Ad Astra 2015 day 3: Making a living isn’t just for the cream of the crop anymore

Here we are, finally, on day 3!

Saturday evening, I attended the Edge book launch event for Jane Ann McLachlan and Aviva Bel’Harold and then on Sunday morning, I got to sit between Charles de Lint (eeeee!) and then president of SF Canada, Peter Halasz at the Guest of Honour Brunch.

EDGE Launch

Jane Ann McLachlan and Aviva Bel’Howard at the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy launch event

All that to say that there are only three sessions left to report on (including today’s). So we are almost at the end of Ad Astra 2015.

Also, as we’ve hit a new day, I thought it might be handy to reiterate my disclaimer:

These posts are composed of my notes. Often, because of the scheduling, I enter sessions after they’re already in progress. I write by hand, so as I’m writing what I believe to be a salient point, I may miss the next one. I do my best to catch as much as I can, but things will be missed. Also, if, in my haste I recorded something incorrectly, please don’t be shy about coming forward and letting me know. I will correct all errors post-hasty once informed of them.

Panellists: Gail Z. Martin and Mary MacVoy

GZM: Publishers pay twice per year. You have no idea what your royalties might be. When sales trickle off, multiple streams of income is a wise approach.

MM: Multiple streams on income could include traditional publishing, epublishing or self-publishing, Wattpad, crowd funding, Patreon, etc. You have to educate yourself on how each potential stream works.

GZM: Athena’s Daughters was the most successful literary Kickstarter at the time. Be aware, though, that 75% of all literary Kickstarters fail.

Q: How do you grow your following?

GZM: Your current discoverability/sales for your current work will be based on how successful your last novel was. Crowd funding is a way to identify your audience/readers before you have a project out. Kickstarter will not allow charities anymore. Indie-gogo will, however. Go fund me and Patreon might be options, too.

MM: Crowd funding is just one element of building your audience.

GZM: Do you have a newsletter? Do you have YouTube videos? Do you podcast? Can you teach a class? Building an audience is largely about what you can offer.

Q: What advice do you have about working with small or indie publishers?

MM: It’s an option to explore. Some small publishers have excellent marketing and PR packages. Confidence is key when approaching a small publisher.

GZM: Different streams will compensate for each other.

MM: People are looking for an experience. Make sure your audience leaves with a piece of you. Check out the rules of your various social media periodically. They change and you don’t want to run afoul.

GZM: Facebook and Twitter are essentials. Talk about what you’re doing. Build relationships. Don’t spam.

And we got the nod that it was time to clear out for the next panel.

Next week: Fairy tales!

Have an awesome weekend and we’ll catch up with you on Tipsday.

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Ad Astra 2015 day 2: After acceptance, the fun begins

Panellists: Suzanne Church, Arlene F. Marks, Kelley Armstrong, Monica Pacheco, Charles de Lint

After acceptance panel

KA: I was reading at the University of Waterloo, and a question came up that really caught me off guard. That was my biggest challenge: getting used to answering scary questions about my stories.

AFM: I started on the editorial side of the business. When it came to working that process with my own book, what surprised me was the number of times I had to read my book. It’s a test. If you don’t get sick of your book after reading it 20 or 30 times, it’s a good sign.

SC: I’m a rule-follower. When I heard back from my first editor, I got to work making all the requested changes. What I had to learn was that editors aren’t infallible. You have to learn to fight for your work, when necessary. When you hear from an editor for the first time, read a comment, and then take a drink of tequila.

AFM: My first published novel was with Harlequin, the publisher for whom I edited. A fellow editor suggested I write my book, but when I submitted it, an editor was assigned who was a frustrated author. I went through four rewrites without a contract. Eventually, I went over the editor’s head, but that was only possible because I had a 12-year working relationship with Harlequin.

KA: My Canadian publisher sent out advanced reader copies (ARCs) and wanted me to write a couple of articles. I did, but what stuck out was my stance that what I had written was not horror. There was a terrific backlash from other writers of horror.

MP: I was working with an author under contract. Three days before the book was due, her computer crashed. We had to come forward, explain what happened, and ask for an extension.

CdL: The original cover for The Riddle of the Wren was a collage. I thought it was crappy. My editor, Terry Windling, advocated for me and ended up doing the cover for free.

SC: The promotional piece is challenging, too. Start three months before the release.

KA: Just realizing that I had to promote my own book was a shock. I don’t have what it takes for event planning and blogging. The most important thing I learned, though, is to thank your readers.

MP: Publicists are not magicians. Promotional materials can be as much work as writing the novel.

CdL: I agree with Kelley. Connect with your readers. Find common ground. Recommend the books of other authors that they would enjoy.

SC: I talk about hockey more than I talk about writing. One of my surprises was that you have to convince the library database to feature your books so that libraries will pick it up.

AFM: Never underestimate the value of friendships. Come up with cool swag ideas for your supporters.

MP: At one party, we handed out LED flashlights.

KA: Chocolates are bad promotional tools. They get eaten. Give out screen cleaning cloths, bags, pens, useful things. Every time someone picks up the pen you gave them, they’ll be reminded.

AFM: Bookmarks. Leave that shit everywhere.

SC: Wine is expensive, but cool. Everybody loves cake.

CdL: Giving stuff to kids is fun. The more creative you can get, the better. I’ve written songs to go with my books. I had an artist draw pictures of the characters, sign them, and leave them for the fans.


And that was time.

Tomorrow: I’ll be transcribing my notes from Jane Ann McLachlan’s workshop.

Next week: Ad Astra gets uncanny . . . and my Next Chapter update 🙂

Review of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore

As I mentioned in our interview, I’d worked with Jenny in an online critique group.  I was so pleased to hear that she moved ahead with her novel and was eager to read the results.

The Amazon blurb:

BLAZE IGNITES blends strong, clever women and tough, sexy men in a fast paced, Blaze full page covervolatile cocktail of action, seduction, and wicked humour.

“Destiny my ass.” Jade Glaster refuses to believe the Fates rule her life. Orphaned after an attack by Scourge soldiers, a young Jade vows never to be powerless again. Once grown and strong, wielding the affinities of fire and healing, Jade protects innocents as an enforcer for her world’s elite policing agency—The Talon.

When an emissary mission to reinstate a race of exiled Elves brings Galan into her life, Jade finds herself overwhelmed by new passions, some welcome, some not. Although Galan’s antiquated views on women offend her to her heated core, when the Scourge attack his family, she helps him navigate the outside worlds he knows nothing about—the magical Realm of the Fair and, stranger still…the modern streets of Toronto.

Through their sensually charged pursuit of justice, Jade discovers that when dealing with the Fates—destiny is never random.

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My thoughts:

Jade Glaster doesn’t think much of fate.  Her life has been a literal shit storm to this point (in fact, the series was originally called the Shit Storm Survivors, which I now note has been tactfully changed to Scourge Survivors) and if this was fate’s doing, Jade wants none of it.

Her Talon code name is Blaze because of her red hair and fiery temper, which often results in the unleashing of a literal blaze of power.

One of Jade’s laments at the outset of the novel (aside from the Scourge murdering her parents), is her apparent frigidity. When her duties for Castain, chief of the Fae gods, bring her face to face (and crotch to crotch—had to be said) with Galen, however, Jade’s problem ceases to be one of not reacting to men, but of her overwhelming reaction to Galen.

This is not what she needs right now. She has a mission to complete.

The writing is taut and gives the reader Jade’s attitude with both barrels. I like the ‘tude and the sexy bits, which are well-done. I only have a few issues with Blaze Ignites, and most of those are matters of personal taste (word choice, creative decisions) which other readers will likely not cavil at.

Events begin with a bar fight involving an Otterkie that is never mentioned again. Readers often expect details like this to have a pay off somewhere later in the novel. It’s a loose thread that should be woven in.

Though conflict, physical and otherwise, abounds, the novel takes a while to pick up the pace. When things swing into high gear, the author keeps them at a high pitch with few exceptions.

I have to point out, for a supposedly “kick-ass” heroine, Jade gets her ass kicked more often than not.  This I did have a bit of a problem with, especially given the denouement of the novel (which I will not give away).

It just seemed to me that Jade shouldn’t have had her ass handed her or to be in need of rescue as often as she did. Yes, Galen needs a maiden in distress, but there might have been another way around this.

Blaze Ignites is a solid contender in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy sub-genres and suitable for fans of Laurel K. Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Readers of Charles de Lint will find Madore’s work enjoyable as well.

A good first novel in a new series that I’m sure we’ll see more of in the future.

My rating: four out of five stars.

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About the author:

JL MadoreJL Madore, lover of family, animals and chocolate, spends her days writing fantasy romance and paranormal erotica. Strangely enough, she hadn’t considered being a writer until her writing muse found her lying in a hammock in a Panamanian rainforest.Blaze Ignites, the first installment in the five novel Scourge Survivor Series, was born out of that tropical haven. Though she didn’t actually see any Elves or Weres running through the trees or swimming in the waterfall grottos their voices came to her there and had a story to tell.

To learn more, you can follow her at:
http://www.jlmadore.ca
http://www.twitter.com/jlmadore