I’m posting a little early this weekend as Sunday, the usual day I post, will be loaded with errand running. I’m seeing to some last minute details in preparation for Ancient Cit Con next weekend, July 20-22. For those of you who don’t know about it, it’s a multi-genre convention in Jacksonville, FL, catering to gamers, anime, science fiction, and fantasy. I’ll be on several panels at the con with my fellow authors from Trinity Gateways, LJ Gastineau and Tricia Sparks. We’ll have a table in the dealer’s area, selling our books and connecting with readers. If your in town, stop by for a chat and pick up a good read.
Publication Release Date Determined
Descent Into Darkness: His Command, the fourth installement in the series, will be out on November 3, 2012, as an e-book. I have only 9 chapters left to write, then I’ll step away from it for a month before beginning my editing/revision phase. I’ll continue to post rough draft chapters through August, then the story will be pulled from site as I get it ready for publication. This is the longest segment in the series so far, and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
For any of you still looking to submit disturbing short stories in the horror genre for the Shadows of the Mind anthology, the cut off is August 1, 2012, so please be sure to get your submissions in. As assistant editor on this project I’ve seen some really good stories come through and I look forward to seeing more. If you’d like to know what we’re looking for, or need a refresher on our guidelines, visit the Trinity Gateways Submissions Page.
Even if we don’t accept your story, we are giving constructive feedback so that you will be able to learn and improve as a writer. We’ve had several authors who have improved their stories, resubmitted, and been accepted so don’t get discouraged by a rejection email from our Acquisitions Editor, LJ Gastineau. Every good author knows that constructive feedback or criticism is vital to the development and growth of every writer. Since we’re both authors and editors, LJ and I will do what we can to provide that feedback for the submissions we’re reviewing. Yes, it takes longer to go through the stories in our inbox, but it’s also something that we believe in. Seeing those resubmitted stories, seeing the improvements made, and being able to accept them is a wonderful reward. It’s our fervent hope that we will never see the day when we can’t take the time to give that feedback.
It’s been great in my world recently. I’m overworked but that seems to be an acceptable price to pay for everything else. Let me give you the bullet version of what’s been going on:
- TrinityGateways.net has been going through submission for their anthology, Shadows of the Mind. Submissions are still open so if you’re interested, please check out the submission and payment details HERE.
- I’ll be at Ancient City Con with my partners at TrinityGateways.net! We have three panels lined up and will be selling books. For more details about the con, click HERE. For more details about I and the Trinity gals will be doing, click HERE.
- I’ll be printing an omnibus volume of Descent Into Darkness to sell at the con. Titled He Begins, it will include His Own, Her Lord, and His Beast, representing half of the series. These printed books will also be available for sale online before then — I’ll provide more details once I have them.
- I’ve finished the rough draft for Descent Into Darkness: His Beast. Chapters will continue to be posted on the site, but you may have noticed that I’ve taken down the “full” abridged version of the draft. I’ll be starting the edit/revision phase shortly. The e-book version of His Beast will be available for purchase in May.
- My partners and I have been discussing expanding the TrinityGateways website. This means a ton of more work for me, as I’m the webmaster of both my site and TrinityGateways.net. But if it works the way we want it to, there will be new features for users that we think everyone will appreciate. I’m to begin the testing phase for the new upgrades in the very near future.
- I’ve started work on the cover art for Descent Into Darkness: His Beast. I’m about a third of the way through it. It’s going to be a little different from the previous two covers, which I hope goes over well. Once that’s complete, I start work on the cover art for the omnibus, He Begins.
- The Evil Necessity that is the day job has recently implemented overtime for my department. While its not mandatory for me to participate, there’s a ton of stuff I won’t be able to get done without it. I don’t want to have to explain why things aren’t getting done to my CFO, so I’ll have to work some OT. This will, of course, impact all my other work — my real jobs, as I prefer to think of them — but I will endeavor to keep that impact as minimal as possible.
As you can see, I’m super busy right now. Most of it has to do with the work that I love, though, and that helps a great deal.
Chapters 19-21 for Descent Into Darkness: His Beast have been posted. Feel free to read and leave a comment or three. As this story will be beginning the edit/revision process soon, each posting will only be up for two weeks before being taken down again. Read it while you can.
That’s pretty much it for now. I’ve got to get back to the background and story notes required for Descent Into Darkness #4. It hasn’t been titled yet, but I’ve got a few possibilities roaming around in my head for it. We’ll see which one wins out.
First, let me apologize for not getting this entry up sooner; it was supposed to have gone up yesterday, 10/15/11. I had most of this drafted out already but needed to finish it up and proof it. However, yesterday was also my birthday and I got sidetracked by friends and family. So you’re getting today. Please forgive me.
The Horror Blogging & Social Media panel was held at 7pm on Friday, 10/7/11, the first day of the convention. I was a panelist, along with Kevin A. Ranson (MovieCrypt.com and author of The Spooky Chronicles), Stephen Biro (author of Hellucination), LJ Gastineau, and Scott Kenemore (author of The Zen of Zombie and Zombie CEO). Scott moderated, doing an excellent job of keeping us on track as we discussed how we, as writers, used social media and blogs, why we used them, and what we found worked best.
For the most part, the consensus was that social media was a tool to get promote ourselves and our work. We discussed how using various social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, could reach a broad swath of an author’s potential audience.
Personally, I’m not a fan of social media. I prefer face-to-face contact, but I do not, in any way, discount the importance of social media as a tool. There is only one drawback that I really object to: the amount of time it all seems to take. There ways around this, however, so I’ve no excuse for not using the tool.
Facebook allows you to link your FB Pages to your Twitter account, so that anything posted on FB will also hit there. Twitter, in turn, can be linked to your LinkedIn account. That’s three of the major social networks and you have only to post on Facebook once for that post to appear on all of them.
For WordPress users, there are several plug-ins that will do that the same. One will publish your update messages or new blog entries to your main Facebook profile. Another will do the same on your Facebook Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Delicious, and many more.
All of this drastically reduces the amount of time I spend updating social media accounts. I don’t need hours on end, I don’t need a check list. That makes me happy.
I do budget time for social media. I try to get on there every other day, spending 30 minutes to an hour checking things out, responding to comments and status, etc. It takes that long because I like to read blogs, which I lump in the same time slot.
If I didn’t do all of this, I wouldn’t be able to sell anything. Advertising works for a reason and social media is an advertising venue. More, it’s free advertising. As to what I’m selling, it’s not just my fiction, it’s myself as an author, as a brand. It’s important to let people know that Doris Ross, Author, exists, that I have published works out there. If they don’t know, they won’t seek out my stuff and buy it.
So even though I’m not a fan of social media, I’ll use it. I’d be stupid not to.
Blogging was the other topic of the panel. Kevin A. Ranson stated that an entry that includes something relating to currents events will increase the number of visitors. Tying that into whatever you’re blogging about will enable your blog to get picked up by the
search engines and place your blog higher on their list of results. Scott Kenemore mentioned that a major attractant for a blog is frequent posts of new content.
Speaking for myself, it’s sometimes very hard to come up with new content regularly. I have a day job, I write content for my website and work on projects for TrinityGateways.net. I’m juggling book writing and social/family time (hey, everyone needs some down time) in among all of that. Time is a commodity that I sorely wish I had more of. If I had the time, I’d blog every day. I don’t have the time, so I blog when I can.
Whether the issue is time or inclination, not all writers can blog or deal with the social media regularly. During the panel, an audience member asked that. Steven Schulzman gave the answer: if you can’t or won’t do it yourself, find someone who’ll do it for free or hire someone to do it. It’s that important.
Another subject that was thrown in was reviews, which often show up in blogs. We all prefer good reviews, but even bad ones can great publicity if we use them right. Stephen Biro intimated that his first independent author release, The Dead Baby Joke Book, got such bad reviews and generated so many complaints that he actually made sales after his book was banned from Smashwords. People wanted to know what was so bad about
it so they went out and bought it. (Humanity is a fascinating and sometimes strange species.)
Yet using select quotes from a bad review can generate positive interest. Something that says “This book is the greatest piece of crap I’ve ever read” can be modified – and still be a quote – in this way “This book is the greatest…I’ve ever read”. So long as the omitted words are replaced by the handy ellipses (the “…” for those of you unfamiliar with the term) it’s still a legitimate quote. So if you ever get a bad review, don’t blow up at the reviewer. Smile, thank them kindly, ask for permission to use their review, then make your quote selections carefully.
As for good reviews, handle them like the gold they are. Include them, or links to them, in your blog. If there enough room in synopsis field for your book on, say, Amazon, include that review there as well. People like to see a good review for a book as much as the author does.
That wraps up the panel on Horror Blogging & Social Media. No, it wasn’t specific to horror – other than the authors who were panelists – but it was still worth going to for writers who just starting out or considering venturing into the somewhat daunting world of online media.
For those of you who don’t already know, Spooky Empire is a horror convention held in early October every year in Orlando, FL. They have guest celebrities from popular shows such as True Blood and Ghost Hunters as well as horror classics like Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street. Rock stars are also invited to make an appearance. In this way, Spooky tends to be a fairly well-rounded convention.
This year’s guests included Jon Provost, Clive Barker, Malcolm McDowell, Barry Bostwick, Miko Hughes, Gunnar Hansen, Derek Mears, Butch Patrick, Doug Bradley, Tom Atkins, Jake Busey, Steven Adler, Barbara Crampton, Michael Berryman, Dave Tango, Steve Gonsalves, and Mike Martinez, to name a few. I would have loved to have gotten Clive Barker’s signature on one of his books, but the lines were way too long. Ah, well. Maybe next time.
The Author Track included Linda S. Cowden (aka Auntie Maime), Scott Kenemore, John Catapano, Kevin A. Ranson (aka Grim D. Reaper of MovieCrypt.com), Stavros, Brad Linaweaver, Rob Fox, Richard Lee Byers, Vince Courtney, Chris Berman, Marina Sergeyeva, Mitch Hyman, Monique Desir, Tori Nicole, Steven Schulzman, LJ Gastineau, E. Rose Sabin, Bill Hatfield, and myself – again, to name a few. Everyone had at least one writing panel they spoke on and a few hours scheduled at the signing table. The writing panels varied from specifics on the industry, to writing mechanics, to social media as a tool, to the subject of horror and what scares people. I’ll be touching on some of those panels in later blog entries.
The dealers’ or vendors’ room is packed when you go in. I’ve attended this con for three years now and have never seen it otherwise during con hours. There are the expected photos, movies, toys, T-shirts, posters, horror-themed art, professional grade costume make-up, and latex appliances available for sale. You can also find books (of almost any fiction genre save romance), gothic style jewelry, fantasy art, figurines, steam-punk paraphernalia, glass smoking pipes, and props. My favorite prop was the heart-shaped candy box filled with empty wrappers and a bloody heart – the organ. It was very realistic. There was also coffee being sold by The Coffee Shop of Horror, whose Wetworks coffee, named for the zombie book by Phil Nutman, is pretty good.
Spooky hosts the Freakshow Horror Film Festival and screens indie movies throughout the event. I was not able to sit in on any of the screenings. I did, however, keep hearing about a zombie musical which was apparently done very well. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the title and the program gives no synopsis/teaser for any of the movies they showed.
Of course, I can’t forget to mention the one event that Spooky Empire is reknowned for: the Zombie Walk. Starting in the parking lot of Uno’s and ending at the Wyndam Resort Hotel, a horde of zombies ambles on. Some look they walked off a movie set to meander down International Dr. Others are more amateurish. Yet no matter what they look like, they all shuffle, moan, and play to any camera that turns their way. It’s something worth seeing.
Overall, Spooky Empire was a lot of fun this year, despite the non-stop rain that Tropical Storm Irwin dumped on Orlando.
This weekend is the Spooky Empire horror convention in Orlando, FL. I’ll be there as a guest panelist for all three days of the event. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there!
At present, I’m on three panels:
Friday @ 7:00pm – Horror Blogs & Ghouls of Social Media
Saturday @ 3:00pm – The Great Debate: Print Book vs. Ebook
Saturday @ 9:00pm – Editing: A Great Writer’s Secret Weapon
You’ll also have the opportunity to meet me in person. Come by the signing table at 6:00pm on Friday, 7:00pm on Saturday, or 2:00pm on Saturday to say hi.