anthony dobranski online


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Hello CapClave – Trading cards now REAL!

I’m paneling and reading starting today at CapClave in Rockville MD. It’s a very different kind of personal appearance than my work at convention booths, with panel discussions of literary topics, and a half-hour Saturday morning to read my work.

In celebration, my social media promotion has slipped the surly bounds of cyberspace and achieved card form!

The nine Demon picture cards

It’s only the 9 picture cards, not the complete set of 55, which is still being published one a day on my social media: Instagram & Twitter @adobranski, Facebook @adobranskiauthor

It’s also a small test run of this promotional idea!

Any intrepid and review-minded readers who buy an Advance Reader Proof from me at CapClave get a card along with the posters I also gave buyers in Cincinnati. (And if you bought a book in Cincinnati, get in touch on Facebook or by email to dobranski outlook com and I’ll send you one!)

Here’s my CapClave schedule – for full details, see CapClave.org and find me under “Participants.” See you there!

Fri 6p – Whatever Happened to the Standalone Novel?

Fri 8p – Who’s the Bad Guy in a World Without Absolutes?

Fri 11p – How Graphic is Your Novel?

Sat 10:30-10:55a – Reading

Sat 11:00-11:25a – Author’s Table

Sat 4p Politics in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Sat 5p – Global Climate Change in Science Fiction

 

 


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Fun with marketing – book teaser trading cards

The image-driven firehose that is social media challenges the modern writer. I see some managing to do clever things with it, releasing aphorisms and motivational notes, and others just stupefied. Count me more often among the latter.

Not long ago, writer, blogger and ace self-marketer Shannon A Thompson  posted about her book teasers, single-image character bios she puts out well in advance of her book’s release. I can do that, I thought.

But I couldn’t. My efforts seemed both too much and not enough, and in retrospect I think Thompson’s style wasn’t playing to my strengths. I needed a way to put forward not just characters but the breadth of my story, and my own writing style, in bits and snippets – in a spirit of play.

I did have a great cover, thanks to artist Julie Duong, and my banner showed me that I could make an unusual concept work. Early one morning three weeks ago, trying to get back to sleep after waking too early, I suddenly saw these in my head.

Star Wars trading cards 1977

These are my own Star Wars trading cards from 1977 (I have the first three sets of 66, complete). What’s funny about them is that they only make sense if you’ve seen the movie – even in numerical order, they’re more like a trailer blown up into individual frames and fallen all anyhow onto the floor. I imagined what it would be like to read them without having first seen the movie…

The result debuts today on Instagram, and come out one a day between now and my mid-November book launch – 56 in total (7 x 8, a union of Western and Eastern lucky numbers). Here’s a sample:

Three Demon trading cards

I’m no artist, but I can run an image editor enough to add borders and fonts. I took Thompson’s great idea to use stock art for my character images – it helps that they’re mostly business people, and stock art sites are full of those – but I ran them through Prisma, the smartphone app that makes people look painted, which let me image the character’s personality, not just their looks.

For now they’re on my own Instagram account adobranski. Follow it and get a little literary oddness in your daily feed!


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AwesomeCon DC 2016 – this weekend!

AwesomeCon is a large fan convention in Washington DC this weekend, focused on visual media – this year especially, it’s a Whovians paradise. Are you going?

Saturday will just be splendid fun, but the Friday and Sunday sessions have several good panels for my booklife.

I’m hoping to see: Comics in WWII, Giant Robots, Strong Women Characters, Nanobots – which together cover my debut novel, my serial novel, and my crazy SF work-in-progress – and attend at least one of the marketing panels. Continue reading


Robots vs. androids in fiction (go robots!)

Among the characters in my new novel is a collective of former package-delivery drones that, after a war, evolved themselves into a taxi service for their damaged city.

From the earliest drafts, I saw them as small flying saucers, with only a central trunk/harness to carry goods or a seated cross-legged person. It took a little time before I saw the plot and character possibilities of robots without hands or appendages. It meant that they had continued to evolve themselves to depend on people, both as customers and even as mechanics, like Thomas the Tank Engine.

I also gave them a limited vocabulary of green and red lights, suitable for bargaining over fares, but akin to the radiation-wounded Christopher Pike on old Star Trek. This made for a stranger, more labored interaction, but one familiar to anyone who has set a digital device.

It also made it easier for the taxibots credibly to be taken for granted by the people around them while they — well, you’ll read it one day. :)

This is a less common take on manufactured beings. Continue reading


Catching up to success and building on it

For the last month now, what writing time I’ve had all belonged to my new serial novel. I regret losing energy both on social media and on my first novel, but I can return to them. The experience of the serial is unusual and worthy of attention. By starting this in partnership with a media provider and basing it in the history of my own neighborhood, I had wonderful resources to draw on. The Forest Hills Connection organized a history lecture and reading, and the Northwest Current printed an op-ed about the history behind the novel. It was a huge privilege to start off strong, and a great leap of faith on the part of my media partners. I am lucky and grateful.

I am still writing weekly, but it’s leveling off its ascent so I can get the other parts of my booklife in working order. I’m hoping that my quick bath in media will give me a new way to look at my first novel. The style is still fresh but my approach to selling it is tired. To get past the exhausted ADD TL;DR eyes of the publishing community, I have to dance around the complicated mixed-genre and real world elements, and the flawed less-than-heroic characters, that were the things which most interested me as a writer. The people who are my audience are maybe not the people who make a living selling many books to publishers. Self-publication in this light is like touring is for a band, a way to get the word out and find an audience. It would be a huge effort that looks very scary now, and not something I can enter into seriously before the fall.

Put another way, though, every special event I got for the launch of Scientists was a missed opportunity to market my self-published novel in a public forum. As the serial proceeds and gets more attention, there are more opportunities. This is not a reason to rush an unfinished book to printing, but it is a reason to hurry an unfinished book to finishing.

 


Performance anxiety (Facebook edition)

If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise. — William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

I noted recently that writing has become a performing art, one where we writers all have to be promotional and public. I’ve been mulling that over in regards to social media. Specifically, Facebook.

I made my first business career developing the consumer side of what we once called “cyberspace,” but I was quite late to Facebook. Most close friends who wanted to keep up with my personal life soon wised up and Friended my wife. My main reservation was Facebook’s awesome store of personal data (even now, my Facebook account is still under a different computer login than my work or personal logins), but it seemed harmless enough — shared humor, family updates and the occasional expression of political dudgeon by people whose politics I knew well.

When I signed up for the Superstars Writing Seminars, I joined their very active private Facebook group for news and updates on the seminar, and by extension, on the writers’ individual careers. To my great surprise, a lot of those people Friended me on Facebook — most before ever meeting me, and the rest after a very limited interaction (though you learn a lot playing Cards Against Humanity, and none of it good.)

I was bemused. Why on earth would these people want to Friend me? Did they care about my son’s new style of dancing to 80’s pop? Would they be as thrilled by the new retaining wall we’re getting as I am?

My folly was in not recognizing that Facebook has become a public space to the exact degree that one is a public person — and performing artists are public people, and writers now performers. This for me makes Facebook an increasingly staged and risky place. In Soho where she lives, a major fashion model can go shopping without makeup and in sweatpants — but when that same model hits the stores at Mall of America, she is not shopping. She is making an appearance, as rehearsed and planned and calculated as any Oscar Wilde bon-mot.

Thing is, I have plenty of friends, and extended family, for whom Facebook is not that space, and whose socializing there is more honest, more mundane, and in some ways more substantive. If I actually become a successful writer, commenting to me on a Facebook post will be the equivalent of meeting your friend for coffee when your friend is on a reality-TV show and has a camera following everywhere. Little-f-friends, are you ready for that? Am I? Continue reading