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!

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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.

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!

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.

From the Editor’s Desk: The Cost of Running a Magazine

money bagsThere is a cost to just about every business. What surprises me is how many people don’t realize the costs of running a magazine. There is also an assumption that running a magazine is a money making venture, and for most of us it is not.

This was something I was surprised to learn. I knew that my magazine had lots of costs. I pay the writers. I pay the cover artist, I pay Submittable to manage our submissions and GoDaddy to host our domain. There are printing costs, shipping costs, and the cost of office supplies (to print and store contracts). There is a lot of little costs in running a magazine. And I haven’t even talked about marketing expenses.

But I thought I was one of the only people trying to run a semi-professional magazine around my day job. And I thought for certain those that own the professional markets didn’t have to work a “real” job just to make ends meet. But I learned different real quick. What’s rare is finding a market that pays for itself and the owner doesn’t have to work a day job. I’m the common one.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from starting a magazine. But what I am saying is to be prepared for the costs. Don’t expect to get rich with an overnight success. Expect to put in a lot of work, and money, if you want to make it. And, in the interest of transparency, I’ll break down my current costs.

Writer Payments:

I currently pay authors 1 cent per word (and I will be getting to how I plan to increase that below). I budget 25,000 words in each issue (over 10 stories) and there are 6 issues in a year. Total $1500

Artist Payments:

I currently pay $150 for cover art for six issues a year. Total $900

Web hosting and Submittable:

Now, I am lucky. Submittable has raised their rates, but I am grandfathered in so I have the old rate. That is until I need to upgrade (which will be very soon). So right now I pay $10 a month for that.   I pay another $9 per month to host Plasma Frequency‘s two domains which cost me $15 a year each (not to mention another fee on that).  Total: $258

Miscellaneous:

There is postage, printing costs, proof copies, and office supplies. Total $400 a year (YTD 2014)

Grand Total: $3048

Now you notice that I have left off marketing. To be honest, other than my trips to the conventions, I don’t do a lot of marketing. I need to do more, and so that will no doubt be in my future budgets.

Now I bet some of you are thinking $3,048 a year isn’t all that much. And for some it may not be. But, lets not forget I have had to come up with that through two job losses and a move from California to Washington. Add that to the fact that, like most Americans, I live paycheck to paycheck. I have no savings account, no retirement account.  I am raising three boys who love to eat (and they haven’t even hit the teen years). So, $3,000 is a lot of money for us.

And, YTD for 2014 when it comes to magazine sales and subscriptions I have made $326. Not even enough to pay for one issue.

So why bother with running a magazine?

I absolutely love doing it. When I say this is a passion of mine, I can not begin to express how short the word “passion” falls in describing how I feel about this magazine. I get such joy out of publishing short fiction. And that is just it.  If you want to run a magazine, you have to understand that it is a labor of love, not a get rich quick plan.

In fact, I don’t care if Plasma Frequency ever makes money. Yes, someday I would like to pay my all volunteer staff for their hard work. And maybe is ten years, I’d like to see enough from it that I don’t have to work anymore. But will I even be swimming in money because of a successful magazine? I doubt it, but I am okay with that. I just want Plasma Frequency to be successful.

Successful Defined

2013top10fictionzineI want Plasma Frequency to gain a loyal fan base, and maybe even publish some award winning fiction. Personally, I think we already have some huge talent that submit to us. With each issue it gets harder and harder for me to pick stories. And I love that. But in order to achieve more success, I need to invest more money into the magazine. The problem is, I am out of money. Sure, I can keep maintaining our one cent per word, and maintain our current level of success, but I feel I owe it to those I publish to push harder and continue to strive to make Plasma Frequency a household name in science fiction and fantasy.

So how do you get more money?

We’ve tried a lot of things. I stopped giving away our issues for free so that people would buy more and we would make more, but we didn’t.  And my main goal has always been to get these authors and their stories to readers. So that is why I’ve gone back to free by making the stories free to read online. And while I won’t make money that way, the web traffic to my website tripled on the first issue we did that (Issue 13).

I have a Patreon Page up. And we have advertising on our website. But those things need time to ramp up. And I am ready to push Plasma Frequency into the professional publication level.

Professional?

There are many definitions for the word professional. I certainly think I have a professional publication, and professional staff. But, I am referring to rates we pay our authors and artists. I mentioned above that I pay one cent per word. That is the absolute bottom of the barrel in the semi-pro pay rate range. Professional pay rates start at 6 cents per word. And that is where I want to take Plasma Frequency.

That takes money, right?

kickstarterExactly. And that is where I am hoping others in the community that I hold close to my heart will come in and help us out. I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise just over $15,000 by November 15th. With that, I will be able to use $10,000 just to pay authors and artists more money starting in January. If funded, I would pay authors 6 cents per word and artists $200 for cover art.

Does that mean I won’t be spending my own money? Oh, no. I will still be spending my own money. That will free up money for me to spend on marketing Plasma Frequency.

I’m scared.

I am scared to death this won’t reach funding. The moment I launched the project the anxiety hit me. I have big plans for this magazine, and for two and half years I’ve wanted to see it start paying professional rates. I am scared that others don’t have the same passion for Plasma Frequency that I do. I just launched yesterday and (at the time of this blog) four other people also want to see this succeed. That is great. I am hoping for ten by the end of tonight, it is a lofty goal but we need the supporters. The more people get behind this and start sharing it the better we can be.

If you are a member of the writing community, especially the short fiction one, you no doubt no the importance of a new paying market. There is way, way more quality fiction out there than there are places to publish it, even fewer that pay above 6 cents per word. And when Plasma Frequency started, we gave them a place to be paid and published. Now we want to give writers a place to be published and paid a fair, professional wage.

I really hope you take a moment to check out the Kickstarter. We have some great rewards, including a story critique from one of our editors for just $7. But even if you just have three dollars left over after paying your bills, we would be happy to take it. And you can know that we will put that money to excellent use.

And please remember, I publish Plasma Frequency for all of you in the science fiction and fantasy community. I hope you enjoy it.

From the Editor’s Desk: New Things on the Horizon for Plasma Frequency

2013top10fictionzineIt is funny how much time I spend blogging on writing, publishing, marketing, and even just random things going on in my life. Yet somehow I don’t seem to do much blogging with my editor’s cap on.  I have touched on it here and there, but most of the time that I mention Plasma Frequency, it is about how it has kept me from writing.  It would seem that something that is taking up so much of my time deserves a bit more attention. I assume my blog followers, being writers, might enjoy hearing what is going on in the short fiction publishing world.

For those that don’t know, Plasma Frequency, in my bi-monthly speculative fiction magazine. We mostly publish science fiction and fantasy, but some horror too. We publish from just a few hundred words up to 7,000 words. And we have been doing this now for two years.  Issue 13 comes out this Friday and it makes the start of our third publishing year.  That is a big deal for someone like me for several reasons: first we got this far, second we continue to grow, and third we seem to be making a difference in the industry.

In a future blog I intend to provide some tips on how to start your own magazine, but for now I want to talk about Plasma Frequency‘s future.

Our First Issue, with Award winning cover art by Tais Teng
Our First Issue, with Award winning cover art by Tais Teng

This is a magazine that I started in 2012 because I wanted to give authors another place to showcase their work.  And not just showcase it, but receive compensation for it.  Writing is a lot of hard work, and while doing it for money isn’t the best reason to get into writing, there should still be some compensation for it.

I wanted to start Plasma Frequency at 3 cents per word, but the funding for Plasma Frequency comes out of my pocket. So we started, and remain at, 1 cent per word.  The main question for me has always been how do we get this pay rate increased. The first year, I tried in-magazine advertising, and that didn’t work out well.  The second year I tried selling the magazine and some crowd funding.  Neither has worked out well.  Selling the issues covers about 10% of the costs per issue. The other 90% comes from my pocket. When you add in web hosting, submission services, and other operational costs (shipping, printing, postage, and much more), about 98% of the magazine’s funding comes from my own pocket.

Since my pocket book has no more room in it to add to the magazine, I spend a lot of time going over some ideas for our third year. We will still be selling the print copy and the eReader copies. That will not change, because readers have told us they enjoy those issues.  But we will be bringing the stories to our website, allowing those who want to read for free the ability to do so.  Now at first that might seem counter productive to making money, but we are hoping that increased reader exposure will also increase donations.

Asking for donations is always hard. People work hard for their money and they aren’t sure they want to donate it to a magazine. But, we hope that by reading our stories free online you will see this is a magazine worth a few bucks. And this year we are started a Patreon page.

Issue 8. The first issue with the new Masthead and the first issue sold via Amazon. Award winning art by Laura Givens
Issue 8. The first issue with the new Masthead and the first issue sold via Amazon. Award winning art by Laura Givens

What is Patreon?  Well Patreon is a way to donate a small amount monthly to us. It can be as little as one dollar, to as much as you see fit. That is a great way to put just a little bit into the bank and it all helps.  I’ve set some goals on there for us to reach. Reaching those goals will help us to raise the pay rates.  Maybe even get to 7 cents a word for authors in our magazine. That means we can attract more writers and bring in a wide range of story styles.  That is a lofty goal, but the good thing about Patreon is that it doesn’t expire. There is no deadline to reach any of these goals.  It is just the road map to our success.

Tying in to the Patreon page, we are also establishing donor levels. You can reach these through Patreon or through one time donations.  All people who reach one of our donor levels (to be officially announced September 5th) will be listed in all issues of our magazine (print and eReader) for the rest of time.  Onetime donations are always accepted, but Patreon is a good way to reach those donor goals without spending too much.  We have started out with some basic rewards, but as we grow so will the rewards.  The editors and I have even talked about some exclusive special editions that only donors will have access too.  We’re also considering early releases to donors and other such fun perks for becoming a donor.

Do you have a book, magazine, product, or service that would appeal to the audience of my magazine?  Oh, lord that sounds like such a horrible sales pitch. We are bringing back limited space advertising.  Official rates will be announced September 5th. But there are only four spaces for sale each month.  And if you buy a space for October, you get the rest of September free!  Your ad will be on every Plasma Frequency webpage, even the home page, for the entire month.  The ad prices are affordable and you will catch people’s attention.  If we consistently sell out the advertising, we could raise the rate of pay to as much as 4 cents per word.

Now you may be a lot like me and not have a lot of money to spare. I get that.  Money is not the only way to support us. You can also share your favorite stories. You can share the Patreon page. And you can follow Plasma Frequency on Facebook and Twitter.  There are sites to review our magazine too.

But aside from trying to raise money we have some other new and exciting things for our third year.  First off we are publishing Steve Coate’s “The Great Exodus”, a six part serial fiction piece.  The first part releases with Issue 13, and it will run for six issues.  This is a great way for us to publish longer fiction that would otherwise fail to fit within our pages.

We are also setting up a more consistent issue style.  In the past I would accept stories as they came in. And when the word count limit was reached, that was that.  Well sometimes we’d have twelve or thirteen stories in an issue, and other times we’d have just six.  I now am accepting stories for the whole year.  We accept just a few longer fiction pieces (typically two per issues) and the rest will be shorter or flash.  The result will be a consistent 10 stories per issue (11 counting Coate’s serial), while also giving a good mixture of fiction length.  The readers should better know what to expect from us.

I touched on this a little bit, but aside from our six issues, we are looking into publishing special editions. Perhaps even with guest

Issue 13: Out September 5th 2014. Art by Tais Teng
Issue 13: Out September 5th 2014. Art by Tais Teng

editors.  We are still talking this over.  I am also thinking of handing one issue over to one of my other editors and letting them have a go in the driver seat.  I am looking forward to working those out.

Of course the Year Two Anthology is also in the works.  The editors and I are choosing our picks, and just like last year our readers are making their picks too.  Voting ends on September 15th.  Then I have to contact the winners and set up the contracts for the issue.  I hope to have it out by late October so that you can have it on your Christmas list.

We will also be archiving our old issues online.  This will take a long time as there are 12 issues worth of stories to code on to a website. We don’t use a WordPress site for Plasma Frequency.  I code it all myself. And, I am learning coding as I go.

Speaking of the website, on September 5th our new website releases. It won’t be hugely different than our site now.  But I have put the stories as the main feature on the first (home) page.  And there are other tweaks along the way.

So that is just a taste of what we have in store for the next year. If you are already a reader, I hope you enjoy it.  If you are not yet reading us, I hope you will join in.

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.

 

LoneStarCon 3: WorldCon from a First Timer’s Point of View

LoneStarCon 3, or the 71st Annual World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), was held from August 29th to September 2nd, 2013.  Those who know me, know I have been trying to get to a WorldCon for three years.  After missing Reno and Chicago, I was finally able to go to San Antonio, Texas for this year’s WorldCon.  I was excited and nervous.  I have not been to any type of convention before, but I was ready to lose my con-ginity and experience a Con for all it was worth.

Location

First let me talk about the facilities.  WorldCon was held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in downtown San Antonio.  There were also many events, including the masquerade and the Hugo Awards held at the Marriott Rivercenter hotel.  The Rivercenter Hotel was also the hotel my family stayed at.

IMG_0533The convention center was very big.  There were certainly enough rooms to host tons of activities going on at one time.  There were three floors of activities going on at any one time, with the main Exhibit Hall being located on the ground level.  The exhibit hall has very well laid out with the art show as you entered.  There were several exhibits, the dealers room, as well as the different Con bidders tables.  They also had the ballroom in use.  The panel and reading room were always quickly turned over by the staff of the convention center getting everything ready for the next event is a short amount of time.

IMG_0522The Rivercenter Hotel was beautiful place to stay.  The rooms were comfortable and clean.  The staff was very helpful.  The one time I had a problem in my room the staff was very quick to reach a resolve and took care of me to make the remaining time I stayed there comfortable.  The only complaint I had was that I was not allowed to use the luggage carts.  When I was ready to check out, I attempted to get a luggage cart from the lobby and I was stopped by one of the employees.  They told me that an employee had to use the luggage carts and that I had to call them when I was ready.  Of course, after several days at a convention I was fairly broke, and I really didn’t want to tip a bellman.  I know this sounds cheap of me, but I was simply out of money.  In any case, that is really a minor issue from such an phenomenal hotel.

The hotel Grand Salon and conference rooms played host to many nighttime activities at the site.  There rooms were a pretty good size and the facilities were always ready and set up for the next activity.

IMG_0244All the facilities were located within walking distance on the magnificent River Walk.  I never had to set foot on any busy downtown streets.  The river walk led to everything I needed to go to, including shops and dining.  It made for beautiful scenery to start and end my days at the convention.  However, once the weekend really started, the river walk became a congested mess.  to make matters worse they had set up these tacky displays that took up the walkway.  Then people stopped to look at these booths and the whole thing became a mess.  I was really surprised no one was knocked into the river.  Now keep in mind none of this is anything that the LoneStarCon 3 could control as the Riverwalk is a completely separate entity from anything involved in LoneStarCon 3.

Overall the facilities for LoneStarCon 3 were excellent.

Programming

IMG_0212

Next, let me talk about the events and exhibits.

IMG_0579The exhibit hall was a huge facility.  They had a mock up of the Starship Enterprise bridge.  It had been put in the program that there would be times we could take pictures in the Captain’s chair.  I really looked forward to that.  However the display never had a schedule listed, and every time I was in there (which is a lot of time) there was never anyone staffing that display.

They also had Doctor Who display with Daleks and the TARDIS.  My kids loved that display and they always wanted to check it out.  Taking pictures was hard, since it was a closed off display.

The other display my kids loved was the LEGO display which had a large display of the different displays.  They even changed it up regularly so you found a lot of funny things that moved or changed through out. They also made a giant LEGO rocket during the convention

The art display was stunning. No photography was allowed so I wasn’t able to take pictures.  But I could have easily spent several thousand dollars there.  I did buy one piece that is currently being shipped to my house. I walked through the art display more times then I care to admit.  It was really amazing.

TIMG_0186hey also had a great display of Hugo awards and other items from the WorldCons in the past.

Each day was supposed to have a theme in the Exhibit Hall, but every day nothing really changed.  It was the same displays each day.  That or the changes were so subtle I never noticed.  Overall, the Exhibits were repetitive in nature and it might have been nice to see some more exhibits in there, there was certainly space for it.  I would say the Exhibits were good though.  I did enjoy most of them.

The dealers room was also housed in the Exhibit Hall, which I didn’t really like.  But the dealers were a selection of various different types of products.  I did purchase from the Angry Robot booth, Amy Adams’ booth, Pegasus Publishing, Epic Buttons, and Wire Rim books.  That was really just a fraction of what was there, and what I might have liked to buy given I had a bit more money.

I would say the dealer selection was great and the quality of the products was great.

IMG_0862Off to the side, where in my opinion they should have put the dealers, was the Con voting and booths.  Each year WorldCon members get to vote for the next Cons, in this case 2015.  I voted for Spokane, for the main reason that I can drive there easily.  Spokane won and I was excited to hear that.  We also voted for the NASFiC, which is held when WorldCon will be over seas.  WorldCon in 2014 will be held in London.  So I voted we have the NASFiC in Phoenix (again because I can drive).  However, Detroit won.  I also bough a supporting membership for Loncon 3 (London), in the small dream that I might be able to go next year.

The press booth was also in this area.  I stopped by there on my first day. I had registered as Press for Plasma Frequency because I am going to cover the Hugo Awards for our next issue.  The lady was not rude but she was very harsh with me, saying that I wasn’t allowed in the press booth because it wasn’t open for the public.  But when she same my membership, I guess she recognized my name from her list.  She was very apologetic.  Unfortunately, I had another harsh run in with someone when I got to the press area.  Clearly the press staff was under a bit of stress since they seemed to be so edgy.  None of it was big deal, but as a first timer and a first time press person is made me feel a bit unwelcome.

IMG_0664There were a lot of panels to attend.  I really wish I could get to them all, but I had trouble even getting to all the ones I wanted to go to.  The two social media panels were outstanding.  I learned a lot and I will be significantly changing the way I handle my social media pages.

The Self Promotion, Military SF, and writing combat were some of my favorites as well.  Though I wished the writing combat one talked a bit more about writing styles to use when writing combat rather than making sure you know what you are writing about.

The only panel I walked out of was Writing outside Genre.  It just wasn’t covering the topic in my opinion.  It seemed to be more about the panelists.  My other critique would be that the first time WorldCon panel, the panel for first time World Con attendees to learn about the program, wasn’t held until Saturday.  By then I had already spent two full days on at the convetion, and had missed out on a lot of things that I could have been taking advantage of.  Things like the parties and the Con Suite which I knew nothing about.  I could have saved a ton of money on drinks had I know I could stop by the con suite for water.

Overall though the panels were a wealth of information for me as a writer, and me as a short story publisher.  They had panels on both the craft of writing and the business of writing.  The program was diverse and I really wish I could have go to more, but the kids needed time with dad too.

Which leads me to the kids programing.  My wife did a lot more of that with them then I did.  The first day I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed the activities and planning that went into each activity.  But on Monday when I went in the I so furious with how unorganized the Lego Doctor Who stuff was.  My kids were by far the most excited for that event and it quickly turned into a mess.  It just was ever lead, and the kids took over.  My boys managed to get a Dalek built but couldn’t build a TARDIS because by that time the younger kids had been pushed out by the olders.

IMG_0876The childcare facility, Kiddiecorp, was a nice.  There were not a lot of children there and my kids had a blast while I enjoyed a date night with my wife.  As a member, the kids each got six free hours, though I think we only used three.  I am always a bit nervous about leaving my kids with any babysitter, but the Kiddiecorp staff was great.

I only managed to attend one Film viewing.  Though I watched Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope staring Brett Stimely and directed by Eric Tozzi.  I have a love for Ray Bradbury and Kaleidoscope is one of those stories that is difficult to imagine in a film.  But this film absolutely nails it.  It is fifteen minutes of genius and I really liked it.  From the fragments of other films that I saw, there was a ton of talent in these films.  The next time that I go, I will need to see more of the films.

I also had a chance to attend only one reading.  And it came out of surprise really.  I had attended a social media panel that had only two panelists.  One was a last minute addition, Emma Newman.  I absolutely loved what she had to say in that panel that I did two things the next day. I bought two of her books, and I went to her reading.  Emma did such a great job in the reading that I wished I had attended more readings too.

Until Next Time

When it came time for me to leave on Monday, I nearly broke down in tears.  I don’t mean that as some type of joke.  I literally was misty eyed. There was such a mixture of emotions from that trip.  I had so much fun, I learned so much, and yet I feel like I missed so much.  I was so happy to have a vacation with my family, something I have not had in ten years.  I was sad because I doubt I will get to London to do it again next year.  I was disappointed it was over.  I had wanted to quit my job and dedicate my life to science fiction. But that job is the only way I can afford to come out to conventions, publish my books, and keep Plasma Frequency going.  I was worried it might be ten more years before I can afford another vacation. I also have a horrible memory.  I don’t remember a lot about anything long term.  The thought of forgetting this family trip was the most frightening of all.  My memory issues scare me more every year, and no one seems to take  it serious. But I digress.  The convention was such a great time, both as a person in the industry and as a family vacation.  I can only hope that I can somehow continue to attend WorldCons for many many more years.

P.S. You may have noticed I made no mention of the Masquerade Ball or the Hugo Awards.  I plan to cover the Hugo Awards in depth in Plasma Frequency.  And, unfortunately, I missed the Masquerade Ball.

 

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