As you probably know from my previous blogs, I recently made the step up into the Comicon world, starting with Eastbourne Wyntercon and Reading Comicon in the Autumn of last year. These were great and I enjoyed them so much, but they are regional events and I've been wondering about moving into larger events at Wales Comicon, Manchester and London. With these in mind, I attended the Spring Comicon at Olympia, London yesterday, 29th February, taking my boys with me (husband and son) to do some research. What I discovered was good and if you've ever thought about going/trading at one of these events this information might prove beneficial.
Initally, my plan had been to go up the night before, as if I was doing a rehearsal for trading there. I planned to take my son because if I do actually trade, he'll be a great help, not least so I can go to the toilet etc. LOL. At almost the last minute, I decided to invite my husband too, feeling guilty at leaving him at home alone when he so often pays for our trips and luxuries.
He suggested it would be much cheaper going up by train and coming back the same day and doing a group booking. He was right, as always. One night for three people, even in a bottom end hotel in London, isn't cheap. Plus, I'd still have to pay for the train and because we were going one day and coming back the next that was going to cost more money. The research trip, that was going to cost over £400 with food, tickets etc, ended up costing me £108 for all three of us excluding food; £57 for tickets and £51 for a group booking return on the train using any service. - Tip 1. I'm lucky if I make £100 at an event, let alone £400. My accountant has already said,
"It's an expensive hobby, not a business."
"It's not for the want of trying," I tell her! (but she is right so far)
Arriving at London, we discovered that the train to Olympia only runs at weekends and when there is a specific event, which was fortunate for us. The dog-leg over-land line took us as near to the building as possible. We arrived at 0930 wanting to avoid the rush at 0900 when it opened. I'd been assured that this was a much smaller event than the Summer Comicon I was considering, so I didn't expect much in the way of crowds, viewing it like the regional ones where folk wander in and out all day.
What a mistake! We left the station premises to see in front of us a fairly long queue, but it was moving rapidly and heading around the corner into what looked like the building. Wrong. It went around the corner alright and became three queues! We joined the outer one and I was dreading that it was a snake queue where it winds back on itself like at Disney. Fortunately, they were three separate queues and the waiting was about thirty minutes in the light rain. Bring a foldable umbrella - Tip 2. Outside some folk had come dressed up and ready to kill, a few literally! Several worn contact lens and wigs in prelude to their big 'coming-out' outfit. It was quite entertaining trying to guess what folk were. Inside all bags were searched and as we were starving by now we opted to eat first grabbing a delicious sausage in a fresh crusty bun. Superb.
Spring Comicon is set out in the main hall using the ground and first floor. On the ground floor there was a huge exhibit for the new James Bond film, 'Time to Die' and apart from a cinema seating area where you could view trailers? There was also an area where you could enter a secret place and become a 00 agent. We didn't join the queue, though I might have if I'd been alone. The star attraction was the gorgeous Aston Martin (see photos on my conference page) with machine guns coming out of its headlights and deep scratches down both its sides. My husband reliably informed me it was a 'wrap' because NO-ONE would really do that to an AM.
The ground floor was stuffed full with traders, many selling the same thing and also items you could easily purchase on-line. Several stalls were selling Wobble heads of every Sci-Fi fantasy and horror icon. There were T-shirt stalls with witty slogans, many were brilliant puns on Sci/Fantasy phrase etc. My husband purchased one saying Miyagi Do Karate, after the Karate Kid film. (He is heavily into Karate). In addition there were traders selling autographed photos, some up to several thousand pounds. There were toys stalls and jewellery and badges. I was surprised by two things, first the amount of Fudge stalls - that is all that about? And second, by the lack of traders selling things like Comicon costumes and accessories. If ever there was something lacking, it was that.
I would have purchased a mauve wig and pointy ears in a heartbeat. I regretted not organising my wardrobe the night before watching all the fans walking around. At home, I have much more suitable clothes and jewellery than I wore to the event, which would have fitted in so well, if only I'd considered them. - Tip 3. These are clothes you purchase then never know where to wear them. (excuse the double wear) Comicon is exactly where. I'd made a bit of an effort donning my latest sparkly peacock top and military coat, but I could have worn my beautiful mauve DMs, they would have fitted in so well. My dragon pendant, my cat rings. Lots of things. Pah!
Back to the Comicon, upstairs on the first floor were rows and rows of celebrities signing autographs and chatting to folk who'd paid. Every one of them had a large poster up behind them showing their picture and their credits. There were several I didn't have a clue about but I saw Sylvester McCoy, and Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones, who I didn't realise had been from Soldier, Soldier and later sang with Robson Green. My goodness. I also saw a very elderly Christopher Lambert, who looked nothing like I remembered. Throwing caution to the wind, I ran over to him, ignoring his 'bodyguard' and told him "I fancied you like crazy when I was younger." Another elderly gentleman was Colin Baker, a Doctor Who reincarnation and then there was Ben Crompton from Games of Thrones. I told him it was "good to see someone who still looks like themselves. There were loads of Games of Thrones stars and Doctor Who actors, the latter from times gone by.
Also upstairs were artists and authors. I scanned each of these and they weren't doing much business. The majority of people came upstairs to meet their idols not purchase books. So if I'm having a stall it will be downstairs in possible. Tip 4. That's if you are allowed to.
Finally, before we left I spoke to the staff regards having a stall,. They advised going on their website, Summer Comicon and all necessary information regards costs etc is under the Exhibitors tab. Tip 5. Next, I'll be costing the event and figuring out how to transport books etc there and back. I'm sure this will be covered in later Blogs.
Please see the Comicon costumes on my Conference & Events page, because although I haven't commented on them this time, they were pretty amazing. Special commendation to the man with a mobility issue who came as a Thunderbirds puppet, complete with scissors and cut strings above him. Absolutely Brilliant.
A note on my writing. I've started Quest for Courage again and written several thousand more words and I'm on my third literary agent.
Its been an interesting last few weeks for me. Spent much of the holidays unwell with the respiratory bug that's been doing the rounds in Thanet. Sadly, its has resulted in a loss of hearing on my left side. Initally, I found this hilarious, with totally bizarre sentences interpreted by my brain.
Why is it when you don't hear a sentence instead of your brain supplementing a similar word for the one you didn't hear, it decides it would be much more entertaining to provide you with a completely non-sensical one? "There's a vast fox eating my knickers." "I'd love a peacock pie on the grass." "Several white antelopes have stolen my sunglasses." The sentence in the title was a true line I thought I'd heard. Recently, the funny side of this has been wearing off and it's been getting less humorous and more annoying. However, I can see these might make for brilliant story-lines.
Regards my efforts to become published, Shiel Land Associates never replied to my submission, nor my subsequent emails. I've advised them that at end of work tomorrow I'll have to submit elsewhere. I didn't really expect acceptance by them, but an email saying they received my work would have been something. Not sure how long my fragile heart can manage doing the rounds of literary agents again. I'm doing this at the suggestion of a friend. Its nice to know someone believes in me.
Writing wise, I've realise I've been procrastinating lately. Didn't know that is what I was doing, but after attending Gremlins writing group at the weekend, I clearly am. Time to pull up those boots and stop washing those shoes. Quest for Courage is not going to write itself. I'll also need to get What If, off again to the next agency. I'm considering printing Aquasapien in two halves next, like it is on Kindle. Folk will be able to purchase book 1 or/and 2, or the whole story. Might make a bit more money and I'll feel like I've published another book, when I haven't.
The end of the month see's me up in London at Olympia attending the London Spring Comicon. My plan is to research it in time for their huge Summer Comicon there. Things like the cost of having a stall, staying in London for 2-3 nights and transporting all my stock there and back ain't cheap. I want to see if its worthwhile or not. Plus I'm getting a bit of a liking for them. See my photos on my Events page. The folk attending these are so awesome and no one is odd or unusual amongst the land of fantasy and Sci-Fi. I fit in perfectly.
In my last blog I think I mentioned a possible chance of being published on-line in Chinese for Webnovel.com. Well since I made some corrections to the publishing company's suggested contract I've heard no more. They aren't replying to my emails and I've contacted the inital rep, who reports that she doesn't work for them any more. Searching google for info on the company I've found other people have had the same lack of response when they query the contract provided. It doesn't look great. This writing lark definiately isn't for the faint-hearted, you're lifted up with one hand and smacked down again with the other and kicked in the privates at the same time. Who'd have this life? If I had half a brain, I'd move on. Yeah, I'm on a low point today, probably the result of being deaf and a busy day at work. Let's see where my next blog takes me, hopefully up?.
Finishing on an up-note, Inspirations Writers Group, is launching its;
4th Anthology Green,
On Saturday 15th February
From 10am to 2pm
At Old Kent Market, Margate.
I'll be there and there will be an opportunity to purchase previous anthologies, with some bargains to be had. Plus you can browse the lovely vendors and restaurants. MIMO.
I'm not sure why I'm sitting here writing this with a temperature of 38C and the usual Christmas cold I get every year once my employment finishes for the break. Despite just wanting to lie down somewhere and snuggle into the warmth and gooiness of a duck down duvet I'm upright on the sofa with the laptop perching, like an evil vulture, on my knees as I hammer out words to you.
What has happened over the last four weeks, you ask, or maybe you don't. In addition to attending and signing books at two further Craft fairs, I've enjoyed an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience, no not this stupid cold. I was asked to step in at the last minute to take over from my husband who was unable to maintain his obligation on a One-Day Course which he'd paid and organised.
I have been fascinated with blades for a while now since writing Aquasapien and moving into the military arena - not literally. I love Japanese blades of Kanatas and Tantos plus the macho-stance of all combat knifes. My most alluring blade though has to be one made of Damascus steel. Imagine my surprise when my hubby says, he can't go and can't take part with our son on a Blade Smithing day which he'd set up for our boy for Christmas. Would I step in and save the day by driving him there and taking his place at the forge.
I was excited, terrified and excited some more, but mostly excited. Little me, was going to stand inside a real forge, next to a blazing hot fire, banging hot steel with a hammer on an anvil. I'm not sure who was more frightened me or my son, who had the anvil next to me.
The process for the day was clearly explained and we each faced off with our piece of flat rough steel. Using the forge, we were expected to turn and lengthen one end of the steel to make a rudimentary handle. From there we formed a blade at the other end, then turned and folded the handle and finally ground the edge and polished it to sharpness. Okay, so my measly pounding with a hammer didn't make much of a dent on the steel so my tutor stepped in to use the power hammer - which was so awesome. Then he also sharpened the blade because we weren't considered safe to turn a lump of metal into a lethal weapon. I didn't mind that either because I have a knife that, "Will Cut"!
Already I can see a new book coming now I have some rudimental experience on forging, (book Five) for the Witch on the Warpath series. Chasing The Shadow, a side story about Phrack Blaster the forging Stone Dwarf from Book Two Gristle's Revenge. Another use for the knowledge may be in Aquasapien Prodigy Book Three where I see the hero learning forging skills to create his own feature blades.
Its amazing how one day doing something different can inspire you to evolve your personality and life in a new direction. If someone offers you a chance, a lifeline, a new experience. Don't turn away from it. Grab it, adapt it you your purpose, but never say no. Only a fool would turn down evolution.
I've just returned tired and hungry from three days in Reading attending their two day Comicon event. Met some lovely people at this event. All the traders were lovely people and especially Jo to my right and Sarah Day (who draws the most mazing dragons, ravens and wolves etc) to my left, who had to put up with my endless chatter, off-key singing and generally meandering about and groaning about my lack of food while I stuffed my face with chocolate.
Fortunately, there were only two of us authors present so I didn't feel too much competition, in amongst the famous people, celebrities and actors from Once Upon a time and Games of Thrones to name but a few. And everywhere were cosplay folk. It was great, my kind of place with people doing what I love from Trekkies and Star Wars to Anime characters, Autobots and zombies. How I did not manage to buy tons of memorabilia is beyond me. There was a blade smith to die for (bad pun?). Every blade from Tantos and Claymores to combat daggers, Kukris and Karambits, my personal favourite.
I really enjoyed this event and as usual at these places, a significant number of would-be authors came to pick my brain on how to make it in the writing world. Seriously though, why they think I know is beyond me because would I be sitting there in a drafty hall for seven hours if I'd, 'made it' as they often say. No, I'd be sitting in my heated writing studio, stroking my cat and dictating my sixtieth novel to my assistant while my publisher organisers the £20,000 needed for the next marketing strategy and my agent negotiates my fee and his percentage for my next interview on Breakfast TV.
The dream, I can't live the dream so there it must remain inside my head while I hear, "I've plans to write a story" for the 74th time. Don't tell me about it, write the thing! In conclusion, these people never consider buying one of my books once they've emptied my brain cells of all the relevant facts they require. I feel I should say, "if you buy a book I'll tell you the secret of success."
What success? I'll let you know when I find it, providing you purchase a book first.
Apology for the grumble, good to have a place to breathe.
A short blog to let those of you interested the outcome of Pitchwars 2019. Of course it was nothing. I didn't expect anything else, but I hoped...
Back in the land of reality, I've sent off my 4th novel What If? (that could be 5th novel if you count Aquasapien as two books now). I selected an agency name I knew and one that has some prestige and lineage in supporting and promoting not just authors, but also film, theatre and celebratory personas. Their turn-around is reportedly 2-4 months and it is considered very bad form to approach another agency meanwhile, so I will abide by their rules despite wanting to move What If? along. Instead I shall work on Quest for Courage.
I'm off to Reading Comicon next weekend staying in a nearby hotel. I'm hoping it'll be as good as Wyntercon in Eastbourne was in September. Naturally I'll give you the low down on the event and provide more photos on my events page.
This month has flown by despite it being half term. I'm sitting anxiously waiting for Sunday 3rd November to see if I've won the literary lottery and obtained a mentor from Pitch Wars 2019. I don't actually hold out much hope. I hear some folk have already been contacted for the rest of their work which puts the mockers on the whole 'wait until 3rd Nov' vibe.
At least I have a letter, synopsis and my 4th novel to go. I've unearthed some Literary agents too. There don't seem to be many in the UK any more and where there are, a proportion have their submissions 'CLOSED' sign up. Several are names I remember from the past and I get that sinking feeling in my stomach like I've swallowed a spider and it won't die inside me. I might resurrect my old folder of rejections letters to see if I can find the same letter word for word trotted out to me again. "We're sorry but..."
Is that being a tiny bit defeatist? It might sound so, but regardless I still manage to plod along despite my moaning and wincing. One of my mottos learnt from living this writing life is, "expect the worse and you're not disappointed," another of my wise adages is "If its horrible, it can only go uphill from here." I have a whole brain-full of these in my skull including some rather crude ones which I won't share here.
Meanwhile, in another part of Carol's brain - "lets get back to writing." This weekend I've been skirting around Quest for Courage and added a few more thousand words. This is the third book in the series which started with only one book initially and is starting to get cluttered as I try to keep the continuity going from the first book.
I hate introducing characters that don't do anything and don't have any investment in the main storyline. I see this is other novels where they seem to be brought in to fill a hole and then disappear. As well as new characters and white witches this time, I'm trying to bring back Lenny and Hope from book one, plus Maximus Mallory the sixteenth and Knife the Spider from book two. Can't give too much away though, just in case it doesn't pan out.
I haven't looked at Aquasapien three in a while so that's ripe for a catch-up. I remember leaving it at the climax (pun intended) of yet another sex scene. Also, when the full-length hard copy edition goes for re-print, like the kindle edition, it'll come back out as two books instead of one.
Finally, I left my exciting piece of news - potentially - until last. I have been approached and requested translation of my Sci-Fi work for the Asian market. Still checking the contract, but I'll let you know whether that amounts to anything in November. I think the reason it is at the end of this blog and not the beginning is because I'm probably in denial that it will happen. Its a case of; "Don't get your hopes up or you'll end up eating more spiders," another of my useful mottos.
These last four weeks have been busy in my writing world. In the beginning of the month I ran a session for Westgate Literary Festival on all aspects of publishing which though not snowed under with attendees, hopefully provided some insights for several interested folk in getting their work out there.
Following this it was nose down to hone an awesome query letter and synopsis, then final polish the first chapter of What If? my next planned novel, Well I say awesome, that includes crossing both fingers and my legs in the hope someone thinks so. The last time I completed a letter and synopsis was over ten years ago and my failure rate is 1st novel = 87 rejections, 2nd novel = 72 rejections. Honestly, I could have papered the downstairs loo twice with the amount of rejection letters I did not want to receive.
Thankfully times have moved on. No more letters just emails, or no reply at all. Since those early days my heart, dented, bruised and squeezed just a little too many times to cope with the ordeal, girded itself in steam punk armour, enforced with Unobtainium and Dilithium stepped onto another train and independantly published both my rejected novels. My 3rd novel went straight to independant publishing and my heart unsheathed its armour because I learnt I could do it on my own.
Now, a dear friend and internationally published author, Tara Moore, has thrown a spanner in my carefully constructed fantasy world.
"It's time. You need to approach traditional literary agents again. Get your work out there to a bigger audience."
"I know but..."
"No, you've written and published three novels. You run a successful writing group too. You can do this."
"Can I? Should I? There are far better writers out there than me."
"But not with your drive, determination and imagination. Do it now."
I'd been dithering on the fence since this conversation and then Pitch Wars rolled up. Pitch Wars, as I understand it is an opportunity to improve your manuscript till it doesn't just shine it glitters like a multi-watt bulb in a supernova, somewhere off the crab nebula, but I digress. This amazing concept offers the very slim change of obtaining a mentor to assist in getting your piece to the eyes that matter, a Literary Agent. I feel like there should be a fanfare, or trumpet this point. Dah, Dah, Dah!
I entered the first part, a twelve hour segment on twitter to post a pitch. The lucky ones received 'likes' from agents and then were able to sent their work onwards. Some had 3 or 5 likes. I had none. Reading some of their posts I'm guessing I should have found a large jar of wacky-baccy or some such. Yes I am teeny bit disappointed, shades of ten years ago call.
The second part is the most important, the chance to submit to up to 4 mentors in the hope that one will take on your manuscript. The lucky people get a whole 3 months support and advice to produce the best novel they've ever written. There are only 19 mentors in my section and the event is global. I'm thinking lots of thoughts, not least that I've more chance of painting myself in chocolate, running through my village and Johnny Depp finding me... I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Will they read it?
Will they like it?
Will they contact me?
Will they ignore me?
Will they read the letter then ignore me?
Will they read the whole thing, and then ignore me?
Am I being vain to consider this?
Am I being too insecure to consider this?
Should I have sent them chocolate?
Johnny Depp's phone number?
Whoever said writing was good for the soul needs a lobotomy. Naturally, I'll let you know how it goes, I like to ensure all my trials and warts are exposed for the world to view, metamorphically speaking that is, physically it doesn't paint such a pretty picture. If one person learns anything from my blogs (even to become a brain surgeon) then my work here is almost done.
I've submitted my application. The 48hrs ends tomorrow at midnight. The release date is 3rd November.
Meanwhile my mind is moving on to Stranger Things. I'm off to Eastbourne tomorrow evening to do a weekend book signing at Wyntercon VI. (see home page for details and address) Please pass the word. I'm quite excited because I'm staying with an old friend who used to put me up when I worked in Hastings over twenty years ago. She now lives in Eastbourne where I used to live and work too.
Memories of the DGH, being proposed to by my husband in the grounds of the local psychiatric hospital Hellingly, I worked there honestly and no, he was not a patient. I'm guessing everyone I knew there has moved on, or died, or moved on then died. I'm hoping I'll sell well, but like Pitch Was I'll let you know how it goes.
One last note, I really would love a chance to move into traditional publishing. I've four more novels in this laptop and several others in concept stage. Cross your fingers for me too.
When you write about a great many things, its difficult to pinhole them into a specific genre. If demons aren't called demons, what are they? If demons live in space, is it Sci-Fi or not? I struggle with this on a daily basis. One day someone will ask me about my work and I'll say,
"Contemporary Sci-Fi." The next moment I'm trying to quantify that.
"Well its not Sci-Fi with spaceships and stellar rays. and all that. Its Science Fiction because its fiction and there is scientific theory to back it up."
But is that Sci-Fi?
There are monsters and men who are monsters. Does that make it horror?
There are creatures who drink blood. Does that make it paranormal?
Then there's the fact I made it all up. Does that make it Fantasy?
Sometimes it is so confusing, I end up confused myself.
"Its contemporary Sci-Fi with Military Action Adventure for Aquasapien, but when you register the ISBN number etc it only lets you put in two genres. Then its Adult too with actual sex scenes, so is that Erotica? How do I choose? Which genres sell the most? Sex and Science?
Walk around any bookstore or library and the chances are you're going to miss some amazing book because its publisher/author has entered it into a genre you don't read and wouldn't think of looking at in a million years.
I don't read romance. Can't stand it. So clichéd. Boy meets girl (or boy meets boy etc) fall in love, fall out of love over some hidden secret. Fall back in love. Either happy ever after or gone or dead.
But I love Twilight. Its a romance. If they had put it on the romance shelves, I never would have considered it. Okay the film and song helped too. But my point is, a book wins or loses all on its genre, its USP (Unique Selling Point) and I've yet to create mine for What If?
Katie Wadlow is a normal woman living in a normal town.
One evening she discovers nothing will ever be normal again.
There are bad guys and then there are Demons.
Just returned from warmer climes back to the everyday world of work and getting up early. First time visiting Malta. Loads of history, stunning architecture and heat. 41C at the height of the day. Fortunately, lots of water to cool off in and alcohol to drink in the form of cocktails. Should have been the ideal place to write considering its the home of Games of Thrones. Many scenes were filmed here including Kings Landing, the Red Keep and of course the notorious brothel, Little Fingers place.
Took my handy notepad to write but didn't manage it initally. Also took my Mindfullness notes with a plan to do my exercises too, but I decided that I was "being there" nearly all the time and apart from my toothbrushing routine and several body scans that was the extent of my endeavours - until week two.
Generally, I find that the first week I'm still buzzing about trying to find things to do and its not until the second week I finally chillax. That's when my writing vibe comes on. I wrote a new Chapter for Aquasapien three staring Malta and also another for Quest for Courage so not a complete disaster.
Regards my last novel What If? I've decided to submit to Pitch Wars this year. May not be successful but its made me write hopefully a good query letter and synopsis for it. On the downside there's a unexpected hiccup with the editing, but I'm still planning to submit the first chapter that needs to go with it. As a result I've now got my material for the next Inspirations meeting sorted so raring to go now.
Next meeting this Saturday 10am to 12.30 Westgate Library all welcome.
I spread my arms wide and rotate my shoulders to ease the ache of sitting several hours at the laptop for the third time in as many days. Yet I do it with the immense satisfaction that novel number four, What If? is finished. When I say finished, I actually mean the completed first draft that I m happy with, has winged its way via the magic of the net, over to my Copy Editor Karen. She will I'm sure, groan, gasp, shake her head and need several coffees before she begins. Eventually she will sit down to the task of trawling through my latest adventure, highlighting my many errors in storyline, plot, grammar, spelling, punctuation and continuity. But she is brilliant, so it will be great. I have complete confidence in her wonderful abilities. Too much? I don't think so.
What if? is a full-length, contemporary sci-fi novel set on Earth. It is the first I've completed using multiple points of view. You will either love it or hate it, I'm guessing. Its in six parts and each part has a chapter viewing a scene from a different person/agency's point of view. So I'm hoping its compelling and also easy to follow, because if you put it down for a while, its easy to figure out where the story left off. Well that's the plan anyway.
Set in the town of Hewell, its about a girl called Katie Wadlow. Brought up by her elderly aunt after her parents are killed. At the age of twenty four, Katie discovers that her aunt isn't her aunt, that she isn't Katie Wadlow and to top that she isn't human either. With not one, but three parties interested in capturing or killing her for different reasons her life is on the line, several times.
You can see where the different points of view come in. There is violence, having someone's face ripped off is always a winner. And before you ask, no sex in this one.
I'd like to thank Trish for given me an idea for the cover if I decide to independantly publish. I remain on the fence on whether to approach traditional publishers/literary agents with this one. Not sure whether I'm tough enough to be let down again. I still have my Shrine to Rejection in the study consisting of the 80+ Thank you, but, rejection letters. "Thank you, but no." "Thank you, but this is not something we feel can represent." "Thank you, but... Good luck submitting elsewhere." Maybe a good title for book two, if there is a series. I'll keep it in mind. Thank you, but...