Federalist Interview with Extinct and Ender’s Game Universe Writer Aaron Johnston

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I did an interview with the showrunner and writer for Extinct, a tv show I really loved last year that sadly wasn’t renewed. It was nice seeing characters that were family-oriented in sci-fi for once. Aaron knows a lot about writing and is one of the most thoughtful interviewees I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

You can check out the interview here: http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/08/orson-scott-cards-extinct-resurrects-sci-fi-tv-ages-can-enjoy/

And if you like my work, support my Patreon! Help me create comics, write short stories, get more content out for everyone. We’re making real change in culture!

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Quality Takes Work – There’s No Way Around It

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Everyone’s  always trying to get to the top of the game in whatever they’re doing with the least amount of work possible. It’s human nature. We all want to be the top-top of whatever we’re doing, and more importantly we want to do that fast.

I get approached for writing advice and marketing advice on a daily basis now, which is great, it means people perceive what I’m doing on both fronts is working and valuable.

But a lot of people who approach me for this also think I have a magical secret to getting all this done like I popped out of thin air and had a great success. My debut novel did very well, my follow up did equally well even though it’s in a nichier sub-genre, it’s only been one year in the business, right?

That’s where they’re wrong.

I’ve been writing since i was 18. Though I didn’t put professional attention to it until about 2014, and didn’t really even put good hobby time attention to it until about 2010, I’d always thought about it, it’s always been a part of my routine in some way. In 2014 I really started putting work hours into it. I didn’t come out of nowhere. I managed a web-comic and its content traffic for 3 years, I did weekly fiction for the Doomtown: Reloaded card game. There’s always been work involved, it wasn’t write one novel and go.

There’s  truth to the concept of having to put 10,000 hours into something to become a professional at the work. Or 1,000,000 pages written as is said in the writing genre. Some people move a little faster or a little slower in the learning, the clicking as to what works and what doesn’t, but for the most part, this holds true. And it’ll take you at least a couple of years to put in that many hours for the product to really show the results. You should see what my editors tell me about my new books coming down the pipeline vs. my older writing. It’s a big change positively, and it’s because I understand what I’m doing to a much higher degree than I used to. The only way around it was to put in a lot of hours.

It goes the same for editing. The Stars Entwined, which is releasing March 20th, was actually the first book I wrote. I  originally  took an editing course How To Revise Your Novel by Holly Lisle before engaging in my first edit of this book back in 2012, which offers some good systems for looking at your work. When I edited the first time, I didn’t know what i was doing, I thought it was fine. I brought it before several people. They told me (politely) that it was trash. And it was. The concept was a good one, but the story and prose weren’t there on a lot of levels. I significantly rewrote it again in 2014 and changed the world significantly before setting it aside to work on another book. Working on a second book actually helped me look at this book fresh. And by the time I’d actually gotten to rewriting The Stars Entwined again, I’d edited 3 other books already in addition to the work I’d put into this. I had to gain the understanding in craft in order to make this work. This 2017 version is now in my opinion my best work to date. But those hours, those pages all had to be there for the story to be this epic and  this clean.

It’s the same for marketing. I’m good at going viral, and getting people to pay attention to my work. Part of it was a little bit of luck. Part of it was cultivating friendships of people like Todd McCaffrey, Vox Day, Robert Kroese, Nick Cole, John C. Wright and others to talk about me and promote me and give me the leg up. But part of it’s producing content on a daily basis, always putting myself out there, growing the back end and making sure I understand all the 4 Ps of marketing. I’m not just screwing  around on Twitter all day and selling lots of books.

I’m a big multi-tasker. So while I’m firing off a  quick tweet, I’m usually doing something else more constructive along with it. But I’ve put the kind of background work into marketing — even moreso than I have into writing. I’ve done marketing work in day jobs, I studied at the Haas School of Business, a top 10 business school in the whole country. Business and Marketing I’m more of an expert in by writing because I’ve put so many more thousand hours into it. And that’s why it shows.

But you don’t have to have these backgrounds to put in the work. Research marketing courses that are effective. Do more than just ask questions, engage in it, treat  your work like a business. Track sales, see what works and gets engagement and what doesn’t. You’ll have a lot of trial and error — and you will in your writing too — but once you get around that 10,000 hour mark in the work, you’ll know what you’re doing.

If you like my thoughts on the industry and how to succeed, you’ll probably like my fiction writing too. Check out For Steam And Country, the book that keeps selling because it’s so much fun.

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Book Blast: God Hates Me: The Diary of an Ex-Angel By Richard Cain

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I love when fantasy hits on good Christian concepts, and this looks to be an excellent work in that regard. Evil comes as wolves in sheep’s clothings. They don’t tend to show themselves as the ugly, hateful creatures you’d expect. This book looks like an entertaining fantasy/horror read:

Demon is such an ugly word.

Malach prefers “angelically-challenged”. After all, it’s not his fault that he was kicked out of Heaven.

And if you’ll just listen, he can explain everything.

GOD HATES ME: The Diary of an Ex-Angel is a smart, funny, and surprisingly moving tale of a demon who means well and would really like to figure out how to get back to Heaven one day. But how do you make a case for yourself when no one seems to care enough to listen?

The cover is… quite interesting as well. You can check it out here. 

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John C Wright To Co-Host First Annual Ribbit Awards

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The Happy Frogs highly anticipated first annual Ribbit Awards now has a date and time: February 20th at 7 PM EST. Come watch the 2nd most prestigious awards in science fiction live with co-host, grand master of Science Fiction, one of the greatest writers in the field, John C. Wright!

It’s going to be a great night with some wonderful surprises in the awards. Do be sure to tune in!

 

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Friend Friday: “Goof Off” By Russ Meyer

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R.D. Meyer, author of Salvation Day, stops by the blog today to tell us about the importance of goofing off and daydreaming in terms of creativity. Read what he has to say:

Goofing off has long been maligned. We’re told as kids that we need to knuckle down
and concentrate. Goofing off and daydreaming are things that got us scolded.
“Pay attention!’ our teachers would say.

“Get your head out of the clouds!’ our parents would yell.

“Focus!” our coaches would scream.

This is all fabulous advice for learning a subject or trying to hit a baseball. However, as
a writer, I’ve found that such curtailments of our thoughts can be counterproductive.

Daydreaming is not only something vital to the process of writing, but it’s something that
must be encouraged.

So why did I entitle this post “Goof Off” if I’m talking about daydreaming? Because to
the layman, daydreaming looks a lot like goofing off. I have several ways to do it. I
might sit in my chair and simply gaze into the unknown haze of whatever crosses my
mind. Similarly, I’ll go on long walks with my dogs and just let my mind drift. My wife,
my boss, or my children may say that there are better things I could be doing in such a
moment, but it’s hard to impart to others just how much I’m working by goofing off.
Stories don’t just come to writers. TV shows and movies often portray the creative
process as if it’s angels singing in grand chorus while a light shines down on our faces,
but that’s not how most of us work. I have to let my mind wander and try to work stuff
out. Sometimes a good story comes out, and sometimes it doesn’t, but I can’t find out if
I’m “focused” on another task.

Here’s what I mean – my latest novel, Salvation Day, came about as a result of long
walks with my dogs. My oldest daughter had just been born, and she had a myriad of
health issues. Anyone who is a parent knows that children can be equal parts joy,
pride, frustration, and worry, and I was caught in the worry stage for most of her early
life. I’m a person of faith, but nothing tests faith like potentially horrible things
happening to your children. While walking my dogs, I used the time to sort through
what I was feeling.

I began to wonder why God would allow such misery, as well as how I would react if my
daughter died. My mind then worked its way over to my wife and how she would react.
As a naturally paranoid person, my thoughts strayed towards the worst case
scenario(that happens as a defense mechanism so that I can prepare for the worst,
even if the worst rarely comes). To me, the worst would’ve been not only my child
dying, but my wife being so consumed with grief that she ends her own life.

Once sanity returned – my wife is far stronger than I am, so she would never do such a
thing – I began playing further with the idea. Suppose something like that happened but
a man had the power to confront God Himself with the anger such a situation would
create? What would that look like? How could that come about? Would Hell be involved? Could someone actually do something about such vengeful thoughts towards

God? What kind of anger would a person have to lose himself in to make him want to
confront the Almighty? All of this speculation led to Salvation Day.

Even with all of that, there was a lot to work out, which meant more goofing off. And
that’s how I’ve found the inspiration and details for all of my novels(I’ve published two,
and I have three more ready to be published in the next year or so). It’s like playing out
a movie in your head, only you get to have influence over the direction(I say influence
rather than control because most writers know that they’re merely transcribing the
movie they see in their heads onto paper rather than making something up out of whole
cloth).

Without goofing off, we’d miss out on some of the better books of history. Can anyone
honestly say that HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds was little but a daydream put on paper?
Or that A Christmas Carol could be thought up while someone was focused on doing
taxes? Goofing off was the key component to bringing those from the mind to the
audience.

What’s more, daydreaming has to be more than just the idea. Any idiot can come up
with the basic premise to a story. However, to make it something worthwhile to an
audience beyond family, detail needs to be added, and goofing off helps fill in those
holes too. For example, in Salvation Day, I knew from the first moment I had the idea
what the beginning and end of my story would be, but I had no idea how to get from the
start to the finish. Daydreaming was the primary way I filled in the blanks. I found
myself giving my wife all the excuses I could to walk my dogs or be out on the back
porch staring at the mountains near our house. These sessions allowed my mind to
wander and took my idea from just something kind of cool to a story I could put on
paper and which other people might enjoy.

Don’t let killjoys drag you too far back to reality and tell you that you aren’t doing
anything useful, for as a writer, goofing off is incredibly useful. It’s the canvass on which
we paint our universes, but we must be allowed to do so. Without it, we’d be denied so
many fun stories.

Goof off. Daydream. Let your mind wander. I promise that the real world will be
waiting for you when you’re finished.

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Brief Thoughts On Editing A Sequel

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This is the first time I’ve gone through a book as a sequel while I did edits. It’s a very interesting process which is a bit different than the first. The characters are established, so it’s more making sure they’re consistent in their actions with the first book (having grown) than it is ensuring you get that proper voice. They’re familiar people to me at this point.

The world building is the same– already done, already established. So it’s about making sure that the feel is the same as before.

So in a lot of ways, it’s easier. It’s familiar ground that’s been done before, but on the other hand, it’s more difficult because expectations are there.

It means the timelines have to be perfect, the consistency has to be perfect otherwise the readers are going to cry foul.

I had to go through the first book several times and hunt for references I know I made. I have a nice world sheet where I have names/dates/references handy, and as I mentioned last week on the blog before I set about this I made sure I had a timeline made (which I posted up for my Patreon subscribers to be able to see) . All of that helped me get into the mindset to pick apart the details of the world.

For me, I already know the structure of the novel is fairly sound. Before I ever set pen to paper — I’ve gone through a process where I have written a brief summary of the plot, then outlined it, then revised the outline. So keeping the flow and plot holes to a minimum have already been done even before my first draft starts. I may add or subtract a scene here or there if I go through and read it and some vital information was missing or the pacing feels off or redundant, but because of my detailed process to begin with, I don’t have to worry about it much on that level. It may vary depending on your process in this regard.

But the consistency and details are what’s super important.

Larry Correia actually posted some nice advice on his facebook the other day. He said he likes to go and listen to the audiobook of his work before going into a sequel like this — and I think this is great advice. The reasoning is the audio, hearing someone else read it, gives you a perspective where you’re enjoying someone else’s work even though it’s yours. It lets you envision the details more clearly than if you were going into your work alone. If you have this capability on your first book, I would certainly advocate this for the sequel.

The act of creating a nice note sheet for world and timeline purposes is something that is good as well. You hunt through your prior manuscript for this information and it helps a lot.

I find often I have to go back and reference it, as well as my prior work. There’s a lot of “find and replace” involved to make sure names don’t change and ensuring those little things are present.

There’s no shortcut. Hard work is required. Don’t skimp on the details. That’s your most important task. And I need to get back to it!

If you like my blog and are excited about this world, make sure to read For Steam And Country, available on Amazon.

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Retro Review: Poul Anderson – Ensign Flandry

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Almost every time I open up a new Poul Anderson book, I find myself overcome with joy. I get strange aliens, a cool world with a lot of conflict, plenty of intrigue and action, and a g guaranteed sense of wonder and just joy of being in science fiction that a lot of modern authors don’t offer.

Ensign Flandry is the first book in a sequence of books in a future history Anderson developed for the period of the Terran Empire. There’s a lot of different books and the reading order is a bit murky overall, but Ensign Flandry is a good place to start to follow this particular character’s adventures.

It starts out not introducing the title character at all, but setting backdrops of both the Terran Empire — showing the decadence and decline of nobility, and a human commander on a faraway planet, where there are 4 species at play. There are two local sentient species, one under water, and one tiger or cat-like species that are fighting for dominance of the planet. The humans have taken the side of the cat species, and the Mersians have taken the underwater dwellers’ side. A series of incidents are escalating between the two and it looks like war is happening.

It’s odd at that point.  I  wasn’t quite sure about the book, though I’ve seen Anderson start books off in strange ways before. It was a lot of set up, and because you’re jumping perspectives so much there’s not a ton to latch onto, so it took me awhile to get into the book. In hindsight, I enjoyed the set up, but it was a strange start during the read of it.

Once we are introduced to Flandry a good seeral chapters into the novel, we find a fun, competent young character who appears as if he has the inexperience and follies of youth, but there’s a lot more to him than we see. He gets caught up in the struggles of the conflicts, and the humans scramble not to have this escalate into a full on war.

He gets conscripted into intelligence, and goes to the Mersian homeworld as part of an ambassadorial delegation. This is where we get some James Bond ish adventuring in space, but with a twist as Flandry doesn’t do a lot of the direct espionage himself. He’s often observing what’s going on and just happens to fall into a part of it, but it really works despite not being in the direct action a lot of the time. Flandry finds himself fooling around with his Imperial nobility’s concubine on the planet and gets himself into a world of trouble.

It only escalates tension from there. The characters are so well done. You end up caring a lot about Flandry and then Persis, the concubine. The conflict with the Mersians progresses in such an interesting and different way as well. It’s very imaginative all the way around.

And then Anderson puts a final twist on it which I won’t spoil. That’s where it gets really interesting. The wrold was so  well developed in this fairly short novel, and the conclusion is entirely satisfying.

I might like this book even better than Fire Time, which is my favorite Anderson book so far. It’s tough to say. This had an extra fun factor to it where Fire Time felt a little more serious. I’m excited to continue this series and  read more adventures about Flandry.  Baen  has done a great job collecting these in their “Technic Civilization Saga” series for easy omnibus reading.

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The Hilarious Reactions To The Happy Frogs Hugo Slate

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The usual suspects are triggered like always. They can’t just enjoy what they like and have other people enjoy what they like and get along. They have to diminish, demean, and destroy. It’s all they have now.

The slate was carefully chosen to give a nice glimpse at some of the best fiction out there, with one per category because nominating more than one gives diminishing returns in terms of vote, with the new rules they’ve put up to rig it, so it’s better just to place one.

Here’s some common reactions so far:

They’re all nobodies!  

I.e.  they’re not people active in their circles. It’s funny they’d say this about Jody Lynn Nye, who’s one of the most prolific writers of the last century, a NYT Bestseller, co-writer with Anne McCaffrey, co-writer with Robert Asprin, and one of the best storytellers alive. She is more than deserving and never got any attention on the awards circuit, and I think it’s a big shame. But… because the Narrative that this slate is irrelevant must prevail, she must not be worthy.

Richard Fox and Mark Wandrey outsell everyone complaining about the slates combined. They’ve still got their head in the sands pretending that indie is irrelevant and doesn’t exist. It’s the only market where people actually buy books, and it’s gonna be a couple more years before these folk stick their heads up and say “what happened?” when they’ve got no readers left from alienating everyone in favor of their clique.

Your writing is terrible, no I haven’ read it.

The poo-pooing of Gravity Of The Game, my novella in which I already received a dozen messages in support of for the best novella category. Just because of identity. It’s a very diverse book, with good intrigue, a true science fiction concept in the classic sense, and a heartwarming ending. But they’ll never know, because they already know. They’ll tell you so. Shows their hubris again.

‘Maybe  they should check out my reviews of that and For Steam And Country. Readers love what I do. Not my fault this crowd’s not in touch with the market.

THAT BEALE!  I’LL GET HIM NEXT TIME AND HIS LITTLE RABID PUPPIES TOO!

Vox Day’s existence triggers them beyond triggering. Especially since Castalia House is growing so well and he’s more successful every year, and there’s nothing they can do to stop him.

DADDY WARPIG OMG #GAMERGATE

DW is a great fan writer. He writes extremely passionate, fun, and well thought out pieces. They don’t want to acknowledge him over identity, and are triggered by his existence.

BRIGHT IS THE AWFULEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME OMG!

There was a narrative going on about this movie before it came out to diminish it calling it the usual things: racist, sexist, derp derp derp. And identity is all that matters. It doesn’t matter that Will Smith was great, that the movie is fun. The narrative political element is all they need. They  probably, like my books, didn’t even see it.

ETHAN VAN SCIVER IS A MEANIE PANTS… BUT NOT AS BAD AS THAT VOX DAY!

Pretty predictable reaction here. They again, don’t care that he’s one of if not the most talented line artist working out there today. But who needs to look at art or read books to ensure the proper people win hugo awards? It’s about respectability. And Ethan is a Republican. How could anyone literally even?

MOIRA GREYLAND IS ERASED.

The writer of The Last Closet, who exposed the pedophilia going on with the elites in science fiction fandoms with their disgusting lifestyles harming children — even at conventions like worldcon. No one stops them, no one speaks out about them, it’s a dirty secret which these folk don’t want out, and so they won’t even mention her. They’re covering up for this sort of behavior, and don’t want to admit the toxicity within their own ranks. Part of the reason they try so hard to make sure I’m not present, because they know i’d expose it.

It’s been pretty fun and only less than 24 hours. I’ve noticed the talk of the Hugos is very low, very few people care about this award anymore. Between what they did the last several years, and the way WorldCon shamefully discriminated against me for being a political figure, they’ve created the most exclusive, non-diverse, smallest clique possible. It’s amusing to see how upset they get just by someone voicing different opinions for what books are best. It’s that crazy.

If you like my opinions on fiction, you’ll probably really enjoy my monthly short stories, deleted scenes and more on my Patreon. Subscribe and support making science fiction fun again!  

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Hugo Nominating – “Gravity Of The Game” By Jon Del Arroz

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Hugo Nominations just opened, and we’re a month since Wolrdcon made an unprecedented move by banning me from attendance without giving much of a reason, but defaming me on their website and calling me a “racist bully.”

The leadership of Worldcon has made it clear that they are not willing to extend protections to political figures they disagree with in this action, as they didn’t talk to me, didn’t respond to my concerns for my and other conservative writer’s safety when I broached the subject in November, but instead took this shameful action to discriminate against me because of my political beliefs.

But we the writers and fans can send them a message. The Hugo Awards are still a part of this convention, and you can nominate my novella, “Gravity Of The Game” for best novella.

Reviews are extremely positive for this classic science fiction tale. It’s in the spirit of science fiction past, when everyone was welcome at a Worldcon regardless of creed or beliefs. It presents a welcoming future, where we can get along as a society, and this is the vision of the future I want to present in my science fiction. This is the vision the gatekeepers in science fiction are trying to prevent from spreading.

The novella has gone out to everyone on my mailing list for free, and it’s available on amazon for 99 cents. If you’re planning on nominating for the Hugos, I’ll happily send you a copy. The message needs to be sent that both we love fun science fiction, and that their behavior is not acceptable.

Check out the novella on Amazon here, sign up for my mailing list or contact me and I’ll make sure you get a copy.

Nominate “Gravity Of The Game” by Jon Del Arroz for best novella category!

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The Importance Of Timelines

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I take some pretty detailed setting notes when writing books, and I’m glad I have those, but something I hadn’t done in my book ones of series, is set up a detailed timeline of my universes. As I’m getting into sequels, I find this increasingly important to have as I’m referencing past events in the world and honing the universe. In terms of The Stars Entwined, my forthcoming space opera novel, I actually am writing several overlapping stories, so it becomes essential rather quickly.

I worked this weekend putting together a basic timeline for my steampunk universe, and I’ll be doing The Stars Entwined next, just as a reference sheet. Any odd locations, events, past matters, I’m putting into the timeline, so that I can have a clear picture of where I’m going as this goes forward.

In my steampunk universe, I’m not jumping around in the timeline so much, but I do open up each chapter with a “Baron Von Monocle’s Log” which helps frame the chapter as well as tell a story from Zaira’s father’s time. Getting all this straight and accurate is important and becomes more so as multiple books reference multiple past adventures.

If you’re writing a series, timelines are very important, and I suggest doing the work as you write that first book to prevent going back and having to read through and find the various points, especially if you’re telling some epic tales where there are numerous side events the characters don’t interact with that may become important to the story later. This kind of prep will save you time and also help you build a more detailed, realistic world for those future books to keep the readers engaged.

My readers will find a LOT of easter eggs from seeming throwaway stories from For Steam And Country that the characters told, as they become important in future books. A lot of these I’ve intended from the start, but it becomes increasingly important to get the details straight as the books go on.

If you enjoy my worldbuilding and timelines, you’ll probably like the short stories from my Patreon. Some of them tie into my novels and I just posted the For Steam And Country world timeline for subscribers. Check it out! 

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