They say excuses are like assholes; everybody has one and they usually stink. But not everybody has a blog where they can wallow in their own stench. So for my first blog is a little while, let me ask you all to sniff my… no wait… Let me ask you all to listed to my excuses for not succeeding at NaNoWriMo.
‘Excuse’ is not necessarily the right word though. That implies that what happened will make it okay that I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo. But it doesn’t make it okay. Or maybe it does. ‘Reasons’ is a better word to use. So these are the reasons I didn’t complete a novel during National Novel Writing Month.
I not only didn’t complete a novel, I didn’t even come close. I completed 15643 words on Dereliction of Duty, which is not even close to giving it the old college try. In fact, I stopped writing after the 11th. And the days before that were not consistent. All in all, I flat out failed to even try to do this.
I stated off with a commitment to do it. I was eager by the middle of October. I had the drive to do it and expected that I could. This was going to be my NaNo year. Then on October 28th my job calls me very late in the day and tells me not to come to work the next day. No explanation given, just simply that they’d be in touch. So I spent that whole night, and the remainder of the week, wondering what I had done wrong. I had done nothing wrong and could think of nothing I had done wrong. I still maintain that I’ve done nothing wrong.
It wasn’t until the 1st of November that they finally contacted me. They needed me to come out and interview with them. I did. Their entire case against me was flimsy, falsified, and inadequate. But they knew if they didn’t blame me for something they’d have to pay me for all my time off. That wasn’t going to happen. And since I anticipated I was going to be fired, I began looking for work.
When I am out of work, I can’t sit back and collect unemployment checks (which I still haven’t received any of those). I have to spend those hours when I would have been working, out looking for work. When I am doing anything other than looking for work I feel like I am not doing my best to find work. So every time I started writing my novel, I felt I needed to be looking for work. My mind just wasn’t in it. Not to mention my mind running though the what ifs of the on going investigation. I thought these coworkers were my friends, or at least that we got along, and a number of them back-stabbed me hard. Finally on November 19th, over three weeks later, the company fired me. By that point I knew it was coming. That doesn’t mean it was any easier. I absolutely loved that job, my recent promotion made it even better, and to lose it was a heart breaking moment. I had expected to work there for a long time to come. But, this is one reason I couldn’t focus on NaNoWriMo.
Rewind to the start of October. There was a discussion of a coworker who wanted to move to Asheville, North Carolina. He is very talented with music, and he said the music scene was strong there. He also told me the writing scene is strong there. But, North Carolina is too far from my family and though I once wanted to move out of state, as I mentioned above, I just got this promotion and I loved my job.
My wife and I have contemplated moving out of California for a number of years. I’d say five or more now. My personal choice has always been Washington State. I have been up there several times and I absolutely love it. But every time we started to plan a move up there, we backed out for one reason or another. The most recent time being because I got the promotion at work. But anytime someone talked about moving to another state, I’d always get to thinking about Washington. I finally said to myself, or God, or whomever was listening to my thoughts at that time, that I needed some sign that I had made the right choice to stay in California and work for the company I was with. A week later I was suspended out of nowhere (did I mention I’d never been in trouble there before).
Well as far as signs from a higher power, I think this was the slap in the face I needed. So I began to discuss the idea with my wife again. The family and I drove up to Spokane (which I had never been to) on the 5th. Then we drove across the state to Seattle on the 6th. Then we drove down to Vancouver (Washington) on the 7th. And home on the 8th. From my house that is a lengthy car ride, and a lot of miles covered. But I wanted my wife to see the state that I wanted to go to. Plus, I had a friend to visit, family to visit, and a job to test for. So you can see, there wasn’t much time for writing those four days.
At that point we decided we would make this change. We would try to make this move up there in June or July when the kids finished this school year. Then we’d move to either Spokane or Seattle depending on where I could get work and my wife could transfer her job.
Fast forward to the 15th of November (my Birthday). My landlord shows up at my house with a 30 day notice to move out. Now keep in mind, I’m paying the rent. But there was a little mix up where someone stole his mail and the rent check got cashed by someone else. But my bank cleared it up and he got paid. I guess that was enough for him, because he wanted us out by the 15th of December.
So, my wife and I had numerous long talks. And the decision was made to accelerate our plans to move. We didn’t see the point in moving, just to do it again in six or so months. So, I had to go back up to Seattle for a job interview on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd. I also looked at several places to live. And, we did find a place that would take us in on my wife’s income.
So now, I’ve been packing and planning a long distance move (something close to 900 miles) up to Washington State. And trying to pack this house up. And downsize it a bit so I don’t have to haul as much.
All this while still working to get Issue 9 of Plasma Frequency out on the deadline of December 5th.
Losing a job, and now moving plans, meant I just simply haven’t had my mind on the story I need to write.
But there is some good news too. My next novel to be released, Broken Trust, is in the hands of beta readers. Also, the great artist Mallory Rock designed the cover art of it. I’ll do a formal reveal very soon (though you can already see it if you follow me on Facebook). And, I’m told the second edition of Dissolution of Peace is very close to being ready.
Anyway, those are my assholes, er.. I mean excuses, for why I didn’t win at NaNoWriMo.
Last year I wrote a humorous blog post on the ten reasons I would not be doing NaNoWriMo. For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. And I am fully ready for November to start so that I can begin, and finish a novel in one month. So I thought that I would do a 180 on last year’s post and tell you the reasons why I chose this year to start.
1. You can only say NaNoWriMo so many times.
It is a lot of fun to say. And you can only say it so many times before you wonder why you aren’t doing it. I’ve been saying NaNoWriMo for about three years now, and I’ve yet to do it. So the way I see it, I’ve used up my free chances to say it, and now I either have to participate or stop saying it. I’d rather participate.
2. This is the year I am accomplishing writing goals I put off.
For two years I kept stalling on going to a WorldCon. I missed Reno, I missed Chicago, and I almost passed on San Antonio. But, something made me say I needed to do it this year, and I finally attended my first WorldCon. I had such a blast that I can’t wait to get to more conventions. It really kick started my writing in a way I had never imagined.
So, if I had such a blast with that. Why not keep up the good work? I’ve been putting off NaNoWriMo with so many excuses, and well this is the year. So I am going to try it. And I may very well like it. And it is just the kick in the pants I need to work on some other projects.
3. The timing is right this year.
I just finished the second draft on Broken Trust and it is off to Beta Readers. That means I currently have no writing projects that are going on for the month of November. So it is the perfect time for me to start a new project and work on something fun.
4. Dissolution of Peace needs the sequel.
Reader feedback tells me that if I don’t get a sequel to Dissolution of Peace out soon, I’ll be strung up by my toes. So the sequel in my NaNoWriMo project, and that could mean an early 2014 release. Maybe…
5. I have too much stress going on right now.
On the face value, that may seem like a reason not to participate. But, for me writing started as a stress reliever. That was how the original manuscript for Dissolution of Peace was written. So taking a break from some of the stress factors in my life may be exactly what I need to relax for the holiday season.
6. I have to justify the purchase of my Tablet.
I recently purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. I got it for a variety of reasons, the main being use for the business and my writing. Right now I write in my office, which eliminates a lot of writing time. Now that I can write virtually anywhere, I can finally accomplish a lot of writing. So I am excited about using it. Plus, I have to justify the expense to my wife.
7. I have more staff to help me with Plasma Frequency.
November is still a production month. Issue 9 will be released on December 5th. But I know have much large staff to assist me, and I am recruiting more staff members. So that means that I can better divide my attention between my writing and my magazine.
8. It is time I connect with more Writers
I need to connect with more writers, I enjoy their company and I really want to connect with more. I missed out on a lot of chances to network when I was in San Antonio. But, NaNoWriMo is a chance to network with all kinds of writers from all different genres and locations. They even have regional connections so I can find a few writers in my area. You can find my profile too and I can connect with you.
9. I plan to be a writer by career.
In order to make money as a fiction writer, you have to publish fiction. I write novels now, though I may tackle a few shorts later, so that means writing novels. If I can tackle a novel in one month, like I plan to do with NaNoWriMo, than maybe I can do it again in say February. And maybe again in May, July, September, and then I am back at NaNoWriMo again. That may seem a bit ambitious. But if I write the first draft in one month, I figure that once editing and beta reading is done, I can publish three novels a year. And if I can do that, then I hope that someday I can get enough books out there to be recognized. And with that comes a little bit of money. And who knows in five more years, I can just focus on being what I always wanted to be… a writer!
10. I have the perfect outfit.
Last year I just simply could not figure out what I would wear to NaNoWriMo. I didn’t know the dress code. But this year I learned that I can come dressed whatever way I want. They even have a store if I want to wear NaNoWriMo gear. I’ve also lost a few pounds so maybe it won’t be so bad if I attended naked… on second thought I’ll bring pants.
There are a lot of careers out there that can be hobbies too. Painter, Photographer, gaming, sports, blogger, and of course writer, these are all examples of careers that are also hobbies. There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyists, and you might even make a few bucks on a hobby. Some hobbyists work very hard on their hobby, and I am not saying this is a bad thing. But some of us take a hobby, and decide to make it a career. But there are a ton of stumbling blocks a long the way.
As a writer you take on being in business for yourself. You have to have the drive to work even when no one set deadlines, or when there is no boss telling you to get something done. This can be difficult for writers. We tend to be day dreamers and get distracted with ideas and fun little thoughts. We can also be distracted by a shiny new book that we just have to read. All off these things make working for yourself a challenge, which often ends in a lack of time to complete tasks.
The financials of turning a hobby into a career are another matter to consider. If you plan to publish your own books, then you have to pay for a lot of things. You’ll need a freelance editor, a cover artist, an ISBN, and order proof copies a long the way. Even if you don’t self publish, you will have the cost of marketing (don’t count on publishers to do it all). Also include travel expenses for conventions and workshops to improve your skills.
Oh, and you cannot forget the Tax man. I am not a tax professional, so I don’t have many tips on this. I can say that you should keep track of all your expenses and income related to your career. And though you may not make any money at first, your ultimate goal is to start making a profit and that means you’ll eventually be paying taxes. As a business owner, I do recommend you find a trusted tax professional and get some tips and tricks from them.
You will likely need to keep a “day job” in order to make ends meet. They truth is that starting any business, including the one that used to be a hobby, means that you need money. Not just to start-up your business venture, but you need to plan on financing your self for the next 5 years. And, you probably have a few bills of your own to deal with (or probably tons of bills). This all means that you will likely need a real job at first. You will need some way to help pay everything that needs to get paid. You may be lucky and have a spouse that can work full-time and support the whole family. Unfortunately, especially here in California, that seems to be getting rare.
The major downside to having to get a day job is that it means a significant cut into your time to focus on writing and being a writer. If you really want to make this happen, then your work hours get extended signficantly. In my case, I work 40 hours a week. So that is a big cut into my time. The sad thing is most people don’t understand either.
You will need to improve your skills and start networking with others. This means you need to attend workshops, conferences, and conventions. This is one area that I missed out on until this year. There are a lot of online ways to network. Of course there is Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But there are also online writer groups, which allow you to network and improve your skills. There is also NaNoWriMo. You can also find many other online conferences and workshops to attend.
But there also in person ways to network that you can’t miss out on. Conventions and writing conferences are held for various genres and range in size. Some are free, some will cost. There are travel expenses to consider in this. But if you want to be good at your hobby turned career you need to attend these things. You need these things to propel yourself to the next level. Even if you just want a hobby, you can’t go wrong with learning more.
But traveling to all these conference to network and market gets costly. It also gets a bit tiring. But the cost is the biggest stumbling block for me. And, as I will touch on below, family doesn’t always understand. There could be fights over the cost, or the fact that you can only afford to go by yourself. There will be some you are dying to go to (for me it in LonCon3) but you just simply can’t go. At least not without causing a divide in your personal life. But, make the best effort to go to any conference you can. Make the effort to learn. When you are not writing, editing, or marketing, you should be learning about how to get better.
Now here is where your dedication of taking this to the career level is tested. Most of your friends and family don’t understand what you are trying to do. They see the “hobby” as just that. They can’t understand that you want to make this a career and that means you have to dedicate your time to this and sacrifice a lot of other things. You work a day job, you need to work on your writing, and eventually you need to sleep. That means that you miss a lot of other things. You might not watch much TV. You might spend a lot of time locked in your office. And you might not get to the dishes that day. And, in the case of my wife, she doesn’t understand that. It is hard to make them understand that you are essentially working two jobs.
Since I enjoy writing, it only embellishes the hobby mentality. Since I am having fun, I clearly can’t be working. But that isn’t the case. There are a few parts of writing that I really love. Writing the story, developing the characters, and seeing the cover art are all things I love. Editing, marketing, and coming up with titles all stress me out. I dread that part of the job. But I also know that when it all comes down to it, it is worth it. In any case, because you love to write it can often give the appearance that you are having fun and choosing writing over your friends and family. In some cases you are, but you are also doing this for them. It is important that your family, especially your kids, see that you are trying for your goals so that they can put hard work into their own goals.
The success rate it low. That is the one major problem with turning a hobby into a career. There is a low success rate. How many aspiring authors fail? How many give up? It takes a ton of work, and there is no guarantee of making anything of it.
I don’t think people understand the amount of work that goes into this. It could be that you ran out of money. It could be that your family nagged you too much and you quit. It could be that you become impatient waiting for success. It could be that you simply ran out of time to accomplish anything. Or it could be that you just didn’t think it was worth it anymore. It is hard to work for yourself, and it is hard to make people see your own vision of your future. But you need to decide what your vision is and make a goal of it. If you can hold out for just a little bit longer, you just might make it. You just have to find people who trust that you are not just a hobbyist, and there is a career to be had. Good Luck. Now go set those goals.
So I finished yet another first draft for a novel. I’ve come to the part of creating that many writers suggest, the cooling off period. Some call it “letting the manuscript rest” or “getting away from the story for a bit.” This is the time after completing that first draft that you walk away from the manuscript and let it rest for an extended amount of time. This is supposed to disconnect you from the story and give you a chance to see it “fresh” eyes.
File this under: Reasons Your Book Isn’t Published Yet.
I’ve tried this cooling off period before and I don’t see any point in it. I find it as nothing more than wasting time when you could be getting that book ready for market by starting the second draft. Instead you waste a month, two months, or even six months waiting for some magic to make you forget the story. If you are really passionate about what you write you won’t forget the story. I think this is just a stall tactic for writers to avoid something they hate… editing. It is also a great way to avoid the even scarier prospect of publishing your work.
Editing is important, and it is necessary to get your work published. This paranoia that you will miss something if you don’t let it rest is irrational. You will have beta readers to catch what you miss, you will have an editor to catch anything else that slips through. So why do we need to waste time with this cooling off period?
I wanted to try this cooling off period. I really did. As I finished this manuscript I told myself to give it a rest, wait a month and dive back in. But come on. A whole month? There is no way I can do that. It has barely been a week and I am shaking with the need to reread and edit it. It is driving me nuts. I can’t focus on any other projects because all I can think of is Liam, Rachel and Talya waiting for me to share their story with the world. So all this cooling off crap is going out the window.
I say that you should throw it out too. Get your book out there.
But a lack of patience isn’t the only reason to skip this. I’ve talked about those writers stuck in the revision cycle. They are stuck revising their story again, and again, and again. The story never goes anywhere. And I have to say that this cooling off period plays right into this. As you go back and check over the manuscript and you wait again. Then you find more. Then you want to change this. Now let it cool off again. Oh, and now I need to change this. Oh, great now another author has come out with something similar so let me change that. And now, let it rest again. And, ah hell it has been three years since I wrote this, I know so much more now.
Guess what? You’re still not published.
I don’t think that people realize just how much time they waste on this tactic. I’ve heard the argument that you can write something else while you wait. Which I understand. But if a story is yelling for you to work on it, why hide it in the closet? And even if you do write another manuscript, unless you get past the cooling off period, all you have is a collection of manuscripts with no readers.
Personally I think you should go with what works for you, so long as you keep pumping out fiction. But I think the cooling off period does little more than waste time and give writers a false belief that they can fully edit their own work.
Time seems to be something that is rather slippery. It is also the first thing people ask me about when they find out I am a writer. “How do you have the time?” Other people who aspire to be authors will tell me, “I wish I could be a writer, I just don’t have the time.” I often find myself running out of time before ever getting to work on the projects I promised myself I would do, especially my writing.
But we all have the same number of hours per day. We each get 24 hours. I spend eight of mine asleep. And since today is my day off from work, I should still have 16 hours to do everything I wanted to do… right? I woke up with that intention. But, I’d already slept in an extra hour. Than I spent another hour laying in bed wondering why I didn’t get out of bed. I spent another two and half hours tinkering with Plasma Frequency‘s website, which was a projects I planned to leave alone for today. I spent another few minutes thinking about lunch, and now I am finally sitting down to write this blog post. I’m only about four hours behind schedule.
Now that I am typing I finally feel like I am getting something done. But really, I had a lot more planned to do today. I was supposed to write a lot more in my current work in progress and I was supposed to get some time to do a little more reading. But in two hours from now I get the kids from school. After that it is snack time, homework time, dinner time, and then I can relax. No wait, next I have a sports league board meeting to attend. Once I get home from that I have to get the kids to bed and go to bed myself. I have a 5 am shift at work tomorrow.
What was supposed to be a day of writing, maybe even 5,000 more words written in my next novel, is actually going to wind up being little more than a blog post day. Where did all the time go? It went right out the widow with a lack of priorities.
When I was at WorldCon, I really wanted to be like these folks I saw on panels. I wanted to speak, teach, and help other writers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that this year. What I was able to do was listen. And when I really heard what people were saying, I learned. One thing that really spoke to me came from a panel that I ducked into while waiting for the next one to start. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of it, or who to give credit to. But the speaker said, that you had to set priorities if you wanted to be successful as a writer. And writing had to be a top priority. Family should come first, keeping a roof over your head and meals on the table had to be next, and third you needed to focus on what you wanted.
I am paraphrasing, and again I apologize that I can’t figure out who said this. But it really spoke to me. I’ve spent my recent years trying so hard to be so successful at something, that I am not being successful at anything. In recent years I have tried two runs for City Council, I volunteered for a sports league’s board or directors, started a magazine company, published two novels, took a trip to Texas, got a promotion at work, started two other novels, and took on coaching a soccer team. This is just some of what I am doing. And all of it means that I am trying to do too much.
Now, let me factor in that lazy time. You know the time I check Facebook and Twitter every ten minutes. Or the time I spend just sitting on the couch watching TV that I don’t even really care about. The aimless internet browsing for no real reason. Or the time I spend just plain sitting on my ass doing nothing.
So I decided to set my priorities in order. It is time I consider what I really want in life. I want a family that loves and supports me, which I have. And I want to contribute real value to the science fiction and fantasy community. My goal is to write quality fiction, and publish quality magazines.
My first priority has to be my family. There is only so much time any of us has on this planet and I don’t want to remain forever locked away from my family either. So I’ve committed to try to get out to more family vacations. When I went to WorldCon, that was the first vacation my family had together since my wife and I had our honeymoon. Ten years of no vacations made things rough.
My second priority is to keep my family fed, clothed, and sheltered. Right now, that means I need the day job. It pays for those vacations I mentioned above, but it also pays to keep the lights on and the roof over our heads. So for the time being working a “real” job is a priority.
My third priority to become a successful contributor to the writing community, namely in science fiction and fantasy. I do that through two methods. I publish short fiction through Plasma Frequency and I write my own books.
Everything else is not that important. I enjoy volunteering with the sports league, but I don’t think I will coach after this season. The time I have to volunteer will be spent on the board of directors. Facebook and Twitter are important to my writing, but not more important than writing itself. I will continue to do my best to blog weekly, this is after all writing. But the aimless TV watching for no reason (I’m not giving up Sharks hockey) will have to stop. Reading is an important part of writing, so I think I can squeeze that in where it fits. I can read while I wait to pick up the kids. Or while they are doing their homework.
I also intent to buy a laptop or tablet I can write on. Right now I do all my writing on a desktop and that limits the time I have to do it. Hopefully getting more portable will help. But I don’t know when I will be able to do that.
All and all, priorities have to be set in order to succeed. Will I always stick to this plan? No. But if I try I know I can be very successful. It just takes time and hard work, and I am prepared to dedicate both to my goals.
LoneStarCon 3, or the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), was held from August 29th to September 2nd, 2013. Those who know me, know I have been trying to get to a WorldCon for three years. After missing Reno and Chicago, I was finally able to go to San Antonio, Texas for this year’s WorldCon. I was excited and nervous. I have not been to any type of convention before, but I was ready to lose my con-ginity and experience a Con for all it was worth.
First let me talk about the facilities. WorldCon was held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. There were also many events, including the masquerade and the Hugo Awards held at the Marriott Rivercenter hotel. The Rivercenter Hotel was also the hotel my family stayed at.
The convention center was very big. There were certainly enough rooms to host tons of activities going on at one time. There were three floors of activities going on at any one time, with the main Exhibit Hall being located on the ground level. The exhibit hall has very well laid out with the art show as you entered. There were several exhibits, the dealers room, as well as the different Con bidders tables. They also had the ballroom in use. The panel and reading room were always quickly turned over by the staff of the convention center getting everything ready for the next event is a short amount of time.
The Rivercenter Hotel was beautiful place to stay. The rooms were comfortable and clean. The staff was very helpful. The one time I had a problem in my room the staff was very quick to reach a resolve and took care of me to make the remaining time I stayed there comfortable. The only complaint I had was that I was not allowed to use the luggage carts. When I was ready to check out, I attempted to get a luggage cart from the lobby and I was stopped by one of the employees. They told me that an employee had to use the luggage carts and that I had to call them when I was ready. Of course, after several days at a convention I was fairly broke, and I really didn’t want to tip a bellman. I know this sounds cheap of me, but I was simply out of money. In any case, that is really a minor issue from such an phenomenal hotel.
The hotel Grand Salon and conference rooms played host to many nighttime activities at the site. There rooms were a pretty good size and the facilities were always ready and set up for the next activity.
All the facilities were located within walking distance on the magnificent River Walk. I never had to set foot on any busy downtown streets. The river walk led to everything I needed to go to, including shops and dining. It made for beautiful scenery to start and end my days at the convention. However, once the weekend really started, the river walk became a congested mess. to make matters worse they had set up these tacky displays that took up the walkway. Then people stopped to look at these booths and the whole thing became a mess. I was really surprised no one was knocked into the river. Now keep in mind none of this is anything that the LoneStarCon 3 could control as the Riverwalk is a completely separate entity from anything involved in LoneStarCon 3.
Overall the facilities for LoneStarCon 3 were excellent.
Next, let me talk about the events and exhibits.
The exhibit hall was a huge facility. They had a mock up of the Starship Enterprise bridge. It had been put in the program that there would be times we could take pictures in the Captain’s chair. I really looked forward to that. However the display never had a schedule listed, and every time I was in there (which is a lot of time) there was never anyone staffing that display.
They also had Doctor Who display with Daleks and the TARDIS. My kids loved that display and they always wanted to check it out. Taking pictures was hard, since it was a closed off display.
The other display my kids loved was the LEGO display which had a large display of the different displays. They even changed it up regularly so you found a lot of funny things that moved or changed through out. They also made a giant LEGO rocket during the convention
The art display was stunning. No photography was allowed so I wasn’t able to take pictures. But I could have easily spent several thousand dollars there. I did buy one piece that is currently being shipped to my house. I walked through the art display more times then I care to admit. It was really amazing.
They also had a great display of Hugo awards and other items from the WorldCons in the past.
Each day was supposed to have a theme in the Exhibit Hall, but every day nothing really changed. It was the same displays each day. That or the changes were so subtle I never noticed. Overall, the Exhibits were repetitive in nature and it might have been nice to see some more exhibits in there, there was certainly space for it. I would say the Exhibits were good though. I did enjoy most of them.
The dealers room was also housed in the Exhibit Hall, which I didn’t really like. But the dealers were a selection of various different types of products. I did purchase from the Angry Robot booth, Amy Adams’ booth, Pegasus Publishing, Epic Buttons, and Wire Rim books. That was really just a fraction of what was there, and what I might have liked to buy given I had a bit more money.
I would say the dealer selection was great and the quality of the products was great.
Off to the side, where in my opinion they should have put the dealers, was the Con voting and booths. Each year WorldCon members get to vote for the next Cons, in this case 2015. I voted for Spokane, for the main reason that I can drive there easily. Spokane won and I was excited to hear that. We also voted for the NASFiC, which is held when WorldCon will be over seas. WorldCon in 2014 will be held in London. So I voted we have the NASFiC in Phoenix (again because I can drive). However, Detroit won. I also bough a supporting membership for Loncon 3 (London), in the small dream that I might be able to go next year.
The press booth was also in this area. I stopped by there on my first day. I had registered as Press for Plasma Frequency because I am going to cover the Hugo Awards for our next issue. The lady was not rude but she was very harsh with me, saying that I wasn’t allowed in the press booth because it wasn’t open for the public. But when she same my membership, I guess she recognized my name from her list. She was very apologetic. Unfortunately, I had another harsh run in with someone when I got to the press area. Clearly the press staff was under a bit of stress since they seemed to be so edgy. None of it was big deal, but as a first timer and a first time press person is made me feel a bit unwelcome.
There were a lot of panels to attend. I really wish I could get to them all, but I had trouble even getting to all the ones I wanted to go to. The two social media panels were outstanding. I learned a lot and I will be significantly changing the way I handle my social media pages.
The Self Promotion, Military SF, and writing combat were some of my favorites as well. Though I wished the writing combat one talked a bit more about writing styles to use when writing combat rather than making sure you know what you are writing about.
The only panel I walked out of was Writing outside Genre. It just wasn’t covering the topic in my opinion. It seemed to be more about the panelists. My other critique would be that the first time WorldCon panel, the panel for first time World Con attendees to learn about the program, wasn’t held until Saturday. By then I had already spent two full days on at the convetion, and had missed out on a lot of things that I could have been taking advantage of. Things like the parties and the Con Suite which I knew nothing about. I could have saved a ton of money on drinks had I know I could stop by the con suite for water.
Overall though the panels were a wealth of information for me as a writer, and me as a short story publisher. They had panels on both the craft of writing and the business of writing. The program was diverse and I really wish I could have go to more, but the kids needed time with dad too.
Which leads me to the kids programing. My wife did a lot more of that with them then I did. The first day I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed the activities and planning that went into each activity. But on Monday when I went in the I so furious with how unorganized the Lego Doctor Who stuff was. My kids were by far the most excited for that event and it quickly turned into a mess. It just was ever lead, and the kids took over. My boys managed to get a Dalek built but couldn’t build a TARDIS because by that time the younger kids had been pushed out by the olders.
The childcare facility, Kiddiecorp, was a nice. There were not a lot of children there and my kids had a blast while I enjoyed a date night with my wife. As a member, the kids each got six free hours, though I think we only used three. I am always a bit nervous about leaving my kids with any babysitter, but the Kiddiecorp staff was great.
I only managed to attend one Film viewing. Though I watched Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope staring Brett Stimely and directed by Eric Tozzi. I have a love for Ray Bradbury and Kaleidoscope is one of those stories that is difficult to imagine in a film. But this film absolutely nails it. It is fifteen minutes of genius and I really liked it. From the fragments of other films that I saw, there was a ton of talent in these films. The next time that I go, I will need to see more of the films.
I also had a chance to attend only one reading. And it came out of surprise really. I had attended a social media panel that had only two panelists. One was a last minute addition, Emma Newman. I absolutely loved what she had to say in that panel that I did two things the next day. I bought two of her books, and I went to her reading. Emma did such a great job in the reading that I wished I had attended more readings too.
Until Next Time
When it came time for me to leave on Monday, I nearly broke down in tears. I don’t mean that as some type of joke. I literally was misty eyed. There was such a mixture of emotions from that trip. I had so much fun, I learned so much, and yet I feel like I missed so much. I was so happy to have a vacation with my family, something I have not had in ten years. I was sad because I doubt I will get to London to do it again next year. I was disappointed it was over. I had wanted to quit my job and dedicate my life to science fiction. But that job is the only way I can afford to come out to conventions, publish my books, and keep Plasma Frequency going. I was worried it might be ten more years before I can afford another vacation. I also have a horrible memory. I don’t remember a lot about anything long term. The thought of forgetting this family trip was the most frightening of all. My memory issues scare me more every year, and no one seems to take it serious. But I digress. The convention was such a great time, both as a person in the industry and as a family vacation. I can only hope that I can somehow continue to attend WorldCons for many many more years.
P.S. You may have noticed I made no mention of the Masquerade Ball or the Hugo Awards. I plan to cover the Hugo Awards in depth in Plasma Frequency. And, unfortunately, I missed the Masquerade Ball.
As I announced a few days ago, today my books are officially free on Amazon.com. Get a copy for your Kindle for free!
Both Volition Agent and Dissolution of Peace are 100% free for Kindle. Please pick up a copy and share the links with your friends. We can make these books top sellers! The are free until Labor Day so get your copies soon!
Last week I didn’t do my normal blog post, the one from the Monday before was very emotionally draining and I needed a break. I wasn’t surprised that post got little attention, even from my friends, but there is still something about laying it all out there that drains you. The good news is I am feeling much better. I wrote more on my work in progress, got a very good review on Dissolution of Peace (see below) and have been working hard to get ready for WorldCon.
For those that don’t know about WorldCon, it is the World Science Fiction Convention. It is held annually and also is the host for the Hugo Awards. I’ve been trying to go to one for three years now. When I first learned about WorldCon, I tried to go to Renovation, but at the last minute I had to cancel. That was a shame because it was only about a four hour drive from my house. Chicago was just not going to happen, the cost was too much. But finally this year I get to go. Lone Star Con 3, in San Antonio looks like a ton of fun. But I made several mistakes that I will have to plan for next year (though I don’t think I will get to London, I hope to get to the North American Science Fiction Convention (takes place when WorldCon is not in North America).
First, I had no idea about the panels. That is to say, I knew that there were discussion panels to see. What I didn’t know was that I could ask to be on them. Second, I delayed to long to get back to them about a signing. Third, I couldn’t get a Dealer’s Table for Plasma Frequency. But, I think this actually works out better. I get to experience the convention, learn all there is to learn about it, and hopefully next year I will know better where I can help out.
I am beyond excited. I’ve got some business cards to hand out for the magazine, and I have some postcards to hand out during the event. The postcards are for my book and they are announcing a way to get both my books free. I’ll explain that more soon.
Whether you are a fan of my books, fan of Plasma Frequency, or a writer/artist looking to talk to me in person about getting your work in Plasma Frequency; I hope you will seek me out. I’d love to meet with writers, artists, and other professionals in the industry. If you see me there, please feel free to say Hello! If I have a moment I would be happy to talk to you. Also, I understand that you can leave a message for me on the Voodoo message board.
While I was not able to get involved in any of the panels as a panelist. I fully plan to attend a lot of convention activities. Below is a list of some of the activities I plan to attend. Of course, I may have to cancel some of these depending on what else I discover. But maybe I will see some of you at these. (Sorry if I butchered any of the panel names, I wrote them from my memory).
4pm Self Promotion
5pm Opening Ceremonies
9pm Best Practices for Booksellers
4pm The Romance of Military SF
5pm How Magazines are Changing in a Digital World
8pm How to build a Book Campain
11am How to Write a Short Story
12pm Planning a Starship
2pm LSC3 Film Festival
4pm The shift for Print to Electronic
5pm Writing Combat
10am Mars and/or Bust
11am Should SF consider the Furture
2pm Real Animals in a Fantasy World
5pm Extend your book into Social Media
8pm Hugo Awards
10am Writing outside Genre
12pm Armed Society is a Polite Society
3pm Closing Ceremonies
The rest of the time I will be either moving around the convention to see the exhibits or out sightseeing in San Antonio. I plan to spend some time at the Riverwalk, the Tower of the Americas and the Alamo. When I get back, I plan to write a blog post all about my experiences there. I’ll also be on my Twitter and Facebook with updates of where I am and what I am seeing. I also will have an article in Issue 8 of Plasma Frequency all about the trip.
Get My Books Free!
In honor of my first WorldCon and because I can’t think of a better way to get the attention of a ton of Science Fiction readers, I have made Dissolution of Peace and Volition Agent free for Kindle from August 29th to September 2nd. Five full days to celebrate my books and WorldCon. I would really like to see my book make some “Top Seller” lists on Amazon. My readers did wonders with Dissolution of Peace on its first free day. So please spread the word that these books are going to be free on Amazon. The more people who know the better! Thank you!
New Dissolution of Peace Review!
Bookworm Babblings reviewed Dissolution of Peace today! They were very excited about this book and said some excellent things. It really brightened my mood. Please go give it a read, and leave a comment if you’d like.
Hope to see some of you at WorldCon! See you next week for my post about the trip!
I usually stick to the more “professional” topics on this blog and write a lot about writing, authors, and publishing, but this week I feel compelled to get a bit more personal. There is a tie in to writing and being an author, I think. And if I get to that, I’ll talk about it. But, before I go any further, I have a feeling this post may come across as a “poor me” post. I might sound a bit like Eeyore. But I assure you that I write from inspiration, even in my blog posts, and I felt inspired to write this down so I am going for it.
The inspiration for this came from Facebook. I get a little too much inspiration, and distraction, from that site. But the truth is I am on there a lot (I just wish I got the social experience I crave from it). It wasn’t someone’s post that inspired me today. It was that greyed out text in the update status box that reads “What’s on your mind?” On my personal Facebook page I comment on that phrase a lot. But over the last few days it has been taunting me. Every time I’ve read it for the past few days, I’ve wanted to post a real response to that. But, I chickened out. Today I told myself I would really post what has been on my mind, it is simple enough. One sentence really. But, just a little bit ago I chickened out again and posted, “Facebook always asks “What’s on your mind?” but I don’t think it really cares.”
I did what I always do when I am faced with something I think might be going a bit too deep, I resort to an attempt at humor. You see, what I had wanted to post was much more of an insight to my own personal demons. I wanted to post in that status box, “I wish I was attractive.” Wow… something tells me that when Facebook designers sat down and decided to put “What’s on your mind?” in the status box they didn’t really mean that. They probably were hoping for something more along the lines of “My cat just chased a laser light and ran into the screen door.” See… there is that attempt at humor jumping in again.
It is interesting that I couldn’t post that real part of me on Facebook to a group of friends and family, but I can post it here for the entire world to see. Probably because I know none of my friends will read this.
I know I am not an attractive man. My wife might argue with me on that, but the fact remains the same: I’ve spent my whole life being overlooked by the opposite sex. First I was skinny, lanky, and awkward socially. Then I got a bit more social, but I was still lanky. Now, I love to be social. But, I’m fat. Once again I find myself the perfect description of unattractive. I compensate for that with humor. When I make a woman laugh, for just a moment I feel good about myself. Not just women either, anytime I can make someone’s day a bit better I feel good. (Perhaps that is why I want to be a respected author with a fan base.)
I am very happy with my wife. Despite all my awkwardness, I found someone I can be with for the rest of my life. I know many of you are thinking that if I’m happy with my wife, why does it matter what others think. But let’s be honest, we all care what others think. My wife doesn’t get jealous. She says it is because she trusts me. And I know deep down that is why. But to me it is because she knows she has nothing to worry about. I’m just not the kind of man that has women chasing after him. Of course, many would argue that woman won’t say anything to me or compliment me because they don’t want my wife to get the wrong idea. Perhaps that is true. But where were they before?
I told you this would sound a lot like Eeyore.
So if I am happily married, why does it matter so much to me that I am attractive? I just want to be someone my wife can brag about. She has nothing about me to brag about, and she doesn’t bother to try. She can’t say I am attractive, she can’t say I’m rich, she can’t even say I’m successful. The few times she has bragged has come after talking to her about this very topic.
Ah, there it really is. I just want to be successful in something. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be someone that made an impact on the world, or even my community, or even my friends. If I died tomorrow who anyone outside my family morn my loss? …That sounded a little emo of me. (Attempt at humor).
I volunteer in my community. But my attempt to be a city council member failed. I tried to be a business owner, and failed. I tried to go for my dream job, and failed. Financially, any amount of good luck with money has been followed by a haunting from my previous money mistakes. Now I am trying to realize me dream of being a writer, but the jury is still out on that one. As for a career, I’ve settled into security and accepted that is the path for me.
Back to the topic.
As much as I crave social interaction, and lack it, it would figure that I would pick the very solitary lifestyle of a writer. But I think I like the company of writers because I discovered that for the most part, writers are a group of people with Self-Esteem issues. I’ve found some very attractive writers out there, but that isn’t the only esteem issue out there. For some they are terrified of social situations. Others, lack confidence in their writing. The list goes on. I think that is why you find so many authors out there with pen names.
There are so many reasons to have a pen name, but one of the most common I hear is because of some variety of the statement: “I don’t want people to know I write.” or “I don’t want people to know I write this.”
It seems that to be a writer you must have some personal demons. Mine is that I am ugly and lack success.
Next week, I’ll try to come back with a little bit more upbeat post. Something to do more with writing.
I haven’t done an updates blog in a long time, so I thought I would start August with one.
Dissolution of Peace
First, lets talk Dissolution of Peace. In late July, I noticed a bunch of new reviews on Goodreads for the book. Based on what I read from those reviews, it was a Book Club that reviewed my book. It was very nice to see positive reviews come in mass like that. I think I know which book club it was, but I am not sure. Either way, I thank them for selecting my book and reviewing it. None of the reviews were below four stars so I guess they must have liked it.
The sequel for Dissolution of Peace has been a tough time coming. I know most who have finished the first book are dying to know what happens next. When I originally wrote Dissolution of Peace, in its infancy, I wrote a second manuscript to go with it. This manuscript did not take over right when Dissolution of Peace ended. It took over some time later, and the problem is I thought I’d want to write what happened in that time as the second book.
Dissolution of Peace went through a significant rewrite from the original to the current book. So now, I feel the time between books might need to be told. Well, I have sort of stalled on telling that story. And I now find myself wondering if I want to actually start the story in at “some time later” as I had planned all those years ago. What I think I really need to do is reread Dissolution of Peace and reread the other manuscripts from the past, this way I will find the inspiration of where to go from here.
In other Dissolution of Peace news, and for the first favor: Quality Reads UK Book Club (in partners with Orangeberry) have nominated Dissolution of Peace for their Book Expo Hall of Fame. They have several categories, and Dissolution of Peace has been named with four other books for the Hall of Fame. The rest is up to votes. It seems my book has already traded the lead with another title several times. So if you don’t mind, please head over and give Dissolution of Peace a vote. You can vote by clicking here.
Volition Agent is still trying to pick up some steam. I am proud of this book, and I am still a bit down about the slow start. However, we did have a recent giveaway end, and though it didn’t get very many entrants, that will put the book in more readers hands. I’ve already mailed out the Paperback winners. And when I am done with this blog, I will be sending out the Kindle winners via email. I have canceled the photo contest, no one entered or expressed interest in entering. Some marketing ideas just don’t work.
There is still a chance to win a copy of the Volition Agent. You can do so by entering the Goodreads giveaway. That runs until the end of this month (if I remember correctly). So please consider entering and sharing it with your friends.
Current Work in Progress
I do have a work in progress going. I put a lot of words down quickly on this project (which is still untitled) and I really think it is coming along nicely. As I get farther along on it, I am realizing that a lot of my heart and soul in going into this work. There is a lot of my own personal struggles placed in each of these characters.
Once again I find the three characters alternating POV works for me. There are three main characters in this story: Liam Fisher, the military leader of the City-State of Lagoon Hills. Talya Brooks, his second in command. Rachel Tabor who is a person from Liam’s past who he never expected to see again.
The project is my first take at a post apocalyptic story. I don’t think you can call it a dystopian, the people are rather happy thought the world we know is no longer around. It takes place several years after the government of the United States (and the world) collapsed due to a variety of things including disease, economics, social unrest, and a mass die off of the human race.
Anyway, I am really enjoying writing this book. Though for the last week time has not permitted me to write as much as I want.
Plasma Frequency recently published Issue 7, our first issue in our second year of publishing. This is very exciting and we have worked hard to get to this point. We have a lot of plans for our second year. We plan to switch over to Amazon for our publishing needs, selling both the Kindle and Print issue through them. This will significantly lower our print costs. We understand that for the amount of fiction we publish, that the $9.99 price point Magcloud forces on us (due to their per page cost) isn’t fair. We don’t even make money on the print issue. Amazon will allow us to reduce that significantly and put our price more in line with other print magazines. We won’t cut ties with Magcloud because of their ability to sell our PDF issue. I’ve not found another source for that.
I really want to pay authors and artists more. But the current 1 cent per word comes out of my own pockets. That has made it rough for me, and I can’t even consider paying more unless I have more funds. So after our reader survey, we thought we would try an IndieGoGo campaign. So far, we are way short of our goal and it doesn’t look like we will be paying anymore in year two. But that can change if you will help (see another favor). If everyone who downloaded our issues donated just $25 we’d break our goal in no time flat. But you don’t have to donate that much. Even just $5 or $10 helps.
Even if we don’t hit our goal, Plasma Frequency will still be around for many years to come. I just won’t be able to pay anymore just yet. To donate, or share with others, click here.
So that is what I have going on right now. Oh, and don’t forget to share (one last favor) the Author Features that I stated on Friday when Jennings Wright came by for an interview. This Friday I have a guest post. Jump in and get some free publicity.