I’ve been to two writing conferences (the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conferences in 2016 and 2017) but I’ve never done a “public-facing” event as an author. The first time will be on December 9th, 2023 at the first (ever) Downtown Issaquah Association Author’s Fair at the Issaquah Library.
Having not done this kind of thing before, I don’t know what to expect. Seeing December 9th loom on my calendar gave me the impetus to complete my revision of the second book of the Siana’s War Trilogy, which I’ve been working on since May 2023. (As a result, the ebook version of Princess of Time is out now on Amazon; the paperback version is under review.) But today I’ve been thinking of other materials to bring with me, while imagining what the event will be like.
I don’t imagine myself spending 5 hours just peddling my books. Socially I’m not a pushy person, and beyond that, I gravitate toward being helpful. So I found myself preparing things that could help me talk about the actual process of writing and publishing a book: a) the individual JPG components of my two book covers, purchased from Shutterstock and depositphotos, before they were expertly assembled into cohesive covers by my son Ian; b) two of my sketchbooks filled with the original diagrams, maps and outlines that helped me build such an immense world; c) images from the internet that I used as physical models for characters.
I could talk about the things that came more naturally to me (crafting a complex and cohesive alternate universe full of races, powerful artifacts, a unique metaphysics, creatures and enemies) and I could talk about the things that were harder (weighing traditional versus self-publishing, figuring out Amazon’s KDP process, assigning ISBN numbers). When I published Siana’s War (volume one) in 2022 I tried to leave myself breadcrumbs to follow with the next one; maybe I can be someone else’s breadcrumb trail and save them some trouble.
In addition to making someone else’s path as a writer or a self-publisher easier, I think my motivation is that the excitement of publishing Siana’s War and Princess of Time is about way more than selling books. It’s not really just about the books themselves. I’m excited about the larger journey into the imagination on which writing these books took me. I love the universe, I love the characters, I love the story, and I hope that my writing didn’t get in the way of other people appreciating these things too. I use the example of Star Wars all the time; the mythology of Star Wars is a shared universe and it rises (thankfully) above the shortcomings of certain movies. If the movies fashioned that universe successfully (and of course they did), then their essential job was done, regardless of other details.
Siana lived in my head in 2004. She pre-dated all the books. I spent 8 years writing the rough drafts of the Siana’s War trilogy and I have spent 11 years since polishing and publishing, trying to embody and flesh out the feeling the original conception her universe and its characters gave me. Spending that much time in an alternate universe gives it a rather tangible reality. And while my books are the clearest embodiment of it, they aren’t the sum total of it. Acknowledging this ontological independence frees me of the terror of my own shortcomings as a writer.
If you can, come see me at the Author’s Fair. I can sell you a book or two, but I’ll be equally happy to talk to you about my characters, about my inspirations and influences, about your writing, about the process of publishing. I look forward to it!