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The Road to World Con > AMA w/ M Todd Gallowglas 8/27/12 7pm ET/4pm PT

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message 1: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Hello all and happy Monday! Like the title says, today at 7pm ET/4Pm, I'll be hosting an AMA (ask me anything) session. First time I've done such a thing. It should be interesting.


message 2: by Shay (new)

Shay West | 1 comments Oh you have no idea what you're getting into... ;)


message 3: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
You're probably right. The things I do for this little group of motley writers I've gathered around me.


message 4: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
15 minutes.


message 5: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Alright, it's time. Ask away.


message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Kellen (ChristopherKellen) | 48 comments Mod
Out of curiosity, which of your characters do you absolutely regret creating, hate writing for and which you just can't get rid of?


message 7: by Penny (new)

Penny (PennyTHill) | 3 comments Do you know yet who is on your Storytelling panel at WorldCon? Do you know how you're going to structure that? And - can someone videotape bits that you can post on FB?


message 8: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "Out of curiosity, which of your characters do you absolutely regret creating, hate writing for and which you just can't get rid of?"

Actually, I can't think of anyone of the top of my head. Pretty much when a character starts to bug me, I find a way to kill them. Life it too short to be like Sir Aurther Conan Doyle. Oh, and I generally have the stones to leave them dead.


message 9: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Penny wrote: "Do you know yet who is on your Storytelling panel at WorldCon? Do you know how you're going to structure that? And - can someone videotape bits that you can post on FB?"

For those unfamiliar with my background, not only am I a writer, I'm also a professional storyteller. I will be moderating the panel "Storytelling the Old Fashioned Way."

The panel description is, "An exploration of the oral tradition of storytelling and how it relates to writing fiction. This panel of storytellers and writers will discuss tricks and techniques of oral storytelling that will and won't work in the written form."

Fellow panelists are: Marie Bilodeau, B.A. Chepaitis, Deirdre Murphy, and Michael R. Underwood

I have some thoughts on how I'm going to run it, but I'm still looking into the backgrounds on my fellow panelist.

I'll see what I can do about video taping.


message 10: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments You write a fair amount of genre fiction. How do you balance the tension between meeting readers' expectations well enough to keep from disappointing them and violating readers' expectations enough to keep them engaged?


message 11: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
J.D. wrote: "You write a fair amount of genre fiction. How do you balance the tension between meeting readers' expectations well enough to keep from disappointing them and violating readers' expectations enough..."

That's a great question that probably has at least twice as many answers as there are people who write genre fiction - probably more.

Honestly, it's not something I think about, at least, not any more. Now that I'm pressed for an answer, I have to say, I'm in the Harlan Ellison camp with this one. I write what I write and put it out there. If people groove and like it, great! If not, well, I'm the first to admit that my writing isn't for everyone.

While I was in school pursuing my B.A. in Creative Writing, I felt the need to justify being a genre guy, especially in the face of the literary snobbery that we encounter so much in academia. One of the most brilliant teachers I had, Matthew Clark Davidson, took me aside one day after class and told me I needed to stop doing that. I was making it too much of an issue and setting people against me even before they read my work. He said, "Let your writing speak for itself. If it's good writing, honest and genuine, people will take it, no matter what you're writing about." Since that day, I just write what comes to me. I don't consider how much I need to stick within or push the genre "boundaries."

I guess I don't see the point in being such a control freak, or slave to expectations of originality or being confined to "convention."


message 12: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
May be jinxing myself, but so far, this isn't nearly as intense as I thought it was going to be.


message 13: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments M. wrote: "May be jinxing myself, but so far, this isn't nearly as intense as I thought it was going to be."

That's because this is Goodreads, not reddit.com.


message 14: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Well, there is that. I'm not nearly ballsy enough to do an AMA on Reddit...yet.


message 15: by J.D. (last edited Aug 27, 2012 04:52PM) (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments M. wrote: "He said, "Let your writing speak for itself. If it's good writing, honest and genuine, people will take it, no matter what you're writing about." Since that day, I just write what comes to me. I don't consider how much I need to stick within or push the genre "boundaries."

I think this is a great way to approach it. I look at it as writing the books I want to read but haven't been able to find yet. If you succeed in writing the book you want to read, there are bound to be other people who would like to read it, too.


message 16: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
J.D. wrote: "I think this is a great way to approach it. I look at it as writing the books I want to read but haven't been able to find yet. If you succeed in writing the book you wnat to read, there are bound to be other people who would like to read it, too."

Exactly. Mathew Woodring Stover told me something very much like this at my first World Fantasy Convention when I was twenty six and still trying to figure myself out as a writer. It's one of the best pieces of advice I've ever had. That's why I have no problem turning away from a project that's boring me. If I'm bored, most likely my readers will be too. If I'm excite, well, at least I had a grand time in the writing of it, and if someone decides to give me money for it later...well, who am I to say, "no," to that?


message 17: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments M. wrote: "Well, there is that. I'm not nearly ballsy enough to do an AMA on Reddit...yet."

I'm so glad I checked back here before I hit "submit" on my post in r/fantasy telling people you were doing an AMA here.


message 18: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Heh. Go for it. If it gets too out of hand, I have moderation privileges.


message 19: by Penny (new)

Penny (PennyTHill) | 3 comments "Write what you know," which falls somewhere between good advice and a bromide, suggests a question: What are some things from your own life or experience that have ended up in your books? And since I know you, I'm going to challenge you to surprise me with the answer. Bonus points if you amuse me.


message 20: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Penny wrote: ""Write what you know," which falls somewhere between good advice and a bromide, suggests a question: What are some things from your own life or experience that have ended up in your books? And since I know you, I'm going to challenge you to surprise me with the answer. Bonus points if you amuse me. "

Let's go for the amusement factor first. In First Chosen I have this line:

“You could at least use different words to woo me than you did my sister.” Though her tone was the essence of civility, she spoke through clenched teeth. “It’s like you have a script for this.”


When I was regularly teaching swing dancing, before Robin and I were an item, I was quite the "ladies man." I didn't have a whole lot of originality in my approach. Robin and some of the other girls in the swing dancing community decided to compare notes and were amazed at how similar their experiences were when I flirted with them. One time, I was chatting with a young lady who had come out for the first time, and I heard some giggling behind me. I turned around, and four girls said, unison, "Page three, line four." I said, "What?" Robin replied, "It's your script. Except you changed some stuff on page two around a little bit."

Yeah...so I through that line in there for Robin. She laughed and called me a dork.

As for other things, I think everything I write comes from my experiences. I'm either writing to celebrate something or rail against something that pisses me off.

I've recently realized that many of the major characters from my books come from broken families of one variety or another. No surprise there considering my family life when I was young. The flip side to that, is that the bond of friendship is also a theme that runs heavy through my works. I'm insanely loyal to my friends, and that shows in my fiction, especially in TEARS OF RAGE and the forthcoming SPELLPUNK.

The HALLOWEEN JACK books wouldn't be possible if I hadn't done the storyteller thing at Renaissance Faires. I've had at least a dozen people who see my shows tell me they hear my voice speaking in their minds when they read that book, but not in any of my other work.

I could go on, but I think that my work is filled with little bits and pieces of my life that I probably don't even realize I'm putting in there.


message 21: by Penny (new)

Penny (PennyTHill) | 3 comments I suspect there is no way to avoid "real life" seeping into one's writing. Thank you for surprising me AND amusing me. I didn't know about your script!


message 22: by Tristan (new)

Tristan | 2 comments Hello. I am curious, why did you choose Indie over Traditional publishing.


message 23: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Well, I don't use it any more, and haven't for quite some time.

While I think it's possible for a writer to divorce himself or herself from personal experience in the the writing process, the prose that comes from such writing is usually stilted and hollow. The best writing comes from the heart, especially in genres so far removed from the here and now. We have to give the reader something "real" to latch onto a midst the wonder of taking them to worlds that exist no where outside of the story of our creation.


message 24: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments M. wrote: "Heh. Go for it. If it gets too out of hand, I have moderation privileges."

I've tried to post the AMA, but I haven't submitted many links, and I apparently failed the captcha one too many times.


message 25: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Tristan wrote: "Hello. I am curious, why did you choose Indie over Traditional publishing."

Good to see you here Tristan.

That's a big question these days. A HUGE, loaded question for many Indie writers these days, especially because the stigma of "Self-published" still hangs over the publishing industry.

Before I go into my experience, let me say this for those people considering going Indie: Indie publishing is not for everyone. It's hard work. Lots of hard work. I have only reached the level of success I have because I bust my ass pretty much every day. If you think making a name for yourself and making a living as a traditionally published writer is work, being Indie is even harder.

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way...

I came to Indie kind of by accident. I was fresh out out of college with my B.A. in Creative Writing from SFSU (how I got there is it's own long story). The plan was for me to become an English teacher to help pay the bills while I finished up work on the MASSIVE tome of a manuscript I had that kept changing titles - both book one and the series kept changing name. The teaching thing didn't work out because the economy took a nosedive and education got hit pretty hard.

To help make ends meet, I went back to doing my storytelling show at Renaissance Faires. As I was prepping for the 2011 season, a few people I know sent me an article about this Amanda Hawking chick and how she was raking in the money as an Indie author.

I dove into this "Indie" thing, still very skeptical about it, as a way to increase my income from my storytelling show. In May of 2011, I published Knight of the Living Dead with another performer pal, Steve Moore of the "Myth and Magic Show", and The Dragon Bone Flute by myself. Because of our various shows, we had a built in audience and sold copies quickly.

In June 2012, I put another piece out for Kindle. The first 60,000 words of my a fore mentioned MASSIVE work-in-progress as a further experiment. First Chosen also did well, and since I priced it higher, I was making even more money. I sold more copies as I did more faires, and people seemed to like what I wrote, demanding more.

Just before I went to the World Science Fiction Convention in August 2011, I realized I had to make a choice. Was I going to dive head first into this "Indie" thing, or keep it quiet and hope that the traditional publishers would overlook that as I scrambled to put something else together for a traditional deal. I decided after much thought and two more faires, that I was going to be an Indie writer.

Since then, after speaking with my buddy Brandon Sanderson, that I'm going to seek traditional publication for several of my other books, because really, to be a professional writer these day, one needs to realize that both the traditional and innovative have their pros and cons. The true business man understands that in order to be successful, one must leverage all possible streams of income and all available opportunities.


message 26: by Tristan (new)

Tristan | 2 comments Thanks for the answer. Interesting. Your writing is fantastic so I'm sure whatever you do it will be successful!


message 27: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Thank you. Working at it a little everyday.


message 28: by Nels (new)

Nels (nelswadycki) | 7 comments What panel or author are you most looking forward to at WorldCon (besides your own)?


message 29: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Hey Nels,

I was looking forward to going to a Pat Rothfuss Reading, but unfortunately, the universe and convention gods have conspired against me, and I have a reading at the same time. Which means, I'll probably get to go to the reading anyway, because everyone will be there.

Hugh Howey, author of the hit Indie Science Fiction WOOL invited me to his KaffeeKlatsch on Sunday, and that's pretty cool.

For me, World Con isn't so much about the panels as it is spending time surrounded by the community that is Science Fiction/Fantasy fandom, hanging out with my professional friends that I only see a couple of times a year at conventions, and meeting fans and hopefully making new fans.


message 30: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments If you are still around, I do have one more question. Were you, by any chance, at the Southern Shakespeare Festival in Tallahassee back in 1996?


message 31: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Nope. I stick to California Renaissance Faires.


message 32: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments M. wrote: "Nope. I stick to California Renaissance Faires."

Then I should take this opportunity to warn you about your East Coast Doppelganger.


message 33: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
Okay. I'm not the only storyteller out there.


message 34: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 13 comments The AMA notice on r/fantasy is on the front page of the subreddit, but it doesn't look like it's generating much traffic. I tried!


message 35: by M Todd (new)

M Todd Gallowglas (mgallowglas) | 155 comments Mod
It's cool. I actually expected it to be pretty slow. We're not that big...yet.


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