Author Archives: Quincy J. Allen

About Quincy J. Allen

Quincy J. Allen, a cross-genre author, has published a litany of short stories in multiple anthologies, magazines, eZines, and one omnibus since he started his writing career in 2009. His first short story collection Out Through the Attic, came out in 2014 from 7DS Books, and he made his first short story pro-sale in 2014 with “Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry,” included in WordFire’s A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories. Chemical Burn, his first novel, was a finalist in RMFW’s Colorado Gold Contest in 2011, and his latest novel Blood Curse, Book 2 in The Blood War Chronicles, is now available in Print and Digital editions on Amazon and digital formats on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Smashwords. He is currently working on his first media tie-in novel for the Aradio brothers’ Colt the Outlander IP, and expects that book to release in early-to-mid 2017. He also has a short story appearing in an upcoming Monster Hunters, Inc. anthology from Larry Correia and Baen due out in 2017. He is the publisher and editor of Penny Dread Tales, a short story collection in its fifth volume that has become a labor of love. He also runs RuneWright, LLC, a small marketing and book design business out of his home in Colorado, and hopes to one day live in a place where it never, ever, ever snows.

Planet Comicon – Kansas City, Missouri

If you aren’t familiar with me, I’ve hit about 60 conventions in the past three and a half years. From coast to coast and north to south, I’ve hit most of the big ones and many of the medium-sized comic, genre, and media conventions across the country. I can honestly say that Planet Comicon is in my top five conventions of all time. I’ve been there for the past three years in a row, and I’ll keep going back so long as they have me.

I need to point out that my attendance has always been with either the Word Fire Press booth or Bard’s Tower. I’ve never attended it as an individual author. However, I can say that I have several indie authors who have, and they’ve all done well at the convention… if they were go-getters, anyway (more on what that means later).

Next season, Planet Comicon will be February 16th, 17th, and 18th in it’s usual location of Bartle Hall in beautiful downtown Kansas City. This is two months earlier than it’s normal April schedule, which puts it right before Pensacon, in Pensacola, Florida, and although I’m trying to avoid back-to-back conventions, I’ll probably still try and go, because I like it so much.

So, what is there to like about Planet Comicon?

Because it’s in the midwest, the prices for vendors and artists to get space is considerably lower than one would find at bigger conventions on the east or west coast. That can make your book sales and ROI propositions much easier to manage than in other places. They advertise the convention well, take care of their attendees, and have high repeat-attendance.

Another thing about this convention is that there are a lot of readers in the area, and not all shows do. No matter when I’ve been there, we’ve always had good sales numbers. The attendees are affable and open to being approached by new and established authors alike. The folks running the convention also take good care of the artists, actors, media personalities, and vendors. I’ve never heard of any issues, and I’ve seen most of the vendors there again and again over the years. This means there’s no reason for them to take their business elsewhere.

The key here, and this goes for any convention you attend as an indie author with a table, is that you must be a go-getter. You have to engage your target market actively and non-stop. If you’re the sort of author who sits behind the table, butt in chair, watching people walk by and hoping they stop to ask you about your book, you might as well give up the business now. Stay home, write more, and submit to the Big Five. If you want to sell books, however, and put your sales in the green and well above your costs, then you need to be standing up at the table and engaging as may of the attendees as you can. The convention circuit is not for shut-ins. The second you hit that vendor floor, you have to put on your salesman hat and talk to as many people as possible.

That’s the trick to earning a living as a convention-going author.

Working a convention floor is a lot like hawking your wares in an old Turkish marketplace. It’s about being noticed, chatting up the passers-by, making friends with them, and making sure they walk away with a book in their hands and their money in your pocket.

Kansas City is a great place to do that, and once you get rolling, you may find you have an appetite for it.

I’ll add that the downtown area is a nice place to just walk around. There are shops and restaurants and a public transit rail system that lets you see more of the area if you want to take the time. There’s also some KILLER BBQ to be had all over the place. Now, if you’re on a budget, there’s a nice little market not far from Bartle Hall that allows you to get really good food by the pound, with a selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, and whatnot. They also have some pretty good sushi, if you lean that way–which I do.

Planet Comicon is on my list of favorites, because it’s a great selling environment, has a delightful downtown area, and is a relatively low-cost city to stay in, if you can manage it.

If you are looking for a solid, larger-sized convention with a strong reading audience, I heartily recommend you add it to your list of conventions for the 2018 season.

Good luck, and KEEP WRITING!

Q ~

Keep It SMART in 2015

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new year. Instead of making an unrealistic resolution for the next year, apply the SMART methodology and set your goals with the intent of actually reaching them.

I don’t remember the first time I heard about SMART goals, but from the first time I used the methodology, it worked. Applying it to my writing goals was equally successful, and it’s something I do every year.

SMART goals are simply this: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Let me give you an example from my 2014 writing goals.

“By December 31st, I will have submitted no less than twenty stories to markets worldwide and will notch my first professionally paid sale.”

Using my goal as an example, here’s how I apply the methodology simply by asking and answering the following questions:

Is my goal Specific? Yes. I clearly defined what the goal was with a specific number of stories to submit and one professional sale.

Is my goal Measurable? Yes. I had a yardstick of twenty submittals to measure my progress against throughout the year, as well as the one professional sale.

Is my goal Attainable? Yes. Caution – attainability is highly subjective. Did I think my goal was attainable? Yes. I’ve submitted more than twenty stories in a year before, but a professionally paid short fiction sale eluded me. I felt I was ready to do so, and therefore the goal was attainable.

Is my goal Realistic? Again, this is a subjective goal but I felt I could submit the number of stories. Was it realistic to believe I was ready for a professional sale? To me, yes. I’ve been writing professionally for five years and I felt it was time. Could I have been wrong? Sure, but it was a realistic goal. Saying I would submit fifty times and make ten professional sales would have been unrealistic.

Finally, is my goal Timely? Yes, I put a date on it. Having that mark on the wall helped me stay focused on short fiction sales while I worked my day job, raised my kids, was a supportive husband, and sold a debut novel. The date is not a measurement. It’s an accountability tool and without it, I may not have been able to reach my goal. To date, I’ve submitted stories to contests and markets twenty-one times this year. I’ve had three sales, and one of them was a professionally qualifying sale.

Using the SMART methodology allows me to set and manage goals by making myself accountable to the specific requirements of the goal and forcing me to look realistically at where I am as a writer not where I think I should be. When I apply SMART to what I want my goals to be, I can stop thinking about the “what if” possibilities and focus on what I know that I can do. The rest will take care of itself.

Stay away from resolutions that will fade as January passes. Set SMART goals and make the most out of 2015.


 

 

Kevin Ikenberry writes after his kids go to bed. His day jobs for the last twenty years have revolved around space, so it’s no surprise he writes primarily science fiction. Kevin’s debut novel will be published by Red Adept Publishing in late 2015. You can find him online at www.kevinikenberry.com or on Twitter @TheWriterIke

 

 

Cracking the Whip: Hard Enough, But Not Too Hard

A Guest Post by Travis Heermann

Discipline.

A professional writing career lives and dies by discipline—or the lack thereof.

Maybe you have talent, but talent is only the beginning.

There’s honing one’s craft (got to practice and study until professional-level prose is automatic). There’s learning how to deal with rejection (growing a callus on one’s heart). There’s learning how to market one’s work effectively (most writers revile, loathe, and despise self-promotion). There’s connecting with a community of other writers, finding your tribe (who will sustain you through the long, dark nights of the soul).

And then there’s the simple fact that one has to insert one’s backside (Tab A) into the chair (Slot B), apply one’s hands to scribing tools (Assembly C), and wiggle them around until beauty and pathos are released into existence.

It all sounds so simple. But if it were, the world would harbor more professional writers.

It’s easy to pour something onto the page when the flush of inspiration is hot and new, when the Muse is sitting in one’s lap with a martini in one hand, stroking your hair with the other, and whispering thrills into your ear. Call it what you will—The Muse, inspiration, your subconscious, whatever—I’m talking about those moments when you realize two hours have passed and there are many more words on the page now than there were before, artful words poured forth from the chalice of your amazing subconscious.

However, the Muse is a fickle tart and simply doesn’t show up every day.

But you’re the professional. You have to show up to work even when the Muse doesn’t. You have to slog it out, even when the Muse is out there draping her(him)self over the lap of some other writer. The bottom line is this: the Muse most often visits writers who are working.

It is working that’s the hard part. Carving out a writing schedule when other demands on your time swarm like rabid termites out of the woodwork, and then guarding that time like a snarling, viciously aroused mama tiger, is where the discipline to finish books comes from.

One of the best ways to develop writing discipline is to set daily goals.

  • A paragraph.
  • A page.
  • A thousand words.
  • A chapter.

These are all good starts. A thousand words a day is a great round number, because it means in 60-90 days you will have a completed novel draft. If you write 250 words a day, a single page, you’ll have a novel draft in a year.

Regularly meeting a simple, achievable goal helps develop good, steady production habits. After a while, you may find that it becomes easier and easier to meet your production goals. In that case, try ramping up a little. Challenge yourself. Instead of a thousand words a day, try 1,500.

You will find, once you establish reasonably regular butt-in-chair discipline, that the Muse finds you increasingly sexy and comes over for trysts more frequently.

Nevertheless, there are limits. You should push those limits, yes, but you must make sure your goals are achievable. If there is no way you can write 3,000 words in a day, making that your goal, only to fail every single day unless you skip showering and sleep and feeding the kids, is a fabulous way to dive headfirst into the crazy pool. It will destroy your confidence like those dreams where you’re walking around naked at work. The Muse likes you best if you’re properly groomed and smelling nice.

For the last two years, I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo. This year was a real struggle, because I lost more than a week of writing time to travel and household emergencies. But I succeeded—51,000 words in about three weeks. It was a struggle. I had to make sacrifices. Friends and family saw me less often, because I had a goal. And I made it. That success alone was a tremendous confidence boost.

Fortunately I have learned to surround myself with people who understand and support my goals. They miss me, but they’ll get over it when the book is done.

In the coming months, I have a number of goals.

  • Finish the third volume of my Ronin Trilogy, Spirit of the Ronin.
  • Write seven short stories for various anthologies.
  • Launch, promote, and oversee the Spirit of the Ronin Kickstarter campaign.

Creating and running a Kickstarter campaign relates squarely to goal setting, but that’s a topic for another time, except to say I would really appreciate your support. The campaign will launch in mid-January, 2015. Please follow this link to view the Kickstarter campaign, and consider supporting this project.

Then go put your butt in the chair and invite the Muse over for a booty call.

Identify Yourself

A Guest Post by Anton T. Russell

In this writing game, the whole literary world and all that, I’ve listened to many discussions and have read many articles on the subject of being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the title that best identified me. Many others involved in the discussions also could not quite agree on where they stood.

Since I’m not a bestseller, or widely known, finding a measure of success was very difficult for me, as I didn’t have those good days where I sold X amount of copies. As a result, I had always thought I was failing. I mean, really … I had just published a book and was also contracted by a publisher. Surely I could do better than that.

Uh, no. Write it and they will read it? Yeah, that wasn’t working out the way I had planned it. Clear failure, right?

It wasn’t until I talked with some trusted friends that I was able to understand that I wasn’t failing. Oh, they didn’t tell me what to look at, or how to measure my efforts. All they did was have that same ole discussion about being an author vs. writer vs. novelist … etcetera, and I was actually a part of it. Then it hit me.

I am a storyteller.

Beginning—plot twist—middle—plot twist—plot twist—end, and any other formula you’ve heard can be thrown in. It’s part of why I call it, “The Writing Game.” But that’s a-whole-nother-topic.

At any rate, by defining myself, I can now measure my successes and failures. See, I know where I stand, what I’m trying to accomplish. And let me tell you; I can pen one helluva story. That’s how I determine my successes, of course. The failures are just as clear. They’re the revisions that feel a whole lot like re-writes. The reader doesn’t know this happens, though. Still, when I have to re-write nearly a whole story, I’m not the easiest person to get along with. It means dumping more than 20k to 50k words. It that ain’t failing…

Yeah, so I tell stories. It’s a passion that grows within me each time my hands are idle and my mind wanders. Sometimes I find myself running to grab my super-secret notebook and adding details to a story-line I’ve yet to start working on. Then, when I’m in the writing groove and my office door is closed, I am as focused as a surgeon. For me, that’s winning. It is a tremendous victory, I tell you.

Succinctly, know what you’re doing, know how to get to where you want to be, and know what you are. Until you do those three things, you will forever measure yourself against others. The thing about that is; they WILL have had different experiences and backgrounds than you do. Oh, and success might mean something entirely different to them.

Although setbacks, stumbles, and missteps will seem hound your every effort, if you do YOUR thing to the best of your ability, you will find true measures of success.