“I can write at work?”

Well… maybe not in the way that you’re used too, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

My “real life” job is as a boiler and refrigeration operator for a government facility, and in the summer things can be pretty slow, which means general maintenance jobs are a part of my day.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy mopping mechanical room floors, but it does allow my mind to wander and that’s an important tool.

For me, if I can allow my body to go into autopilot, my mind can disengage from the real world for a while and skip down the narrow hallways of my mind. This is a perfect time for me to explore a world in which I have a story placed, maybe that town I mention in a previous story now features in a new one. Perhaps an idea that had been flitting around like a bird finally sits still long enough for me to get a good look at it and “capture” it.

I used to beat myself up for being too tired to write in the evenings after a long physical day, but now I realize that “wool gathering” can also be an important part of the process and lays the groundwork for when I do have the time to put pencil to paper.

Writing can be with us throughout our day, we just need to “find” it.

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Post ECCE review.

Last weekend I took part in ECCE (East Coast Comic Expo) as a vendor, and every year I do so, I learn something new.

Now the majority of my focus (and display table) was devoted to my used bookstore, I do believe a lot of the things I do as a shop owner can easily translate to authors peddling their wares. Below are some of the things that work for me:

  • Dress for the occasion. Since ECCE is devoted to the geek/nerd culture, I made sure I wore some of my finest nerdy t-shirts, as did most of the attendants.
  • Stand. It’s been my experience that if you’re sitting behind your table, not everyone feels comfortable approaching you, probably some unconscious social trigger. If you’re on the same line of sight, we as humans seem more comfortable.
  • Engage the public. Clearly, not everyone will be a customer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t greet everyone who stops to look, or ask how they’re enjoying the event. Heck, I even usually ask what “treasures” they have found, and they’re keen to show you. While we live in this modern age of devices and social media, we still survive by our “rep”, word of mouth can make or break you.
  • “Take away”. Give everyone who takes the time to pause at your display something to take away with them. It could be something material, such as your business card or a piece of candy from the “free candy” bowl (btw, best $6 you’ll spend), or it could be something personal, a kind word or a smile to someone who complements  your set-up.

Each year, I build upon my set-up, try to make it a little more professional than the last, and luckily that has translated into decent sales.

Now to shift focus and get back to writing!

Engen Books represented at the East Coast Comic Expo!

Each convention is a learning experience that I’m able to add too next time. Luckily, the crowds at ECCE were warm and welcoming.

Engen Books

Hello Engen-eers and Foote Soldiers! If you live in the Moncton New Brunswick area, you should stop by the Crossman Community Centre at 99 Wynwood Dr this weekend, May 19-21, and meet one of Engen Books’ up-and-coming authors, Peter J. Foote, who will be appearing with the FictionFirst Bookstore alongside comics legends such as Fred Van Lente (Deadpool), Cary Nord (Daredevil), Daniel Way (Ghost Rider), and our old friendly neighbor from Hal-Con Nick Bradshaw (Wolverine and the X-Men, Spidey).

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“You mean I have to do something?”

I’m sure every author starts off thinking that writing that book, novella, or short story will be the hard part, I know I did, sadly I was wrong.

What I’ve learnt, is that everything after “The End” can be a struggle as well, and not always an enjoyable one. I write because I enjoy it, I like sharing a part of myself with the reader, conveying that hard learned life lesson. The written word is my preferred method, because verbally I come across as an idiot!

I don’t like the “selling yourself” part of the process, but that needs to change.

This weekend is the East Coast Comic Expo and my used bookstore Fictionfirst Used Books will once again be having a vendors table at the event. Selling my used books isn’t much of a chore for me, since most of the people who are looking at them are fans of the genre, and are therefore upstanding citizens and are of above average intelligence.

The issue is that I’ll also be selling my works…

This year I will be selling copies of the two anthologies in which I have short stories published Sci-fi from the Rock and  Fantasy from the Rock. Last year I dragged along a couple of copies of SftR and put then on the end of my vendors table and basically ignored them. I sold one copy, and that’s only because the guy hounded me!

This year, that will be changing.

While the majority of my table WILL be focused upon my bookstore, I am creating a special display for the two anthologies. I made an Author Bio sheet, have stands to showcase the two volumes, and even a “free candy” bowl as a icebreaker.

Do I hope to sell a couple of books? Sure I do, but I also hope to connect with other nerds and geeks and become comfortable selling myself, rather than a product.

I’m a member of the club!

The other day, a long anticipated e-mail showed up, telling me my short story “The Silence between Moons” was rejected for a reprint collection. And do you know how I felt?

PROUD!!!

I’m sure you’re scratching your head a bit at that, I mean who doesn’t want their stories to be published right?

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved seeing it included in the collection. Every author feels a sense of accomplishment knowing that eyes other than their own have read and enjoyed their work, but I’m also proud of myself for submitting it, sharing a part of myself with strangers. Isn’t that what we do? Pour our heart and soul into the written word, opening the shutters on feelings that we might otherwise have difficulty sharing in the “real world”?

If anything, this “rejection” has given me a shot in the arm to write more, to dust off partly completed projects and revisit them, to turn my stack of WIP’s into finished stories.

Oh, and do you know what I did with that rejected story? I submitted it to another market the next day!

As Fierce as Steel by Christopher Walsh | Other Indie by Ali House

I own an autographed copy of Christopher’s novel, which is a truly beautiful book before you even open it.

Once you do open it, and explore the world building and characters inside, you will be eagerly awaiting book two in the series.

Engen Books

If you’re a fan of epic stories with mythology, politics, interesting characters, and an imaginative world, then the Gold and Steel Saga should be on your reading list.

I’d best compare this book to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (but without the massive amounts of description) or Games of Thrones (but without the massive amount of characters to keep track of). My interest definitely picked up with Marigold’s chapter and didn’t lose any steam from then on. (Minor note: Marigold is not as prominent a character as Orangecloak, the Thieves, or Tryst, but she’s still pretty darn important.)

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Walking into the lair of the beast…

I guess you could say that I’m an “idea man”.

My greatest pleasure from writing comes from the energy of madly dashing down a story idea as it bubbles to the surface of my consciousness, akin to a game show contestant frantically grabbing $100 bills swirling around in a glass booth.

I usually can rough out a solid plot, protagonist and/or antagonist, and it usually has elements of conflict and morality. To anybody other than myself, it might look like mad scribbling’s of pencil on paper, but it’s usually enough to capture the message.

And that might be part of the problem…

Once I know the “how” of the story, have the firefly in the bottle as it were, I have almost no desire to flesh out the story into something readable. To sit in front of my laptop and try to form proper sentence structure, tenses, grammar, and million other things that have never been my strong point, causes massive amounts of stress.

This isn’t anything new, I’ve known this for years, and is probably the reason why I’ve walked away from writing in the past, but at least now I’m admitting it to myself (and you).

What’s the point of having a story to tell, if you can’t tell it? I need to meet my fears head on, tackle my weaknesses, and improve.