Supporting My Furred Friends

This evening I learned something tragic. That I, your humble Hispanic science fiction author, was blocked by the self proclaimed queen of diverse science fiction, N.K. Jemisin on twitter. It seems my mere existence pre-emptively causes her to make sure she is solely in an echo chamber of those who hate anyone who think differently than them.

But this is not the biggest tragedy. I found that all of my Furry friends and fans, had been blocked by this hugo award winning author, one who made diversity a hallmark of her campaign toward such an award. And I found this a true shame.

In the name of N.K. Jemisin, I therefore want to promote diversity, and I wil ldo so by promoting furred fiction. I picked this up myself, and at 99 cents, you should to. If only to send a message that lack of tolerance will not be tolerated. It’s what herself Jemisin might say were she not so blinded by rage.

Support author Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, a furred friend:

The Evil Corporate Patriarchy Is OUTRAGED By For Steam And Country

I figure these headlines work for marketing for TV and movies, it should work here. Pick up your fiction with a strong female lead written by a minority who likely is blackballed by almost all major publishing companies as a result of being outspoken. Signal your virtue like you do with your Doctor Who facebook posts and stick it to the oppressive man. You care about this. You said so many times on your social media. The real way you can show it is to vote your dollar: 

When They Make The Point Better Than You Can

Doctor Who. I don’t need to say more. You’re already triggered. So we’ll move on from there.

I made a post on social media, a cheeky one out of amusement, that posited that Donald Glover should play Wonder Woman, and if anyone disagreed, they were by default racist and sexist. Nothing about the above BBC public television program, just this.

I’d say you’ll never believe what happened next, but exactly what I expected to happen happened next: everyone in the SocJus crowd who still bothers to associate with me came out of the woodwork to flip out about the matter. I not only affronted their new cause-of-the-moment — which is, seriously just the changing of a long time kids program television character — but I affronted another sacred cow, the Woman Of Wonder. It was doubly funny because Donald Glover caused a bit of a hooballoo about wanting to play Spider-Man years back, and caused this fake panic among SocJus types with that as well. A twofer.

I’ll note that there is no real racism or sexism or ism-ism involved on either side here, but just silly stupid reactions to something that doesn’t matter. The point holds though: if this woman can play a traditionally male character Doctor Who, a black man should certainly be just as capable of playing Wonder Woman. This is where the SocJus crowd should surprise you, but it won’t: they are absolutely horrifically opposed to the concept.

Because Wonder Woman is supposed to be a woman, which is the very thing they’re smugly proclaiming that anyone who doesn’t like this recent casting is saying in reverse about Doctor Who, while in the same breath calling them all sorts of names. The best part of this all is they default to a lower level aspect of this, the fantasy content specifics: that this is an alien time lord so that there’s nothing that says he’s supposed to be a man. They have this as a fallback to say it’s not political, their very public virtue signalling about this casting, because of it, even though they only reason they’re doing so is a gloating political purpose. And of course, the only reason the show is doing it is for a political virtue signal so that you and I talk about it on the internet.

But what’s great about this, these both being fictional heroes with superpowers, is that the core of the argument is that Wonder Woman cannot change her sex because it would undermine the character to change that, because she is not an alien being. Of course, the answer to it, is just, rewrite her as an alien being who can change her sex.

Imagine if someone did that, the outcry that they’d have about how wrong this is. These folk forget the history, that Doctor Who wrote this very alien regeneration into the storyline later to justify the changing of actors for the role (most these viewers don’t actually watch the old show so they may not know this). Therefore, what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. And both don’t matter, because any writer can write any change at any time with legacy characters. It’s just when it’s political nonsense as a motivation, attempting to get a few short-term watches, clicks, sales, whatever, it annoys people.

Most people don’t like big changes to iconic, generations spanning characters, not because of a racist sexist ist-ist motivation, but because there is a certain amount of change that makes a character into a different character. These problems are always solved by just making your own thing, instead of trying to take a classic and morph it into something else that it’s not.

I have a great analysis of how Marvel Comics used this trick for years to try to get rubberneckers to tune in, and it ended with steadily declining long terms sales. You can read it here.

Now watch as the “nuh uh!” hate comments come in about how I’m just absolutely terrible for even suggesting to change such a sacred icon, and that they in NO WAY have political feelings about Doctor Who, but love to champion the sex change of the character anyway.

And if you’re really interested in great female characters. I am told I wrote a couple without having to make any political thing out of it, that appeals to left and right readers alike because it’s just about a fun story. Most of my readers would likely rank it better than the upcoming season of Doctor Who.

Edited News Is Fake News

The paradigm of the whole “interview and destroy” has been something that the fake news media’s used to torch people for years. I’ve talked about it before in article form, where a writer pulls a couple of words out of something to make it look like someone said a quote, but only a word or two is in uttered. Bleeding Cool news used this tactic with me, using my snarky call for Marvel Comics to hire me to write as if that was the content of my piece, when it was actually about how Marvel has bad business practices and is ruining their own brand.

A great example was posted earlier today, where Cernovich and Co. took Crazy Megyn Kelly’s fake news interview about Alex Jones, which like most of those style interviews, took 3-4 hours of footage and deceptively edited a few minutes of it to make him look bad. Turnabout is fair play, and Cernovich re-edited the footage to make it appear as if Kelly was actually praising Jones and his organization. This is exactly what editing does. Every news source you link these days does this whether it’s in article form or video. Watch out for it!

As this type of tactic gets exposed to the average person, something I and others have noted for years about the fake news, we’ll see the power of these organizations diminish. It’s easy to stop watching the nonsense when you learn it’s fake. There are many alternative outlets out there now that post commentary and interviews live, without editing, and therefore presenting a more accurate picture of what’s really going on. This is why I write about topics that compel me in a journalistic sense, and this is what Cernovich does on a daily basis. It’s already starting to reshape the culture as we show how badly the gatekeepers have deceived us for decades with these very same tactics.

Retro Review: Cash by Johnny Cash

I don’t read a ton of biographies, auto or otherwise. Many of them come across as very dry as they recount events in life chronologically, and no matter how well done that is, it can get boring. The ones that really stand out are the ones that put the feeling and soul of a person into the work, whether that’s the ghostwriter creating a character or the person themselves dictating and getting it written down/cleaned up, I don’t know. Either way, when it’s done right, it creates a compelling story. The two examples I can think of in this vein are Me by Katharine Hepburn and Art of the Deal by Donald Trump. Those books really stand out as you get a feel for the person and how they’re living in the moment that it’s written, not just their chronological life story.  Cash by Johnny Cash is no different, and perhaps even exceeds these two examples.

Each section is framed with him talking about the current road performance he’s on, so you get the feel that you’re sitting with Johnny on the tour bus while he’s just going on old-man style about his glory days, and it’s inviting like hanging out with a favorite grandpa. Within that framework he bounces around to different stories. At first is early life – which it’s amazing how not all that long ago time-wise it was so difficult a life for so many people, it makes you realize how much the troubles of today’s modern times are just complete nonsense and that people these days are the biggest whining complainers imaginable.  How he had to toil in the fields all day dawn til dusk even as a young child, and come home to no electricity is pretty amazing. That’s not even 100 years old.

His 50s-60s life is very compelling, with lots of stories of great musicians like Elvis, Carl Perkins and others, and of course his own recording career taking off. It was cool that he was a part of the military and he had quite an interesting job in that regard as a person who deciphered Russian Morse code for our intelligence programs. There’s a lot of cool detail, and he interjects with a story from Jamaica which is riveting.

Later in the book, it gets heavy. He talks a lot about his drug use, his problems, his failings as a human being. It makes it very clear this is honest and not just some presentation of him as some idol, which I appreciate. And he couples that with some of the most amazing witness testimonial of God’s grace and the glory of Jesus Christ that I’ve ever seen in a book. It’s from an honest man’s perspective and not someone who’s doing it for appearances, and that’s what makes it so powerful.  We all have failed and fall short of the glory of God, and this is an example of that, and how we can keep striving as humans to be perfect in Him. It’s really inspiring.

The end drags a bit as he just wants to mention every friend and family member and acquaintance he’s ever come across, but that’s just 20 pages of the book and it feels like a coda after the story sort of a prolongued thanks section rather than part of the text itself. Even with that, it’s a fast read, riveting, compelling and you’ll get a sense for a big musician who really is an everyman in both the way he looks at the world, in his failings and in his redemption. It’s a beautiful story and I respect Johnny Cash more than most musicians as a result.


How Do We Fix SFWA’s Brand Part II: The Four Ps

Last week I spent some time and identified the public perception problems that the Science Fiction Writers of America has with a large portion of the independent writer and reader demographic  which now comprises more than 50% of the product consumed by Amazon’s metrics, which detracts people from joining their club. I’ve been holding off on writing more on the topic as I’ve attempted to get some data from their president, Cat Rambo. Unfortunately, Ms. Rambo was not forthcoming in earnestly speaking about the club’s current objectives, accusing me of trolling rather than providing information. I asked for demographic information on the club in order to help further dial in what their current membership makeup looks like, potential targets for future members, as well as to see if the perception of exclusionary tactics by the club seems to have basis in reality.  Ms. Rambo has stated that the club does not keep such records—which first and foremost I would highly recommend implementing, so we can do these types of analyses better in the future.

I’m going to make the assumption that asking a direct question about whether the club is attempting to be a minority-only niche and getting a name-calling response rather than an honest one means that the club does have that goal, but they don’t want that to be in the public forefront. However since it is not a stated goal, I can’t focus on that for the time being. My recommendation is either, depending on their goal: 1. make it a stated public goal that this is a minority-centric club with the sole intention of advancing minority interests or 2. making outreach efforts to the white males, conservatives, and Christians in the writing community in order to change the current perception. That will not be the focus of the future of this case study since there is no hard data on them atter, but if there is interest there, you’re welcome to contact me and I’ll have suggestions on how to make that marketing.

Instead we’ll focus on issue #6 in my original post:  The list of benefits aren’t directly tangible or easy to quantify.

A club asking for regular dues must provide some sort of tangible value for that membership. The four points on their website need to be refreshed and updated for the modern market in order to bring in the next generation of members and create a club that has the cache of SFWA past. In order to further delve into how to do this, we’ll have to look at the four principles of marketing, something that is impressed upon students hard in Business 101 classes in colleges. The four Ps:

  1. Product
  2. Placement
  3. Promotion
  4. Price

Product: The issue we’ve identified is a product problem at its core, though tangentially price ends up being a problem because of the product problem.  $100 a year is a lot to ask writers in an industry where even with a couple professional sales on the short story circuit, they may only be making $500-$1000 per year. Most books only sell about 200-300 copies, and if they put out several of those per year, they may be in a range where they’re making a few thousand bucks, but a hundred dollar expenditure at that point would be much better spent on a book cover, editing for the next book, or paid advertisements. The entire low-end of the club falls out at that point, which creates grumbling within the community about it not being worth it. The high end of the club doesn’t need the community benefits quite as much as the low end, and so we’re left with a product that has a very low util to cost ratio.

Price: All things being equal, I’ll presume that SFWA wishes the membership cost to remain at its current rate or even potentially increase to account for inflation. Unless I hear otherwise from Ms. Rambo this post is read.

Placement and Promotion: Placement seems easy as it’s an internet-based organization with a conference per year that rotates cities, I don’t think they have issues there. Promotion, looking at their use of social media could use some further assistance. SFWA should maximize the leverage of their bigger name authors to give, like book blurbs, brief social media worthy quotes about their experiences in the club to make it sound much more appealing to newer, younger authors. Utilize your best capital which is the brand of some of your writers. Right now, the social media account’s first few posts are begging for Amazon smile donations, which doesn’t produce the image of a successful, thriving organization at all. A big benefit of SFWA is the perceived success of the organization, and that needs to be capitalized upon.  I have many other ways in which to utilize this and will happily assist upon request.

We’ll focus this case study on the product, as that requires the most work within the business development. Without an excellent product, the other 3 Ps fall by the wayside, because it doesn’t matter what you do, it will still have a negative perception, especially with a three digit annual price point. When asked about the club’s benefits, referring to a page that has four points of which two are unquantifiable beyond a “you get what you give” and the other two are extremely rare circumstantial situations of which applies to only a very few, it’s easy to see where the perception of low product takes place. The “we give some promotion and a sense of community” can easily be attained on free internet boards, or facebook groups, or mailing lists.  Since all of those can be gained for free and in some cases with equal or greater memberships, SFWA’s four points of why to join have lost nearly all of its value. Those elements need to be dialed into more tangible benefits, and more benefits need to be created in order to help the club in the future.

We’ll focus the next blog on product development and bringing SFWA from a club still in a 20th century mentality in terms of product in a 21st century world.  Please, in the comments, people who are in SFWA and not, what would be something that you would find beneficial in an author’s club that would be worth a premium like that? This is an open brainstorming session and needs your help!


New Star Realms Kickstarter!

Star Realms: Frontiers hit Kickstarter today. Of course i backed it immediately and it’s doing swimmingly (congratulations to doubling funding on day 1 WWG!). I love new Star Relams content and cards to make the game a different experience, and this looks to be a lot of fun:

I still haven’t exhausted all the fun from the base game and colony wars, but my favorite way to play is actually a big mash of al lthe cards together which creates absolute chaos. I can’t wait to play this, and I’m quite scared of the Blob Alpha… that is a crazy card!

Now if you haven’t checked out my book, Star Realms: Rescue Run, it’s a great time to do so as well: as we’re gearing up for the Dragon Award Nominations. Would love to have you read this, check out all the fun references to the game, enjoy a great space opera and post your review thoughts on amazon. If you have already, please vote. Every single vote will help get us closer there for the nomination, which would be a huge boost in visibility:


Thanks everyone for reading and being here. For the Star Empire!

Have You Missed My Geekchats?

I’ve had quite a bit of fun talks with all sorts of great authors over on Geekchats. We’ve had Beth Cato, Sarah Hoyt, Todd McCaffrey, Michael J. Sullivan and others. I do them live, so you get a real feel for who we all are and how we chat, sometimes the topics are more structured than others, just depends, but it’s always a lot of fun.  My only regret is that I don’t have time to do them more often! Even if you miss them live, you can catch up on them here:

Go check it out!