Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shore Leave 40 Art Show Results

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As I'd posted here and on Patreon, I entered a few pieces of my artwork in the Shore Leave art show this year. And it worked out better than I'd hoped! I sold a print and a painting!

The first one that sold, Hyacinths, was a print of a computer-generated image based on a photograph of my mother's hyacinths.

A low-res sample image of Hyacinths

I was surprised this was the first to go. I didn't think a flower picture would draw much interest at a sci-fi convention.

The second picture that sold was Alien Dawn #1. It didn't get picked up until late Sunday, so I spent most of the weekend wondering if the person who bid on it would come back.

A low-res sample of Alien Dawn #1
Alien Dawn #1
(acrylic on canvas board)

Well, they did!

Best of all, I got my first check as an artist.

Woo-hoo! Check and letter from the Shore Leave 40 art show.
Check and letter from the Shore Leave 40 art show

To be honest, that's not true. The best part was finding out that someone liked my artwork enough to buy it. But the check is nice—even though Shore Leave took a cut.

The third picture I brought, Gear Girl, generated a lot of interest, but no one bought it. I thought it would be the first to go. I guess I'll bring it back next year with a bunch more artwork! At least that's the plan.

Speaking of which, I have to come up with some ideas. I know I want to do an Alien Dawn #2. And Lisa Shambrook has me thinking about dragons. And trees. I need to do a few sketches.

I know, I'm supposed to be writing, too. There's not enough time!

BTW, I'll have more on Shore Leave in coming blog posts.

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, July 19, 2018

My Cocky Blog Post

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Just when you thought you knew how weird and shady the publishing business is, you find an article like this one on The Verge (Bad Romance) website. It's about how self-publishing romance novels is done and how some people game the system. And it's about Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service. And court fights. Even deaths threats. Nothing brings romance to mind faster than death threats. I'm being facetious, of course, unless you're in a really bad relationship.

Just a token image of a pen and quill to make the blog prettier

Some of the things I'd heard about before—stuffing the books with junk to make them longer and ways to make Amazon think the whole book was read when it wasn't—but I didn't know about copywriting words used in a book series and the how some of the best-seller lists work. There's a lot in the story that's more than a little scary. There are serious amounts of money being tossed around for influence.

I can't explain it any better than the article, so go read it instead. Click on the link at the beginning of my post and it will take you there. Or, if you're a self-published author, maybe you shouldn't! You might change your mind about writing and go into a field that's a little more sane—like politics.

I just hope I don't get sued for my blog title!

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a handsome (so we're told) prince* in the land of Amazon had an idea.

"I'll create a platform to help beginning and lesser-known authors write and publish stories based on established fictional universes!" the prince exclaimed in his odd, though native, Princeton tongue.

image of quill and parchment

He waved his magic wand and created Kindle Worlds where a famous author would allow others to add to the body of work he or she had created. There were guidelines in place, of course, to protect the original author from damage, but it allowed those not-so-famous writers to join the party. It seemed like a good deal for everyone. The famous authors get publicity for their work and the struggling authors get the benefit of writing stories for a world with which the reader would be familiar. The readers of those worlds would benefit by having more stories than ever to chose from and enjoy. The Prince would take a cut of the profits.

Then one day, a greedy ogre (who had been disguised as the aforementioned handsome prince) decided it wasn't worth the time and expense to do all this. The payoff wasn't enough. The ogre took out a sword—or pen, as the case may be—and slew Kindle Worlds. Darkness spread over the land.

End of story.

Not much of a tale, I suppose, but that's the way it looks to many writers. No hero to save the day here. Was the prince really an ogre or was Kindle Worlds an empty, deteriorating wing of his publishing palace? I don't know. What I do know is that closing it down threw a bucket of cold water onto the plans of some aspiring writers.

The effect of all this became apparent when I checked on the author page of a writer I'm familiar with: Terri Deno.

A short while ago, Terri had a nice collection of works to display.

Terri Deno's book before Kindle Worlds went away

Now, not so much...

Even if you had the book's URL (Melody of Love used as an example here), all you got was this:

Even when the books still were on Amazon, the links went nowhere...

No offense to Barney, but that's not what I was looking for.

Terri had done the work and played by the rules, but that didn't matter somehow. Three of her five books were for Kindle Worlds. Now the books are gone. Can they be rewritten and published in a format that won't violate the rules Amazon and the original author have put in place? Sure, but it's hard enough to write a book once. Writing it twice seems like punishment.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it's take charge of your own destiny. Easier said than done when you're a writer. Or be patient; the most beautiful flowers are often the last to bloom. Or those who seem most eager to help aren't always your friend. Pick one. Or three. Best of all—write your own.

* He graduated from Princeton, so I'm assuming he was a prince. I could be wrong.

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shore Leave 40 - Friday Part II

Note: This post was updated July 19, 2018 to correct a typo.

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Although there wasn't as many workgroups that dealt directly with writing this year, I did attend the Anthologies: Share the Love panel on Friday. There was a lot of joking going on as it was starting about how the panelists outnumbered the attendees. Eventually it did fill up until the number was almost equal, but interest seems to have faded from past conventions.

A few members of the anthology panel waiting for attendees to arrive.
A few members of the anthology panel
waiting for attendees to arrive.

The panelist for this group were Greg Cox ( Moderator ), Phil Giunta, Jenifer Rosenberg, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Christopher L. Bennett, Joshua Palmatier, and Richard C. White. The discussion points for this panels were:
  1. What attracts readers to short story collections? 
  2. Do you prefer themed collections, single author collections, or a Whitman’s Sampler of stories? 
  3. What draws authors to write for anthologies?
The discussion started with the moderator mentioning that conventional wisdom says that short story collections/anthologies don't sell. It was agreed that print versions don't sell as well as novel, and many larger publishing houses do not want to deal with them. It was mentioned that they do sell in electronic format, but are often not marketed ans anthologies or collections (subscriptions or similar formats are used). One reason anthologies don't sell is they do not have the power of a single author (with a strong reputation) to sell them. It was mentioned that small presses often do better with anthologies.

One problem with anthologies can be that several authors may write similar stories and that can make an anthology boring (or make the editors work harder). As some of the panelists had edited anthologies, there were a number of horror stories passed on about this scenario.

They asked writers who wish to write for anthologies to come up with a number of ideas and eliminate the most obvious and the most outlandish ideas to come up with a story that has the greatest chance for success.

When answering why anthologies (or collections) were popular, many said they could read a complete story each night or whenever they had a small amount of time. Others mentioned that if they didn't like a particular author or story they could skip past it and start a new story. Some just liked having a variety of stories on a theme. It was noted, however, many people prefer novels to short stories and will avoid anthologies, sometimes complaining to publishers that they did not understand that the book they purchased was an anthology. Some even demanded their money back (even though it was clearly marked on the cover as an anthology or collection).

Those who had edited anthologies said that the hardest part of putting together an anthology is picking the story order. The two best should go in the front and the back, but it isn't always easy to chose!

Finally, they asked why would someone write a short story or an anthology? Here were the answers provided:

  1. The challenge of the writing prompt or theme (Can I write a story for this?)
  2. To test an idea for a longer story
  3. To have a place for an idea that won't support a long story
  4. Nostalgia, even if it won't pay off economically
  5. To expand the breadth and the writer's ideas/works
  6. To challenge yourself as a writer (Can I write this idea as a short story?)

All in all, it was a good panel with many real-life experiences and tips passed on to the writers who did attend!

After the panel I made my way down to the Hunt Valley rooms to listen to the end of the Okudas talk about graphics. Michael and Denise Okuda did a lot of the graphics for Star Trek.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I attended the Meet the Pros party in the main hall. Lots of sci-fi authors gather to display and sell their books. Talked to Joshua Palmatier again - hoping to someday have a story in one of his anthologies.

Meet the pros - Shore Leave 40 - Friday night
Meet the Pros - authors selling their books

It was getting late, so we headed up to our rooms. On the way I glanced into the art show room and noticed that on of my pieces had sold. Of the three I brought, I figured "Hyacinths" would be a tough sell since it is hardly the right venue for flower art, but that's the one that went first. I hope whoever got it enjoys it!

You can see (watch the video!) more about my art (for sale) and the books I brought to give away HERE.

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shore Leave 40 - Friday

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I had to get to Shore Leave early on Friday as I had to get photo op tickets for a friend. Sign in is always easy at Delta Hotels Hunt Valley, and once that was done I went right over to the registration table to pick up my badge and related materials.

The next stop was the art show. My first time here, so I wasn't sure what to do. The staff helped me out with instructions on the paperwork and hanging the pictures. If you want to know more about what I brought you can read (and watch the video) that is posted on my Patreon site.

Once my companions arrived, we took a quick look around to check the set-up. Not all the vendors were there and no actors or actresses were in sight, so we decided to have lunch and plan our afternoon activities.

My first stop after eating was the autograph tables. A few celebrities had arrived, so we talked with Peter Williams, Peter Kelamis, Chase Masterson, and Aron Eisenberg. Chase Masterson has founded an anti-bullying foundation called the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. I brought out the anti-bullying book Tales from the Bully Box (with my story One Above Zero) and asked if she would sign it. I now have a copy with a very nice message from her on the inside cover. I had brought it to give away, but I'll be keeping it now.

I also attended a panel on anthologies called Anthologies: Share the Love. I'll have more on that later. Since all of my works have been in anthologies, I thought that was appropriate.

During the evening, I attended the Meet the Pros party in the main hall. Lots of sci-fi authors gather to display and sell their books. Talked to Joshua Palmatier again - hoping to someday have a story in one of his anthologies.

Meet the pros - Shore Leave 40 - Friday night
Meet the Pros - authors selling their books
And as a final pleasant surprise, some kind soul bought one of my pictures: Hyacinths. It's the one I thought wouldn't sell!

You can see (watch the video!) more about my art and books I brought to give away HERE.

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Shore Leave 40 Books And Art

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Thumbnail of video on Patreon site about Shore Leave 40 book giveaways
Thumbnail of video on Patreon site
about Shore Leave 40 book giveaways

I'm going to be giving away a number of books at the Shore Leave 40 Sci-fi convention this year (July 6-8) that takes place in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

I'm also going to have a few pieces of art on display (and for sale) if all goes as planned.

You can read about it here on my PATREON site (free access). Click on the big picture on that site and you'll see a video of me talking about all the books I'll be giving out! Warning: I am not a professional actor. If you don't want to go there, just click HERE for the video. But then you won't see the thumbnail shots of the artwork I'll have in the show.

Best of all, come join in the fun at Shore Leave!

© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved