Where The Heck Is Jon?

Hello there loyal readers. I am quite sorry that this is the first time in… well, since you probably started reading that I haven’t had at least a blog a day up during weekdays, and that I’ve left you hanging for two straight days.  That’s not very nice of me!

I mentioned my LibertyCon schedule a couple of days ago — and I decided to fly out to Tennessee a couple days early and be a tourist. Last night I went to the Grand Ole Opry, the wonderful radio show that’s been going on for 80+ years. Saw some great acts, including and not limited to The Charlie Daniels Band. They were phenomenal, and Charlie is one heck of a performer.

He played this song last night, and it was legit:

 

I also really enjoyed one of the opening acts, Lindi Ortega, for a totally different mood:

 

Today I’m off to Graceland, and I’m going to see a bluegrass show at the ORIGINAL building for the Grand Ole Opry, at a nice little theatre built a hundred and fifty years ago.  Then LibertyCon tomorrow.

So that’s where I went. I’m having fun. But I’m writing a lot too 🙂 . See you soon!

Social Media Strategy: Crowd Source Fun Things!

Something I do that’s different that I don’t see a lot of other authors do is crowd sourcing. “How do you crowd source books?” one might ask.

I actually do it fairly regularly. I give my readers voices in what blogs they want to see and what I’ll write about if I have multiple ideas, usually taking the most votes for what I write on that day. I also give a little bit of say in my fiction.

When I was finishing up For Steam And Country, I actually had several names I liked for the book. The original title was simply The Adventures of Baron Von Monocle, which I later determined to be better as a series title. I also used Zaira’s Airship, but I didn’t want to deail with people having to try to spell “Zaira” and “Del Arroz” at the same time Amazon. Trust me, no one would have ever found my book!

So I had a few good titles, For Steam And Country in my opinion was the strongest of that, but really at the end of the day a title, it’s most important what the readers like. So I put up a poll. I threw down a few other names I thought of, and it was actually a pretty tight vote, but For Steam And Country won out, and now you have that as the title of the book!

Today, I’m doing it for my space opera. I’ve got a character and I was interested in what name sounded best for an alient supporting character female. It’s a little thing, but my readers actually have a small say in what happens in my book.

Now does this do much? I don’t know. People seem to like it. Every time I run one of these I get more people voting than the last.  Which is engagement on social media, which means at the very least, people are paying attention and remember. That’s not a bad thing. At the most, someone got to help shape my book and that means they’re going to be more passionate about the final product.

It lets me interact with folk as well, which is fun. And fun is what counts.

There’s all these social media marketing books out there, and i’m sure most of them would be telling me I’m doing it wrong, but it keeps seeming to work. Try it, let me know what you think of the engagement!

Chirs Kennedy’s Asbaran Solutions on Audio!

Really not posting this for any other reason other than I’m excited to listen to this. I loved Book 1 in this universe, written by Mark Wandrey, and since I did that on audio, I like to follow the stories in the same format. This just came out, and I’m super pumped to listen. My audiobook queue is getting as long as my reading queue now! Check it out here. Folk who like my stuff will probably love this:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071GD4MLM

Writing Blog – On Character Voice and Perspective

I know I said I wasn’t going to write a blog today, but I just got the best compliment probably I’ve ever received. I was told by a reader that For Steam And Country in terms of prose, writing, tone looked NOTHING like Star Realms: Rescue Run. The reader couldn’t believe it was written by the same person.

How is that a compliment, you ask?

Here’s why, and here’s what’s important for writers:

I’ll note it wasn’t about the quality of the work, as the reader said they are enjoying both. It’s all about drilling into a perspective for a character. I actually spend a lot of time and work thinking about the character ahead of time, planning things out, coming up with details of their lives — especially with perspective characters. This gets repeated at a lot by folk in writing classes, but you really should know the little things like “what will this character say if they bump their knee on a coffee table when they get up in the middle of the night?”  Those little things, and being consistent with them, make for a good character that feels more real to a reader, allowing them to connect.

If you look at my lead female characters in Star Realms vs. For Steam And Country, there’s some similarities but major differences:

  • Joan is ex-military, therefore she’s had a very rigid and formalized training structure, where Zaira has grown up all on her own on a farm.
  • Zaira grows her own food, has a pet animal, and is also a LOT younger (16) so still has a little “bright eyes toward the future” element about her.
  • Joan relies on an AI for a lot of her work, being from a futuristic society, not as much in with the manual labor elements of a fantasy society.
  • Zaira’s got a best friend pal she’s grown up with and is dealing with hormonal changes in how she views that relationship.
  • Joan is more educated than Zaira is.

These all seem like very easy to make observations that won’t impact much, bjut it will inform the way they talk, act, and think. Zaira uses shorter sentences with less of a vocabulary — and that includes outside of the dialogue as the book is writtien her perspective. She’s also more excitable and more prone to emotionally react in the way she narrates.

I start with these differences in the draft, and i go back and do a special editing pass just for word choices, sentence structures, the way they talk to make them feel like a unique person, thinking about the curses they use (or don’t), phrases and sayings that they utter, it’s all very important and it shapes their stories.

Hope this was helpful to someone out there! Right now I’m in the middle of wirting about a man who grew up in a religious institution who has a body filled with nanites that create weapons and armor to his will. I bet you he’ll feel even more different than these two gals do 🙂

New Federalist Article: The Alt-Tech Revolution

I’ve written about this before in one of my more popular blog posts: Big Tech is NOT your friend. We have to stop giving the companies that mine our data, track us, and then use that information to propagandize and silence our voices. It’s going to be the only way to enact change long term and make the culture a safe place for us and our children. We saw today the results of the SJWs getting increasingly radicalized by the fake news, propagated by Silicon Valley elites. You can read about the different options here:

http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/14/keep-online-browsing-unfiltered-political-propaganda/

Writing Advice For New Writers

Author and Editor (one of the best out there) Dario Ciriello wrote a nice guest post on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog this morning on writing advice:

The push to force everyone into a one-size-fits-all template began in Hollywood and is now rampant in the publishing industry. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of good people on the creative side of traditional publishing, readers and editors who really care about storytelling and discovering new authors. But they’ve been sipping the Kool-Aid too, right along with the authors of all the writing books, websites, and blogs which parrot the same, tired dogma to writers desperate to publish. And although there’s plenty of excellent advice out there, so much of it is buried among mountains of generalization, dross, and sheer nonsense that most writers learning their craft learn only to march in lockstep. Before long, they’re churning out the same cookie-cutter fiction as everyone else.

You can check out the whole thing here. I’ve read his whole book, Drown The Cat, which is available for preorder. It’s great advice for newer writers, espeically compared to all the books out there that tell you the same thing to make you write the same as everyone else. Be your own voice. That’s what Dario teaches and it’s about the most important thing you can learn.

Gorilla Mindset – It Really Works

This is more a reflection on the book Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich and what it’s done to me than a straight review of the book. I’ve applied it, and shown how it’s been applied. How you utilize it will be your story. But this book actually allows for that more than many others,which is why I think it’s valuable to discuss in that way.

I usually hate self-help motivation type of books. I find that the whole concept is trite and a little demeaning.  In October of last year, however, I picked up Mike Cernovich’s Gorilla Mindset, as I really enjoyed the content that he was providing on periscope and twitter, and wanted to support his independent investigative journalism in the wake of a lockstep fake news media that can’t seem to get its head out of its butt enough to notice anything about corruption in Big News, Big Entertainment, Big Media, or Big Tech.

Gorilla Mindset is a light book, don’t get me wrong here. It’s fast to read, it’s simple, almost deceptively so at first, but what you’ll find is Cernovich has a the right of his whole concept: mindset is reality. Now, 9 months after reading his book, I’ve held a lot of his little lessons with me and applied them whether consciously or subconsciously to get to where I am.

I used to be afraid to speak, afraid of what I’d write, afraid that people would reject or view my writings as something that wasn’t worth their time. You probably have felt this way yourself, and actually that’s part of a social trick that ends up being a form of gatekeeping that starts in your mind. Cernovich starts his book out with “to get more out of life, you must get more out of yourself. You must take personal responsibility for your thoughts and emotions. You must stop blaming the system. The days of looking outside yourself for answers are gone.”  It’s counterintuitive, because there are so many road blocks set up along the way to make an impossible barrier to entry for anyone in any field, but as cheesy as it sounds, it comes down to believing.

I wrote a post on Facebook the other day about how I used to take this fearful attitude toward guest posts and interviews. I was very cautious, and my answers and writing came across as wooden and stilted as a consequence. This translated to my early fiction works as I worried too much about impressing agents and editors – gatekeepers who can sniff out that lack of confidence in writing as sure as anyone can see it in a job interview. Overcoming that, believing in myself, setting myself up for success and believing I was going to be a success was everything.

Gorilla Mindset helped push me there. I don’t know what it was, I can hardly pinpoint the direct lines that motivated me, but I do know it came from this book, along with some helpful support along the way from some awesome sci-fi and fantasy authors in the field who showed me they cared. It triggered something inside of me that let me say: go out there and just be honest. That will resonate.  I had to tell myself that every day in the early days since coming out of the closet as a free speech warrior. Those tricks that Cernovich talks about in his book – talking to yourself in the mirror, tricking your mind into a new psychology, it’s very important, actually. It works 100%.

You do have a choice. You can say I’m aspiring at this or that, and believe you’re not as good as anyone else, believe that you don’t have value, be frustrated with the results. Or you can show up every day and say “hey, I have something valuable to say/do. People will respect that because they’ll respect my results.” There’s no difference in outcomes of events, no difference in what goes on around you, just a difference in what happens internally.  Use the tricks Cernovich teaches: never call yourself names, never assume there’s no bouncing back from strife. Minimize your defeats. Maximize your victories. Take pride in little things.

All of this is in the book. I especially appreciate the little morning mental exercises he offers to keep your mind fresh. I do these almost every morning and come at the day from a much sharper perspective than I used to – which is how I generate these blogs in the early morning.

Look, I’m not any more special than I was a year ago. I had books and stories written with very few people reading. This blog used to get 3-5 clicks per day, now it gets over a thousand.  My books are selling, I’m doing valuable journalism whistleblowing on bad practices in the entertainment industry, and great outlets like the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog and The Federalist take my columns. I’m about to release another hit book, For Steam and Country. Heck, Cernovich himself has even linked my work to his hundreds of thousands of followers, many of whom have come to me and told me how much they appreciated it.  It all began with mindset, sitting down and saying I’m gonna work and it’s gonna be good.

Be strong like the gorilla, like Harambe before he knew too much.

Gorilla Mindset is a quick read, and it’ll pay off down the line even more than it does immediately. Stick with it, it’ll be worth it for you.

Chris Cornell Tribute

Going to have a pretty busy day but wanted to acknowledge all the beautiful music Chris Cornell brought me. I actually found his 1999 solo album to be the best. Saw him with a backing band in 2001 and he was inspiring both vocally and on guitar. Some of the last true rock ‘n roll: