Getting Faded

What? At 7 o’clock in the morning on Ash Wednesday nonethethless? Weren’t you just posting about lent?

Yes! But I mean something completely different. I’m talking about the new book Fade by my good friend Daniel Humphreys. I had the privilege to be able to read an advanced review copy of this book and had a lot of fun with it. It reminds me a lot of Dan Wells’s I Am Not A Serial Killer. Protagonist is not the same by any means, but there is some monster… or rather witch hunting going on, creepiness at every turn and a compelling action plot that drags you along and makes it really hard to put down.

Geekchats: The Man Who Makes Amazon Bestsellers Redux

Last week, I mentioned I would have Jason Rennie, editor and publisher of Superversive Press, the 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:

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

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

A Landslide Victory!

The other day, I asked my dear readers to help me choose the title of forthcoming book, which will be a YA Steampunk novel about a young farm girl who inherits and airship and hijinx ensue! Action. Adventure. Romance. Thrills!

Here’s the results of the polls:

50% For Steam And Country (Apparently my readers like Bond references..)

33% The Blood of Giants (I think I may use this for book 2…as I have an idea)

17% Zaira’s Airship (Glad this one didn’t win because can you imagine people trying to amazon search and spell Zaira? Bad marketing!)

0% The Adventures of Baron von Monocle (Apparently my readers don’t like Terry Gilliam references…)

There you have it, and I will honor democracy’s result. Time to make steampunk great again!

If this sounds fun to you, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list.  That way I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Also, if you like this, you’ll probably like my current book too!

Love Is A Drink That Goes Straight To My Head

It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. I took the occasion to tell some of my favorite authors how much I’d love to co-write with them on Twitter, but the day also spurs thoughts as to what romance is within the context of Science Fiction, and whether it has a place being central to the story. The late-great, and my personal favorite, Anne McCaffrey once responded to criticism of romance in her work with “everything I write is romance,” which is an interesting perspective to think about in the context of SF. Continue reading

On Gatekeepers

I had a totally different blog for this morning planned, but  Dragon Award Winning Author Nick Cole got me thinking, as he often does (and on a totally off topic note, I’d appreciate if you’d nominate Star Realms: Rescue Run for Best Military Science Fiction and Fantasy for this year’s Dragons). This is mostly aimed at writers, but I’ll try to keep the jargon minimal for fiction readers who may be interested as well. Here’s a few points to remember when you’re looking at gatekeepers in fiction:

  1. Gatekeepers don’t necessarily know what readers want or like. 

I read slush for a long time for a really good Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine. I was your first line of defense gatekeeper against stories getting published. I’ve been there, I know how it is, I knew what kind of stories to throw up the chain and what to rid of (to be fair, most are worth ridding of). However, something happens to gatekeepers in those positions if you do it for even a few months. Even the best intentioned, best people fall prey to this, and it’s because they’re reading hundreds and thousands of stories day after day. Gatekeepers get jaded.

What occurs at that point, is the very people who are making decisions as to what is worthy for print lose a sense of wonder and a sense of fun for the art. Only things that “stand out”, which is a very personal decision, make it through. It’s not necessarily that a piece is better, or that your piece isn’t worthy of being read. This one person’s filter, who is specifically looking for certain kinds of twists and certain words not to be in a piece, who is tired and angry from reading dozens of terribly written stories already, might not see your work in the right light.

Their opinions also have nothing to do with what readers like.

I have an example from my own work, Star Realms: Rescue Run. There’s a couple of big puns in play in the naming conventions that I put in solely because it amused me, and to see if it could sneak past editorial without them noticing. It’s terrible, I know, but if an author can’t amuse himself, who can he amuse?

I had a few people read over the work before turning it in. A big name NYT Bestselling author read it, and hated it. Said that naming convention threw him out almost immediately and he couldn’t get over that in the book. That small of a thing can be murder for a story in the eyes of a “professional reader” — who aren’t your target audience. I’m going to let you find the pun for yourselves rather than spoil, because it’s half the fun.

Real readers had the opposite response. When the book came out, I had a dozen or so readers send me messages laughing about how amazing that naming convention was. Not one complaint (so far!). Conclusion: Writers, editors, agents, they’re jaded. If anything pops out and sticks out and not in the way they like, they have a mental reject pile. A lot of the time, it has nothing to do with quality or interesting entertainment. They are not the same as real readers, they don’t have their pulse on what readers who aren’t jaded like as a consequence. Remember that.

2. Gatekeepers don’t necessarily help you gain readership. 

This is different from point 1 because it’s all about marketing. There’s a perception that if you get published by Penguin or Tor or whoever, you’ll automatically gain some readership that you wouldn’t otherwise. Yes, you may get a couple copies in Barnes and Noble, but remember there’s another level of “book buyer” gatekeepers who pick up what they think looks good out of those publishers. Unless there’s a heavy marketing push, and if you’re unknown that’s highly unlikely to happen, you’re in the same spot as anyone else.

So what do they do? What do publishers, agents, editors do that’s so special? I don’t mean to hammer everyone in the profession, and I definitely do think it’s important to get other sets of eyes on your work, but when it comes to big, professional publishing houses, what is it going to get you?

Probably not a lot. Several years ago when there were bookstores everywhere, maybe there was relevance to this. Now that everyone’s online, it’s better to have your own platform. You’re not going to get a ton of marketing money from them (if any). You’re not going to have a publicist work harder than a couple email blasts out to reviewers who are already inundated with thousands of books. You’ll have an editor and a nice cover for the book — which, if you pony up a few bucks yourself, you can get that yourself just as easily.

3. Gatekeepers don’t necessarily help you gain validation 

This is the big one. Most people are interested in having an agent so they can say they have a professional agent. Most people want Tor to publish them so they can say Tor publishes them. It provides a professional validation that in theory sets them apart, but only in a few people’s perceptions.

The truth is, most readers have no idea who publishing houses are, who agents are, how the business works. They know they like good stories. A person on the street will be equally impressed if you hold up your book with a professional looking cover. It saying Random House on the spine does nothing to move that needle for the average person. The validation here is only appealing to other professionals who “haven’t made it” while you’re talking at a bar with them about your work. A handful of people who aren’t buying your books and don’t matter. Its tangible value is absolutely zero.

My conclusion isn’t that no one should have their books published by big publishers. At a certain point, the distribution model does matter, but it matters far more after you’re already there than if you’re at a point where you still need help arriving, And if you’re already there… you’ll have to do the math as to whether the publisher taking 50%, the agent taking 10-15% after that is worth the reach that Barnes and Noble (since there pretty much are no other physical booksellers) gives you. Obsessing over the gatekeepers and whether they’ll like you or your work, it’s pointless. Focus on finding readers and entertaining them, and you’ll find yourself winning.

Fake Furry News!

Shocking. Truly shocking.

On the heels of the robust Alt-Furry community gaining prominence through an article telling their side of the story, or at least a mostly unbiased one, Vice magazine has upped the ante, gaslighting and making it clear that– what should I dub them–  normie-Furries should do their duty and attack them, similar to the whole “punch a nazi” meme-ing that hit social media last week, an ugly attempt to get SJWs to stop using ideas and argument, and start using violence to silence anyone they disagree with. Or, you know, silencing as it may be.

All sorts of smear and slander are inside:

As I’m fending off much of my own smear and slander, and I have the honor of having some well known Sad Pooka friends and readers, I strongly condemn these terrible mischaracterizations of these dear souls and suits. Condemn and disavow! The Alt-Furries would never harm a fly, I tell you.  I mean, unless that was their avatar’s natural food source. But that’s another story.

On a side note, I had submitted a panel to the infamous Baycon about Diversity and Furries, and how these kind souls needed acceptance as much as anyone else. Guess what the response was? Someone’s gotta stand up for them! Write your local science fiction convention and demand Furry justice. Here’s Baycon’s programming email in case you’re passionate about this issue and want to help a furred friend gain the love and acceptance he or she deserves: 

Sure, I’m Making It Up

Those of you who have been following me on facebook, gab and here, might have seen how I did a little investigative journalism last week about UC Berkeley and Milo, and how they gave a response citing there were “no reported injuries” in their attempt to damage control and suppress media interest in the terrible situation.

That was technically true. It also was a complete lie and spin of the situation. The reason that there were no reported injuries, was that the police weren’t taking statements, which I found out from one of the severely injured victims of the riots.

This is a valuable lesson in how spin works and how SJWs operate. I shall leave, as a journalist once more for the Sith Lord News Network, the result of my investigations below, which shows a clear of picture for what’s been going on at Baycon. You may note my original post was a concern, and a call to action to fix the situation. It was not a personal attack by any means. The organizers have changed that.

“But no, this can’t just be a case of hurt feelings. It must be the tragic fate befalling someone who is a lonely dot of red in California’s sea of blue” – Passive aggressive clip from Baycon’s official response on some fake news website that I won’t give traffic.

They did post a picture of me in a beautiful MAGA hat with an American Flag behind me though. I look hot!

Commenter yesterday:

Commenter yesterday:

From the Baycon Chair’s Facebook on a passive aggressive post about me, again, where there OP politically tied me to the Trump admin, totally in a non-political way to spin this, with a snark about “alternative facts”

They’ve got a problem. It’s not just me. But my book outselling their Guest of Honor tonight certainly might be a bit of egg on their face. Probably why they’re scrambling so hard on damage control now after so much ignoring. C’est la vie!

Good news is, I’m not unwelcome. Hmm… This is an interesting fact to know. Stay tuned.


UPDATE: The programming director made a comment on another thread that is illuminating. You’ll see the beginnings of giving up on the “It’s not politically motivated” narrative as the facts come to light with others who have expressed the same issues. Now it’s “conduct or speech” BASED on ideology. Which… amounts to ideology.

Are You Tired of Winning?

I’m still not tired. Working hard on editing my Steampunk book right now, but I’m gonna take a break to show you this image:

Yes, that is my book, and yes, it is currently selling better on Amazon in Space Opera than BayCon’s Guest of Honor, who has a TV show that just came back to air promoting his book.

We’re #7! I won’t count any chickens for reaching #1, but if ya’all keep sharing, it could happen, which would blow my mind and send a great message. Also will give your friends some awesome space opera fun. 

The response has been overwhelming. So much love, so much friendship. I look forward to learning more about each and every one of you and hope to be your friend for a long time to come! Across my platforms I have hundreds of messages so bear with me if I’m a bit slow to approve/respond.

Don’t forget to leave reviews and don’t forget to vote for DragonCon for Best Military Science Fiction Or Fantasy!! Back to work!

And as a preview, I have a mildly telepathic ferret in the work in progress. I’ll amuse myself if no one else 🙂