Don’t know about you, but I liked 2015. I wouldn’t trade my 2015 for SIX 2014s. Hope your 2015 was great, too. Here’s some highlights from last year, and a look at what’s to come…
Ian Fraser Kilmister, better known as Lemmy, the demigod behind Motorhead finally ascended to full godhood. I’m reminded of a joke:
Q: If Lemmy and God got into a fight, who would win?
A: Trick question. Lemmy IS God.
He was once quoted as saying he would continue wearing black “until they come up with something darker.” My onstage look in Jagged Spiral was definitely influenced by Lemmy, and I won a costume contest in 2014 with my Lemmy impression as you can see here.
See ya buddy. You’ll be missed. Tell David Bowie and Alan Rickman that I said “hi.”
Ytasha was guest of honor at the 2015 Diversicon convention, where she presented her book Afrofuturism – the world of black sci-fi and fantasy culture. Now Afrofuturism is more than just a book. It is a movement of art, music and literature that strives to “…break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
I had several great discussions with Ytasha about her book and the topic of Afrofuturism. Ytasha did not create Afrofuturism, but she is a champion of it. Her book and her readings and discussions are really helping to raise awareness that #BlackArtsMatter and she does it in a way that is both entertaining and enlightening. A must read.
- Learn more about Afrofuturism at iafrofuturism.com
- Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture on Amazon
Fiction Highlight Reads of 2015
I succeeded in my 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading 24 books in one year. 8 Fiction, and 16 Non-Fiction. My Fiction Reading Highlights of 2015 included a diversity of great fiction stories. (Amazon affiliate links – Thanks for your support!)
- 10,000 lines by Kate Bitters
- Ambassador by William Alexander
- A Circus of Brass and Bone by Abra Staffin-Wiebe
- Child of the Daystar by Bryce O’Connor
- Orphans by Roy C Booth and Axel Kohagen
- Blade of the Destroyer by Andy Peloquin
- Joy to the Worlds by Raven Oak and Maia Chance and several others….
- The Adventures of Princess and Mr. Whiffle – the Dark of Deep Below by Patrick Rothfuss and Nate Taylor
And I haven’t quite finished Doctor Dead: A Percy and Quincey Adventure by Tyler Tork
For the non-fiction highlights of 2015, I’ll forward you to my 2015 Reading Challenge on goodreads.
Movies of 2015
My best surprises were Ex Machina and The Martian. I had no real expectations for either one, and they both really delivered. Spy was also pretty funny. And Terminator: Genisys was a clever way to sort of ‘reboot’ that series. Crimson Peak was so beautiful, you could watch it with the sound off.
Spectre was classic Bond, although I have to agree with the people calling “try hard” on the villain. “The architect of all your pain…” ugh. Skyfall still reigns supreme as the best Bond film ever.
Mad Max: Fury Road delivered way more than I thought I would. And Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well. Must have been tough to honor the originals and still live up to the hype. Avengers and Ant Man were good too, although I see the Marvel brand getting weaker (Sony’s Fantastic Four didn’t help) and the DC brand getting stronger.
Jupiter Ascending was meh because it tried to do ALL THE THINGS. Didn’t even see the final two Hunger Games movies, but I did see Insurgent, which is pretty much caps off all the YA stuff for me. At this point, Hollywood has turned the YA genre into one contrived, “Chosen One” dystopian mess.
My friends paid me to watch The Hateful Eight, and it was the same dreadful Tarantino film he always makes. And It Follows was downright dumb. I didn’t catch Straight Outta Compton or Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in the theater, but I’ll watch for them on netflix…
I blogged about Arcana 2015, which was a major convention for authors and fans of all fiction spooky, weird, horrific or otherwise “Dark Fantastic.” Catherine Lundoff and Benjamin Percy were Guests of Honor. Made some nice connections there.
#AmWriting – Invisible Flying Pony Saves the World
They say self-publishing your first book is the hardest, and it better be. For a short story, this is taking an incredibly long time to finish. I’ve been bouncing this manuscript back and forth with editors and layout people. The first book for the series is DONE as in, I hold the virtual copy in my digital hands. But the rest of the series and the world-dominating gameplan is still being developed. I want to have a good headstart with this series before I pull the trigger.
When I do, y’all going to wanna stand back.
This much I do know. The first story will be free to members of my mailing list. So sign up here, and you’ll have it the microsecond it goes live.
#AmWriting – Secret Projects
I’m writing a story which essentially crosses the Loch Ness Monster with Hill Lake, MN, and a healthy dose of Lovecraftian… ah, I’ve already said too much. Currently, Lure is in rough draft format, going through critique. Hope to have this done in 2015, maybe even include from pix from Hill City, MN, where the story is set.
The Reason We Don’t Have Flying Cars Yet
It’s 2016. Where the hell are the flying cars? Instead we got drones, which are cool, but you can’t ride one to work. And it kinda pisses me off. I decided the automotive industry must be cursed, and that struck me as a great idea for a story. Think Christine with a flying car. It’s coming along nicely, not sure how long it’s going to be at this point. Don’t even have a real name for it. Probably looking at early next year.
Evil Looks Good
Ah, the creative hostage I have tied up in the basement. I was forced to realize that the sheer scope of this project outweighs my own abilities right now, but only because I’m currently working on seven short stories at the same time. As I unload those projects from my brain and build my mad book business and marketing skills, this project will become an epic event. Think book+music+theater. I’ll get a freaking tattoo if I manage to pull this off.
If any of these projects sound interesting to you, you’ll want to jump on my email newsletter and I’ll keep you up to date.
Back in May 2015, I gave a discussion of writing groups at MNSpec, and at the next meetup, I received two offers from two different people to join two different writers groups. I had no idea these groups even existed. In fact, no one knows they exist, because they are secret. (Btw, you are sworn to secrecy…)
So I’m now officially in three different writing groups. Time will tell if this is too many. For now it’s giving me plenty of work to critique, and plenty of feedback on my own writing.
Mastering Social Media On An Author’s Budget
Writing quality stories is hard work. So is publishing. Therefore, self publishing is hard work squared. There’s lots of pieces to master, marketing being a part that often gets glossed over with the answer “Social Media!”
But social media is not an answer to marketing, it’s a tool. And even within each different social media platform, there is much to learn.
I have a presence in many of the social media, but I was by no means a master of any of them. In 2015, I decided to change that. I decided to pick two platforms to master, and work on growing them.
I’ve always liked Twitter, even though I didn’t understand it at first. What’s cool about Twitter is that it doesn’t filter content. If I share something with my 22,000 followers, and they all happen looking at their twitter feed, they all get it.
Over 2015 I read a bunch of books and watched several video courses on mastering twitter. Just learning about tools like tweetdeck and using lists completely changed my experience of twitter. Once I had the tools down, twitter became a fun and easy platform to connect with real fans of dark fiction, as well as other writing resources.
Connect with me at twitter.com/conradzero.
Goodreads is made for people who love books. It’s a great way to get recommendations for new books and authors, which makes it a natural extension of authorship. I wouldn’t expect every author to have a twitter page, but I would expect them to be on goodreads.
This one was kind of a cheat, because I was already using it. LOL. I’ve used goodreads for years to track my reading progress. But using goodreads as an author is a little different, so I read some books about it and got more active in some communities there (along with some splash damage from my twitter following) I’ve made quite a few new connections. I’ll hit the 5K limit on friends this year, so you should hurry if you want to friend me up at goodreads.com/conradzero.
“But Zero, What About Facebook?”
Um, probably because IHateFacebookWithThePassionOfSevenMillionSupernovae. It’s proof that Billions of people ACTUALLY CAN BE WRONG. Ahem.
[insert visual of tear on cheek]
Aw hells, quit yer cryin already. Fine. I built a damned author page on fb too. You happy now? But I haven’t promoted it at all. Although I see I got a few hundred people spilled over from twitter to friend me up there as well. Now that I’m more confident in what I’m doing with twitter and goodreads, I’ll make 2016 the year I take fb seriously so you can expect to see some growth there very soon.
Connect with me here: Conrad Zero Author Page on Facebook
Gen Con In Minneapolis?
My post about opening a branch of Gen Con in Minneapolis got lots of engagement. Thanks to everyone who shared and liked the post.
Sadly, I never heard from Adrian Swartout. I can only guess this isn’t going to happen, but at least I tried.
Wow, I’ve got so much up my sleeve that I’ll have to modify my wardrobe.
I love youtube, and use it a bit, but not nearly enough. I’ve tried out periscope and I’m looking into vine now. My goal is to dial in a method of connecting with fans through video in 2016.
While cleaning up over the holidays, I found enough items that I could have a garage sale. Not crap, either. I’m talking movies, books, music and even some electronics. Instead, I think I’ll try giving some things away online. Somehow. I’m still not sure of the best method for the giveaways, any suggestions?
I’m spinning up a couple new websites in order to get reviews and other things off of my author blog. Expect those to go live early in 2015.
New Fiction Format
This one is the hush-hushest of all. I’m creating an entirely new format for delivering fiction stories. Stay tuned.
I’ve revamped my email system, and more importantly, this is where I’m going to start putting much of my authorly efforts in 2016. It won’t be nonstop pleas to buy my book, I promise. I plan to keep it short and really sweet, so people will actually look forward to receiving it. Sign up here, so when I do take over the world, you’ll be on the insider’s list: http://conradzero.com/cult-of-zero