Planet Comicon, here I come

Planet Comicon

Heirs of Cothel Series CoversPlanet Comicon starts on Friday and I have to say I am really excited! It is the first big event I am doing this year and I have missed hanging out with the crowd of very talented authors, artists, creators, and cosplayers. In all, just a really great group of people to spend time with.

This year they have many wonderful actors and celebrities attending and I am jealous of those who will have a chance to meet them all (I, of course, will be mostly behind my table).

This year I have new maps to go along with the books and I really hope everyone will love them as much as I do. I learned a lot in creating them and will definitely be doing more of the old world style maps. In you are interested in them, I am offering a bundle deal.

Map of CothelMap of the Sea of Tet

My table is in the Artist Alley area, number 2340, stop by and see me!

Old World Maps

Old World Style Maps

Map of CothelIt took a bit of time, but I finished my first old world style map! It shows far more detail of Cothel than my original maps and I actually had a lot of fun making it (aside from all the bloody trees). Everything is hand-drawn, from the trees to the border lines, to the compass rose. My aim was to generate something that looked authentic and old. In the process, I found quite a few maps on-line to use as references. My favorite map site is Old Maps Online. It lets you browse through maps that correspond to an area on a current world map.

In the process of creating this map (which is 20″x16″ in size) I really learned a lot. I wanted to have the underlying parchment appearance come through to overlays or what I intend to be ink washes. I scrapped more than one layer and went back to rework entire effects several times. But I think I have the process down now and hope to be able to do the next map in perhaps half the time this one took.

Another thing I learned is that old maps really did have a lot of bright colors in them. Initially, I felt reluctant to use anything too bright (and I did mute quite my map a bit to give it a faded and used effect). However, many of the reference maps I examined actually had some neonish coloring to them.

I have prints on order and will have them available with boards and bags for Planet Comicon at the end of the month. I also have mailing tubes on order and will make the map available for order on-line as well.

Map of the Sea of TetIn addition to the old world style map of Cothel, I have produced a 20″x16″ version of my large world map. I formatted it down to size and ordered prints that I will sell at Comicon and on-line. This one should be easier to read than my 8.5″x11″ copies.

What’s Next?

Well, now that I am done with crunch time for Planet Comicon, I will get back to writing more. The time I spent on the map did eat into my writing time a little too much. The next map should hopefully take less seat time, but I will stretch out the actual drawing time to about the same length so I am not single focused on the task.

I also need to get back to purging things for my #Minimalism2017 challenge. I put a lot of the “going through things” on hold to draw the map. Now I can get back into my closet and deal with a few boxes of items.

And lastly for this post, find some time to do some hiking. The weather is getting nice and I’m itching to do some camping and put in some miles on the trails. Yesterday my FitBit told me I had traveled a lifetime of 2,400 miles while carrying it. The gave me the Monarch Migration badge, which made me think about how many miles I have actually walked in my lifetime before having the FitBit. A big factor as a kid was that I had a paper route. So roughly 4 miles a day, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 4 years or so comes out as just under 5k miles. My feet have done a lot of walking and that doesn’t include the several miles a day walking to and from school for a couple of years.

Minimalism — 2017 Challenge Update

Minimalism 2017 Challenge

Earlier this year, I set a minimalism challenge for myself, get rid of 2017 items in the year 2017. There are a number of rules I set for myself. So far, I am just a little behind my target (36 items as of Sunday). I have managed to get rid of 356 items ranging from CDs, to decorative items, to school notes, to DVDs.

At first, I found it exciting, the challenge was new and thrilling. I managed to get rid of quite a few items in those first few days. Then as I started working through a backlog of stuff, it became a little daunting to process folders with hundreds of pages of notes (and only count the whole folder as a single item). However, I am now into something of a groove and I have been able to generally keep steady progress each week, moving through parts of the house and collections of belongings.

Have I found it hard to get rid of things?

To be honest, not really. I have never been overly connected to physical things. But, even still, I did amass a fair amount of stuff over the years (just not an overwhelming amount). For the most part, I am really just cleaning and organizing with the question my wife keeps asking: Do I want to pay someone to move that? The answer for the most part tends to be no.

The real benefit has been that I have found a number of items I forgot I even had. Add in the fact that I have cleared space on shelves, and now I can even display those things.

In Progress map of CothelThis week left me a little behind for a couple of reasons. First, I spend some time mudding a ceiling in the bathroom (we are removing the popcorn and making the ceilings flat). Second, I worked on a map. Here is a bit of a preview. I have more mountains to add in, a lot more cities to draw, not to mention forests, marshes, and other details. I had a few redo’s when I first started working on this project. However, as with the getting rid of things, I think I am now finding my groove. When the map is done, it will be 16″x20″ and if all goes well, I hope to have prints available at Planet Comicon.

Planet Comicon 2016

I had a great time at Planet Comicon this year!

It was a real pleasure to meet so many new people as well as connecting with existing fans who wanted to get the next book in the series. As this was my first big event of the year, it also allowed me to catch up with fellow authors and creators.

Oh yeah, and while I was at Planet, UserNameNerd.com interviewed me:

Thank you again and looking forward to seeing everyone again at the next event!

Planet Comicon

Planet Comicon looks to be another great event this year.  There will be lots of celebrities, including: Stan Lee (the master himself); Jenna Coleman and Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who; and , Sean Maher, and Alan Tudyk from Firefly; and many more.

Numerous creators and artists, including Jason Aaron, CW Cooke, and a ton of others great people.

Writes Kevin Smith, Jim Butcher, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore (plus many more, including myself) will be there.  (I’m at table 2042.)

Planet Comicon 2016 Map

 

Writers: Last minute tips for events

With Planet Comicon just a couple of days away (it starts this Friday) I wanted to talk a little more about what I am doing to prepare for the event.  In prior articles, I mentioned having mats to stand on and actually standing up to greet people.  Today, I wanted to go down through the list of things I am bringing, including the items I have to give away.

First and foremost, I am bringing copies of my books to sell, including Daughter’s Search, which just came out.  However, I am also bringing things for people to take with them for free.  Having something for people to walk away with is a great way to make sure they will remember you.  In today’s market, you don’t want to miss out on the people who will go home and buy the ebook instead of the print copy.

  • The primary item I am giving away is a bookmark (with the back side pictured in this post).  I’ve found more people are interested in bookmarks than in business cards and with the cost not that much more than a business card, I order 2500 at a time.  Last year I gave away almost all of the box I had ordered.
  • I do have business cards, but as I mentioned, I found that once I started giving out the bookmarks, fewer people were interested in the business cards.  However, they are easier to put into a pocket and I still hand some out both at the convention and other places.  (They also make great small bookmarks.)
  • I have copies of my world map and Antar castle.  These are 8.5 x 11 on glossy 100 lb paper, so there is some substance to them.  I find a lot of people like the map (gamers and just people who are into maps) so it is one way to draw in some interest.
  • I have brochures that contains information on the books.  I’ve found that these are quite popular as well, though they are more expensive and generally only people who are actually interested in the series take them.
  • Plastic shopping bags.  I have four books now and I want people to be able to carry away a whole set without them getting damaged.  The bags are clear so that other people might see the books (a little free advertisement).  I meet another author once who went to the expense of getting bags custom printed with the cover of the book and he had one of those ‘doh’ moments when I suggested the clear bags.

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Owin — Still at sea

Unfortunately, Owin and Gwen will spend this week out at sea.  For me, I am working on final preparations for Planet Comicon (coming up 13 -15 Mar) as well as finish getting things ready for book 4!

Daughter's Search Cover

If all goes well, I will have copies of book 4, Daughter’s Search, available at the Con!  I am really excited and can’t wait to see everyone who comes out to enjoy the fun.  In the mean time, here is a preview of the new cover:

Writers: Don’t forget your mats!

With my first major show of the year coming up (Planet Comicon), I thought I would share a few tips I’ve learned with my fellow writers (aspiring or otherwise).  Even if you are not a writer, you might find this useful.

Floor MatWhen doing a show, don’t forget your mats!  I have had a sit down job for a number of years and standing in one small area for 10 hours straight can leave me a bit worn out.  Believe me, standing is worse than walking (or hiking 18 miles with a heavy pack).

At my first big show, I stood on the hard concrete the whole time and by the end of the three days, I was miserable.  I went out right after that show and bought some relatively inexpensive floor mats ($25).  I am not specifically endorsing Dick’s Sporting Goods, but the image above is exactly what I purchased.  They are four 2′ x 2′ squares and you can configure them to cover a different amount of area depending on what space you have behind the table.  While only 1/2″ thick, they do not weigh a lot or take up a great deal of room when you are bringing your things onto the floor.  (For actual exercise mats, I bought a 3/4″ thick version.)

I’ve used the set for a while now and it has held up even on asphalt and rough ground.  Most of the time, I configure it to cover 2′ x 6′ (or 2′ x 8′ for larger tables).  However, I will likely buy another set of four so I can cover 4′ of depth both behind and under the table.  While I will advocate standing most of the time, when you are actually signing a book (or taking a break) being able to scoot the chair easily under the table, and not off a drop, is nice.

A word about standing.  You might ask: Why should I stand the whole time?  They give me chairs for a reason.

Well, my response is that when you are standing, you will appear more approachable and engaging.  It helps to be able to converse with people eye to eye and standing facilitates that.  In watching other tables, and from my own experiences, tables where the person stood had more people stop than those where the person sat the whole time.  And to be able to sustain standing for 3 or 4 days straight, I really recommend the mats.

A New Place to Purchase My Books – Elite Comics

I wanted to let everyone know that Elite Comics (one of the comic book shops that puts on Planet Comicon) is now stocking the Heirs of Cothel Series (Mother’s Curse, Daughter’s Justice, and Daughter’s Revenge).  Stop in some time to check out what they have.  They are at 11842 Quivira in Overland Park, KS.

Everyone there is great and next Saturday (3 My 2014) is free comic book day.  They always have a big event and while I’m not a featured person for the day, I plan to stop by at some point. (I’ll try to tweet/post to Facebook when I am there.)

Planet Comicon, here I come!

I am very pleased to announce that I will be at Planet Comicon this March!

I have a table in Artist Alley and will have all of my novels with their new covers.  Stop by to get an autograph and pick up a copy of the just released Daughter’s Revenge or the whole Heirs of Cothel Series.

If you are in the Kansas City area, come by and enjoy the fun.  This year there will again be a lot of celebrities, artists, and authors present. Below is the poster for the Con and that will give you a taste of whom to expect. Check out  Planet Comicon’s site to get the full details.
Planet Comicon Flyer