tony ocd

Your book is out. The critics are raving. And now you are going to a huge outdoor festival to sell and sign every book you have in your stash. Times are great. But when you stride in, confident and assured, you realize you left something at home. Something that makes the rest of your day miserable. We’ve all been there, done that. I thought I would offer up my checklist for what every writer should have to enjoy a gorgeous day greeting the public and how to survive when the day is miserable.

Item #1: Books

It may sound foolish, but I’ve seen it happen and almost did it once myself. I was at a book signing setting up my booth, when a guy a couple of booths down the row, started swearing. He’d made the trip, but forgot his books. Sounds silly, no? But as I was pulling out of my driveway to head to the Grove City Wine and Art Festival, I realized my books were not packed for the trip. My wife and I switched cars at the last minute and while I’d moved the rest of the gear, the books were still sitting in the backseat of the other car. Nothing like paying for a table, driving four hours and finding out you were going to drink a whole lot more wine because you didn’t have your books. Don’t laugh. It could be you.

Item #2: Canopy

You check the weather report and there’s only a ten percent chance of rain. Then you show up and an hour after the event starts, Mother Nature lowers the boom and it pours, but you don’t have a canopy. Or just the opposite happens and it’s 100 degrees and you have no shade and at the end of the  day you look like something out of a lobster shop. Ouch. If you plan to do a lot of outdoor events, a canopy is a must. I have one that is 10 feet by 10 feet. It keeps the sun off of you (most of the day) and will keep the occasional rain showers away as well. I would also pick up several canopy weights to hold down the four legs. I’ve seen strong winds take out a whole row of tents at an author’s fair. Don’t let it be yours. Here is a listing of canopies at Home Depot.

Item #3: Table

Some events provide tables for you. But those are mainly indoor events. Outside? You are on your own. Sitting on the ground and selling books while swatting ants is never fun. I use a six foot folding table. It fits in the back of my car, along with my canopy, and goes up quickly. And comes down just as quickly for fast getaways. Once again, from Home Depot.

Item #4: Chair

Not only do they not provide tables at most outdoor events, they don’t provide chairs. Ever tried standing for 12 hours? Not fun. And bring as comfortable a chair as possible. Only use an old folding chair if you’re trying to repent from some transgression and you need punishment. Mine? I use the Cabela Quad Chair.

Item #5: Extension Cord

So you are all set up. Canopy, table, chair and books. You’ve paid to have electricity in your booth so you can keep your iPad charged to take credit card payments, and you look around for the plug. But unfortunately, the plug in is 20 feet away and you forgot your extension cord. Five hours later your iPad dies (because it was at 35 percent when you left home) and you lose out on sales because you can’t take credit cards.  Even when they supply electric for your booth, it’s almost never right by your table. If you forget your extension cord, you’ve blown your money. I forgot mine for Oldham County Day, but the nice people next to me had an extra cable and I was good.

Item #6: Duct Tape

Don’t you hate it when you have your new poster placed on the easel at the front of your booth and then you feel it: a hint of a breeze. It catches your poster on the corner, it tips and then, whoosh!. It’s gone. You pull out scotch tape and put some on the back of the poster, then press it down. A few minutes later, whoosh! It’s gone again. If you’d brought duct tape, then you could have plastered that puppy down in such a manner that Hurricane Screw-Your-Day wouldn’t be able to screw your day. Versatile and all the people around you will love you when the wind kicks up and they stop by your booth to borrow your roll.

Item #7: Sharpies

Finally, you need to make sure you have your Sharpies. People like to buy books from you at events because you will sign them. And borrowing a Crayon from a kid in the booth next door so you can scrawl your signature is not overly professional. I take four to each event. Because I sell so many books and the ink runs out? Sometimes. But mainly because I almost always leave a cap off of one of them and they dry out. It happens.

Item #8:  Odds and Ends

There are other things you can use for your events:  Banners, posters, cards, snacks, bags for book sales, bag for garbage, water to drink. A two-wheel dolly can save your back if you have to carry books a long distance. But they won’t ruin your day if you leave them at home. Forget any of the previous items and you may wish you were back inside writing instead of outside selling.





Greg Donaldson made the challenge. This is the result.




Today at the PGA Championship, when Rory Sabbatini started up the line opposite the line we were standing in, signing things:
Matthew (young son of a friend of mine): Awwwwwwww
Rory: (Turning to look at Matthew) There’s no crying in baseball. (He keeps walking up the other line)
(Matthew hangs his head)
Rory, walking over: I will sign her’s (pointing to Matthew’s sister, Erin) but not yours because you whined. (As adults, we can tell he’s joking, but Matthew plops down, dejected)
Rory: (after repeated attempts, finally gets Matthew to stand up and signs his hat) When we don’t stop to sign things, it’s not because we don’t want to stop, but because we may not have the time. Do you understand?
(Matthew nods his head)
Rory: Have fun the rest of the day, Matthew.

How cool is that? It should be pointed out, the whine worked.

This week the PGA Championship is being held at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Right in my backyard. This week I will be out at the course everyday checking out some of the best golf on the planet along with several great friends. On Monday, I filmed two pieces of video on my iPhone. Here is video number one, the kind you expect at a golf tournament. Ernie Els and his group on the 15th tee during a practice round on Monday.

And one you wouldn’t expect. A young gal showing excellent dance moves at the Omega tent.

After a long hot day walking the golf course, seeing her showing such enthusiasm was a great way end things. Thank you!



Things got started right with the opening bell with The Hobbit: Book versus Movie panel. People do love their hobbits. The panel discussion was lively and turns out I’m the only one who liked the movie better than the books (I loved The Hobbit, but it’s a kids book and I liked the more adult themes brought out int he movie).

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I followed this up with the Comics: Then and Now panel. Both the audience and my other panel partners were incredibly knowledgeable about every aspects of comics. I did my best to hang with them and learned I have a lot to learn.

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And of course there was no shortage of Cos Players. Look for my “Anatomy of a FandomFest Book Signing” in the next day or so.


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Panels! Day two of FandomFest found me sitting on two panels: Game of Thrones, TV versus the Books, and Marvel versus DC Comic Throw Down. Both were great fun. The Game of Thrones people really knew both their books and show. The discussion was lively and we were asked great questions by the audience.

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The Marvel versus DC panel was epic. The place was packed, with it standing room only at one point. For the record, I’m a Marvel guy. The discussion ranged from favorite movies of each house (Captain America Winter Soldier and Batman Dark Knight were my picks) to the worst movies of each (Batman Forever and Howard the Duck, ouch), to what characters we would like to see in future movies. Lively debate all the way around.


And it wouldn’t be a comic con without Cos Players. And they were out in force. Greatly looking forward to tomorrow.

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FandomFest 2014 Day 1 Recap

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

The first day FandomFest 2014 was a blast. Great sales, fun neighbors and, of course, plenty of Cos Players. Hydra Publications is located in spot 225. We sold quite a few copies of both The Hand of God and The Watchers. Can’t wait to get back at it tomorrow. Here are a few pictures from day one.































































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