Friend Friday: Everyday Gun Safety by Mike Leon

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Mike Leon has been a good friend to me and to the blog here since day one. He wrote a nice piece on guns, a topic he’s very passionate about, and he makes some solid points on how the public is being emotionally manipulated on the topic. Check it out and check out his Postmodern Adventures of Kill Team One — urban fantasy thrillers.  

I’m going to share an uncomfortable truth here. The Second Amendment wasn’t written for self-defense or hunting. The Second Amendment was written so everyday people could potentially assassinate politicians.

What brought this statement on? The current political inferno over gun rights on social media. Ever since Facebook rose to the status of foremost ideological gladiatorial arena in the Rome of American hyperreality, the dispute over American gun control has raged online in increasingly frequent intervals directly corresponding to each statistically insignificant mass shooting event. Despite the infinitesimal (and shrinking) likelihood of mass shootings or school shootings in the United States, media coverage of them seems more prolific than ever before. Schools commonly have drills to practice surviving an active shooter event. Lobbyists, children, nitwits of all ages, and politicians all demand legislative action. The internet is aflame with their cries.

Here are some numbers for you: 1 in 2,273,000. Those are the annual odds of your child being killed in a school shooting according to the Cato Institute. Your child is 3 times more likely to be struck by lightning. The annual odds of there being a bona fide Columbine-style bloodthirsty mass shooting at your child’s school are less than 1 in 100,000 according to these numbers from Northeastern University. The odds of anyone discharging any firearm at school, even by accident, even if no one is injured, are about 1 in 2000. You’re twice as likely to hit the Pick 3 lottery. I even calculated that last probability using dodgy figures from Everyday Gun Safety, an outspoken group of gun grabbers. If I were as snaky as the mainstream media I would post a headline like “Everyday Gun Safety Shows Americans are Twice as Likely to Win Lottery than Experience School Shooting.” That would be misleading, and misleading people is CNN’s job, not mine.

The point of those numbers is to show that school shootings are an outlier. They don’t matter. They’re incredibly rare, and making public policy decisions because of them is stupid. I realize that’s a cold and insensitive statement, especially to the tiny number of recently bereaved parents out there, but it’s true. If you called up your accountant and he told you he knows a guy who won the Powerball so he just put all of your money into the Powerball, you would fire your accountant. It doesn’t matter who he knows. I know a guy who drank himself to death twice and was resuscitated with the paddles both times. I also know a guy who survived a skydive when his parachute didn’t open. I’m still not chugging two fifths of Wild Turkey and jumping naked from an airplane.

And yet the debate still rages. Why? Because too many people put their feelings in the driver’s seat. CNN knows that. MSNBC knows that. Fox News knows that. If it bleeds, it leads, and they’re making a mint. Conspiracy theorists often claim mass shootings are government-run false flag attacks, but they’re failing to follow the money. If you told me CNN secretly hired mercenaries to shoot up a school, it wouldn’t faze me. It just makes sense. More dead kids = higher ratings = more advertising dollars. It’s not rocket science. They certainly have a more visible motivation than the government.

So the news media magnifies these events as much as possible. The bigger, the better. The higher the kill count, the more sweet cash they get from Pepsi, McDonalds, and Rosland Capital (I’m looking at you, Fox). Unfortunately, their over reporting is creating a false reality—a hyperreality—in which school shootings are common, and people want something done about this terrible threat to their children’s safety (which isn’t actually a threat at all). They take their rage into the streets…well, except all that Pepsi and McDonalds has them feeling kind of fat and lethargic, so they settle for making aggressive Facebook posts. #slacktivism

That’s how we got where we are—the point at which every other post is a screed about gun control one way or the other. They all make the same talking points.

This stuff goes on endlessly because no one can articulate the reason Americans need guns in simple terms. So I’m going to lay it down right here. It is about fighting tyranny, but not in the visceral sense that most survivalist gun nuts seem to cling to. It’s not about mowing down the jackboots that come to put you in a camp, or shooting down drones and helicopters. It’s not a Rambo Red Dawn fantasy. The truth is much more subtle.

It’s about fighting tyranny with fear. It’s about making sure every politician knows that we just might kill them. It’s about the Sword of Damocles. It’s about them having that lingering thought in the back of their head that the next thing in the back of their head might be a 6.5x52mm Carcano fired from a book depository.

We want them to think “If I ban violent video games, somebody might fire a .308 through my aorta” and “If we pass that abortion bill somebody might get angry enough to kick in my suite door and riddle me and my $3000 escorts with 9mm rounds while we’re in the Jacuzzi” and “If we vote ourselves another pay raise, somebody might nail me with an FN-Scar while I’m on the course at Martha’s Vineyard.” All of those things are in the realm of possibility because all of those guns are perfectly legal.

In the UK, politicians don’t have to have those thoughts, and now they’re throwing comedians in jail because they don’t like their jokes.pastedGraphic_1.png

In the US, officials need more restraint than in the UK because we don’t need to overhaul anything. We don’t need an uprising or a rebellion to keep them in line. We just need one raving lunatic with a gun—and we let every raving lunatic have guns. He doesn’t need a reason. Maybe he wants to impress Jodie Foster. Maybe it’s just Monday. Who cares? When it’s over, we lock him up or give him the needle, and we look at all the other politicians with the same crazed-eye twitch that guy had, and we say it was just him. He acted alone. It happens sometimes. Nothing you can do about it.

That’s how we do things in America, and that’s why we need an AR-15.

Mike Leon is the raving lunatic responsible for The Postmodern Adventures of Kill Team One. The fourth book in the series, #Justice was just released in February.

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Writing Q & A: Should You Build A Platform First?

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Got a pretty detailed question on the blog yesterday, so I figured I’d answer with a full post rather than a comment. Here it is:

I have a question: When you wrote your first book did you write it and then search for an agent or publisher, or did you already have these things ready before your first novel was complete?

I ask because I’m writing my first novel after many years of independent study of the craft and I believe I have the bare minimum skill set to make a debut. My plan is to write the story then find an agent or publisher. 

There’s a lot writers, mostly women, on social media who preach preach preach the value of building a platform, e.g., blogs, before one attempts to introduce his work to the public. No doubt, an existing audience is advantageous, but, personally, I’m just not into it. 

I want to focus my energy on writing stories, not necessarily a blog, especially for the reason of building an audience for the singular purpose of selling my books. I want my works to live on their own merits. 

Another question: Do you have some advice you can spare? You’ve been where I’m at right now, at least in some sense as an aspiring author. I’d greatly appreciate it if you could give me some insight and share your experience if you’re so inclined to do so. 

Thank you.

I wrote my first novel, which was The Stars Entwined (at the time I had it titled Starcrossed — which I thought was too generic for searches when I did my rewrite last year),  and did start querying agents and the like. I didn’t have much success at the time, mostly because the writing was very bad in that version. I did have an offer from a small publisher at the time to publish it — they said they liked it as it was, but I declined because I knew it wasn’t in good enough shape. I ended up rewriting this book many times to get it to where it is. I wasn’t quite sure what my strategy was since declining meant I wasn’t ready, but I think I was just feeling out how the market worked.

On the platform, this blog existed, but I didn’t post every day. I was focused on my webcomic Flying Sparks at the time — as that was getting me a couple thousand readers per week, which was how I was hoping my platform would establish. There was absolutely no plan, however. That got me hired to do the Doomtown Reloaded card game lore–which kept me occupied for a couple of years, which is when I first drafted my 2nd novel, For Steam And Country (which I also rewrote last year), and is now my most popular work.  From Doomtown Reloaded, I was in the gaming side of things, which is how I got hired for Star Realms: Rescue Run, my third novel, though first released.

Rescue Run did pretty well in sales, and that’s when I decided just to go small press and release my material as fast as I was able, to capitalize on the audience that was already there. I made a few mistakes just from a branding perspective there (Game Mil SF > Steampunk > Slow Release Of My Book, Back To Mil SF After That Taking 9 Months — causes some brand confusion) but my audience has stuck with me across the two sub genres of Mil SF / Steampunk based on the Stars Entwined’s release so far. Which… might have a lot to do with my platform.

I think what platform does is get your readers invested in you more than a particular work. If they’re invested with you, they’re more likely to stick with you. That’s what I hope at least. It’s very possible to release books without a platform and become a success, I know some folks who have done it, but I think it’s harder. I don’t know as I obviously didn’t go that route so can’t speak from experience. But I’m big into platform.

When Rescue Run hit, I made a commitment to blog daily. After For Steam And Country, I upped that commitment also to Periscope broadcast daily. My blog reaches 10k readers every week, my periscope gets about a thousand views every week. They’ve been growing slowly and steadily, as has my mailing list which has about 4,000 subscribers (you get a free novella for signing up. It’s up above and you should do so!). Then I started Patreon in November to release my short story content and behind the scenes work. That’s been growing steadily as well and is a nice supplemental income. Platform certainly worked in my instance, but it’s doing something every day, and at least releasing a new story every month with Patreon. It’s a lot of work at the professional level, but keeping it going is the best bet. The “I have one book that magically became a megabestseller success” days are mostly over — you’ll get those occasionally, but it’s like winning the lottery.

The content game whether it’s complete focus on stories or blog/periscope/personality or a mixture, is all about releasing new stuff all the time. That’s how the internet goes. So if you’re going to avoid blogging and all that, I do recommend not just having a book to put out — but having 3 or 4 to put out in rapid succession, month after month, so that you’ve always got something new, always got something relevant. You might find after a few books out, you have a platform and can do it the opposite way. Several authors I know have done just that.

I’d advise finding a way to give daily content, whatever that is. People make habits based on daily (that’s why the vitamin industry is focused on daily — and boy do they sell!). It takes someone about 21 days to form a habit, and at that point it’s hard to break. That’s the benefit of the blog. The drawback is… well, you have to find something to write every day and it’s time consuming.

On the book front, I already mentioned having a few done, people are moving more into binge habits is the reasoning. Which also means don’t have unrelated books. A single series would be best but sticking in the same genre is crucial (this is where I’ve got a slight problem right now until I can get my series all going — I just have too many book 1s already done). That will get you jumpstarted because of the way Amazon cross promotes. Also, if you’re self-pubbing, do not skimp on editor or cover costs. You want your work to be professional and look professional. Competition is fierce out there. It’s worth it to pay to make your product the best.

Definitely form a plan before just spending years writing random stuff. Readers like consistency and if you have a game plan, you’ll be ahead of most authors.

Hope that helps!

If you like my marketing advice, you’ll probably enjoy The Stars Entwined. It’s got a complex plot, is tightly edited, and is already getting great reviews from genre readers. Check it out here.

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For Steam And Country – 99 Cent Sale!!!

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In honor of getting its first award nomination, and as I’m super excited about the release of The Stars Entwined, we are having a sale of For Steam And Country — only 99 cents for a limited time!

Get the book now and ready for this summer when books 2 and 3 will come out — along with a special James Gentry novella. We’re going to have a lot of airship action and it’s going to be a ton of fun. This is the best time to jump on board.

It’s available on Amazon kindle here for only 99 cents. Pick up your copy and tell your friends:


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Harlan Ellison’s Epic Takedown Of SFWA

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Back in the 90s, the problems with the club were starting to show, with it being less about promoting science fiction work as it was due — in the context of lifetime achievement awards here — and more about amateur arguing and popularity contests within its member base. Note how even then he mentions flippantly his act of just going against what the crowd says, even in the small act of saying “hey guys let’s recognize this author who’s not popular with the in-crowd to get his due because he did the work” was enough for him to say they would accuse him of blackmail and coercion.

Replace that in modern times with “harassment” and you’ve got the same thing going on. Harlan warned where the direction of the club was going, and now they’ve gotten to the point where they’ve made their club about who they like or not being allowed in, arguing about amateur pointless politics rather than advocating for careers of professionals. The club never took a look at itself and decided to change.

But don’t take my word for it, take Harlan Ellison’s.

It’s no wonder with attitudes like this that they’ve pushed themselves to irrelevancy. How irrelevant, you ask? Their last youtube roundtable with some of their biggest authors in the club garnered only 72 views when I checked yesterday. One of my fans who just read from a chapter of my book on periscope–a platform less browsed than youtube, got three times that in a couple of hours after he broadcasted.

They have officer elections this year. So question to your members: what is SFWA doing for you? Has it sold you more books? Has it made you more of a name? Even the prestige is gone with what the officers and board did with memberships. It’s a joke in most writing circles. If you guys are concerned about your club, you’d vote for change this year… we’ll see what happens.

Yesterday I saw what happened with The Stars Entwined. The book had a great launch, and readers area already saying it’s a wonderful book. Check out the very well thought out reviews of the book. If you like thing Harlan worked on, like Babylon 5… you” probably enjoy The Stars Entwined. Available here. 

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The Stars Entwined Military Sci-Fi / Space Opera Out Now!

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Today marks the release of my new book, The Stars Entwined! I’m so excited about this book, as i’ve been working on building this universe for more than 15 years, and I finally get to share it with you.  The first review was done a couple of weeks ago, who gave it glowing remarks. An advance reader said fans of Babylon 5 should for sure check this out — high praise as I was intending on going for the feel of that show.

The Aryshan Empire and Earth are on the brink of war!

The Stars Entwined is the first installment in an epic space opera series by multiple award-nominated science fiction writer, Jon Del Arroz. If you like Old Man’s War by John Scalzi or Rogue World by B.V. Larson, then you’ll love this epic adventure with action, intrigue, and an escalating interstellar war between galactic civilizations.

After several recent attacks along the border of Aryshan space, internal affairs agent Sean Barrows is brought to Palmer Station to ensure the Interplanetary Navy’s on the right track in their terrorism investigations. What he discovers could lead to the biggest war the galaxy has ever seen. Sean’s work leads him to his most dangerous assignment yet—into the heart of Aryshan territory as a spy.

Meanwhile, Aryshan Commander Tamar is being groomed by the Ruling Committee to one day assume leadership of her people. First, she needs to prove herself in warship command. As tensions increase with Earth, Tamar finds herself increasingly isolated as one of the few in opposition to the war. Her troubles deepen when she comes face to face with a new member of her crew, the most intriguing man she’s ever encountered.

You can watch Edwin Boyette reading the first chapter and prologue live, here.

And don’t forget later today, I’ll have my epic military science fiction roundtable in celebration of this book and all military sci-fi and space opera. It’ll be a great time. Tune in here:

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Combating Online Bullying

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Over the weekend I’ve been raising awareness about online bullying, after an incident within the writing community where an artist attempted suicide over the immense pressure and bullying brought on over a writing group.

I’ve faced a tremendous amount of online bullying, from big name authors to the anonymous cowards following them who decided to push on every post I make to say some of the nastiest things about me, and though it’s been hard at some times, I persevered through it. But a lot of people aren’t nearly as strong as I am, and can’t face that kind of pressure — I get told so on almost a daily basis by new fans and friends who come along to encourage me (in private of course). That’s why it’s crucial for me to do what I do and to speak up, and instances like this only make it more important.

Writer Will Shetterly wrote a piece about the dangers of the mob, based on his experiences, something that first got me thinking about the topic early in the weekend.

More people than anyone knows have been attacked by fandom’s New McCarthyites. After posting Positively Fourth Street, or On being banned for … vague reasons about nearly indescribable things?, I was told more stories. I should have expected that–people whose fears keep them silent will tell things in confidence to those who speak out. Once, in an online argument, I was foolish enough to say I was supported by lurkers in email. The people on the other side assumed I was lying and mocked me. I only pitied them—if you’ve never been supported by lurkers, you’re the bully in the room.

It was terrible what happened to him. And I’ve been trying to raise awareness ever since, as it’s eerily similar to the way WorldCon treated me over rumor, innuendo, and because the leadership there had dangerously cut off conservatives from their circles, to where they view our entire movement as “literal nazis.”

But the problem only exacerbated because a woman, cover artist, was bullied by an online mob into attempted suicide, as I’ve mentioned. I don’t want to bring undue pressure onto her by naming, so I’m being careful about that, but this is the end result Will was warning about, and why we need to fight. I did a video this morning going over Daniel Arenson’s wonderful facebook post on how to prevent yourself from engaging in bullying tactics online. It starts with us. Hopefully more and more people read this until it changes the culture:

And despite the heavy message of today’s blog post, do check out my new book tomorrow, The Stars Entwined. I wanted this week to be a week to celebrate, but I have to speak when called to. My characters change their plans based on what their hearts call them to do in the book. Read it here:

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Jon Del Arroz’s Epic Military Science Fiction Extravaganza

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On Tuesday, March 20th, I’m releasing my new Mil SF book, The Stars Entwined. A book reviewer sent this to me:

A welcome window into a new sci-fi space opera from the pen of John Del Arroz, After reading both his previous works I was honored at the chance to get a review copy of The Stars Entwined opening at a frantic pace it drops you into a fully fleshed out universe without missing a beat expecting you to land on your feet and take off following the main characters of Lieutenant Sean Barrows an Internal Affairs agent with the Interplanetary Navy tasked to uncover the mystery of a lost ship within the space of the Aryshan Empire. While on the side of the Empire we have Commander Chavi Tamar di Aresh. As much of the enjoyment I got was from experiencing the story unfold I won’t go into much more detail on the plot, just know that if you enjoy space opera of Babylon 5 caliber you owe it to yourself to give The Stars Entwined a try.

I welcome the comparison to Babylon 5, certainly, as that’s what I was going for 100%.  Glad to hear it worked.

To celebrate the release, I also planned something special, which is going to be a marathon broadcast with the who’s who of the Military Science Fiction writing world. I was able to secure 66% of the 2017 Dragon Award nominees for Best Mil SF last year, and other great guests. The full list is here:

2:45 Yakov Merkin – A Greater Duty
3:00 Richard Fox – Dragon Award Winner, The Ember War
3:15 Robert Kroese – Rex Nihilo and Saga Of The Iron Dragon
3:30 C.J. Carella – Warp Marines
3:45 C.T. Phipps – Lucifer’s Star
4:00 Cedar Sanderson – Tanager
4:15 Amy J. Murphy – Dragon Award Nominee, Allies & Enemies
4:30 John F. Holmes – Dragon Award Nominee,
4:45 Mark Wandrey/ Chris Kennedy – Dragon Award Nominee, Four Horsemen Universe
5:00 Jason Anspach/Nick Cole – Galaxy’s Edge

These are the pacific time they will be appearing at the link below. Tune in, check out great books, most importantly, have fun!

And of course, you’ll want to make sure to grab The Stars Entwined, out Tuesday!!!

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White Male Author Banned From Convention For…

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…well, we’re not sure exactly what he’s banned for. But it must be really, really bad if an esteemed convention would proclaim a banning, right?

The chorus of the angry hate mob is already trying to justify yet another banning, which is tied into everything else because it always comes from the same people. Long time and respected author Will Shetterly was the most recent target of the hate brigade in recent times. His story on his blog is kind of long, so I’ll lay it down from you in brief points:

  1. This convention wanted Will to run a seminar (aka WORK HOURS FOR FREE) for them, it took a lot for Will to come but he finally gave in.
  2. They cancelled him, gave a reason that then was obviously a lie as their own words didn’t match (sound familiar?)
  3. Will investigated into why he was being blacklisted. This triggered them into a rage machine because he’s supposed to just accept the proclamation of the gatekeepers of fandom blindly.
  4. Back and forth emails where the convention tries to cover their butts.
  5. They doubled down with a “you know what? You’re BANNED from attending!”

Unbelievable, or it would be if there weren’t precedent for this sort of thing.

And the same dwindling group of people are involved. It’s always the same 50-100 people within writing or from the hate website File 770 stirring this kind of thing up. Will Shetterly did nothing wrong, observably so, but their words are basically because they took the steps to remove him (because someone didn’t like him in some whisper campaign), that therefore he might do something wrong. While Worldcon did this to me because I’m an outspoken conservative, and it makes them so scared that they make up some weird movie in their heads about me because they hate conservatives that much, that’s not the case with Will. From what I’ve seen, Will aligns politically with them, but his crime is that he doesn’t act passive-aggressive like the in-crowd does, he confronts and is direct when there’s a problem.

You know, like people who actually solve problems.

It’s the passive aggressive nature of these convention organizers and the fact that they live in a reality where they are hold up on the internet all the time, never interacting with real people. Go on their feeds, it’s a constant vague post “I can’t even!” when they’re not rambling about how Donald Trump literally makes them shake with fear.  They’re passive aggressive to the extreme, and they’ll complain about how hard it is to be introverted all the time with an equal amount of passive aggressive passion.

Get a life and get off the internet, weirdos. It’s making you sick. It’s making you hurt other people’s careers. And because they act like a group-think monkey troupe, I’m watching it escalate with the same people in a bizarre psychological study of the mentally ill.  First, they act like “huh, I don’t know…” then someone makes some rabble rousing noise, then they all start to go “well, it must be justified,” and they’re starting to escalate it to where they’re calling Will “harasser” –their go to word when they’re not screaming racist at someone — without evidence he did anything. It’s really sick.

This sort of thing needs to stop. Regular males being direct will not hurt you. I know you hate males in the science fiction publishing industry, you’ve made it clear over the years, but get over it. The problem is this sort of shame game behavior where it’s a public shaming of someone trying to force them out of their workplace is really dangerous. Wil and I are both stronger guys so we can handle the pressure, but given how indiscriminate the hate mob is, how they’ll target anyone at anytime, they’re going to end up targeting someone with a lot less strength. I hate to go here, but this is how suicides happen. Someone’s going to get hurt because these people’s shame mobs push too hard all the time.

And I don’t want that to happen. All conventions have to do is not ban people who did nothing wrong. Yes, that’s a double negative. But there’s no reason to make those proclamations and escalate things like this. It’s intentionally stirring up trouble, and intentionally hurting people over identity (whatever that identity is at the time), and that’s why I stand with Will Shetterly.

If you appreciate the stances I take, you’ll probably appreciate the stands my characters take for their convictions in The Stars Entwined, which is out on Tuesday! Check it out on Amazon and tell your friends. Reviewers are already saying this is my best work.

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Planetary Mars Anthology – Out Now

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This book’s been coming together over the last year, an anthology I edited with Mars-themed stories. I wanted to incorporate both the God of War and the Red Planet and it came together really nicely with some great stories from fantastic authors. Thank you so much to both Chuck Dixon and Kevin J. Anderson for contributing to this!

I can’t speak highly enough of a lot of these stories. A couple I really want to highlight are Jay Barnson’s “The Martian Princess” and Avily Jerome’s “To Open The Gate.” While I love all the stories in this anthology, I’ve been watching these two grow as writers. They’re going to be major forces in the field with the talent they have and folk should get used to seeing their names out there!

Anyway, pick up the anthology and read the stories for yourself. I hope you enjoy!

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