Tag Archives: Sam Knight

Meet the Fictorians: Guy Anthony De Marco

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a crisp winter day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Guy Anthony De Marco

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Guy! How are you doing and what are you drinking today?

Guy Anthony De Marco (GADM): Coffee. Lots of coffee. Coffee with coffee on top. It’s a good thing I’m not a single-malt Scotch drinker because I’d be spilling my glass of Glenfiddich 40-year old single malt all over the carpet because of the caffeine jitters.

Sometimes I toss in an Irish Breakfast tea to mix things up, or I drink the really hard stuff — egg nog.

KL: Oo, Glenfiddich. I like Balvenie myself. Don’t even get me started on egg nog. Yum! Okay, back on subject… You’ve been a Fictorian for quite some time. When did you join, and could you tell the fine people what all do you do for us?

GADM: I was invited by Quincy J. Allen (link: http://www.quincyallen.com) to write a couple of articles a few years ago, and then I woke up months later and I was a member. Since then, I write the occasional article, post a comment or two, and poke around the back end of the website. I’m familiar and comfortable doing so because I have over three decades in the Information Technology field. I’m not the site admin, but I do keep a watch on things and install updates, plus the little things such as dumping the spam out of the comments. We get over 50 spam comments a day, so that’s a sign the site is spreading. If only the spammers purchased books, we’d all be millionaires. Or at least hundredaires.

I’m also the unofficial “I need a post by tonight” guy. If you see several posts with my byline, odds are there were spots that needed an article. I write fast, and I’m now even working with Dragon Dictate, which helped me to hit my NaNoWriMo 2016 goal in two days.

KL: Not only do you help us out with our website, you are downright prolific when it comes to how much writing you produce. When you’re working on a project, how many words do you average a day, and in a week?

GADM: I have a bunch of pseudonyms I write under, so they all need to be fed. I think my record was 48K words in 12 hours. My usual rate is 2.5K/day on a slow day to 6K/day on a “looming deadline” day. Dragon is boosting those numbers lately, but the first drafts are pretty horrific to look at. Between drafting and editing, it all balances out in the end.

KL: I’m in awe, really. So what’s some of the best advice you’ve received about being productive? What works for you that you could pass on to the rest of us?

GADM: I guess the best advice is just doing the basics. Place your buttocks in a comfy chair and write so it becomes a habit. Understand that your first draft is not a polished manuscript. Allow yourself to suck and tell the editor in your head that she will get her turn later after you’ve dumped the basics onto the digital page. That last piece worked the best for me as far as productivity.

KL: You’ve written short stories for anthologies along with long fiction. What’s your favorite short story you’ve written, what’s it about, and where can we buy it?

GADM: My favorite short story is “Sally the Baker” from the early 1980s. It’s long out of print, although I’m thinking about reworking the story. The original is about a group of adventurers who force a gent named Sally to join their quest to take on an evil wizard. Unfortunately, Sally is an amazing baker with no other skills. In the end, he does save the day when they burst into a high-level evil wizard conference and Sally tosses a handful of flour into the air and starts screaming “Death Dust!” at the top of his lungs. The wizards scatter, the adventurers recover the item they were looking for, and they all escape with their hides.

For a still-available short story, I’d recommend “Grubstake” from Supernatural Colorado or “The Fate Worse Than Death” in Unidentified Funny Objects 3, which I co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson.

KL: You have a number of titles available on Amazon. Do you find that you like writing short fiction or long fiction better?

GADM: I like writing drabbles or flash fiction best because it takes a lot of work to hit the word count, especially the 100-word drabbles. It’s like writing poetry for me, which I dabble in. As far as prose, I like short and long fiction equally. I write novels like a collection of short stories. That’s how I outline long works…a series of short stories in a tight flying formation.

KL: What are you currently working on?

GADM: I’m in the midst of NaNoWriMo at the moment. I hit my 50K in a couple of days. My record is over 300K. I have a cyberpunk novel in work, plus two horror novels and a bunch of erotica novellas. I’m trying to get 20 erotica works done to launch a new pseudonym.

KL: Ambitious! Who are some authors that inspire you?

GADMTonya L. De Marco is always helping me by editing and finding more stories to write. Kevin J. Anderson inspires me to write more because he is almost at the point where he thinks of a story and it magically appears on paper. Sam Knight inspires me to treat others with respect and kindness. I also enjoy reading lots of classics from Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the rest of the usual gang — plus digging up old pulps and enjoying forgotten speculative fiction authors.

KL: Yeah, that Sam Knight is good people! Other than advice on productivity, what advice have you received through your years of writing that has stuck with you?

GADMFind a group of like-minded individuals and work together, like a local writing collective. Seek out folks who know how to edit and are not afraid to tell you what works and what sucks. Find beta readers and treat them like gold. Always be nice to others, even if they’re not. Especially if they’re not…they need to see how a professional acts. Support everyone and never talk down or bad-mouth anyone. It’s easy to pick on authors, such as Stephenie Meyer, who wrote Twilight. I’ve been on several panels where they bash on her, but I always say she was laughing all the way to the bank. She wrote something that caught the attention of the reading public, and even though it’s not my cup of tea, it sold well and made her a household name. I’d like that to happen to me someday.

I would also recommend joining a professional writing organization. Some of them can help you on the way to greatness, sorta like Slytherin House. I’ve been impressed with what Cat Rambo has been doing with SFWA, so I’d suggest considering them first.

KL: And finally, what’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written?

GADM: To be honest, I don’t particularly have a favorite. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with “Putting a Fresh Clip in My Revolver,” “My Muse is Dead,” or DMCA Tools. All of those generated some good feedback from Fictorians readers.


If you have any questions for Guy, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Now What?

A guest post by Sam Knight.

7363117Another day another dollar. Another year, another… Hmmm. A dollar. Yeesh! That’s about what it feels like. When did writing turn into a job? I didn’t sign up for this. Did I? I mean, I guess I did. I didn’t mean to. It was supposed to be fun.

Last year, I attended enough conventions that I actually lost count. Not like I went to a hundred or anything like that. I averaged a little over a convention a month—as a speaking guest, not an attendee or a vendor (although I was also an attendee and a vendor at most of them, too). There is a big difference in the drain on your personal energy. As much as going to conventions and meeting other writers and making new fans revitalizes me, staying in hotels, traveling, and being “always on” wears me out.

By the end of the con season, I actually skipped a couple of conventions. That really surprised me. The conventions were a major part of my personal goals for 2013. Heck, I even got to be on panels at both Denver and Salt Lake City Comic Cons! That was a personal goal I thought would take a lot longer to reach.

But it cost me. It drained me. I still have a family who wants me at home, kids I need to make arrangements for when I’m going to be gone, and money that hates me and runs away at the slightest hint I may have woken up.

I made most of my money by going to conventions and selling my books in 2013. Conversely, going to conventions was also my biggest expense. There is a tradeoff there, a give and take. But there was a hidden take I wasn’t seeing.

My word count, my writing production, suffered horribly. I can’t write while driving or speaking at conventions. I have met a couple of people who can, but I’m not one of them. The best I can hope for is a few flash fictions over coffee, or maybe a half of a short story.

But that is where the money really is—in my word count. The more I write, the more stuff I have to sell, and the more I sell… well, you get the point.

And I do need money to keep doing this. I am not independently wealthy, so I can’t afford to have this be the most expensive hobby ever. Even when my hotel and my vending booth are paid for by a convention, I still have expenses. And bills. And kids.

So that is what I am setting my goal for in 2014. Making money—by writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I intend to be perfectly reasonable about it. I have no delusions that I will sell a bazillion copies of anything. But I have also realized that I can’t keep pitching the same things I’ve already sold. I need more. I need a back catalogue. I need new fans to realize I have ten more things they want to buy. I need to write!

But then, I’ve been there before.

When I first started out, that’s what I did. I wrote. All the time. All by myself. And I felt like I needed to get out and meet people, go to conventions, meet other authors. And I did. Maybe too much. It kind of wore me out.

So for 2014, I plan on attending conventions, but maybe not quite as many. I plan on meeting other writers and getting together with those I already know, to revitalize my writing energy, but I will be more selective about where and when and how. And I am upping my writing game. I am going to find a way to get more work out there into the world.

When all is said and done, my goal in 2014 is to find balance. I want to find the sweet spot where I can write until I’m ready to take a break, yet still be able to take the break because I don’t have three things due already. I want to go to conventions, yet still feel giddy about going. I want to be able to run things like a small business, yet still think of myself as a writer. I want to stop thinking “Ach! When did this become a job! It was supposed to be fun,” and start thinking “This is a job? How fun!”

Guest Writer Bio: 

Sam Knight PicSam Knight refuses to be pinned down into a genre. If the idea grabs him, he writes it. Once upon a time, he was known to quote books the way some people quote movies, but now he claims having a family has made him forgetful, as a survival adaptation. He can be found at www.samknight.com and contacted at sam@samknight.com.


A Smile and a Handshake

A guest post by Sam Knight.

Once upon a time, that was how people did business. A smile and a handshake was good enough for nearly any transaction. Why? Because people knew each other. They knew about each other, they knew where/what/when/how about each other. If someone was a stranger, they often got the benefit of the doubt, because everyone knew that if you weren’t as good as your word, you weren’t any good at all. And all it took was one time to ruin that.

Someone going back on their word was fuel for the gossip mongers like no other. Speculation would run rampant about why, about how everyone could have misjudged before, and about what must have happened to change a person.

Why doesn’t it work anymore? Why can’t you take out a loan from the local bank that way? No one knows each other nowadays. No one takes the time to stop and meet someone. We still meet people, but it’s because we were forced to work in the cubicle next to them, or after we’ve seen them by the coffee machine for the tenth time. Very few people go out of their way to meet a stranger anymore. Why? Because strangers recoil from being approached. In this day and age, everyone knows that someone wearing a smile is trying to sell us something, and we avoid them.

Fundamentally, we all want to be liked, so we go out of our way to do things that make people like us, or we avoid doing things that people will hold against us. And never forget—first impressions are everything.

There is nothing like a face to face connection with someone to make them like or dislike you. But if you can make them like you, it will take work to turn that into dislike in the future.

What is my point?

This month’s theme on the Fictorians is Marketing and Promotion and a ‘smile and a handshake’ is one of the strongest forms there is.

Why else would politicians still bother with it in this day and age? Everyone knows they are full of ‘it’. Everyone knows the promises are hollow. No one likes a politician. So why do they do it?

Because a smile and a handshake works. Human contact works.

A form of marketing and promotion that is often overlooked, by those not in the know, is attending social functions. Whether it is a Comic Con or a local book signing by an author you’ve never met, every social function is a great opportunity to market yourself in a real and effective way. And that includes when you are at the grocery store or your kid’s soccer game.

Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta are quick to teach their students (at places like their Superstars Writing Seminars) that you should always wear your ‘professional’ face because you never know who the person you are about to meet is (or even the person across the aisle listening quietly). And there is a good reason for that. That random person you just shook hands with, or who saw your infinite patience with someone desperately asking to be punched in the throat, could be anyone. They could be an agent, and editor, a publisher, a movie producer, or just a rich benefactor looking for someone worthy of spending their money on.

I’m not kidding.

I wouldn’t expect to ever meet a movie producer that way at the grocery store, but if you are at a convention or something similar it can be done that way, and from my experience it usually is.

Take the time to meet the people around you at a convention. After you meet them, let them introduce you to the people they know. You will be surprised at how small the world suddenly becomes when you play ‘Seven Degrees of George R.R. Martin’. You will also be surprised at who will remember what a great person you are when they decided they need an artist/writer/editor/chauffer for William Shatner.

And—this is important—don’t forget your ‘professional’ face. You never know who that person standing off to the side listening to your conversation is. You need to make a good impression. At the very least, they may be your next fan. A real, honest-to-goodness, love you for who they think you are fan who will tell everyone they ever meet what a great person you are and that everyone should buy your book.

Warning! This is not the fast way to build up your marketing and publicity! This is the slow burn that needs to never be forgotten while you do all of the other things. This is the foundation you need to stand upon.

If you make one fan like the one mentioned above at each social event you attend, you will have a better career than most. Your fan base will be stronger, and less fickle, than any you could acquire in any other way. If you impress that one right person, a year later, when they see you again, your career could change forever.

I speak from experience on that one. Trust me. ‘Professional’ face. Meet people.

Get out from behind your desk, and meet people in person. Press the flesh, so to speak. Show people you are witty, intelligent, personable, and affable. Exude confidence in your attitude and demeanor (without being an overbearing jerk!) Go out and meet people and convince them that they need to know more about you, about what you write, about what makes you special.

I know this is hard. It is a stressful thought for those of us who like to live in the dark with only the glow of a monitor to keep us company, but fundamentally, we humans are social creatures, and the more you go out into the world and meet people, the more they will accept you. The more they accept you, the more you will accept yourself. And the more you will feel confident enough to market and promote yourself in person. It’s a wonderful circle of positive feedback—and opportunity.

Never doubt the power of a smile and a handshake.


P.S. This can be done wrong. It can be done horribly wrong! I do mean meet people, not ‘try to sell them your book.’ There is a difference, and they can be done at the same time, but honestly, when was the last time you wanted to get to know a car salesman or someone who seemed like they were stalking you? The point of this is to sell yourself. And if that means ‘know when to walk away’, that’s what it means. Staying in someone’s face when they don’t want you there is bad juju and that reputation will precede you! (See earlier comment on gossip!)

Guest Writer Bio:

Sam Knight refuses to be pinned down into a genre. If the idea grabs him, he writes it. Once upon a time, he was known to quote books the way some people quote movies, but now he claims having a family has made him forgetful, as a survival adaptation. He can be found at his website and contacted at sam@samknight.com.