Traveling Writer Advice

At some point or another we, writers, will need to travel for work. Whether it’s a book tour, convention, or speaking engagement. It’s just par for the course when you’re writing professionally. Now that I see writers traveling again for work, I thought it was time to share my tips and advice for those that are traveling for work.

Research
How far are you traveling? Learn about the city/cities along your tour. This is beneficial when you look at hotels within a reasonable range to the location the event will be held. This will also help you pack appropriately. If you’re not leaving your city or not traveling very far from home, a lot of these tips may not work for you. You may not have to pack clothing for a few days, may not need to pack toiletries.


If you are going to a city family or friends are in, you may not even need many things like money for a hotel room if they’re willing to take you on for a day or however long you need to be in the area.


If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you know if you have vaccines to enter the country. Also, know if you need electrical adapters. For example, Europe has different electrical outlets than the United States.

Packing Appropriately
This seems self-explanatory, but sometimes we forget while in the prepping stage for a trip. What is appropriate for traveling as a writer? Laptop, cellphone, or anything relating to the event. Are you going to sign your books? You will need a pen. Are you going to also record the event? You will need a recording device. This could be your cellphone, a camera, or even the gear of a podcaster if you’re also doing that.
Bring an extension cord, extra-long power cord/surge protector. You may be provided space at a convention, but you will not always be provided cords and extensions for your devices.


Though you are packing for work, don’t forget to pack for yourself. Clothing and a few extras as a ‘just in case’ preparation. When you’re there finally, many things can still happen. A fan could accidentally spill something on you, you will need a backup outfit. Don’t forget your toiletries. I also recommend bringing your favorite coffee (thank me later).


You will also need a table and all that you want to decorate it with. For example, books, book racks, displays, tablecloths, author posters, book posters, serving platters for the merch you may bring, etc. I recommend creating a to-do list and marking off everything as you pack it in bags and pack it into your car. Don’t forget your padlocks! If you need padlocks, make a special keyring with these specific keys on it.
If you’ve done your research well, you will also know what else you will need to pack, like adapters, or where you can get your petty cash converted into local currency.

Books
When I started out, I did not know how many books or products to pack. The best advice I ever got and continue to listen to is the number of books. If you’re expecting a large crowd at your booth, which can happen with advertising of your location at an event, bring more. It is better to have more than too little. If you’re worried about running out or do, make sure you have a way for readers to pay through a device like Stripe.

The laptop that you bring can also be used if you’re willing to allow people to pay, say, via Amazon. Make sure you clear and log out all information after every guest uses your device to protect their privacy. They’re trusting you and you should respect that.


If you have a series of books, always bring double or triple the amount of the first novel of the series and a smaller amount of the rest. For example, Book one pack fifty. Book two – four pack twenty to thirty. You will always sell the first of a series, but not everyone wants the rest until after they’ve read that first book.


With the above tip about book series, take that also into account for one-off novels. Bring the amount you would for the first book of a series.
Think of every book as its own business. With that mindset, you will bring all the goodies for each book or each series. This is where all the merch comes into play and those insta-pleasers freebies (like candy with your brand on it also a big-time pleaser is totes and bags. People at conventions always need more ways to carry their haul. If it has your brand or book all over, it as they move around the convention, they’re also passively advertising for you.).

Security
Above I mentioned padlocks. Always have bins or luggage you can lock. Though conventions and big events can be fun, there is always the looming risk of theft. Some places will allow you to put your totes under your table to hide them, but it’s usually best to pack and unpack if your goods are in a small batch. This means if you aren’t erecting large racks for clothing or shelving for products, pack, haul with you, and unpack.

This can be extra to some, but it is better than investing x-amount of money into your goods, merch, products, and having them swiped on you. Sadly, it happens. Desperate people will do desperate things when wanting to make a quick buck.


Bring helpers if you can. Sometimes you just must do things for yourself, it can be hard, but all of us have done the lonesome walk of working without help. I recommend bringing someone or more to help. I have a bad back that has flare-ups from time to time, so I always bring someone with me just in case I cannot lift something on my own (totes of books are super heavy).


This is also helpful in that more eyes can see more things going on. If you’re occupied at one end of your table, you may not see someone waiting at the edge. More people can help with customer service.
Helpers can also bring the risk of theft lower. Someone will be less likely to steal from you if there are too many people in their way or could see them doing things.

Table Kits
I do not know if any other author does ‘table kits’, but I do. A table kit is basically everything I’m going to use on my table at an event. From the labels to the standing displays advertising my being there. I research one tote as a ‘table kit’, bag, or tote devoted to electrical and extras I may need, and however many I need for books. I also will have luggage for clothing, hotel must-haves, like my favorite coffee or toiletries.


Whether you’re using sticky labels or displays with prices, I recommend labeling all. It will help them, the guest, look if you’re busy. Small displays explaining things like a book genre are very helpful to a customer that may want a quick glance. Have thrillers? A guest may like comedy and seeing a thriller label will help them tell if you’re a writer that they may want to invest in. Also, good also to have something dedicated to your social media if it is not on bigger staples like standing author banners.

Petty Cash
For those paying in cash, it’s best to have a safe place to put your income and for any change to exchange. I suggest a minimum of twenty or thirty. Your lockbox should always remain on you or a helper.


If you want more advice, or have questions, just comment. I don’t know how to help you if you don’t ask!

Rest in Peace, Anne

Sunday morning, while finally logging onto my PC after a few days away from my office, I saw Christopher Rice’s post on Twitter and then Facebook became flooded by fellow writers talking about the passing of Anne Rice. I was devastated and thought about her, her work, and how much credit I’ve given to her and her work. It’s true, the credit I’ve given her.

The first book I ever read from her was Interview with the Vampire in my youth. I even took special care of that edition and still own it. I had read nothing like it before and it was a masterpiece to me. The way she laced her words together in a beautiful symphonic story blending modern time with historical reliving. I read it over and over until I could get the second book, The Vampire Lestat, and eventually Queen of the Damned. Over the years, my collection grew, and I favored certain ones over others, but that first book always held a special meaning to me as it was while reading it. I thought to myself maybe I could write too.

I never wanted to copy her work, but she inspired me to develop my style. It sparked the creative fire in me I didn’t know was there. She gave me a voice I felt I didn’t have at a time in my life. I knew I didn’t have. She gave me the ability to cope in a world I couldn’t control. Some have told me I always gave a perfect stranger too much credit without giving myself any, since it was me that started writing and developing characters, like Dante Angeloft from my series.

Perhaps they are right, but if I had never read that book, I don’t know if another writer’s work would’ve inspired me. As the internet came and eventually Youtube I found her interviews and her writing advice that further inspired me and guided me along the way. For example, I especially love her advice on writing what you love and an audience will come. It is true.

My heart goes out to her family. She touched so many lives, mine included.

Worlds Connected: The Gaze of Destruction & The Blasphemer Series

Originally published in a collection of short stories called As The World Will Burn, released July 19, 2016, I introduced the world to something very special. It was a foreshadowing for The Blasphemer Series. It gave readers their first glance at the series and where it was heading while leaving it as a stand-alone story.

The vampire in this short story is unnamed. He represents all creatures in the series that will wake to the world being different. This is significant in the series, as all creatures have their lives changed as the planet continues on with a new face.

In this story, you’re introduced to a nameless vampire waking up from a deep sleep to find the world has entered an apocalyptic world. He searches the area he had left behind, discovering many things ruined that were once places full of splendid memories. He also comes across newspapers and hints at what happened while he rested.

You can only read this story now in my short story collection Little Lunacies, as the original book, As The World Will Burn, is no longer in rotation.


Worlds Connected: Human Ouija & The Blasphemer Series

Human Ouija published as a single short story on October 6, 2017. It garnered an award for ‘Best Horror Story of 2017’. The importance of this sixty page short story tells the story of a man that becomes possessed because he’s chasing after the chance to speak to his spouse who died while on the phone with him.

It speaks to the depths of where grief can send a person and how dabbling in practices you do not understand can lead to life-altering effects. This is a hard lesson he learns and his life will never be the same.

Possession is rare in the World of The Blasphemer, but it can occur, and this story is a beautiful introduction to this element in the series. For readers that are through book one and two, they are already of aware of how it comes into place with dialogue hinting at this very story.

Book three, Ghosts, which is almost finished with the manuscript portion of the process, goes deeper into this element of the storytelling and the world. If you would like to read this story to enjoy more from the series and its world, you can find it now in rotation within the pages of Little Lunacies.


The Blasphemer Series Mythos: The Lost Colony of Roanoke

In the world of The Blasphemer Series, book two Harvest, you’re introduced to the people of The Mythical Realm. Previously, it was known that Sophia Goodwich/Bishop lived there, but the world is expanded upon, and Sophia is brought back to the story. The story explains where the people come from and why they’re in The Mythical Realm. They are from the Colony of Roanoke. It, the book Harvest, explains deeper.


The main reason for me sharing this post is because real facts have come forward that were merely creative writing on my part. I had nothing to do with the real investigation and take no credit on any level for the genetic findings, but I am interested into the credible material that some of the people of the colony inter-mingled/were adopted by the local Native Americans. If you’ve read Harvest already, you will already know why this is interesting to me and maybe even you.


Before writing about the colony, I did refresh my knowledge. I dug through hours of articles and books to prop my creativity upon. Whether this was for inspiration or my usual style of mixing facts and fiction, a twist on history. At the time of my writing of this story the genetics ‘theory’ was not published yet. It only made the most sense to me that they would’ve made peace with locals or even had been adopted in my storyline.


Before I dig into the genetic articles and share them here, I would like to cover what is known. The colony was established by Sir Walter Raleigh in August 1585 (roughly). It was troubled with poor preparation and struggles with the local Native Americans. A trip led by John White occurred in which they returned to England for more supplies, but upon returning to the colony they discovered it was deserted and the word ‘Croatoan’. They believed this meant that they had moved to the Croatoan Island estimated to be fifty miles away. This led them to travel and meet up with the colonists but found none on the island. So, the mystery continued.


Studies have been done, speculations have endured, but no real facts came to the surface of what the colonists may have encountered until a tree was discovered that dated back to this time and was studied. Its rings told of droughts. The theory of the colonists being absorbed into the local Native American population begin to swirl. What is known that the results of the colony being ‘lost’ no doubt affected the colonies that came after as a lesson in preparation and a warning.


Now let’s speak to the genetics that has been discovered. Lost Colony Family DNA Project goal is to identify the ancestors of lost Roanoke colonists through DNA testing in hopes of shedding some light on the old mystery with scientific data. I highly recommend checking out this article entitled The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Did They Survive? – National Geographic, Archaeology, Historical Records and DNA on the DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy website.

Sources & Recommendations:

You can begin reading the series and check out more information by following the link: Down the rabbit hole

What do you think? Let’s start a conversation.

Dark Poetry Submissions Open – Exit Device

I am not organizing this collection of poetry, just helping spread the word of this project for another. Some of you may be familiar with my work with Oliver Sheppard. Exit Device is his mastermind project.


Cover(c)Oliver Sheppard

Project Details:

  • Deadline: September 10th
  • Submit to:exitdevicezine@gmail.com

Words From Oliver:

I hope to get Issue No. 1 out by Halloween. The deadline to submit is September 10th. EXIT DEVICE will be an old school, photocopied, saddle-stapled, black and white DIY zine. It will have no web or social media presence save for the email address above. Right now I cannot afford to pay contributors anything save for contributor’s copies. Looking for dark, weird, bizarre, etc poetry. Avant-garde and experimental stuff is welcome, as is traditional verse. EXIT DEVICE will probably come out once per year.

The name “Exit Device” is from jargon used in the euthanasia/assisted suicide community; the term refers to any mechanism or apparatus that ends its user’s life. The cover image of issue 1 is “Daguerreotype of Nothing” from 1850, an image held by the Getty Museum. I’ve gotten permission from the Getty Museum to use the image for the cover of the zine.

So far, about 20 poems have been accepted. I’ll probably include no more than 50. If you submit and I’ve hit that limit, it may be considered for Issue No. 2.

THIS IS CLOSED NOW