Rejoicing In Suffering

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One thing I’ve never quite been able to wrap my head around is how the Apostles were so upbeat in the midst of jail, beatings, facing certain death, all because they wouldn’t shut up about the Good News of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

These last couple of months there’s a been a lot of trials in my own life, some you’re aware of, many you’re not as I try to keep a lot of the personal away from the internet for the safety of friends and family, but I found it difficult to maintain any sort of positive attitude through a lot of it. I watched and as many people do, got discouraged because a lot of what went on was completely overwhelming not just for me, but for others around me.

But I received a reminder this weekend, something that I’ve noted in my battles against evil within science fiction publishing and in comics, it came down to this: the Enemy knows where success and gains are being made, so he makes these attacks when we’re over the target. Realizing that made me rethink some of the events I’ve seen in the last couple months.

It’s easy to see that sort of thing in real time, when it’s a group of humans tangibly attacking. It’s easy therefore to point and laugh and say, “these people are attacking me because i’m effective and they’re scared.”

But Satan attacks the effective and is afraid of us as well.

We forget that so often. He uses disease, death, anxiety, division between brothers and sisters in order to make his attacks on us. And those strike often at the effective, because those are the tools he’s using in warfare.

But it’s because we’re making headway for Christ. We can be rest assured that when there’s suffering, it’s because we’re doing good. It seems counterintuitive, but looking at things in the spiritual lens and seeing the light there makes it much easier to laugh at the troubles, because he has no power over us.

And that’s why the Apostles could keep such joy through their far worse persecution than we have today. That’s how they could stay joyous because they already know how the end of the final battle turns out.  So does the enemy. We’ve got him scared.

As John told us in Revelation: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

Persevere in faith and we will win. It’s guaranteed.

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FREE Copy Of Knight Training Incoming

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Heads up everyone — I’m going to be giving out free copies of my #1 Amazon Bestseller, Knight Training, to my mailing list before the release of its sequel, Guard Training in the next week or two. Get on the mailing list, make sure you don’t miss this free giveaway and others in the future. You can sign up above in either of the options and then be on the lookout for an email from me in the next week or so.

I want to get Knight Training’s reviews boosted on Amazon before the new book releases, so make sure to leave one if you’ve already read it too!

By the way, here’s the cover and synopsis for Guard Training, the sequel. It’ll be out in the next couple weeks.

Spies and traitors everywhere!

Apprentice Knight James Gentry is used to a life of travel and adventure, but now he’s been assigned to stand guard for Princess Reina. Tensions mount with King Malaky, as James can’t keep his eyes—or hands—off the beautiful princess. To make matters worse, the Wyranth have discovered the location of the king’s retreat, and they’re coming to assassinate Rislandia’s royal family.

James must keep his heart in check as Princess Reina’s passions steam up for him in return. Negotiations for crucial aid to the kingdom could depend on Reina’s hand in marriage to another man. With his heart and the kingdom at stake, can James perform his duty for his country?

Read the follow up to the summer’s #1 Amazon Bestseller, “Knight Training”, and enjoy another tense steampunk tale of romance, betrayal, and knighthood.

 

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A New Way To Twitter

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Hey everyone, a brief update here. You might have seen lately that my twitter is reactivated. I did this because someone warned me that I could actually have my account name taken by someone else, and given the way that the creepers have acted in the past, I figured they would do so to me. It also seems stupid not to be able to advertise to my nearly 5K followers (I released a book last week btw, did you pick it up?).

So here’s what I’ve done! I’ve connected WordPress to Twitter so the blog will post there. I like the blog space better cuz I control it all and don’t have the option of spending hours scrolling through stuff.

I won’t be interacting on Twitter still. If you need me, contact me here, join my facebook group dedicated to my writing (no politics), get on my mailing list above, or subscribe to my Patreon and get all my awesome fiction content and in my private discord server. I recommend doing all three, personally. There’s some ridiculously cool releases going to happen on Patreon, which will include an exclusive story in the For Steam And Country universe this month.

Be patient on blog comments too. I need a better system, but right now it’s auto-holding new comments for approval and sometimes even the case on approved people. I don’t know how to manage that yet but I will be tweaking it at some point. Sorry for that — if it appears to eat your post, it’s just in my cue.

Thanks everyone for being there! I look forward to hearing from folk I might have missed the last month and this seems a good way to manage everything.

Buy my short fiction collection, just reviewed by a reader who says “it is definitely fun” and rated it 5-stars!

 

 

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Winning Indie Author Mindset (Part 2)

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Last time we ended with a challenge to make sure beginning writers make writing a habit, and do so for 21 days straight. But then what?

So, You’ve Got A Book

Write another. And then another.

I’ll stop you here. If you were thinking one book is going to be the way to indie success, it’s incredibly unlikely. Indie authors are all about flexibility in release schedules, flexibility in word counts of their books, and the ability to move faster than traditional publishing counterparts. We’re about escaping the slog of finding an agent, waiting for their response, then hoping one picks us up, revising based on their feedback, waiting for the agent to contact publishers, hearing from a publisher, making more changes, and on and on. I’ve had friends who have had their book at an agent and a publisher for two to three years before finally getting rejected. That’s a long wait! Meanwhile, indie authors can put a book up to go directly to readers as soon as we think it’s done. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I think so. But the odds of finding readers are few in a market where most consumers are bingeing. People binge watch, binge drink, binge eat, and more and more, people like to binge read. They purposefully look for series where they can plow through several volumes and still have more coming. It’s not to say the occasional Andy Weir doesn’t happen, but even then, he had been writing and producing short stories and web comics since 2011 before his The Martian hit the web, and from there it took years to become a success. Those don’t happen very often, and while it’d be great if it does for you, the best way to play the odds is to put a lot of chips down on different colors, and that means having a lot of stories.

It sounds daunting, but it isn’t. Professional writing means writing professionally, treating this whole endeavor like a job. Writing on days you don’t want to write. It starts with the habit forming above, but what about those days when you just don’t feel like it?

Moving From Hobby To Career 

Those of us who have day jobs don’t always want to go to work. Most of us don’t want to work on most days, but we all do it. Why? Because it’s the only way we can feed ourselves and put a roof over our heads. It follows that those who treat writing like it’s necessary to put a roof over his or her head is going to perform better and more consistently than someone who comes at this like it’s a video game to play when they have time time or feel like it.

You need to adjust your mindset from “I would like to write” to “I have to write.” I’m an eclectic hobby kind of guy. I like to read books, play video games, play music, see friends, play board games, race cars, all sorts of things that provide for interesting experiences to funnel into my writing, but I’ve given up on most all of those all the time so I can make that time to write. While I have a day job, it’s the only way to do it. I have to spend a half hour to an hour in the morning on my blog here, and I have to spend an hour in the evening writing my fiction. There’s no option. I will give up doing other things every time because I take this seriously.

It does’t have to be two hours a day like I often do, but try half an hour or an hour. It’s doable to carve out that kind of time, even in the most hectic of lives. Cut out that TV show or video game time, or even reading time. There’s something that’s not a necessity, and writing is a necessity.

But What If I’m Not Good Enough? 

I get a lot of amateur writers asking me to review their work and, in essence, bless whether it’s good enough to publish or to be worthy of gaining a following. This is a mindset that I want you to erase right now.

It doesn’t matter what other authors think of your work.

We live in an age because of Brandon Sanderson and his very popular (and good) Writing Excuses podcast, that thousands of authors have all fallen into these traps of critiquing work over and over again. While there’s some usefulness there, for the most part, you learn how to write by writing more. Once you’ve got a handle on what a structure is, what a plot is, what pacing is, what characters are, and what filler words are, you can move forward pretty confidently in your work. The thing is, you don’t have to be the most talented writer ever to gain a following, you just have to come across passionate and authentic. No amount of workshopping can teach those qualities — and in fact, I believe workshopping often dampens those qualities.

But beyond that, a bigger author isn’t going to be able to tell you much about your story. There’s basic grammar and style elements (which you should get an editor and learn there from), but overall, ideas are just ideas. What resonates with some might not resonate with others. Even if an author tells you it’s great, it might not be. It’s all subjective to a degree.

Don’t worry about it. Put yourself out there. Get an editor, finish it, write the next one.

But the asking authors to read books is a symptom of a bigger problem than anything in the writing — there’s a mindset problem present. It’s a lack of confidence. And this is where authors will separate themselves from the amateurs.

Confidence is king.

You have to be able to sell your work, and to do that, you have to believe in it. No amount of asking others will help you with that, it all comes from within. You have to tell yourself you have a great story. Say it aloud to yourself if you have to. Repeat it. Hone the quick elevator pitch for discussing it. Only speak positive about your work.

The attitude and mindset is important, because the confidence or lack thereof will come across in the writing as well. There’s a tone of a confident author that’s difficult to explain, but it’s very different from amateur efforts. I look back on my early work when I wasn’t confident in what I was writing and get a very different feel from what I’m writing now. It’s so important. Believe in yourself. There’s plenty of other people less talented than you who have made millions of dollars on their books, I’m sure you can name them. So why shouldn’t you be able to do the same?

Moreover, confidence in writing means you’re going to be willing to take more risks. Those risks will be where the creative juices are the best, where there’s the most emotion in the work. You can’t capture your full

I highly recommend a “fake it ’til you make it” approach with confidence. The writing world can be savage, and so the best way to overcome it is to have your mindset prepared not to care about what others think, and to be willing to never give up. This is your story for your to pour out on the page, unique to your experiences, and it is worth it.

I’ll reiterate: never talk badly about your work, even to other authors in private. It’s so important.

If you’re enjoying the blog, go check out my books. Even without the 118 reviews of For Steam And Country, I knew I had something special in a Steampunk fantasy, and still believe I do. Don’t believe me though, read it for yourself:

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(And you can see a big confidence difference in my writing between book 1 and The Blood Of Giants, it’s an interesting comparative study on this topic right there).

 

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Comic Review: Skies Of Fire

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I haven’t been reviewing much as of late because it’s a bit harder to do reviews as an author with a platform like mine, but I want to make an exception here for Skies of Fire, simply because I loved the book so much.

The book was Kickstarter over the summer, comprising of the first 4 issues of already successful Kickstarters that were collected in this edition. I ordered the hardcover on the basis of the art by Pablo Peppino, which is extremely good. It’s got that movie-realism feel which doesn’t work for every story, but does for this world of airships.

 

I mentioned airships — the other primary reason I was interested in the book was the Dieselpunk theme, which is a little different than Steampunk as it’s more a World War 1-2 era alt-technologies than Victorian, but it still has a lot of the same flavors and themes to it.

I could seriously flip through this as a coffee table art book all day, the art is so wonderful. The coloring is wonderful as well. What’s great about this book too is the book as a bunch of airship designs, maps, fake newspaper articles, fake letters from the king, things like that that add a ton to the worldbuilding and just shows author Ray Chou’s love for the project in general. He really took a lot of care with this world and it shows.

The story is a pretty simple one– there’s an Expanse, which is this permanent storm area to the north of the country, and a bunch of raider/pirate types have set up shop there, terrorizing northern cities. The king is annoyed and asks our heroine to do what it takes to get rid of them. This volume focuses on establishing her, shows her hiring her ace crew which ranges from thieves to society cast outs, to even regular members of the military for a very tense crew that provides a lot of internal conflict as well. This volume is clearly not the end of the story as it goes through their airship launch and first outing.

It all works. The characters are memorable, the plot is a solid one which reminds me of a movie, the pacing is so fast you’ll wish it wasn’t over so fast, it’s all phenomenal on that level, just like the art. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an indie kickstarter without a publisher with such good storytelling like this, it’s above and beyond.

My only criticism is it suffers from “strong woman syndrome” where the female leads are of course more bad ass than the men, cuz of course they are. It’s subtle and not called out in this book like so many others these days, but it’s still present in the way the characters behave, making the women feel a lot less realistic than they should be. But the subtle aspects of it make it so it’s not nearly as big a problem as I read in most fiction these days.

Overall, can’t ask for more in a 4-issue graphic novel. I highly recommend it for reading, especially for fans of my For Steam And Country, as you’ll love the similar airship themes.

 

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Winning Indie Author Mindset (Part 1)

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A lot of people have asked me to write up my experiences as my books keep gaining more traction, continually selling despite establishment publishing being vocally opposed to me, and my main novels being in a very niche genre (YA Steampunk). How does it all keep going and what do I do to make it work?

The answer is pretty complex, and something I spend hours every day working on in addition to writing, but the truth is, it starts with mindset.

Mindset Is Life

Mindset is the way you think about a circumstance, problem, even existing. Do you wake up in the morning energized, ready to tackle the day and accomplish or do you dread waking up, drag your feet for hours before ever getting to work? Most of us are somewhere in between, and we have good and bad days, but either way, our mindset is what makes our day and colors the outcome because we project what we expect the outcome to be on our situations.

My life changed when I started focusing on my mindset, because while I can’t control the outside world, I can control how I react to it to an extent. That’s not to say I don’t get depressed or down, but I do everything in my power to limit those times where I’m not as a productive in order to push myself ahead as an author and as a person.

You’re probably thinking: okay, how does this apply to writing and the writing business? It all interconnects. If we’re working out, eating right, feeling good and energetic about our lives, we’ll be able to produce more and better work. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Detractors From Healthy Mindset

The problem is, there’s always something we can focus on that’s “wrong” to eat up our focus and torpedo our efforts to stay in a good place. The world is an unhealthy place and there’s a lot of different things that can get in our way if we let them:

  • The News
  • The Internet
  • Social Media
  • Depressing Music
  • Dark TV Shows and TV in General
  • Fighting with a colleague
  • Drinking too much
  • Bad eating habits
  • Sedentary lifestyle

The list can go on and on, but these are big ones I’ve noticed seem to impact the majority of people in their work and mindset, myself included. The News and Social Media I think are the primary downers for people today. Everything is an outrage in our culture, everything is something to be shocked about, be depressed about, and it’s all designed to say “you can’t make a difference.”

It’s all a lie. You can make a difference. Just working to better yourself means you’re making a difference in both your life, and the people around you who benefit from your better mindset.

Commitments vs. Distractions

I once was told that everything in life is either a commitment or a distraction, there’s no in between.

Commitments are things you do to benefit yourself and others, real work meant to accomplish something–and often you’ve got commitments that you don’t necessarily want to do or feel like doing all the time, but you do them because you know they’re the right things to do.

Contrast with distractions. A lot of them are already listed in the unhealthy mindset side of things, but we can distract ourselves with anything. Even reading a book can be a distraction from what we’re supposed to be doing.

The key to having a winning mindset is keep yourself committed, keep yourself working, and limit your distractions. If you can do these things, you’re on a big step to a mindset victory, and that will help color your writing career.

The Beginning Indie Author Mindset

Writers are all about getting distracted. How many of us do you see posting to Twitter and Facebook ALL DAY? I’m guilty of this from time to time, and the truth is, most of the time I’m just using it as I’m dragging my feet writing a scene or my words for the day because I’m not in the mood to be creative. At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s really because I’m being lazy and don’t want to put in work, but writing is work. If you want to succeed at this, you need to treat it like a real job just like anything else. You can’t just not show up day after day to your work and get things done (or still have the job), focus and commitment is everything.

The distractions never help us get ahead. And that’s why we have to make them go away.

It takes a lot of dedication and time to be able to force yourself into the proper author mindset. It’s not an overnight process, but it begins with making yourself a big commitment: write every day.

That means turn off the internet, maybe even set a timer for yourself, but make sure you write something every day. Do this for at least 21 consecutive days without taking a break and you’ll make a habit out of it. Once you’ve got in the habit, you’ll find it’s hard to not write every day. Just do it, as a certain sports brand says.

Don’t worry about what you write.

Don’t edit.

Don’t wait for an idea to be perfect or workshop the ideas with a lot of other writers.

Get in that mindset of writing every day as a habit first before anything else. It’s the most crucial piece of advice out there because if you’re not writing like a job, you can’t win at the job.

I’ll be back again tomorrow for part 2, but for now, if you’re interested in what I produce, go check out my fiction. I’ve got a lot to choose from but I’ve got a new release Make Science Fiction Fun Again which is a nice compilation of short stories that came from my ramping up my writing to where I’m doing a lot of work every day. Check it out here if you enjoy great science fiction.

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Alt-Hero Q Crowdfund Campaign

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With the bannings increasing, with the crazies really going all out to make sure we can’t be heard, it’s always best to start our own platforms where we can’t be tampered with, we can’t have the rug swept out from under us.

It’s been frightening watching IndieGoGo and the fallout from the atrocious move they pulled  with Alt-Hero Q. It makes me not want to support that platform or be a part of it. Vox Day has come through again as he has with so many other great things in the past (sci-fi publishing, infogalactic, comic publishing) and started his Alt-Hero Q campaign today. 

What’s great is it’s already funded and this is a way to bring new people in as a test. I’m watching this very closely as we might be moving one of our future comic projects to this platform to avoid any possible interruptions.

 

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Banned by r/fantasy

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r/fantasy is censoring your favorite humble Hispanic author (me).  This group, supposedly about books and fiction in the genre I write, is removing comments when I make them. I’ve violated no rules, I simply posted the following to this thread:

If you click on the thread, my comments are deleted. They took down my commentary because my existence triggers the President of SFWA so much that she’s abused her power to keep me out twice when applying, despite the fact that I duly qualify.

The “comment deleted” from my view in the screen shot in between was a fellow asking me how I do it, to which of course I mentioned my hard work and rapid release program in order to answer his question.

It looks like r/fantasy is gatekeeping authors on behalf of SFWA President Cat Rambo, who has had it out for me ever since my first book became popular by calling this excellent blog “egregious stupidity.” She’s gone out of her way since that point to run whisper campaigns to try to get other authors to not talk to me, to force me out of writing organizations and the like… and why? She REALLY hates my success.

Of course, that’s why I had to thank her. Because in the internet age when people can actually research and see what’s going on, people flock to works of folk like me who are held down and repressed by the establishment.

My ideas are so scary to big publishing, but readers WANT to see what those are. The truth is: I write books which are just fun fantasy without a heavy, boring political agenda like much of Cat’s work. And the other truth is I write strong, female leads better and more realistic than her. Which is why my Steampunk series has continued to success, and despite her powers as the President of SFWA, despite being able to get people to remove me from speaking platforms, getting me banned from conventions, and getting the r/fantasy moderators to censor me — readers know better.

Ask r/fantasy why they’re censoring conservative Hispanic authors, and send them a message by reading Steampunk that readers overwhelmingly say is the best out there. Don’t take my word for it, just look at 4.6 star average reviews by 118 real readers: 

 

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Who Are The Modern Masters of Sci-Fi

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Got a blog question from David this morning asking who I consider to be the modern masters of sci-fi, a great question. Off the top of my head:

John C. Wright 

Mark Wandrey 

Robert Kroese 

Lois McMaster Bujold 

Richard Fox 

Elizabeth Moon

Jay Allan

Daniel Arenson  

Robert Venditti  (X-O Manowar and Green Lantern modern comics)

Brad Torgersen  (For his short fiction) 

There’s someone up and coming who doesn’t quite have the catalog yet but I’d also recommend Dominika Lien.

I also don’t think I’m quite there yet as I’m too new to this game, but give me five years. A great sampling can be had in Make Science Fiction Fun Again, as I’m pushing concepts and fun in sci-fi in ways that big publishers could NEVER do.

 

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Is Twitter Beneficial?

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I received a reader message this morning imploring that I should get back on twitter, that my 5000 or so fans on there want to interact with me and by bailing I signal to the other side that they win.

It’s an interesting dilemma. I have a few problems with Twitter beyond the immediate insanity of EVS’s harassment squad — it’s enemy territory. I’ve been suspended several times for pointless reasons that aren’t actual violations, and now they’re cracking down hard on people who have different opinions than the establishment alt-left on different matters. It’s a bad environment to begin with. Another author put it to me: “Twitter is enemy territory.” It’s like running into Afghanistan or something and putting an American flag down in the middle of the square and saying “What’s up guys?” And my fellow author is right about that.

Second, it’s a time suck. Every minute I spend tweeting is a minute I’m not spending blogging, tending to my mailing list, working on my ads, writing books, producing comics, or all the other things I should be doing. Is the ability to shitpost to give people a few laughs really worth that? I’ve taken Facebook off my phone and only use it when I want to, making it more cumbersome and a thing I have to consciously do rather than do unconsciously. I think the further distance from social media and the more it’s used as a marketing tool platform at this stage of my life, the better.

For now, the best ways to interact with me is to get on my mailing list. I use this to let people know when new releases are out and it’s the best way to ensure you’ll never miss one. In 2019 I intend on using this more to deliver some content, give people some benefits for getting emails from me (and it sends out from my email so you can just write back).

Second, Patreon. I have a private discord server for Patreon supporters along with all the cool content that gets released there FIRST before anywhere else. It’s small but it’s a good spot to interact without all the noise and public grandstanding from people who just want to attack me for attention.

Third, The Grand Rislandian Army facebook group. It’s just about my books and works, and It’s more fun because of that.

If I were to return to Twitter, I would probably have it managed similarly to the way I do Facebook now, which is not so much engaging on posts off of my own. I might even not go on the site itself and just program posts from somewhere else just so I don’t have to interact there. I don’t think there’s a lot of good that comes from it, though I do wish I had that spot to send out my links when a new book or blog gets posted or whatnot.

What do you guys think?

BTW… Make Science Fiction Fun Again is hanging strong at #3 here, but I’ve still got these #Resist alt-leftists to pass. America still needs your help! Buy Make Science Fiction Fun Again now! 

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