Words From The Wise

“Anyone accusing another of being ‘unchristian’ for disagreement on political, philosophical, or abstract matters uses the Name of the Lord in vain. Accusations will be deleted and accusers banned without further notification.”  – John C Wright (on the sidebar for the rules of his blog).

I firmly believe and agree with this. And will be instituting this here and on social media walls immediately. Heresy will no longer be tolerated.

It’s Time To Burn The Ships In Publishing

I still have a few readers out there who have zero concerns over entertainment industry blackballing issues. They’re firmly planted in the “it can’t happen to me” mentality, where “it’s okay” because “Trump supporters are mean!” or some nonsense. This is where most people would talk about fascism, but that word is losing all of its meaning these daysl, and that’s not actually fascist behavior in that instance. It IS communist totalitarian behavior, however. Which is in a lot of ways worse, as that form of government killed a lot more people, but for some reason we don’t talk about that in internet rants.

Before I get too far off topic dissecting different forms of evils that you don’t care about, I’ll get back to one you do: I learned that there is an author who had a manuscript rejected because multiple agents said this person “culturally appropriated” and that the author “doesn’t have the authority” to talk about this project.

That’s right. The piece was good, it would have been fine, but the problem is it would have had to come from a non-white author. 

The agents actively discriminated against an author because they are white. A white writer was told to censor what that person writes and that it’s not welcome in the industry because of solely whiteness.

Before you think this is an isolated incident in the entertainment industry, let me refer you to a couple of matters of blackballing that I’ve already uncovered in my personal experience and my investigative journalism. It’s constant. Conservatives cannot get jobs in the entertainment industry. Men now have problems getting jobs in publishing (to the point where I know several who have taken female pen names to get ahead, and it’s worked) and now apparently whites are unwelcome.

And this has been talked about a lot recently. Look up “cultural appropriation” with sci-fi authors and you’ll see the usual suspects of big name writers virtue signaling about it while doing whatever they want in their own writing. They want to shut you out and hold onto their status by lecturing you, even though half of them are hacks who only got there because of politics. It’s like the big Hollywood actors who go nuts about global warming, then guzzle fuel on their yachts and private planes. This hypocrisy happens in writing too.

But the end result of this “cultural appropriation” craze is that there’s no place for a white writer. I’ve been told by several editors to change names so that it has a “more diverse representation”. In essence, I’m told that I can’t put in a western civilization caucasian culture through names (of course, as a Hispanic writer, I may be culturally appropriating that now that I think about it…). If you can’t write that, and you can’t write other cultures, the logical conclusion is you’re NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE.

This is crazy in the land of the free, censoring what can be said and told only by certain segments of the population. It’s gotten so far out of hand that I’m to the point where I’ve advocated against gatekeepers before: but I think it’s high time writers write-off all traditional publishing. If this is the end result, you cannot create what you want, you cannot think the way you think, you cannot have been unfortunate to be born with a certain skin color, you cannot worship God and be outspoken about it, you cannot vote the wrong way and have it be known. That’s a lot of cannots! And that mentality is squashing the pool of artistic talent out there, as well as killing sales. Readers don’t want to be told what’s appropriate for them to read either.

I talked to an agent the other day about these issues and how for the simple crime of speaking out, there’s only one publisher who is ever even remotely likely to pick my work up at this juncture, and the agent didn’t disagree. What troubles me is that the agent didn’t seem to think that was a problem. For a debut novel, I actually had sales pretty respectable by traditional publishing forms. Last week I had an article that hundreds of thousands of people read and enjoyed. I should be on everyone’s radar. Reviews are all positive, and there’s a lot of them. Readers like my fiction and even more readers like my thoughts and journalism.

So why would a middleman go against their best business interests like that?

It all comes down to blackballing again. And here’s where I call to you writers: burn the ships and don’t look back.

By which I mean get rid of these middlemen and gatekeepers who have this mentality. You don’t need them. You don’t need the contract they offer you to be legitimate in the world today. Amazon, evil corporate monopoly that it is, has leveled the playing field and gotten rid of all barriers to entry. A “real” publisher won’t market you anyway — they don’t spend resources on new writers, only established brands. You’ll be left in the wind there as much as you are on your own, but without control of your own product, and receiving a lower percentage on every sale for your work. There is literally no benefit to these middlemen’s existence. They are only there to tell you what you’re allowed to write and what readers are allowed to read. Their opinions might not even match up with readers at all. 

You are a real writer. If you’re getting good feedback on your work, don’t hesitate. Put it out there. That’s the only way to get ahead: especially if you’re white, male, Christian, conservative, any or all of those things. They gatekeepers hate you for who you are, and it doesn’t matter how good your work is. Stop giving those Christaphobic racist, sexist bigots validation by seeking yours through them.

Charity Auctions For Cystic Fibrosis

I’ve mentioned the CF foundation before, and appreciate the generous contributions of friends and readers. My lovely and elegant wife is running some charity auctions featuring some cool jewelry, baseball tickets, even a backyard bbq! If you’re interested, please check this out here: https://www.facebook.com/teamMGD/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

If you’re not familiar with CF, it’s a very nasty lung disease where patients develop mucus non-stop — think feeling congested like you’re sick to an extreme every day of your life. Now while it’s healthy in a normal person, it has negative effects as the thick mucus blocks air passages, and ends up scarring and collapsing the lung. Just a decade ago, average lifespans for CF were in the teens, but with modern developments due to the foundation’s work, they’ve extended that big league. The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.

Every little bit helps. Thanks for taking the time to look. If you’d like to contribute directly, please do so here: http://fightcf.cff.org/site/TR/GreatStrides/98_Northern_California_San_Francisco?px=2758558&pg=personal&fr_id=5939

The Review You’ve Been Waiting For: Cirsova Magazine Issue 5

I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly Cirsova magazine delivered their product after their successful kickstarter a couple of months ago. Usually so much time goes by between kickstarted work that I’ve forgotten I’ve backed it before I received it. The paperback has a nice thick quality to it, big, a beautiful cover, great and professional aesthetic just on that front alone. It’s no wonder this magazine received a Hugo Award nomination.

Now to the stories!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always read short fiction magazines or anthologies in order, or even usually make it all the way through one without skipping a few stories. With Cirsova, I didn’t read in order — as I was extremely excited to read Schuyler Hernstrom’s novella after what I saw in Cirsova #2. His work “The First American” in this volume lived up to the hype I generated about Hernstrom’s work in my own mind (why aren’t more people talking about him?!).  I was thoroughly entertained the entire way through. I note that he very much likes the concept of having space tech having crashed on a fantasy world planet and implementing something from there, a fond reminder of his story in issue #2. That said, this work was wholly different and original, and well worth the read.

I was hesitant about this issue because I learned after I kickstarted that this was a themed work (unlike the other issues of Cirsova) revolving around a Lovecraftian world that Misha Burnett developed. My problem isn’t with Misha, who’s a fine writer, but with Lovecraft, as I’ve really never enjoyed much of his work or the Cthulhu mythos. I’m not much one for horror in general, only reading it very sparingly. Monsters in the dark don’t really appeal to me, as I like to read more positive things about humanity progressing to the stars.

Fortunately, my fears proved to be unnecessary. Misha actually created a very nice world and the authors, though using these Lovecraftian monsters as a backdrop, still told stories about heroes being heroes and good triumphing over evil. Misha’s own “In The Gloaming O My Darling” actually was the closest of the set to something of traditional Lovecraft horror, but the way it was presented with the characters was far more enjoyable than most of the other work I’ve read in that genre. He really told a classic short story very well with this one.

My other favorite was “The Queen Of Shadows” by Jay Barnson. This had a great heroic adventure to it that was extremely fun, with a Tarzan-esque main character performing rescue work in a city. I loved how this went. The pace was fantastic, villains challenging and it held my interest as one of the longer pieces in the magazine. I’ll be looking for more of his work later.

After the 6 tales of Eldtrich Earth, there were a couple of non-related stories. Adrian Cole’s “Killing in Karkesh” I believe is part of a serial he’s working on — I remember the star lance from issue #2, though I feel like it would have been better if I’d read all of the other stories leading up to it. At some point when I have time I will track down issues 3-4.  What surprised me was “The Bears of 1812” by Michael Tierney. I thought this was a silly title and I wouldn’t enjoy the historical fiction as much as the others — but it was really interesting. I like what he did with Sacagawea, and I haven’t researched  how accurate it is historically, but I did buy it as a short story, very satisfying.

Overall, I very much enjoyed. These were my favorites, but everything was solid as I’ve come to expect from Cirsova from reading issues 1-2. This magazine is well deserving of your Hugo consideration.

This Simple Health Tip Will Change Your Life!

Okay, so most y’all know that I love to poke fun at clickbait headlines that I see circulating on social media. This is another one of those. However, I do actually have something that’s been pretty big for me since I started the last month. I promise not to turn this into a regular food/health blog… you know, unless I get a lot of clicks on this… anyway…

I’ve had really bad acid reflux since I was about 14-15 years old. This is before I went into sedentary work environment and gained a bit of weight. Back then I was pretty healthy, and that just continued through the rest of my life. As many members of my family have it, and my grandfather actually died a pretty horribly slow and painful stomach cancer death, pretty sure it’s just hereditary digestive problems.

And I found a miracle cure.

I went to Jamba Juice on a whim when I was at spring training, as it was 90+ degrees out in AZ in early March and was happy to find anything to cool off. That’s where I discovered Ginger Shots. It sounded nasty — and it is nasty. Jamba puts in 1 oz. of Ginger Juice + 1 oz. of Lemon juice + Cayenne Pepper sprinkled on top. Yuck!

Only I ate like a disaster that day with beers and hot dogs at the baseball game — and I didn’t get heartburn.

I couldn’t believe it. I felt good. The next day I had no stomach issues. So I went to Jamba again and did the same thing for several days. I tested it through everything, and yes while this works better if I don’t eat a completely toxic diet, I found that my heartburn had pretty much gone away after a couple of weeks of this.  I had more energy and I felt better as well.

Target had a nice juicer on sale so while Jamba gives you completely fresh squeezed, it’s also not feasible to head out there and pay for that every day (though their pre-9 a.m. “happy hour” for $1 isn’t bad).  What I did was get a bunch of ginger root and squeeze the juice into a ketchup bottle I picked up at target, which gives me about 6-7 days worth of the juice. Same with the lemons. Then it’s just pouring it every morning. Easy.

I know there’s all sorts of actual scientific articles on lemon juice and ginger and cayenne, go look that up if you care. Just reporting what I tested and verified in me. Try it and see if it helps you!

Review: Excalibur by Tim Marquitz

 

 

Excalibur by Tim Marquitz had me at the cover, then I stayed for the wild rollercoaster ride of wall to wall action.

This book was pretty much everything i ever wanted out of a science fiction TV show in book form. The opening scene is pure action, reminding me of Babylon 5-  A Call To Arms with the main weapon that has to recharge. Then we get the cool phasing device that operates like a Romulan cloak. The captain Albion isn’t afraid of action, very much like Kirk or Kevin Sorbo’s character in Andromeda. He’s got an on again off again relationship that’s strained yet tense like we saw with Sisko and Yates in DS9. There’s an alien invasion that’s looming of creepy beasts that remind me of playing Halo. And finally, the crew banters back and forth like the finest moments of Firefly.

Though these aren’t directly referenced in any means, this is a definitely a unique and well detailed original world, Marquitz hits all of the high points that made for great moment in the television shows I listed and more. We have an estranged captain and ship, having to hide from his own human government while dealing with these aliens. It’s tense on all fronts, constant action with vivid ship battles and even some great ground combat thanks to their battle bot named Ares. The secondary cast and crew are very fun as well, each having their own unique flare to them. I can’t remember the last book where I remembered so many of the secondary characters, but in Excalibur, I feel like I got a glimpse of the whole crew like watching one of those 90s or 2000s space shows.

And with the pacing and the cool characters, it was extremely quick to read with that. This definitely felt like a “pilot” for a series where we get to see these characters again, and I for one can’t wait for it. I love the military culture in the book, the aliens, the romance the captain has with his former wife (which I’d like more details of!) and just about everything else. A fantastic ride from start to finish.

The way the plot unfolds is all about discovering what the aliens are up to, so I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s completely satisfying and I’m glad I picked this up and gave it a shot.

Don’t waste your time writing short stories!

As much as I see the authors waiting to get that agent or NY Publisher to pick them up, getting rejected over and over, even though their work is as good or superior to a lot of what Big Publishing puts out, I see authors trying to work the short story circuit in an attempt to “build up enough cred” that they’ll get noticed by one of these publishers.

It doesn’t work.

Now before I get a ton of comments saying “what about this person or this person” yes, there are exceptions to every rule. This is aimed at the vast majority of writers. I’m also not telling people to never write short stories. This is more targeted if your goal is 1. Exposure/Fame 2. Making money as an author from a newer writer perspective.  Obviously if you have stories to tell in short form, you have stories to tell in short form. As I write this, I am intentionally working on a short story which is already shaping up to be the best short I’ve ever written. I can’t wait to share it with you. But that said:

Submitting To Short Story Markets Is Even Harder Than Novels

It’s pretty easy to submit novels to a small press. Their overheads are not that high, to break even on a book isn’t all that hard. But short story markets are very small. There’s only a few “pro” paying presses, and they’re flooded with submissions. I’ve done a lot of slush reading for non-pro/token payments, and even those are overwhelmed. Your odds of getting a story published without being a friend of the editor, or someone with an established name is about 1/300. If you’re spending a couple weeks on a short story, taking that time even in non-pro markets, you’re going to get $50 for your work and very rarely at that. It’s not going to move the needle financially for you. Even if you manage to get in the Asimov/Analog queue, you’re still talking $250-300 and they’re only gonna publish a couple stories of yours per year, if that. Even long time folk who have gotten into that magazine get rejected more than not, and keep in mind they have a leg up on you because the editor has dealt with them before.

Then you go to the anthology market. Authors are invited for the most part to these. And usually they have 2-3 open “slots” for submissions. Pro-tip here: publishers use this as a marketing tactic to drum up interest for the anthology. Most writers are readers too, and it gets them exposure. You’re again a 1/300 shot at getting a slot there, and half the time those slots get filled by friends of the editor. If you’re not invited to begin with, you’re not in.

Frankly, for the investment and time, it’s not worth doing from that perspective. If your goal is to make money, the short story market is a disaster.

Your Story In An Anthology or Magazine Won’t Help You Build An Audience

Readers are fickle. There’s a reason why anthologies and mags get big names to headline them. There’s the hopes that BIG NAME will have their following buy the book, as there are completist collectors. That results in the vast majority of anthology/magazine sales. They do have some regular readers, but a lot less than you think. Here’s the main kicker though: just because you’re in a book with BIG NAME doesn’t mean people are going to read your story. Most the folk buying for that person are going to skip over other stories and just read the author they like. It’s a sad reality, but true. It’s very low help from a marketing perspective. You’d be better off trying to get people to find you through other means.

Publishers Are Looking For Novels.  For Practice—Write Novels.

The end goal if you’re not self-publishing and building an audience that way (which I recommend), is to have a publisher believe in you. If you have a few short stories out, so does everyone else. Publishers will want to see that you have completed long-form work that’s good, because that’s what sells. Short story collections don’t sell nearly as well, even big authors like Brandon Sanderson have their short story collections not do as well as their novels. For whatever reason, the novel is the preferred form of entertainment in reading and publishers know that. You may as well work on perfecting your craft in a way that’s going to be the most benefit financially to you and publishers in the future, by writing full length works.

As Sarah Hoyt said last week and I echoed, waiting to get that real contract is only going to slow your advancement down. If you spend all your time on short stories, it’s going to do the same. The market is what it is for now, and it’s possible it’ll eventually change. But get your full length works out there and keep writing them as fast as you can.

 

 

Your Friendly Neighborhood Sci-Fi Author: Too Hot For Twitter!

Received a ban this morning after changing my name to “Christ Follower Jon”. This follows a couple weeks ago when they got @PizzaPartyBen, the last interesting person on that site. I can take steps to get the account back, but do I want to? I don’t know.

There is a place where they don’t ban you for stupid stuff like posting Christian messages. That’s http://gab.ai  seriously sign up there. Disconverging from these big tech companies that hate you is so important.

Man Falsely Accused And Crucified – You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next!

But you should.

2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was executed unjustly, but he did not resist the fate. In fact, he came here to conquer death so that we all might have eternal life. After he was nailed up to the cross and tortured on the Friday before, a kind man offered his familial tomb for Jesus, an almost unheard of generosity in that culture. Jesus’s dead body was placed inside and they sealed it with a giant boulder and guards out front so that no one could steal the body.

Here’s what happened next, witnessed and spread by many people (Matthew 28: 1-10):

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

After three days, when he had to have been fully and completely dead, he raised from the grave and appeared before hundreds of people. Pretty incredible.

Here’s why (John 3:16-18):

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

I’m always happy to talk about this incredible real news and what it means, so are many of my friends. If you’re interested and want to learn more, please feel free to message and we’ll be sure to help. This is a glorious day to remember for the ages!

Last Day For Locus Award Nomination!

A lot of you have already been super helpful, but do be sure to write-in Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz for Best First Novel. You can do so here:

http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/2017/PollAndSurvey.html

I have a few other recommendations as well if you care to check out:

Best Novelette: “No Vacancy” By Bonnie Randall

Best Short Story: “Purytans” by Brad Torgersen

Best Publisher: Castalia House

Best Anthology:  “God, Robot” by Anthony Marchetta

Sci-Fi/Fantasy and all that there are simply too many great books for me to choose. Go vote! I know this form is a bit heavy on work, but you can make a difference as awesome SF/F readers!