Over On Declan Finn’s Blog…

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It’s not every day you get to take over a famous author’s blog. I’ve actually done so a few times in my coming onto the writing scene (hello to those readers who are here because of that!), and each time so far it’s come with a pretty specific “write about this” guideline.

Last night, I had the honor of being able to post on Dragon Award nominated horror writer Declan Finn’s blog. He’s just released the 3rd book in his Love at First Bite series and will be rereleasing his Catholic adventure thriller novels later this year, which I’m very excited to get an opportunity to read. This assignment came with a “write whatever you want” instruction.

An open ended world, no rules! This is difficult for an author. I find we work a little better under constraints. I hemmed and hawed over what to write, how to differentiate it from my standard posts on my own blog. I was told Declan likes to write about art, culture, film, music, things that I don’t touch on very often over here. That gave me an idea.

Of course, as a serious science fiction author, when an opportunity like this strikes, I know I must put my best foot forward. I have to show utmost professionalism if I’m going to be respected within the writing community and by potential readers. This writing is not just a reflection on me, but a reflection on a great author like Declan Finn. Blogs like this are how a person like me earns trust. It’s a heavy burden in a lot of ways. I have one chance for these authors and readers to see who I truly am, and for them to understand that I am worthy of their ranks, that I understand who the audience is and what they stand for.

So I decided to write about generic Japanese cartoons aimed at teenage girls: http://www.declanfinn.com/2017/02/generic-shoujo-garbage-i-think-i-love.html?m=1

(I’ll also be appearing on Declan’s radio show on Sunday. Stay tuned for details!)

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And The Award Goes To…

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…a few books I read this last month!

If you thought I was going to talk about a bunch of people in LA giving accolades to themselves, sorry not sorry. I don’t care about that. What I am doing is launching a concept in which others have done many times in the past, and I am going to continue in that tradition. I’m going to choose three books of recommendations per month based on what I’m reading and go from there.

The Correia has his “Book Bomb” in which he promotes a book to something up in the ratings and gives it a shout out. Since a bomb is a large blast, I’m going with Book Blast! More like a frag grenade that hits a few targets in an area. I’ll title the others such in the future, but I figured I’d clickbait ya’all on this first one.

And so, presented without mistake, The Jon Del Arroz Super Special February Book Blast Awards go to…

Marina Fontaine – The Product.  A short novella, really fast read. It’s dystopian, it’s poignant, it’s fun. Great characters to latch onto, I read it in like an hour. Totally worth the read.



Peter Grant – Take The Star Road (based on the audio presentation). Love this narrator. He did Peter Grant’s Brings The Lightning last year, which was my favorite piece of fiction in 2016. Peter’s books are fantastic for audio — simple to follow, single perspective, paced nicely. They’re made for that format in my opinion. This series is about a guy who leaves Earth to become a space trader, learning the ropes as an apprentice on a cargo vessel. It’s very procedural, really feels like you’re there learning as he goes through his adventure. I liken it to Nathan Lowell’s Quarter Share, but there’s a bit more action to it.  This is an older book in that there’s 5 in the series now, but the audiobook just came out and grabbed my attention. I’m McLovin’ it.


And finally, rounding up with some non-fiction, Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson. I’ve been pushing this book hard on social media, via my reviews, and on this blog. It changed my life and opened my eyes to so much of science fiction and fantasy that I hardly knew existed before. The book is an analysis of Dungeon & Dragons appendix in the back of the original 1970s book that listed its influences. It’s like a primer on how to write fun books and what to look for. Alternatively, if you’re a gamer, how to run a fun RPG and what to look for.


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I Ain’t Buying Comics Anymore

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To which I mean I’m completely done with single issue comic pamphlets. They make a mess, they get all over, hard to store reasonably, there’s not really much collector value long term, as I’m not going to want to revisit most of these stories in 20-30 years or whatnot. And even then, things that are hot now might be quarter bin like Spawn or Gen13.

Next, there’s not a single book out there (barring some random indie ones, don’t leave comments listing “but this–” please) that actually tells a story in a single issue or makes any attempt at it anymore. Everything’s built around 5-7 issue arcs. So you might as well get a graphic novel at that point. It’s just a waste, and 20 pages, as comics have been shortened to, with the modern cinematic style, don’t convey nearly enough information like the Golden/Silver age of comics to get you invested in a story enough to want to do it monthly. You’ll get a short part where Spider-man steps in dog poo and then heads out and then the issue ends. And then next issue he might be at the laundromat before something happens. By the time the next month rolls around there’s nothing to leave an impression enough for you to follow the story from where it left off (which is why they do recaps every issue now).

Graphic novels are the way to go. They’re more efficient, I can sit and do it in one reading, and that’s that.

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Do Away With The NEA

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A friend of mine wrote a very well thought out, passionate response to the funding cuts for the NEA, and why we should consider keeping it. I wrote a response which I thought was worth sharing with you, my readers, and here it is:

As an artist myself, I’m happy that the NEA is going away. Like most bloated government agencies, what’s called bi-partisan ends up with a product that is only single partisan, and that partisan is to push a certain social and statist agenda that’s been growing in our country since it’s inception. Since its mission and results have been to propagate that direction in culture, as we’ve seen the non-government funded go completely full tilt toward that sort of product, there seems to be no point in the mission, even for a cup of coffee a day cost. I don’t want to have to artificially compete against that content for one. 

The new counter culture actually comes from people like me, people of whom the NEA would never hire in a million years or never give a grant to produce my art. I wrongthink. They, in all they do, want to censor my wrongthink. They do not, as a consequence, have my support.

But there’s a bigger reason than that I that it’s unnecessary. Small independent magazine start ups, independent filmmakers, independent music makers all exist in droves via kickstarter and indiegogo. Youtube is revenue now. These independent works, if they have sufficient quality have an outlet now, have their own platforms of distribution. They don’t need gatekeepers that judge the art correct by government standards to receive a grant. This isn’t the old days where there’s 5 channels to choose from and that’s it. I’m happy to support the arts via that, like Cirsova Magazine right now is doing a fantastic job. But I’d rather spend my cup of coffee there.

Yes, I think I’m perfectly capable of making my own determination of what art is good for me.

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Great Strides

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If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that my family is very active in supporting the Cystic Fibrosis foundation. This medical charity is honestly more important to me than anything else, writing career included. We do a lot to donate and support this charity as a family.

If you’re not familiar with the condition, it’s a genetic disorder that affects approximately 30,000 Americans. It scars and destroys the lungs and the pancreas until a victim can no longer breathe or process fats, and they end up drowning in their own mucus as the lungs lose function. There’s very little in the world more horrifying than this. It’s a ticking time bomb over years.

With the help of the CF Foundation, years has become decades. When I was growing up, I had a friend with this condition and he was told that he’d be lucky if he’d live til 18. The treatments they’ve found has extended life pretty well, with average lifespans now being in the 30s. Still too young, still too horrible.

Just last year a genetic treatment was developed for some mutations of this (not all yet) that actually curbs the destructive symptoms in many of the patients. I am optimistic that we will eventually find a genetic cure for this, and that’s why I throw my full support to the foundation.

My wife is coordinating a team walk, as she does every year, of which I’ll be participating of course (though due to login issues I don’t show up as a member of the team at the moment). If you would be willing to chip in for Samantha Del Arroz, it would be appreciated.



And please share around. Let’s end this terrible disease.

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Geekchats: The Man Who Makes Amazon Bestsellers Redux

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Last week, I mentioned I would have Jason Rennie, editor and publisher of Superversive Press, the http://www.superversivesf.com website, SciPhi Journal and the infamous Forbidden Thoughts anthology that propelled several authors into bestseller status on Amazon. He is the creative genius of the future, one who I’m reliable told that Dragon Award Winning Author Brian Neimeier has referred to as a “Nexus” for all things sci-fi.

I ended up having strep throat, which curbbed my speaking ability for a bit. So we’re going live this week instead: Friday, Feb. 24th 2016, 11:30 PM PST.

I’m going to pick his brain and find out what in his mind makes for greatness.

Watch here:

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But, Aren’t You Worried You Don’t Look Professional?

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In my life, I’ve heard a lot of hoobaloo among the traditional publishing crowd about looking professional, and how imperative that is toward the respect one attains in the writing business. I remember some years ago, when a budding writer friend of mine messaged me in a flurry of panic about how she couldn’t wear cosplay to conventions, because editors or agents or big name writers might see her, and retain a mental image in their mind that she was firmly in the “fan” category and not the “professional” category.  I think, from a traditional legacy perspective of the gatekeepers in fiction, she’s not wrong. Continue reading

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Oh, It’s Just The Press Being Diligent…

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If you thought Big Media / Big Tech fake news was something innocuous, MSNBC had quite the slip up this morning:

He could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.” — MSNBC contributor on the air today.  

It’s not about #Resist it’s not about #NotMyPresident it’s not about anything reasonable or thought out. It’s not grass roots, they are actively attempting to control what you think and consider it their job.

When Zuckerberg rambles about fake news, it means that the narrative didn’t work. When normal people co-opt the word to mean actual fake news, they panic.

It’s never about bringing you reliable information. You have to dig for yourself for that now. Everything any of these big agencies say are colluded for messaging and promoting an agenda. And watch out, these bannings from social media because you say something contrary are just beginning.

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I’m done!

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Finished up my pass on For Steam and Country and sent it off to be edited and prettied up. It turned out very nicely. I think it may be even more fun than Rescue Run, if that’s possible. The concept is that a teenaged girl finds out that her father is dead and that she’s inherited an airship, only to find an invading army nipping at her heels to try to steal it and take her hostage.

It’s super fun, I’ll write more on it as it gets closer. In a lot of ways it’s a love letter to Final Fantasy and I’m excited to get it out to you guys.

One quick fun thing is I made title burbs at the beginning of every chapter that slowly unfolds the background of how a lot of the side characters got to chapter 1. I made up my own date system for my fantasy world, and I actually for one line in there spent over an hour figuring out how much time passed during the novel to make sure it’s internally consistent for that. There’s no way for a reader to verify it, but it does satisfy my OCD as a writer.

Stay tuned for more updates on For Steam and Country. For now, check out Star Realms: Rescue Run if you haven’t. If you have, leave a review. If you’ve done that, vote for it for Best Military Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Dragon Awards. If you’ve done that, I LOVE YOU! 🙂

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Big Tech Is Not Your Friend

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Many of you are going to be reading this via Facebook or Twitter when this blog hits. These networks, as big as they are, are dangerous tools that are propagating a narrative to you. There’s been a lot of chatter lately about what these giants are going to do to “stop trolling” or “stop the spread of fake news”. You can look those up yourself if you haven’t already seen it. What all of those comes down to is that these sites are putting moderators in charge of what you see in an attempt to influence what you believe. This is direct fascist-style propaganda tactics. It’s not the President being mean to CNN. He hasn’t shut them up in the least, and they have no fear of saying anything — they’ve doubled down so hard it’s unbelievable. There’s no censorship there, quite the opposite. Real censorship is the mega-corporate giants who control the platforms telling you what reality is.

The scoop:
This morning, a good friend of mine linked a blog that talked about Milo in a positive fashion on Facebook. I watched as I chatted with him in messenger as one by one, his messages to me disappeared as “flagged for spam by facebook.” A few minutes later, his account disappeared. A few minutes after that, he let me know that he’d been locked out and doesn’t even know what to do about it.

Continue reading

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