August! Already!

Over the last few months, maybe even years, I’ve been saying I’d get back into blogging more regularly.  There was a time where I was really good at doing this and for some reason or the other, I’ve let it slip away.  I’ve intentionally kept my life busy and the result is that sometimes there isn’t the time.  And sometime there isn’t the desire either.  I blame depression for that.

Factor Four Magazine is a passion of mine and I’ve put my creative time into that.  Two issues are under our belt now and I’m really feeling positive that I have good systems in place to handle it.  I am still the only one on the magazine staff, so I do it all.  Social Media posts, readings, editing, layout, advertisement, subscription management, and more.  But you know what, despite all that I’m thinking of putting together another publishing project: An anthology for 2019 release.  No details yet.  But I figured you all could have the early “scoop” since you still come by and read my blog.

The moral here is that time goes by a lot faster than it used to.  Publishing has become my focus when I am not at my day job or being with my family, and some of my writing has slipped by the wayside.  I’ve not abandoned it by any means. I still have four short stories looking for a home.  Plus I still have so many novel ideas to get out.  The final book (maybe) of The Serenity Saga, a new novel, and possibly a sequel to Volition Agent (I was asked about a prequel too). I just don’t think it will be in 2018.  I mean, fuck it is August already!

Speaking of August, it will be a busy one for me.  2018 has been the year of Conventions, both in my day job and writing.  I don’t think I will have traveled so much in one year.  I went to Norwescon this year, that was amazing and I hope they will invite me to be a panelist in 2019. Also, later this year is OryCon.  I haven’t heard if they’ll invite me as a Panelist, so ask about me! But August brings two more writing conventions that I am excited to attend.

SpoCon – Spokane, WA – August 10 to 12

I am really excited about this one because I will be a panelist, and moderator, on several panels.  You can see my whole schedule below, or you can click here.  I’d really like to see you if you’re there, so please come say hello.  I’d like to do a signing, but I’ve not committed to that yet, but both issues of the magazine, as well as my books will be on sale there. Space is still available, and you can register at the website.

 

Title: Should Kids Self-Publish?

Date/Time: Friday August 10th @ 4PM:

Official Description: What should young writers, artists and musicians (and their parents) be aware of before they distribute their work to the public?

Other Panelist(s): Kaye Thornbrugh

My thoughts: I am excited about discussing this.  My regular followers know of my son’s children’s book, Daddy is Tired.  But as a Self-Pub author, I am also planning to provide insight on that avenue of publishing.

 

Title: Flash Fiction: the Genre

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 11am

Official Description: How do you define flash fiction — strictly by word count, or is there more to it? Our panelists reveal the ins and outs of this relatively new literary form.

Other Panelist(s): Voss Foster, S. Evan Townsend, Dawn Vogel, Stoney Compton, Dean Wells

My thoughts: Oh, boy.  I love flash fiction.  I love writing it, and I love reading it.  Of course, you know I took that passion into publishing it.  I’d debate the concept of “new literary form”, but certainly under recognized for the true art form that it is.  As moderator, I plan to focus on not just what is flash fiction, but why is it unique compared to other short fiction.  We will also touch on common pitfalls and how to address them.

 

Title: The Iron Writer Competition

Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 1pm

Official Description: The pen is mightier than the sword! Our contestants will take on the challenge of improvisational writing through several rounds of battle, each with a secret writing prompt. Watch writers test their story skills under time and pressure, for a chance at the title of Iron Writer!

Other Panelist(s): Remina Goude, Frances Pauli
My Thoughts: I am hosting another Iron Writer competition.  So far I have two contestants who will battle it out with a secret writing prompt.  We will have three rounds to determine the winner of Iron Writer!  I’d love to have four writers compete, but we have two already.  Not too late to join in.
Title: What Editors Want
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @ 3PM
Official Description: From the first submission to an ongoing partnership, how can writers stay on good terms with their editors? What are some of the biggest turn-offs for an editor?

My Thoughts: We have a good group of panelist for this.  One of the challenges of what we editors want is that we are all different people.  As moderator, I am thinking I will let the conversation dictate the direction we take on this broad topic.
Title: Short Fiction in SF
Date/Time: Saturday August 11th @5PM
Official Description: SF is one of the last remaining genres where authors can sell short fiction. Although stories might not get the attention novels do, it it is a demanding form on its own. Our panelists discuss why short fiction is worth writing — and reading!

My Thoughts: Does short fiction not get the attention it deserves? I think Flash doesn’t, but the overall short fiction market seems strong enough to me.  I think we will be discussing why SF still loves short fiction, among other things.
Title: The Writing Habit
Date/Time: Sunday August 12th @ 12pm
Official Description: Authors share strategies to keep their work going, even when the pipes burst or your favorite show comes on TV.

My Thoughts: Dr. Glass is one of the Guests of Honor at SpoCon so I am excited to be on a panel he is moderating.  I just mentioned that I am struggling with the writing habit.  So I hope to offer a unique insight into my struggle and how I am working to overcome it.
Title: Impact of Social Media
Date/Time: Sunday August 12 at 1PM
Official Description: Sharing reviews, building buzz, linking and blogging… What impact does social media have on books and other creative projects? How can you make social media work for you?

Other Panelist(s): Grivante
My Thoughts: Social media can feel like a minefield sometimes. It can also feel like a lost cause when it comes to promotion.  But you can make it work for you as well.

WorldCon 76 – San Jose, CA – August 16 to 20

I had wanted desperately to be a panelist at WorldCon, but I got to that party a little late.  Though, I haven’t has very good communication from the folks there to know why.  I won’t get into the controversy here. I will say that to redo programming of a WoldCon this late in the game is not easy and I appreciate that effort for sure.

But, I am very excited to attend.  I haven’t attended at WorldCon since my first one in San Antonio.  San Jose is well know place for me.  I am originally from the Bay Area, and I visited San Jose very regularly when I lived there.  Of course you all know my fan status of the San Jose Sharks.  You also likely know that I am big fan of John Picacio, the Art Guest of Honor.  He also created the Mexicanx Initiative.  I, along with so many others, donated a membership to this cause. In total 50 memberships were sponsored so that we can ensure that the “World” part of WorldCon is represented.

All things aside, I am excited to attend WorldCon again.  I likely won’t get to Dublin next year, but I hope to attend the year after that as well.

 

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Welcome 2018

I started off this blog with the idea that I’d do a post on how to improve your odds of getting accepted to Factor Four Magazine.  But then I got to thinking, that’s no way to start of 2018.  Instead I thought I’d get a short post going about things to expect in 2018.  The positives this year is going to bring.  And hopefully not curse myself along way.

First off is the elephant in the room.  Today I finished selecting the stories for Issue 1 of Factor Four Magazine.  I read nearly 600 stories to get to the point of accepting just 16.  There was a lot of good fiction in that reading queue.  I must admit I was overwhelmed by the task at first.  It took only 6 weeks to hit 600 submissions and the speed only seems to be picking up.  To top that off, I really had trouble getting down to just a few stories to select.  Even the short list was hard to whittle down to these final 16.  Once contracts are signed, the Factor Four Magazine Twitter account will be announcing the authors selected.  April 2018 is the release of Issue 1.  The next task in contracts, and cover art selection.

I have two short fiction stories of my own coming out this year.  I haven’t got a date yet on either.  The first will be released in Mind Candy Vol. 1, this was my first pro-rate sale.  The other will be read on The Centropic Oracle.  I can’t wait to hear a story of mine read aloud.  I have a couple other short fiction pieces that I haven’t sold yet.  I’ll be looking for a home for those this year also.

The urge to write is strong, the time to write is not there.  Work has be crazy. But I am also the only reader for Factor Four Magazine.  All that being said, I am making a goal to get Book 3 of The Serenity Saga out this year.  I am also still toying around with another Volition Agent novel and possible sequel to Broken Trust.  I have a fourth novel idea that will likely work on a stand alone basis.  But the first priority is to continue Christina Serenity’s story.

2018 is the year of conventions for me.  I am looking to speak at a few again.  My longtime followers know that I loved speaking at DetCon1. I’ve applied to speak at SpoCon and plan to apply at OryCon.  I may even apply to talk at VCon in Vancouver.  I plan to attend WorldCon in San Jose and Norwescon in Seattle as well, but I was too late to apply to talk at either of those.  I’ve created an “appearances” page on my website.  If you are going to any of these conventions, I’d love to say hello.  I’d also like to say how great it is to have so many Science Fiction Conventions locally.

Many of you may know that I really love the Washington State Parks system.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to many of the state parks in 2017.  This year I hope to spend some weekends out exploring nature again.  The exercise is great, but the calm and peacefulness of nature is a great clearing of the mind.

I’d also like to take a vacation of some type again this year.  I took my family to Disneyland last year, it was the first time for my kids.  My wife and I hadn’t been since 2004.  I love that place.  I didn’t want to leave. I don’t think I’ll get to Disneyland in 2018, but I’d like to take the kids on another memorable vacation.  Life is worth more to me than just working.  That’s why I made it a point to start publishing again, and I also want to make it a priority to enjoy the time with my family while the kids are young.

The last one is that I’ve made it a point to get back to being financially stable.  It did pretty well until the end of the year.  So this year I am making more of a point of creating a savings account.  It seems counterproductive to launch a magazine and plan a lot of trips.  But I have a financial road-map that I’ve made and it seems to be working out well.

So that is my plan for 2018.  We shall see how it all plays out.  But it sounds like I have a busy year ahead of me.

Factor Four Magazine is Moving Right Along!

I always tend to find myself so busy in the month of November that I never get to participate in Novel Writing Month.  2017 is still the same, but for good reason.

The main thing that is taking up my time is the planning of Factor Four Magazine.  Authors will be pleased to know that the submissions are expected to open on time on December 1.  Readers will be excited to hear that subscriptions are coming along great.

In fact, we opened for subscriptions today.  We are going to publish our stories on our website, in an eBook, and in print form.  I’m excited to say we have a subscription option for all of these, including one that is only $4 per year (stay tuned, you may be able to  get it cheaper).

First, all our subscription options come with free online access to all past issues.  Now, I know we don’t have past issues right now.  But in the future we will.  And how nice will it be to pay just $4 and not only get the next four issues but all our past ones too.

We also have the option for auto renew and one time, so the preference and option choices are totally up to you.

Now our print issue is available to both US/Canada residents and International.  You can get 25 % off if you subscribe before the year ends.

Now for the hook up.  I have this handy little discount code that will get you an online or eReader subscription for just $1.  Yep, just $1 for the year.  Just use: RF4FFMSOCIAL as the discount code.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Now only the first 50 people to use that will get it and, of course, I’ll be sharing it on Twitter and Facebook.  But don’t worry, if you follow Factor Four Magazine of Twitter or Facebook, they each have a code valid for 50 uses as well.

Advertising options are up as well as most of the other pages.  I was hoping to get volunteers up by Thanksgiving, but that may not happen.  I am currently looking for people to join me on my editorial staff.  I just have to get that together.

Now to figure out the Submissions engine.  Happy reading!

10 Things I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Blogging

Today, according to WordPress, is my 7th anniversary of blog writing (nearly 6 with this blog).  I started this blog because I got my first story sale with my short story Death Watch, which was published by the good folks over at Liquid Imagination.  Originally my blog was my website, and though I have since separated the two, a lot of people still find me through this blog.

When I started out, I really didn’t know what to expect.  And seven years later, I still really don’t know what could happen.  But here are at a few things I have learned since starting out.

1 – Getting traffic to your blog is hard.

It took me a long time, a really long time, to gather up any type of blog traffic.  I tried funny posts, writing posts, life posts, and mixtures of all three.  What I learned is the topics don’t really matter, it just takes time to start showing up in search results and for people to come to your blog looking for certain content.  Which leads to number two.

2 – Pick a topic for your blog

Pick a topic for your blog and stick to it.  Does that mean I don’t blog about life? No.  It just means that the general topic of this blog is books and writing.  I love the movies, video games, and hockey.  Sure I mention those in my blog, but I don’t think I’ve written blog posts on those things.  This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to write on other topics, but you’ll get a better following if your blog has a theme.

There are exceptions to every rule.  My post, Eight Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Washington is not writing related at all, but it is the only post that gets a hit at least once per day.

3 – If getting traffic is hard, getting a following seems impossible.

For the longest time, my family were my only followers.  It look a long time to work up to a decent following and to keep them following.  There are a lot of ways to get the regular following and keep them, and many of those are involved in these things I’ve learned.  The truth is, no advertising ever worked.  The only followers I ever got were from reading a post of mine and liking it enough to follow the blog.

4 – Losing followers is very easy.

People stop following a blog for many reasons.  The most common, you offended them.  Society has placed a lot of weight on being offended, as if it really means anything.  I’ve lost followers when they found out I’ve got LGBT characters in my novels. I’ve lost followers because I’ve mentioned I own guns.  I’ve lost followers because I made a Trump joke.  You will also lose followers if you don’t blog in a while.  I lost most of mine during my two year hiatus.

5 – You can’t please everyone.

So you may be thinking that you should sterilize your blog from any possibility of offence.  I tried that in the beginning of my blogging days.  Hell, I used to try that in the start of my writing days.  Well, fuck ’em. People will get offended by what you say.  If they don’t, does your writing carry any real passion anyway?  As I said above, people think being offended means something.  It doesn’t.  What I have learned is that more people appreciate the honest writer connecting with his audience than they do a sterilized blog.  You can’t please everyone, so don’t try.

6 – Listen to your audience.

Many of my blog post ideas come from blog comments or my social media.  I’m not saying you need to ask them what to blog about next, though you can a time or two.  But pay attention to what they are saying about your blog.  As a self published author, I noticed many of my readers were talking and interested in that aspect.  As a result, I wrote Self Publishing, a post in which I explored what Self Publishing was all about.  It took more work than most of my posts do, but it was also the most successful post.

7 – Read and connect with other bloggers

You really need to read and connect with other bloggers.  For one, you will see what is trending and discover what other bloggers like you are doing.  This will let you know if the topic you want to blog on is over-saturated or that it is of no interest to anyone.  But also you can work with others to do guest posts and other connections to attract their followers to you and your followers to them.

8 – Guest posts are great.

Guest posts are a great way to drive followers of others to your blog.  For a long period of time I was doing an author focus blog series that allowed guest posts from other authors.  It drove new eyes to my blog that may have otherwise not visited.  Don’t expect a ton of new followers from it, but you just might get someone poking around your blog for other stories.

9 – Don’t expect your blog to be a revenue stream.

I’m not sure I have made any book sales from people who came to read my blog.  In most cases it is the other way around.  People have come here after reading my work.  Some to complain, but most because they liked what they read and wanted to see more.  Also, ad riddled blogs suck to read (of course we have no control over the WordPress ads).  One ad maybe, or sponsored content is okay.  But some blogs read so heavily of sales pitches that they become no fun to read.

Also, don’t overly self publicize on you blog. It isn’t wrong, but it is a fine line between content and advertising.  The point of a blog is to connect with your audience, not sell them shit.

10 – It is okay to blog for yourself.

It is absolutely okay to write a blog for yourself with no aim to gain followers.  You might accidentally acquire a few anyway.  But not every blog has to be for fan connection or to gain more readers.  Some can be for the hell of it.  You can have as many blogs as you like too.  The choice is yours.

BONUS: We’re all full of shit.

Here is a bonus thing I’ve learned, everything on the internet about how to write a great blog is full of shit.  This one included.  What worked for me may not work for you.  Lord knows I read a lot of crap, that when I tried it, did’t work for shit.  More to the point, articles with things I’ve learned titles are there to help you see what was learned.  You can use it, or you can toss it.  The choice is yours really.

It is your blog, write what you want, but I’ve shared what I’ve learned.  Your results may vary.

Book Release: Illusion of Victory

I am so excited to say that the sequel to Dissolution of Peace is finally here!

I am very excited to finally get Illusion of Victory out to you.  Many of you have been eagerly awaiting this sequel in The Serenity Saga.

Here is the back cover blurb:

IoV 3DCaptain Christina Serenity is back from the dead, in a manner of speaking. Everyone believed that no one survived the devastating attack on the Earth Space Ship Australia. That is, everyone except Roger Mathews, the traitor that launched the attack. But the four survivors have grown tired of seeking revenge and have returned home to face the consequences of that choice. 

The Zercowans are losing interest in fighting Earth’s war and demand some type of action against the threats that face their people. But after several tough decisions, Serenity learns that the term ‘enemy’ isn’t so clear and she no longer feels strong enough to handle the weight of war.

Can Serenity maintain the illusion of strength long enough to gain the victories Earth desperately needs? Or have the pressures of war and revenge already destroyed her?

Flores Factor

You can get the book on Amazon in Paperback and for

 

 

Kindle.  You can also order the paperback from Createspace.

There are also some other exciting new things to share.  My new website has launched.  I also had this awesome logo created.  Please take a moment to go check out the site and see the new site.  I plan to update some of the information in the “about” section soon.

So what is next on the writing agenda.  I think I am going to dive right into Book 3 of The Serenity Saga, which will be titled Revelation of Secrets.  These characters are ready for more, and I don’t want to keep you fans waiting too much longer.

As always, you can support my work by sharing this blog and all things Flores.  Happy Reading!

The Male / Female Friendship

03a93992827bf5b99c1a8d41e46b3e7bAs I make my immersion into writing again, I’ve begun rereading some of my old novels.  I reread Volition Agent because it is a short novel and I wanted to get back into it.  But then I read Dissolution of Peace with the hope to get the sequel out later this year.  I also got to thinking about Broken Trust.

Now, I mention these novels for more than just a quick plug for myself, but also because I happened to notice a theme here.  All three of those novels, though less so in Volition Agent, show the Male / Female Friendship.  And not just a casual friendship, but a close bond often becoming best friends.

And since June 8th was National Best Friend Day, and I have a female best friend, I thought this was a great topic to discuss.

I think this theme is largely because of my own life experiences.  I find myself getting a long with females more than males.  I have some good male friends, but, of my closest friends over the years, most of them have been female.

But it is funny how in real life the Male / Female friendship is so complicated.  You have to deal with jealous significant others, rumors, and a level of social stigma that imply the friendship isn’t possible.  As a straight male, I’ve had this issue many times over and it has even kept me from ever having a good friendship.

The thing is, there is no reason a man and a woman can’t be friends.  Society has this absolutely wrong and it drives me nuts.  I could go on a long rant about this but I won’t because I want to stick with the writing part of this.  (Besides, I am fairly sure many will see the rant behind the topic.)

So here are some of my tips, both from real life and from writing, on how to have successful coed friendship in your novel.

Attraction is Okay

It is absolutely okay to have a level of attraction there.  It is natural to develop a bond with someone and get a little attraction involved too.  Attraction is normal and personally I do think all of my female friends are attractive women.  Remember attraction isn’t just physical appearance either.

In Dissolution of Peace, Janice’s first impression of Mike is that he isn’t that good looking of a man.  After developing a very close friendship with him, her perception of his appearance changes.  They have a friendship forged in their protection of each other and as that trust grows she just begins to see him differently.

The point here is that attraction comes in a variety of forms and it is normal and possible to find a friend of the opposite sex attractive and not “make the moves” on them.

Banter and Flirting are not the same thing

My wife often teases me that I flirt an awful lot.  But my banter with my friends is often mistaken by outside eyes as flirting.  And maybe by the very technical of definitions it could be seen that way.  But I don’t think of it as the same thing.

When you develop a friendship bond with another male, to give each other shit it is perfectly normal and acceptable.  The exact same words can be said to a female friend and society says, “ohhhh they want to hook up.”

Again, the point is that there is no reason your male and female friendship can’t exchange banter.  You shouldn’t have to second guess your words with true friends and neither should your character.

Compliments are Okay

This one is insane to me.  I tell my male friend, “That shirt looks sharp.” And it is just a compliment.  But I tell a female friend that those jeans are amazing and next thing you know the rumors start up.  Why has society done this?

Compliments to your friends shouldn’t be awkward and they should be part of any healthy relationship.  Not just compliments on appearance either.  Compliments on hard work, success, a new significant other, or anything about their life should be included.

Friends hang out

If two friends go get a slice of pizza and see a movie, it is hanging out.  But a male/female friendship is treated different.  These two decide they want to go to a movie, and now it might be date.  That shouldn’t be the case at all.

While I think it is great for friends to hang out with the significant others involved too, there isn’t any reason a friend should have to include them all the time.  It is okay for a male and female friend to go and hang out alone.  It is not a date.

Jealousy

Jealousy is a real emotion.  I am jealous often and easily.  It doesn’t mean anything more than that I feel left out or not as important.  I recognize that.

My wife is very supporting of my having female friends, she even claims to not be jealous. And while I know very well that my wife trusts me and doesn’t get jealous near as easy as I do, I know she is human and thus gets jealous from time to time.

I am not just talking about the jealous significant other, though, in my experience, that has been the most damaging to friendships I’ve had.  There is also jealousy between the friends. It is okay to be a bit jealous that your friend has dedicated their time to something other than you.

Jealousy can be just a fleeting thought or a raging storm.  But it is a part of any healthy friendship.  It is how far the jealousy goes that really matters.  Jealousy can by a nasty catalyst for disaster, so the line is fine.

In Dissolution of Peace, Serenity finds herself a bit jealous of Janice and Mike’s friendship.  This isn’t because she is worried Janice with steal Mike, but because Mike and Serenity have to hide their relationship while Janice and he are able to hang out in the “open” and more often.

Imagination

I put this at the end for a couple of reasons, but one of those is the fact that it is probably the most awkward of the dynamics of a male and female friendship.  But also, our imagination is often one of the things we keep secret the most.  But I don’t do that because it isn’t healthy for any relationship.

First is the dream realm.  Why we are so scared to share that we dreamed about someone of the opposite sex is beyond me. We are hardly in control of our dreams but we somehow feel responsible for them.

The most awkward can be the sexual dreams simply because this is your friend and now you’ve imagined them in a sexual scenario.  I always tell my wife all my dreams, even these, and she seems appreciative of the fact that I can share these with her.  I’ve never shared these dreams with the friend I was dreaming about.

This is because of two society stigmas. Sex is not to be talked about and then the female male friendship is taboo.  I have one friend I do tell when she is in my dreams regardless of the content.  She doesn’t seem to mind, in fact I think I could tell her anything and maybe that’s why we are close friends.

In fact she told me that she read that sexual dreams about someone means you want to get to know them better.  Don’t know if that is true, but sexual dreams are normal and often have little to do with sex.

Next is the day dream.  I think this normal too.   The imagination running wild thinking of what life might be like if you dated your friend.  I’ve more than once commented to a friend that, “If we dated you’d drive me crazy because…”  This is often in response to helping them with a relationship problem, but it does reflect that I’ve given it some thought.

When you are close to someone, I feel it is normal to let the mind wander to thoughts of people in different roles in your life.  Life without someone, with someone in a different way, getting closer to someone one, and so on.  When I met my newest friend, I often had day dreams about what my life would be life if we’d become close friends.  Now, I can’t imagine life without this person.

There are scenes in both Volition Agent and Dissolution of Peace where characters think about if they would be able to date their friend.  They don’t act on those thoughts, but they are there.

Real Life Inspiration

The bottom line, when writing any relationship it is important to draw from your own life experiences.  Mine tell me that the male and female platonic relationship is very possible and in my fictional worlds it is even seen a little bit as normal.  Because I see it as normal and acceptable. Society has made it something it isn’t.

The truth is, that I didn’t even notice this theme in my writing until I reread some of my work.  It just came out to the paper because that is what I know.

I hope you got some value from this post to apply to your own writing, but in the end write what works for your story.

Happy writing.

 

Don’t Read Your Own Work After Publishing It

IMG_20130406_142102_592That is what I was told when I started writing.  Never, ever, ever read your work once it has been published.  Just don’t do it.  If you do, you will open a rift in time and space that even The Doctor won’t be able to stop.  Children will weep in the streets, entire cities will be lost, and Trump will be elected President of the United States.

It is another one of those “cardinal sins” of writing that seems to have just caught on and stuck.  The reasons are endless, but when you really get down to it, I am not sure what the point of this law of scribes is all about.

Perhaps it is the worry that you will cringe at your prior work and never write again.  The whole, I am the worst writer in the world and I need to stop.  Or maybe it has to do with the endless revision cycle that many writers can get into.  I’ve warned of this in the past.

Maybe it has to do with the look forward, not back, ideology.  This idea the progress only happens if you look to the future.  But if you don’t know your past, what is the point of the future?

That’s why I am of the mentality that reading your past work is actually a really good idea.  I promise the children will be fine, there will be no rifts in time, and no cities will crumble as a result of you reading your past published stories.  I am also pretty sure that Trump and reading have never been related.

Let me explain why it works for me.  I think you will see that, like most rules of writing, individual preference is really key.

One:

It helps me to find my muse again.  I have a terrible time with my muse.  She, like the writer she inspires, likes to travel.  The problem is she never takes me with her and never returns without me having to hunt her down.

Sure, she calls every now and again but she never seems to return until I start reading my work.  It is like she stops and goes, wait we wrote that shit.  We are pretty bad ass, lets do this shit.

Two:

It reminds me.  I have a terrible memory.  I need the reminder of what my characters were doing and what exactly I edited out before.  You see, when I write a story the story sticks.  And I forget that I cut our a scene, or that I changed a character’s gender.

My novels live in my head.  The world is continuing to go on well after I stopped writing the story, and when I go to write the sequel I don’t always remember where I stopped.

Three:

It builds my confidence.  This is especially true when I read my short stories.  I always go back to the publication that published them and read them again.

It reminds me that I am good enough to be published.  That someone else read my story and loved it enough to put into their publication.  It lets me know that I can do this, that it is worth the time out of my day to write something.  A lot like reading my reviews, I find it a reminder that other do want to read what I put to paper.

Four:

If I won’t even read my novels, why should anyone else? I know that is really silly sounding, but I believe it.  If a novel I wrote isn’t worth the time for me to read, and reread, then why would others read it once.

I suppose this comes from my leadership mentality.  I’ve worked as a leader in my day job for so long and I’ve always believed that I shouldn’t expect my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do.  And I guess the same goes for my readers. I wouldn’t expect them to read anything I wouldn’t read.

It may be four simple reasons, but they are the reasons why I will read what I write even after it has been published.  I don’t feel like my worlds have to die as soon as I put them to paper.

There really are not any rules for writing, your method is your own.  Feel free to break a few of them every now and then.  You just might find that you’re better for it.

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.

I Call BullSh*t: Authors Shouldn’t Read Reviews

productReviewI know I haven’t been the best about blogging regularly lately. So many new things going on and so many excuses to give you.  So now, I wanted to get back into this with the regular feature I promised, but never delivered on. The I Call Bullshit series where I take things I was told starting out in writing and blow them apart.  The first one was on how I was told that social media marketing was really easy.  It is not.  This time I am going to go over a big one.

I was always told, don’t read the reviews of your work.  Just ignore them all and keep putting out books.  But that is complete bullshit. Perhaps if you are George R.R. Martin you can pass on reading the reviews, I suppose your success tells you what you need to know.  But even still, I think he should be reading his reviews too. And who knows, maybe he is.

First people tell you that everyone is a critic, and this is true. It is also true that you can’t please everyone.  Some people will genuinely hate your work and for no other reason than your style. Not every book is good for everyone. I think once you realize that, there isn’t any reason not to read the reviews.  Even the bad ones have something for you in them.

And there is the reason you should be reading your reviews, there is feedback from actual readers there. You would listen to your Beta readers if they told you they didn’t like something, you may not change it, but you would listen. So why wouldn’t you listen to the person who paid money for it? Some of that money you received.  Readers should be the reason you are writing stories. So to ignore their comments is a spit in the face of the reason you write.  Sure, you may write for yourself. Or you may write because you like to create. But if you took that writing and had it published in anyway, you did it because you wanted someone else to read it.  So you should be listening to their reviews.

Reviews, good and bad, are a precious gift. They are so hard to get.  I have had just one review on Volition Agent since July 6th of 2013. One review and a year of nothing.  Broken Trust has had just one review since itsrelease over a month ago.  And Dissolution of Peace has 20 reviews, but it has taken three years to amass that many.  So getting reviews is far from easy. I have given away free copies asking for a review in return. I have done promotions to get the book in thousands of hands through a KDP free day.  And, I’ve begged and pleaded with my friends to write a review. And it doesn’t come easy.

The point is this. Even a bad reviewer took the time. Something so many readers will not do.  They took the time to tell the author and other customers how they felt about the book. So I make sure to check them at least weekly and to read them. I do this because it is feedback. Feedback from someone who took the time to let other readers know what they liked and disliked.  It is the reviews that lead to a second edition of Dissolution of Peace, because there was consistent feedback that too many typo and grammar mistakes slipped through the cracks.  And it is the same set of reviews that has pushed me to get the sequel out.

And I am not just talking about Amazon or Goodreads reviews.  I am also talking about the blogger, the Facebook comment, the Tweet, and all the other ways that authors get a review.  We should be reading those because they speak volumes about what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong (or at least not to our reader’s enjoyment).

Because I will tell you my stance.  Getting no reviews for a full year, that stings a whole lot more than getting a sub-par review.  I am sure there are people who read it who must have liked it, but they couldn’t be bothered to review it. And that feels like I did something really wrong.

I have noticed a shift starting to happen in this “don’t read reviews” movement. That is the independent author.  Authors like me who are publishing our own work.  I am seeing more and more independent authors saying that we should be reading reviews. And I think this comes from the fact that we are typically the struggling artists who finally decided to take our work into our own hands and put it out there for the world to see. And, we are desperate to know if we made the right choice.

valid-stampThe main difference is that Traditionally Published Authors already have that validation. They have an agent, editor, and publisher that loved their work enough to put it out on shelves and stamp it with their name. Where as the independent author, the only validation that our work gets is from the readers.

But, as time passes I suspect we will continue to shift away from this idea that authors should avoid their reviews. I think it is important we listen to our readers and become better from it.

10 Things to Avoid Saying to Writers

Just last week while on the internet I saw a meme titled “10 Things You Should Never Say to Writers” posted by Jessica McHugh. It was really funny, and it got me thinking of a few things to add to that list.  So here is my list of Ten Things to Avoid Saying to Writers.

1. I wish I had such an easy job.

AuthorEASY! If it is so easy where are your novels? I’d love to read one. The problem is people assume that all you need is an idea and you’re off to writing a novel. They further assume that proofreading and editing are the same thing.  Furthermore, they have absolutely no idea what it takes to make a readable story.  Saying being a writer is easy is just like my saying being an accountant must be easy.  I really have no clue.

2. Why do you even need to work?

book_moneyOh man, I get this question every time a coworker finds out I am a writer. The way they often say it is as if I have stolen a job from someone who really needs it just so I can pad my pockets. Never mind that I drove to work in a 18 year old van with one working windshield wiper (when I hit the dash just right), with no air conditioning, and leaks fluids that even a mechanic can’t identify.  I really just enjoy working odd hours and tons of overtime just to add to my Swiss bank account.  This ties into the assumption that the arts pay a lot of money. And in most cases they do not.  Just like every actor doesn’t make millions, every author is not selling record amounts of books.  I need a day job just to live on until people start buying all my books, or maybe forever.

3.  Can I get a free copy of your book?

frustrated_writer_200See above, Jack Ass. Do these people go to restaurants and ask the owner, can I have a free meal? Do they go to a dress maker, and ask for a free dress?  Do they ask the dry-cleaner to clean their suits for free?  No, they don’t. Yet they feel compelled to ask me to give away my hard work to them for free, just because they casually know me. And then they get offended when I tell them about my website’s promotions page where they can enter to win free books when I do giveaways. As if they should somehow just get one.  Come on.

4. I’d buy your book but…

handle_criticismThe list of excuses are amazing. And most of them are kind of bull shit if you ask me. The only one I accept is: “I’d buy your book but I am broke.” Because I understand that. I am also broke.  But telling me you would buy my book but you don’t read science fiction, or you don’t read at all, or you’d rather spend your money on movies (really??), or some other excuse is really just slapping me in the face.  Especially if you’re my friend or family member.

5. I’d write a review for your book but I don’t know what to say.

SurveyOh this one really pisses me off. Listen, I don’t care what authors say about not reading reviews and all that other bull. We need reviews on our books to be successful. And when you have read one and you won’t review it, I suppose that is your choice. But don’t come tell me that you won’t write one because you don’t know what to say.  We are not asking for a New York Times evaluation. We just want you to rate the book and write your thoughts about the book down. Do this once and then copy and paste it on Amazon, Goodreads, and where ever else you see the book. It isn’t hard and it means more to us than you can possible imagine.

6. It must be your dream to see them make your book into a movie.

swearing_3421243It is my dream that people READ MY BOOKS, not watch them. The only reason why I would want my book turned to a movie is because it would hopefully mean more people would READ them.  As any avid book reader knows, they always fuck up the movie.

7. I have a cousin’s friend’s uncle who is a writer.

angry-man-clipartOkay.  I never understood this.  There is only one other career I’ve ever heard this done with; and that is police. Ever notice if you mention a cop someone always has to speak up with how they somehow know a police officer. For some reason people need to tell me how they know a writer. And they always say it as if that acquaintance some how makes them an expert. The best follow up question to this statement is: “Oh, what do they write?”  Because they have no damn clue and secretly I like watching hem squirm.

8. I have a lot of great ideas for books, I just don’t have the time to write.

008968716-clock-and-gears-looping-animat-713-57Some variation of this is always on every author’s most hated thing to be told. Sometimes people want you to write their idea and give them credit. But the worst for me is when someone tells me they don’t have time. I work 40-60 hours a week at a day job, publish a magazine, have a family, and still make time to write. It isn’t that you don’t have time.  You don’t have the passion to write.

9. I am not going to wind up in one of your books, am I?

missing-sign-300x225They always say this with some little hint at it being a joke. You’re not funny.  And there is a good chance that background character I just killed off was you.  I killed him because he made bad jokes too.

10. Someday you’ll be famous and I’ll say I know that guy.

And I will tell security I’ve never seen you before in my life.

shrug