Narrator Spotlight – Meet Aly, the Voice Behind Vivatera

As Vivatera’s audiobook comes closer to release, I thought I would spotlight the very talented actress that took on this series with such enthusiasm.

First, let me tell you of the unusual circumstances that led Aly to my door.

We met on a hot summer day when I picked her up from the airport. She wore this completely out-of-my-normalcy steampunk-y bowler hat, that stood out immediately in the quiet, pretend-to-be-normal atmosphere… It was so charming. I liked her instantly. This is very much Aly, my fated twin sister from across the nation. She flew to Salt Lake City from Chicago to stay with my family and I, and attend Salt City Steamfest, a local Steampunk festival with our collective publisher. She is an author as well, so we knew each other cyberly, but not formally.

Within two hours of landing, Aly had climbed my tree, found my ukulele and serenaded us with Radiohead’s Creep, had a good conversation with my talking cat, and told me she wanted to see the UP House, from, yes, the Disney/Pixar flick “Up.”

It was serendipitous, one of those cosmic moments when you couldn’t believe someone so alike lived on the same planet. The friendship forged that weekend went on to alter both of our paths. Now, you could call her my ‘sister.’

I knew Aly was a voice actor, and she mentioned wanting to record my series, just a fleeting, playful idea maybe someday… but the timing was never right. She approached me this summer when an opportunity arose for her to record all three. Yes, of course I wanted her to, but I didn’t want a friendship to get ruined if it wasn’t right. So I approached this with a business mind, being very professional. I had her audition like I would have for anyone, both us knowing that if she wasn’t right for the series then I would hire someone else. I was blown away…. blown away. She was perfect for the job.

I know several of you have been waiting years for Vivatera to be on audio. I’m glad the wait is nearly over and so happy Aly could record all three.

So, meet the voice talent that brought the Vivatera series to life… Alyson Grauer!


When do you first want to be a voice actor?

What influenced you?

My dad loves audiobooks. I loved reading a lot as a kid, and I treasured the times when Mom or Dad would read to me at bedtime from a favorite story. As I got older, Dad got me into listening to professional audiobooks. I wore out several cassette tapes’ worth of Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn” – I had the abridged version and the unabridged version! I loved the magic of hearing a voice carry you through the story in your mind’s eye. When I graduated college (I studied acting), I found out about a website called ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange. I set myself up with a cheap mic and a determination to learn everything on the spot and that’s how I got my start.

I’ve always wanted to do voice over for cartoons or games, but I’ve yet to really get into that area of voice acting. It’s a wide spectrum of possibilities!

What is your favorite parts about recording a book?

What challenges do you face?

I love figuring out the characters’ voices. There’s so much that goes into it for me: how old are they? Where are they from? What is their odd personality quirk that comes through vocalization? Who do they remind me of in real life? It can be hard sometimes if there are a lot of characters to keep everything straight in my head – I keep a spreadsheet with notes and commentary to help me keep track. Sometimes I even have to record samples just to jog my memory of a certain type of voice.

Is it weird to hear your own voice?

I used to HATE the way my speaking voice sounded!!! In middle school and high school, despite my best efforts to ignore it, I had to record myself for various projects and absolutely despised it. I learned that it’s normal for people to hate the sound of their own voice – when we speak normally, we hear ourselves THROUGH our own skulls and various other body parts, so the resonance and the pitch are slightly different to us on the inside than it is to people on the outside of our bodies hearing us. It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone, but it took a long time for me to personally get over it for myself and learn to like my voice.

In college I took a dialects class and fell in love with that aspect of acting. Being able to mimic intonation, vowel changes, and rhythms was something that I took to very well, and through that I learned to like my voice.

And now, doing audiobooks, it’s not hard at all – I rarely hear ‘my’ voice on the recordings. There’s Narrator Me, and then there’s a million other characters. Rarely do I use my own natural voice.

What other endeavors do you have that prepared you for voice acting?

Like I said, I studied acting at Loyola University of Chicago and have performed in various shows, events, and venues since then. Listening closely to the voice patterns of people around me also helps – at work, while traveling, while watching TV. There are clues everywhere!

What was your favorite part about recording Candace’s series?

Candace has written a trilogy of magic, but for me some of the magic was nostalgia. It reminds me of some of the young adult fantasy books I read when I was younger, books that inspired me to imagine and create on my own. I love the nostalgia of some of the themes of these books: a hidden power, a journey to reunite severed pieces, learning how to be a person as well as a person with magic, taking control of destiny, etc.

As far as recording the characters goes… I gotta say, Katia is my girl. Her scenes with Landon are pretty fun to record. I also really liked creating very specific voices for Ferra and Micah, thinking I’d never have to do two ‘hard’ voices in a scene together, only to be proven wrong! If you could only see what my face and posture were doing when switching between those voices… It was very fun to do, though challenging.

When I first heard Micah and Ferra I couldn’t believe it. Aly sent me these two videos back in September to show how she was doing the voices. I found them adorable.

This one is Micah…

This one is about Ferra…


I had so much fun working with Aly on this project. Vivatera is set to release the first part of February. Conjectrix will soon follow in March, and Everstar early Spring.

I want to thank Aly for giving me some of her time. You can find the first book Vivatera on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. Click here for my Amazon Author page to find my audio books.

And find out more about Alyson Grauer here:

Alyson Grauer is an author, actor, podcaster, and voice actor. Her first novel, “On The Isle of Sound And Wonder” came out in 2014, and she has produced short stories for various anthologies and roleplaying game books. She narrates audiobooks and produces a podcast called Warda, which she co-creates with her husband Drew. Warda is an original fantasy roleplaying game, with magic, intrigue, and class warfare between humans and fey living in a utopian art deco fantasy realm. For more information, check out welcometowarda.com. Originally from Milwaukee, she lived in Chicago for many years before transplanting to Florida, where she currently lives with Drew and their cat, Queen Felicia. For more, please visit dreamstobecome.com.

Project Conjectrix – Journey of the Misprinted Misfits

Conjectrix:

In Latin it means: diviner, female soothsayer, female dream interpreter.

I used this word in my second novel for all three definitions. But, I added that this magical item, called the Conjectrix, traveled around to different locations. How appropriate for the adventure it is about to embark on.

I’m sure authors know what I’m talking about when I say MISFITS. It’s not a regular term that we use, but there are always mistakes that happen when printing books, it’s a hazard of the trade. The printing is too dark, the numbers are wrong, the cover is misaligned, I’ve heard of a different book actually being printed under the wrong cover, misspellings, formatting goofs… you name it, it happens, especially in the world of fast printing jobs and POD. I have a lot of these misfits hanging around my garage. I bet many authors do too.

But what do we do with these misfits? Burning them sometimes feels appropriate. Tearing out pages to use as craft projects, I’ve actually done that. They hang around in our basements like gremlins, knowing exactly that they are not sell-able and how costly the error is. It’s so much money wasted.

People may think they might be of value some day, you know, when you become famous. That’s why they creep around for so long. With my first printing of Vivatera that I yanked from Amazon a few months after publication, I found one listed as a “rare” book, which in truth I guess it was, since I only printed very few of them. The copy listed on Amazon for $865. I laughed. WOW! No one is going to buy that.

My misfits have grown fewer as I grow more established, more smart about my purchasing, more and more willing to pitch the trash. My newest misfit though is not something I’m willing to just toss. A couple of problems: I love this book. It was my favorite to write. Not many have read it. It’s the second in the series, and I’m having an internal struggle with what I should do with them, something rather than just let them sit in my garage. They are screaming to be read.

Here is the problem.

Now that my publisher has finished my series, it was discussed to make a box set and redo the first cover and update the second. I really like how Conjectrix looks. It was a fine cover before, but it wasn’t outstanding like my first book.

The covers are very new. I hadn’t seen them in print yet. I have a book signing coming up that I prepared as my box set release. I ordered my new books and received them on Saturday.

It’s always a thrill when you get new books, so I opened them right when they arrived. My new Vivatera cover is a little on the dark side, but I can handle that. My Conjectrix, however, has a misprint on the cover involving the font.

My series is known for its font, it’s nearly an identifiable trademark. So, when I look at Conjectrix both the font on the spine and the back are wrong. My heart sank. I can’t sell this as part of a box set, it doesn’t match. That’s what people look for, all the matching covers. I contacted my publisher and they were quick to fix it.

But the question remains, what do I do with these misfits?

We live so globally. And we are all so connected. Nothing seems small anymore. Back in September, I tagged one of my favorite authors on Twitter, knowing she would be at Salt Lake Comic Con. When I came over, dressed as one of her characters, she knew EXACTLY who I was and we struck up a quick friendship. The weaving of connectivity is astonishing. I’ve always wished I could be more connected with readers and I feel this mistake might be my chance.

I have always wanted to leave a book on a train, letting it fall in the hands of a random reader. Like in the movie Orange County, a random encounter with a book could change your life. This is exactly what I am preparing to do with my misfit copies of Conjectrix.

In the book, the heroine Naomi uses the Conjectrix to see where her friends are. I’d like to do the same here. In these misfit copies I have placed a little note with a QR code linking to my website. Here you can share where it has been and how you came across it. Naomi also uses it to travel across her world. This is also a goal. I’d like to see where these books go, like wheresgeorge.com. If you decide to keep it as a treasure, I can’t blame you, but the intent is to share.

The downside to a lot of this, Conjectrix is the second in the series. Though it is good on its own, it is better as a companion. If you do find one of these books, I’ve kinda handled the problem within the note. 😉

I plan on posting where I will drop a few of them. One I know will land in Kansas, one will most likely be heading to Florida, one might even travel to Argentina. Who knows where these little books might go. I feel like I did in third grade when I launched a balloon in the air with a note attached to it, hoping to hear from some stranger far away. I’m fascinated by life beyond my sight, and how others discover imagination. What a beautiful idea, this experimental extension of human connection.

God speed my little Conjectrix. May all those who you touch ride on the wings of dragons.

Follow my Instagram (candacejthomas) to see where I will be making the drops.

Let’s Be Authors – NaNoWriMo Explained

My current view

I know. I should be writing right now, with this being November, but I’m counting this in my word count. 😉

EVERYONE is doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, and it is thrilling. I think it runs in seasons, you know, like some years Halloween is freaking awesome and others you just aren’t feeling it. It’s the same with NaNoWriMo, some years it just seems like a hassle, but THIS year everyone is feeling it. I am feeling it and participating, as I have in previous years, with a new project and everything. My author profile explains my wishy-washy history with NaNoWriMo. I should have earned a badge for Quitter several times. But it’s been really fun to explore something completely new from what I usually write. NaNo is giving me that opportunity.

I’m writing this as a “Let’s Be Authors” post, because I am going to lay out some honesty about this yearly tradition that I find funny.

Anyone Can Write…Right?

I have been caught saying that all I did was finish a novel. But, you know, finishing is a BIG part of it. I didn’t go over the first five chapters again and again like we all have done, however, it did take me more than a month to do. (Try a few years.) NaNo gives newbies a chance to finally finish that novel, without looking back at what they’ve written. Just move on and get that damn novel out of their head and onto paper.

This year I’m not rereading what I wrote. The whole point is to spill out the bare bones of the story. For me, it’s nearly like outlining. I’m a discovery writer, but with direction. Maybe that makes me a hybrid, I don’t know. But the point is, I need to know the ending of the story in order to understand what I need to fix and that is what I try to do.

NaNo is an exercise in discipline and crunching for a deadline. But it also allows you to write crap. NONE of these novels are publish ready. Everything I’m writing right now is seriously… crap. Crap. Crap. CRAP. NaNo can get creativity flowing, and that is truly awesome, but nothing will ever be ready on December 1st.

Here’s the brightside: all three of my previous NaNos are now published, but I NEVER, that’s right, I have never won NaNoWriMo. Winning means you’ve achieved 50K words. The most I have written in one year is 23K and I feel that was pretty good. That novel turned into a 100K word number three capstone in my series, which took me two years to complete (and just won the LUW Silver Quill Award). So, yes, NaNo had a place, to get me motivated and writing, but it was never something I was proud of showing anyone. Not until it was ready.

An Exercise in Discipline

And really, I’m the worst at discipline. I do not like deadlines. I cave if there is chocolate around. I love to watch Jeopardy. And will accept any distraction when it comes to NaNo. Because, honestly, who cares? There is no one really pressuring you to finish. There is not a gun to your head. There is not a damsel tied to the train tracks. It’s only you (and your NaNo buddies) that care about this.

So, why do it?

It’s fun to say that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, and people either say, what’s that? Or they say Nano-why-what? And a quick explanation makes them think you are crazy. But hammering out 50K in a month is not going to go on a resume. It’s impressive to the art community, and maybe that is all you need, but what is your real reason for doing it.

For me, the story needs to be my motivation. It always is. If I’m passionate about what I’m creating I’ll reach my goal, because it’s fun. F. U. N. There is always this moment I hit when writing that I NEED to know what happens next. And I love that moment, I’m swept away by it – where my fingers are flying and I just do not want to stop writing… and it’s really late at night, and I have to get my daughter up for school at 6, but I just do not want to stop, and I haven’t eaten and my tummy is so mad, and I snack on pistachios and then I’m fine. Does this sound familiar? You know this moment. Reaching THIS moment in NaNo makes or breaks me. If I don’t reach this moment, I’m very half-assed about the whole event. My goal is to get to that moment in my writing. If I can, NaNo is way more fun.

The Popularity Contest

Here is where I fail when it comes to NaNo. Online, yes, it is a great environment, I have lots of buddies. And you can see what your buddies are up to in word count. But I look at all the badges of what people have earned or what their word count is, and I start to worry.

There are badges for EVERYTHING! Some you earn just for creating a profile, some for logging in your process, but some you can achieve by being yourself. Just by drinking jugs of coffee you can earn a badge. Writing in a bathroom stall…  YEP! You got a badge! I’m totally going to do this one. It’s fun, but also, distracting for the serious WriMo.

I look at the badges of my buddies and it makes me worry that I am NOT drinking enough caffeine, or I am admitting that I write in the bathroom stall. I am definitely not the most popular girl on the site. I don’t have the flare, I guess.

But what makes you the most popular, the most envied of all your buddies, is your word count. Word count is EVERYTHING! Word count makes you king! And everyone is watching it. You can easily adjust your word count at the top. I usually keep the site up on a tab and add my score when I’m about to shut my computer. Why, this blog post is 1476 words and I’m counting it in my word count tonight. 😉

But let me ask you this? By a raise of hands, who fudges on the numbers? Come on. I know you do too. This should feel like cheating at Solitaire, because no one will know the truth but you. But your number is what makes other people crazy jealous of your mad typing skills. It’s good, but it really is bad of you. Shame shame…

The honesty of the project benefits you. It’s our exercise is discipline, and yet we are failing because of the natural jealousy that occurs when we value other peoples’ talents. It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry about what others are doing,” but it’s impossible to not. If the numbers mean anything to you, just be honest. It’s the best way to do NaNo. At the end of November, no one will really care at all. As I stated, I never finished, but all of my projects are published, and THAT, my friends is the goal, really.

A Month of Hell

I can always tell a WriMo by the state of their house, the condition of the laundry piling, the quick microwavables in the freezer, the stack of empty Dr. Pepper cans, the scribbled on trash heap next to the computer, the noise-canceling headphones in the jack, the crowded coffee houses, and the deep bags under each eye.

Why do we torture ourselves like this? We can naturally write every day and achieve the same goal. But why November? Why? When there is turkey that needs to be sliced, and family, and shopping, and plays, and everything else that comes in November. Why do we torture ourselves like this?

Because, NaNoWriMo is an experience. That’s why.

It really is something you can commemorate with others. I have twitter followers that are doing NaNo, and it feels like we are fighting the same war together. We are all climbing Everest, and it makes us comrades together. Every crappy word that bleeds out is stained by the experience. Every treasured Write-in is shared in memory. Every active-brain late night adds to one more badge, not just the ones earned online, but the ones you feel when achieving something incredible.

I know. I’ve yet to WIN, but I try, as WriMos do, to be part of that small percentage that says they finished a novel. And if you don’t, just fudge the numbers until you feel better. 🙂

That is the joy, and hell, that is NaNoWriMo. It’s silly, but it has its place.

And now I’m adding this blog to my total. Because, I need to be honest… right?

 

Let’s Be Authors! Experiment #2: Conning A Con – Pretending To Be Special

Experiment #2 involves Salt Lake Comic Con, though I think this would apply with any convention. I tried to make this post as funny as possible, but sometimes, the truth is just not funny. What you will feel is the embarrassing reality of a small time author selling their soul for a reader to believe.

Before
After

Salt Lake Comic Con is in its 5th year in the Beehive state. It’s in my home town, practically my backyard, and for this home-grown nerdity that infects this valley like a petri dish, it’s one of the best attended Cons in the nation. I’m still exhausted from experiencing the con for the 5th time, and each one has been different. In reflecting on past vs. present, I thought I would share tips on how to “con” the Con.

Con Virginity

Like all of our first times, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation, anxiety, sweating, embarrassment, and fear of performing poorly and being disappointing.

My first con had all the anticipation and inappropriate sweating to prepare me for every eventuality that came with subsequent Cons.

…and I did EVERYTHING WRONG.

My help for my first con. Look, crappy banner, fabric, shirts, and cute girl dresses as Minnie Mouse

Money Pit

September 2013 – My first book, Vivatera, had been out for three months. The newness and hype had cooled, replaced with… okay, so now what? I mean, I had a book, wasn’t that enough? Hardly. SLC had drummed up the idea of a comic con. It was seriously cool news. Why the Hell not?

My sister somehow talked me into seizing the day and I purchased a booth, a very hefty sum for a nobody author. I didn’t have a discount of any sort, so the booth cost was completely out of my depth – over $700, a sum that I could NEVER recover with my first novel, and something I didn’t realize until during the con. I only had this one book and no author friends whatsoever. How was I going to fill an entire 10 x 10 booth?

By spending a lot of money, of course. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Shirts that did not sell – that I still have in my garage, if anyone wants one. They even glow in the dark.
  • Hours, and frankly, days making necklaces that reflected my series. This handcraftory took the possession of my kitchen table and a handful of Saturdays to get done. I still have several in a box in my garage, waiting for me to recover (4 years later) and finish. In the end I sold them for $5, and they did better than my book.
  • Cheap, colored scarves I could sell for $10, but they hardly moved.
  • Sheer fabric, for a wispy, mysterious effect.
  • Buttons that said “Vivatera” on them.
  • Temporary tattoos with the cool “Star” pattern. And I really loved these, but I gave them away.
  • Some business type cards that had a QR code for the ebook, for those ereaders. There are always a few. And I ordered WAY too many.
  • And a fat, expensive banner that said “VIVATERA” in bold letters. (Note: if doing an expensive banner, make sure it is timeless, as in, don’t change your branding and don’t plan on having more than one book. Mine aged very quickly and is now covered with paint in my garage.)
  • …and more things that I thought were necessary and weren’t.

Are you seeing the $$? It was embarrassing how much I put into this booth to try and make my one book sell. The scale of this is ridiculous.

ADVICE:

Don’t spend a ton of money on your first con. Get with some experienced authors (more later) and learn from them.

Don’t attempt to sell t-shirts unless they are as cute and as universal as those Tee Turtle or Teefury shirts (not affiliated with either, I’m just a big fan of both). Don’t kill yourself on unnecessary crap. A good, professional bookmark can do a whole lot for you, one with just enough information so they remember who you are and how to find you. Or just a good business card would work and are rather inexpensive. Spend money where you know it will be useful.

And please… Don’t pretend to be bigger than you are. The one thing I hate more than anything is shameless self-promotion. The effrontery of it offends the art of creating. Simplicity is elegant and still professional. Remember what you love and what you do, and that carries over to those you are talking to at the con. Let the creation of it shine through.

Selling Your Soul

People seem to be impressed any time you say that you are an author. It’s a big accomplishment to, first, finish writing a book, and second, seek to get it published, exposing your creative heart to rejection. I can’t really tell if people are impressed or if they just think it’s strange and don’t know how to reply. “Oh, you’re an author? That’s cool…” slowly backs away… huddles children close and talks about college…

Writing is a solitary activity, for the most part. No one can get into your head and explain what you see. Sometimes when you share with non-creative types, it’s hard for them to relate with why this story is so cool and why you need to believe in it.

It’s hard to explain.

Me with a fan

Many creative types are also very private, shy, introverted, and for us to be placed in a situation around thousands (tens of thousands) of people, forced from our cocooned life out into air, and made to talk not just about ourselves, but about our stories, can be hard. I can’t claim to be introverted, I was once shy, but that didn’t last long. However, when placed in an awkward situation, with strangers, asking about my book, I fumble with my words.

“It’s about a girl who discovers she has magic.”

That’s every other book on the shelf. What makes my book special?

And authors don’t know how to talk about our books. It’s nerve-racking that someone wants to know about your words, your heart, your creative dragon that took over your life for six-months or longer. It’s hard for us to come up with an elevator pitch. We know everything about the story. What part would interest them?

Some authors get so desperate if they haven’t sold, people notice the panic. I call this “Killing the Puppy” and the reasons are obvious.

My secret to keeping my puppy alive, is not really a secret at all. I’m just nice and friendly. I KNOW! My big secret to success. I’m nice. People suck some times, but I think everyone has a decent side. That’s my “glass half full” side. I learned at my first con that being nice was what I was most comfortable with, my best way to talk about my books.

Me being a fan. – with V.E. Schwab

Comic Con is full of creative types. Many are introverts and don’t know how to respond when a pretty girl talks to them, which I find adorable. (And which totally happened last con. This poor guy couldn’t speak after he first asked me a question. I really did want to know about your story.) But a lot, and I mean, A LOT are there to show off their cosplay. And if I recognize something is cool, I tell them it’s cool.

My other secret is sincerity. I truly do want to be nice and friendly. I DO like their cosplay. I recognize it and because I recognize it, they think I’m cool. A commonality. And because I’m cool, they want to know about me.

We really are the worst sales people. It’s something that I didn’t know came with the job as an author. Learning to sell your books is hard, but it’s not impossible.

Be kind to your authors. It’s not easy for us.

Partners In Crime

I mentioned getting together with other, experienced authors. I have done this a few times, each time differently. By the time I had a few cons down, I became the experienced author and started helping others out.

SLCC17 Boothmates: Marion G. Harmon, me in my Skeletor shirt, C.K. Johnson, Jessica Parker, and Christine Haggerty Photo courtesy of Instagram: @haggertychristine

Finding a loyal crew to work with can be hard some times, there is a lot of talent and some times their stuff sells better than yours. It is also very rewarding. It’s not as lonely when I share the ledge with others who understand my anxiety, my awkwardness, my trepidation, my fear of rejection. But the ledge is not as thick as I would like, and sometimes other authors need space. Sometimes, I don’t sell by other authors, because I feel the competition in the same genre. I get jealous by other creative works. I get jealous of others’ brains and ideas. It hurts, sometimes.

Boothmates: Another picture – George, Quinn, Jess, C.K. and me as Delilah Bard Photo courtesy of Purple Monkey Photography

Because I am printed through a small press publisher, I can work with them on marketing, and sell my own books. Some bigger publishers require an author to be licensed with a bookstore or distributor in order to do signings. This limits who can be in the booth (sorry Michael 🙁 ). I have been in a booth with my publisher before and I have been with other indie authors as well. What I’ve learned from both experiences – work with those who believe in you just as much as you believe in them.

Author Ben Ireland, me and author Sarah Seeley. Ben was another boothmate. Photo courtesy of Twitter: @SarahESeeley

It’s hard to know what the reader likes or what they would like to read. So, running a booth like a bookstore and having the reader’s interest at heart, is the best (and most fun) way, in my opinion, to run a booth. I usually ask authors that have a similar readership to mine, but different enough to direct them to what the reader would like.

My biggest advocacy as an author – it’s not all about you. These words might shock other authors. It should never be about you, it’s about THEM. Not everyone is going to like my book. Fantasy is not everyone’s cup-o-tea. Some people need the fairy tale, some need the horror and darker bits. And that is why I like community so much, and that is what I try to do within the booth. I’ve found that people are very receptive to this. It’s the success of everyone that’s really at heart. Separating feelings of jealousy is so important to have a successful con. It’s hard, but I promise, it is worth it.

Pretending To Be Special

SLCC17 MST3K: The Return Panel

Being a “Special Guest” over the past few cons has been a very cool experience, but it was not lightly earned and never abused. Being marked “Special” means I get to enter through a different entrance than everyone else, and I get to stand in a long line, oogling other “Special Guests” and contemplating what makes them special. I eavesdrop a lot. These people know each other or know of each other, and talk about very nerdy things or complain about green room entrance. It’s a rainbow of conversation. It’s another show that I feel privileged to witness. 

What does it really mean to be called a “Special Guest?” I don’t really know. I’m always too busy with my booth to enjoy it.

One year, my daughter cosplayed as Lapis Lazuli’s “Bob” character from Steven Universe, and I told her she could not bring the aluminum bat from home, it’s a weapon. She didn’t listen, as is the usual. She brought it anyway, and of course, she was denied access. I came to the rescue. They saw I was a “Special Guest” and let me take in the bat, no questions asked. That was a really strange power to be granted.

Me, moderating the Dr. Demento Panel. Very cool.

But I don’t feel more special than usual. The reason why I keep being asked to be a special guest, is not because I am cool or know better than anyone else, they just like my creativity in the ideas I suggest, and they like ME. I fake knowing more than the audience, unless it’s Sherlock, Futurama, or Blood Science. I try to be engaging and charming, and most of all, funny. It’s me, amplified. But it all goes back to my books. I’m here! Get to know me! And go, read my books, please!

Truth is, being an author is special. It ROCKS! It’s the best freaking job in the world, to make stuff up and get people to believe in it. But I gotta tell ya, it’s a very interesting and different life than I thought it would be. It’s more than just writing a book, it’s branding yourself. Cons are not something that I thought would be such a big, important part of my author experience. But, being at a con gets me one-on-one time with the readers, and I feel like an author there. It gets me respect from big audiences and that connection can’t be replaced. I never know who I will influence or who will be in my path.

Cons have brought me closer to other authors, bigger names than I. It jump-started me becoming an editor. Introduced me to influential people. It has given me a chance to talk with publishers, agents, people I just can’t get to, but are present at these kind of things. It’s a funny, interesting juxtaposition – the quiet, simplistic author being placed in spotlights. It’s odd, but wonderful. And as much anxiety that it may cause, I find I need it. It rejuvenates me and ignites the creativity. It is part of me now, and I carry the beast.

I’m no longer Conning a Con.

If you are interested in any of my boothmates and their books, please click on my last blog: Salt Lake Comic Con 2017 – 1001 Author Tales!

Find them! Read them! Love them!

Salt Lake Comic Con 2017 – 1001 Author Tales!

Ten days! Salt Lake Comic Con is in TEN DAYS! And we are in Booth 1001! I expect to see everyone there.

I’m anxious. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m… just… so many things I might burst!

Salt Lake Comic Con has kinda become home to me. The first year was insane. No one knew what to expect or do. Everyone was new at it, my newby-ness didn’t show so much. I completely winged it and learned on the fly. Now, I’m a professional (right?) and know exactly how it runs (right?), however, it still gives me butterflies putting on the face of the author I’m supposed to be.

Tada!

This year, like other years, I am surrounding myself with authors, both promoting their works and buoying their spirits. I’ve done a booth by myself at these things and it is hard, so hard, and very lonely. When I join with other authors, there is a valuable sense of commendatory, a deep-rooted understanding of the creative process that comes from creating a book, and most importantly, a security blanket, a safe place beyond the crowds and people, where we can be ourselves and share the author world and experience.

There are six other authors in our booth. Here is a snippet of each one and there creative works:


Christine Haggerty writes dark fantasy.She calls it darker than Grimm. Her little novellas are a hit for those fairy tale lovers that like a taste of the the macabre. Her stories are mature, intended for a more sophisticated teen and up.

The Grimm Chronicles Cinderella FINAL COVER 1800x2400

Pre-Order her Cinderella story here: True Love.

Christine is my mechanical arms, the organization of this booth. I take more of a cheerleader role, but someone needs to guide the ship to dock. She holds everything together. Thank you Christine! Mwah!


Marion G. Harmon writes Superhero fiction in a comicbook styling. His series, “Wearing the Cape” made it to Amazon.UK #1 in Superhero fiction. Great for those searching for some strength. It’s perfect for 14+.

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C.K. Johnson also writes fairy tales, but unlike Christine, this is for the tamer, sweeter disposition. This is good for any age. C.K. and I have worked together before. I’m really excited to work with her again.

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Ben Ireland writes Urban Fantasy. His Billy Blacksmith Legacy series surrounds an unlikely hero and 300 lb spider trying to drink his blood. It’s a story for everyone, even the arachnophobes. 36067163Pre-order Billy Blacksmith: The Hellforged here and get the pre-order price. And Demonslayer is currently on sale for Comic Con. It’s fantastic, and seriously, so much fun!


Jessica Parker‘s The Bride Trial is a combination of the Bachelor and the Hunger Games. I think I just got every teen girl’s attention. I think her cover is so stunning. Perfect for those romantic types and teens looking for an adventurous romance. 31930741


Quinn Coleridge coined her work “Gaslight Fantasy” leaning on the Steampunk crowd but with a delicate elegance to the stories. I’m really excited for this rather dark, Sherlockian duo, solving the mysteries of the fantastical.35213244


And if you didn’t know, my Build A World is new also for Comic Con as well, for those would be writers. I sometimes forget that I need to sell my stuff as well, but I promise, here it is if anyone is interested. Pre-order is only $.99! Remember BOOTH 1001! See you there! 😉

Build A World