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The Return Of What’s Up Wednesday: SoDakCon, My First Book Signing, And Giving My First Interview

Hey Guys. Long time no see.

As always, life is still crazy, but at least this time it’s been in a good way.

I may have mentioned a little event known as SoDakCon before. If I haven’t or you’ve forgotten, SoDakCon is the biggest anime/nerd convention in the black hills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still small comparatively, but it’s growing every year. This year’s theme was Pirates versus ninjas. (Yes, the choice of capitalization was intentional.)

Having identified as a pirate for many years, I of course had to finish my cosplay. Still, there’s a long tradition among cosplayers and being new to the scene, who am I to break it? In keeping with tradition, I waited to finish my costume until the last minute. Still, I think it turned out pretty well and I got a lot of compliments on it. I was even stopped by the event photographer and asked to pose for several pictures. They haven’t been posted yet, but when they are I’ll post them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For now, here are a couple of shots Shannon took of me.

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What do you think?

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I just had to stop by the green-screen booth and have a professional picture taken.

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Check my Instagram for more of me and a few of the other amazing cosplayers who put me to shame.

So anyway, while I love going to con every year as a spectator and mingling with my kind,

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this year was somewhat special. Thanks to my friend and fellow author Adrian Ludens, I was able to set up at his table to sell some of my own books. While I can’t say I sold as many as I’d hoped I would, I did sell a lot more than I’d feared I might.

I was hoping that I’d have something professionally printed in time, but yet again, I dropped the ball so at the last minute, I had to come up with what I could. I ended up designing a cover for my short story “Blood Moon” that translated to black and white. I was shooting for something reminiscent of the old dime store novels.

I think they turned out nicely. I still have plenty of copies. If anyone is interested, I’ll be selling them on my website. www.JustinMKelly.com.

One of the most thrilling moments of the weekend was being interviewed for public radio about being a writer. I have to admit, I got tongue-tied and stumbled a bit, but I made it through even though my heart was beating like crazy.

Then of course came THE moment. The moment when I sold my first copy and got to sign my first autograph. I wish I could say I did it smoothly, but the combination of it being such a momentous occasion and the fact that I honestly hardly ever write longhand, especially in cursive anymore, made me even more awkward than normal. I actually had to stop and try to remember how to make the letters I needed. Luckily, my first sale was to a friend who didn’t mind so much.

After that, things went a lot more smoothly.

All in all, it was an amazing, if exhausting weekend.

And that’s where I think I’ll stop. I could tell you more, but if I told you about every amazing thing that happened over the weekend, this post would be a mile long and I wouldn’t finish writing it until next Wednesday.

I’ll see you all on Friday with a fresh piece of flash fiction.

As always, you can find me all these places online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

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Filed under Uncategorized, What's Up Wednesday, Writing

Flash Fiction Friday Number 10: Playing The Game

Happy Flash Fiction Friday, everyone. This week’s offering is a little weird. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me thinks it’s silly. Another part of me feels like it should be expanded into a longer story. Let me know what you think.

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Playing The Game

He sat on the bench, staring down at his feet. He kicked at one of the balls of wispy, white fluff that littered the ground. He didn’t have to look up to know he was no longer alone. He could sense his friend’s energy settling onto the bench next to him.

“So what’s with you?” His friend asked.

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh please. You’re sitting here brooding and your best friend isn’t supposed to notice? Spill it. What’s eating you?”

“It’s nothing. Really.”

He could feel his friend staring at him.

“It’s just that… Doesn’t this place ever get to you?” He finally continued.

“What? Of course not. We have absolutely everything we could ever want here. If there’s something we want that isn’t here, all we have to do is ask the man and we get it. This place is perfect.”

“That’s the problem. It’s too perfect. Everyone’s always so damned polite and happy all the time. And god, if I hear one more rendition of In The Garden Of Eden played on the harp, I’m going to punch one of those flying babies in the face!”

“Woah. Calm down. That kind of talk could get you kicked out of here.” His friend said, looking around nervously.

“I wasn’t serious.”

They sat in silence for a long time.

“You’re thinking about going back into the game. Aren’t you?” His friend said, finally.

“What if I am?”

“Nothing. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, that’s what the game was designed for, wasn’t it? So where were you thinking about going this time?”

He didn’t have to answer.

“Seriously? Again? Why are you so obsessed with that little blue marble? Why don’t you shake things up and try someplace else? I hear there’s even a new one.”

“Yeah. I looked at that one just out of curiosity. The only avatar you can choose is an amoeba.”

“So Earth, huh?”

He nodded.

“Well, it sounds like your mind’s made up. So what’s stopping you?”

He hung his head. He didn’t want to admit why he was hesitant. His friend waited patiently.

“I kind of used up all my karma points last time.” He admitted finally.

“Oh no. What did you do?”

“Well, before the game started, I used some of my points to choose the rich advantage. I figured I could earn them back by using my money for good while I was in game.”

“But it didn’t work out that way.” His friend said.

“No.”

“It rarely does.”

“I used up the rest of my points in game by being a general asshole. With no starting perks this time around, who knows what I’ll end up as?”

“Well, hey. You could always be a dog. They earn tons of KPs. It’s a much shorter game too.”

“Yeah.” He said. “Well, I guess I should go accept my fate. I’ll see you in a hundred years or so. Unless you want to come too.”

“No thanks. I think I’m going to stay here and enjoy having my every desire fulfilled. You have fun.”

He waved to his friend and made his way to the arcade.

 

So that’s it. I hope you enjoyed it and didn’t think it was too blasphemous. It’s kind of loosely based on my idea of heaven and how I reconcile both an afterlife and reincarnation. Two opposing ideas that I believe in. The idea of life being a game just came to me last night, though.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. I’ll hopefully see you on Monday with an update on what I’m reading.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

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My Trip To NYC For Thrillerfest/Pitchfest 2016 part 3

Let’s see. I was still riding high on my success at Pitchfest. Now that the really stressful part of my trip was over, a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I was now free to enjoy myself and mingle with the other writers.
First, I took a little nap in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt as our hosts were setting up for the Thrillerfest opening reception. I was amazed at how tired I was. Apparently I hadn’t been aware of how stressed I was until the reason for the stress was past. I hope I didn’t drool too much.

They opened the doors promptly at 6:30 and I got my first real taste of what the life of a writer could be like. The room was filled with authors, agents, and publishers of all levels. To be honest, I think I did more networking there than I did at Pitchfest. Of course, those of us that did attend Pitchfest wasted no time and immediately sought each-other out to compare notes. I did my best not to boast about my success, but it wasn’t easy. Especially once I’d gotten a couple cocktails in me.

Again I was amazed at the openness of the writing community there. I got lots of valuable advice from my fellow writers about both self-publishing and traditional publishing. I was given great advice on how to find a great cover designer, how to plan a book tour, and lots of other things.

Again I must admit that there were a few times where I was talking to someone and for some reason, I couldn’t help but assume that they were  on a similar level to myself, only to look down and realize it was a name I recognized. Luckily, none of them seemed offended. The food that was served was amazing, if a bit difficult to eat while navigating a room full of people you’re trying to impress. I wish I could say exactly what was served, but it was much fancier than I’m used to.

By the time the reception ended at eight, I was thoroughly exhausted and grateful when my Uber dropped me off at the front of my hotel. I went straight to my room, laid on my bed intending to rest for a bit before exploring the rooftop bar, and promptly fell asleep.

Bright and early the next morning, I was up and showered while most of my fellow hotel guests slept. I was grateful for that. Did I mention it was a communal shower?

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I decided that, considering the heat wave, and the fact that I was going to be there all day so I wanted to be comfortable, I threw on a nice polo shirt, a pair of slacks, and was out the door. Immediately, I was hit in the face with a blast of hot air. In seconds, I felt like I was covered in sweat. I probably should have called for a ride, but I decided, since I was in NYC, to experience the subway.

It was at least a mile to the nearest station, but even in the heat, I didn’t mind the walk. As I went down the stairs to the platform, I was aware of two things. First, the heat was even worse down there. It was as if I was descending into the bowels of hell itself. The second thing I noticed was the rat the size of a thanksgiving turkey running across the platform in front of me.

Luckily, the system was easy to navigate, especially since my stop was the famous Grand Central Station.

I gladly traded the heat and humidity for the almost frigid comfort of the lobby of the Grand Hyatt. I only had a moment to acclimate however, since the first set of panels started promptly at eight.

I would have loved to have attended all of the panels, but I was forced to choose between four of them each hour. I started off the morning with CHARACTER, PLOT OR LANGUAGE? YA Thrillers In Today’s World, followed by CAFFEINE, CHOCOLATE OR WINE? Writers’ Tricks To Keep You Going. I believe it was during this panel that I won a prize.

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Unfortunately, this meant I had to carry it around the rest of the day. I’m not trying to sound ungrateful, but a bottle of wine gets heavy after a while. If I’d had a corkscrew, I probably would have popped it open and shared it with a few select people.

There was a short break. Then it was on to WEREWOLVES, VAMPIRES OR WITCHES? Thrillers On The Wild Side, led by Heather Graham. Next was PAST, PRESENT OR FUTURE? Mapping Out Your Five Year Plan.

Next, was the big ITW meeting. I’m not a member, so I slipped out for lunch at Grand Central Station. I had a great hot dog and asked for a Coke. The message on my bottle seemed fitting.

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I got back just in time for, ONE, THREE OR MANY? Standalone, Trilogy, and Series Thrillers, hosted by my friend, Sandra Brannan, then wrapped up the day with BUZZ, SHOUT, OR WHISPER? How To Buzz Your Book In An Overcrowded Market. Afterward, I went to the cocktail party that wrapped up the day.

By the time I got back to my hotel, I was once again, completely exhausted. I wearily asked the front desk if there were somewhere nearby where I could just get a quick sandwich and he directed me to a small convenience store/deli a block over.

I went back u to my room, enjoyed my sandwich and my bottle of wine (don’t judge) and passed out.

The next day, I was up bright and early, but I was so tired, I barely made it in time for ITW Presents THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2016: Introductions by Steve Berry. I’m glad I did make it though, as it included an amazing breakfast buffet. I probably had an entire pot of coffee trying to perk myself up for the rest of the day.

After the breakfast, it was time for more panels. I started with ELLROY, HIGHSMITH OR HAMMETT? Noir At The Bar, followed by CHILLS, THRILLS OR TEEN HEROES? Young Adult Thrillers, led by Lissa Price and featuring R.L. Stine.

Next was an interview with Gillian Flynn where I found out I’d been pronouncing her name wrong. It’s a hard G.

After that was a panel I really needed. PAIN, HEARTACHE OR ELATION? Don’t Murder Your Novel Before You Finish It. I’m really bad about this. It was comforting to hear how common it really is.

Next, I couldn’t miss this. SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT JOHN LESCROART INTERVIEWED BY R.L. STINE .

I then wrapped up my Thrillerfest experience with PLOTTER, PANTSER OR HYBRID? The Pros And Cons Of Outlining.

There was a banquet following all this, but I hadn’t been aware this required an extra ticket and to be perfectly honest, I was thoroughly worn out. I slipped out and went back to my hotel. After a little nap, I went and explored the meat packing district and treated myself to an amazing burger.

I spent a good portion of that evening at the rooftop bar of the Jane, looking out over the river and fantasizing about my new life as a professional writer.

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Next week, I’m let loose on the streets of NYC, completely unsupervised. Stay tuned and I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of Flash Fiction.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

 

 

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Doesn’t That Just Figure?

Hello again my adoring fans. Also, hello to those of you who hate me and the ones who have no idea who I am.

It appears I lied to you again when I said in my last post that I would see you the following week. Fortunately, I posted that on April 1st, so… uh… April Fools? Anyway, you should all know that I’m less than reliable when it comes to regular posts by now.

Anyway, here’s the good news. I have a story ready to ship. So far, everyone I’ve shown it to seems to really like it. Better yet, I really like it. I feel I’ve finally progressed to the point with my writing that I can start submitting it. (If you ask my girlfriend, she’d say I’ve been at that point for a while. I’ve just been a chicken.) I have a publisher in mind for the story. Yes, they are one of the better paying publishers, but that’s a secondary consideration compared to the prestige of having a story accepted by said publisher. I realize it’s probably a long shot, me being an unpublished writer, but why not shoot for the moon, right? Besides, they say they love discovering new writers. Hopefully I will catch their eye.

Now for the bad news. I was all ready to send it out. I had everything formatted properly. I had checked my spelling and punctuation several times (although I’m sure I still missed a typo or two.) I went to their website and… they aren’t accepting submissions until May 1st. I realize this is only a couple weeks away, but I’m hoping I still have confidence in my writing by then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to send it out. I just have confidence issues.

Writing is still progressing, although I really have to learn to do an outline. At least a rudimentary one that I can refer to when I get stuck. I dropped one story because it wasn’t going anywhere, only to jump right into another which is now having the same problem. Once upon a time, I was able to just jump into the proverbial story car and see where I ended up. Nowadays, I need at least a simple road map. Of course, i have to remember that back when I could just go, the destination wasn’t always somewhere I wanted to be.

I am also considering submitting a few things to some writing competitions. I still hate the thought of paying an entry fee to get read, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes at this point. Wish me luck.

Well, that’s about it for now. I will try to post again next week, but I won’t promise because we’ve all seen how reliable I am.

As always, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out my website. I’m hoping to update it when I get a chance, but I’m trying to make writing my priority, so who knows when that will be?

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That Debilitating Fear Of Success

Well folks, what can I say? I blew it again.

I really meant to post here regularly, but there is a good reason I haven’t been. I’ve been too embarrassed. You see, I haven’t been writing as much as I had hoped. I planned to come on here telling you I haven’t been writing because I was too busy.

Yes, it’s true. This summer has been particularly stressful for many reasons. At one point I thought I was losing my job, so I was scrambling to find other sources of income without having to sell myself on the street. Luckily, my boss changed his mind and decided to keep my position. Then there was my brother’s bachelor party and wedding. They were both fun, but planning for them and getting ready for them took time. I can only imagine what they went through considering I was stressed out about it and I live 1,200 miles away. I could make a long lost of things that have demanded my time this summer, but they’re all just bullshit excuses. I still had plenty of time to write. I owe you guys the truth.

I’m almost finished with a piece that I think is good enough to publish. The few people that I’ve allowed to read parts of it seem to love it. I only have a few pages left and I know I could finish it in a few hours yet I’ve been dragging my feet finishing it for weeks going on months.

The truth is, I’m terrified. Yes, I’m scared it’s not as good as I think it is, but I could deal with that. I’m really scared that it actually is as good as I think.

I’ve always lived my life as the lovable underachiever. I tend to choose jobs where not much is expected of me. When it comes down to it, I’m afraid people will really like my story and expect more of the same quality. Deep down I know I can produce more, but I’m still afraid of letting people down. I know it doesn’t make any sense but hey,  writers are supposed to be at least a little neurotic. Right?

But never fear. I’ve faced my demons and I’m back on track. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to write a post about my first real sale. Please don’t give up on me just yet.

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My New Profession

Some exciting things have been happening since my last post.

No, I haven’t been published yet. Let’s not get crazy. I have however, written some stories that I think could be publishable with a liberal application of polish. I’m not the only one either. It’s a good feeling to have someone that I’m not either related to or sleeping with praise my work.

More importantly, I think I’ve managed to change my mindset and it’s made a world of difference. No longer is being published something I hope to do at some vague point in the future. Even though I’ve yet to make a dime from it, writing is now my career. Yes, I still have to have another job until my writing pays off, but writing is my profession and I’m determined to have several pieces published before the year is out. Even if I have to do it myself.

I am realizing that the job I had gotten so comfortable in is no longer such a sure thing. Believe it or not, I look at this as a good thing. After much thinking, I realized I had two options. I could either start looking for a new job making money for someone else and living off of his table scraps, or I could get serious about my writing career and hopefully someday soon, no longer have to work for someone else. It gave me the kick in the ass I needed to finally get serious about my writing and start treating it as a business. Also, a certain amount of fear about my future has been healthy.

So here is my plan.

1: Write two short stories a week. I’m still a little out of practice so it will take some time to get my speed back to where it should be but two stories a week is my ultimate goal.

2:Once the stories are finished, I will submit some of them to magazines, while others will go into collections to be sold digitally on Amazon etc. Any stories not picked up by magazines in a timely fashion will also find their way into the collections. Ones that are published traditionally will be put into collections once the rights revert to me.

3:Spend time each night working on my novel. I plan to use the short story time as a warm up to writing the novel.

4:I plan to update this blog at least weekly. Right now I’m planning to write a post sometime Monday night through Tuesday morning but that may change to Sunday night through Monday morning. Of course I may write a “bonus” post if I have something important to tell you or if I just feel like it.

5:I will post to twitter @JustinMKelly1 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 on a more regular basis. I’m hoping to do it daily but I do get busy and forget. Still, follow both of those for all sorts of random thoughts from my twisted little brain.

I have been reasonably successful in limiting my internet/T.V. time. I still spend way more time than I should on both but I have gotten better.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. See you next week. If you don’t, feel free to yell at me.

Justin

I-am-a-writer

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