Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wizard World Comic Con St. Louis

Last weekend was St. Louis' biggest event, Wizard World Comic Con. I shared a table with fellow author, Eric Asher. This was supposed to be my largest event so far in my young writing career, and that might have been the case attendance-wise.

The con was a mixed bag. Here's my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly...

The Good:

1) It's always such a pleasure and privilege to get to meet and talk to my readers. Several of them have visited with me at other events, tried my first book out, and wanted to get the other two books in the series. One reader even created a steampunk costume for his son, and on the back of the power pack, he put a little red dragonfly on it just for me.

Wow. That's so cool. I put that up there with a fan who made a customized action figure for me.

Meeting people who enjoy your work never gets old. It's what fuels me, actually. No matter how tough this road gets.

2) Eric Asher is just a cool dude. We laughed our asses off. It's always great to hang out with someone who has a similar sense of humor. The guy sells more in one day than I do in six months, and he's always full of knowledge and experience I try to tap into.

3) The cosplayers. Whoa. The costumes many of the con-goers create never cease to amaze me. If you want to see just a small sampling of my favorite ones, check out my Instagram posts:
Mr. Freeze's helmet was fog-proof, I believe

Instagram

The Bad:

1) Don't get me wrong. I think Hayley Atwell (Captain America/Agent Carter), Rick Coswell (The Flash), Elvira, George Romero (Dawn of the Dead), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jason David Frank (The Green Ranger) are awesome. But lacking this year were the headliners who have come to WW Comic Con in the past like William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Matt Smith, or Adam West/Burt Ward.

2) The crowd stuck to the periphery. Photo ops and autograph booths were all around the outer edge of the arena. Artists row was in the middle. People pretty much kept to the huge booths at the entrance to the arena and all along the perimeter. There was no natural traffic flow through artists' alley.

3) It's always disheartening to see steampunk people walk on by. I know steampunk is a lot of different things to different people. It's fashion, jewelry, cool brass guns, goggles, etc. But steampunk is more than asthetics. Steampunk began as a literary movement, and it makes me sad that a vast majority of steampunks don't even stop by my table despite the obvious steampunk-ness of my banner, book covers, etc.

The Ugly:

1) It was Memorial Day Weekend. Holiday weekends tend to be weak. Overall attendance was WAY down compared to previous years. When there was a celebrity panel going on, the arena became a ghost town. That was weird. Usually, this show has about 20,000 people come through. I'm sure it was well below that number this year.

2) With reduced attendance came reduced sales. Most of the artists all around me ended up losing money. The cost of just a table was $325. Add parking, meals, and lodging for many of us, and that spells RED. Luckily, I split the cost of my table, and I live in town, so I was able to reduce my risk and end up in the BLACK. But barely. After I pay sales tax, I might be even more depressed.

3) With many vendors having lost their shirts, there was a lot of negativity. It's easy being dragged down into despair when all that anger and frustration is around you. I tried to take a deep breath, and just be thankful for all the good stuff that I was able to experience.

So the show was a mixed bag, but in my mind, the positives outweigh the negatives. Even if I had lost money, I'd still be immensely happy that I got to meet some people who either love my work or are willing to give my strange Asian-Steampunk books a try.

I seem to do better at medium/smaller shows. The price of the table is a fraction of the cost, and there seems to be more readers at these less-than-huge venues. I probably won't go to Wizard World next year as an artist, although I wouldn't mind going as an attendee.

I've now been doing events and shows for one full year, and I'm still learning and trying to figure out where I belong.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wizard World Cosplay Pics!

To check out my Instagram Feed of all my favorite cosplayers at this year's Wizard World Comic Con here in St. Louis, go to my official author's website at www.jaynoelbooks.com


Monday, May 18, 2015

Grammar Map

Miss me last week?

I was in Birmingham, Alabama all week on business, and I have always been fascinated by how people speak in different parts of the country. Since I've traveled a lot, and I've been fortunate to have friends from coast to coast, I consider myself pretty damn good at figuring out where people are from just by listening to them speak. Not just by their "accents," but also by their word choices, colloquialisms, and grammar.

For example, in Alabama, a lot of local folks like to but "a" in front of verbs.

I'm a-goin' to the store to buy some bread.

Incidentally, many southern states also do this. West Virginia, for example.

Yale researchers have been studying how people in certain regions of the country use grammar, and they even created a pretty cool map. It's amazingly accurate. In fact, the map shows that many caucasians in Alabama do that A-Prefixing thing that I noticed.

Here in the St. Louis area (along with much of the Midwest - Illinois, Southern Michigan and Indiana, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Iowa), we tend to use the Positive Anymore when talking. Here's a couple examples:

Yes, we still have several Blockbuster Video stores around here anymore.
The only thing anymore about baseball I like is watching home runs.

I have friends in Los Angeles, and along with other parts of the country, they like to do the Drama So when talking:

I am so going to kick his ass when I see him next time.

People in New York state and Houston, Texas, and Seattle also tend to do the Drama So.

I spent some time in parts of Pennsylvania back in the early 2000s, and I always found Pennsylvanians had a very distinctive usage of the the English language that became easy for me to pick up. They are one of the regions that do the Needs Washed.

After driving through the mud, my car needs washed.

By the way, I've been told that I have absolutely no accent at all when I speak. People have said that I speak as if I could be on the news. Not sure if that's a compliment or not.

You can learn more about the Yale study and take a look at the entire Grammar Map HERE.

QUICK NOTES:

* Amazingly, Iron Warrior shot up the Amazon Best Sellers rankings despite a lack of marketing. It hovered in the Top 20 in the Asian Myths and Legends category before tumbling. Oh well. Easy come easy go.

* I will be at Wizard World Comic Con in St. Louis this weekend, sharing an author table with Eric Asher. It's the biggest show I've ever done. I'll be blogging about my experience next week.

* My blog turns 10 years old this August, and I think I'm going to celebrate with a bunch of giveaways AND I'm going to revert to my old format for the entire month. So expect whacky science stories in August.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG for May 2015

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Blog tours, cover reveal, podcast interviews, social media campaigns...so many different ways to market and promote my latest release.

And yet, I'm not doing ANY of it.

On Monday, Iron Warrior, the third book in my Asian-inspired steampunk series, The Mechanica Wars, became available on Amazon and B&N (iTunes coming soon), and all I did was post about it on Facebook to my friends and family.

Why am I not cranking the marketing machine for this final volume in this trilogy? I just don't have the will. It's not just about insecurity, which is usually my best friend in this 'ol writing career o' mine. I've run out of steam. It takes effort to promote, and I have nothing in the tank.

It's really sad, because I feel like Iron Warrior is the best book out of all three.

My day job is demanding, and right now, it's sapping my time and energy. I'll be out of town all next week. Once again in June. Not to mention all the regional travel and overnights I do on a daily basis.

Iron Warrior is a BIG book. 428 pages. 105,000 words. It cost me quite a bit to have it edited, proofread, and formatted. This was my most expensive project to date, and the total cost reached four digits. Ouch. It's my fault, as I'm a perfectionist, and I never settle for second-best. But dang!

Because I've been running on fumes the last couple months, my writing has taken a nose-dive. I think the last time I felt like writing something new was back in February. Back when there was snow on the ground.

I'm usually in a constant state of anxiety, excitement, and insecurity with a new release. This time, I'm too tired to actually care. Maybe that's a good thing. I've been reading up on the Power of Intention and how detachment can help you manifest what you want.

To quote a Disney Movie I hear at least twice a day inside pediatricians' waiting rooms, I'm going to "Let it Go."

Let go and let God.

Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Blogging A-Z Challenge Reflections Post

First of all, for all my fellow Star Wars fans, May the Fourth Be With You!!!

Another year, and another A-Z Challenge met! It's never easy, but like all things that are difficult, there's a lot of good, bad, and ugly.

Here's the good: It was great visiting new blogs. I purposely sought non-writing blogs this year check out. As a longtime blogger, I feel a little more reassured about being reminded that not all blogs are written by authors and writers. It's nice to see people still using blogs as how they were originally intended: online diaries.

On the other side, it's been wonderful having new visitors come by my little corner of the blogosphere. It's one of my most favorite aspects of the A-Z Challenge. In fact, it's probably my driving force behind doing it.

The bad: In visiting non-writer blogs, I'm also reminded as to why traditional bloggers are pretty much invisible. They don't visit back. Blogging has become an interactive activity the last few years, and so many bloggers don't keep the communication and visiting a two way street. Not one of the 20 or so non-writer blogs ever left me a quick "hello" or anything. Maybe they visited without commenting. Not a bad thing by itself, but it's hard to establish a blog-relationship otherwise.

The ugly: Several of my blogging friends commented that the A-Z Challenge participant list has gotten TOO big. With so many bloggers doing it, it's become pretty daunting. I tend to disagree. I feel growth is great, and having a variety of blogs participating is a important. But I can understand how the massive list can be overwhelming. You can't visit everyone, and visiting every blog was never the intention of the A-Z Challenge in the first place.

Also, I know many bloggers who complete all 26 posts ahead of time. I think that's a pretty darn efficient thing, and there's so many advantages of doing that. Namely, you can spend your time visiting others. It definitely cuts down on the stress. It also eliminates blogging burnout when April is over.

On the other hand, it's an A-Z CHALLENGE. To me, it's similar to NaNoWriMo in that it should be an uphill battle to complete. That's why I never get more than a week ahead. I think having all 26 posts done prior to April diminishes the challenge aspect of this. At the very least, it loses a bit of its luster. It's like finishing a 50,000 words manuscript prior to November for NaNo, but then going back and editing all 50,000 words and waving the checkered flag at the end of the month.

I know a lot of you will disagree, but hey, these are my reflections!

So there it is. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm even less certain I will participate in 2016, as the time commitment is a tough one to keep. I'll just play it by ear and see how I feel next March.