Announcing Factor Four Magazine

I’ve spent a lot of time hinting and implying that I just might want to start publishing fiction again.  Most of you know that I really miss putting our Plasma Frequency.  Well, I’ve made the choice to return to publishing with an all new publication, Factor Four Magazine.

The website is still being built, but I couldn’t wait to share the plans for this great magazine.  Some of this information could change, but this is the idea for the magazine.

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What will we publish?

We will publish mostly flash fiction.  We will have a 2,000 word count per story maximum, but all of the budgeting for the issue is based on 1,000 words or less.  So that basically means we will focus our acceptances on true flash fiction.  We will publish Speculative Fiction with a focus on Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural, Super Hero, or the blend of any of those genres.

We will be a magazine published to an adult audience so some foul language and sexual content would be accepted provided it fits with a well rounded story.  Erotica will not be published.

Theme issues will play some part in our publication, but I am not sure at what level.  I’ll definitely want to do holiday themes when the time of year comes around.

How will we publish?

We will be a quarterly publication featuring 16 stories per issue.  The first issue will be released in April 2018.  We will publish in print, eReader, and online format with subscriptions and single issue options for these.  The cost per issue and subscription has not yet been decided.

Author Compensation

Since much of my readership are authors, I am sure most of you are wondering what we will be paying authors.  We will pay 8 US cents per word or US $60 which ever is more.  We also plan to do some other compensation with regard to a free issue, but that isn’t a guarantee.

Artists will be paid $200 per issue for cover art.

Submissions are planned to open December 1 this year.

How can I find out more?

Factor Four is on Twitter and Facebook and we to have the website.

While I have said “we” a lot currently the staff on this magazine consists of just myself.  I’d like to be bring back some of the editorial practices used at Plasma Frequency, but I’ll need an editorial staff.  While I haven’t officially started asking anyone to join the team, if you are interested you can always reach out to me.  Eventually I will have more explanations of opportunities on the website.

I can’t wait to get this magazine started and return to publishing great fiction!

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Sink or Swim, but be Swept Out to Sea

The day after I announced that I would be working with the folks at SciFan Magazine, they announced they were shutting down.  It was a shock to me, they didn’t warn me it was coming.  It just sort of happened.  But, when a magazine shuts down, that seems to be the case.  One day they’re there, the next day they can be gone.

Magazine publishing is very much a sink or swim business and, as my headline states, you are swept out to sea.  Not only are you trying to swim, you are getting hit by wave after wave.  Money problems, competitive market, unexpected expenses, standing out in the crowd, being discovered; wave after wave hits.  To get above the waves you need a boat.  And building a boat while you are trying to keep your head above water just doesn’t work out often.

Plasma Frequency was very successful as a semi-pro publication.  We were on the low end of that “semi-pro” pay rate, but we attracted great authors and put out great stories.  We tried to be innovative in the way we communicated with authors, and we attracted good people to our editorial staff.  And then a huge wave of financial woes hit us.  We’d just patched the raft we’d created when the next one hit.  And we sunk.

I spiraled down into a depression and there was no recovery for me until very recently.  But even through my worst times, I missed doing it.  And now I find myself strongly considering publishing again.  But this time, I’m trying to build the boat before shoving off into the sea.  I am taking the things I’ve learned from Plasma Frequency, and I am going to apply them to the design.

Plasma Frequency is not returning, I’ll make that clear.  That boat sank and it is time to move forward.  I also must be clear that I could very well decide this boat isn’t seaworthy and not pursue this any further.  But, I can say that I am getting very close to testing the waters and I am eager to see if it is possible to happen again.

New Release: SciFan Magazine Issue 9 Featuring “The Last Visit”

I am excited to say that I have my first short story sale since returning to the writing world.  This time it is to the folks at SciFan Magazine.

Issue 9 was released to day and features my short story “The Last Visit”.  It is a first for me, in that this is the first short story I’ve sold to a print publication.  So while I have sold several shorts, I have never had a short story printed on a sheet of paper.  That is really exciting to me.  Most of you that follow me know that I love the print medium for reading far more than digital, so this is a huge step for me.  I should also mention it is my first, first person short story.

“The Last Visit” explores several ideas.  The more obvious is the one that SciFan calls out in their promo:

If technology allowed the dead to visit their loved ones, even just once a year, how would it change the way we mourn? Would it be as pleasant of an experience as we think it should be?

But there is a few more subtle messages in there.  Can we really change the way we respond to situations, even after a devastating situation? Can an angry person ever really change? And at the end, without too many spoilers, where does that second thought about a situation come from? What makes us stop and think about the actions we are about to take?

I originally wrote this short story in May of 2015.  It was another one, as many of my short stories are, inspired by a dream (or rather a nightmare) that I had.  It was very emotional for me to write, and I was very literally sobbing as I finished it.  Tears falling onto the keyboard, I managed to get it on ‘paper’ and immediately walked away from the computer.  I had to.  From there, I didn’t really touch it.  I didn’t even shop it with any markets that I can recall.

I shopped it around when I made a decision to dust off some old stuff and get it out there.  And there is where SciFan comes in!

You may be noticing a trend here.  A lot of my short stories revolve around death.  My first sale, “Death Watch” started that.  But, I have a bit of a preoccupied thought of death and if it can stopped, scheduled, or even the idea of a return from death.

So what else am I shopping right now? Well, I have three more short stories, flash fiction that focus on death.  One is more of a tongue-in-cheek on how Death is hired and hints at a future novel project.

I also have a fantasy piece out that put humor on how worlds are created and a Science Fiction story about what the future workforce may look line.

As always I have my novel projects upcoming too, but that is another post.

I encourage you to check out Issue 9 of SciFan Magazine!  Let them know what you think to “The Last Visit.”

My Blog is Caked in Dust, but Despair Didn’t Win.

I haven’t written a blog post since October of 2015, a few months shy of two years.  That was only one of two posts I wrote in 2015.  They weren’t about anything too substantial, but they were important to me.

I haven’t written anything of any consequence since January of this year.  It was one chapter in a new novel project that I’ve been attempting for ages.  Prior to that, I hadn’t written a thing since around this time in 2015.

My Twitter account, and my Facebook, have been a deserted land where I occasionally tweeted to a business that provided poor service.  Truth be told, I am not sure the last time I was on Twitter.  And those that know anything about me, know that I was on Twitter a lot.

Now I preface with all this information in preparation to defend myself as to why I have not been writing.  The very reason that I feel the need to defend myself it the very reason things got this far out of hand.  What I realized was that I don’t need to defend myself.  Quite frankly, I could have just started up with a random blog post and been done.

I watched this video on YouTube the other day.  I’ll link to it if I can remember how to do that after so long away.  I’m not one of those people that spends hours a day watching YouTube, but I do have a couple of folks that I must see all their videos.  One of those people is Meg Turney.

This video, where she talks about her “weird” days, was an amazing gut check to me.  Meg is great in that she refuses to label it, she just hasn’t been herself lately.  I respect that, in fact it is what made it speak to me even more.

Labels tend to throw off people and even cause people to shy away from facing facts.  When someone says, “That sounds like depression.” Or, “That sounds like anxiety.” Or, really any other “that sounds like…”, my first reaction is to say… “I’m not depressed.”

It doesn’t matter if I know that I am. This need to defend myself, as if I have been accused of stealing a co-worker’s lunch, takes over my thought process. I don’t know why.  I think it is the label itself.  Why does society feel the need to label people? Labels are a method of classification, and if you don’t fit it the boxes laid before you, you’ve got some explaining to do.

Meg didn’t bother to label.  Read the video comments though. You’ll see that people immediately took to the need to label what she described.  Some did it under the idea that they were helping, others did it just because she asked them not to, and others did it because it made them feel smart.  And who knows, some just wanted the attention of someone as awesome as Meg.

I’m digressing from the point here.  So back to the gut check.  Meg, a role-model of sorts to me, described some of what I have felt since early 2016.  Just not myself.  But furthermore, she didn’t defend herself.  She just explained herself.  And I thought to myself, I need to do that.

I don’t have to make a blog post that defends why I just couldn’t bring myself to write.  I was scared of that.  I was scared to break through the problem and start doing what I love again.  I was worried I’d somehow need to defend myself to someone.

Of course, I don’t have a ton of fans like Meg does.  I have a hard-enough time getting my friends to read my work.  But I digress again.  The lack of fans didn’t make the need to defend any less dominate.  But after seeing that video, I decided I wouldn’t defend.

But I felt like I still owed some type of explanation.  And while that may seem like a sort of defense, and maybe it is, I still feel the need to say something.

In late 2015, my wife shared some news with me that spiraled me into a sense of being lost.  I didn’t know what was real anymore.  I had a lot of doubt and I just felt hurt.  I didn’t really know where to go or how to approach this.  One friend essentially vanished from my life during the period of time.  Another friend told me to be glad it wasn’t worse.  It was sort of a “shit happens” response.

The goal of this post isn’t to get into great detail, but it took a good four to six months to really start any type of recovery.  The only reason that recovery has since hit was because I met my best friend.  She is an amazing human who seemed to know what to say to help me, a big difference from knowing what I want to hear.  I’m grateful for that, and I am certain she saved me.

During that time, I had no choice but to close Plasma Frequency Magazine.  At this point I just wanted to hide.  I’d let a lot of people down, twice.  First with the initial closing and then with the second closing.  So, I hid.  Now, that does sound like I am heading down the path of defense.  But let me say that I was lost without the magazine.  I was the first time, and again this time.  I was devastated.  Publishing that magazine was extremely important to me.  Add that to the blows in my personal life, and I just couldn’t face anything publishing.

Next, I fell behind on the mortgage.  While I was able to save the house, I felt like failure.

The company I worked for constantly told me they’d be lost without me, but then didn’t appreciate me.  This particular division has grown too much and has lost the company way.  So, I changed departments.  After all, I love the company.  Even better, I was now going to work with my best friend.  Great, right?

Well my old boss is a lying little… person.  He praised and then snapped.  He pitted supervisors against each other to get information.  He made false promises, including raises and such, then didn’t deliver.  My friend and I knew well enough to just talk to each other and I laid low and did my job.  But I got frustrated that he was one way with me and another with her.  And one day he really ticked me off, so I started looking at job boards.  After all, as they say, people quit managers not jobs.

That was how I wound up at the job I have now.  This job pays me more, I have more responsibility, and I am well respected there.  I absolutely love it.  Accept for one problem, I now feel like I’m losing a friend.  We don’t talk much, at least not vocally.  Texts here and there, but no calls and not hanging out. When you go from daily lunches with someone to the occasional text, it is hard not to plummet a bit into doubt.

But now I here, finally blogging again.  Finally putting some words on paper.  And if I can “explain” why I stopped, I damn well better explain how I started.

So, think of this feeling of despair as a pit.  I fell into a very dark pit when my wife and I started having some trouble. The world was continuing to say, “Fuck you, Richard.”  The word was throwing more dirt in the hole, trying to bury me alive.

Many days I thought, what’s the use.  Many times, I thought about writing again and thought, no one cares if I write again or not.  At the time, I did not realize this, but the dirt was filling up the hole but I could use the little positives in life to climb on top of that dirt and get closer to the top.   Crap, I sound like a really shitty Facebook meme.

I had a best friend who dove into the hole after me, before we were even remotely close.  She makes little comments, as if she knows how to deal with my feelings, that help me battle the demons I face.  When I put up my shield and say, “Sorry to bother you, but…” She says, “You never bother me.”  So many other people ignore my defensive lines, and she catches every one and tells me it is fine in her own way.  She isn’t afraid to call me out, but also knows when it is just fine to make it clear she knows what I mean.  I mentioned I broke the writing stalemate in January of this year, and that was due to a thoughtful Christmas gift from her.

Despite the hard times with money, I took the time to use the dirt to figure out a way to be successful.  Until yesterday, I did not have internet in my house for nearly a year.  I still don’t have trash service, instead we take our trash to a free disposal place.  And I made it a point to bring a week’s worth of lunches to work to resist the urge to eat out.

I had a toxic boss and so I used the chance to find an even more amazing job.  I found a job that pays considerably more, has better benefits, and the management is amazing.

And now, at this point I was just out of reach from exiting this pit of despair.  But I couldn’t get there.  I just couldn’t.  I get these feelings that no one loves me, even though I know that has to be false.  I get this feeling that my best friend doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.  And I get this feeling like I am a burden.  No matter how much I knew these things are not true, the feelings still come.

All these things just kept me from pulling myself up and out of the ditch.  I’d planned to give up on writing.  I really did.

And then Meg Turney decides to share her video and her experience.   It didn’t matter that her experience was a few days and mine was almost two years.  It spoke to me and lifted me that extra foot I needed to grab the edge and pull myself out.

Am I cured? Fuck no.  I won’t ever be.  But I’m out of that pit and that means that I can face some of these spots in my life a little easier.  I can make myself do what I need to do.  And now, here I am writing a blog post for all of you.

So, thank you Meg for that last push.

Thank you KN for knowing what I need to hear and for knowing how to translate the guarded Flores language.  I hope someday you cut back on the work and increase your time for friends, I’d hate for us to drift apart.

Thank you to my wife.

Thank you to my fans who did message me and ask about Illusion of Victory.  I am sorry, I’ll make it happen soon.

I know this is long winded and dry, but if I can speak to just one person the way Meg spoke to me, it will be worth it.

I’ll blog again soon, for now I have some novels to write.

Eight Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Washington

One year ago today I took the leap of faith and moved from California to Washington. I’d never lived in a state other than California, so this was a jump into the new. Even more shocking was the fact that I had nothing lined up out here. No job, my wife’s job transfer was still a maybe at best. But I did it anyway.

When I packed up the moving truck I didn’t even have enough gas money to get to Washington. I slept at a rest stop until my wife’s next paycheck came through and finished the trip the next day.

So why did I pick Washington? Well there is a number of reasons for that. The first was because I have wanted to move to Washington for some time, I’d come up here to test for a job years ago and loved it. The second was because it was cheaper to live here than in California but the jobs in my field paid around the same. And finally, it wasn’t so far away that having family visit would be financially impossible.  Those were the main reasons.

But leaving a state you were a resident of for the first 32 years of your life is a big step. And like most things we do in life, lessons are learned. So, to go along with my one year anniversary in this state, I thought I’d share some of them.  Some of these have to do with Washington itself, and some have more to do with making a move out of state.

1. The Traffic in Seattle is insane.

I learned real quick that one thing everyone in Seattle does is complain about the traffic, then we promptly go back out in that mess the next day. It is just what we do. And it amazes me that a state with so much rain would have so many drivers that have no clue how to drive in the weather. But if you mention that to a Washingtonian they’ll tell you it is because of all the people from California.  Finally, any commuter that travels the I-5 knows about the Variable Speed Zones. I learned that when it says 60 MPH, it is really 50 MPH. 50 MPH means 40, and Any anything less than that means you’re stopping.

2. It doesn’t rain all the time, but there is always a chance.

Coming from California where there is such a major drought, I was ready for rain. Rainy weather is my absolute favorite weather and so this was the climate for me. Despite what people think, it doesn’t rain here every day. But if you check the weather there is always some percentage of a chance of rain. I never once saw it say 0% chance of rain. And the time of year doesn’t matter for the rain. But the great thing about it is rain never ruins anyone’s plans out here.

3. The Science Fiction and writing community is big out here.

Now I haven’t dived too much into this one. But I’ve noticed that a lot of writers have been following me on Twitter and Facebook that are from this area. Book shops are all around. And the library system is really good. This is something I hope to explore a bit more.

4. There is so much to explore.

There are something like 17 state parks within an hour drive from me. In the first year I think I’ve got to 10 of them. There are forests, beaches, lakes, and recreation facilities. Out door recreation not your thing? There are museums, architectural items, shopping, amusement parks, Pike Place Market, sporting events, and much more. Many things to do that are free or low cost. For example, $30 gets you unlimited yearly access to the Washington State Parks.  And I just love all the rivers, lakes and water falls. And of course the sound is right there. I still haven’t been to so much of the stuff around here, I’m not sure I’ll run out anytime soon.

5. Your family and friends won’t visit as much as you think.

First off, my family and friends may take this as a jab a them, but it isn’t. As I mentioned above, I moved here because of a number of reasons, one being still pretty close to California. I am about 12 hours drive away, an hour and a half by plane. But there are other factors then travel time that play a role. Cost being one of them. The other is just time.  When you’re around the corner people can drop in for a few hours to visit. But when you are twelve hours away, they need to block off a few days to do that. That isn’t always practical for everyone. The one annoyance I will say, your family will expect you to come visit them though. So far I’ve been asked to come to California for three separate trips in 2015.

6. Emergency Preparedness is important.

Sure, I admit this is true everywhere. But in California we don’t tend to take the threat of earthquakes very serious. And maybe Washingtonians in general are the same way with their storms, but as some one that moved to this state it opened my eyes to the need for emergency preparedness. For one, the storms take out the power all the time. Flooding is always a possibility. And there is the very real threat of volcanoes.  I think the point here is that the change of perspective can open your eyes to the things you’ve taken for granted.

7. You can’t run from your problems.

I’ll admit that the thing that pushed me over the edge and made me move here was a run of bad luck with jobs in California. It hasn’t changed here. I, in no way, regret moving to Washington. But I have realized that a move will not fix the problems you have.

8. The world is a big place.

Travel is important, but actually taking roots in a new place is an eye opener. The world, and even different states, have different ways of doing things. You may not think they are all the best way, but seeing a new way to do things is good for anyone. It is important to expand your horizons and take risks. There are somethings that California does that I like better. But I am quickly finding there are things in Washington I like a lot more. And as I expand my travel locations, I am finding that there is a lot to see in this country and I hope to get to all of it. But it leads me to want to expand my view to a worldwide one.  And I don’t see how that can be a bad thing.

Where Has the Hopeful Future Gone?

shrugYesterday I finished reading Heinlein’s Space Cadet. Oddly enough, a science fiction fan as myself, had not read that one yet. So when I saw it at my local library I snatched it up to have a read.

As of late, I have been reading a lot of newer fiction by both new and established authors. I also read tons of science fiction shorts both in published magazines and in my own submission pile. But after reading Space Cadet, I realized there is something about older fiction that I enjoy.  Of course the science in most older fiction novels doesn’t stand up to what we know today. But the great authors tell a story that can stand up to the fact that the science is out dated. Heinlein is one of those authors.

But it wasn’t the old science that brought back the nostalgia of the classic science fiction, it was the hopeful future. Sure there are a lot of classic novels in this genre that portrayed doom and gloom. Or even a dystopian landscape. But the classic SF of its day looked to the stars with a lot a hope and wonder. They saw the possibility of life on other planets, humans spreading throughout the stars, and the survival of the human race long after Earth was no longer a safe home.

There is a lot of fiction out there today that portrays the doom of the human race. We are oppressed, wiped off the Earth, a victim to our own technology, or just plain fucking everything up. Where has the hopeful future gone?

Don’t get me wrong, there are some outstanding stories that explore the darker side of our future. I certainly appreciate their message, story, and even the self reflection on what our society is. But is there no good in the world anymore? Is there really no hope for our future? I can’t imagine that, even being the pessimist that I am. It is one of the reasons even my post-apocalyptic novel, Broken Trust, focuses more on the rebuilding of society than simply surviving the end. This pessimist wants to see things work out eventually.

Of course, here in America the overall excitement of space travel and exploration is somewhat muted. Compare the shares of Kim Kardashian’s ass with a champagne glass to the news of a successful mission to land a probe on a comet. A mission that was launched over 10 years ago! It is disgusting to see what we think of as a priority in the news, let alone in science.

Science seems to have been suddenly forgotten. Where is the next space race and why is our government not hyping it? Where is the possibility of the human race traveling the stars? When was the last time man traveled outside of a low Earth Orbit? This sudden lack of interest in spending money for manned exploration of space is part of the reason our genre has seen a decline in space epics that are positive.

We get our news from a thousand outlets around the world, all with their own spin on it. And damn it if the news isn’t depressing. And why is that? Because people would rather tune in to multiple homicide report than one about the newest scientific break through.

The point is this, the trends right now both in fiction and reality is the doom of the human race. The “what is this world coming to” story. And this is where I think we, as fiction writers, are failing to perform our duty.

Of course when writing a story you want to sell it, so naturally we tend to follow the trends. Furthermore, you want to entertain readers with a great story. But a really excellent piece of fiction doesn’t just tell a story, it shapes the person who reads it. It encourages the reader to think, to explore their own minds, and to see a future that just might happen.

So why are we writing stories that show the end is coming? We need to get to our keyboards and tell stories of rebirth, space travel, hope, and success. It is time science fiction went back to tackling the hard questions about our future. It is time we shaped the next generation of readers into thinking that the world can be changed, and that there is so much more about our universe that we have yet to tap into.

And, I am going to put my money where my mouth is on this one. A couple months ago, my editorial staff and I at Plasma Frequency talked about doing a theme issue. Molly Moss and Alexis Hunter, two of my reading editors, had this idea. They wanted to do an “anti-apocalypse” themed issue. I absolutely loved the idea. Like I said before, there are a lot of great stories exploring the darkness in humanity, the end it coming or has come, but I wanted to see hope. Naturally since Molly and Alexis came up with the idea, I gave them editorial control over this future issue.

There is a special call going to this issue, you can find it here.

Let me stress that I am fully aware there are still stories of hope out there. And I know that. But you can’t deny the trend towards the oppression of humans and/or the apocalypse. So as you get ready to write that next novel or short story, how about you reignite the passion of the people. Bring back the Hopeful Future.

Plasma Frequency – Rift & Fundraising

I don’t usually do a lot of reblogging. But Eleanor Wood had some very nice things to say about Plasma Frequency that I had to share.

Panoply

It’s official… ‘Rift’, my flash story that appeared in Plasma Frequency last year, has been voted into their Year 2 Anthology. Little Rift is going out into the world all over again! I’m delighted it’ll get another chance to be read far and wide, and it’ll be sharing space with a whole bunch of terrific stories from Plasma Frequency‘s second year of publication. It’s due out next month, so watch this space.

As it happens, there’s other Plasma Frequency news afoot. They’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to pay their authors pro rates of 6¢ per word. That’s a big jump from their current rate of 1¢, and they need your help to make it happen. They’re hoping to raise over $15,000 by mid-November, which will allow them to claim much-deserved pro magazine status and pay their writers accordingly.

I’ve said it before, but I’ve been…

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Where have you been?

I know I have been a really bad host lately. I keep inviting people to the party, but then I never show up.  I’ve been less than active on this blog and not very active on social media either. So what has been going on?

Well, I’ve been a bit down about things. I have not felt very validated as an author and have been in one of those self induced moods where I hide from the world.  But, I’ve come back out from my cave, and I didn’t see my shadow. So I think that means I am able to break down this barrier and start working on what I enjoy. And to start, I put out this blog post.

So what have I been up to?

DetCon1

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Well, lets start with the biggest of things that kept me away.  And that is DetCon1. Most of you know how excited I was about being part of the participants for this great convention. And it was really a good time.  I got to meet some great people, break down my fear of reading in public, and even got a few great compliments.

One of the things that was so cool was I got to meet, and for just a little bit, talk with John Picacio. He is one of my all time favorite artists and we talked for brief moment before he was off to do more Guest of Honor stuff.  But, he happened to know who I was.  We’ve interacted a few times on Twitter, and I guess he seemed to remember me from there.  I also attended some of his panels, including one where he broke down how he did “Girl with Microphone”, which is one of my favorite art pieces (bottom left of the picture below is my print copy which I won at the art show!).

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I also spoke to Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld at some length after one of his panels (the day before we sat on a panel together). Clarkesworld, and Neil, have been a great inspiration to my work on Plasma Frequency. And Neil was very much aware of my publication and I was so pleased to know that. He also shared some great insight with me into his own experience in the business and I was quite surprised by things I learned from him. Needless to say, it made me feel as if Plasma Frequency was doing some good in the Science Fiction short market world and I can’t wait to push forward.

Photo by Al Bogdan
Photo by Al Bogdan

I also had a panelist on my first panel tell me that I had a “Stephen King vibe” to me. I took that to be a compliment and he seemed genuinely surprised that I had not hear this before.   Perhaps that means that I am good on these panels and can be invited back for more.  I don’t believe I have signed up for WorldCon in Spokane, so I better do that now.

I had a big fear of reading in public.  I am not the best out-loud reader and I notice if more and more as I get older. I stubble over words when I read out-loud to the kids. So I was really worried.  I did have a reading, but it was late and not many people showed up.  I went last, and many people walked out during my reading. I don’t know if that was from boredom or from it being close to the end of the panel. I hope it was the later.

Plasma Frequency

Oh, this magazine of mine. It is always on the list of things that keep me from writing, but that is a good thing. We are starting year 3 with the publication of Issue 13 on September 5th. We are making some changes to the publication this year. And just like last year we are letting our readers choose half the stories we publish in the Year 2 Anthology.  You can vote on those here: LINK.

We really need the support of our readers if we hope to continue. So we are also asking for your ideas and thoughts in our survey that is just before the story voting.  We are also asking you to pick the cover artist for the anthology.  So if you have read Plasma Frequency at all, please go complete the survey.

A Day Job

So I got one of those again.  Which is good because I was out of a good paying job for sometime.  But I have one that pays pretty good now.  I am still in physical security.  The job is boring, has lots of down time, and the hours really suck.  But, I did finally get a laptop this last week.  So I can now  make use of the down time.  Can’t do much about the bad hours right now.  It is just hard on family time, especially once the kids are back in school.  But, I will make use of the downtime to get things done that need to get done.

A new cover for Volition Agent

Volition Agent eBook

So, I finally decided I needed to do something about the cover for Volition Agent.  The original cover wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enticing buyers either. So I had Rebecca Treadway at ATRTink redo the cover.  What do you think?  I think it is awesome while still using the model and photographer that worked so hard to get me the first cover.  Also, you can now get Volition Agent on Kindle for just 99 cents. So go pick up a copy here: LINK

Family Time

So I touched on this when I mentioned the new job.  It has meant that when I am off work, I am spending time with the family. This is because I know that time won’t be around when all three kids are in school on my days off and I don’t see them. Especially since I work 18 of my 40 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  So I have been spending the time with them exploring Washington state, our new home state.

My Health

My health hasn’t been so good as of late. I am thinking my gallbladder is acting up. I was in a lot of pain off and on while at DetCon1 and lost 10 pounds in the week I was gone.  Which is odd, considering you don’t typically lose weight on a vacation.  I can’t see a doctor until 2015, unless something changes and I can get insurance before then.   That is a long story.  But I have to have them run a whole series of tests on me, because I am also dealing with some other issues health wise.  All in all I need to make sure I take care of myself.

Feelings of Failing

I touched on this at the start of this blog.  I can’t help but feel as though I am failing at doing what I love. Writing is so much fun to me, but I am just not getting the attention of readers. I recently discovered that none of my books have even broke even. And that is a bit of a sad fact of being a self-published author.  And when you feel like you are failing is can be difficult to motivate yourself to write.  So while I have a whole list above of valid reasons that kept me from writing.  This funk is the real reason.  The rest are just excuses.

So what is coming next?

Well, finally adding a laptop to the equation should help me get back into the swing of things. I will be able to get more writing and Plasma Frequency business done when I am away from home. And that is a huge plus.  It also means I will be able to finally start putting words down on the sequel to Dissolution of Peace, which is starting to be on pace to be a lot longer of a novel than the original is.  I am still trying to think of a good series title for this series.  Any ideas from my readers?

I am trying to keep my chin up.  DetCon1 was a huge boost to that.  I think once the kids are back in school, and before the Washington rain hits, I’ll take this laptop out to one of the great state parks here and use nature as my inspiration to start putting the letters on the page again.  In the meantime, I think this blog post is a good re-connection with the writing world and I’m ready to get things rolling again.

DetCon1 is Coming Fast!

If you follow me on on Facebook and Twitter, you no doubt have heard me mention DetCon1.  You may have even gathered that I am pretty excited about this.  And, it is just over two weeks away!

What is DetCon1?

The simple answer is the DetCon1 is the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).  But for those, like I used to be, who are not sure what that means, let me clarify.  WorldCon, to me, is the grand daddy of all Science Fiction conventions.  Well, when WorldCon is going to be outside North America (this year it is in London), there is also a NASFiC.

This year, DetCon1 is being held in Detroit at the Marriott Renaissance Center from July 17-20th.  If you have not thought about going, it is not too late. I strongly encourage any author, publisher, or fan of Science Fiction to attend.

Why should I go?

Last year I finally made it to my first convention. I went to Lone Star Con 3, last year’s WorldCon. I figured I’d go big or go home.  And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I walked away with a wealth of knowledge for my writing, my business, and my reading list.  It was an entire weekend of fun and it cost me almost nothing.  A small membership fee (way less than $100), hotel and a flight.  But the things I learned made it all worth it.

Anyway, I made up my mind that I was going to go to every WorldCon I could attend.  There are two reasons this is a good idea.  First, it makes me get away once a year.  Second, WorldCon always moves around.  Thus making it a great way to see new places.  I really loved San Antonio, and I would never have thought to go there if it wasn’t for the WorldCon.

Well, as I mentioned above, this year it is in London.  And my move to Washington made it just financially impossible to go.  But even if you are going to London this year, you should also go to Detroit.  The conventions are at different times, just so those that can attend both have that ability.

But here is why you should go:

Panels: DetCon1 will have four days full of panels.  What are panels? A group, typically 2-6 people, discuss a assigned topic for about an hour.  The topics at DetCon1 are very vast. They range from Literary to Scientific, Music and Art, and on and on.  You get to hear experts, novices, publishers, artists, doctors, and other qualified individuals discuss these topics and offer their advice.  Sometimes, if time permits, you even get to ask a few questions. And many panelists are willing to talk to you after the panel, if their schedule permits.

I went to so many panels at WorldCon. And one thing I knew I wanted to do was to speak on a panel. Why? Well, like this blog, I like to help people, and I do that with my ideas and thoughts.  Panels are a great way for me to share those.  And, I applied to be a panelist at DetCon1 and they said yes! (more on that soon).

Workshops:  Where panels are more of a one way communication, a lot like a lecture, workshops are more of a two way street.  You work with others to develop a certain skill or item.  There are a number of these and they vary in type and style.  While you learn a ton of stuff from panels, you practice a lot in Workshops.  These are often intense periods since time is limited. But I love the fast learning method.

Film Festival:  I wish I had known about these earlier when I was at Lone Star Con, because I missed some good ones. Film Festivals show short films made by talented folks. The one I attended showed ten different short films in about an hour and half.  They were amazing!  This is a great way to take a break from the hustle of the convention and see some excellent media art.

Art Show: I could have gone broke at the Lone Star Con art show. And Detroit has some awesome artists.  The Artist guest of honor is one of my favorites, John Picacio.  My hope is to get a chance to meet him and maybe (finances permitting) pick up something of his.  But even if you can only look, I can assure you you will fall in love with the art at the convention.

Kids Programs: This year I am going alone. But last year I went with my whole family and the Kids programming was a life saver for my young kids.  DetCon1’s programming appears to be the same way.  Kids can only take so much adult stuff before they go nuts. Kids programming is built just for them and includes a number of crafts.

Dealers: Merchants of as much variety as you can imagine come to the convention to show and sell their stuff.  Of course you won’t leave without a book or two, but there are also shirts, comics, patches, jewelry, and other great things to buy. I don’t know what dealers will be at DetCon1, but my wallet is already opening.

Also, I discovered some great writers by browsing the Dealer room. The books are excellent and I wound up grabbing a few new names because that was the point. To experience something new.

So much more: Exhibits, Parties, Masquerade, Gaming, and so much more.  DetCon1 is certain to have some great exhibits to check out.   I missed the Masquerade at Lone Star, so I hope to attend this one (but I have a busy schedule already).  I also missed out on a lot of parties last time. I didn’t find out about them until late Saturday. So I hope that I can attend a lot more this time.

So you see, there are more than enough reasons to to go to DetCon1.  You can register online for the full four days for just $75 for adults, $25 for kids (4 and under are free!).  So if you can get to Detroit, you see the value is there.  Not sure if you want to register online, you can do so at the door too.  They also have one day memberships that vary in price based on the day.  So please, go check it out!

I almost forgot the biggest reason you all should go!

I’ll be there. I applied to be a participant this year, and was so honored when the programming staff selected me as one of their participants.  I am even more honored by how many panels they have have assigned me to.  So it would be great if a few of my fans, and fans of Plasma Frequency could come out and see me.

Please note, the below list of panels is not final. Although the programming staff say it is “done” (their quotes, not mine), these things are always subject to change.  You’ll want to check the program when you check in.

Of course when I am not on a panel I will be attending them, and also I will be around looking at all there is to see.

So here is where they have me scheduled (*again subject to change so check the final program).

THURSDAY (17th)

The Very First Thing: Story Titles

Description: How do writers choose story titles? What makes a good title? Who gets to decide what the title will be? And which comes first, the story or the title?

My thoughts: I am lousy at titles, and I have had to adapt to that failing. So I hope to get a chance to discuss how I break down my title block and finally put a title on my stories.

Time: 7pm in the Nicolet A Room*

FRIDAY (18th)

Iron Author Detroit – Late Night Edition

Description: Watch four authors compete for the title of Iron Author Detroit! Witness their efforts at turning the Mystery Ingredient Word into an SF/F short story in five minutes or less. Judge the resulting tales through the magic of the Audience Applause-O-Meter. Who will reign supreme?

My thoughts: I am the Moderator or Emcee for this one. I am excited about this one too. I love short fiction, which is why I publish them. So, getting to see four authors write a story in five minutes or less… oh man this is going to be great.

Time: 10pm in the Nicolet B Room*

SATURDAY (19th)

What am I Looking For?

Description:  Agents and editors talk about the sorts of projects that interest them individually and answer general publishing questions.

My Thoughts:  I am so honored and so excited for this panel. Obviously I will be representing Plasma Frequency on this panel. But,as of right now the other panelists are Diana Pho of Tor books, Kate Baker and Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, and Sam Morgan who is an Agent.  Now, Clarkesworld has always been a publication I have admired and has been what I aspired for by opening Plasma Frequency.  So to sit on a panel with Neil Clarke and Kate Baker. Man, I really hope they are there and that aspect doesn’t change. However, I am also excited to represent the semi-pro market on this panel. This is a good one to attend if you’ve wanted to know what it is we are publishing and why.

Time: 1pm in the Mackinac East room*

+/- a Shirt: Starting a Business

Description: How to lose your shirt (or maybe get rich) in starting a business.

My Thoughts: This one wasn’t on my initial itinerary, but I am glad they added me. Plasma Spyglass, my company, is my second business. So I am excited to talk about what I learned from my first failure, and what I know from Plasma Spyglass to be successful.

Time: 3:00pm in the Ambassador Salon 1*

Reading: Flores/Haynes/O’Riordan

Description: Richard Flores IV, Michael Haynes, and Daniel O’Riordan read from their work.

My Thoughts: Of all the items on my list, this one I am the most nervous about.  I don’t know which novel I will read from, but I am leaning towards my most recent one, Broken Trust.  Readings are a great way to hear a book in the author’s voice. That was how I discovered the Split Worlds Series by Emma Newman.

Time: 6pm in the Joliet A room*

SUNDAY (20th)

Hobbies as Research

Description: The best way to write about something is by attempting to do it. But the problem with doing this is that it can be easy to let the research take over the story. How do we balance the story with the fun factoids and tidbits we learn while doing things we plan to incorporate into our novels? How does doing it ourselves lend authenticity and credibility to the story?

My Thoughts:  This is a subject about balance. Obviously research is a big part of writing. But knowing what parts to share and what to leave out is a difficult thing.  This will be a great knowledge builder for new and experienced writers.

Time: 11:00am in the Mackinac East room*

*Remember these are the times and rooms as they are scheduled today. DetCon1 can change these, so please check your programs. And please come see me.

 

Broken Trust Updates, Trailer, and Tour Schedule

IQ8 am now nineteen days into this big release party and I thought I would share a little progress report for those interested in knowing how it is going.  The release party has taken a lot of work. I scheduled over 275 Facebook and Twitter posts promoting various aspects of the book.  I created 12 trivia facts and 12 image graphics with quotes form the book (like the one you see on the right). Scheduling all the giveaways for the Book a Day in May was also a lot of work.

So far I have given away 18 paperbacks (one had no entries) and there are still a bunch more to go. I got a whole box of books here to give away and I don’t plan to keep them laying around the house. So make sure you check the giveaways section of my website for chances to win.

For a little bit of fun I have also created a couple of quizzes you can take.  Click the images below to take them.  Lots of fun.

Take the quiz to find out which of the characters you are. Click the image to find out.

broken trust quiz 2

I don’t think this has created all the  buzz I hoped it would.  So far I have no preorders, not even from family, even with the big discount. I don’t think people are too comfortable preordering. Someday I hope Amazon will let Createspace users choose an advanced publishing day so people can preorder through Amazon.  But it is what it is.

Below you will see that I have a book trailer ready for Broken Trust. I am really happy with this one.  I didn’t make it myself as I did with Dissolution of Peace and Volition Agent.  I used Fiverr.com to find someone to do it for me.  I absolutely love it and hope you do too.  Please make sure to like in on YouTube.  Broken Trust will be out on May 29th!

Of course there are still 12 more days left in the party including the Broken Trust Blog Tour. I am really excited about this one.  Below are the dates and my stops.   I will also be doing a Twitter Interview on May 27th where you can ask me about anything, not just Broken Trust stuff. Have questions about Plasma Frequency, one of my other books, questions about writing, or just something fun to ask.  Tweet those questions on May 27th to @Richard_Flores4

May 22 Meredith Mansfield’s Blog – Guest Post
May 23
May 24 The Chronicles of ChrisLandia – Review
May 25
May 26 Anya Breton’s Blog – Interview
May 27 Twitter Interview
May 28 INYË ÓLËA ATA – Guest Post
May 29 I am Write – Interview
May 30 Little Miss Reader – Broken Trust Excerpt
May 31 Flores Factor Blog