Wednesday, June 07, 2017

ComiCon Report

by Marsha Ward  @MarshaWard

As I mentioned previously, I recently shared a booth at Phoenix ComiCon. Thank you to all who came by the booth.

I had an interesting four days.

I could tell you about the gunman who got in on Thursday, but I was unaware of the event until I read about it on Facebook. Fortunately, Phoenix police officers took the fellow into custody without incident.

That caused much discomfort for fans on Friday, though, as they had to wait in the sun for a couple of hours while staff and security searched all backpacks, large purses, etc., for any contraband. Prop weapons were banned, weapon sellers were obliged to put purchases into opaque bags (that is, black garbage bags), and one vendor created such a stink that he was told to pack up and leave.

But you probably want to know about my experience. I met two of my booth-mates for the first time. I learned that I probably want a table-front banner of some kind and/or book cover posters if I do something like this again. I did decide to emulate something another author did in our booth. You'll see what that plan is when you come to the Payson Book Festival on July 22.

But as I said above, I had an interesting four days. Costumes abounded, some incredibly detailed, some pretty basic, some outlandish, some lacking much substance. I was amazed, however, at how easily I let go of the need to judge all manner of people and their fascinations. That's not my job, anyway. I simply enjoyed the spectacle and the homemade ice cream.


I sold a handful of books. I didn't expect to sell loads of books. In fact, I scaled back my inventory from tons of books to five of each, because I knew I would not sell many books (plus, I didn't want to undergo the dock loading process).

For one thing, I'm not a well-known, super-star author.

For another, I was offering historical novels for sale at a convention more into sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, and popular TV shows and movies of those cultures. But I did give away my handouts, which have QR codes on the back for people curious about what I was doing there. That is a part of my brand awareness advertising plan.


I enjoyed looking at the costumes, but I could not tell you who about 90 percent of them represented.

I did get a Whovian thrill, though.


BBC America had a Dr. Who booth at which one could have free photos taken: outside with your own camera/phone,


and inside, with a photo emailed to you. By the way, the TARDIS really is bigger on the inside!

Will I do ComiCon as a vendor again? The verdict isn't in yet. If I ever write a book in a genre more in line with the spirit of the Con, perhaps yes. If I don't I can always go as an attendee. That will probably give me less stress and fewer hours of after-event decompressing.

Have you ever been to an event like a ComiCon? Were you an attendee or a vendor? What did you experience?

Monday, May 22, 2017

ComiCon: I'll Be There in Three Days!

by Marsha Ward  @MarshaWard

Several months ago, I was invited to share a booth with a friend at Phoenix ComiCon. I went back and forth before I decided to give it a go. Now there are four of us authors in the booth.

ComiCon begins Thursday, May 25, and runs through Sunday, May 28.

I'm not positive whether or not I'm a good fit for the event. I write Westerns. ComiCon celebrates popular culture, particularly in the fields of SciFi & Fantasy. But before Firefly, there were Westerns, right?

If nothing else, I can take the expenses off my income taxes in several categories, including Advertising and Fees.

Although ComiCon is not strictly a book event, authors do participate, in both booths and at "Artist Alley" tables. For me, this will be an adventure in marketing, putting my author brand out there, conquering fear and anxiety, and trying to be an extrovert for four days.

I've been working on what books to take, how many copies of each book, how to display the books, how to decorate the booth, and other details. I've sent a ton of questions to my friend, read the policies of the show innumerable times (and I'm sure I missed something!), and even had nightmares.

Yes, nightmares. Horrible, vivid nightmares of having my car stolen from downtown Phoenix, thus stranding me 150 miles from home. Once I got my parking secured, though, the nightmares went away.

The last couple of days, I've been working on handouts. One handout showcases my major series, "The Owen Family Saga," and the other has a headline of "WESTERNS, America's Timeless Fiction," with photos of nine of my works, plus fifteen QR code links to various sites on the reverse.

I also made a ring-bound set of cards with large QR codes for those who wish to go purchase ebooks on the spot. Or just look at one of the books at Amazon.


Why all the QR codes?

In view of the demographic of the attendees, I've decided to take a minimum amount of paperback books, because this crowd is more likely to buy and read ebooks. I'm attempting to make it easy for them to purchase books of mine that catch their interest!  

There are tons of apps for reading/scanning QR codes. I'm hoping many attendees will have such scanning apps.

So much goes on at ComiCon that I probably won't be sitting around watching my feet swell as I thought at first. I might get to go roam a little to take in a panel, or just wander around and see the sights. I'm sure there will be cringe-worthy costumes, but some are likely to be spectacular--even if I don't know what show or comic book character they represent.

My friends have advised me to have fun. By gum, I'm going to have fun. Really, truly.

I'll be in the Four Carat Press Booth in the Lower Level Exhibit Hall, Hall Six, Booth #1797, against the south wall. Come say hello!

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Sample Saturday - New Project

I have so many ideas running around in my head that sometimes I am compelled to write parts of the bones of one idea or another down. Yesterday, May 3, 2017, marked the beginning of the writing for a piece of fiction (short story, novella, novel?) featuring a younger son of the Owen Family, Clayton, or Clay for short.

In truth, it's not the first I've thought of what to do with the idea of having one of the Owens go to California to start a horse ranch. Two or three years ago, I wrote a short story in which just such a place is mentioned. That piece was publishing in--of all places--an anthology of boxing stories. I plan to publish it as a stand-alone story later this year.

As I mulled over how to place some Owen family members on the ranch, at first I thought it would be a continuation of James's story. We all know how much he loves working with horses. Then, since Rulon's son, Roddy, popped up in the final moments of the aforementioned short story, with the ranch on his lips, I thought it would be Rulon who moved to California.

But no.

It is someone else's turn.

I have figured out the timeline and know a few things that must happen to establish that ranch. And how Roddy gets there. Now the story must stand in line for its turn to be written. I have two or three other pieces of fiction that must be completed first.

But I will share some of what I wrote yesterday. Behold! An Adventure with Clay Owen (and that most certainly is not the title!).


--Copyright Marsha Ward--

Clayton Owen paced the floor of the rustic cabin. One yellow pine board squeaked under his feet each time he trod upon it. Pa needed to get another nail in that one. He drew up, facing the small window with the prairie view and leaned heavily on the sill. The sun had slipped behind the mountain to his back, but the light persisted still.

He turned. Pa sat rigidly in his chair, white knuckles gripping the wooden arms. Ma knitted in her chair, the click of her needles as she fashioned the blue wool into a garment now the only sound above Clay's harsh breathing. Her eyes were on her work. She would not intervene.

"I want to learn the skill. It's only two years."

"You're able enough at the forge. You don't need to apprentice to the blacksmith."

"Horseshoes! I can make horseshoes. I need to know more, Pa."

"How can I spare you for two years? Rulon and Carl are all I've got to help me."

Clay approached his father and knelt before the chair. He laid his hands on the backs of his father's. "You have Bertie. You have Henry and the rest of the hands. You can get by without me for two years."

--Copyright Marsha Ward--

I hope you enjoyed this little Sample. Stay tuned for further bits and pieces as I get back to writing fiction.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Advice for Writers: Write the Book

By Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

The first step to getting a book published is to write it. Here's an encouraging excerpt about that from my new book for writers, The Checklist: Indie Publishing My Way.

The essential step in publishing a book is writing it. Yeah. That. This step will take however long it does, but the sooner you develop habits that help you move forward—without an internal editor on your shoulder to make you write, rewrite, polish, and re-polish Chapter 1—the better. It doesn't matter whether or not you own the most popular writer's software out there, or if you write your 1st draft using Word, Open Office, Pages, or Notepad. The point is to push through and finish the draft, because you can't publish a book that isn't finished.

On my checklist, I allow two to three months for writing. Sometimes I hit it, and sometimes I don't, Because Life. Happens. Did I mention that I have a condition known as ADHD? That's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A great many creative people—or Creatives, for short—suffer from this malady in its various forms. The condition is difficult to deal with, but all challenges can be overcome (or so I keep telling myself).

Here's a Truth that you must remember: every writer writes differently. In other words, there is no One True Way to write. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that their method for writing is the only method of writing.

The corollary to the Truth is that every writer may write each book differently. Okay, I don't want to scare you or introduce unneeded stress into your life, so I won't say much more about that. Just realize that you may need to write a second book using a different method. No stressing about it, okay? Just get this book finished.

Writers write using methods that string along a spectrum that ranges from Plotter at one end to Pantser at the other. Where you may fall on this spectrum (and it probably will shift from time to time and book to book) depends on how your brain is wired. Plotters feel a compulsion to know everything that will happen in a book, so they plot it out, using outlines of varying degrees of exactitude and comprehensiveness. Pantsers (the name comes from the term "writing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants") are also called organic or discovery writers. They want to write the story and discover what happens as their fingers work on the keyboard. You'd be surprised how many top authors are Pantsers. Really surprised.

Pantsers often are stymied by complete outlines. For example, if I write so little as a synopsis of a book, my brain says, "Well, look there, you've written the story. You don't need me anymore," and it shuts down and refuses to cooperate with me in writing a first draft.

There is so much danger in this state of affairs that I cannot plot out a book. I can only figure out who the main character is, a vague estimate of where the book could end, and maybe a couple or three things I hope will happen along the way. I usually know when and where the story will be set, and maybe what the "inciting incident" or "change in the character's life" is. Beyond that, I have to let my mind direct my fingers when I write.

The process is really kind of cool.

That doesn't mean it's your process. It's mine. And it can change. Slightly.

Different books I've written have called for different degrees of foreknowledge, so I have ranged a bit from the Pantser end toward the Plotter end, but never so much that my brain turned off.

Go with what works for you in writing your book, but do go forward.



The Checklist: Indie Publishing My Way is now available for only $4.99 on the sites of all major ebook vendors:


Coming soon in Print!
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