Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Five Demons You Meet In Hell

That really big announcement I’ve been hinting at? Well, here it is:

On November 13, 2013, I will release my latest novel, The Five Demons You Meet in Hell on Amazon’s KDP program! Below you will see the finished cover artwork, courtesy of my artist friend Sarah Water Raven:
I’ve met many authors on Facebook and Twitter who have used Amazon to publish their novels electronically, with varying degrees of success. My first foray into the world of ebooks, Closets, has been something of a spectacular failure. I’m hoping that, with a more marketable novel aimed at an older audience, I will have more positive results.

So, set your clocks and start the countdown! And buy a Kindle. That would really help! And please, tell everyone you know, and even a few that you don’t, that Timothy Carter is back in the far-fetched fiction game!

GenreCon Next Weekend!

Next Friday, October 4th, I will travel to Guelph for my third out-of-Toronto convention! This will be another fantastic opportunity for me to promote myself to a new city's worth of sci-fi/fantasy fans.

I'm signed up for eight panels, something of a record for me. I will also be doing a reading and a signing on Saturday. Woo! That's a lot of work from me. And you all know how I feel about the 'W' word! Of course, this will be fun work. I love cons so very much.

My GenreCon Panels are as follows:

Superman: The Man of Steel - Friday, 6 PM, Terrace
Geek Cliques - Friday, 9 PM, Aberfoyle

Fifty Years of Doctor Who - Saturday, 2 PM in Terrace
My reading (Saturday, 3 PM in Elora)
The Basics of Writing Genre - Saturday, 4 PM in Terrace
My signing (Saturday, 5 PM in Dealers Room).
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Benedict Cumberbatch - Saturday 7 PM in Terrace

Fanfiction: More Than Just Bad Porn - Sunday, 12 AM (Midnight) Aberfoyle
Self-Publishing in the Age of the Internet - 10 AM (room TBA)
Pacific Rim: Robots vs. Aliens - Sunday 2 PM in Elora

Three of those panels are about recent movies, three are about writing and publishing, and one is about trends in fandom itself. The recent Star Trek and Superman movies have caused quite a bit of fandom controversy, so I'd better be prepared for some hostility (in the form of aggressive arguing). I'm always delighted to talk about writing, and the self-publishing panel will be particularly relevant for me. Pacific Rim was an awesome movie that I look forward to discussing, but I'm really excited for the Doctor Who panel (the 50th Anniversary special episode is less than two months away!). The Geek Cliques panel will bring up many tender subjects, such as the ridiculous notion of the 'fake geek girl'. Honestly, why would anybody in fandom want to exclude anybody?

Aside from all the new faces awaiting me, I will also see several good friends from cons past. For example, Sarah Water Raven, my fellow panelist at SFContario last year, will be doing a reading at 10PM in Elora Friday night and the Self-Publishing panel with me on Sunday morning. I draw specific attention to her because she is the artist who created the cover for (Big Announcement Soon!), as well as a promotional flyer. I'll display those and make the Big Announcement in another post very soon.

I still have plenty of copies of Epoch, Evil and Section K to bring. If I'm lucky, I might make back my travel and/or accommodation costs. I'm out of Cupid War copies, however; I plan to encourage fans to seek out their copies from Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.

Next weekend is going to be busy but fun. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lord of the Matrix

I made a bunch of videos in late 2011 and 2012 - a new hobby for me that I leapt into with both feet. Then I stopped. I just lost my enthusiasm. A shame - I had a ton of great ideas.

Then, last month, I found the mojo again and madeLord of the Matrix. I got a really good deal on some action figures, and saw an opportunity to do a skit I've had in my head since 2002, the year the first Lord of the Rings movie came out.

I'd bought my brother a bunch of the Burger King LOTR toys for Christmas (remember those? Some of them lit up, some of them had sound bytes like "The Ring must be destroyed," and "Then what are we waiting for?"), because he's been a fan of the book for as long as I can remember. I was messing around with the toy of Elf Chief Elrond, played in the films by Hugo Weaving, and I remembered another important movie role Hugo had played - Agent Smith in The Matrix. I put some of Agent Smith's lines in Elrond's mouth, and took advantage of the fact that, in The Fellowship of The Ring, Frodo used the fake name of Mr. Underhill. "Mister Underhill," I said in my best Hugo Weaving voice. "My name is Frodo!" I added in a voice not totally dissimilar to Keanu Reeves...

After that, the skit wrote itself. I haven't even written it down, as such - I've just had it in my head for eleven years. Finally I've had the opportunity to visualize it, thanks to six affordable action figures from The Silver Snail, an Elrod action figure from Ebay, and a plush South Park Satan given to me years ago by a friend. Filming took about a week, using lots of cardboard for sets. In some shots I'm afraid you can see the puppeteer's fingers, but overall I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. Here it is! If you are a fan of both movies (and of Hugo Weaving), this will hopefully give you a few chuckles.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn Attitude

The summer has wound down, and fall is upon us. I'm hanging in there, trying to stay positive.

I've temporarily stopped work on Zombie Jesus Day again. For the last two weeks of August I was busy as all heck with three articles. Four, if you count the one they needed me to rewrite. I'm delighted I felt able to do that many articles for them. My confidence and motivation have improved. You can find those articles, and the others I've written, by clicking here.

I also wrote a new short story! It is set in the Cupid War universe, and relates directly to the spin-off novel I've been working on, I, Suicide. I'm feeling renewed enthusiasm for that project, which is why I've started work on Chapter 12 of that book instead of jumping back into ZJD. I will post that story here on the blog, but not just yet.

I'm going to attend GenreCon in October! This con is out in Guelph, which will necessitate a bus trip and a two-night hotel stay. It will be my third out-of-Toronto convention (the other two being Can Con last year and Con Cept in 2006), and I really want to do many more. My finances will have to improve before that can happen.

The first step to improving those finances would be getting a job. Finding one has been very discouraging; I look for what I want, but keep finding myself under qualified. Or over-qualified. Or they want me to be two or three different things at once. And then there are job search articles; you can find out what I think of those here.

I've been working on a new YouTube video for my channel. I haven't made one in over a year; I've had a good, fun experience getting back into the swing of it. I call it Lord of The Matrix, and I'll write a post about the making of it soon. Here's the link to the video. Enjoy!

I may not have a steady income right now, but I've had more good days than bad lately. The time off has actually been quite healing, and I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about my future.

A big announcement is coming soon. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rejecting Rejection

No writer likes this topic. If you’re a first time author, seasoned pro or bitter veteran, rejection is a term and a concept you know well. If you send your work out, nine times out of ten it’s coming right back.

Rejection should not be taken personally. It’s not you they are rejecting, authors are told, just the work. This is true, and I’ve never had a problem making that distinction. What we create is art, but when it goes out the door it becomes product. That can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Rejection letters themselves don’t make things any easier. If your work is being turned down, it is only natural to wonder why. Most rejection letters won’t contain that kind of information – you’ll get a form letter telling you your work wasn’t accepted with some vague and impersonal turn of phrase. And usually after a wait of several months, or even years (two years is the longest I’ve had to wait). Nothing says ‘you are nobody’ like a letter that arrives after nearly a year, saying “unfortunately your work does not meet our needs at this time.”

“Editors are very hard-working, busy people,” I have been told. “They have so many stories/books/stuff to go through. You can’t expect them to give feedback on every piece of writing they receive!” I’ll go that one better – I had a writing teacher tell me that the publishers I sent material to “don’t owe you a response.” They didn’t ask for my story, so why should they bother with a detailed rejection letter? If they’ve sent any kind of correspondence at all (in a self-addressed stamped envelope that I provided and paid for), then it is a courtesy and I should be grateful. They are doing me a favour!

First of all, bullshit. If nobody sent stuff to publishers, they would have nothing to make money from. Yes, they will keep asking for material from Name Authors, but there are only so many Names to go around. Publishers will always need new talent, and your book might be their next meal ticket. If they receive a work that could potentially earn them money, then they owe that writer a response. It’s just good business.

Second of all, publishers and editors have been allowed to set all the rules. Many of them don’t want writers to submit the same material to multiple publishers at the same time (simultaneous submissions). With publishers like these, you send them your work and must then wait for a response before sending it elsewhere! If they don’t send a response, you have no way of knowing if they are interested or not, and your work is stuck in limbo. If you are going to insist on exclusivity to any manuscript that comes in, and then take several months to read it, you owe that writer a response.

Third of all, just because it’s bullshit doesn’t mean it isn’t the way things are. Publishers have the money and the means to publish, and that makes them the dungeon masters. If they set up a business model that is good for them and bad for writers, then too bad. Suck it up and accept it, they will say, or stay out of the game.

Rejection is a way of life for writers, and the sooner you come to terms with it, the better. It’s not personal, so don’t take it that way. But don’t get used to it, and don’t ever like it. Bug publishers. Write follow-up letters/emails. Call them, even if they specifically say not to. Maintain as much control as you can – tell publishers that if you haven’t heard from them within a reasonable timeframe, you will consider the material rejected and send it elsewhere. Keep a copy of that correspondence with the date on it so you can prove you sent it. It’s one thing for publishers to reject your story. They do not have the right to reject your dignity.

No writer likes dealing with rejection, but we all learn how to. It is a part of the business. And there’s the thing – it’s a business. That goes both ways, with each party respecting the other. One day, the tables may be turned. Keep that vision in sight, and persevere.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Job Search Article, And Why I Hate It

If there’s one thing I really can’t stand about unemployment, it’s the condescending holier-than-thou tone of job search articles. We've all read them, and can spot their well-worn formula. They start with some snooty line about how you're doing it all wrong. That's the premise of these things: "So, you thought what you're doing right now is enough to get you that job? Hah! Silly, stupid job seeker. Let me set you straight."

And that's only the beginning. Everything in your life right now, everything you are doing or have ever done, is bad for your job search. That picture of the melancholy feline you posted on Facebook last week? What's a prospective employer going to think when they see that? Or how about that tweet from two days ago - Im so hapi 2 b here pepl! Not only does this candidate waste online resources on non-fundamental core competencies, but he can't even spell!

Your resume, or resumes in general, are gifts from the employment article gods. No matter how well-written, well presented, well designed or professional-looking you think your resume is, it’s wrong. It’s stupid. You honestly thought you could catch an employer’s eye with that?

The thing is, both the writing and reading of a resume is entirely speculative – there are very few rights and wrongs. One employer might like a detailed account of your job history, while others will want a one-page bullet-pointed list. Some like left-justified text, and others feel that centered text is the way to go. Have an Objective line. Don’t waste an employer’s time with an Objective line! Keep the details of your work experience brief. How can an employer know what kind of work you did if you don’t explain it in detail? Keep every job you’ve ever had on your resume – your time at McDonald’s tells an employer you are dependable, trustworthy and a good team player. Why did you put your McDonald’s experience on your resume – are you stupid?

Any point of view on resumes can be made to seem valid, as long as you sound (or read) like you know what you’re talking about. That’s easy to fake – add a dash of arrogance to whatever you think you know, and you’re there.

And then there are articles that throw in something like this: just because there’s a recession on and the economy is bad, that’s no excuse to slack off in your job search. You just have to work harder, dig into the hidden job market to ferret out those unposted jobs. Hidden job market? Are they making this up? Unfortunately, no. Most jobs, as they’ll tell you, don’t get posted. It’s one of many reasons why job searching sucks. The article writers are right about this one, but they don’t need to be so smug about it. Yeah, maybe I am a lazy dope who hasn’t dug in and explored the options and opportunities hard enough. Or maybe there is a recession on, jobs are scarce, and I’m having fantastically bad luck!

I know, I know, making excuses won’t land me a job. And a prospective employer might read this and think, this person is leveraging his inadequacies onto a slippery slope to a non-proactive attitude! This incumbent needs to utilize his deliverables on a going-forward basis if he is desirous of achieving synergy with our company’s strategic vision. I just wish that the writers of employment articles would resist the urge to add insult to injury. We get enough of that as it is!