be walking around during my reading, it was my first and I’m pretty kultzy. I opted to stand at the podium for the entirety of my reading.) My time slot wasn’t til 4pm so I went back to the room to find the rest of my crew and regroup.
I made sure to make it to Kelli Owen‘s reading at 200pm. She read an awesome excerpt from her new novel “White Picket Prisons“. (I’ve read it and I highly recommend it.) The girl next to me nearly lost her shit when Kelli got to the part with the eyeball. Speaking of eyeballs Kelli had some awesome shwag to give away as well, everything was eyeballs. 🙂 Nicole Vlachos read from her new novel, “In The Absence of Sun” for the second half of the hour. It was her first reading as well, but she did a great job.
330pm I’m in my hotel room, checking the clock every two minutes. I’ve practiced my reading twice now. I have avoided beer for the entire afternoon (I was drinking vodka and flavored water though, I didn’t need to be sober, just not burp-y.) I was ready for my reading time. We decided to go down early as I wanted to set out some LampLight Magazine shwag on the seats before people showed up. (Yay, free bookmarks!)
400pm The room was pretty full, I was a little nervous but not as bad as I thought I was going to be. My friend Dickie had my IPhone and was ready to record the reading and I was ready to read. People were still coming in, so I didn’t start just right on time… Plus the other author who was supposed to be reading with me, wasn’t there yet. All in all, she didn’t show up so I got the hour reading slot. 😀
I didn’t use the whole hour since I chose to read my flash stories, “Fatty” and “Summer Break”. I stuck with my decision to read those. I don’t think I went too fast, I was loud enough and I got through the reading.
*(After watching the video, I know I was a little fast, more so during the Q&A, but it was my first reading so I can only improve. My volume wasn’t too bad, it was a just a little room… and that would explain the heat issue.
I was sweaty and getting attacked by that freaking fly, but I did it. People enjoyed it, one of the girls in the audience even reacted to the ending of “Fatty”, and that is exactly why I write. 🙂
We had some time left so we were lucky enough to get a surprise reading by Michele Mixell, 2nd place winner of Yorkfest with her story “It Roars”. We still got out early, which was nice, since it was crazy hot in the little reading room.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the reading.
I have video which will is posted on Youtube. (The audio isn’t great, but it’s not bad.)
The rest of the con was what cons are known for, lots of drinks, lots of new people and lots of laughs. I had a great weekend and came away with some new connections. If you haven’t had the chance to attend a convention yet, you should add that to your bucket list. There are tons of them around, I should know, I keep adding more to my roster.
Mark Baker is a good detective who’s growing tired of seeing the criminals he’s captured walk free either because of “technicalities” or good lawyering. Between his pregnant girlfriend, Gina and his (at times) frustrating job, his life is a roller coaster of emotions. When a strange letter arrives from Sarah, his sister who he hasn’t seen or heard from in nearly a decade, Mark’s finds himself investigating a mystery he may not even be able to solve.
Mark tracks the letter back to the tiny, Wisconsin village of Valley Mill. At first glance, the small town is everything Mark wants for his own city, content citizens and zero crime. After reuniting with his long lost sister, Mark learns more about the little town and the citizens who inhabit Valley Mill. While everything seems perfect, almost too perfect, he soon finds out the reason why Sarah felt compelled to send him the letter… and everything changes.
Kelli Owen has once again managed to tell a story which will keep the reader turning the page right up until the very end.
Owen doesn’t need to unnecessary blood and guts to get her point across but instead she excels at quiet and subtle creepiness throughout the book.
Her ability to describe the scenery and the situations the characters find themselves in, helps pull the reader into the spooky little town and stands them at the gazebo, right beside the rest of the Valley Mill odd citizens.
Owen’s character development is very strong which allows the reader to feel the full spectrum of emotions her characters are dealing with in the book, as they encounter new situations.
White Picket Prisons ends unexpectedly, leaving the reader satisfied with the outcome, but also wanting more at the same time.
Few authors can succeed at this type of ending, but Owen nails it.
5 Stars out of 5
*** White Picket Prisons is recommended as Mandytory reading***
“…and they lived happily ever after.
In the world of writing/publishing, once the writer is done his part, the story doesn’t magically disappear, only to reappear on someone’s bookshelf as a completed novel. *(While that would be really nice, it doesn’t happen.)
The step between writing and reading—and the topic of this article—is publishing.
“To publish or to self-publish?” seems to be the question on a lot of minds these days.
With the addition of D-I-Y programs through websites such as Amazon and Smashwords, Self-publishing has become a much simpler task. However, a recent article* from The Guardian states, “Half of self-published authors earn less than $500 a year”.
So what is an author with a finished story to do?
Here are some points that may help facilitate the decision-making process
-You’ll make more money: (PRO) You will pocket most of the profit from your book sales. (CON) There’s no guarantee the book will sell a single copy if you self-publish.
-You get paid faster: (PRO) Places like Amazon send monthly payments for royalties, whereas publishers pay royalties by the quarter. (CON) Publishers pay quarterly, but they may offer advances.
-Retain all rights to your work: (PRO) Self-publishing allows you to retain all your rights, whereas publishers will try to retain some rights to the story. (FYI: Don’t forget authors have the right to question/change their contracts with publishers prior to signing.)
-Book comes out quickly: (PRO) Self-Publishing can have a book up in 12 hours whereas publishing houses can take months or even more than a year. (CON) There is a prejudice against self-publishing: Self-pubs have an amateur feel to them (as they were, more than likely, put out by an amateur).
-Publish at your own pace: (PRO) You can set your own deadlines and write at your own pace. (CON) If you wait too long between books, your fans will lose interest.
-Total Control: (PRO) No more waiting for acceptance/rejections. You are in charge of the entire project. (CON) You are in charge of the entire project, which means in charge of the editing, formatting, marketing, advertising and anything else that comes with writing a novel.
-Complete Freedom: (PRO) You have complete freedom to market your book as you see fit. (CON) Time becomes an issue when you are juggling writing and marketing your own work.
-Time to find an audience: (PRO) The author has time to find an audience, it’s not as time-sensitive for their books to sell compared to being put in a bookstore. (CON) How much time do you really have to invest in marketing yourself?
Personally, as a fledgling author, I’d prefer to go the route of the publisher rather than self-publish (for now). While I do have one self-published short story, (due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding it), I am focusing on writing and leaving the publishing up to the professionals. This decision allows me the time to build my writing skills and learn to be a writer. I’d much rather spend my time writing new stories and honing my craft, than trying to build my audience or learning to myself as an author.
Overall, a good mix of both publishing houses and self-publishing will allow you expand your reach as an author, generate more sales and create a larger fan base. (A good example of someone using both methods for her benefit is author Kelli Owen. All of Kelli’s new work is released through her publisher and she is using the self-publishing route to put her older titles back on the market as the rights revert back to her.)
I leave with two final thoughts.
Just because it’s been rejected, doesn’t mean it’s no good.
Just because you can self-publish, doesn’t mean you should.
MDG aka Mandy DeGeit
Thinking it would simplify my first reviewing task, I chose “Black Bubbles” a short story collection by Kelli Owen. I figured I could read a few stories per sitting, over the course of a few days. I could take my time, jot down take some notes on the stories and then formulate a concise review. The idea was sound, but once I started reading Black Bubbles, my plan changed.
Story after story, I was hooked and I couldn’t put the book down.
The collection contains 21 stories of differing themes. From ghosts to zombies, to serial killers and women scorned, Kelli’s stories touch on all kinds of scary things nightmares are made from. Through her descriptive storytelling, her words paint an easy-to-imagine picture in your mind’s eye, allowing you to follow her well-developed characters as they deal with their extraordinary situations. The lengths of the 21 tales vary from quick flash reads, 500 words long, (“The Rabbit” and “Brian Made Me Do It”), to full-length short stories (“Spell” and “How’s That Make You Feel?”). There’s even a “poetry-esque” free verse entitled “Shadows in a Bowl of Soup.”
Here are a few of the stories that stood out and deserve extra mention:
“The Worst intentions”: Patti and Debbie are the main characters in this short but intense story. The action begins almost immediately with a scene involving the two women and what should be ultimate terror, yet Kelli Owen paints an eerie picture of calm and serenity as they come to terms with their situation.
“Potential”: A story of secrets, loneliness, dating and death. The twists in this plot will keep the reader guessing throughout the story.
“Trials and Tribulations of Dr. Jekyll’s Third Cousin Twice Removed”: The title alone is enough to pique interest in the reader. The story is a humorous but disgusting account of what may happen when homemade acne cream comes with mutative side effects. “Trials and Tribulations… Removed” is easily the most horrific story in the collection.
“Black Bubbles”: The story after which the collection is named is the final story in the book. Henry is trying to stay alive, just like everyone else. The “Shadows”/black bubbles are like nothing anyone has ever seen before. Kelli walks us through a scary day-in-the-life-of-Henry and what could happen if our nightmares ever became real.
Black Bubbles is proof that some of the scariest tales are sometimes formed from the most mundane of ideas. The author’s notes included at the end of each chapter allow the reader a personal glimpse into the mind of the writer, as Kelli Owen takes a few moments to describe how the ideas for her stories came to be.
Kelli Owen has once again excelled in her ability to weave a story—or 21 of them—which will captivate the reader from start to finish. The variety of themes in Kelli’s storytelling ensures there is something to suit all tastes. Black Bubbles will please both the serious horror fan and the short story aficionado.
Black Bubbles is Recommended as Mandytory Reading!