Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


Conventions for Introverted Authors?

One of the things most writers I know dread is marketing. Ugh. We authors know how to write books, but then we have to do our darndest to sell them. Okay, no one said you had to actually sell any books you write and publish, but that’s the idea, isn’t it? We share our stories with people who love them, and then tell their friends and family how awesome your book is, and they tell their friends, and so on.

And in the author’s realm of wishful thinking, we’ll find ourselves on at least one best seller list, we’ll win all kinds of awards, and we’ll be getting invited to interviews on television! We’ll have lines of readers that stretch out of bookstores and around the block. We’ll get royalty checks that can actually pay for a whole book of stamps or two!

Hey, I said it was wishful thinking!

Except wishful thinking won’t get us there. We not only have to write great stories, compelling stories, create relatable and intriguing characters, we have to get as many people as we can to buy our book. We probably won’t get rich, but if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to fund a writing retreat to somewhere exotic, like Hawaii 🙂

People generally won’t buy books written by someone they’ve never heard of unless someone recommends it to them, or they meet you, the author. Then they know you, and they will be more inclined to buy your book. Hopefully they’ll tell their friends and family, and they will buy your book, and the ball will keep rolling.

So how do you get people to recognize your name without spending hours and/or lots of money on marketing stuff? Because, as we know, marketing is that dreaded-but-necessary task few of us are any good at. Tell me to write a book, I can do that. Tell me to put together an effective marketing campaign, and I can stumble through it, but I’m not good at it, and I dread it.

A good way to “get your name out there” is to go to conventions. No, not comic-cons dressed like a Jedi knight or a superhero, conventions for readers and writers. They have lots of panels, and that’s a great way for people to learn your name and a little bit about you. Granted, you’ll probably share the stage with three or four other writers, and a moderator, but when you consider there could be thirty or forty people (or more) attending your panel, that’s dozens more people than who knew your name before.

I’ll be going to Left Coast Crime in Tucson this spring. As an author attendee, I indicated I was interested in being on a panel when I registered. The organizers do a great job of giving authors at least one panel. I just got my panel assignment, as a panelist, not moderator. Yay, no extra books to read! Once I got my panel assignment, I went to the schedule to see what the other panels were.

And I notice a panel didn’t have a moderator.

Okay, remember the part about getting your name out there?

I now have four books to read before mid-March. But that’s more people who will recognize my name.

There are other opportunities to meet readers and writers, and I closed my eyes and jumped into the author-hosted table pool with a writer I met last year at LCC (incidentally, she moderated a panel I was on). Now I just have to figure out how much to spend on swag and what swag.

Ugh. Marketing.

Bottom line, if you have opportunities to meet readers, whether they’re meet the author events at a bookstore or library, or a reader convention especially, take them. Yep, you have to talk to people. Yep, there will be strangers there. But by the time the event is over, you will have met a lot of fellow readers and writers, made some new friends or met some critique partners, and for sure got your name out there.

I’m working through my revisions of Book 2 slowly; I do have four books to read in the next four weeks. Five, actually, because one of my critique partners suggested a book that happened to be written by the LCC guest of honor (that’s not why she suggested it, but I figure it’s a good reason to get it read before the convention).

Keep on writing!


Bouchercon 2022 recap

Morning hangout with fellow B’con authors, including Linda Johnston, Christine DeSmet, and Priscilla Paton

It’s been a week since Bouchercon, the international mystery readers and writers convention. This year it was in Minneapolis, basically in my backyard (even though I’m a little more than an hour away). What an event!

Over 1300 people registered and attended. So many panels, so many authors, so many readers! I was on one panel, and had the opportunity to sit in on many others, from writing the first draft to humor to crime in a small town to using setting. I got to see a number of our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime members in person for the first time in two years. (We still haven’t gone back to meeting in person yet; the place where we meet has changed their procedures for groups using the space, and since I live over an hour from the place, I’m waiting until I’m in the Cities to coordinate a “this is how we do it now” session with them).

And I caught up with a lot of the authors I met this spring at Left Coast Crime. The authors I had on the LCC panel I moderated were there (I didn’t catch up with one of them, but she was there), and so many others I’d spent some time visiting with. I met local authors and others from farther away, and of course came home with a much longer TBR list.

Some of the most enjoyable panels were one on humor, moderated by our very own (and very funny) Jessie Chandler, and one on setting, moderated by Matt Goldman. The humor authors included Charlaine Harris (yes, that Charlaine Harris), Catriona McPherson, Matt Goldman, and Craig Johnson (of Longmire fame). Dang, they were all funny, especially Charlaine and Catriona.

Matt’s panel about setting and weather was a study in international writers (and accents!). Catriona again (from Edinborough and now in CA), Alexander McCall Smith (England), Jo Nesbo (Norway), Caro Ramsay (Glasgow), and Stan Trollip (South Africa). I didn’t realize the rivalry between Edinborough and Glasgow, either, until Catriona and Caro started their verbal joust (all in good fun).

I didn’t take as many pictures as I’d intended, because I always forget until the opportunity is past. However, there are a lot of pics on FB from other attendees like Jess Lourey and Jessie Chandler. So much work, so many volunteers, and what a great convention! The local committee did a fabulous job!

I enjoyed it, and I know other members of our SinC chapter enjoyed it; it was their first convention, and they came because it was local. I wouldn’t have gone if it hadn’t been local; next year’s B’con is in San Diego, where two years ago LCC was for a day before they had to shut it down because of Covid. Haven’t decided if that will be on my list of conventions yet.

One thing that was tough (compared to LCC, which is less than half as big) was finding the people you knew who were there and you wanted to catch up with. It took me a day and a half to find a couple author friends who were there. At LCC I probably would have found them in the first half of the first day.

I met some old friends, some new friends, and helped my writing teacher plot her next Door County Fudge Shop book. I met an author now writing a 3-book series about a 450-lb crime-solving pig (based on a real-life pig). I crossed paths with research resources I can tap when I need some information, and I know whom I can ask when I need blurbs for my books.

I’ll be in Tucson next spring for LCC 2023 for sure, but I haven’t decided yet about B’con in San Diego. I might have to go since my last visit to San Diego was cut short and I missed the opportunity to meet up with B. In any case, if you have an opportunity to go to a convention, whether it be a readers/writers convention or a writers conference, go. You never know who you might meet, whether they be future critique partners, or editors, or a new favorite author. Or just people you get to see every year at the annual convention.

Check one out. I predict you’ll have a better time than you expect.

Have a great writing weekend!


Musing events and other news #amwriting

When I open the back door to the office, the sound of my writer singing along to Toto’s Africa greets me. I’m not saying she can’t sing, but she does have a limited range. And it’s weird; she doesn’t normally sing, like, ever–well, except when she’s in the car.

When I round the partition wall separating the alcove from the back door, I find her in a recliner, footrest extended, eyes closed, headphones on, slippered feet air-tapping to the rhythm, laptop in place. She’s in good spirits today.

Good. I grab a bottle of water from the fridge and settle into the other recliner as she reaches the final refrain of one of Toto’s most well-known songs.

She opens her eyes and chokes off a screech when she sees me. “Holy shit! What the hell?”

“Nice to see you too, love.” I point with my water. “I see you’re hard at work.” Not.

She pulls off her headphones. “Hey, I submitted my manuscript to my agent today. I’m taking a victory lap.”

“It’s only a victory lap if your agent likes it.”

She stares at me. “Seriously? Did you, my Muse, just throw shade on my expectations that she’ll like it? I thought you were supposed to be encouraging. I have enough of a struggle with imposter syndrome.”

“All writers do. What’s next?”

She sighs. “Now I need to come up with a log line and put together a synopsis and query for Book 2. Ugh. I want to get back to my police procedural.”

“Hmm. I’d like you to get back to your police procedural, too.”

“And I have to brainstorm Book 3. And I have to get back to my rural MN mystery.”

“You forgot the novellas. And that urban fantasy.”

She grumbles. “Why is it that it seems I have less and less time to write? I mean, I can’t do anything about my 40-hr a week job, but outside of that …”

“You manage just fine when you focus.”

She twists in her chair to face me. “Are you coming to Albuquerque with me?”

“Do you really think you’ll have any time to write when you’re at Left Coast Crime?” I finish my water and toss the empty into the recycling bin on the other side of her chair. “I know you, love.”

“I’m rooming alone this year, and I have layovers.”

“You’ll use your layovers to read the rest of the books from the authors of the panel you’re moderating.”

“I have to work on my log line and synopsis. I might as well do it while I’m there, right? Please? I could use some–okay, a lot of help with the log line. And the dreaded synopsis.”

I was planning to tag along, but she doesn’t have to know that. With that many writers there, the powers that be have sanctioned a muse convention at the same time. “You have to promise to work when you have time and opportunity.”

“Of course.”

“Then I’ll tag along, love. It should be nice this time of year in New Mexico.”

Not that I didn’t expect him to come along, but sometimes I wonder if he purposely takes his “walkabouts” while I’m otherwise occupied, like attending panels at writer conventions.

Spring has been teasing us; we’ll get one or two beautiful spring days followed by a week of cold, wind, and rain/snow/sleet. Ick. Everything had dried out, finally, and then we got a day and a half of rain and rain/snow spittle. Ugh.

On the bright side, though, it’s a great excuse to stay inside and write, right? Have a wonderful, more-spring-like weekend filled with lots of writing!

The three mouse-katters: Nyx, Stella, and Tibbers