Archives: Business of Writing

LA and a Writer’s Workshop

What a weekend. I’m writing from a hotel lobby in Los Angeles. I mentioned before that a creative organization was flying me down to LA to participate in a writer’s workshop. Well, that’s done. Now I can recap the weekend while waiting for my ride to the airport.

The flight down was fine. Enjoyable even. Shuttle van hell proved less joyful. Let’s just say the trip from airport to hotel required two hours. And let’s never speak of it again.

LA is warm. Did you know that? The blocks are too long and they radiate and magnify the heat. But the tacos are good. Thank you, Daniel, for the tour. Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. Done and done. I’d come back for the tacos at Grand Central Market. The rest is fine, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Karl Strauss Brewing tells me LA’s beer scene is coming along nicely. I could ask for a greater concentration, but as a visitor I’ll humbly accept what I can get.

The workshop was a treat. The list of mentors, faculty, and speakers was — with the exception of yours truly — distinguished. In fact the roster of student/attendees was impressive. I’m not going to name drop, so you’ll just have to take my word.

My part of the proceedings went off without a hitch. I don’t believe I embarrassed myself. The conversations over the course of the weekend scintillated and entertained. Well worth the trip. Hard to believe I got paid for this. I mean, I’m going to cash the check, don’t get me wrong. But the weekend proved more pleasure than work.

I feel energized. I’m looking forward to opening the laptop again once I’m on the plane and letting the words flow. The goal: complete chapter two before Portland.

All the Latest

“So, what is new with you, Ken?”

I’m glad you asked, fictitious interlocutor. A couple of items have firmed up since last time I wrote, so I’m more comfortable mentioning them. I’m never truly comfortable mentioning anything that smacks of self-promotion, but this is the gig. No point whining unduly.

The first item I’d like to mention is that I’ve been invited as one of the panelists for the 2017 Calliope Authors Workshop. The organizers are flying me down to Los Angeles next month and putting me up in a hotel. I’ll sit in on a panel with two other writers and a moderator and do my best to help advise the aspiring authors who’ve signed up for the workshop. You, in the back, stop snickering. Anyway, that will be the weekend of September 9, if any of you of reading this are in LA and want to say hello.

Off-Target, Laser-Focused Marketing.

An intriguing opportunity came my way a few months back, one that I consider intriguing in two aspects. I was interviewed for an article in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin (the monthly house-organ for Oregon’s attorneys) about lawyers who are also writers.

This interview was an enjoyable opportunity to discuss writing. As usual with this sort of thing, an hour conversation was whittled down to a few paragraphs. But the conversation was still worthwhile.

NanoCon Mark IV Report

I’ve returned from NanoCon Mark IV and my stint as GOH. How about that?

It was a fun little con, held at the Longview Community College, just across the river from Rainier. I’d guess attendance came in at about two hundred. I’d consider it a success. I sold out of Under Strange Suns. I cut my inventory of Reunion in half. I met a number of intelligent and interesting people.

Among these I’d count James Wells, the great grandson of H.G. Wells (or the great man himself with a time machine and a convincing American accent.) We exchanged novels, so I have The Great Symmetry on my to-read pile now.

I had an engaging chat with James Omelina who runs several escape rooms in the southwest Washington area. I’m intrigued to check one out. I hear good things about the entertainment value of well-designed escape room, and James appears to have the design aspect dialed in.

I even managed lunch at the Ashtown brewery, a few blocks away from the convention. Well worth it.

The organizers were kind enough to invite me to return next year. I do hope my schedule allows it.

Orycon 2016

And that wraps up another Orycon. Technically, as I write these words, the con is still ongoing in the sleepy manner of a con winding down on a Sunday. But it is over for me. I finished my last panel and drove home to help host the joint birthday party for My Beautiful Wife and the Heir Apparent. (Happy birthday, girls!) Before the guests arrive I’m going to write down some impressions of the convention.

Orycon 38 on the Horizon

Orycon beckons once again. The Portland science-fiction convention has asked me back as a panelist for the 2016 con, the 38th.

Looks like I’ll be given a reading. I wonder what I should read. Something from my next novel, perhaps? An older short story? Any suggestions?

I see I’m scheduled for an autograph session. If you find yourself at Orycon this year, drop by and say hello at Autograph Alley. I’ll be the one looking bemused and lonely behind a stack of books.

Seriously, if you are interested in meeting me at the convention, here’s my schedule for the weekend. I hope to see you there.

 

Autograph Session 2 Autograph Area (LL1) Sat Nov 19 1:00pm – 2:00pm   Cait Spivey, Jeffrey Cook, Ken Lizzi

 

Underpinnings of World Building Salon A (LL1) Sat Nov 19 2:00pm – 3:00pmJennifer Brozek, John Ark, Ken Lizzi, Mark Ezell, Vannessa McClelland

 

Ken Lizzi Reading Hawthorne (2) Sat Nov 19 3:30pm – 4:00pm Ken Lizzi

 

Why Fantasy Matters Salon C (LL1) Sun Nov 20 12:00pm – 1:00pm Ken Lizzi, Lindsay Schopfer, Rhiannon Louve, Shawna Reppert, Shoshana Glick

Views on Reviews

I’m considering reviews today, from the perspective of both a reader and a writer. What value is there in a review?

On-line we find two prominent sources of reviews: Goodreads and Amazon. There are a plethora of other sources on the web for reviews, but the two aforementioned are the big dogs, the Siskel and Ebert, the Statler and Waldorf. Is there any value to us as readers in these reviews? I don’t recall being swayed by a review on either site to either purchase or bypass a book. What about you? Does either site influence your decision making?

Goodreads seems primarily a collator of numerical evaluations, readers moved enough to provide a rating on a scale of one to five, but not sufficiently motivated to describe their reactions. There is the virtue of simplicity in that. A large enough aggregate can provide a snapshot of the general reaction to a book. But as a reader that fails to move my needle one way or the other. And as a writer, I question whether Goodreads reviews drive book purchases. Have any of you seen the average review numbers for one of my books and said to yourself “The reaction to this is overall favorable. Based on this trend I will download a copy of this book to my Kindle.”

Amazon strikes me as similar to Goodreads. But since it requires some sort of written response in addition to the facile assignment of a number, any given book will have fewer reviews than on Goodreads. As a reader, in theory a collection of arguments pro and con should help guide me. But I don’t think that in practice I’ve ever read a book because of Amazon reviews. As a writer, Amazon reviews can provide a positive influence on sales. Not because the reviews influence readers, but because the reviews influence Amazon. Once a threshold of positive reviews is reached, the Amazon algorithms decide that customers are really purchasing this, triggering a ramping up of advertising. So, yay Amazon reviews, I guess.

The reviews that have convinced me to pick up a book come from independent sites, sites that aren’t primarily review sites, or that cover more territory than simply book reviews. Blackgate, for example. Or a personal web log, written by someone whose taste in literature appears to largely overlap with mne.

Is mine a common experience? Or am I an outlier on this?

Westercon 69, Dude

I received an invitation to serve as a panelist at Westercon 69. Westercon is a regional science fiction convention, held in a different city west of the Rockies each year. For 2016 Portland took the honors. How convenient.

Once again I will dilute the quality of the pool of con-guests, and diminish the level of panel repartee with my ill-conceived opinions and half-baked witticisms. It should be fun. The convention occurs July 1-4. If you live in Portland, pick up a membership and join in. If you don’t live in Portland, well July is one of the best times to visit. Early summer is gorgeous here. The scenery, weather, bookstores, food, and beer will make you want to stay. Resist the temptation. Portlandia is a documentary.

I hope to see you at the con.