One day in my Biology class I had a student casually ask if I was going to the mini Comic Con here at the beaches in Jacksonville. Not only was I not going at this point, but somehow, going to Comic Cons had never even crossed my mind. How is that possible?! I am writing young-adult science-fiction after all! I emailed the website's contact two days before the Comic Con with little hope of a reply. To my surprise, only an hour later I received confirmation that I now had a booth (for free!) with my name on it. Whoa!
I belly danced the night before and honestly, had little time to prepare. In my mind a ran through a checklist of the things I would need - lots of copies of my books, business cards, and an easel for my poster. SaLydia had a great idea of doing something with our appearance and so we decided to become Ohmanians, or residents of Ohmani. In my book people can dye the color of their skin or put patterns on their skin (temporarily) and so an hour before the convention started she painted herself blue and I painted a rainbow pattern down one side of my upper body. It looked like a last-minute botch job of cosplaying but, hey, it was better than nothing!
So we get there and my table is set-up in the best spot in the room - by the door! As I looked around the room I realized I was a little over my head. Many of the artists had customized table cloths, had gigantic banner advertisements or even full-on walls behind them with their work. Again, none of this crossed my mind...although I wouldn't have had time to get them designed and printed anyways. I forgot to think of book stands, business card stands, and the little square to take credit card payments.
Well...you live and you learn. I smiled and said hello to everyone who walked by, and many times they would come over. Once that happened I tried to give a short interesting synopsis of my book, which I had plenty of practice perfecting. In the end, I sold 12 books in the three hours it was open! Not bad for my first convention!
Seriously, I felt re-energized about the whole book selling experience after finding out marketing was like talking to a brick wall. I thought to myself, THIS IS IT! This is what I need to do! This is my market! A bunch of proud nerds and geeks :) I loved talking to this diverse and interesting group of people and talking all things comics, books, movies, and TV-shows (except I had little to contribute on the Anime genre). I had a blast!
The best part about the convention though was meeting other artists like me. One gentlemen, Jeff Harmon, was sitting next to me. Jeff's also a self-published author who does the east coast convention circuit. He informed me that conventions were the way to go for book sales, and I must say, after my experience I believe him! He also let me know about several writing clubs...and Jax even has a sci-fi writer association! Um...yes please!
I also met the lovely and talented R.J Jojola (https://www.facebook.com/rjjojolaauthor?fref=ts
). She is a dark epic fantasy writer, and such an awesome person! We've already signed up for a few Comic Cons together and I'm so excited to be sharing in the adventure of conventions with another female writer.
To prepare, I bought my first cosplay outfit :) I will be sporting a leather catsuit and a long auburn wig as I represent Talon for my next book, "An Eagle's Revenge." One of the conventions I'm most excited about is MegaCon2016 in Orlando next year! That's right...MEGACON! I'm stoked and I can't wait! But alas...I must. Catch R.J and I at Ancient City Con here in Jacksonville starting July 17th!
Conventions here I come!
It is true that Americans are not reading as much as they used to with so many other forms of entertainment around. Some of my students down-right hate to read, and it's unfortunate that their schooling has played a large part in their opinions. Reading has become a chore to traditionally educated teenagers - a "boring" story they are forced to over-analyze and be graded on. I wish I could convince my students that reading is like a drawn-out version of their favorite movies! Oh to dream...but there is plenty of research and data proving that children who read have higher test scores, richer vocabularies, better communication skills, enhanced concentration...and the list really does go on and on.
I LOVED reading growing up, having wanting to do everything my parents did. They would lie on the porch swing on the weekends, feet entangled in the summer heat, with their nose in books for hours. "Ashley, bring us some ice tea!" they would yell into the house, and I delivered it...and that's how I started loving unsweetened ice tea too. I wish parents knew (or remembered) how much modeling behaviors make such a difference in their children's lives.
My first genre of choice was historical romance. They are sweet, simple, romantic (maybe too mush so), and sometimes have a great mystery or adventure thrown into the mix. As I got older though, these types of books became repetitive and shallow to me and so I moved onto my next genre - non-fiction. I became a big nerd and started to read science books on a weekly basis (thanks dad!). But then I went to college and the last thing I wanted to do was read more books on science in my spare time. I liked books that truly helped me escape - science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. I got into young-adult books mostly with Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight being among my bestsellers reads.
I am sad to admit that for those years in graduate school, I did very little reading - but I guess I have an excuse. Now I read a book every three weeks on average, and I seem to have expanded my genres of choice (can you believe Vampire is considered a genre now?I And no, I am not on that train). When I hear people say they don't like reading I can't help but thing, "But you do! You just haven't found the right genre yet!"
I find it especially important to read now that I am writing. The last two series I've read, the steam punk fantasy "Emperor's Edge" series by Lindsay Boroker and the post-apocalypic Silo series by Hugh Howey have been great. These authors have been especially helpful because of their expert writing styles. I already feel like my next book will be a better written piece of art from continued reading and reflection.
Seriously, though, if you have been slacking on your reading, pick up a book! Reading has been proven to decrease your risk of dementia later in life. And if you've lost your passion for reading, maybe try a different genre. Not much time because of, you know, life? Just aim for 15 minutes a night before you go to bed. Do yourself a favor and escape into another place for a few minutes a day.
Let me know what books you're reading and love and I will definitely look into them!