Conrad Zero On KFAI Radio This Sunday!

radio_wavesNo seriously. My voice will be riding the radio waves this Sunday!

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 at 10 a.m. - KFAI’s Wave Project will host the Writers Reject Sack with guests: Abra Staffin Wiebe, Joel Arnold, Dana Baird, and myself.

Not sure which I like less: the word “reject” or the word “sack”. Nevertheless, I’ll be there. We’ll be talking about writer stuff, traditional publishing, self-publishing, podcasting and the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group.

Tune in to:

  • 90.3 FM Minneapolis, MN
  • 106.7 FM West St. Paul, MN

The show should be recorded and listed on the KFAI website, I’ll be sure to link back to it when the recording is posted!

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group Podcast – Episode 14 – Barbara DaCosta

In 2012, Barbara DaCosta broke into mainstream publishing with her first picture book, Nighttime Ninja, including artwork by Ed Young.

Barbara talks with the MNSpec writer’s group about her experience with the publication process of picture books — from original concept, to working with editors and illustrators, to marketing and getting the word out.

PODCAST - Breaking into Picture Books with Barbara DaCosta.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Sky-Tinted Waters Release Party! 26 Aug 2012

Cover Art For Sky Tinted WatersThere will be a release party for Sky-Tinted Waters, the MinnSpec compilation containing my story, Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Giant Carnivorous, Poisonous Exploding Spider-Leeches.

There will be some food available, although I suspect “food” might mean something different to speculative fiction authors. So, consider there will be snacks available.

I’ll be there from noon till 4PM. I have no idea if there is any structure to the event, so come and go as you see fit. There will be copies of the book available for purchase, and most of the contributing authors will be there to sign and give readings.

Hope to see you there!

 

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group Podcast – Episode 13 – Traditional Publishing Vs Self-Publishing DEATHMATCH!

Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing–FIGHT! Two publishing methods enter, two publishing methods leave!

Episode 13: Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing Death Match!

Those interested in the music can download “The Last Song” from Jagged Spiral’s debut album, Days From Evil absolutely free from the band website: http://www.jaggedspiral.com/music/

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Reflections on 4th Street Fantasy Convention 2012

2012 marks my second time at the 4th Street Fantasy Convention in Minnesota. Last year’s spec-fic writers’ get-together was called a Conversation, not a Convention, although I did not see the word Conversation used in this year’s description.

This year’s 4th Street Fantasy Whatever-it-was was better in some ways, and worse in others than last year’s.

Whoever did the programming this year did a great job of putting together some High Quality Discussion Panels. Of course, this is the primary reason to attend 4th street. The discussions will fill your head with so many ways to improve your writing that even if it doesn’t explode, you won’t be able to implement them all. Bring a notepad, or a device running evernote, or something to jot down ideas.

The audience is another reason. Authors of all skill levels attend this conference, and all the discussions open up (at least part of the time) to audience questions and observations. The panels were slightly more diverse than last year, I didn’t notice anyone dominating the panels, like last year. Of course the Scribblies were omni-present, but I heard rumors that they originally started the 4th Street Fantasy event, so that makes sense. Regulars include: Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Patricia Wrede, Emma Bull, Steven BrustPamela Dean, and Will Shetterly.

Another thing that remains the same is the Author Social Networking. No, I don’t mean twitterfacebookgoogleplus. I mean actual face-to-face talking with other authors. The downtime between panels. Ganging up with others to take a leisurely stroll to lunch. On Fri/Sat night there is an open music jam, which is primarily traditional folk music, so bring your ukelele.

Registration was the same as last year – to get the discounted price you had to register MONTHS in advance…but the programming wasn’t listed until mere WEEKS before the event. So you pay before you know the programming. Sadly, I’m finding that this is becoming the norm with conventions, but because the topics of 4th Street are focused on speculative fiction authors, there’s little danger in registering early. If you’re a spec-fic author, the content is meant for YOU.

The venue moved to the St. Louis Park Marriott this year, just a block away from the DoubleTree where it was held last year. The good news is that the same great selection of local bars and restaurants is all within walking distance at the West End. The bad news – no inside bar, and the space is much reduced from last year. I particularly missed the merch area where Uncle Hugo’s and other vendors had tables of books and other things for sale, but there was NO room for this at the Mariott. I know selling stuff isn’t the point of the con, but NOT having a venue for book sales at an author convention like this is a shame. But that didn’t mean there weren’t things to purchase….

…because this year, the con instituted an auction that invaded the breaks between panels. The goal of the auction is to raise funds to make 4th street even better next year. But after drinking Diet Coke for an hour and a half, it was frustrating to wait as someone barges in with all the subtlety of a TPT Channel 2 pledge drive, wagging a tentacle-finger, and warning that WE NEED YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE, so we can auction off another item…

Sigh. I appreciate their efforts to raise some cash to make the con better. It’s going to a good cause. However, I have two meager requests:

  1. Could the items being auctioned be geared more towards authors? Having your manuscript critiqued by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly was a great auction item. Playing poker against Steven Brust? Maybe. But a handful of tentacles signed by the Scribblies? Not so much. I would have bid on having my name or likeness appear in an upcoming Scott Lynch story, but I’ve no interest in his old fire helmet. (Sorry Scott!)
  2. Could the auction items be listed someplace for silent bidding? Or additionally listed online?

I think the auction would net more money with less interruptions if these two requests were implemented. Also, they could accept donations from participants to auction off, not to mention have a higher quantity of things to offer.

On second thought, a raffle with a handful of possible prizes might net them more money, and again, with fewer interruptions.

One more highlight of the 4th Street Fantasy Convention is Janet Grouchy, aka The Poster Girl For Southern Hospitality.  Janet. You. Rock!

I was pleased to see that the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group had a healthy turnout.  Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Dana Baird, Michael Merriam, Sherry Merriam, Tyler Tork, Rebecca Chesin, and Sarah E. Olson all made the event entertaining as well as educational.

Fun Things Overheard at 2012 Fourth Street Fantasy Writers’ Convention

I have no idea if these are existing quotes from a source I’m not aware of, or words people pulled out of the aether, but I overheard all these things from the audience at 2012 Fourth Street:

“Theology exists to control the folk process.”

“I blame the Romantics for a lot.”

“…the magic thingawhowhatsit.”

“Collaboration is a violent agreement.”

“The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.”

“Set up a pattern and break it.”

“A single conflict makes a really dull book.”

and most importantly…

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New Book Release! Sky-Tinted Waters UNBOXED!

Cover Art For Sky Tinted WatersA hefty package showed up today from Sam’s Dot Publishing. It was no surprise that my preordered copies of Sky-Tinted Waters had arrived. The second MNSpec compilation was supposed to be completed in time for this year’s MiniCON, but the printing was delayed. Just as well, because I wasn’t able to make it to MiniCON this year. But the book is out NOW, and I’m told the release party will happen at CONvergence 2012.

The cover art for Sky-Tinted Waters looks great. It was a rush to open the box and see the lush, multi-colored landscape, Ethereal Beach II by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. Nice work.

Opening to the table of contents, I had to laugh. My story, Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Giant, Carnivorous, Poisonous, Exploding Spider-Leeches took up three whole lines! And I was pleased to see “…an invisible flying pony” get special mention on the back cover.

Little did I realize, those extra lines would be taken back…with interest! As I read through Pinky…etc, I was disappointed to find that seven of the eight section breaks were missing from the story. The text just ran together, which affected the pacing and obscured the location changes, making the story confusing. I’ve noticed this same problem in several other stories in the anthology, so I’m guessing it’s some kind of conversion error and not an editing decision. Unfortunately, there was no ARC (advance release copy) to proofread for typos or errors like this. I’ve hand-written the section breaks into the books that I’m personally handing out. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for taking up so much space in the table of contents!

If you pre-ordered a copy of Sky-Tinted Waters from me, I’ll get you a signed copy next time I see you.The book should also be available soon at Sam’s Dot Publishing Bookstore. And stay tuned for updates about the upcoming book release party at this year’s CONvergence.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Cover Art Released for MNSpec Author Compilation ‘Sky-Tinted Waters’

Cover Art For Sky Tinted WatersThe cover art has just been released for the upcoming MNSpec Anthology, Sky-Tinted Waters and it looks great! It’s exciting to see this project come together after months of planning, writing, submitting, editing, and waiting.

Click on the graphic at the right for a larger pic.

Sky-Tinted Waters is being released by Sam’s Dot Publications, and edited by Michael Merriam. The book will contain my mega-titled, dark fiction short story, Pinky The Invisible Flying Pony Vs The Giant Carnivorous Poisonous Exploding Spider-Leeches. I can’t wait to see the words in print!

All told, Sky-Tinted Waters will contain 20 stories from my fellow authors of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group, AKA: MNSpec.

The book should be available soon, and there will be a release event including readings and signings by contributing MNSpec authors at the 2012 CONvergence festival, July 5-8 at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington, MN.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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MNSpec Invades the 2012 Bloomington Writers’ Festival and Book Fair

MNSpec Authors at the Bloomington Writer's Festival. Photo by Terry Faust http://www.faustphotography.biz/

The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ group hosted a table at the 2012 Bloomington Writers’ Festival and Book Fair. It’s a great event, put on by the Bloomington Theater and Art Center. I’ve attended for the past couple years, and the event continues to grow and attract people from all corners of the writing and publishing industries.

Dana Baird was on hand with her brand new book, Broken Legacy. Michael Merriam was our anchor, working the table from open to close, and administrating matters financial. Jason Wittman brought along his very tiny books, the size of postage stamps (by far the most popular item, and winner of ‘Most Units Shifted’.) Terry Faust helped with setup and provided a lovely lamppost to help guide the masses to our table. I brought copies of The Blackness Within, which contains my short story, Big Game.

QR codes were a given, along with free snacks and/or giveaways at most tables. I watched one person who walked up and down the rows, filling a bag with all the free stuff he could carry. My contribution to the MNSpec free snack fund was Apple Pie Gum, but no one wanted a piece. No one. Not even the guy who was loading up on freebies. I eventually broke down and tried a piece myself. It was like stuffing ten whole apple pies in your mouth for thirty seconds, then it magically turned into a bland rubber piece off an old shoe.

I sat in on two seminars. The Evolution of E-books was the more interesting of the two, and I can sum it up in one word: Apps. Instead of the “epub” format, some publishers are turning their books into apps for Android, I-phone, Nook, Kindle, etc. I’d compare it to the current “3-D” trend of movies, extra fluff that costs big bucks, with little more than “gee whiz” factor as a payoff. Publishers can afford to shell out for flash animators and app programmers, while indie/self publishers might be more limited in this capacity. Should be interesting to see where this goes.

The Future of Publishing seminar was disappointing. Most of the discussion was lost in waxing romantic about social media, and discussing the fate of indie bookstores. I dared to ask a (on topic) question about whether author exclusivity with amazon/i-tunes/bn.com might become a more common factor in the future of publishing, but it was quickly brushed off as if “yes, yes, we all know that.” Oh, I’m sorry, let’s go back to talking about Twitter, because that IS the future of publishing. I had a much more enjoyable, informative (and Free) discussion after that seminar with fellow MNSpec members Randy Holland and Kiernan Gladman.

All in all, the event is a great networking opportunity, and not such a great event for sales. Seminars are hit-or-miss.  The crowd was mostly older folks, and the tables were a mix of authors and author resources, but weighted heavily toward self-published authors, and self-publishing support. I’d recommend this FREE event to anyone who wants a jump-start on the summer author festivals.

Check out Bloomington Writer’s Festival on Facebook.

Conrad Zero LogoYours Darkly,

Conrad Zero

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Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group Podcast – Episode 10 – Everything E-Book

Like it says on the tin. How to read ‘em, how to format ‘em, where to sell ‘em, and when to make ‘em.

Episode 10: Everything Ebook

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Conrad Zero

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Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group Podcast – Episode 7 – It Came From The Slushpile!

This episode is “It Came From the Slush Pile.”  Three real slush pile readers & editors dissect submitted stories and explain what worked, what didn’t, and why they stopped reading when they did. Learn the secrets of the slush pile!

Episode 7: It Came From the Slushpile!

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Conrad Zero

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