My Endorsement Of Mary Robinette Kowal For SFWA President

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I am pleased to announce my endorsement of Mary Robinette Kowal for President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!

Some folk might ask why I endorse? As the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction, it’s crucial to make my stance heard on this very important matter for science fiction writers. It’s important for marginalized voices like mine to be heard and to be a part of directing the future of sci-fi.

Ms. Kowal is a writer’s-writer, a true champion of the craft, with an open mind, and a genuine spirit to help other writers get ahead. Whereas a lot of the industry seems to try to hoard what it’s got in fear of precious readers finding greener pasture, Kowal uplifts other writers and understands that as the fruits of labors grow, as does the readership and customer base.

She also understands that a guild like SFWA is not meant to be an exclusionary political club nor extremist ideologies to push out others. Writing is for everyone. And I’ve confirmed via conversation with her a very important aspect of why I endorse Ms. Kowal—she opposes discrimination within the guild over political affiliation.

I’ll get more to that later as I’ll go through her excellent platform and why it’s crucial for SFWA if it wants to regain its stature as a relevant organization in today’s publishing climate.

First – health care. I thought this was already a thing with SFWA. It’s one of the primary reasons I’ve wanted to join is to have access to a health care co-op for insurance. That by itself is a very valuable service I thought they offered, and is 100% crucial in today’s world, but it looks like it’s not actually part of their scope. This needs to change quickly as it’s one of the most important benefits to authors who are independent contractors.

But beyond that, her points:

New opportunities to help our members diversify their income streams

This is very important in the modern world. It’s what I’ve been championing. I’ve had a lot of success on alternative income streams over the past year, one that’s allowed me to qualify for SFWA 50x over. I offered to share some help with the officers over the past year personally, and have been met with being ignored or derision each time. It’s very odd, as shouldn’t professionals in a position representing all SF/F Writers of America be supremely interested in revenue streams and how to accomplish them?

Fortunately, Kowal is. If we can see change here, and we have a president like her who is open to new ideas and fresh innovations, it can help all the writers all the way down the line who can benefit from information like I have which could move a lot of writers from poverty and not being able to actually do this professionally, to having real income streams.

Strengthening the Nebula Conference as a professional development conference

This is crucial as well. Writing Conferences need to be more about business, how to help authors get ahead just like in point one. We don’t need to spend hours endlessly debating whether Tolkien was racist like happened at the conference in 2018. How does that help anyone? In fact, trying to hurt the reputation of the genre unjustly like that only turns potential professionals and readers AWAY, because they rightly view this as a toxic outrage culture center. And no one needs more of that, we all have Twitter already.

If the org had classes on how to properly utilize ads and social media, building mailing lists, outreaching toward readers, and focused there, it would be imminently helpful toward writers who have to master these skills if they want to be competitive. Ms. Kowal, when you win, and if you read this – I volunteer to assist with these efforts!

Protecting our rights for free speech

This is super important especially to marginalized authors like myself. So many conservative-libertarians live in fear of what will happen if they make their positions known. I have author after author say they’re afraid to speak up against the mobs out of fear they’ll get shouted down, kicked out of groups, bullied, and harassed out of the guild and/or different publishing houses for even centrist beliefs. They approach me in confidence because they know I will defend their rights as artists.

The type of stories that are allowed to be published are imminently one-sided, and it’s been a detriment to science fiction publications as a whole. I look forward to Ms. Kowal’s defense of conservative ideals and our abilities to speak without fear. That’s what being an artist is all about.

Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community

Again, the most important aspect of this, as the most underserved and underrepresented writers in the SF/F community are conservatives and Christians. These groups feel like they’re not welcome anywhere within the sphere of publishing, and it needs to change.

I’m confident Ms. Kowal will enact change here, which is the primary reason for my endorsement. I also volunteer to act as an ambassador to the conservative/Christian writing communities on her behalf, as many writers feel they can safely speak with me in confidence, when their concerns might get them ostracized or their businesses hurt if they voice their issues elsewhere. With me in such a role, we can repair the bridge in fandom so we can make it about books again, and selling for authors, and not about petty political squabbles.

Ms. Kowal has demonstrated to me personally that she is sincere in this effort by attempting to assist me with Worldcon 2018 when they horribly discriminated against me last year because of my outspoken beliefs, and because I was under threat of physical harm being done to me at their convention by extreme left-wing agitators.  The cycle of victim blaming must stop, and Kowal has assured me SFWA will not be an organization that will treat conservative authors as 2nd class citizens. This is a human rights issue and very big for me!

But Kowal also puts her money where her mouth is. When I was coming up and needed promotion as a writer, Kowal featured me on her blog not just once—but twice, and the second after I’d already become a prominent outspoken conservative within the community. She cares about books FIRST – and this is what sets her apart from others.

I’m excited for her tenure so I can finally join the professional guild (as is my due) without being shut down and held to standards others within SFWA are not.

Taking full advantage of our 501c3 status to apply for grants that will allow SFWA to be a more active and useful organization for our members

This is great. I love charity and my wife and I have organized many successful charity events in the past. It’s all about helping others in our time on this planet, and I look forward to helping out with these initiatives as well. When God blesses us with gifts, it’s our duty to use those gifts for those less fortunate.

 

This platform has me energized like very few moments before in my career. I am excited to stand with Mary Robinette Kowal for a brighter future, one that would have been envisioned by the greats like Heinlein or Asimov, one where we can grow both as writers and as humans together. We will make science fiction fun again!

Speaking of making Sci-Fi Fun again, if you haven’t checked out my short story collection, you’ll definitely want to! It’s got a wide variety of fun adventures and you’ll love it if you love classic sci-fi. Read it here!

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Everyone’s Talking Meta-Man!

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What a day! Despite having a hate campaign against me where several reviewers said they couldn’t review the book because they feared harassment from ComicsGate, some reviewers were very brave with their channels. Please give them likes and subscribes to let them know that people love them for being brave and being a REAL alternative to Marvel and DC!

And Bleeding Fool did a great article on the book which you can read here: https://bleedingfool.com/comics/del-arroz-releases-flying-sparks-prequel-meta-man/

We gotta support the media that’s reinforcing positive change in the industry or we’re going to get nowhere. It’s very important to give these guys clicks and love to make sure this can be a sustainable thing, just like it’s important to come out with monthly, affordable books on the creator side.

Even though the book got up a little late in the afternoon and the print edition got delayed by Amazon (it’s up now here amazon has it at a different link), it’s doing great:

Almost to that #1 spot. Help push Meta-Man over the top! 

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Meta-Man Special is HERE!

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Been hyping this for a couple of weeks, but now Flying Sparks: Meta-Man Special is available, my first release of the year.

You can get it in Kindle format on Amazon or you can get it in CBZ from the Arkhaven store direct.

The print version is in Amazon’s system and takes a couple of days to get set up so check back regularly if you wanted that edition. I’ll make another post when it goes live.

I developed a full world for Flying Sparks, different heroes, different stories, and in different media. I’ve gotten a couple folk asking about the Origin of Meta-Man, but that I wrote as a old-time style radio drama, which unfortunately I lost the files for the recordings of it awhile ago. I’m not sure if we’re going to redo that in audio form, as a novel, or as comics yet, but we’ll get it out there to fill out that part of this world later.

This book is a Meta-Man standalone adventure, meant to be a fun book like you’d get in the Silver Age. It also answers the question as to why he cares about Chloe aka Meta-Girl which was set up in the main Flying Sparks storyline.

Mike Abuan did the art on this one, a great guy out of Southern California who just wanted to help out and be involved. Thank you Mike!

Pick up your copy of the book — as this is our first major test of the “direct to amazon” market to see if we can make sustainable comics without crowdfunding. If the base is there, I can produce a lot more books like this!

For the last fifty years, Meta-Man has been an enigma—a reclusive hero who does his duty but shies away from the public eye. What happened? Who is he?

Unlocked from the archives for the first time, you can dive into one of Meta-Man’s early adventures and get a glimpse into his heroic world as he works to stave off a plot from his nemesis Dr. Malicious and his communist commandos! Can Meta-Man prevail, or will the U.S.S.R. interfere with the American presidential election and spread the reach of the Iron Curtain across the globe? Read this action-packed superhero comic and find out!

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The Spanish Civil War

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I’m reading The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor on my little trip here, and thought I’d just pass along a little of what I’m seeing so far.

In America, we see things as so left or right, north or south, black or white — in other countries, that binary duality doesn’t quite exist. Spain had so many factions at the time trying for power in the country in the early 1930s that it’s hard to remember which was which as one turns the page in the book.

It’s always good to remember that not everything is 100% or 0%. Not everyone is on exactly the same side, that there’s different plays and coalitions at work all of the time. I tried to tell a buncha people this last year, but it fell on deaf ears, but we’re a bit smarter around these blog parts than most, so I think you’ll get it.

Supoprt my patreon and all my content, get great books, stories, comics before anyone else. Check it out here.

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What A Review!

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As I mentioned I’m out and about the next few days a little busy here for the blog, but I received a very nice review of Flying Sparks — spoiler inside that cover “Chapter 1”. This is probably the most comprehensive review of the book yet. High marks given as usual, which is nice.

Now this is the start of “Jon Del Arroz Appreciation Week” on here… I definitely am enthused about such a week on the channel 🙂 .

And as I wrote this, another review went up:

Folk are digging the book, which is really nice! Gearing up for a 22-page Meta-Man special coming out later this week which just gives a little look into that character and reveals some of the connections of the character to Meta-Girl. And of course hard at work on book 2.  As an update on that: I’ve revised all the dialogue, and we’ve finally hired the cover artist for it and I’m very excited to work with our new friend.

Hope you’ll get on board with Flying Sparks! You can buy it direct from the Arkhaven bookstore here, which now takes paypal from what I’m told:

 

 

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Some Post New Years Check In

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Hey guys, I’m going to be very busy today and probably early next week so I don’t know how much blogging I’ll do unless some major news hits. Here’s what’s in the pipeline for me:

Today, Lunch Streaming with YouTuber Nerdette and Cap’n Cummings:

I also started the last book in my Nano Templar trilogy: Glorified, after finishing my draft edits on Sanctified – now off to my editor. That’ll occupy my space on the book front for awhile.

But most importantly, I’m gearing up to release Flying Sparks: The Meta-Man Special on Amazon next week. This is going to be a market test for distribution without IndieGoGo — can my comics sustain themselves without the crowdfund system and people helping pay big amounts to cover the art costs?

Mike Abuan, the artist, was very kind in doing this book as a collaboration so I wouldn’t have to incur costs on that level, which is why we could do this one as a test. It’ll be standard comic, 22 pages, $4.99, if you have Prime, you can get free shipping with it. There will be Kindle/CBZ digital options available same day as well. Through Dark Legion, we are making a big push to revolutionize the indie industry, so this is a step toward doing that. I’m very excited and hope you’ll be on board.

The story is a silver age-style superhero adventure. It’s even faster paced than my Flying Sparks book is, and goes into the history of Meta-Man, who if you read Flying Sparks, was a bit of an enigma in the book. You don’t have to have read Flying Sparks to understand this, as it’s 100% standalone (I didn’t even leave a cliffhanger this time!), but if you are invested in the universe, the book should have a nice impact for you.

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The Distribution Problem In Comics Is Solved

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Peter Simeti, owner of Alterna Comics, made a post inquiring as to whether would support a crowdfund to “make a new distribution system” for comics the other day. He’s interested to see what people would pay for that. Overwhelmingly, comics fans acknowledge Diamond Distribution’s role in being a problem for comics, and of course, the vast majority of Simeti’s followers voted yes, they would fund such an effort.

Here’s the thing — alternative distribution exists. Even Simeti has his own system where a comic shop can buy direct from him for cheaper than they can buy books at Diamond, though it requires certain quantities to do so. Just like all Distribution.

Comic shops have not adopted his platform very much however. Why? Because they put in their monthly orders from Diamond and 90% of the product they sell is available as a Diamond Exclusive. If they want to try to help Alterna, they’ll just buy a couple of books from there and not have to have a quantity minimum for shipping. They’re already in there to do their order, they don’t want to have to remember to do something new for $5-10 in profit a month.

Unless Alterna really creeps up on the Big-2 (which won’t happen in comic shops), their platform won’t matter.

It’s because the hard truth is the specialty comic shop is part of the distribution chain that is part of this monopoly. Marvel/DC > Diamond > Shops> Marvel/DC collecting customer base. It’s how it works. Customers buy mostly Marvel/DC at these shops and have forever. The percentages aren’t really changing. They will special order product for customers who ask for specific things that are coming out, but they’re not out there stocking the indie revolution. Regardless if my book Flying Sparks was available to every comic shop in the nation (it is, which I’ll get to), it doesn’t matter, they’re not going to grab it and feature it.

That chain isn’t something one can penetrate without being an Image Comics, and even then, Image only has a couple of big sellers and the rest are in the same obscurity land that Alterna or Kickstarter/IndieGoGo books are.

It’d be like trying to start a book store distributor for books, not carrying anything by the big 5 publishers, and throwing hands up and saying why isn’t Barnes & Noble buying from me.

The thing is, in books, other options were set up, and those other options won. They cut into the big 5’s almost full market share and now indie books represent almost 50% of the market. How did they do it?

The same way Arkhaven Comics has built what they have so far. The distribution system went out to a broader customer base, to everyone. Anyone can find the book and buy it at any time, and get it delivered free through Prime. If you don’t want to use Amazon as the outlet, you can buy direct through Arkhaven’s very own bookstore which the distributor handles its shipping and processing so they’re not in the business of holding a warehouse of print like it’s the 1980s, and hiring people to ship themselves.

That’s what a distributor does and is for. Getting the producers out of the shipping business, handling all that themselves so we are free to create product. Making the product available to people to purchse at any time. This is the modern way to do things, this is why Amazon’s won out in almost every industry so far (and why even Marvel/DC cater more toward Amazon/Comixology sales than a lot of specialty shop buyers) because there’s an ability to go wide there without a consumer having to travel ever increasing distances to a specialty book shop.

Arkhaven took great pains to set this up, has good printer discounts which make indie books cheaper and more hassle free than a lot of alternatives, it’s available in multiple formats (Kindle, CBZ digital, Print), and the books are ALWAYS available. The distribution system is a solid one and doesn’t rely on anyone else, which is the same way I’ve sold thousands of copies of my steampunk novels without the gatekeeping of big publishing or agents.

And the best part is, any quality comic creator could come, show up, make the deal and make it happen, as it has been since September lsat year. The only reason the clique on twitter won’t acknowledge it is because of a few YouTubers who don’t even represent 1% of the market share. Those YouTubers are bitter and don’t want a solution so they can keep complaining about problems. Stop listening to YouTubers who don’t care about comics, and start producing and paying attention to the actual solutions in the industry.

You can get Flying Sparks on Amazon or through the Arkhaven Bookstore direct. I ran out of my initial print run, but it’s still available cuz of this awesome distribution system–and even better, we’re able to charge lower prices than I originally anticipated because of it. Check it out and pick up the book now.

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SFWA’s Bizarre Stance Of Supporting Targeted Harassment Of Children

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Over the past year, I’ve applied to join the Science Fiction Writers of America three times. In theory, the organization is supposed to be a group that supports professional sci-fi writers, in assisting with medical insurance, providing access to net-galley reviews for releases, and being a community of writers who sell above a certain threshold.

For those unaware, the threshold is 3 short story sales at 6 cents a word or higher, or having a single work make $5,000.

I’ve qualified by both of these measures several times, most notably through my indiegogo campaigns last year which made $31K and $24K respectively.

I’ve made it a point to apply each time I re-qualify with this group because I qualify and because it’s my right to do so in a free society. As a 501c3 non-profit, they’re supposed to stick to their charter, be a group about advancing professional writers and shouldn’t be playing politics with the org.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with this crop of officers. It’s beyond even the hyper-partisan politics that hits most of the culture war, the petty personal politics these women engage in is beyond anything I’ve seen since high school. They are willing to say anything in order to exclude from the cool kids table, as you probably suspected from the title of this post.

They have a form letter for rejecting my applications on non-qualifying grounds at this point (since I duly qualify a hundred times over), which says the same thing, most notably saying that I can’t be allowed in because “I accuse members of doxxing my children.”

You’d think an organization like this when children are doxxed and there’s an accusation would reach out to try to talk to me about it, since that is a frightening thing to have associated with an organization, as someone harassing children on the internet is about the most awful thing anyone can do. However, they give tacit approval of what’s been done (I’ve never received an apology) because of whose children it’s done to.

I believe part of the reason many of the officers of SFWA have such failed careers in selling books is because their characters don’t ring true. The reason is, if they don’t understand how outraged a parent would get to have some freak on the internet posting his children’s medical information, and believe they should be targeting the parent victim in that instance over that, they don’t understand parenting at all. Because they don’t have the life experiences that most average people have with parenting, as most of these are people without children, and therefore it’s impossible to create characters who relate. Their stories ring false to average people as a result.

But I digress, the problem is what’s going on here. It’s absolutely disgusting. SFWA should immediately offer an apology to me, the victim of having my child harassed on the internet. Which I did not accuse their “members” of doxxing, but I know the instance came from a fan of their president Cat Rambo, when she waged a personal hate campaign against me to smear me across the internet. During the time she relentlessly posted to tell people to disassociate with me, unfriend me, etc., taking to private messages to professionals who were associated with me to try to force this “you choose him or me” nonsense even with her public attacks, someone made anonymous twitter accounts and posted to my blog with my child’s medical information to try to scare me. It directly came from her attacks, and absolutely came from one of her friends or fans.

I emailed Ms. Rambo at the time to say look, I get you don’t like me, but this is too far. No one will threaten harm to my children. You do not want to mess with me on this level. Tell your people to back the fuck off (and I did use strong language with this because this is a child we’re talking about).

Ms. Rambo did not do so. She let this transpire, let people harass me because she has a petty personal vendetta against me.

And now this has transfered over to what once was an esteemed organization, now for the second time in half a year, supporting the harassment of children over political squabbles by attempting to harm the victim rather than doing the right thing and condemning such actions. Which they still should do — your one job is to support professional writers, SFWA. One job.

It’s disgusting. They can’t understand how angry this makes me as a parent, as a man. Someone taking this action is so vile, so awful, and for them to voice approval of it in the way they did and stick a middle finger at me for being angry about having my child harassed? It’s unbelievable. And so I’ll spread the news far and wide because it needs to be heard.

SFWA owes me an apology, a big one.

I’ve been trying to fix the industry and Make Science Fiction Fun Again for two years, but every time I try to do so, these creeps escalate political battles. But they can’t stop me from putting out fun material and going around them even the same. Check out my short fiction anthology where I have a breadth of different FUN sci-fi stories.

 

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10 Books Every New Sci-Fi Reader Should Read

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I was asked the other day by a reader where someone should start with sci-fi. There’s a lot of good books out there, but these are 10 which can give you a nice smattering of what sci-fi is. I didn’t include fantasy, but there’s a couple of books which skirt the line of fantasy from a sci-fi perspective. They’re mostly classics, they;’re not necessarily my top 10 favorite books, but each and every one of these is worth the read and especially for newer readers will paint a nice picture.

They’re not in a particular order, so I hope you enjoy.

Robert Heinlein – The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress 

An easy classic. Heinlein has to be on the list and this is his best book by far. Moon is rebelling against the Earth, doesn’t want to be governed from a far, and wants a more open society with libertarian leanings cuz they’ve learned from past mistakes.

Anne McCaffrey – Dragonflight 

The Dragonriders of Pern is very interesting. It’s fantasy on the surface but it has underpinnings of sci-fi as people on dragonback fight off spores that fall from the sky called “thread.” Very interesting stuff and the series as a whole is a wonderful world.

Lois McMaster Bujold – The Warrior’s Apprentice

This entire series is gold. Here, Miles Vorkosigan starts as a failed military cadet due to physical flaws as it looks like it’s going into a military sci-fi series, but each book is so different, has cool sci-fi concepts. Miles ends up being like a scrawny James Bond with the intellect of Sherlock Holmes as he progresses through the series. I can’t pick one in the series really that’s better than the series as a whole, but this is a good one because its’ the first Miles character adventure.

Edgar Rice Burroughs – A Princess Of Mars

The John Carter series really defines manly adventure. He goes from situation to situation in a cool world that’s out of control cool.

Frank Herbert – Dune

Dune is really the epic fantasy in space. It’s your Game of Thrones but better as you delve into the world of Arakis and the geopolitics of the entire universe here. It’s so big it’s impossible to really describe in a couple of sentences, but it’s one of the best books ever written.

Ensign Flandry – Poul Anderson

I wasn’t sure which book of Poul’s to put on here because there’s so many excellent concepts, but from a fun perspective, starting with Flandry won’t steer you wrong. Earth’s empire is in decay, and it’s being accelerated by an enemy called the Mersians who are just picking at the outer fringes. Flandry needs to put a stop to a plot of theirs to take over a world wtih intelligent life.

Spider Robinson – Stardance 

This is an underrated classic I can’t believe doesn’t get more attention. A dance troupe is formed who wants to perform zero-G dance and start a new art form, aliens take notice. The character depth and the attention to detail on how dance in space would actually work makes this novel one of the best out there.

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

One you probably heard of. Zany sci-fi concepts to make you LOL all the way through. This is humor all the way as Earth has been declared a demolition zone for galactic imminent domain.

Jack Vance – The Dying Earth

Technically a series of short stories, this book really has a crazy beautiful world. The sun’s exhausted, everything’s falling apart, just the attention to the setting across these stories is incredible.

Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles

This is another fix up of short stories which flow together that show man’s colonization of Mars. It’s got a nice mix of action/adventure with the “science problem” style fiction so it’s enjoyable on a lot of levels and because it’s a bunch of shorts, you get a nice smattering of different stories.

And if you already like sci-fi, this list, or just want to try out something new, you can get my book Make Science Fiction Fun Again. I wrote a book of short stories that are all over the map in sci-fi, so there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy, but with a focus on FUN and WONDER like the old books listed above. Grab it on Amazon.

 

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