Category Archives: Interacting With Professionals

Unexpected Invitations and Opportunities

Earlier this year, I sent off my novel Vendetta Protocol for a blurb from Baen books author Charles E. Gannon. When he responded with an excellent blurb, I was surprised by the last line of his email. After reading my book, he recommended me to authors Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey. I’d never heard of either of them, but in the weeks that followed, I learned that each of them had authored one book in what they called the Four Horsemen Universe – a military science fiction universe where humans most commonly act as mercenaries and often find themselves on the short end of the galactic stick. Mark and Chris offered me a story spot in an anthology they were launching to flesh out their universe based on that recommendation alone.

I hadn’t read their books and Chris and Mark hadn’t read mine. As we emailed back and forth, a knot of self-induced pressure built in my chest. Could I pull this off? Could I make good on my friend’s recommendation? When I received their “primer,” a fifteen page document outlining the basic rules of the universe, I sat down to read it and immediately gravitated to the concept of a Peacemaker Guild. Combined with a timely thought about a really bad movie from the 1980s, I developed a short story idea. Over the course of two weeks, I wrote the story and then did something I’ve never done before – I sent them the rough draft of the story and asked if I was anywhere close to what they wanted with their universe. Their response surprised me.

Not only was the story exactly what they wanted, they wanted me to continue the story of Earth’s first Peacemaker in novel format. I looked at my writing plan for the year, the success of the two additional books they launched in the universe, and what they were doing with the anthology (of which there were plans for three) and said yes. I scrapped finishing my Protocol War series in 2017 and signed on to write an unplanned book in a universe I was still learning about, and I had about twelve weeks to do it. Could I?

I did. When I completed the novel Peacemaker and turned it in to them, I had no idea what to expect. Would they like the story? Would the rabid fans of the Four Horsemen Universe embrace it? Had I told the kind of story I wanted to tell in their universe? The answer to all of those questions unfolded in late August and was a resounding “YES!” From that unexpected invitation, I’ve now committed to writing a total of three books in the Peacemaker storyline and have just completed book two – Honor The Threat.

For me, 2017 was all about embracing unexpected opportunities. Doing so has led me into avenues I’d never considered and put my work in front of new readers and fans. It’s hard to believe that I’m writing a new series from a short story idea, but that’s the way this writing thing tends to work. I’ve paddled into a wave and I’m going to ride it as best I can. In the coming year, I have books to write and conventions to attend, but I’ll be looking for opportunities because they can come in the most unexpected places. Keep your eyes and ears open – you never know where things might go.

Welcome to December – 2017 Year In Review

This month, the Fictorians and a few guest bloggers will share their successes, lessons learned, and their challenges as we collectively pursue our writing careers. I hope that some of their stories and posts resonate with you. We’re all at different places in our journey, but the idea that we’re all stepping forward is critical to remember.

Every year, I set Writing Goals. Those goals have become more ambitious over the last few years and I’ve been challenged to get my butt in the writing chair to achieve the things I wanted to at the beginning of the year. I opened up my schedule to attend more conventions and events, I ambitiously took on a new project that was not on my writing goals at all, and I managed to get two books published in the last half of the year. I’ll share more about those projects later this month, but there were two things that happened this year that harken back to something that Kevin J. Anderson talks about: “Popcorn Theory.” The idea is that as writers, we can’t treat our stories like a single kernel of popcorn. If we were hungry, we’d starve cooking one kernel at a time. Having more projects going breeds creativity and creates unique opportunities. This year, I’d decided to take a break from writing all short fiction to focus on writing/editing two novels. Yet, opportunities knocked and I listened.

The first was an opportunity I’ll discuss more in a couple of weeks, but I received an invitation to submit a story for an anthology in the bestselling military science fiction series of the Four Horsemen Universe. I had a blink in my schedule, so I wrote the story, turned it in, and saw my whole calendar for the year derailed when not only did editors Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey love my short story but they asked me to write a novel with my character Peacemaker Jessica Francis. But, more on that later.

Very soon, AVATAR Dreams – An Anthology Inspired by the ANA X-Prize, will be published that features some of the biggest names in science fiction. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Mike Resnick, this collection features stories from Jody Lynn Nye, Todd McCaffrey, Martin L. Shoemaker, Tina Gower, Marina J. Lostetter, Brad R. Torgersen, Josh Vogt, Dr. Harry Kloor, Andrea Stewart, Ron Calling, Kay Kenyon, and Kevin Ikenberry. That’s right – me. Opportunity knocked and I was in the right place.

Kevin J. Anderson looked across the table at me and said, “I need another story for the AVATAR Dreams Anthology. Can you get me something in two weeks?”

Yes, I could.

From story idea to turn-in was seven days. It was a crazy, hectic time but I had a story crystallize in my head that combined the movie “The Fast and the Furious” with Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage. With the help of my friend Lou J. Berger, some bacteriology tutoring from my father (putting that PhD to use), and a couple of late nights, I turned in a story faster than expected. Hearing that it was a great fit for the anthology was icing on the proverbial cake. But, my take away from the experience was that I could take a short-notice opportunity and do something good. It’s the fastest I’ve ever written a short story and I’m pretty proud of “That Others May Live.”

So, as we go through the month of December and hear different stories, there’s a chance you’ll hear opportunity knocking. Don’t be afraid to answer the door. Everybody on the blog this month has been listening, I’m sure.

Meet the Guest Fictorians: Author Tonya L. De Marco

Author, model, and professional cosplayer Tonya L. De Marco contributed several articles for the Fictorians over the years after attending the Superstars Writing Seminars.

Fictorians: What are you drinking today?
Tonya L. De Marco: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.

Fictorians: What have you done for the Fictorians?
Tonya L. De Marco: I’ve written 3 articles as a guest poster.

Fictorians: What genres do you prefer?
Tonya L. De Marco: I mostly prefer writing speculative dark fiction. I’m very in touch with my dark side as you can see if you’ve read my other articles and most of my published work so far. Taboo subjects are also very near and dear to my heart and I often incorporate that into my writing, often along with some type of erotic flavor. I’ve struggled to keep to a PG-13 guideline in the past. I also write non-fiction articles which have been published with Fictorians and in magazines.

Fictorians: What’s your current project?
Tonya L. De Marco: I’m currently working on a short story submission with a deadline of November 30th. It’s a little bit steampunk, a little bit science fiction, and the story involves cats.

Fictorians: What can we expect to see from you in 2018?
Tonya L. De Marco: You can expect to see more articles, more short stories, and hopefully a novella or novelette. I’m trying to learn to draw out my muse when I need her and not just when she want to be heard. Another goal for 2018 is to become a member of more professional writing organizations. I’m currently a member of The Horror Writers Association.

Fictorians: Besides writing, you’re also a costume designer and professional cosplayer. What was your last project?
Tonya L. De Marco: My last project was designing a dress for an Elvira-inspired cosplay.The dress was very challenging and I learned so much making it! I did a combination of 2 different patterns and my own design elements in drafting the pattern. For the bodice of the dress, I also did a built-in corset for the first time. I see more cosplays I an use this pattern (or a modification of it) for in the future!

Fictorians: What was the last convention you went to and how did it go?
Tonya L. De Marco: I’ve just returned from a convention in Arkansas. I’m not going to name the convention because there were serious issues and possibly fraud associated with at least the promoter. What was wonderful was how all the volunteers, cosplayers and vendors all rallied around each other for support. I feel like I’ve got a new family from the experience.

Fictorians: Where can we find more about you?
Tonya L. De Marco: Mostly on social media and at plenty of conventions across the country. Make sure to check out the “about” section on my Facebook page which I will be updating again shortly.

Tonya L. De Marco – Published Cosplayer/Model and Author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VintageSteamtrunk (page name is Cosplay Tonya)
Member: Horror Writers Association
Website: http://tonyaldemarco.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cosplay_tonya/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tonya-L.-De-Marco/e/B00I38RNI8/

Fictorians: Anything else you want to say?

Tonya L. De Marco: Thank you very much for the interview, it’s been an honor. Also, if you’d like to see me at a particular convention as an author, a professional cosplayer, or both, please tell the convention programming staff you would like to see me there as a guest. You can send the above links if they ask for them. Thank you!

September 30th – The Wrap of Con

We’ve come to the end of our month of Cons. I was supposed to post this last night, but I’m attending MegaCon Tampa Bay and ran out of time. So far this Con has been…okay. Several authors and I banded together to claim two tables in Artist Alley. Thanks to my partners in Con—Maria DeVivo, T. Allen Diaz, and Michael J. Allen—the company has been stellar and we’ve talked to many great fans. Attendance has been light and sales slow. We expected today, Saturday, to be packed, and there were definitely more people in attendance today than yesterday, but nothing like we expected. Granted, this is only the second year the MegaCon brand has run a Tampa Con, but considering the monstrous size of MegaCon Orlando, which runs in May, we expected some of that splendor to carry over. In addition, they have several big-name celebrity guests (Stan Lee, William Shatner, John Barowman, and others) to pull in the fans and still no huge numbers. Oh well, we have tomorrow and we’re gonna rock it no matter what happens. Con!

Each Artist Alley table cost $230 and included 2 event badges.

Throughout this month we’ve seen reports on Cons and Events spanning the country and even stretching north into Canada. Several posts added Con advice and strategy for writers. Throughout them all, I hope we’ve provided some useful insight to help you plan your 2017 Con adventures.

See you later and have fun.

Thanks,

Scott