When You Don’t Fit The Fake News Narrative

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A couple of months ago I was approached by an NPR journalist who said she was coming to talk about “crowdfund comics” and wanted an interview. A few weeks ago, a story ran on NPR torching crowdfund comic alternatives to the mainstreams, libeling them as “alt-right” and spending an hour on doctored interviews to make people look bad.

None of the questions they asked me were aired in that interview. I suspect these were more “pre-interview” questions to see if I could be useful for their narrative. “Journalists” these days mostly have conclusions first and then ask you questions to try to fit into their narrative in hopes that it will. Despite this being an ‘investigative reporting’ piece on NPR, there was no investigating done, only attempts to smear.

I’m not a very good candidate because I fly against their “racist/sexist” narrative with Flying Sparks. It’s a minority creative team with a strong female lead character. Those “alt-right” crowdfunders are supposed to be against that, right?

Here’s the questions and answers in full:

What’s the history of Flying Sparks?

Flying Sparks is the story of a hero and villain in love. I always loved the Spider-Man/Mary Jane or Batman/Catwoman romantic aspects of storylines and wanted to dial that up for some intense personal drama with superheroes. Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith but with a Superman vibe and meant more for an all-ages crowd. I started developing this years ago because I really wanted to get into comics and I saved a little money from every paycheck to buy art a page here and a page there until I could get a full story done. The crowdfund is really meant to recoup art costs and get a print run made. Jethro Morales is the artist who’s known for his work on Green Hornet and Hack Slash and he’s stuck with me for years while making this.

Why did you decide to do an Indiegogo campaign for it?

Crowdfund seems to be the way to make comics happen at the indie level. It’s a really difficult process to get into stores and so finding an audience this way is a necessity for independent creators. A lot of my friends had successful indiegogo projects so it made sense to go there.

Is this the first time you’ve crowdfunded a project?

Yes! First time and I can’t believe how successful it is so far.

If so, how has the experience been like/unlike your expectations?

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have a couple popular science fiction novels (For Steam And Country, The Stars Entwined) but I found the audience doesn’t crossover to comics so much. A completely new audience tuned in to buy this and it’s awesome to be reaching more people. It’s nerve racking refreshing the page, watching all day to see if anyone’s backing, and with the numbers being so public there’s a lot more pressure than having a book on Amazon, but it’s also more exciting too.

 

As you can see, I didn’t trigger anything that showed I would be useful for that hit piece. If you’re going to talk to the fake news, keep it in this realm. If they can’t use something, they won’t. If they can, that’s where you made a mistake.

I’m still crowdfunding to a lot of success. My new one is The Ember War, and it’s just got a couple of weeks left. 120 pages of awesome military science fiction they can’t use for their narrative. Back it here:

 

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Last Day For Steam And Country Sale

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Last week I launched the conclusion to the Adventures of Baron Von Monocle trilogy, the Fight For Rislandia. This week, both books one and two are on sale, and For Steam And Country is only 99 cents.

This is the perfect time to pick up all three books in the series and get in if you haven’t already.

For Steam And Country:  ONLY 99 CENTS ONE DAY!

The Blood Of Giants: (ON SALE 2.99)

The Fight For Rislandia: 

People are already asking if there will be more — I don’t have anything left in the stash, this is everything I wrote for the series. I’ve got a trilogy I’m working on, 2 alt-hero novels to release, a tie-in for The Stars Entwined, a short story collection and several comics in the pipeline. It’ll be a sec but with how well Knight Training did, I certainly will be doing a follow up to that. James’ 2nd adventure will overlap chronologically with The Fight For Rislandia. Eventually I want to do a wiki for the series, will probably need some help with that.

Hope you enjoy! And make sure to leave reviews, especially for the later books! They need to catch up.

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The Media Only Cares About Sensation

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I started reading Hoaxed by Mike Cernovich yesterday, and it provided me with a great context for the last couple of years of fake news. All of it comes and goes so quickly it moves us as a society from one outrage to the next and doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

One of the interviews in there, which I think was with Ryan Holiday, said (paraphrasing): don’t confuse discussion on the news on social media for civic activism. The kind of riled up mentality online doesn’t add anything to civic discourse or doing anything constructive. And I found that to be something sobering.

We’re all online now, all regularly hitting the news stories of the day in one way or another, and it doesn’t seem to do much good for life. What good does even having information on “what might happen to Kavanaugh” do for us? It’s like an adrenaline jolt to get us to worry, keep us focused on things outside of our control, and at the end of the day doesn’t matter.

Even as an online journalist myself, I’ve found myself consuming a lot less news in the last several months, and I’ve been much happier for it. I don’t really want to fill my head with whatever narrative the press wants us to get outraged about today. I don’t want to be outraged at all. It’s not a fun state of being to be in after awhile — it’s very tiring and taxing, and that just slows me down in creating the books I love.

It seems to be the only solution I can offer: turn off the talking heads. I’ve seen it in stats myself a lot on the blog. If I have something happen to me in sci-fi or write about a friend where something terrible is going on and it’s due to politics, views shoot through the roof. If I write about “hey I read these zorro comics” people tune completely out and views go way down. It’s really odd how it happens even over the span of just one article, but it’s there.

Food for thought this morning.

While you’re thinking, my trilogy is on a major sale today. For Steam And Country 99 cents! The blood of giants (sequel) only 2.99! It’s never been easier to get in on my series so check it out today!

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The Mark Of Zorro In Comics

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As the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, I realized there was a small hole in my pop culture knowledge in that of the character Zorro.

Zorro was created in 1919 by Johnston McCulley, with the short novel, The Curse of Capistrano, which ran in the magazine All-Star Weekly. The story was soon adapted to film, and the mad success of the movie made Johnston write a lot more stories (he wrote 5 serialized novels and 57 shorts in all).  The first novel is very self-contained, and also ends with Zorro unmasking and revealing himself to everyone, as well as his betrothal to a woman Lolita, not leaving much room at all for the character to exist. McCulley simply ignored any continuity and wrote Zorro pretty much as if the first book never happened from there out.

The story is about a man who dresses up as a vigilante and rescues Californians from a corrupt government in the early to mid 1800s. McCulley doesn’t pay much attention to actual history either, but creates a California suitable to his ideas.

But despite several popular movies and serials, Zorro didn’t enter the comic medium until 1958, when the Disney show reenergized the character. it was the same year McCulley died, incidentally, when Dell launched its line based on the show with the Bernardo and the fat Sergeant Garcia as hallmark characters, Disney adding a lot to the Mythos.

The first Zorro comic run came out through Dell, and is comprised of many short one-off adventures that range anywhere from 8 pages up to 32. It’s most notable for several issues drawn by famous artist Alex Toth, who added a beautiful signature touch to the work. The series ran for 15 issues total over three years and is currently collected in 2 volume: The Complete Dell Pre-Code Comics and The Complete Alex Toth by Hermes Press. Overall, these are fantastic comics, and well worth the read. I believe some of these are adaptations of Disney episodes, but I’ve been unable to source the Disney episodes of the show to confirm.

Those books were later reprinted by Gold Key in its own series lasting 8 issues, which marked all there were of “official” Zorro comics until much later.

Zorro returned in 1991 from Marvel Comics in a series that lasted 11 issues. These stories were just adaptations of a new TV show on the air. The stories come across rushed with some poor art and very poor pacing through most of them. They’ve not been collected or reprinted.

In 1993, Topps launched its line of Zorro comics which lasted 12 issues (plus a 0). It actually began in a miniseries called Zorro vs. Dracula, a 2 issue warm up to the series. MacGregor developed a rogues gallery for Zorro to make him more like modern superheroes featuring Moonstalker, Machete and most famously, Lady Rawhide. This series has some internal continuity as it develops, and Don MaGregor and Mike Mayhew paint a wonderful scene which gets borrowed from in later Zorro runs. It abruptly gets cut off, promising more story called “Matanzas” — which gets made into an IDW standalone graphic novel many years later that is edited to stand alone, but picks up very nicely where this comic left off and does seem to maintain some internal continuity there. Lady Rawhide also received her own Zorro spinoff from Image Comics a couple of years later that went 5 issues.

Once Topps went bankrupt, the next Zorro book became the adaptation of the Antonio Banderas film of the character, a miniseries also by Don MacGregor.

MacGregor did a ton with the character, working on daily gag strips at the time which lasted for 2 years. The first of these years is collected by Image in “The Dailies” but the second are not reprinted anywhere to date.

In 2003, the Children’s book publisher Papercutz took the Zorro Franchise and decided to make 3 issue arcs for small graphic novels of the character. These continued where MacGregor’s Dailies left off with Zorro and a female companion on the run and in Yellowstone, out of California for the time. These MacGregor stories don’t have the feel of the topps ones at all, and are definitely meant for a younger age. They still have MacGregor’s expertise. 6 issues were printed which cover the first two graphic novels, when Papercutz gave up on the individual issues, but made a 3rd graphic novel volume that’s available. A fourth was promised/listed for sale in 2006 but I’m unsure if it was ever released.

IDW received the license in 2008, making several Zorro series, the most lengthy runs of the character to date. Matanzas was already mentioned which took MacGregor’s old work with Mahew, but Topps made their own continuity in their own series after that, a book lasting 20 issues. It was followed up by an 8-issue “Zorro Rides Again” series and two other books: Django/Zorro and The Lone Ranger/Zorro, the latter of which features an elder Zorro going to his death. IDW really pushed the character and continuity much further than before. They took Lady Rawhide and changed her to “Lady Zorro”, who also received her own miniseries. The books are very consistent in quality and while Topps may have the most well known run, these give those a run for its money.

The character rested for a few years an the license just changed to American Mythology, a small publishing company. This year they’ve taken french language comics and translated them to english in a miniseries Zorro Legendary Adventures (4 issues) and also launched Zorro, Swords of Hell which the first issues is coming out this month — taking the character in a direction of fighting the supernatural. And this brings us up to date, as they seem to be relaunching and redoing the character in a different vein than we’ve seen in the last 20 years. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s been a lot of reading, but most of it (aside from the marvel run) was very fun and worthwhile. The character still has a lot of room for expansion as there’s been no real definitive versions outside of Disney’s 1958 show. We’ll see what the future holds but if you’re interested in Zorro comics and collecting, this can act as a guide for what’s out there!

If you like my research, back my comic. it’s military science fiction and I’ve studied comics for decades so I’m producing a good one! Back the Ember War here.

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The Internet And False Choices

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Kanye West yesterday got in the news because he was both wearing a Trump hat and a Colin Kaepernick jumper. This shouldn’t be news at all, because what someone wears is ridiculous as it is, but Kanye was making a statement with the matter.

In the internet age, everything has become a zero sum game. You must hate this person if you’re an R. You must hate this person if you’re a D. You can’t say anything they do is good or you’re ostracized. It goes for a lot of different things in our culture.

You can’t like both Drake and Pusha T in rap.

You can’t be into Marvel AND DC. You can’t be into Jeff Lemire AND Comcisgate.

We’re al guilty of this at times, myself included. And there’s a big problem when you get into this sort of thing — it limits you.

It limits the things you see, the way you see the world, the people you come across and interact with. When everything becomes a binary choice 100% or 0% you lose out, especially when it comes to people.

People are just people. We’re all good. We’re all bad. We’re all in between. You may not like my book Star Realms: Rescue Run, but maybe you like For Steam And Country. They’re two different things from two different points in my life and with two different aesthetics, all by the same person. And that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing all the time.

The problem is when we get into groups on the internet, it becomes that. We play for likes. Those likes get us feedback when we all sway one way, different feedback when we all sway another way. The way that likes and retweets and all that has got us programmed, it’s forced so much to be a zero sum game.

The truth is, all people have good and bad about them, and most actually have good or at least good intentions most of the time. We tend to ascribe the motivations for people we would like them to have or that we think we ourselves would have in situations, especially when we’re ascribing the most negative motivations to people.

But real life is not the internet. Real life is not likes. Real life is not appealing to a singular echo chamber. It’s okay to love everyone.

Zaira’s forced into a corner in The Fight For Rislandia, where she has little choice but to engage the enemy. That’s war, but real life isn’t all a war. You can read about war in Rislandia in my new book here, and in real life, choose a better path.

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New Book Release: The Fight For Rislandia!

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I’ve been waiting to get this full trilogy out for awhile, working hard, making sure all the pieces came into place and now we finally have a complete story of The Adventures Of Baron Von Monocole! The Fight For Rislandia is out now on Amazon! This is the darkest and most action-packed installment of the adventure as Zaira faces off against the entire might of the Wyranth army.

The Adventures Of Baron Von Monocle is a #1 Bestselling Series and an award winner. Thank you everyone who have been so invested and took the time to make this such a success!

If you’re not familiar with the series, here’s the reading order:

Book 1: For Steam And Country

Flash Fiction (Free) – The Battlecry Of The Liliana – Takes Place Chronologically before For Steam And Country

Book 1.5: Knight Training (Short novella – good jumping on point)

Book 2: The Blood Of Giants  (Also works as a standalone jumping on point)

And now the epic conclusion!

Book 3: The Fight For Rislandia

Enemy at the gates!

The Wyranth Empire is marching on Rislandia City. Zaira Von Monocle and her airship crew are all that stands between the invading army and the total destruction of her country. 

After her expedition to the Zenwey continent, Zaira discovers the Wyranth have a new source of their giant’s blood soldier serum. The enemy has pressed the advantage and used the lack of an airship threat to gain ground. Meanwhile, the Rislandian Grand Army is running low on supplies and food. They can’t hold out forever. 

Join Zaira and her crew as they try to take on the full might of the Wyranth Empire and deal with a deadly surprise the Iron Emperor has waiting for them in the conclusion to this epic steampunk trilogy!

Update: Folk have asked for the print version. It’s up! The print version is not tying to the ebook right now for some reason on Amazon. Trying to get that fixed. It’s available here. 

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Fighting The Left And Their Lack Of Morals

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It’s a very hard road, and that’s why most people tend to stay out of the fray. As we’ve seen with Brett Kavanaugh, the objective is destroy a person completely and utterly FIRST, and find any narrative that will corroborate that narrative (not prove, just paint it), along the way.

I’m very bothered with the way SFWA has acted over the last year, and especially with their new tacit approval of child doxxing. As a person with standards, I tried to handle all of this privately first, from the time their president actually went after me to try to personally destroy me, to everything since.

But as SFWA is a left wing organization, and I’m an actual victim of something pretty atrocious that someone was doing in an effort to scare me out of being a vocal conservative in the science fiction sphere. It shows how everything these folk do from “believe the victim” to any investigation they do is done completely disingenuously.

Think about it. The first thing they should have done when they heard that my children were doxxed by fans of one of their members and that it’s causing bad perception problems for their club should have been to reach out to me to ask how they could repair that or help me. That’s the right thing to do. But their objective isn’t to get to the bottom of anything, to hold any consistency whatsoever in their rulings or to act as professional science fiction writers — their objective was to harm me and my standing in the community first, and use whatever means possible to do that.

They chose the tackiest, ugliest response which was to act as if this was totally okay and I’m somehow at fault for making an accusation about it and bringing it to light. Why? Because it shows the ugliness that the extreme left is willing to go to in this culture war to try to harm and diminish conservatives. The objective was just snipe at me first, they didn’t even look at what they’re saying in order to do it.

It must be horrible to operate that way because it’s gotta eat at someone’s soul to be acting like that at the time. But being a target of it is about as awful as it gets as well. I’ve endured it for a long time from these people who are so morally repugnant that they’ll act like I’m somehow dangerous or to be shunned because they are covering up a crime against me.

And this happens all the way through culture, up from the Supreme Court Nominations, down to just the fans of books who aren’t approved. A lot of the time we can’t make headway because we have morals and standards and they know it, and so they use it against us.

But I won’t stop speaking out. I can’t be quiet when an organization acts like this and I hope you’ll join me in spreading the word. There’s a few bullies in there who are in charge of this organization, and they have to be stopped if we’re going to have a healthy culture.

Also back The Ember War, my new IndieGoGo military science fiction. It’s based on a book who’s a member of SFWA and who is appalled by their behavior. Since I work with their members, why does the club want to harm the reputation of their own members by harming me ? Makes you think. But you should check it out.

 

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SFWA Stands For The Doxxing Of Children

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A year ago, my children were doxxed. I was facing immense pressure because an author, who happens to be the SFWA president, was running a campaign to smear and slander me, which began with her calling this blog “egregious stupidity” on a public forum when I’d never had contact with her in my life. She continued to escalate the conflict despite my reaching out, never apologizing, and then started claims that I was somehow harassing her for trying to deescalate and patch things up.

Once that happened, I made a meme about her poorly photoshopping her face onto the poster of the movie Mean Girls — because she was acting like a mean girl high schooler trying to turn this professional industry into a high school clique for her and her friends. She wrote nasty posts about me warning professional authors not to associate with me — and didn’t even stop there, but instead went further to private message several authors to tell them they’d better defriend me on facebook. Very petty stuff and very disappointing to see some white woman in her position of power and privilege do to a minority author all because she doesn’t like my politics.

She went so far as to use the official SFWA account for her personal assault on me, trying to discredit another blog I wrote about the industry and its by-the-numbers proof that women are preferred by the publishing industry over male authors. Instead of providing different numbers or being logical and having a debate about a very important topic, she, as the president of the Science Fiction Writers Of America, decided to try to harm my career instead.

When this all happened, anonymous accounts started coming to my blog, my twitter, my facebook, saying nasty things to me. Someone sent a package to my house that was spring loaded, anonymous, and filled with depictions of sexual organs. Despite it being very scary to receive hate male that’s anonymous, meaning I was stalked by someone who looked up my address — I have little children, this sort of thing is horribly inappropriate. On top of that, these anonymous accounts started posting medical information about my children in attempts to threaten/scare me.

Because all of the heat was directed at me from her smear/hate campaign and bigotry, I messaged her and told her please deescalate, that this is not okay and I’m getting really scary shit. Tell her fans to knock it off. She did not reply.

It was about the most trying time in my career as an author, not only to have this done to me and my family, but to have it at least somewhat approved of by her silence by the head of the only author’s guild for professional science fiction writers. Everyone should be against this sort of thing, left or right. It shouldn’t matter. We should in theory stand together against bullying at the very least.

But it didn’t stop there.

I first applied to SFWA in December of 2017. When I did, I found out their board members were in a secret writers’ forum called Codex, where they conspired together that they would find a reason to keep me out of the club even if I qualified. They decided to kick me out over politics before ever coming up with a reason. I’ve posted screen shots of this in the past, and this kind of collusion is wrong — especially a bad look for a 501c3 non-profit like SFWA. This is not a “invite only writers critique group” in someone’s living room. This is a big organization that provides legal defense and medical assistance for professional writers. That is its purpose and it’s not holding up to it.

They of course didn’t let me in, and it was a terrible travesty for their club. Their signal is if you’re a vocal conservative, you’re not welcome.

When Flying Sparks became so successful as a crowdfund project, making over $30,000 to date, I decided to apply again. I figured it’s 9 months down the line, I haven’t interacted with any of the folk who hated me in a long time, cooler heads would prevail?

Not so much.

This time, they gave me the excuse the because my children were doxxed and I was harassed as above, and I knew that it came from fans of their President and have stated such, that that is the reason I’m not allowed in.

Wait, what?

So I’m a victim of some of the most intense harassment ever received by an author… to the point where my children are targeted, which escalated around Worldcon this year to several death threats which I duly reported to the police, and instead of saying that’s not okay and standing with me as a professional…. it’s my fault for speaking about it?

This is victim blaming and shaming on a level that’s insane. It’s tacit approval of harassment as long as it’s to “the right people”. It needs to be called out and this needs to be investigated within SFWA. There are plenty of great members of the club, some of whom are friends and others I work with. Will someone be brave enough to step up against this hateful mob and say something? I don’t know, because they’re likely to face the same harassment I did.

Contact SFWA here and let them know this kind of thing is NOT okay: https://www.sfwa.org/feedback/

And if you’d like to support me and another SFWA member whose book I adapted to wild success so far, check out the Ember War graphic novel on IndieGoGo. It’s 120 pages of epic military science fiction and the future of the genre for both comics and books. Back it here.

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Bowsette???

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All that’s crossing my feed the last couple of days is a fan-created Super Mario character called ‘Bowsette” which is a mixture of Princess Peach and Mario. I discovered it by accident because of my interest in “I Love It” memes which stem from Kanye West’s recent song. Which I found this:

Upon further research, the Bowsette character really was combining two memes, one generating because people are becoming obsessed with this hybrid concept.

It both creates an interesting fan scenario because of the imagination of what could be with a Princess Peach for the dark side… which could happen in numerous ways. But it also harkens back to the anime love of monster girls. Frankly, it’s the perfect concept to reinvigorate the Mario franchise… and I hope Nintendo adopts it.

How cool would a Bowsette character be in the upcoming Super Smash Bros?

Who knows what will happen. But I know the Ember War is off to a great start. A 120 page graphic novel of epic military science fiction which also combines some of your favorite archetypes. You’ll love it. Check it out.  

 

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