Necronomicon, Part 2

Necronomicon, Part 2

Getting Started: Writing Believable Dialogue with Nick DiChario, K.L. Nappier, M.B. Weston, Nancy J. Cohen, and William Hatfield. A lot of good advice came from this panel. Be true to your character. Determine your target audience because it makes a difference in the language you can use. Listen to the people around you to get ideas for speech patterns. Read your material aloud to see if it sounds stilted. For more detailed advice, see my Blog on Writing Effective Dialogue. Below: Author Gary L. Zeiger and his lovely wife selling his book in the Dealers’ Room.

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I skipped out next to roam around the hallways and to stop in to the hospitality room for a snack. You could attend such subjects as Higgs Boson [Particle] and You, Steampunk Invasion, Author/Publisher Contract Do’s and Don’ts, the Music of Science, and Anime Timeline. Then I met up with my husband for lunch and we strolled across the street where a farmer’s market was in full swing.

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Why Sell Your Books to a Small Press with Eric Beebe, Lucienne Diver, Ed Howdershelt, and K. Piet. The reasons are many. First of all, Lucienne said the term Indie Author applies to writers who are published by an independent press. This is different from self-published and authors who are published by small presses or by vanity presses. One advantage of going with a small press is the individualized attention you get that you may not receive from one of the Big Six. You can build up your following and increase your readership. You may also have a say in your cover art. Discoverability is always an issue, so see what the small press publisher will do for you in terms of marketing.

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Lucienne said the best chance for a high level of success is still with the big presses, with some exceptions. She discussed the agency versus the wholesale model in regard to pricing. Brick-and-mortar stores may devolve into smaller boutique shops over time. Humor can be a hard sell in today’s market, but anything erotic is still hot. Science fiction and fantasy aren’t doing as well in e-book format as romance and erotica, which are the biggest sellers. YA Paranormal doesn’t sell well in ebook either, because not all kids have e-reader devices. This genre is also hard to sell right now because Barnes & Noble has decreased demand for them.

Getting it Right: Paranormal Elements in Fiction with Nancy J Cohen, Lucienne Diver, Pamela Labud, Will Ludwigsen, and Brandy Stark. As I was on this panel, I didn’t take notes but we each talked about the elements we use in our fiction. My new series deals with Norse mythology. Being consistent in your world building is essential.

Getting Started: Writing Fight Scenes with Richard Byers, Johanna Bolton, R.M. Garcia, T.S. Robinson, Michael Joy, and William Logan. One of the recommendations is to give glimpses of your hero’s special ability along the way. Build anticipation and get to know your villains. Johanna writes spaceship battles, and she visualizes the scene ahead of time. Richard suggests that you consider the level of realism you want to achieve. Consider scene length also. Is this meant to be the grand finale or merely a build-up to the end? The fight scene should have a purpose, such as showing team work. And don’t forget physics. When you hit a wall, what happens? Does the wall crack? What are the results on your body? Michael says his fight scenes serve as the action around the dialogue.

Problem areas can be giant battle scenes with multiple armies, unfamiliar technology, mercenaries for hire, psychic combat, lack of experience with weapons. What are some common mistakes? If you use very specific terms such as Japanese martial arts moves, you are appealing to a narrow audience. Either rename the move or qualify it through action. A general audience won’t understand the jargon. Fight scenes can go on too long. Get back to the people. Factual errors can be a problem, like when the gun is putting out the wrong caliber bullet. Or the choreography can be wrong. Make sure the sequence of events is physically possible. Also if somebody gets killed, give a definitive ending for that person before the story moves on. And remember that injuries need time to heal. It’s unrealistic when your hero pops up the next day after a major fight scene, and he’s perfectly fit.

Your hero’s background will determine how he approaches the scene. A trained fighter will observe how the enemy holds his weapon, and that may tell the hero how to confront the guy or if it’s wiser to get out of his way. Women can fight for different reasons than men, so keep that in mind. Alternate moments of high tension with those of low tension but don’t ever completely let go.

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On Saturday night, the Masquerade brought out characters in all sorts of costumes, including the bagpipe artist in a kilt and the dog. We skipped outside to have dinner at a restaurant just past the yacht club and alongside the marina. It was breezy but clear with a full moon. I’d had a great time but left early Sunday to head over toward Orlando and a revisit to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

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Necronomicon, Part 1

Necronomicon was the first SciFi/Fantasy convention I’ve attended. In many ways, it’s similar to a mystery conference. There were more men than at a romance con. The panels were professional and moderated by a host. Aspiring authors attended in abundance. However, here’s the biggest difference: Gamers. One darkened breakout room held 3 rows of computers where people sat all day and sometimes all night playing Halo. Other guys sat at round tables engrossed in role playing games. And the hospitality room was open 24/7 with free food and soft drinks. A guard on sentry duty made sure you were wearing your badge if you walked by. The mode of dress differed, too. At a mystery con, many of the men would be wearing sport coats. Not so much here. No editor/agent appointments either. So it was a curious mix of writers and fans of the genre.

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Authors who paid for a table sat in Author’s Alley down the hallway at tables with their books for sale. The Dealers’ Room was similar to the ones at mystery cons, where authors have to hope one of the vendors has their books for sale or else make a consignment deal. Few booksellers showed up here; vendors sold mostly jewelry and games and other knickknacks. Did this mean people weren’t booklovers? I only sold two books. Granted, my name isn’t known by this crowd, but I’m thinking most readers of this genre probably buy e-books since they’re tech savvy. Or else they are just not familiar with sci fi/paranormal romance. This convention was unlike those huge SciFi cons with celebrity stars. The cost is reasonable to attend and many panels are geared toward writers.

Instead of a forensics track like at a mystery writers con, this event had a science track led by scientist guests. All in all, it was a valuable introduction to an entirely new audience. People were very welcoming and if I went again, I’d start to recognize familiar faces. The panels were all interesting and parties ranged into the night if you were so inclined. We arrived the night before to settle in and become familiar with the hotel. Across the street was a big sports arena where a soccer game played on Saturday night. Down the road was the Dali museum. And nearby was a popular Mexican restaurant, the Red Mesa Cantina, where we had dinner. The food was delicious and the Halloween decorations really neat. I had grilled mahi mahi on a bed of plantains with mango salsa and my husband had shrimp with beans and rice and veggies.

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Now here’s what I learned at some of the talks.

Friday

The Resurgence of Fairy Tales with Tracy Cornett, David Berger, Lucienne Diver, Kat Heckenbach, and K.L. Nappier.

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How did you get interested in the genre? Kat replied that she wanted to see how contemporary fantasy fit the fairy tale model. Lucienne was interested in anthropology and how creation myths are similar and different for various cultures. Comparative religion sparked her interest. David was inspired by books and mythology. A high school English teacher, he mentioned how many mythologies are similar to each other regarding the Hero’s Journey.

What’s the difference between fantasy and fairy tales? David said both can have magical elements, but fairy tales are lighter. Our exposure is Disney-fied. Lucienne mentioned that the original fairytales were dark and cautionary. They were meant to strike fear into people and their dangers still apply. For example, the big bad Wolf could be considered the serial killer in the woods today. People are trying to recapture the earlier mythos and not the sickly sweet tales we’ve come to know. We would rather have the Princess save herself these days.

Can things swing too dark? Not if the demand is there, Lucienne advises. “Dark really sells.” She said that fairy tales don’t teach kids that there are dragons. The stories teach kids how to defeat dragons. David writes about Greek mythology. The kids in his classes write dark stories with vampires, werewolves, and dragons. The dark experience in literature can be safe and cathartic. K.L. Nappier added that the overall plot arc and character growth are important. Fairy tales derive from folklore, while mythology has religious origins. For example, myths have gods that are similar in the various creation myths. Legends have heroes, while folktales are more achievable by human standards.

Romantic Elements in F&SF: The Male Perspective with Nancy J. Cohen, William Hatfield, Chris Helton, Rick Wilber, and Linnea Sinclair. In this panel, we discussed the male viewpoint in romantic relationships. Some of the men write female protagonists. Linnea suggested you have to target the audience to know what readers you are trying to reach. And Chris gets into the emotional depth of his male characters so he has no problem showing their feelings. You can show characterization through dialogue as well as action.

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The Future of “Star Trek” was a fun panel where we discussed the recent movie that reinvented the series. People had vocal opinions on whether they liked certain elements or not, and a lively debate ensued. You could tell from the episodes bantered about that the audience members felt great affection for the show, whichever version we discussed.

A delicious Italian buffet dinner followed the last panel after which Guest of Honor Linnea Sinclair gave an inspirational speech. After 8 PM, you could either attend more panels such as Settling Mars: The Next Great Challenge; You call it Urban Fantasy, I call it Horror; Dr. Who and the 21st-Century; It’s the End of the World: Apocalyptic Fiction. If you are still awake at 11 PM, you could attend Sex and Science Fiction/Fantasy or still other topics. There were ongoing sing-alongs, cartoons, art shows, and role-playing games into the wee hours. Pix below: Linnea Sinclair on left. Bestselling author Timothy Zahn with me and Linnea on right.

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More to Follow.