The Awful Truth About Forgetting

Yeah I may have clikcbaited you a little bit with the title. But it worked. You’re reading. I’m not going to do a blog about forgetting (of which I really do have a terrible long-term memory),  but about a book titled The Awful Truth About Forgetting. I mentioned it briefly in the links in the blog yesterday, but it’s out today, by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

Jagi is really one of the kindest, coolest people in the entire industry. When I first came on the scene and I was outing the problems i was having, Jagi was the person who spoke to me, who helped me edit a couple of my posts so they were quality, who ensured her husband John promoted my novels on his excellent blog. She’s been there every step of the way for me in friendship, and is a true treasure of a person. I refer to her as the Patron Saint of Science Fiiction. She works hard on behalf of the genre and so selflessly, and that’s a large part of the reason i’ve pushed the Unexpected Enlightenment series.

The other part is that this is a YA wizard school series, but done a lot better than other books in the genre. It follows a girl named Rachel Griffin who is attending the Roanoke Academy for Sorcerous Arts. Rachel is all about her smarts and wits, which makes for a more compelling character than most.

The title of book four harkens back to the very first chapter of book one, which was titled The Unexpected Benefits of Remembering. Rachel prides herself on remembering everything, and so this volume should be filled with unexpected twists and turns like none other.

Check out the book, or the whole series if you haven’t. It’s out today.

https://www.amazon.com/Awful-Truth-Forgetting-Unexpected-Enlightenment-ebook/dp/B076J2MZPX/

And we’re doing a Facebook party this afternoon, where I’ll be participating and hanging out. It’ll be a lot of fun and there’s a ton of giveaways including books by me. Check it out if you’re on the platform.

It’s Okay To Be Male

Tor.com, a site that so egregiously banned from commenting one of the most popular minority authors in the field today (yours truly) for posting about actual on topic space opera during their #SpaceOperaWeek instead of playing their identity politics garbage, is back at it again. 

Today their writer urges a QUOTA on what you read based on demographic breakdowns.

He doesn’t look at the industry overall, which I did the legwork for him and it shows that in science fiction and fantasy, publishers are preferring women to publish  already, despite being only genre that’s even remotely got males working or reading in it (the others skew so far to women it’s absurd), it marks the only place men can read something geared toward them. But instead, he speaks of his own reading habits, in which he, as a man, preferred reading male authors.

The rest of the article goes on about how shameful he felt about it. Self-flagellating for a congratulations from the predominately female-controlled industry. Maybe it’ll get his books published. I guess that’s a marketing strategy.

I posit that he could do something shocking: read what he likes and not care what the demographic breakdown is. 

It’s totally normal for men to like books by men and actually this type of nonsense is why men are shamed into not reading at all, and as we know the real problem in literacy is men on average stop reading at an early age in our society. It’s because there’s so little content geared toward them and it’s been that way for decades.

Here’s the hard truth:

Men and women are different and therefore write differently.

I know. It’s shocking. We’re told we’re not allowed to say this. That men can be women, women can be men. There’s no difference. But that’s a lie. There is a huge difference in or biologies and therefore psychologies. The books written by women will on average end up different than  men as a result.

And it makes sense that every other genre, which is mostly filled with women readers and has mostly women writers. But Sci-Fi implementing that same quota base, as an action-adventure oriented genre, has caused sales to tank as, like many other industries taken over by SJWs, they told their own readers to buzz off — and continue to do so.

Male writers don’t get big publishers looking at them at all anymore. The odds are terrifying as I proved earlier this year. And so the sales have gone to self-publishing and indie. In some ways i shouldn’t warn a bigoted company like Tor about this by posting on it, lest they actually catch on and start to do something about their decline, but it’s sad to watch a man fall into this trap of apologizing to women he’s never wronged.

It’s okay to be male.

A sport that’s always been male-oriented is baseball. Check out my male-written Gravity Of The Game novella, which was compared by a reader to early Heinlein and is being talked about for Hugo nominations. You can read it here.

Can Gamma Male Protagonists Evoke Classical Pathos?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend last night as we were digging far too deeply into anime. Almost every anime show (especially those set in a high school environment, which is the majority of them), have male protagonists that are your classic gamma male archetype. They are socially awkward, especially around women. When encountered with women they go into a crazed frenzy, female worship, nosebleeds, slapstick failings. We’re supposed to root for them to get the girl in spite of their failures. And sometimes we do, but we can’t help but wince every time they enter the scene with their female counterparts, who are usually far more composed and cooler than they are.

The result is a different kind of emotion than we receive from a more heroic character. When an alpha or beta protagonist confronts problems, we get the feeling of the basic human instinct overcoming dilemmas, whether they be spiritual or physical, and it fills us with a sense that uplifts us emotionally to a place where we strive to be something better than ourselves, or at least our thoughts are provoked in a direction to where we discuss the merits of certain values. Whatever that may be, that is the true sense of pathos that gets evoked from a good story with such a protagonist.

But with the gamma, we are still in the wince mode, hoping that he can get through the situation unscathed. If he does, we don’t exactly feel fulfilled after watching or reading the work. I believe this is part of the reason so many animes or mangas give us a feeling of let down with the ending, making a cool concept imminently forgettable when they don’t need to be.

My friend brought up another classic example of the gamma: The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is very non-confrontational, hiding, stalking, unable to interact at the basic human level. We feel pity for him, but we feel no true sense of pathos to where we as an audience are uplifted by it. It’s tragic to watch, and horrific, and though the musical is quite well done, we walk away from it as an audience as unfulfilled as when we watch anime. Our sense is that we wish things were different, but in an undefined way, or that we wish the phantom was simply a different person. We’re not moved in our emotional response to any sort of thought or action beyond a wish.

And so it’s my conclusion that a gamma protagonist does and cannot evoke a true sense of pathos in a general audience, as we aren’t stirred to a cause, a thought, or any sort of action. We’re only stirred toward pity.

What do you think?

My character Zaira Von Monocle is unrefined and untrained, but she’s certainly not a gamma. She’s driven by loyalty to King and loyalty to family, some of the most important things we can have as people. For Steam And Country has stirred a lot of emotions in people, but you should see for yourself if I evoked any sense of pathos. You can read it here.  

Comics to Prose Writing Styles

A lot of readers came here this year, but for those unaware of my history, I cut my teeth on writing in comic form. I became serious about  comic script writing in 2010-2011 when I created my webcomic, Flying Sparks, which did pretty well with an audience and lasted 8 issues. Going back and reading those scripts, I progressed as a writer throughout making the comic. Still toying with rereleasing them, though at the very least they need some dialogue updates to be more readable. Here’s one of the old pages:

Which gets me to the main topic point. A  lot of prose writers I see flood their books with dialogue. Most of the plot happens in dialogue, most of the worldbuilding is communicated through it in an attempt not to “infodump” — which if there’s dialogue tags around it, it still can be an infodump!  Characters go off on sprawling speeches.

Now what’s interesting is comics rely on dialogue pretty heavily. Other than the pictures which communicate most of the background and action, dialogue is all you have as a writer. There’s no tertiary description, and very few abilities to communicate character’s thoughts over the course of a comic pamphlet. But there’s a big difference between the way dialogue drives a comic and the way it’s used in prose: brevity is crucial.

When I started, I noticed a lot of novice comic writers FLOODED their art with words. They couldn’t quite let the art breathe, speak for itself, but instead did the same infodumping techniques I see in a lot of prose. I wanted to make sure I never did that, and so I shortened a lot of the dialogue in my own work. Learning to communicate through less words made for much better comics that flow better not only so the art stands  out more, but so the pacing of the book works out better as well. I carried this across to prose. Most of my characters don’t talk very often in long paragraphs (except Harkerpal in For Steam And Country, of which it’s a joke within the story how much he talks). It helps me pace the story so it moves along a lot better than I would have without the comic technique.

Back to comics, the dialogue is how you differentiate characters.  Word choices are all the more important because you have to differentiate your characters all the more in comics. This is the onus for a way I edit — where I now do a pass where go through and shift word choices on one character at a time, staying  in that character’s mindset so they talk as they’re supposed to talk and it’s separate and different than the way any other character does. In comics, it helps bring so much clarity to the pages, and it does the same to prose.

Finally, comics have length limits due to art. You really need to stick to 20-24 pages for a pamphlet to conform to modern standards. It means an outline needs to be detailed, tight, with very little margin for error. What this did for me was when I came to prose, I could block out scenes and know almost exactly how many words I’d get, and it keeps my books an intentional and consistent length and pace as well.  This is another nice pacing element that I wouldn’t have learned without writing comics.

Now comics aren’t for everyone, but it’s an interesting exercise as a writer that helped me tremendously. It might be worth a shot just to try the constraints of comic writing  as an exercise. For me, it’s my dream to get back to producing comics on a regular basis. In addition to all of my projects, I’m slowly chipping away there.

For the best of my writing style, check out For Steam And Country, an adventure of a girl who inherits an airship that I could easily rewrite into comic book form. You can buy it here. 

 

Why The Old Way Of Publishing Is Failing

Yesterday I ran into a very powerful blue-checkmark literary agent who represents a rather big NYT bestselling author on Twitter.  He was going off on sensitivity readers and while describing exactly how it is censorship, claimed it’s not censorship at all.  It was a bit of a crazy thread, all about shaming authors into not writing anything about other cultures, and oddly it was retweeted by Cat Rambo, the president of a writer’s association.

He went on to worry about the “kinds of people” in publishing. I guess some “kinds of people” should be shut down immediately. So much for diversity and inclusiveness:

Of course he goes further, to call a bunch of names at American patriots. Gee, who could have predicted that:

I guess he doesn’t want half the country to buy any book he represents.

It’s an interesting example of how the publishing industry doesn’t actually represent writers anymore. Many are after their own interests trying to sniff out money or some niche for themselves for fame and what they think is relevancy, which is evident with the two people I listed above. If you’re not out there to advocate for authors and authors rights to create whatever content they deem is good for their story, and for good stories and cultures, how can you say you’re a literary agent? How can you claim to advocate for Science Fiction Writers of America when you hate American writers? It’s really staggering how these people came into positions of power and their impact on the culture which has gone on to shut down anyone with any sort of different take on content.

It’s created a mainstream book market where every book looks the same. I talk to YA book reviewers, avid readers, who every day complain about how they can’t find anything new, about how it’s all a rehash and retread of the same thing, about how they just want a good book. When Sensitivity Readers have dictated all the content, and then it’s further vetted by people like this literary agent, what you end up with is watered-down nonsense instead of art. When a writer can’t write what they want, the industry fails.

With some good timing, a Tor dot com writer, Judith Tarr, wrote about what’s going on in the industry that’s very apt here:

 

A pretty damning criticism of the industry by an industry veteran who’s on the VERY inside track of the establishment in publishing. She’s right. Authors can’t make a living off of big publishing. Big publishing is clearly out for their own agendas, and doesn’t give support to the very people who create content. I can tell you horror stories about dozens of authors who received contracts after being represented by agents like the one above, who told them to revise their manuscript to “fit market” (distill it and water it down) and had them toil for three years on a single book, take 25% when it finally lands, they get a $5,000 advance, and then the publishing company doesn’t market the book and it never earns out, and they’re left to flail. The publishing industry is a total disaster.

 

But what Judith doesn’t get at is the solution. Indie and self-publishing is the solution. Yes you have to act as your own marketing platform — but you have to do that anyway! These people aren’t there to help you, they’re just there to make you water down your art and get a quick paycheck off of you. Agents just act as slush readers for publishers, as Judith says in a different tweet. Now where I disagree is publishers aren’t getting top quality content because they’re distilling and destroying it with the Agent edits, with the way their editors edit, and with the sensitivity reader racket — where they hire people specifically for identity politics as a “protection” racket from criticism. It’s absurd.

And readers are rebelling. They’re reading far more indies than ever in genre fiction. It’s because we don’t water it down. We produce the best content better and faster than Big Publishing ever could — and no one tells us what we can and can’t write. It means we write to our passions, what we want, and our books come across more authentic and fun because WE love them more.

Unfortunately, where Judith should be fighting by my side in this cause based on her tweets above, she’s blocked me and keeps trying to impress people like Brooks Sherman. Why? I have no idea. Until these authors get out of these self-defeating cycles, they’re going to be stuck.

Me? I’m busy winning. Like I did with the bully censor Brooks:

The book I linked is MAGA 2020. It’s short stories about a future where Trump’s created a Utopia. Cuz winning. Mine is particularly fun and funny. It also features an intro by Milo Yiannopoulous and releases on November 8th. You can pre-order it here. 

Sci-Fi’s SJW Terrorism: An Editor’s Inside Look

At the beginning of September, I did a piece proving beyond reasonable doubt that there is anti-male discrimination going on in the publishing industry, and that it’s widespread. It resulted in the Mean Girls in charge of the science fiction publishing organization known as SFWA coming after me and really attempting to destroy my life both online and through harassing me in real life. They of course did this by claiming I was “harassing” by posting about these problems in the industry and whistleblowing.

It started though, when I noticed Escape Artist Podcasts’ Artemis Rising event — in which they go out for a month and ONLY publish stories by women. There is no male counterpart to this, it is a completely anti-man event, when their magazines already skew heavily toward publishing only women outside of that. The original attacks on me were brought on when they decided to take their twitter account and mock and signal to their followers I was someone to slander, rather than addressing their very real problems.

Full disclosure: I had a very good friend who works for Podcastle, one of their podcasts, named Setsu Uzume. She used to spend time at my house, we critiqued each others stories and we were good friends until she abandoned me because of the attacks on me earlier this year. It is a highly personal matter as it’s impacted more than just some intangible “standing in the industry” for me. She was very well aware of my politics and who I was through this whole time she was my friend, her turning on me came only after it was a public relations thing within a small segment of the sci-fi community.

However, through this, I was able to meet a former editor who worked for Escape Artists named Kat Rocha.  She now works with her husband making amazing independent content (comics and short story anthologies!) at 01Publishing.com. However she took the time to tell me her story of how Escape Artists turned into a toxic, polarized realm of political correctness and extreme politics overriding their basic mission which should have been publishing good stories.

Below is how an industry dies to SJW Terrorism:

HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH ESCAPE ARTISTS?  

I met Alex, an editor at Escape Artists at World Horror Con in Atlanta in 2015. We were talking shop over dinner and he mentioned Pseudopod was in need of slush editors. I had been a fan of the show and wanted to get involved so I told him I was interested.

DID THEY PAY YOU FOR YOUR WORK AS AN ASSOCIATE EDITOR, OR WAS IT VOLUNTEER BASED?

I was a volunteer with the promise of eventually being paid once there were more funds. Although, I wasn’t there for the money. I’d been a long time fan of the show and was happy to get involved.

DID THEY REJECT STORIES YOU PUSHED FORWARD OUTRIGHT BECAUSE OF IDENTITY POLITICS, REGARDLESS OF QUALITY?

I sat in on at least five editorial meetings with the idea of becoming familiar with their methods of stories selection. At first, the editors at Pseudopod were even handed in their approach. Stories passed to Editorial by slush readers were judged on quality of the content and nothing else. This was around the time that Escape Artists ownership changed hands, and I believe what I was witnessing was a hold over to when Murr & co still held the wheel. As time went on the focus changed drastically (and rapidly) under the new regime. Editorial wanted more and more attention exclusively on female authors and female-spotlighted events. As slush readers were directed to prioritize stories by women over men. It wasn’t so much a case of editorial outright saying “Women only” but by the time I left male authors and stories were almost never discussed.

HOW WAS THE SUBMISSION QUALITY IN GENERAL? WAS THERE ANY NOTABLE DIFFERENCE YOU SAW BASED ON RACE OR GENDER IN STORIES? 

The quality of stories we slush readers were receiving were about what you’d expect–a good mix of good, bad, and everything between. It wasn’t until management launched their “Artemis Rising” that efforts were steered toward make the project happen. Artemis Rising’s mission was to be a month in which Escape Artists was an all-female operation. Stories to be written by women, slush-read by women, selected by women, edited by women, read by women, presented on-air by women, even the shows themselves were produced by women. Essentially, it was to be the She-Women Men Haters Club. As a slush reader I was told to focus on the Artemis Rising slush pile. Regular submissions (meaning stories for the other eleven month of the year) were to be second priority.

In terms of story quality the “Artemis Rising” slush pile were amateur at best, with a rare gem once in a while. Really, the biggest problem with the project was the sheer lack of quality material to justify a female-only month. For that reason, a lot of stories I felt were not fit for publication got through. Worse, were stories that may have been well written, but had little to nothing to do with Horror, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy. Rather than accept the reality that not enough skilled female writers were interested in Artemis Rising, management started allocating more and more time and resources to the project at the expense of the rest of the year’s shows. In truth, Artemis Rising became a year-long event just to make a single month of programming happen.

WAS THERE A NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT YOU SAW ACCEPTED/REJECTED?


While slush reading for Artemis Rising I got the distinct impression much of what I received was submitted strictly because a female wrote it—regardless of how amateur or flat out bad the work was. In fact, most of the titles that were selected for the event were pulled from the regular submission box and NOT from the Artemis Rising box because of the lack of quality.

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU START SEEING WEIRD POLITICS SEEM TO BE MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAN PRODUCING GOOD FICTION? 

This is strictly my opinion, but when Alasdair Stuart’s girlfriend got involved is when things went sour. That’s when the “girls club” formed and Escape Artists took on a very different tone in contrast to the fiction-first production it had once been. It was also around that time episodes started to include “trigger warnings” at the beginnings of show.

CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF THE SORT OF EXTREMISM YOU SAW COMING FROM THE PODCAST CREATORS?

As I mentioned before, there was a strange obsession with all things Artemis Rising. After awhile it was as though nothing else mattered. To me, this was not just unacceptable, but utterly disgusting. I hate gender politics. I hate it with the fury of a berserk Valkyrie swinging a war hammer plowing through a horde of single-breasted amazons. (Okay, that’s how my husband described my hate for feminist bigotry, but I thought it worth sharing.) For examples of ideological extremism happening at Escape Artists, really the entire Artemis Rising project itself was one giant exercise in bigotry, “positive” discrimination, and anti-male propagandizing.

DID THEY TALK SMACK ABOUT AUTHORS OUT THERE WHO DIDN’T FIT THEIR POLITICAL PARADIGMS? HOW TOXIC AN ENVIRONMENT WAS IT?

There was a special forum for editors and slush readers to talk about and share submissions that were uniquely bad, or crazy, or unintentionally funny. The original intent was good natured. It was there just for us to chat and share laughs. But as the new regime settled into its role running Escape Artist the forum lost its charm. The “laughs” started to have an underlying meanness to them, the chat felt more like bathroom gossip and trash talk. Then editors started emailing full manuscripts to the rest of us, encouraging we to read a submission, then join in on massive gab fests where everyone was expected to rip into the submission’s author. This was not “letting off steam”. It was cruel, petty, and deeply unprofessional. And yes, most of the stories the girls got together to rip on were written by men.

TELL US SOME ABOUT THEIR “ARTEMIS RISING” PROJECT FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE. I NOTICE MOST MONTHS THEY PUBLISH MOSTLY WOMEN-WRITTEN CONTENT ANYWAY, IS IT A MARKETING GIMMICK ONLY OR FULL ZEALOTRY?

Zealotry. The attitude seemed to be, “We’re going to prove women are great writers by rigging the game and shutting out everyone else.” As if that proves anything but the opposite. I saw nothing to indicate Artemis Rising was a marketing gimmick, and if it was, it was a monumental failure with listeners. It was alienating longtime fans, losing listener donations, and Artemis Rising always had the lowest download count by far. 

DID YOU START TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE POLITICS OVERRIDING THEIR STORY CONTENT? IF SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

Yes. I was quite open about my disdain for Artemis Rising with the editors I answered to (who were both male). I made it very clear I didn’t agree with the event and everything it stood for. I said multiple times Escape Artists should return to focusing on finding and publishing GOOD stories, regardless of the gender, race, or sexuality of the author.

When editorial assigned me to slush read exclusively for Artemis Rising, I refused.


WHAT DROVE YOU FROM THEM, WERE YOU FIRED BY THEM OR DID YOU QUIT?

I turned in my resignation within an hour of receiving an email from editorial about now-former editor, Sunil Patel, who was accused of…well, something. The words Editorial used were “accusations of unprofessional behavior”. To my knowledge no actually offense was ever named. Yet Editorial was inviting all of us to talk to them about Patel, secure in the knowledge that each and every comment would be taken at “face value,” no proof required. Quoting the email: “Everyone will be assumed to be telling their truth, no questions asked. Yes, that may lead to conflicting reports of specific events. We accept that.”

Here is a copy of my emailed reply:

Dear Escape Artists:

I am greatly disappointed and disturbed by the current leadership’s handling of what is a deeply serious accusation. It’s one thing for an individual to do something so irresponsible as to drag allegations of sexual harassment through the court of public opinion. It’s another for a publishing entity and those who represent it to do the same. To say this behavior is unprofessional is an understatement.

Sexual harassment is a very serious charge. One that should never be taken lightly. It destroys the lives of all involved—regardless of the validity of the charge. So far everything I’ve seen from the parties involved and the EA leadership have given me no reason to believe this will amount to anything beyond another career destroying he-said / she-said smear campaign that has been dominating spec-lits ever shrinking corner of internet. More “Listen and Believe” rumors and back biting. More kangaroo courts with no real search for the truth. For the last 24hrs I’ve been bombarded with pitchfork mobs telling me I need to hate Sunil, yet nobody has yet to actually explain what he is accused of. I had hoped the Escape Artists were above this.

As of today I am leaving Escape Artist.

Kat Rocha

AFTER YOU LEFT THEM, DID YOU FIND THAT PEOPLE THERE RETAINED FRIENDSHIPS WITH YOU, OR WERE YOU DISCARDED BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T ‘USEFUL’ ANY LONGER?

Alex and I are still friends on Facebook. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but this doesn’t seem to have affected our friendship. On the other hand, before the Patel incident my husband and I had been on very friendly terms with Alasdair Stuart. He was supposed to review a book from 01Publishing, but never followed through. Since that time all communication with him has ceased. As for the rest of the staff, I’ve severed all ties myself. I want nothing to do with this “brave new progressive” Escape Artists collective.

This is the new normal for science fiction and fantasy publishing. Every major house has this same attitude, this same hate and disdain for males. Even this morning, SFWA president Cat Rambo was tweeting bizarre, extreme articles about “toxic masculinity”. Kat is very brave for telling what happened and how the SJW politics are so thick to them that literally nothing else– not friendships, not good works, not readership — matters to them.

This is why alternatives in the industry are so necessary and why this structure of power needs to be called out, despite all of the personal attacks they might throw your way just for telling the truth. Please support Kat and 01Publishing.com.

If you’re looking for some real diversity beyond a shallow look at sex or skin color, try the popular Steampunk novel by Jon Del Arroz, the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, with a strong female lead! No politics in For Steam And Country, available on Amazon.

Alt-Hero: Paperbacks Now Availble!

Two days left in the campaign for the final push. It’s been such a tremendous success and I’m honored to be a part of this amazing project, also featuring one of my writing heroes, Chuck Dixon.

We’ve added the paperbacks as an option now so at the very least go out and grab the ebooks for Alt-Hero written by me, and if you want a hard copy, you can get those now too! Further down, there’s an RPG in which I’ll be writing the first adventure campaign. I love RPGs so this’ll be so much fun for me!

Thanks again for all the incredible support and I really look forward to delivering far better superhero content to you than Marvel will ever produce again.

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

 

The Book 20 Years In The Making

Last night I finished up my edits on what will be the first in what I hope will be many space opera / military SF novels set in this particular universe. It’s titled The Stars Entwined and follows an Internal Affairs investigator for humanity’s Interplanetary Navy as he navigates a powder keg of a political situation with the neighboring alien Aryshans, and a parallel story of an Aryshan Commander who has her doubts about war with humanity being a good option for her people. As their lives cross path, the war escalates to new heights. These characters really shine for me, and I hope they will for you too!

In Jan-Feb I first-drafted a second novel which overlaps with this one, which I’ll hopefully get edited and ready for you all mid-next year so you can see other angles of The Aryshan Wars. Needless to say, I’m very excited about bringing you a space opera with 100% my own world-building, and keeping in the rich tradition I’ve created in bringing fun novels through Rescue Run and For Steam And Country.  

As the blog title says, The Stars Entwined has been in the making for about 20 years. It’s the first book I ever wrote, which started in a high school English class when I wrote down the opening volleys of what would have been one Admiral Conley’s perspective (you’ll hear about him in the book) in fighting a war against an alien species. That assignment sparked my imagination where I began writing. Over the next several years, I wrote in spurts, pinning down the origins of the conflict and how the war escalated. I don’t have the original paper with Admiral Conley’s epic battle anymore (and I would probably cringe if I saw it!). My story ended up with a completely different cast of characters, with a completely new angle on interstellar war which hopefully will be fresh for you when you read!

I finished my first draft of this book, which at the time I had titled These That Twice Befell, a line from an Emily Dickenson poem. I liked the poem and the line, but as a title, didn’t feel quite sci-fi enough for me. The poem is:

My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The poem still fits the theme a little bit as you’ll see when you read the book. The book really has a lot of internal death and rebirth of the characters as their preconceived notions of their worlds and who they are get turned upside down.

I redrafted the book a second time in 2014-2015, still not quite there in terms of honing my work. At the time, I called the book Starcrossed — which felt a little better for sci-fi, but there’s a zillion books titled that. I set the book aside when I started writing for Doomtown: Reloaded, which eventually led into my Star Realms novel. For the time, I set aside my own worlds and works to focus on the game-related material. I learned a ton about writing in those years and pushed myself to the next level.

With Star Realms being such a huge success, nominated for multiple awards and having so many amazing reviews, I knew I wanted to stick with Mil SF/Space Opera as my primary genre for writing. Both because I grew up reading mostly this genre, but also because my fans already were acquainted with my writing in the genre. For The Stars Entwined, I definitely drew heavily on my influences: Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, Lois Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, and Sharon Lee. If you’re into their work, I know this will appeal to you, and hopefully I was able to come across in the same tradition.

After my game work was complete, I saw people finding me online and beginning to read the blog and my books regularly. I had a choice to make to try to get work out faster — did I rewrite what would become The Stars Entwined, or did I try to release a Steampunk book I’d drafted as well. For Steam And Country was much closer to being a complete, finished work. It needed a lot less overhauling than my space opera did to be worthy of your read. I knew I needed to get something out a little faster than working on The Stars Entwined would allow, and so I chose For Steam And Country, nervous about releasing a more YA Steampunk with my audience.

When I finished the book, I immediately started work on The Stars Entwined, which I retitled it during its third major overhaul around May this year — and I actually wrote most of it from scratch. I threw out almost all of the prose from the first iterations. The overall scenes changed by about 30% of the book, which is unusual for me as I usually have the plot points worked out very tightly by the time it gets out of outline form (I work hard on my outlines, which I’m doing for Von Monocle 2 right now!). I may one day show the first draft of this to let everyone compare but it was a ton of work to get this done over the summer.

While I was doing that, For Steam And Country ended up being a bigger hit than my first book. It’s a great problem to have, but I do have the issue now where people are waiting for a sequel on my Steampunk, and now I’m about to release yet another first book for a series. I didn’t plan it that way, but the cards fell as they did based on what I had ready.  At the time I was releasing my Steampunk, The Stars Entwined was my priority to get done. I wasn’t sure a steampunk would resonate with my crowd at all, and I wanted to wait and see before committing to a series there, especially as For Steam And Country works very well as a standalone. For those readers, fear not, I’ll be spending NaNoWriMo getting book 2 of Baron Von Monocle written for you with lots of updates on its progress on this blog. I did get a little bit distracted by my Deus Vult In Space concept, which I wrote because I had to get that out of my system when I had the idea, so I apologize for the delay there, but hopefully you’ll forgive me that one digression. 🙂  That book is going to be a ton of fun.

I finished this draft of The Stars Entwined in early August, and did a clean up pass on it during that month. It’s been with my editor since then, and I just completed fixing the notes he gave to me. I’m extremely excited to get this into your hands. It’s in proofreading and cover art design right now. I haven’t decided when to release it yet — it largely depends on those efforts and their timing.

But there’s a lot of stories to the background of this book, how it developed, and how it changed. I’ll share as much as I can with you in the coming months so you can see the process of how this evolved into the fun space opera story it is for you to read.

Right now the books release schedule is probably going to be this:

  1. The Stars Entwined
  2. Reach For The Stars (Overlaps with The Stars Entwined, needs an edit)
  3. Baron Von Monocle 2 / Deus Vult – depends on which is going to be faster/easier to edit as to which is first.
  4. Alt-Hero 1
  5. Alt-Hero 2

As I’ve committed to co-write those Alt-Hero books, I may need some time before I return to these universes. It all depends on speed and also my co-writer Vox Day’s schedule in working on those. But it’s going to be an awesome 2018 at the very least. I’m about one year being in this business, and it’s been phenomenal. I’m really grateful you’re reading and giving me time to do a few series (it helps from keeping things from getting stale on my end!)

That’s all for now. I could ramble about all this for hours, and I might on periscope at some point so stay tuned for in depth looks!

If you’re liking my releases so far, have you checked out my novella, Gravity Of The Game? It’s being talked about for Hugo consideration for best novella by many people. Read it now here! 

A Second Alt-Hero Novel Is A Go!

It’s been part of the stretch goals, but I haven’t wanted to talk about it much until it was a sure thing, but I am now contracted for not one but TWO Alt-Hero novels for this cool project that keeps expanding, keeps getting better, and is fast becoming an intellectual property to be reckoned with by the giants.

This is one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns for a comic in history, and it is a big historical landmark, despite the fact that it’s getting ZERO press from media outlets. That so much could be raised for such a project is absolutely amazing in and of itself.

God has blessed me so much so far on this writing journey, and I’m thankful every day, not just for his love and grace — but for cool friends like Vox Day and Chuck Dixon who have been so supportive along the way. I look forward to bringing you a couple of great books in the near future, and thank you everyone for reading and being here. I’m thankful for you too!

If you haven’t backed yet, check out the project here. And remember to click the ebook option at $5! If you backed the comic you do have to back again (think of it as a stretch goal) to get the pre-order of the book-book.

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

 

Alt-Hero and Project Update

Getting a lot of traffic again this week from both the Marvel #ComicsGate article and the announcement made last night about Alt-Hero.

First off, a cool interview on my writing background just went live here.

For those new here, hi! I’m Jon Del Arroz, geek entertainment journalist and science fiction author with a healthy dose of gorilla mindset. My debut novel, Star Realms: Rescue Run was nominated for the Dragon Award for best military science fiction, and my steampunk novel, For Steam And Country, is even more popular with my readers, the first book of the hottest new steampunk series of 2017. Most recently I released Gravity Of The Game, a field of dreams in space novella which is getting a lot of positive buzz from baseball and non-baseball fans alike. Folk are saying it deserves a Hugo nomination for best novella!

I have shorts out in a couple anthologies if you want a bit of a mix. I’d recommend A Fistful Of Credits (this one has my personal favorite short story I’ve written) . or Storyhack there, as those stories most exemplify my writing style. I’m also involved in the MAGA 2020 anthology, which features an introduction from Milo Yiannopoulos, coming out in November.

A busy year! And I’m not done yet.

As mentioned over on Vox Popoli, I’m going to be co-writing the Alt-Hero novelization with Vox Day. We’re still in the planning phase on this as to exactly how that will look, and the comics are going to come first there so stay tuned for more updates. This’ll be really exciting. I love superhero work as I’ve written several comics and will be in a superhero anthology from Silver Empire publishing in the near future as well. Alt-Hero in particular has a cool concept and characters that I think could reshape comics, and become a brand to rival some of the bigger comics out there. If you haven’t backed the freestartr, please do!

As for other updates here’s where we’re at:

  1. The Stars Entwined – Space Opera novel, first in a big universe I plan to write in for a long time. It’s with an editor right now and may be out before the end of the year.
  2. Von Monocle 2 – Outlined, will be writing over NaNoWriMo and giving detailed process updates the whole time.
  3. Mars Anthology for Superversive Press – About 50% done with edits. No story in this but I am editor.
  4. Reach For The Stars – This is a standalone that overlaps with The Stars Entwined but has a very different cool story. First Draft Complete will be editing soon.
  5. Deus Vult In Space – First Draft Complete.
  6. Alt-Hero: Planning stage.

For Short works I have a few things coming, but not much as I don’t like to focus there. It should remain fairly light through the rest of the year:

  1. Space marines midwives short – first draft complete.
  2. X-O Manowar fanfic novella – I’m messing around with this, no real timeline on it. It’s got about 3,500 words drafted. This is releasable via Kindle Worlds.
  3. Shared Worlds story with a fellow dragon nominee – brainstorming.

Very busy!  I won’t be taking on any more bigger projects until I get all this out, and probably Von Monocle 3 and The Stars Entwined 2 at that point. But there’s a lot to look forward to. We’re just getting started and I’m still not tired of winning!