Friday, October 14, 2016

Horror-Rama and October Tarotscopes

Here are the Tarotscopes for the week of October 14, 2016.

This weekend you can find me at Horror-Rama reading tarot. I'm right beside the Horror Writers Association booth.

Horror-Rama takes place this weekend at the Hyatt Hotel (370 King Street West) in Toronto.

This is the third year for Horror-Rama! I've been a vendor at all of them and always have a great time. There are great vendors, movies, and panels. It's two days of all horror, all the time!

Come on down and check it out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Is Self-Publishing Still Lucrative?

Many authors wrestle with the choice between publishing traditionally or to self-publish.

Observing this struggle often amuses me because it was only a few years ago that being self-published was not something that one admitted to doing or being involved with in any form. Authors who self-published were considered egomaniacs and anyone involved with the process of helping an author self-publish was a crook taking advantage of a misguided fool. The word “self-published” was whispered in low voices in hallways and at parties. People who worked in the self-published world moved through the rest of the publishing industry as ghosts who dared not say, "boo" in order not to be revealed.

Now, almost everyone is a writer and everyone wants to self-publish. With new technology, anyone can publish a book and enjoy free distribution for very little cost. Of course, there are those who realize self-publishing is a business like any other and invest thousands accordingly into editors, cover artists, a publicist, ads, entry fees to awards, and so on.  Any self-publishing route can be paved with success or  fraught with failure or something in-between.

Just Tell Me the Secret, Dammit!
Now, of course, human nature and all, everyone wants the new secret of success, the keys to the golden kingdom of fat bank accounts and working in pajamas.

There will always be those who learn how to crack the nut first and get the best meat.

Then there are those late to the party who get the rotting inner shell of what was once a golden opportunity.

If you're just dragging yourself out of hibernation and learning how to embrace that new-fangled technology that all the kids have, well, you may have missed the nut.

Does Self-Publishing Currently Offer the Same Opportunities?
Is the self-publishing trend slowing down? Is the market glutted? Is it going to crash? Can even “the mighty few” still earn a living just self-publishing?

I personally have edited self-published authors for over a decade. I’ve only come “out of the closet” as it were, about it all, a couple of years ago. Now I advertise my services for helping self-published authors achieve success. My how the worm turns. There are now armies of editorial services geared for self-published authors when before, there were hardly any, and those of us who did it kept it pretty quiet.

Buyer Beware!
Of course, like being an author, anyone can declare him or herself an editor and voila! They can go out into the world and do what they want. Most editors are fantastic and rates vary widely. In my own case, some people tell me I’m too expensive while others say I don’t charge enough. However, some editors charge very little and I wonder if they have other sources of income because if they put the time required into editing that they should, they couldn’t exist on a dollar an hour or whatever. Some really should charge way more. Others shouldn’t be allowed near other peoples’ words.

Editors Aren't Magicians!
An editor can only work with what is on the page. We can’t rewrite your work for you, nor should we. There are people who will write your work for you, they are called ghostwriters, and they do a great job as well. A work will stand on its own as it is. An editor can sometimes make a huge difference, but usually, it’s like going into a house. You can tell that the facade is all nice and pretty but underneath there is rot and decay.

An editor can’t help find talent or make a story make sense if it truly doesn’t make sense. However, an editor can do the best he or she can to make it all better. No matter how harsh you think your editor might be, he or she just wants you to look your best. Sometimes it hurts to disembowel your baby, but often, it's not a baby at all, but a big puss filled cyst. A good editor knows what the current market wants and how to make your book fit. It's often painful but you're paying for professional advice, listen to it. 

Be Honest with Yourself
It is up to you, the author, to decide if your book is ready for the world. A traditional publishing house’s editor’s opinion can be a good benchmark. Even a rejection can often show that the book is good if the return note says something like there are not enough slots for everyone. That’s a good sign you can self-publish. However, if you get suggestions for writing classes, then maybe some revisions are in order before self-publishing. Don’t go on the praise from friends or mom who are surprised that you finished anything at all and likely don’t know for sure if it’s any good or has grammar issues.

Self-Publishing Is a Valuable Tool
Self-publishing is a great boon for authors such as myself who have had stories published in small press, obscure magazines, or just plain long time ago. We can pull out those old stories and release them one at a time or in a collection. My Weird Tales of Terror collection is the example of what a great tool self-publishing can be for an author with a backlist.

In that collection, there are a couple of stories that were previously published. There are stories that were accepted for anthologies but then the anthology died for whatever reason. There is a complete novel that never fit a slot for horror, fantasy, or occult so it was unmarketable. Self-publishing allows that book to be born when in could have died in a box like some of my other books that are lost forever, and thank goodness for all of that!

Self-publishing has given me a great tool to release these stories. They already had professional stamps of approval which I personally need for my own self-validation issues so I felt confident trying to make them look presentable as I taught myself how to self-publish. The book is chugging along. I often buy a dozen paperbacks and sell them when I’m at local conventions and libraries.
However, if I were a brand new author attempting to self-publish without any previous traditional track record, it would be even harder than it is to build recognition and create a brand.

There Are No Short Cuts to a Writing Career
Self-publishing is a lot of work but so is traditional publishing. If you self-publish, you can save thousands of dollars a year by not having to go to writers conventions to meet editors and publishers. You sell to yourself so you don’t need to schmooze. You never have to face rejection or the hacking sword of an editor.

Of course, if you have the money, you can hire a cover designer and a couple of editors.

Follow the Hybrid Road
I personally think being a hybrid author is the way to go. There are many pros and cons for each manner of publishing. I’m in the position that I’m playing in both sandboxes.

Of course, I really just want a six-figure advance for a contract to write a trilogy! Haha

Anyway, I’ll be at the North York Public Library on Saturday October 8 for the Indie Author Day.

I’m on a panel from 1 - 2 p.m. about self-publishing and then I’ll be at a table selling copies of Weird Tales of Terror and signing any book you might bring in until around 4. So come to the library and meet about fifteen authors and learn the secrets about the self-publishing industry and its rapid growth. Is it still the best way to control a career?

Get Advice from Working Pros
The landscape has changed dramatically over the past five years. Learn all the new tips and trick from the pros working in the trenches right now at the panels and workshops. Everyone at the tables will have a story to share and wisdom on how best to navigate in the tricky mazes of the self-publishing world.

At any rate, there’s an Indie Author Market on Saturday, October 8, 2016 where you can listen to a few panels and talk to real live authors who can offer you some free advice.

Later on in the month, you can find me at the Albert Campbell Library on Wednesday, October 19.

I'm at a Horror Festival at Chapters in Guelph on October 22.

If you come by, say hello and pick up a copy of Weird Tales of Terror or bring something you already have from home for me to sign!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sephera Cancels Eeriecon Appearance

Well, after a lot of news watching and frantic writing, I'm going to have to cancel my trip tomorrow to Eeriecon. They are calling for storms and my car needs new brakes and has bald tires so crossing those three scary bridges to get to Grand Island isn't looking appealing to me as the wind blows the trees around outside of my window right now.

I have a couple of huge deadlines so I really should just stay home and keep working.

I'm afraid of driving across bridges on a good day and in rain storms and wind, it won't be a fun experience at all.

So I'm sorry I won't be at Eericon on Saturday.
However, you can find me at several library and bookstore events in October and of course, I'll be at Horror-Rama here in Toronto.

Have a fantastic time, everyone!

In the meantime, I'm still hard at work on my Ouija board story which is due today!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sephera Giron at Word on the Street in Toronto

Come see Sèphera at Word on the Street in Toronto on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

Sèphera will be at the Horror Writers Association booth in Writers Block.  WB7

Pick up a copy of Weird Tales of Terror.

Learn about the Great Lakes Horror Podcast.

Learn about Stokercon.

Learn about opportunities with the Ontario Chapter of the Horror Writers Association.

Autographs are FREE!

Photos are FREE!

Come by and say hi!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Upcoming Appearances for Horror Author Sephera Giron

I'm still smiling from seeing Mark Hamill. Yes, you are all sick of  hearing about it all by now!

One more round of thanks to Lance and the gang at Fan Expo for inviting me to be a Horror guest!

Heat Wave
Toronto is still having an insane End Times heat wave.

Although it's September, my apartment is 91 degrees F this morning although it's much cooler outside.

I've been working hard on Horror Writers Association Ontario chapter upcoming events.

I've been working on Chapter Seven of my space opera romance adventure novel. You can read it as I write it. I also show my notes and have a couple of give-aways. When you join, you can go back and see all that you missed. You can also leave comments and tell me how you like or hate what I'm doing as I show you my drafts.

Kelly is a worker at an Edustation on a distant planet. He has a crush on his co-worker, Anita, who has been researching a secret project. When Anita is captured by a Dark Lord from another galaxy, Kelly is devastated. He also knows that it's up to him to find Anita before something bad happens. 

Public Appearances
You can check my public appearances on that appearances tab on my Blog.

The Word on the Street, Horror Writers Association, Booth WB-7, September 25, Toronto

Eriecon, Grand Island, New York, One Day Only: Saturday, October 1

Horror-Rama, Toronto, October 15, 16

Albert Campbell Branch Library, Horror Reading, October 19, 6:30 - 8:30

Chapters Guelph, October 22, Afternoon, Reading and Signing

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fan Expo, Mark Hamill, and Small Fish

Now that I've had a couple of days to try to get my head together, I have a couple of thoughts.

I'm exhausted from working all weekend; reading tarot for hundreds of people, giving three lectures, being on several panels, doing many media interviews, and in-between, not wanting to miss out on my only chance to ever see Mark Hamill in real life so running half a mile to his booth to look at him before running back to my own lines. It's a happy exhaustion!
I still get excited to see my name so close to Mark Hamill's in the program!

I Have No Gift to Bring
By Sunday, it occurred to me to give Mark Hamill one of my books. I wanted to do something to show him I'm a huge fan but I'm far too poor to get an autograph or photo. I had to borrow money just to buy the additional $15 ticket to see one of his live shows. And in fact, someone else had to buy me that ticket as I have no credit cards, and I paid back that person.

So, to give him $50 for an autograph or $200 for a photo was way out of my orbit. Again, I had to choose between groceries and buying The Force Awakens when it came out so I have zero luxury right now for autographs and such. I've been going through a really hard time for about six years now and I'm hopeful it will get better, but it wasn't in time for Fan Expo.

I figured if I gave him one of my books, he'd at least know "I care" even if he doesn't know who the hell I am or why someone would give him an erotic horror book when he's a comic book nerd. I have no idea if the handler gave him the book. I wasn't allowed to give it to him myself at that time. The handler told me to return at the end of the day but I had lineups for tarot readings and autographs of my own!!! And when I thought I might sprint over to check, yet another TV crew came by to  interview me, and it was one I'd been expecting so I couldn't exactly leave my own interview to go see if Mark Hamill might look at me. Then I had to choose between "Do I try to see if I can actually talk to him though I already gave the book to the handler so what the hell would I say anyway?" or "Do I run to where he's going to be giving his presentation to get a good seat?"  I chose the second and got the front row but then changed it to the second row since I felt too much like a stalker.

Rebel Pond Scum
As a small little fish in the horror pond, I have small privileges such as being able to grab a second row seat because I went half an hour early and was allowed in. At horror conventions, I can easily approach anyone from Peter Straub, Jonathan Maberry, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, and more, who I also count as my friends. I've met all kinds of famous people by walking up and saying hi. I met Daniel Knauf this year, the creator of Carnivale, and nearly had a heart attack, but I walked up to him in the hall in Las Vegas at Stokercon, shook his hand and took his picture and we joked and laughed and such. Later on, I sat at his table right across from him, for many hours of drinking while he shared Hollywood stories and his new wife/gf was there as well as many of us who also work in the horror field. But those horror writer conventions, they aren't Fan Expo.

At Fan Expo and other Comicons, you can't just walk up and talk to your peers as peers because the Hollywood "stars" are animals in a circus and you have to pay admission. And you know what, I say we're peers when we all work in the entertainment business with our goal to entertain other people. Some of us had massive good luck, some of us are still climbing the ladder and reaching for the star, some of us were  halfway up the ladder, fell down and are climbing back up...on it goes. I consider my peers as those of us who are working hard to entertain our fans. Again, I'm just a little fish but I'm still a fish.I'm also not slamming the cons, just observing the differences between the horror conventions I go to several times a year and how I am spoiled that if I go to a con, I can speak to and party with famous people and my idols as if we're all normal human beings. But the way the comic book/mass media conventions have evolved, there is no interaction except through lineups.

If there was a special room or BAR or party for guests like me to talk to Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, George Takei and so many others who were there this year, I was never told about it. So I can only observe what I experienced as a small fish "special guest." Which is basically, I did my work, and was left completely to my own devices to figure out whether I mattered or whether I could do anything extra like talk to Mark Hamill. The answer is "no."

We're Not Going to Take It
I saw a lot of backlash before Fan Expo and after about Hamill's prices. I think his were the highest ever in the history of Fan Expo. All the prices of the stars are insane these days. I remember we all used to think it was crass to charge $10 for an autographed photo. Now, $200 for a Mark Hamill picture and for the average working person that's a week's salary at a shitty job.  For Joe Average to get a momento for someone whom you've supported by buying their work for years or even decades, that is too much money. And it's so sad.

Fan Expo and other Comic/Cosplay Conventions ALWAYS reminds me of Tommy. Long before Mark Hamill. I've been a guest at Fan Expo many times over the years so I've had lots of time to observe. I'm not singling out Fan Expo. I mean, any of these comic conventions. They charge huge amounts of money to get in, more money for the big stars' presentations, and more money again for photos and autographs. The average person, especially these days, doesn't have a lot of disposable income. Many REAL fans can't even afford to get in the door, let alone pay the prices on top of the prices. Comic book conventions are for rich people. And that makes me sad sometimes. I myself am so grateful that I get to go as a special guest and get to see and do as much as I can while I'm working. I love these shows but they have certainly spiraled into a major expense beyond the grasp of many true hardcore fans. I am NOT slamming Fan Expo. I love Fan Expo. Thank you again for having me as a special guest. A very big thank you to Lance for bringing me back and having me do multiple presentations as myself, as Mistress Ariana, and for supporting my Horror Writers Association Ontario Chapter.

I say that I would never charge for photos and autographs. That I'm happy that people recognize me in movies or buy my books. But of course, I'm not at that level where people would pay for me (or I could afford to pay Mark Hamill!) so I don't honestly know the truth. When you've been starving and then hit stardom, I guess the lure is great to make as much money as possible while you're hot until the star fades again. Hollywood, fans, entertainment business is fickle.

Fan Girl
But I am not a fickle fan. When I become a fan, I'm one for life. My hardcore fan hit list has been the same my whole life. I've recently added two to the list, Adam and Finn.

Shirley Temple
Judy Blume
Roger Daltrey
The Who
Mark Hamill
Stephen King
Clive Barker
Adam Driver
Finn Wittrock

Teenage Wasteland
I was a Mark Hamill fan from the beginning when I saw Star Wars opening day when I was fifteen and never stopped being one. I had his pictures on my bedroom wall for years along with Roger Daltrey. I had my Daltrey wall, my Who wall, my Mark Hamill (note: not Star Wars but Mark Hamill) wall. I had a collection of news clippings and photos. I likely still have all of it, I'm not sure. I lost some of my boxes when I was trying to escape my second marriage. I've still not looked through all the boxes I still have to see what I have or not. I saw I had that Luke and C-3PO T-shirt from when I was fifteen. I remember when Hamill had his car crash and lost his starring role on Eight is Enough. He was always a huge comic book nerd and always talked about his favourite comic books. I read Howard the Duck and watched the movie when it was finally made because it was his favourite comic at the time in the seventies. I read many of his favourite comics that he'd mention in interviews. Let me tell you, hunting down some of his favourite comics wasn't terribly easy back in the seventies. He'd be in a magazine, so the news is already old, then to find comic books in square old London, Ontario was not easy at all and sometimes I'd have to travel to Toronto or send away or just not get to read them at all. And being a teenaged girl who liked Star Wars, comic books, horror comics, horror books, Logan's Run, and Stephen King, I was not popular at all. In those days, girls didn't like that stuff. So I kept a lot of my old nerd self hidden but I could play a lot of Star Wars music on my violin.

Modern Nerd Girls
This is one thing I totally embrace about modern times; girls can be nerds too! As we see on this blog and especially on my Instagram, I'm having huge fun embracing my inner child that I never got to embrace growing up and then being a mom and going through two broken marriages. Now I'm just playing because there's no reason I can see at all to be an "adult" and "serious" because it sure as hell didn't work for me when I gave it a shot. Now that I'm all alone, likely for the rest of my life since no one wants an old lady Star Wars loving horror writer nerd, why can't I play with toys and write more books and dream about the people who brought joy into my life?

Luke is My Home Boy
As I've said many times, I only went to see The Force Awakens to see what happened to "Luke," to see my Mark Hamill as "Luke" again. Which is why I was so fucked up when he wasn't in it. I'm still angry though it's great story-telling. I'll continue to be upset for the rest of my life that I waited decades to see Luke/Hamill and then still have to wait two years if I live that long. Well, one year has now passed and we're almost into Rogue One territory, but Mark Hamill won't be in it.

Anyway, all weekend, I tried to think about what I would actually say to him if I had a chance to talk to him.

What would I say that he hasn't heard a zillion times before?

Nothing new to say. Absolutely nothing original and unique.

So I don't feel like I missed any opportunities to stand at his table and cry.

Convention Connections
However, if Fan Expo was like a normal convention, I'd have a lot to say to him. Beginning with, "Let me buy you a drink," which would lead to us going to a bar and actually having a real conversation about real things and THAT would be cool.

THAT would be MYdream.

Not lining up at the circus to see the caged beast.

But to have conversation with a real man, not an icon, not a star, not a fictional intergalactic war hero, though perhaps we would touch on the forty year journey we shared as strangers.

I could thank him for the joy he has brought me as Luke and for all the recommendations for geeky reading. I'm really excited about his new nerd collections show and I could tell him that as well. In fact, on a show that I'm involved with, that is still under secret wraps, we too are having a nerd collection segment! I also play "Luke" in a small film homage we shot in the spring but it's not finished yet. But that's a story for another time.

I'm a Greedy Little Duck
I'm still thrilled about literally seeing Mark Hamill. I'm seriously content that I got to cross that off my bucket list. But being a greedy little duck, I just wish there was an opportunity to interact with him as a real person one day before I die! But that's not a bucket list wish, just a wish. And only because in real life, he actually seems like a really nice guy. Truly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another One Off the Bucket List! Fan Expo 2016

We all have our bucket lists. Some items are secret. Some are obvious. I got to strike off a bucket list item this weekend. After nearly forty years, I saw Mark Hamill in real life. Thank you very much, Fan Expo!

I'm still in outer space and likely will be for another day from being star struck and from reading tarot for so many people! I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it means I'm not recognizing people or making sense so we'll see how this blog goes!

Fan Expo 2016
When I arrived on Thursday, I set up my booth on the last row of the Horror aisle. I was across from Troma and a Walking Dead photo op display. I was happy. I need a better umbrella but this one worked. I hung some banners from it, circus style, as I was going for a freakshow feel to match my presentations.

Many people came by for tarot readings. It was non-stop every time I came back to the booth, which was fantastic. I enjoy being busy.

On Friday, I had three presentations so I wasn't at my booth much at all. Dorian, Brandon, and Kish held down the fort for me all weekend. They were great at helping people wait their turn.

Denis O'Hare
I was returning from the bathroom when I spotted Denis O'Hare chatting to Nancy Kilpatrick at her booth, which was back to back to mine. Of course, I yakked with them as well and took some pictures. I returned to my booth and read much tarot.

Cast of AHS: FreakShow
I was able to look at the cast of AHS all day from my booth. It was pretty cool. I went to their panel even though I should have been at my booth. How often do I see people from one of my all-time favourite seasons of favourite shows? I never did go over to speak with them, I was so very busy running between buildings.

Mark Hamill
Well, I am very happy with how the weekend went with regard to my inner fangirl. I was able to get up close to him and watch him like he was a caged animal at the circus for a few minutes every couple of hours. I hope I didn't creep him out but he's used to black-clad figures lurking a few feet away. I just was in awe to see him in real life. Yes, I meet tons of celebrities and shouldn't be starstruck, but I am. 

I attended both of his presentations. One was on Friday and one was Sunday. He must have been exhausted all weekend, likely from shooting schedule then into these tours.He was in Salt Lake City on Thursday for ten thousand fans. I think we had about three thousand at each presentation.

He's a great speaker, and the time went way too fast.

I'd take a peek at him when I'd hit the rest room as he was on the other side of the building from me. It was so cool knowing he was there.

The daily ritual reminded me of the week I stayed in Culver City to oversee the photo shoot for one of my books and walked past Tara every day. Gone with the Wind was one of my fave movies and books when I was a teen and to walk past Tara every day was so cool. I'd never been to Culver City before or since.

Walking past Mark Hamill every day gave me that same sense of, "How cool is this?" This whole resurrection of Star Wars over the past year has given me a re-connection to parts of my teenage self that I'd lost for many years because of life stuff, like everyone else. The Force Awakens awakened my interest in all kinds of stuff and of course, launched my new obsession with Kylo Ren's character.

Kylo Ren at Fan Expo 2016
I was reading tarot when a Kylo came by and told me to take his picture. Of course, I asked Kish to do it and I felt so bad for the client waiting for a reading but heck look at this young man. He's a great Kylo Ren. And hey, if you're this Kylo Ren, please let me know who you are so I can tag you on FB or tag yourself!

Then another Kylo Ren in a cool corset came by so three of us posed. However, I wasn't done with poses I wanted with the first Kylo Ren I had spotted days before. I needed to get a grip though and get back to my client. I hoped he'd come back on Sunday so we could take a couple more posed pictures but he never did, not that I blame him. haha

Someone has to keep these Knights of Ren in Order!
I had two panels on Sunday so was away from the booth a lot for a chunk of time. I also had several media interviews over the course of the weekend, which was great!

It was an amazing weekend. Thank you to Fan Expo staff, all the staff on every level, especially Lance. Everything went smoothly for me from set-up to my programming and so on. The celebrities were all nice from all accounts. Venders rocked as always.  And I got to see one of my teenage crushes. What's not to like?

The Horror Writers Association also had a booth and it rocked as well. There were also three panels. I was on one and the rest were with other members of the Horror Writers Association.

One thing about living so long is that I get to knock things off my bucket list. Some things I did years ago but others I'm still trying to get done. And of course, like everyone else, I add a few items to my bucket list as life chugs along.

Here Are a Couple of Items I've Crossed Off My Bucket List Over the Years
See Mark Hamill in Real Life (he's been married forever so that's as far as that wish goes! lol but...there's always A New Hope according to my inner fifteen year old)
Stay at Stanley Hotel (finally did it Oct. 2015)
Be in a movie that premieres in NYC (Slime City Massacre)
Be reviewed in Fangoria
Be interviewed in Fangoria
Be published by Leisure
Meet Peter Straub
See Stephen King speak in Real Life
Meet Shirley Temple (and I got her autograph on her autobiography)
Meet Judy Blume (I got to see her speak and got her autograph in 2015)
Go to England and see Shepherd's Bush ( 1976)